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Google Penguin 3.0 Algorithm Has Finally Arrived!
Late Friday night, a small percentage of websites were experiencing an unusual and radical change in its Google’s search results. Immediately, it was speculated that this event was directly attributed to the highly anticipated large scale release of the Google Penguin algorithm update.
After anxiously waiting for more than a year, it is now official that Google has finally updated its Penguin filter, which targeted sites it considered to be low quality or poor inbound links pointing to a website. Specifically, this filter targets those sites which Google believes violated its linking guidelines. You may recall back on September 14th we believed that Google Penguin 3.0 is on its way for 2014.
Although Google never provides clear details or any specifics about its updates, from what we can tell, it appears that the initial rollout began late Friday night with the real impact taking place on Saturday and Sunday. History has shown that most Google algorithm updates take time to determine its full effect. However, according to Google’s John Mueller the Penguin 3.0 rollout (we’re calling it 3.0 even though Google has yet to officially give it a number) is now complete.
Google Penguin History
The Penguin 1.0 update, originally rolled out in April 2012 as a matching partner to the Panda algorithm, was designed to reward or compensate sites that were found to have provided a better user experience, while punishing websites that provides a poor user experience. Recently, the Panda algorithm was updated with the rollout of Panda 4.1.
The Penguin algorithm pertains to the largest ranking factor – external links. Penguin rewards websites that have natural, trustworthy, valuable, and relevant links, while at the same time it punishes websites that it believes to have built scheming, unnatural, artificial links exclusively for the purpose of improving rankings.
Penguin 1.0 affected about 3.1% of all search queries, which may not seem significant, but the impact it had on the SEO world was huge.
After Penguin 1.0 was rolled out, Google elected to release refresh (or minor) updates to its algorithms. In May 2012 Google released Penguin 1.1 and in October 2012 it released Penguin 1.2. The next large update wasn’t rolled out until May 2013, when Penguin 2.0 further refined the rules that were originally put forth by Penguin 1.0. Instead of tweaking its algorithms or refreshing the data, Penguin 2.0 created new fundamental amendments to its algorithm, impacting nearly 2.3 percent of all search queries. In 2013 there were various refreshes as well, but over the past year Penguin has been curiously quiet… that is until this past Friday when Penguin 3.0 was rolled out.
Understanding Google Penguin 3.0
Penguin 3.0 is really not any different from its ancestors. The primary purpose of Penguin 3.0 is to reduce spam and improve search results by eradicating or punishing links that aren’t considered natural. As you can imagine the more refreshes and updates to the algorithm the more complicated and sophisticated it becomes. Since Google has confirmed that this is a major update and not just a refresh, it should be safe to assume that it will affect 2-3% of all websites. This may not seem like a large percentage, but to those affected, the impact will be enormous.
It is not common practice for Google to reveal its strategies or algorithm specifics. Doing so could create vulnerabilities and exploit their weaknesses. So it’s highly unlikely for us to receive any information directly from Google. With that said, the details on all of the particulars of what specifically Penguin 3.0 targets, is now just being examined by search engine experts.
See related blog post: What Google Penguin Means for Your Online Marketing Activities/
Recovering from Google Penguin 3.0
Has your organic website traffic mysteriously and radically gone down? Without explanation, has your website disappeared from Google’s page rankings? If the answer to these questions is yes, you may have been targeted by the Google update. I recommend taking immediate action to recover from the update, however you should know in advance this is by no means an easy or short-term process. Unfortunately, there are NO quick-fix remedies. However, in time if you take the proper steps you can recover.
Locate all low quality, poor inbound links
These bad links include the following:
- Article Directory Links, such as link farms
- Directly Paid for Links you paid (excluding advertising)
- Non-relevant forum post Links
- Non-industry specific directory links
- Links embedded in non relevant or poor content, or those with spammy (i.e., exact keyword match) anchor text.
Locate all low quality, bad links in your link profile by using Google Webmaster Tools, Moz’s Open Site Explorer, Majestic SEO, or Ahrefs Site Explorer.
As stated, poor inbound links are the main reasons why sites are hit by Penguin, however on-site web spam can also be a contributor for getting penalized by Penguin. Three primary onsite tactics that are high on Google’s hit list are as follows:
- Keyword Stuffing
- Link Cloaking
- Hidden Text
- Duplicate Content
Eliminating the Problems
Now that you’ve located the source of your problems, it’s time to eliminate them. I recommend removing any and all questionable or low quality links that could be to blame for the drop in page rankings. You will need to contact the site owners and/or webmasters of those sites with your inbound links and request that they remove your link. If they decline or fail to remove your link the next best option is to utilize Google’s Disavow Tool, in Webmaster Tools. Disavowing a link informs Google that you would like to reject or renounce your relationship with those particular links on this other site.
Additionally, if you were hit by Penguin you may have also received a manual penalty with a notification from Google in your Google Webmaster Tools. If you received this manual penalty it is highly recommended to follow both steps above and then file a reconsideration request.
Note: All sites can receive a manual penalty, however only sites that are using Google Webmaster Tools will receive a notification from Google.
Rethink Your SEO Strategy
Considering the punishment that Google hands out, if you were hit, I’m sure you’ve learned your lesson and want nothing to do with low quality bad link building or onsite web spam. The best search engine optimization approach you can take now is to start creating a strong content plan or strategy. Think about how you can earn links instead of building or buying them.
If you don’t have the time to go through this time consuming intricate process of recovering from the Penguin algorithm changes, contact us at OMG Marketing… we can help. We will perform a complete audit of your inbound links and identify what’s causing your drop in traffic and loss in rankings.
Now that the large scale update has been completed, it’s pretty likely, based on Google’s history, that they will release more refreshes over the next several months. If you were hit, now you know what to do. If you were not hit, use this as an opportunity to review your current online marketing strategies and make sure you’re taking the proper steps to protect yourself against any future punishments.