On the 17th of October last year, we saw the anticipated Penguin 3.0 refresh, the algorithm Google uses to prevent artificial rank building via the manipulation of links. By the 24th of November, it had achieved notoriety as a ruthless monster – reminding us all of the repercussions of the Panda 4.0 update earlier in 2014 – and was estimated to have affected over 1% of English speaking websites globally. Don’t let the small figure mislead you, that’s over 10 million websites that were targeted!
The new year hasn’t stopped Penguin’s march of destruction through the page rankings either. Google boffin Pierre Far informed us in late October that the update will be slowly rolled out, and right now the rollout process will be ongoing for quite some time yet.
With no end in sight (#ForeverPenguin was one of the more humourous Twitter trends we saw), it’s important to know what to do to keep your website free of poor quality link building. Below are a few steps to make sure your webpage doesn’t get targeted.
Penguin 3.0 focuses a lot more on inbound links to your website than its predecessor. During the ongoing roll-out, they have made it clear that scenarios such as link spam, or even inadvertent traffic from “bad” websites, won’t be tolerated.
Earning quality backlinks by providing on-page content to a high standard is a good way to avoid unscrupulous links towards your website. It also helps make your website more accessible to your potential audience, as everyone loves viewing content that is interesting!
Disavowing links that you believe are hurting your ranking will help to some extent. However, the best way is to manually perform a link audit on your website on a regular basis. Unfortunately, there are still a few webmasters out there waiting to see if they’ll be hit by the new changes before acting!
Penguin was originally conceived with the idea of ceasing the trend of using exact same anchor text to artificially boost page rankings. This has been enhanced in the current refresh, with Google being now more suspicious of unnatural anchor text (anchor texts that have been deliberately tampered with, to boost ranking).
The trend of repetitive keyword anchor text usage, commonly seen on blog comment sections and forums, linking to the one url will be hit by the Penguin hammer. This can include spamming variations of a combination of words (“Check out my business: melbourne printing, printing melbourne, best melbourne printing, melbourne best printing”), or just overuse of the one keyword anchor text, where the keyword will be included in more than half of the anchor texts on a particular page.
Doing this a few times on a page won’t land you in trouble (there is scope and leeway for it to be acceptable), but if any of the above examples are present, Penguin will view this as a feeble attempt to artificially boost your link profile.
Also ensure your anchor texts are unique, and briefly provide a preview of the content on the page that you are linking to. This in turn will also help pique the interest of your target audience if your anchor texts are of good quality.
Google has never liked link sharing schemes (“I’ll link to you if you link to me!”), and this latest crackdown will see any website involved in either a paid or non-paid scheme significantly fall down the rankings.
Simply put, don’t do it! The easiest alternative to this, is again writing quality content on your website. In this way, other webmasters will feel obligated to link to your content as either a reference or an insight into the subject at hand.
Organic, natural links stemming from this alternative will always be highly regarded, not only by the Penguin algorithm, but also your potential customers, who are always looking for genuine products and content.
Don’t Forget, We’re Here to Help You!
Here at ITCC, our highly experienced search engine optimisation team can help answer any questions you may have about link building. We can also fine tune your website’s SEO capabilities, increasing your potential for high volume traffic, and ensuring your pages are getting the maximum exposure you want, without the fear of your ranking being compromised by the refresh and future algorithm updates.
Have you seen or experienced first hand the wrath of Penguin 3.0? Tell us in the comments section below!