Webmasters beware: What are you going to do when Penguin 3.0 comes for you?
Whilst the world has been rocked by shocking news across the topical spectrum this September, it is Google who have sent one of the severest shockwaves, signalling that their third major Penguin update is set to be applied before 2014 comes to a close.
The news will have webmasters everywhere clamouring to legitimise their endeavours, with all being fully aware that despite its somewhat innocuous title, the reality is that few viruses can boast to have caused anywhere near as much destruction, damage and desolation across the online world than Google’s flagship algorithm update.
The new update is thought to be a response to growing criticisms levelled at its current incarnation which have highlighted that its slow refresh times are causing a plethora of sites to be unfairly and negatively impacted for a longer period of time than they should be. Google has confirmed that the new update will have a far quicker refresh time and thus will theoretically enable webmasters to recover quicker from penalties handed out by Penguin than they have done in the past.
And whilst any Penguin update is rightly feared by those in the online world, there is a case to argue that certain webmasters will welcome the new update for providing them with the platform to do this more quickly.
The new update was confirmed by Google’s John Mueller last week, who outlined that its final version was still being refined but estimated its arrival time to be sometime before the year is up.
“We are working on a Penguin update, so I think saying that there’s no refresh coming would be false,” Mueller said.
“I don’t have any specific timeline as to when this happens…it’s not happening today, but I know the team is working on this and generally trying to find a solution that refreshes a little bit faster…but it’s not happening today, and we generally try not to give out too much of a timeline ahead of time because sometimes things can still change.”
When queried about whether the new refreshes will occur on a frequent basis, such as with the Panda update, Muller outlined: “We’ll see what we can do there, so that’s something where we’re trying to kind of speed things up because we see that this is a bit of a problem when webmasters want to fix their problems, they actually go and fix these issues, but our algorithms don’t reflect that in a reasonable time. So that’s something where it makes sense to try to improve the speed of our algorithms…Some of you have seen this first hand, others have worked with other webmasters who have had this problem, and I think this is kind of something good to be working on.”
And when quizzed about the potential magnitude of the new update on sites online, Muller said: “That’s always hard to say, and I imagine the impact also depends on your website and whether or not it’s affected…if it’s your website, the impact is always big, right? We’re trying to find the right balance there to make sure we’re doing the right things, but sometimes it doesn’t go as quickly as we’d all like.”
Whilst the faster refresh times slightly diminishes the threat of the new update, it will nevertheless decimate a large contingency of the online world who are guilty of having spam links and poor back link profiles on their site. Remember, this is an algorithm update which has destroyed businesses, incurred job losses and reversed years of hard work in the past, and the announcement that the next update is due will have webmasters everywhere repeatedly conducting link audits to ensure they are not snared when it is eventually introduced.
Minimise your impact; act now
Whilst the potential damage and far- reaching effects of the penguin update 3.0 have been justifiably emphasised within this article, the goods new is that there are pre-emptive measures you can employ now to minimise the impact it has on your own online endeavours. The first step is to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of all the links coming from and to your site by using Google Webmaster Tools, in order to track falls in traffic. You might also want to consider using a more directly related programme such as a Penguin Penalty Checker Tool in order to ascertain whether your site will be detrimentally impacted by the latest round of updates. Usually, programmes like this will analyse your sites traffic levels both before and after Penguin’s updates have been released, so you can identify whether the two correlate in some way and thus determine whether you have been hit or not by its introduction.
It is also essential that you conduct a link audit as soon as possible, in order to concretely confirm that all the links associated with your site are legitimate and white-hat. Remember, whilst Penguin seeks to annihilate those who don’t play by the rules, it has the converse benefit of rewarding those who play ball and exhibiting that your site has a number of organic and clean links will undoubtedly have a positive impact on your overall rankings in the future. Failing to make sure all your links are legitimate will put your site at risk of getting penalised hard by the new update, and it could take months or even years to make up the ranking loss incurred by such an occurrence.
Irrespective of whether you have escaped penalisation in the past, it is now of integral importance that you conduct an anticipatory link audit to concretely determine whether your business and its online presence is safe and secure from the impending penguin update. After you have ensured that your back-link profiles are legitimate, it would be worth concentrating on attaining and producing clean links which adhere to the webmaster regulations, in order to ensure long-term security against updates in the future.