Penguin 2.0 was rolled out on Wednesday US time, meaning it affected UK Wednesday evening and Australia/Asia Thursday morning. How many of your clients have been affected or have been asking about Penguin 2.0? I wanted to share with you some of the best posts I have found on Penguin 2.0 and how you should react to this latest algorithm update.
First thing to clarify is what is Penguin?
Marie wrote a post on the difference between Penguin and an unnatural links penalty on SEOmoz which sums it up well. She starts off by first explaining Penguin:
This algorithm update was announced April 24, 2012, as a “Another Step to Reward High Quality Sites“, aimed at fighting webspam. The algorithm change was initially named “The Webspam Algorithm” but eventually began to go by the name of “Penguin”.
Who was affected?
Lots of sites who had widespread keyword stuffing and participated in link schemes……. so basically black hat techniques. The head of webspam at Google, Matt Cutts, admitted on Twitter that links are “a primary area to monitor” when you have been affected by Penguin.
So what does this mean?
Well those who have been engaging in naughty black hat techniques would have seen an unnatural link penalty. This is a message in your webmaster tools account that says Google have detected some unnatural links to your site. The email looks like the following:
Dear site owner or webmaster of ….
We’ve detected that some of your site’s pages may be using techniques that are outside Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include buying links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes.
We encourage you to make changes to your site so that it meets our quality guidelines. Once you’ve made these changes, please submit your site for reconsideration in Google’s search results.
If you find unnatural links to your site that you are unable to control or remove, please provide the details in your reconsideration request.
If you have any questions about how to resolve this issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.
Google Search Quality Team
So what do you do next?
I really like Search Engine Journal’s post about the guide to recover from an unnatural link penalty. I recommend everyone reads it. For those who are too lazy or more realistically do not have time, here are is a summary:
1) Locate those unnatural links in your Google Webmaster Tools
2) Remove them by contacting the site owners
3) Submit a reconsideration request to Google
4) Engage in good quality white hat SEO techniques (which Google have been telling you for years)
5) Never again engage in bad black hat SEO techniques. It is not worth it, you will only get burnt again !
Simple really isn’t it? If only it was that easy. But you must persevere and not give up, do not simply submit a disavow file instead of trying to remove the links. A disavow file should be used as the last resort after you have attempted to clean up your links.
There is so much to write about Penguin and the latest update, but the main takeaway is if you have been buying links in any form, then you may be hit. Make sure you focus on creating great content for your users and links will naturally follow. As I said at SES NY, screw link building, it is called relationship building. You cannot build links naturally overnight, (nor can you remove them as easily especially if you have bought links), so be patient and manage your client’s expectations.