On Oct. 17, Google launched its new algorithm, Penguin 3.0, and completed the full rollout on Oct. 20. The new filter was specifically created to prevent spam and provide more actionable, valuable search results for users. According to Search Engine Land, this updated version of Penguin includes changes in the way Google treats websites that violate its linking guidelines. This means companies might need to consider changing their search engine optimization strategies to ensure that their websites remain high-ranking search results.
Inc. contributor Drew Hendricks noted that, similar to last year's release of Penguin 2.1, this new algorithm may only impact an estimated 1 percent of search queries. However, in the grand scheme of overall Internet traffic, that query count remains astronaumical. For this reason, it is critical that business leaders – particularly those in the e-commerce sector – understand the changes brought by Penguin 3.0 and how to optimize their SEO techniques for the new filter to their advantage.
Penguin refresh: Treatment of spam links
While many are referring to the release as a complete update, Google's Pierre Far noted that this version was more of a refresh of last year's Penguin 2.1. Much of this revolves around Google's treatment of spammy links. Last year, many companies put considerable work to remove spammy inbound links, only to see minimal improvements in search result rankings.
"[T]his means that the site merely updated its algorithms to release those sites that had repaired their issues after the last update and pinpoint any issues that might have been missed by previous updates," Hendricks explained. "As a result, sites that didn't repair issues but remained high in search results may notice a sudden drop."
Moreover, QuickSprout contributor Neil Patel pointed out that Penguin 3.0 also looks for optimized or exact-match keyword anchors, low-quality backlinks and links leading back to guest blogging networks.
Optimize your site for Penguin 3.0
Keeping these points in mind, there are several best practices website administrators and marketing strategists can leverage to prevent being weeded out of search results. Power Retail contributor and digital strategist John Vlasakakis suggested utilizing the following strategies:
- Audit existing links: First and foremost, organizational leaders should carry out a link audit using one of the many link research tools available online today. This will provide a complete picture of the links currently included in website content, and can help identify those Google will consider "spammy."
- Remove exact match anchor text: While exact-match keyword linking strategies were big a few years ago, this has changed recently. Companies should refocus their links so that the anchor text being used isn't an exact match to the identified keyword.
"By analyzing your backlink profile, you may notice there are a large number of links pointing back to your site that do not include your brand name or domain," Vlasakakis wrote. "Google will spot this quickly, and penalize swiftly."
- Remove outbounds from link networks: Administrators should also ensure that the links included in content do not lead back to link networks. These are sites that don't offer any pertinent information or add anything to the user experience, and instead only exist to link out to other sites. This is another frowned-upon strategy that Google will quickly catch onto and penalize.
Although some companies may think Penguin 3.0 may not impact them, Patel pointed out that there is no harm in optimizing your website for improved search results.
"Even if you don't think you're at risk, performing these actions will help your link profile," Patel wrote. "There's never any harm in taking action to clean up your website. It won't hurt, and it definitely might help."