The Google Penguin update that sparked controversy back in 2012 is plotting a return according to the search giant. In the latest round of reports and online chatter within the SEO community, there’s valid reason to believe a Google Penguin 3.0 full algorithmic update is coming. This particular instance, however, is quite different than its predecessors because Google invested nearly a full year into the rewrite of the algorithmic formula itself with the intent on providing full satisfaction for both webmasters and site owners. As a website and business owner, the upcoming curve creates plenty of doubt. One thing the search giant publicly declared is the fact that the new generation of Google’s Penguin algorithm will be a crowd pleaser.
Penalized by Google Penguin?
The real question at hand remains: Has a potential penalty incurred as a result of a Google Penguin update? Yes, quite frustrating indeed! There’s a couple of different ways you can check to see if your website domain was slapped on the wrist for unorthodox tactics:
- Manual Action – Google Webmaster Tools is a great online tool for management of holistic website performance. Under the ‘Search Traffic’ drop-down menu you’ll find the ‘Manual Action’ section. If you’ve been penalized for unethical SEO techniques, Google will report such violation including steps for a resolution under this particular section.
- Penguin Penalty Checker Tool – the Google Penguin Penalty Checker Tool evaluates and assesses the overall traffic performance of a domain as reported by SEMrush. It helps identify any traffic inconsistencies and is essentially able to outline fluctuation in trends and patterns. A great tool indeed for measuring peaks and declines in user behavior.
Comprehending Google Penguin Protocol
The upcoming Google Penguin algorithmic flush will most definitely be of its kind from a historical perspective. Google implements approximately 500-600 individual algorithmic updates annually with the intent of refining the quality of information presented in its index. After all, their prime interest is to retain a holistic user experience and content accessibility. Google Penguin focuses on eliminating spammy sites from the SERPs by impacting their rankings or ultimately excluding them from the index entirely. Such sites are ones that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, particularly the area that focuses on link schemes and violations of quality standard protocol.
It all started in April of 2012 when Google rolled out its first Penguin update followed by refinements:
- Penguin 1: April 24, 2012 – Two Weeks In, Google Talks Penguin Update, Ways To Recover & Negative SEO (impact on approximately 3.1% of queries)
- Penguin 2: May 26, 2012 – Google Releases Penguin Update 2 (impact on approximately <0.1% of queries)
- Penguin 3: October 5, 2012 – Google Penguin Update 3 Released, Impacts 0.3% Of English-Language Queries (impact on approximately <0.3% of queries)
- Penguin 4: (AKA Penguin 2.0) May 22, 2013 – Penguin 2.0/4 – Were You Jarred and/or Jolted? (impact on approximately 2.3% of queries)
- Penguin 5: (AKA Penguin 2.1) October 4, 2013 – Penguin 5, With The Penguin 2.1 Spam-Filtering Algorithm, Is Now Live (impact on approximately 1% of queries)
That’s quite a bit to digest in itself, isn’t it? For many, Google Penguin remains a giant puzzle with plenty of uncertainty. Like anything else Google related, feeding the machine and ensuring compliance to standards is of utmost importance for the sake of user engagement, brand perception, and avoiding manual penalties.
Preventative Measures in Lieu to the Google Penguin Refresh
It’s important to play nicely in the sandbox with a search giant that now dominates nearly 70% of the search market share. In today’s modern digital age, each inquiry about a specific piece of information begins with a search either on a mobile, tablet, or desktop device in conjunction with Google as the research platform. Complying to rules and guidelines serves of critical importance for the sake of brand longevity.
So how do I prep for the upcoming Google Penguin curve, you ask? Consider the following elements and optimization techniques to avoid a slap on the wrist:
- Link Audit – Evaluating the entire backlink profile of a website domain is perhaps one of the most critical components of SEO. Identify and disavow those spammy sites that have established a relationship with yours, as these may be detrimental to your overall brand reputation.
- Extract links from guest blogging networks – In the old days, reciprocal linking was a great way of acquiring quality traffic until Matt Cutts published the infamous article on The decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO. So, as a preventive measure, if you’ve seeded links to your site on guest blogging networks, I would strongly consider removing those at the earliest opportunity. It may be interpreted as a red flag.
- Put “nofollow” to use – If you’ve sprinkled links to your website domain in blog posts within other sites, it is strongly recommended to utilize the “nofollow” tag on those. Putting in a request to that site’s webmaster/owner may be one of the smartest SEO decisions you’ve made in a while.
- Extract exact-match anchor text – Oh, the good ol’ days of using exact match text is simply no more. Assessing anchor text usage would be a good start to identifying problematic areas. What is an exact-match anchor text? For example, if you have an anchor text titled “delicious dark chocolate” linked to a page with URL structure such as http://www.domain.com/delicious-dark-chocolate/ then this particular instance is a red flag and a breach of Google Penguin protocol. It may be time for some friendly housekeeping around the interwebz.