Spam. It’s the four-letter word of the marketing world. For a long time, spammers thrived online and pulled traffic away from legitimate sites. When Google originally launched the Penguin update back in 2012, it vowed to fight back, and fight back it did. Upon its release, Penguin impacted around 3 percent of all of Google’s search queries . While Penguin certainly did its part, Google still had a long way to go if it was serious about cleaning up the web. Now, it is a step closer to burying those annoying spam links with the Penguin 4 update. This update deals a serious blow to spammers everywhere. Sure, you can still create spam, but don’t be surprised if your content is buried where no one can see it.
Google Penguin Update – The Key Changes
The Google Penguin update includes two key changes that marketers need to understand. With the new update, Penguin is now in real-time, and instead of doling out site-wide penalties, it penalizes individual pages.
Let’s take a closer look at these changes and how they’ll impact your website.
Up until now, Google Penguin only refreshed its data periodically. This caused a serious problem for webmasters.
Let’s say that you had a website when Penguin 3.0 was active. You had some issues with spam, and Penguin picked up on it. You received the penalty, and your site dropped from the rankings.
You quickly fixed the problem so you could get your site back up on the first page of Google. Most of Google’s algorithms noticed that you did what you were supposed to do, but there was a straggler. Penguin didn’t recognize the changes, so you had to wait for it before you could get your old ranking back. Your wait could be as long as two years.
That’s no longer a problem with this update. Now, Penguin’s data is refreshed in real-time. If you get flagged for spam, you can fix the problem and move right back up in the search engine rankings. That is a huge relief for webmasters who have felt the sting of Penguin.
Individual Page Penalties
According to Google, the new Google Penguin update is “more granular.” To put it simply, instead of penalizing entire websites, it now penalizes individual pages.
Let’s say that you have some spam links pointing to your “About Us” page. Penguin 4 will pick up on that and penalize that page. All of the SEO work you did for that page will be all for naught until you fix the spam issue. However, the rest of your site won’t be penalized. People can still find your homepage and your product pages in the search results. Of course, you want to fix the problem page so your entire site will show up. Otherwise, you won’t be running on all of your SEO cylinders.
What Are Spammy Links?
You might be scratching your head, wondering just what Google is looking for with Penguin. You keep hearing about spammy links, but what are they?
In a nutshell, spammy links are low-quality links that don’t add value to your readers. Let’s take a look at some examples.
Links for ads are typically considered spam. When a site has tons of links that go out to ads, the webmaster can expect a hit from Penguin.
Over-optimized anchor text is another example of spammy links. Exact match keywords and several pieces of anchor text on a page will stand out to Penguin. Look at the example below. It is stuffed with anchor text. If you overdo it like that, you can expect to get buried in the rankings.
You also need to avoid adding your links to directories with low PageRanks. On top of that, stop building links with Ezine Articles and other content farms. These sites have low PageRanks, so the links are counted as spam.
Fixing the Problem
It is easy to fix the problem links on your site. Just go through and eliminate links that will hurt you with the Penguin update. Backlinks are a little more difficult, though. You need to find all of your backlinks and examine the link source to determine if it is hurting or helping you.
Ahrefs is a great tool for this. You can use the tool to find out which links are pointing to your site. Then, you can determine if you need to delete or disavow the links. If someone else created a poor link, you need to use the Google Disavow Tool to disavow it.
The Google Penguin Update is actually good news for marketers. It means that everyone is playing on an even playing field. You don’t have to worry about falling behind to spammers. Just make sure you clean up your own links so you can compete. If you do this, you will benefit from the update.
If you have lost traffic and think you might have been affected by the latest Penguin 4 update, please reach out to MacRAE’S. We can do some research and take a look to see how we can improve your website’s status.