September saw an announcement from Google that the Penguin algorithm is now going to ignore or devalue spam links instead of issuing penalties. It all sounds a bit complicated doesn’t it? We break down what it means for your website.
What is Penguin?
The Penguin algorithm is a function inside of Google Search that runs alongside many other algorithms which as a whole make up the Google Search Engine as we know it. Consider the algorithms as filters, filtering out unrelated information to what you have searched for.
Penguin was first rolled out in 2012 to sort through links pointing towards websites and only rank those links which are of a high quality (not spam) and high authority (related to or of the same subject as the website it’s pointing to). Penguin also helps rank down/penalise websites that had unnatural spam links pointing towards them. This was a massive task and on its release and subsequent updates has had quite an impact on where and why websites rank in Google Search results.
Recovering from Penguin
While websites were hit by Penguin updates and the related penalties, webmasters could either ask for the offending links to be removed by approaching the site owners or if that isn’t possible apply to Google to not count those links in search results. This is also known as disavow and Google set up a tool for webmasters to do this.
The problem with this was you wouldn’t see much change in your website’s ranking until a refresh was implemented by Google, who are known to be not very forthcoming when it comes to any sort of update or announcement. Some updates took up to two years to happen, that’s a lot of waiting around to see if your hard work had paid off.
So here we are in 2016 and during September webmasters and SEO experts started to see some unusual activity within their search results. After much speculation and rumour Google finally announced on 23rd September that Penguin 4 had been released and this would be the final update as the Penguin algorithm was now part of the core algorithm running Google Search. A little lost? Here’s a breakdown of what Penguin 4 brought with it.
- Any changes to your search results ranking would be in real time and not whenever Google decides to do an update.
- Low quality links/spam are now going to be ignored (devalued) and not penalised against. The disavow tool is still available and Google encourages webmasters to keep using it.
- Where spam links are found, only that page would be affected and not the whole site as before.
What do you need to do?
If you have a website with an SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) person working on it don’t worry, they’ll know about this and will have been working hard to prepare for whatever this update brings.
If you don’t have an SEO person or company working on your website then look into getting one. Having a professional pair (or multiple pairs) of eyes trained on your website can make the world of difference in search result ranking, brand awareness and incoming sales/engagement for your business.
Apart from an SEO person, what’s the best thing for your website?
Content as they say is king and Google aims to show search results with only high quality content and authority. This not only includes blogs, but all information provided on your website’s pages. This means when Google comes across your site, it’ll see good quality and that the information comes from a relevant source.
How to get good links and avoid spam
Absolutely avoid buying links or dealing with companies claiming to be able to get you hundreds of links for a fee. Google does its best to penalise this sort of activity.
Building links naturally can be done through guest blogging and working with companies, groups and online communities in your field to exchange information and expertise across websites which then may link back to yours. Research this thoroughly though to ensure you’re approaching the right people and not inadvertently spamming.
Returning to content, it is vital you have relevant and valuable text on your website. Make sure the content is clear and easily accessible and this will certainly assist in gaining good quality links back to your site as people link to or share your content around. All of this combined will definitely aid in increasing your website’s rank in Google search results and avoid being devalued by Penguin.
If you’re not sure if your website has spam links pointing towards it or if you want to optimise your website to be more discoverable in search results please get in touch for a free website review. We can suggest how you and we can improve your visibility in search and bring in more business online.