Hummingbird, Panda, Pigeon, and Google Penguin. If these words speed up your heart rate and get your blood pumping, you're probably an SEO. Every Google update strikes some fear into the hearts of SEOs and digital marketers, and Google's most current update is no exception. The current threat is Google's Penguin 3.0 algorithm, which rolled out mid-October and has been targeting sites that violate Google's guidelines about linking. Staying safe from Google Penguin 3.0 means, for the most part, sticking to quality link-building aka “link earning,” and shying away from anything that even could be in violation of Google’s guidelines.
While digital marketers purchasing links in the not-too-distant past have been hard-hit by the Penguin updates, many of them have cleaned up their acts by cleaning up their backlinks. However, digital marketers sometimes aren’t even aware that they are participating in bad linking practices, because sites can be hit simply by linking to the wrong websites, unbeknownst to them.
As the dust left by the 3.0 update has settled and started to clear, certain sites, including Ebay.com and quite a few Australian domains, have come out as winners. What seems a little funny, however, is that these sites were barely hit by past Google Penguin algorithm updates, so why is it that they are seeing increases in rankings when they weren't hard hit in the first place? Some speculate that one reason could be that this is a slow-rolling update, and that the after-effects will continue to manifest themselves for days and weeks after the initial update release.
Another reason could be that Google is testing the effectiveness of this update and is planning to refresh one more time before the end of the year. It's also possible that as SEOs and digital marketers worked to get rid of bad backlinks, they also got rid of some good ones, thereby losing overall link profile value..
Staying safe from Google Penguin 3.0 and future Penguin updates means the following:
- Build only high-quality links. Buying, renting, or trading links, whether publicly or privately within a network risks getting hit and penalized big time. Using networks to exchange links or content—or influencing ratings in some other similar way—is also frowned upon.
- Diversify your tactics. Using only press release marketing, article marketing, and/or guest blogging to get links could penalize your website.
- Spread out the amount of you links you build in a given time. Controlling how many links you build in given time period can be seen as “working the system,” and Google will hit you for it.
The bottom line is that Google rewards quality link building and frowns upon anything even remotely spammy or Black Hat. For more information on how to deal with Google Penguin, check out this post on backlink analysis.