The search engine optimization (SEO) environment is more dynamic than ever. The latest Google Penguin 4.0 Algorithm in September 2016 has had the SEO industry talking, though it has been two years coming. Since the last update in 2014, the SEO environment has been rife with speculation and most of the predictions have come to pass.
While the debate had been raging on the actual impact of these changes there has been a consensus that the impact on search engine result pages (SERPs) ranking will be fast. The latest Google Penguin algorithm has been coming for over 700 days and while no one expected an announcement from the search engine giant, this time an official statement caught everyone by surprise.
If you are a website owner, it is imperative to understand the implications of the Google Penguin 4.0 Algorithm and how it will impact on your SERPs ranking. Is it a positive development or will it be all doom and gloom like most SEO strategists have been claiming? To answer these questions, it is important to get some background on the update as this will help you strategize on your SEO tactics.
Brief Overview of Google Penguin Algorithm
The penguin algorithm dates back to 2012 and it was launched by Google to tame an internet world that was going rogue. The aim of this signal is to demote websites that have earned links through black hat techniques. If a website has gone against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines,it would receive a penalty through demotion in ranking for the targeted keyword.
During these early days, Google was relying heavily on links to rank sites and webmasters started using unethical techniques to boost ranking on SERPs. When a website uses such links, the user experience is negatively affected hence the need to create a level playing ground. Google’s penguin targets these spammy links.
Previously, to regain your ranking after demotion you had to send requests to have the bad links removed and a then submit a disavow list. You then had to wait for this to be done after the next refresh.
Why the Hullabaloo about Google Penguin 4.0 Algorithm?
Since the first Penguin algorithm in 2012,things have been pretty clear about what Penguin is designed to do. If you had spammy links, you understood the impact and you also knew how to get your website ranking back on track. However, since the last Penguin algorithm in 2014 a lot of hype has been generated around the much awaited Penguin 4.0. A lot of false alarms were raised along the way and this caused a lot of confusion.
When Google announced the Penguin 4.0 Algorithm in September, it was clear that this was not the usual update. Some of the changes that are making webmasters talk about the algorithm include:
- Real-time site reassessment: If a website was previously affected by Penguin penalties, it had to await a new refresh to be reconsidered for new ranking. Penguin’s data will now be refreshed in real-time meaning changes will become visible much faster. Once Google re-crawls and re-indexes the improved site, the changes will take effect immediately. This saves website owners a lot of pain because a refresh for penguin previously took more than 2 years.
- No future comments on updates: Penguin updates are real-time and Google will no longer announce any refresh. Webmasters just have to keep improving their links to avoid penalties. If you own a website, you have to closely monitor your link profile and in case of penalties, remedy the link issues quickly to improve your ranking.
- Penguin 4.0 is still part of the ranking factors: Google has already announced the more than 200 unique signals it uses to determine relevance of websites. Penguin still remains part of these signals.
- More granular update: Penguin will not demote the entire site but specific sections where bad links are featured. This means the website is devalued rather than demoted.
How to Make the Most of Penguin 4.0 Algorithm
There is a consensus among SEO strategists that Penguin 4.0 Algorithm is not only fairer but also creates a level playing ground. With the real-time changes, it means you will get rewarded faster for quality content and in case you have spammy links on some pages your website will not take a big hit.
While the impact of the update has not been fully felt, there are some tips you can use to get the most out of the expected changes. Here are just a few collated from SEO experts:
- Leveraging Link Profile Analysis
There are many online tools thatcan help evaluate the health of your link profile. Any suspicious links will be identified and you should quickly go ahead and disavow them.
- Use the Google Search Console
It is important to know which websites are linking to yours. To learn this, use the Google Search Consolelink analysis tool to identify suspicious links. You will also identify the number of links from such websites and the pages they are linking with on your website.
- Focus on Your Brand not Links
If you are focusing on link building, you are risking leaving an SEO footprint. Instead, focus on creating high quality content and rely on multiple channels, such as social media, digital PR and paid search.
- Check Google’s Crawling History
You need to check the actual number of pages crawled. If you had spammy links on some pages you need to confirm Google has revisited the page in order to request for re-crawling when there is a delay. There are various tools online to help you analyze your log file and if the affected page has not been re-crawled by Googlebot, you can go ahead and use the Fetch and Render to submit the page. If a page had been de-ranked the results are re-evaluated and new ranking given.
Google Penguin 4.0 Algorithm should not scare you but instead, you should leverage the benefits it brings to your SEO strategy. Through real-time changes and more granular effects, your website will not take a big blow. It is also faster to rectify the link profile problem and get your pages back on top of SERPs.