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