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Not Content with just Panda’s, Here come the Penguins…

The ‘Penguin’ update and what it means for SEO

It’s 24th April 2012 and finally, after much discussion and speculation within the world of SEO’s, Google rolled out an update, fondly named Penguin that would pay particular attention to keyword stuffing and other similar spam related factors and over-optimisation. A big area of focus was links (sigh – and so it begins). Around 3.1% of English queries were affected meaning the impact was quite significant.

Tips on recovery:

  • Link Detox
  • Link Detox and

Think back to our previous blog post on the Panda update. We determined that Google was more than likely enforcing such changes due to the user experience and Penguin was no different. Spammy links equals a potential poor experience so back in 2012, for any sites hit, the first job was to begin the mammoth task of sifting through external links in order to determine if they were relevant. And by relevant we mean a digital marketing website gaining a number of links across farms where the subject area is holidays, the content poor and the number of pop ups immense. As a competent SEO we were required to think with logic when it came to placing links. Sites that were relevant with unique, relevant content proved ideal (and still do).

5th October 2012

A minor update to penguin impacted 0.3% of search queries. Whilst this tweak was suggested to be major it turned out to be the opposite.

22nd May 2013

The run up to this change involved much hype and speculation with SEO’s discussing a myriad of possibilities. In reality impact was moderate and the alterations unclear. Suggestions circled around the possibility that the update affected page level as opposed to sitewide.

4th October 2013

Whilst suggested to be a moderate update, a number of webmasters made reports of being hit quite hard. Research show that Penguin #5 was probably a data update.

17th October 2014

Coming just over a year after the previous changes were made, whilst SEO’s and webmasters waited in angst, the update affected less than 1% of English and US search queries. Google claimed that Penguin 3.0 was spread out over a number of weeks.

23rd September 2016

Roll up, roll up, read all about it! Having waited almost two years Google finally made the announcement that Penguin has been ‘baked’ into the core algorithm. Now running in real time, impacts are minimal.

So what has Penguin taught us? When it comes to link building we need to be careful.

Where are external links being placed?

Links should be placed on relevant sites containing high quality content. In addition they can be added to local and niche websites alongside companies you have an affiliation with. All of this accounts for natural SEO showing Google your efforts are not to be manipulative but to showcase your website through legitimate means. Stick to this and your site will increase in strength.

What about link detoxing?

Prevalent within any SEO campaign. Carry this out then keep on top. Check where your links are placed on a regular basis. You can download your link profile using Google’s Search Console. This will give you a deep insight into where your website appears and whether or not you wish to be found here. Transfer your links to a spreadsheet before sifting through each and every one (yes, it’s time consuming) in order to determine if they should be kept, removed or disavowed. Upon completion, keep on top of the list checking monthly in order to remove anything you don’t feel appropriate or that doesn’t sit within the Google Quality Guidelines.

What is Disavow?

In October 2012, Google launched a tool known as ‘disavow’, allowing webmasters to add links to to be ignored to a list for submission to Google. However, as straightforward as this seems, links cannot just be added in bulk without any prior research. In order to work within the quality guidelines it is recommended to first request removal of links. Inner City Digital suggest working through this process three times over a period of 6-8 weeks before adding a link to disavow.

So we come to the end of another blog post depicting a black and white animal. What will be next….?

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Helen Zagrovic

Helen writes on subjects such as SEO, PPC, Social Media, Web Design and Digital Marketing as a whole. Her 13 years of industry experience means her content is of the highest quality and reputable.

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