Protection from the Penguin Update 2.0Posted by Chris Garrett / May 31, 2013
Many web publishers have noticed a significant change or drop in rankings this week. Since October 2012, Google has been rolling out updates to its algorithm in an attempt to minimise spam and maximize relevant results.
Google has not said if the recent shift was Penguin related, however in March this year, Google’s chief web spam fighter Matt Cutts promised that the Penguin Update would receive a large overhaul later this year.
Many webmasters and SEOs are in a state of panic waiting for the hammer to drop. The previous Penguin update (launched April 24, 2012) shook search results and affected not only black-hat, but also legitimate sites.
The coming update, Google promises is going to be even harsher.
How to prepare for the Penguin Update
SEO Momma sums it up well in this info graphic.
SEO comprises of 2 key factors, the second in particular is coming under fire.
- On-site optimisation
- Link building
The new Penguin version is expected to use even more sophisticated techniques to spot spammy links in your backlink profile, so the first thing to do is to analyze your site’s backlinks, identifying any potentially spammy links and remove them before the update.
The basic rule is to avoid backlinks that:
- Come from sites built exclusively for SEO purposes;
- Use overly-optimized anchor text;
- Come from adult or other “bad neighborhood” websites;
- Come from sites that are irrelevant to your own.
Here’s how to find and identify suspicious links pointing to your website. This may take some time, but recovering from the update will take you much longer.
1. Build a complete list of your backlinks
To find a list of live links, you will need some specialist SEO software. There are many products available, but it might be easier to use a professional SEO firm.
2. Remove links that no longer exist
Make sure you are not working from a list of links generated in Google. Search engines can be slow to update their backlink databases, so some backlinks that no longer exist will still be in their indexes. Unfortunately, there is no way to remove them from Google’s index. They will disappear in time.
3. Spot and mark any suspicious links in your profile
Mark any links Google may consider spammy or low-quality.
4. Find links with suspicious anchor text
Another point Penguin is likely to focus on is how diverse and natural your link anchor texts are. Too many links with the same anchor can put your site in huge Penguin troubles, so take a close look at all anchors used excessively in your backlinks profile.
5. Check suspicious backlinks manually
Now that all of the suspicious links are detected and marked, take a closer look at each of them. Make sure the websites are relevant to your topic and not of the seedy variety.
It’s up to you how “strict” your backlink cleaning-up is, however removing lots of backlinks at once may cause a ranking drop, so begin by removing the worst cases and working with an iterative approach.
6. Contact the webmasters for link removal
Send each Webmaster a link-removal request and check that the harmful links are removed.
It’s detailed and time consuming work and if you are not an SEO professional, you can waste hours or even days. Unfortunately, it’s a necessary evil with search engines now being the primary way the businesses are found.
What else can you do?
Backlinks are the primary focus of the Penguin update, but there are other things that can destroy your website rankings.
- Eliminate keyword stuffing. Calculate the ideal keyword density as used by your top-ranking competitors. There is also software available for this.
- Eliminate duplicate content. Make sure all of your pages have unique titles and meta descriptions (rewrite any duplicates you find), and use robots.txt to hide duplicate pages from Google.
- Keep track of how rankings change with you and your competitors
- Find and fix any problem areas on your site. Webmaster Tools is a good place to start.
And finally… don’t panic!
Just as the SEO world is panicking about Penguin today, it was the same with the Google ‘Jagger’ Update back in 2005 and ‘Florida’ before that.
Over the last 10 years, Google has threatened huge algorithm changes more than 6 times and none of the ‘SEO apocalypses’ have ever happened.
If you have good quality, engaging content and relevant backlinks, you will always be in Google’s favour.