Webmasters across the internet are bracing themselves for another Penguin bashing.
The Penguin algorithm was released approximately this time last year hitting websites with an unnatural link portfolio right where it hurts – the SERPs.
Google’s Head of Webspam, Matt Cutts, has confirmed that “the next generation” of Penguin is on its way, with the algorithm last showing any kind of serious update last October. Cutts has also emphasised that the new Penguin release will be “significant”.
When paired with another Google algorithm though (Panda) it’s understandable to see why webmasters are currently tearing their hair out.
Panda has seen more regular updates since it was released and focuses on quality – most specifically quality content and the overall user experience. The last most significant Panda refresh? 15 March, as it happens, and not too many people knew about it…
For Google has decided not to let webmasters know whether it’s rolling out any future updates, with SEO Experts only finding out about the roll-out by noticing massive ranking fluctuations this time last month.
So why isn’t Google going to tell webmasters about Panda updates anymore? Google says that the Panda algorithm will be integrated into its standard indexing process, meaning it’s likely to be around for a long time to come and, likely, be updated more frequently.
Though the 25th official Panda update was duly noted, it’s the next generation of Penguin which is causing the most cause for concern.
But those webmasters that are most worried are most likely those that haven’t learned their lessons from when Penguin first appeared and have continued to invest in poor-quality links for a quick boost in the SERPs.
Though it’s pretty impossible to Penguin-proof your site, there are a number of key tips to remember for your search engine optimisation campaign to ensure that Penguin’s impact – if any – is minimal:
Clean up your current link portfolio
Take a good, hard look at the links currently pointing to your website and be honest with yourself. Are they quality links that you’ve worked really hard to earn? Have you taken the time to craft a positive relationship with other site owners, or have you gone down the quick and easy route with a paid link for one of your keywords?
Give your link portfolio a clean by emailing webmasters asking them to take down links if they look like they’ll do more harm than good. If you can’t get the links removed then consider using the Google Disavow tool, but only as a last resort (great short post by @CyrusShepard).
Restructure your link building campaign to get more high-quality sites linking back to your own. Come up with a content creation plan to ensure editorial excellence and distribute your creative endeavours with the right people to get the right kinds of exposure for your brand.
Tighten up your trusted links
Google likes trustworthy links. That means avoiding perceived online ‘bad neighbourhoods’ which Google is likely to devalue and associate with your brand.
Think about it. Is a certain link you have worth the juice your receiving when weighed against search and – most importantly – consumer trust?
So, how do you identify a bad neighbourhood online? It’s not too hard if you look at the site with a critical eye. Take a look at its pages, and if they’re crammed to the brim with anchor-text links complemented by poor content then steer clear.
A matter of course is if the site’s on-page links are entirely disproportionate to the amount of content on the site. If it’s clogged then placing a link on there likely won’t work in your favour when Penguin waddles your way.
Beware of free directories that are littered with links and free press release distribution channels that are defined by terrible press releases.
A number of commentators have also, rightly, recently warned people about ‘link velocity’, and how Google will take note if a site earns a huge number of backlinks in a short period of time. Is there anything else that shouts ‘paid links’ like a short-term link spike?
Improve your social signals
Combine that content creation tactic with a social media campaign to boost your social signals and help spread word of your brand for the potential to earn some fresh links.
Social signals are going to play a massive part in the search industry over the coming years, with many believing that Penguin is due to take social factors into consideration when evaluating a site’s links.
It’s also likely a positive presence on Google+ will be essential over the coming years as Google and those that have signed up to the medium invest more and more time into the network to provide people with a quality social experience to rival that offered by Twitter and Facebook.
Evaluate the quality of your content
The best links are the ones that are associated with high-quality content, and though Penguin is more of a link valuation than anything else, there’s no question that it goes hand-in-hand with Google Panda in determining a site’s overall quality.
So we recommend casting a keen editorial eye over the quality of the content you’re distributing and marrying it with a brand new link-building strategy to give your site some powerful long-term authority complemented by a big push over the right social networks.
Because when it comes down to it the best way to get your site noticed and to build quality links is to combine all aspects of your SEO campaign and getting them firing on all cylinders.
Providing users with quality content, sharing it with the right social strategy, building quality links in the right places, raising awareness of your brand’s profile and more is worth its weight in rankings, and providing your visitors with the best experience possible when they drop by.
If you’d like to know more about the potential affects of Google Penguin and Panda will have on your website then contact Webpresence today to schedule an evaluation of your online brand.