What You Should Know About the Google Penguin Update

google penguin update imageWhat is Google Penguin update?

Google Penguin update was designed to reduce ‘web spam’ and encourage high-quality content for users. Since its initial release in April 2012, Google Penguin has released several updates. With each Google Penguin update, the algorithm once again scans websites for potential violations, opening up the possibility that brands might be penalized.

On January 10, 2016, Google released the latest Google Penguin update, which made Penguin run in real time. This means you can recover almost immediately once you make the corrections necessary to your page.

How the Penguin update impacts sites

You can generally tell if your page has been hit by a Penguin penalty by looking at Google Webmaster Tools and monitoring your traffic. Since Penguin is a page-specific update, you will notice a sharp drop for specific keywords. Google offered this traffic report as an example of a page hit by Penguin.

google penguin update graph

How to avoid a Penguin penalty

The Penguin penalty largely focuses on identifying poor-quality websites based upon backlinks. Google’s algorithm works on the assumption that quality sites link to other quality sites while poor sites generally link to other poor sites. In other words, when you have websites that Google already trusts linking to you, it helps to boost your rankings. On the other hand, if you are linking to spam sites, then there is a good chance that the algorithm will not trust you either.

google penguin update pictureGoogle particularly wanted to penalize the sites that artificially boosted their rankings by buying links from link farms or other spam sites.

The best way to avoid a Penguin update penalty is to focus on cultivating positive backlinks. You can do this by writing content that people believe will help their users. When a site links to you, they are entrusting you with their visitors, so to get high-quality sites to provide you with backlinks, you need to be producing similar quality content.

You also want to regularly review your backlink profile. Even though there is still disagreement about the ability of spam sites to lower your quality rating by linking to your site, the possibility remains. Use Google’s disavow tool to let the search engine know that you are not interested in these links to make sure you do not incur any penalties.

To review, here is how to avoid a Google Penguin update penalty:

  1. Get rid of any backlinks you have purchased or otherwise illicitly gained
  2. Focus on creating high-quality content and distributing it to attract the desired backlinks
  3. Regularly monitor your backlink profile to quickly find undesirable links
  4. Disavow any poor-quality links to protect your site’s reputation

Although Google Penguin update can look intimidating, particularly if you get hit by the penalty and see your traffic drop drastically. Taking the necessary steps to correct the problem, however, can help you quickly recover, particularly since the update is now run in real time.

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