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Google Penguin updated to part of core algorithm

Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Grant Whiteside

There’s a new penguin in town.

Since its debut in 2012, Google Penguin updates have wreaked havoc for webmasters who relied on spammy links to gain visibility. On 23 September 2016, however, Google announced that Penguin has become a permanent, real-time part of their core algorithm.

So here’s the question everyone’s asking: Will my site be affected?

What’s Changed?

Until now, Google Penguin was an occasional batch process which periodically refreshed and changed the search results. This now happens in real time and will have a big impact on a decent number of sites, both positive and negative.

Google’s goal is to tackle the quick, short-term visibility that can sometimes be gained by Google guideline-breaking link building – link building that is black-hat, automated, or in some way artificial.

We can expect Google to be faster and more effective at penalising those sites found to be in less salubrious link neighbourhoods.

Sites with lots of low-quality links will see an immediate drop in the search results. The road to recovery involves disavowing those links from low-quality sources that you may have thought were doing you good. In their place, add real, unique content, and get your followers to engage with it. Once you’ve done this, the good links will start coming in.

Google haven’t indicated that forgiveness for penalties (related to processing disavow files that disassociate a site from spammy links) will be processed in real-time. It’s in their interest to let offenders stew a little before letting them back into the search results.

The big takeaway here: if you haven’t had a review of your site’s link equity recently, don’t leave it any later than now. Sites often have historic links built before the Penguin update that have long been forgotten but are still crawled and associated with the domains.

New Changes for SEO

Penguin will be a permanent addition, so don’t expect to see it in the headlines for much longer: it will simply operate continuously and develop further as patterns are recognised and spammers test new link-building methods.

One of the core points of Google’s announcement is that Penguin will now be more granular. According to the announcement:

“Penguin now devalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting ranking of the whole site.”

This is a little ambiguous, but it shows the level of sophistication Google has reached in understanding spam signals. Ultimately, there won’t be many hiding places left for those still relying on these guideline-breaking link building practises.

Lazy link builders will stop seeing the short-term benefits they once had.

Agencies monitoring the results of website changes related to Google’s Penguin update should start seeing any visibility impact as of now.

Google Penguin: Moving Forwards

Google rewards websites that provide valuable, relevant content to their visitors.  SEO is now firmly a part of long-term brand development and the establishment of topical and thematic authority. All your site needs to do is answer the right questions and provide valuable information on a technically efficient platform.

The shortcuts to visibility that once existed are all but gone, and to risk those techniques now could seriously damage a website well into the future.

Google Penguin

Need a link profile audit? Give us a call, or email us at info@ambergreen.co.uk. We’d love to have a chat about how to ensure your site is optimised for Google.

Grant Whiteside
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