The omnipotent authority of online searches safeguards their algorithm diligently. Google, with very little notice or no notice at all, will release updates to their search engine algorithm that inevitably sends ripples or shockwaves throughout the SEM community. Typically these changes come with little or no warning at all. Maybe that just depends on how nice they’re feeling…
Penguin 4.0: The Details
While some of the Google algorithm updates have focused on ranking factors such as content and search intent, Penguin primarily focuses on links. The first Penguin update, released in 2012, aimed to lower the search engine rank of sites which acquired links through black-hat tactics, therefore lifting webpages which meet Google’s guidelines to producing high quality websites.
What’s different about the Penguin 4.0 update? It’s now more granular than ever, meaning it “adjusts ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting ranking of the whole site,” and it will also refresh in real-time. That means sites will see—or won’t if you’re following Google’s guidelines—the negative effects of Penguin updates a lot sooner than in the past. Google also said that with this update, they no longer will “comment on future refreshes,” which will leave the SEO community guessing as to when and what is being changed.
If you’ve implemented an inbound marketing strategy for your business, you’ve probably discussed the importance of links—how you’re earning them, where you’re earning them from, what content works the best for your audience. But as Google rolls out more updates to Penguin and their search algorithm continues to strengthen, what are the measures that you can take to reach those coveted top search engine ranking spots?
Here Are 3 Things That You Can Do to Prevent Penguin Problems:
1. Perform a Link Audit
If you’re business has implemented an inbound marketing strategy, within that overall strategy, you’ll likely have goals around link building. What worked in the past—buying links, trading links, linking back to your site in industry forum comment sections—not only doesn’t work now, it will harm your site’s search rank.
Depending on how old your website is, how long you’ve been managing it and even how your digital strategy has changed in the past, you might have some backlinks floating around which could be viewed poorly in the algorithm’s eyes. For that reason, performing a regular link audit is wise to do a couple of times a year. There are a number of tools which you can use to check backlinks, but start with your Google Webmaster Tools account.
If you’re working with hundreds or even thousands of backlinks, it will be easiest to pay for a service such as Link Detox to accomplish this. Identify the culprits, or any links that might be harmful in Google’s eyes. And as a bonus—there is a great guide from SearchEngineWatch.com that goes in depth on how to perform a link audit.
2. Break up With the Bad
If you’ve identified any links that you’ve attained through spammy methods, it is time to get rid of them. As mentioned above, the difficulty of actually doing this could depend on how many backlinks you actually have. But once you identify any links that may be currently causing ranking issues, or that may in the future, you should work on removing them.
One option for removing bad backlinks is by actually asking the people who manage the sites your inbound links are coming from to take them down. Now, this is an incredibly hands-on process that can eat up a lot of your time—and patience.
Another option is to use your Webmaster Tools for those bad links. This shouldn’t be done lightly and it shouldn’t be done without a quality check by a real, living, breathing human being. The reason being these SEO tools can mistake quality backlinks for spam—they aren’t foolproof.
3. Get Busy Earnin’
Google’s search algorithm is killing websites that were built up on “unnatural” link building schemes and conversely will reward sites that can earn links. The foundation of an inbound strategy is quality content. The quality content which your business creates and shares is what attracts strangers. It’s also what converts those strangers into leads, and what delights customers and clients—keeping them coming back for more.
It is also what earns you links. Naturally, earning links can be difficult, but when you put in the time and effort to create content that is authoritative and enjoyable, people want to share and link to your webpages. Earning inbound links takes time, and while you might be tempted to join in on a link-building scheme to build up the list of referral traffic your site is receiving, it isn’t a viable option anymore. Google’s updates have all but demolished these schemes—its algorithm continuously finding new ways to identify now black-hat SEO tactics.