Google Penguin Update Still Planned for January 2016 and it’s ‘Never’ too Late for Last Minute Bad Link Fixes.
It’s been over a year since Google rolled out its infamous Penguin update, but a new update could be right around the corner.
When asked whether we are weeks or months away from the Penguin update, Webmaster Trends analyst Gary Illyes said, “I’ll go with weeks. We’re aiming for launching penguin this quarter, but we don’t have a more precise timeframe.” Granted, that’s not a definite answer by any means, but it’s enough to leave webmasters scrambling to update their websites and conduct thorough backlink analyses.
We’ve already seen massive fluctuation is SERPs related to Google core algorithm updates throughout January.
SearchMetrics published post summing up the winners and losers of these updates thus far. Their conclusion being;
High quality, longform content pieces that cover a topic in-depth are the winners in many areas. But the sheer amount of content is not decisive for rankings, rather the question of whether the content is relevant and fulfils the user intention.
I feel that this conclusion supports Google’s position for pretty much all of their updates ie: relevant, authoritative content.
So, why is everyone talking about Google’s Penguin update marked for January 2016? Google makes hundreds of changes to its search ranking algorithm in any given year. Most of these updates are minor, affecting just a small fraction of search queries. Others, however, are larger and more widespread, such as the Penguin update.
Google first announced the Penguin update back on April 24, 2012, saying it was aimed at lower the search rankings of websites that violate its Webmaster Guidelines. More specifically, however, the update targeted websites that used black-hat techniques to manipulate their search rankings, such as keyword stuffing, cloaking, paid links, link farms, etc.
Just two days after Google had launched Penguin, it created a forum on which users could report web spam. The purpose of this forum was to catch violating websites that somehow made it past Penguin, but many webmasters claimed to have been wrongfully targeted on the forum by their competitors. Subsequently, Google added a reconsideration request form to its Webmaster Tools, which allows webmasters to ask Google to recheck their sites.
Over the years, Google has released half a dozen different Penguin updates, with the most recent being in 2014. Assuming the tweet by Illyes is true, however, it’s safe to assume a new Penguin is on the horizon. So, what can you do to prepare your website(s) for the next Penguin update?
Because Penguin focuses primarily on black-hat SEO techniques, you should pay close attention to your backlink portfolio. Using Webmaster Tools or a similar backlink analysis program, pull a list of your site’s backlinks. Now go through this list and manually check each URL, looking to see if it’s a legitimate link or “shady” link. Even if you didn’t create the link, it may have been created automatically with scraping software, or a competitor may have created it. Regardless, you want to identify your site’s bad links so you can contact the webmaster to request a removal.
The good news is that it’s not too late to fix your bad back links… Illyes responded to a Twitter comment saying, “no, it’s not too late to disavow links and have Penguin recognize the update.”
And as Barry Schwartz commented:
Truth is, the next Penguin update should be real time and thus, it will never be too late to update your links disavow and so forth.
Need Help Identifying Bad Backlinks?
Distinguishing between a good backlink and a bad backlink can be tricky. Backlinks created on pages with spam, adult material, automated content, or other “questionable” material are generally considered bad. When conducting an audit of your site’s backlinks, you’re going to need some tools to help identify bad links.
Check out this handy Guide to Identifying Spammy Backlinks for some great tips and resources.
After going through your site’s backlinks, you should check your actual website to ensure it complies with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Sneaky redirects or other manipulative practices could make your site a target for Penguin.
How To Identify High Quality Backlinks?
If you’ve had problems with spammy low quality links, an even more helpful guide might be “How To Identify Sources of High Quality Backlinks.” Afterall, disavowing links will only get you so far… the real trick is building the right kind of links to your site.
Neil Patel from QuickSprout even backs up this principal in a post on battling negative seo:
Negative SEO exists, and the best thing you can do to fight it is follow the rules and produce good content. Sites with exceptionally good content tend to have more authority links. Typically, if you have a lot of these authority links, they can outweigh any junk links going back to your site.
You can’t control people building bad links to your site, but you can control how authoritative your site is. Focus on building high quality links as this will maintain your rankings even if someone links to your site 100 times from different adult sites.