Tens of thousands, if not 100’s of thousands of online marketers have managed thorough link audits after being impacted by Penguin. Specifically, they have gone to great lengths to take away or disavow EVERY link that could be interpreted by Google as being part of a link scam. The return for those who have worked so hard at coming into compliance, up to this stage, has been nil. The reason is that Penguin is an algorithm and not incorporated into the standard and recurring search engine refreshes. According to Google’s John Mueller, Penguin calls for a “comprehensive rerun” of the criteria.
Most probably, once that rerun takes place, those websites that have sanitized their backlink profile AND exchanged their spam links with real links will be honored with a boost in SERPs.
For many, it will be tears of misery. Years of tough efforts in strengthening a Web-based business will be invalidated, instantly. Hundreds, if not thousands, of men and women will lose their jobs. Organizations and individuals will go bankrupt. At SES in San Francisco in 2012, Matt Cutts shed this little bombshell:
“You don’t want the next Penguin update, the engineers have been working hard. [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][…] The updates are going to be jarring and jolting for a while.”
On August 16, 2012, Matt Cutts enhanced that statement in a comment left under a blog post written by Barry Schwartz:
“…expect that the next few Penguin updates will take longer, incorporate additional signals, and as a result will have more noticeable impact. It’s not the case that people should just expect data refreshes for Penguin…”
Based on that opinion, nobody should be alarmed that 10 months have passed since the last Penguin run. Nor should they be astonished when they see no lift after a link tidy up. I would also caution you to be prepared for the next run to be bumpy and jolting, as well. Additional information will have been added to the algorithm over a duration of nearly a year and “spammy” links that could have passed under the radar last round, (i.e.: paid and other spammy links) could potentially trip a filter, aka Penguin 3.0.
800 lb Gorilla in the Room
Because the Penguin algorithm has been so “successful” in pushing websites with a spammy backlink presence out of the SERPs, there has been a lot of chatter and speculation neighboring negative SEO. The pinnacle of the negative SEO campaign, to date, is the widely reported “extortion email” being circulated – a form of SEO extortion. No one really knows just how big a issue negative SEO has become.
Google’s formal position on negative SEO is that “Google works hard to prevent other webmasters from being able to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index. If you’re concerned about another site linking to yours, we suggest contacting the webmaster of the site in question. Google aggregates and organizes information published on the web; we don’t control the content of these pages.” Not too encouraging a message, is it?
Steps to Protect Your Website or Recover From Penguin
The first stage is to determine if or not your website has been affected by Penguin. The location to begin is by using a Penguin Penalty Checker Tool, which compares your web traffic to the Penguin rollout date ranges. If a website traffic reduction syncs up with a rollout, you MAY be impacted by Penguin, but a full site audit should be performed in order to be absolutely assured.
If the site has been struck by Penguin, NOW is the time to perform a link audit to be sure that EVERY backlink in your profile complies to Google Webmaster Guidelines. Failure to do so will restrict you from escaping Penguin’s grip. Worse yet, you may need to wait another 10+ months before another Penguin Run for the next chance to recover. There has been some speculation that Penguin will not run before Matt Cutts returns from hiatus. Don’t believe it – it is unlikely there is any connection between the two events.
If your site has NOT been struck by Penguin, you are still not in the clear. If you have any (Paid, EMAT, or otherwise Spammy) links in your profile that keep you up at nighttime, now is the occasion to purge them. If you have done any programmed link-building or hired cheap, offshore link-building providers, your site is in jeopardy. Even if you have been a White Hat Girl Scout, you still aren’t safe, thanks to the potential for negative SEO. In the present conditions, non-penalized sites must execute a pre-emptive/pro-active link audit to be safe. Failure to do so could make you the next webmaster waiting for nearly a year for an occasion to emerge from Penguin.
Once you have sanitized your backlink profile, it is time to permanently end the bad practices that may worked well in the past, but represent risk, today. Instead, focus on post-penalty marketing activities that conform to Webmaster Guidelines.
Just because you are under penalisation, doesn’t mean that you have to hold off for a Penguin rebroadcast to get organic traffic. In addition to replacing the bad links with good ones, you should spend efforts and resources on creating traffic that does not call for Google organic search.
What Should We Takeaway From This?
The key takeaway from this post is that EVERYONE ought to check their link profile regularly to ensure that it’s clean. If it isn’t clean, NOW is the time to do something about it and disavow spammy links BEFORE the next Penguin run. If you think that’s a hassle, try thriving without any Google Organic traffic for nearly a year.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]