Initially introduced back in 2012, the purpose of Google’s Penguin algorithm is to identify unnatural backlinks in Google search results. As of September 2016, Penguin 4.0 was released and now running in real-time – this will be Google’s last update. But what does it mean and how could it affect you? We take a look at the questions everyone is asking.
What is Google Penguin?
Google Penguin is a web spam algorithm designed to capture websites that have created unnatural backlinks to gain an advantage in search results. While other factors are taken into consideration to ensure websites meet webmaster guidelines, the primary focus is backlinks. Penguin finds unnatural links that webmasters use to manipulate search results.
What makes links important
If you have a well-respected site with a good domain authority linking to your website, it’s like a recommendation. Equally, if you have a large number of smaller sites linking back to your website, this too can be effective. Anchor text can also play a part as it’s clickable text with a hyperlink suggesting the website in question should be trusted.
What’s different about Penguin 4.0?
With Penguin data now in real-time, it’s possible to continually re-crawl and re-index web pages. Refreshing data in this way means bad links devalue individual rankings (rather than receiving old-fashioned penalties) which can be recovered from in real time. In previous versions, Penguin updates would penalise an entire domain. Penguin 4.0 is more granular with ‘penalties’ issued for specific pages. It works by devaluing spammy links and adjusting a site’s Google ranking based on spam signals. Penguin is now part of the core Google algorithm which consists of 200 other signals that can affect rankings.
How to avoid being penalised
As has always been the case, webmasters should focus on creating compelling content that is updated regularly. The focus should be on the end user, making sites unique, valuable and engaging.
Avoid duplication or thin content, use rich anchor text and have relevant links. Any links pointing to a web page need to have value to the end user, providing relevant information related to the product or service. Penguin penalties will mostly relate to links and anchor text whether its external links from your website or incoming links.
What to do if rankings have been affected
With Penguin now in real-time, penalties can be cleared much quicker than they were previously, so don’t panic. In fact, penguin recoveries are already being reported. The process for cleansing your site will likely include checking backlinks and undertaking a new link building campaign, supported by social media, to re-establish authority in search results.
Worried that you may have been affected by the penguin update? Get in touch and see how our SEO services could help!