When Penguin 2.0 rolled out about a year ago, it affected 2.3% of English search queries. Penguin was one of the largest updates and left many businesses at a standstill. Webmasters reported a decrease in traffic of up to 90%…. that’s enough to make any business go under if your primary conversion source is Google.
With Penguin 3.0 set to launch any time before the end of the year, it’s best to know how to you can prevent your website from being crushed by this update.
What Penguin 3.0 Will Most Likely Target
When Penguin 2.0 was released, its primary target was search spam and manipulative, low quality backlinks. With Penguin 3.0, we don’t think it’s going to be much different other than the fact that the penalties may be more severe and more noticeable.
From Matt Cutts (Head of Google’s Search Spam team): “…expect that the next few Penguin updates will take longer, incorporate additional signals, and as a result will have more noticeable impact. It’s not the case that people should just expect data refreshes for Penguin…”
Here’s what we think will be most impacted:
Optimized anchor texts of any kind: Keyword exact match anchor texts are a strategy of the past. It’s only going to hurt you moving forward if you continue to place them. Our suggestion is to stick with brand only anchor texts which would include: company name, company URL, and variations of your company URL.
Low quality backlinks: If you have any low quality backlinks, you have a high risk of being hit by this new update. Google is well aware of what a low quality link is, and Penguin will be able to trigger when a site has a massive quantity of low quality links.
Link schemes: Not only are low quality links detected, but link schemes. If you’re guilty or have been guilty in the past of purchasing backlinks, Penguin will be able to better detect this. Google’s been working hard to find all guest blogging networks and the sites associated with them. It won’t be a good outcome if your website is associated with any blogging networks.
The Potential Positive and Negative Outcomes of Penguin 3.0
Just like any algorithm update, there are going to be good and bad side effects for sites across the web.
For those who were hit by Penguin 2.0, you know exactly what needs to be done to make your backlink profile nothing less than stellar. You’ve gone and removed/disavowed links of all types. You’ve requested a reconsideration in Google. Maybe even more than once. You’ve began building relationships and receiving high authoritative links. This is what Google wants to see. But why haven’t you seen an increase in organic traffic yet?
The good news is that if you’ve done everything to make your backlink profile flawless, this update will be a good thing for you. Google will reward sites like yours with higher rankings. It’s what you’ve been waiting for! Google will have the right tools to determine if your website should be reconsidered from Penguin.
From what we’ve learned from the past Penguin updates is that it’s not an easy algorithmic penalty to recover from. Ten months later, websites still aren’t where they used to be in terms of Google organic traffic, compared to before Penguin 2.0 was released. With Penguin 3.0, things aren’t going to be better if you’re still participating in bad practices. In fact, they will be worse than before. If you snuck passed Penguin 2.0, chances are you won’t sly passed 3.0. Your website will be penalized and who knows when your rankings and organic traffic will be back up to where they used to be. Even after you go through the hassle of removing and disavowing links. Google isn’t going to take web spam lightly.
How to Protect Your Website from Penguin 3.0
First things first, you want to check to see if you’ve already been hit with Penguin penalty. The Penguin Penalty Analysis Tool will help you to determine this.
Afterwards, you want to go through the steps of how you can recover from an algorithmic penalty. Other ways to prevent your website from being hit:
Perform an Audit of Your Backlinks
With the right tools you can determine any links that could negatively impact your website. Make sure every single backlink meets Google’s quality guidelines.
Remove Any Links That Have Exact Match Anchor Texts
Don’t risk being penalized from over-optimization. Any backlinks that have keyword optimized anchor texts will be targeted. With your audit, you will be able to determine which links contain these.
Remove Purchased Links from Blogging or Link Networks
Any links that are still linked to your website from a blogging or link network will be targeted with Penguin 3.0. Remove all links that are associated with these.
Remove Irrelevant and Low Quality Links
If you still have low quality directory links, remove them. Google knows the sole purpose of these directories is to gain backlinks. Especially if these directories aren’t even relevant to your industry. That will definitely raise a red flag.
Carefully Analyze Your Guest Blog Posts
If you were writing guest blogs for the sole purpose of search engine rankings, we recommend going back through and analyzing each one. If any seem skeptical either remove it completely, or slap a no-follow on the link. Make sure the content is high in quality and the links aren’t exact match anchor texts. Also, look at the overall quality score of the blog itself. Do the blog have consistent posts with topics in your industry? Or does it only have outbound links to other sites? You want a blog that’s going to always post high quality content with a small amount of outbound links.
Battling any Google algorithm penalty is difficult to conquer. That’s why we always suggest a constant audit of your backlinks as well as constantly building relationships with the right webmasters. If you find anything harmful linking to you, it’s best to clean it up. It may cause a brief fluctuation in rankings, but it’s better than a long-term algorithmic penalty.
If you need help auditing your backlinks to prepare for Penguin 3.0, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’ll help your website get back on track to become Penguin-friendly. 800.871.4130
What do you think about anchor text with a wide variation? The anchor could be the URL, company name, keyword, click here, etc. If a keyword is the anchor is that really a bad thing if it is not overdone?
Yes! Anchor text variations are key to making the backlink profile look as natural as possible. Definitely using URL, company name, and click here are natural to use. When using keyword anchor texts, I would make sure they are long-tail. Don’t use too many keyword anchor texts that are the exact same keyword. Try to vary up the focus keyword with long-tail versions of that. Make sense?
And yes, it is really bad if you have too many exact match anchor texts. It looks unnatural to Google and it could trigger them to look at your backlink profile and cause a manual penalty if the links are low quality too. In my opinion, I think brand anchor texts should be the primary focus at about 70%+ of the anchor texts. Then you focus other amount toward long-tail keyword anchor texts.
Good to read this informative blog about what can be done to Protect Your Website from Penguin 3.0. Everything is fine with me except this: “Remove Any Links That Have Exact Match Anchor Texts”
I know over-optimized anchor text may penalized your website but any links that have exact match anchor text is little bit indigestible to me. Is it so? If there shouldn’t be any exact match anchor text then how can I make a backlink to my internal main product pages? Your views in this regard will be helpful.
Thanks in Advance,
When I say “exact match anchor text” I’m referring to highly search keyword phrases instead of long-tail keywords. I think it’s still safe to build links that have long-tail keywords, but not exact-match keywords. For instance, if the keyword focus is auto repair, instead of creating a bunch of links that say “auto repair” why not create a longer version of that? How about an anchor text that says “Click Here for More Information About Auto Repair”
I agree with you. You can’t always remove all your exact match anchor texts, however, it is extremely unnatural to search engines to have too many exact match anchor texts. If there’s not many and your brand anchor texts surpass your exact match by 70% or higher, I would say you’re okay as long as the exact match aren’t all the same exact keyword. Vary the keywords. Make the anchor texts long-tail. And always focus on brand as your primary, especially if the website you’re backlinking from is low in quality.
Hope that helps.
Hi Lacey, nice post, as always we must guess a little bit about where are they going (talking about the BIG G) but anyway I do agree that they will at least go further in the same direction.
Cures, are then esentially the same ones we had for previous updates, but Google´s capabilities are growing up faster and faster, deeper and deeper.
I would suggest one big basic thing, that may sound naive but kept us at least, and also our clients, on the safe side. Try not doing unnatural strategies, that will always put you on the safe side.
Eventhough we must take care of situations that could be natural as simply putting always the same anchor because the webmaster never worried about this, or making to many of the previously trendy “guest posting”.
Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and putting things together.
PD if you ever want to read some Digital Marketing news in spanish pls visit our blog and let us know your opinion.
Thanks for your insight. I do agree that companies should stick to inbound marketing to focus the techniques to building high quality content that naturally attracts people as well as search engines. There are still a lot of great ways to build natural links, but like you said, you never know where Google is going and we have to “guess” on what links look the most natural to Google. However, I don’t think Google will ever be able to stop using links as a main resource to rank websites higher because the web is ultimately built off linking. So, we need links still. I’m just trying to educate those who still do link building, and they are still focusing on low quality links. That’s a big NO, NO! As SEOs, we need to focus a lot of our time on figuring out the value of each link and make it worthy to both Google and users. The new goals with link building should be to attract people as well, not just search engines. I think if a link is attracting people and people are engaging, then it’s not low in quality.