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What is the Penguin Update?

Google Penguin UpdateThe Penguin update is a Google search algorithm update targeting webspam techniques. It is part of Google’s ongoing efforts to “clean up” the results delivered by the popular search engine. Originally rolled out in April of 2012, Penguin was recently updated in May 2013 (Penguin 2) and has affected many websites in the process. The goal of the update is to reduce Search Engine Results Page (SERP) rankings for websites that engage or have previously engaged in what Google considers to be “spammy” website marketing practices; clear violations of Google Webmaster policy like link schemes, cloaking, deliberate creation of duplicate content or keyword stuffing.

How to Avoid Penguin Update Penalties

Only participate in quality search engine optimization techniques. If you are actively promoting your website, whether in-house or using a digital marketing agency, make sure you adhere to the Google Webmaster guidelines in order to stay out of hot water with the search engine giant.

The most important rule is simply to create your website pages for users first instead of for search engines. In other words, don’t try to make a website page with the search engine in mind but rather make it with the mindset of creating a great user experience for your visitors.

When promoting your website on the internet or “offsite”, be very selective and choose only quality websites for backlinks. This is more important now than ever! In the days before the Penguin Update, webmasters could pretty much build links back to their websites from any other website that would link to them. The more links a website had pointing back to it, the better ranking it would receive by Google because the search engine viewed the website with a lot of links pointing to it as “more popular”. This method was obviously flawed and caused a tremendous amount of irrelevant linking among websites in a scramble to rank better than their competitors. The Penguin Update is Google’s response to that. When the Googlebot finds these types of links, the algorithm tells the search engine to discount them or even penalize the sites involved.

Today, one of the best ways to achieve quality links to your website is through a quality inbound marketing program which creates valuable content that is important to visitors and is shared or revisited often.

Picking up the Pieces After a Penguin Penalty

At this point, you may have a problem if you have participated in “spammy” website promotions in the past. In a nutshell, “spammy” means poor quality. It really doesn’t matter whether or not this was intentional. The penalties are wide sweeping and are pretty unforgiving. If you feel you have been affected by the Penguin Update, there are a few things you can do to address the issue.

Check Google Webmaster Tools for any “unnatural links” messages. If you do not have this, then that is good! What needs to be done is a backlink audit of incoming links to your website. There are a few tools out there which will allow you to get a list of inbound links to your website, the most handy of which is Google Webmaster Tools. An analysis of the link profile is in order with a focus of finding poor link “neighborhoods” or “spammy” article sites with follow links. Note: the most recent Penguin update targets advertorials with follow links without a notification of it being an advertisement or paid link. Pay particular attention to websites that are in the targeted industries like adult sites, finance, and gambling.

Manual link reclamation is the process of getting irrelevant or low quality links removed from the websites they live on. After this is attempted to no avail, the Google link disavow tool is something that may be used to tell Google specifically which links you have been trying to eliminate from your profile but have been unable to do so. The proper method is to manually try to get poor links removed by yourself, then, as a last resort, submit the links to Google through the disavow tool. Even then, it could take weeks to get a response from Google and any positive changes might not be reflected until the next algorithm refresh. Refreshes have sometimes taken almost a year to come around again in the past!

WARNING: Link disavowing is a potentially harmful process if done incorrectly, so great care and research should be done prior to this step and it is highly recommended to employ the services of a professional SEO company if you think this process might be necessary for your website.

If you have any questions about this information or think you may have been affected by the latest Penguin Update, contact Philly Marketing Labs today!

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