What’s with Google and the cutesy names? First Panda, then Penguin. We’re talking, of course, not about cuddly black and white animals but about cold computer algorithms. Penguin was first rolled out back in April of 2012 to penalize websites for “webspam” by doing just about the worst thing you can do to a website: basically making them invisible in search results. Did you hear that strange buzzing noise? That’s websites screaming.
What is Penguin, and how does it work? The Penguin algorithm is all about external links, which affect rankings in a big way. Penguin’s purpose is to reward sites that have natural, relevant (a.k.a. ‘real’) links, while punishing sites that have built manipulative links solely for the purpose of increasing rankings. By manipulative, we mean bad. By bad, we mean…
• Links in non-industry-specific directories and link farms
• Links posted in irrelevant forums or conversations
• Links you paid for directly (not advertising)
• Links embedded in spammy content
Version 3.0 has the same intention as earlier versions – to reduce spam and penalize sites with these unnatural links – but the algorithm is more sophisticated, though only the geeks at Google know precisely how.
Should you be freaking out right now, wondering if Penguin 3.0 is going to target your site next? On Tuesday, October 21st, Google’s Pierre Far posted that the refresh would affect less than 1% of queries in US English search results, and that it’s a slow worldwide rollout that might take weeks to take effect. Odds are, unless you are a serious offender – or someone who was hit by Penguin in the past and have since cleaned up your act, putting you in line for some major boosting now – you won’t notice any changes.
If you do notice that your rankings or your organic traffic have inexplicably dropped, you aren’t helpless. You can hire a professional service to identify your bad links; sites like Gryffin Media promise free penalty audits and a systematic approach to tackling manual and algorithmic Google penalties. Or you can do it yourself using a tool like Google Webmaster Tools. It doesn’t end with links, though: on-site spam like keyword stuffing and hidden text can trigger Penguin penalties, so review your website for that, too.
At this point your webmaster should get his colleagues – those webmasters responsible for the source sites – and get them to remove the bad links, or he/she can disavow the links through Google. We’re over-simplifying what can be a really long, arduous process – so even if you weren’t hit by Penguin 3.0, you should probably review your strategy to avoid getting dinged by the next iteration of the algorithm, because it can really hurt. Going forward, the only links that should even be in your vocabulary, besides sausages and golf, are real, legitimate links you earn through great content and full scale SEO efforts.
Ultimately, the responsibility lies with you. If you work hard to be SEO compliant, do your social media outreach to promote your brand, and populate your site with authoritative content, you won’t have to worry about Penguins, Pandas, or any other animals Google throws at you. Academic Ads offers full service online marketing and SEO solutions to make sure your brand reaches your audience the right way. Contact us for a free consultation to take your business to the next level.