Google’s Penguin 4 algorithm fast approaching! Be afraid…

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Penguin 4 is due to launch any day. There’s online speculation that it’s already landed but Google’s refusing to confirm – it’s gonna be a surprise. This real time update will constantly run in the background, hunting down sites with unnatural links. Do you even know what they are? You might be surprised…

The Penguin

Launched in 2012, the original Penguin algorithm targeted 'black hat webspam', particularly websites with low-quality link schemes and keyword stuffing designed to play the system and improve page ranking. The Penguin wanted to eliminate webspam and promote high quality content so only relevant results were shown to users.

The effect was damning and sites that were trying to play the system disappeared from search results. Worse case scenario, website owners had to register a new domain name and build their site from scratch.

Keyword stuffing

Keyword stuffing can't be ignored. I've talked about it often enough so I'm assuming you’re up to speed. It's pages packed with unnecessary keywords or numbers with the intention of manipulating Google’s search results. Lists of phone numbers, blocks of text in the footer with city listings, or repeating the same word or phrase in content that when read, is unnatural. Don't even go there.

Why you need links

Links are a vital page ranking factor but they have to be natural. They should be a freely given vote of confidence for your website and business. A link from a well-respected site is priceless. Links from lesser-known sites don’t carry as much weight, but they do bring value, and they’ll add up.

The Penguin’s top 10 pet hates

There have been several updates since 2012 but none so significant as Penguin 4. Whilst Google is keeping the details of the update close to its chest, we can assume that it will be as ruthless as its predecessors. It’s a positive update for honest website owners playing by the rules, but if you’re cheating – good luck!

Penguin 4 will be constantly running in the background and problems will be identified in real time. It will find bad links super-fast and stop cheating websites from ranking highly. Real time also means that future updates won’t be announced as it’ll be an ongoing project with regular tweaks. The Penguin is going to get smarter and faster, without warning.

You scared yet?

The Penguin will seek and destroy if it finds any of the following…

  • Links from websites with irrelevant or poor quality content, black hat SEO, or with a poor domain authority.
  • Comments posted on blogs just for links. It’s rare to find a publisher willing to approve with links.
  • Guest blogging – I know that sounds crazy but too many articles posted full of unnatural links on irrelevant or poor quality sites have damaged its credibility. If your content is good and you post on sites related to your industry, okay… BUT, if you’ve written great content publish it on your own site, it’ll do more good.
  • Link swaps with unrelated or poor quality sites gets both penalised.
  • Paid for links – seriously, how can that be legit? It’s a great way to increase traffic, but it’s black hat. If you buy a link, it’s fake. Charity donation, through an affiliate programme, or a gift – if you have to ask, tempt, or persuade, it’s fake. If you want a review, make any links ‘nofollow’ (tells search engines to ignore).
  • Link farms are websites patting each other on the back – hey you’re great! You're not so bad yourself! Manual or automated, they’re black hat.
  • Keyword-rich anchor text, that’s the words you use in a link, is bad. You should avoid using the matching URL of the destination as your link text. You can sneak in a few, but keep it to the minimum. Every rule has an exception and it’s okay if I ask you to take a look at the EuroDNS website.
  • Automated link building is lazy and your site will be penalised. Earning good links takes time and effort.
  • Over optimisation of your footer angers the Penguin. Stuffing links and keywords brings no value as being at the foot of the page, click through is low.
  • Keyword stuffing and anything that could be considered black hat webspam – no one likes a huffy Penguin.

Make pages for users, not for search engines. Don’t automate, don’t pay, don’t swap, and stay away from farms!

Penguin likes…

A few authentic, natural, and high quality links are way better than jillions of unnatural links. Focus on earning links from trusted websites. Ones that’ll bring credibility to your site. Inner pages are more valuable, try to avoid always targeting your homepage. These type of links will naturally improve your ranking in search engines.

The most effective way to build up links is to have relevant and quality content on your website. Add new content regularly and you’ll give users a reason to return and something worth sharing.

How to recover from a Penguin attack

If the Penguin finds that your site is trying to play the system, it will penalise it by reducing the page ranking and organic traffic. You have to find all offending links and remove them, immediately. Contact the owner of the site they’ve come from and ask them to either remove or ‘nofollow’. If this poses a problem you can ask Google to disavow and discount them.

Will your site recover its ranking after you cull your links? Recovery from the original Penguin algorithm was slow, taking six to 12 months in some cases. Recovery from a Penguin 4 attack is said to be quicker. However, a big part of recovery depends on the quality of what’s left on your site; remember – CONTENT IS KING!

Penguin 4 running in the background

Photo credit– you just have to look closely!

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