At the start of October Google launched a new version of their Penguin 2.0 update, the new algorithm launched in May this year which followed the original Penguin 1.0 from the previous year. Like Panda before it, Penguins aims are ostensibly at making search results as relevant and as user-friendly as possible. But whilst Panda’s concerns were with eliminating sites with poor quality content and that were instead aimed solely at revenue generation, Penguin’s aims are at penalising link spamming and poor quality links.
It transpired in May, when Penguin 2.0 was launched, that the Penguin 1.0 focused only on the home pages of sites and the new algorithm was to explore the sites more fully. At the time, Google’s Engineer, Matts Cutts explained:
“It’s a brand new generation of algorithms. The previous iteration of Penguin would essentially only look at a home page of a site. The newer generation of Penguin goes much deeper and has a really deep impact in small areas.”
Although there were two updates in 2012 on Penguin 1.0, making the 2.1 launch the 5th release, 2.0 was an update of actual algorithms as opposed to merely refreshing data. What came as a surprise to many SEO specialists was the disclosure that the first version of Penguin only targeted home pages.
What impact will this update have for business owners?
In Cutts’ communication of the latest launch (via Twitter) he assured website owners that this update would affect “-1% of searches to a noticeable degree”. The launch in May affected 2.3% of sites in Google searches for English-US sites. Glenn Gabe from G-Squared analysed a number of sites following the launch earlier this month and revealed to Search Engine Watch that his belief is this launch will have a greater impact than the 2.0 version launched in May.
The update focuses on new spam links that have arisen since the launch. What Google will be looking out for are unnatural links, which may be a result of any or a combination of the following:
Links from sites that are irrelevant to your business
Links from poor quality sites
Links from poor quality or ‘spammy’ directories
Keyword rich links
Sudden spikes in volume of links
Links from overly optimised anchor text
What can be done if you are affected?
It will take some time and a number of steps to clean the links to your site but it is possible. Not only will it need to take the form of any current and future link building but may also entail a cleansing of previous links. This can include disavowing any ‘bad’ or poor quality links, which can be requested through Google’s Webmaster Tools. Avoid any of the following whilst building future links:
Spammy directories (a vast number of sites, often unrelated and all follow)
Multiple comments on blogs using matching anchor text signatures
Buying links in bulk and in a short time frame
Good practice should include:
Steadily building links of high quality
Using a variety of keywords in anchor texts and avoiding repetition
Link to good quality sites with relevant content to your industry or niche