“Truth be told, thousands if not millions of websites will go out of business after this update. Thousands of people will lose their jobs and countless web-masters will be uprooted from the face of the Internet.”
LATEST UPDATE 20.10.14 – John Muller stated in a Hangout conference that Google Penguin 3.0 is done rolling out for now. But, he did not confirm as yet, if there are any changes made to the previous algorithm or if there will be any more Penguin refreshes in near future.
If you are struck by the Google Penguin 3.0 algorithm and looking for possible fix or want to know whether you are hit by it or not – Click Here, otherwise you can read on to find out what the update is all about and who has been affected and to what extent.
To hit the accelerator, allow me to waste 2 minutes of your life with this very, very, (very and if there is any more very after very) important eye opener, one act play that came to my mind right now.
(Scene 1: The Office)
(Alex and Bob are in an office setup. Looks like this is Bob’s office)
Alex (another SEO Guru): Hey! There is a rumor that Penguin 3.0 might roll out soon, why don’t you do a thorough examination of your backlink profile? Do it regularly and make sure that it’s all clean and tidy – You don’t want Penguin to kick your ass. right?
Bob (the lazy Webmaster): Aarghh! Another Penguin Update? No ways man. I think I will just let it pass. I have 100% germ free backlinks.
Alex : Your call buddy! Don’t say I dint warn you.
Bob : (Snoring…) Fast asleep in his chair.
Alex : When someone’s doomed, even god can’t save him. (Walks out of the scene)
A Month Later
(Scene 2: Alex’s Place)
Alex is sipping coffee, happy that he survived the first wave of the Penguin. Bob comes running in.
Bob: I don’t want to live on this earth anymore. Three of my websites that were ranking for my most competitive keywords are not even appearing on the first 10 pages and one of my websites has been pushed to Page 4. I need help!!?!
Alex: Get used to this, you did not take action when I warned you. Don’t worry – It’s going to be normal soon. Just a year maybe. Without any traffic through the SERP’s, you will be able to survive this right?
Bob faints, the scene ends.
You may not agree with me, because you think otherwise, but Bob is the iconic representation of most of the Webmasters today. Google’s policy has clearly stated over the years that any kind of unoriginal backlinks to a website, which it has not earned organically, are against the rules. But just like Bob, most webmasters indulge in shortcut tactics, or ways to instant fame and JUST LIKE BOB, most are even lazy to reverse the process to evade the Penguin attack.
I don’t want to give an introduction to the Penguin here, but in a line, I would call it Google’s weapon of mass destruction for websites which indulge in manipulative link building tactics and other black hat link earning methods.
This update has been a boon for all the webmasters who were hit by the Penguin 2.1 last year in October. Ever since then, it must have been a tough crawl up the ladder for these guys. But, Google has rewarded the websites who have worked on end to recover their old reputation by sanitizing their link profiles – there are significant boost in SERPs ranking for these. (Website which have forever been White Hat followers have not been affected positively or negatively). But, websites which have been caught in the act, have been dropped off the face of the Internet.
I have not seen the online forums and discussion boards so ablaze with conversations for at least an year now. This has definitely been a Massive, Massive Update and It’s a fair warning to those websites which have been lucky enough to avoid the first shockwave – don’t be like Bob if you want to live a SERPy life for the next one year.
What Google Say’s About the Frequency of These Updates
John Mueller stated that they are trying to do everything in their scope to speed up the resolution time of the algorithms after webmasters have fixed the issues in a reasonable time. Sometimes, the wait for the changes to reflect and the ranking to rise can be over 6 months, which is not a favorable situation for White hat firms that fell under the grasp of Bad SEO companies or Negative SEO tactics.
Penguin 3.0 is a Massive Attack – After A Long Time
Just like the previous Penguin updates, this one has already played a key role in screwing the essential keywords for thousands of websites. I will repeat myself again, that only those websites which have indulged in any kind of manipulative tactics for earning links will be penalized. Still it is a good idea to keep a track of your backlink profile and disavow all links that may seem insignificant to you.
Even ‘over-optimized’ backlinks to commercial pages, which work to increase the conversions of the websites, are under the magnifying glass. So, you better be careful when you do your link audit this time.
I have been working for a few clients who have been affected by Negative SEO over the past few months. Some have even recovered completely or partially. So, this was a life savior for those who managed to evade the first wave in the nick of time. However, for the firms who are still suffering from malicious attacks under the radar – It is a bad, bad news.
The best way to fight back against such douche efforts is to keep a constant eye on the link movement in your profile and watch over any illegitimate links that you have not acquired and disavow them. If all else fails, just keeping your disavow file up to date and writing to Google in your disavow cover letter that you have been a victim of such activity will suffice – For now.
This is not a fair test of faith to be honest, but against the growing Internet corruption, there does not seem to be a more logical approach to a situation than this – Well we can at least count on Google for this.
I constantly check the rankings for more than a 1000 websites myself and I am noticing a huge wipe out here. This is the worst side of the coin and there is no way to dodge this if you are in the wrong and you do not make an effort.
My Opinion About This Update
It’s not a perfect update, as there are quite a few loopholes to fix, but I am sure Google has made these changes seeking the best effort of those web masters who have taken their step up the ladder slowly by opting for White Hat techniques only. Even those webmasters who have been previously involved in wrongful tactics, if they have corrected their mistakes or at least made an honest effort, I think their websites are safe for now. But, it is not my guarantee as these algorithms’ have the tendency to be very unpredictable and you do not know the cause till you are actually hit by them.
What is the scope of this algorithm?
Google really seems bent on searching and destroying those websites that have manipulative anchor text links and websites, the sole existence of which is only for link selling purposes. Good bye link farms!
It is becoming increasingly easy now days to sort out the bad backlinks from the good in the link profiles, merely by looking at the names. However, such tactics should only be used as assumption and not as a final measure for link auditing. I do not want to get into the nitty-gritty’s of link audit but I am sure, Google is making the best use of its advanced algorithm, and it is doing quite a good job at that.
This is the eve of judgment call for blog networks, the reason being most of such networks are almost all the time involved with more than one link selling micro blogs. Such tactics are both used by Black Hat or Lazy SEO firms and bloggers. But, it won’t last much longer now, especially after the second wave (if there is any in near future). Due to the unpredictable nature of the algorithm, it is difficult at the moment to estimate what the search giant might do next.
The Future of Automated Backlink Analysis
Seeing the force at which Google is augmenting its AI, automated auditing and backlink analysis will soon be a thing of the past. It is becoming increasingly impossible and improbable to even think of software programs to scrutinize the backlink profiles of websites at a deeper level than they are doing already.
Maintain a thorough backlink profile and update it from time to time in order to make your future days less cumbersome. You sure will thank me in future.
Have You Been Hit? Possible Fix to Penguin 3.0 and Safety Measures
Use the Penguin Penalty Checker Tool to analyze the current status of your website. This handy tool will compare your web traffic before and after the Penguin 3.0 launch. If you notice significant drops in your SERPs traffic, then you are probably hit by the update already and if you see no significant change in the SERPs, it is reason for you to be happy – but not over confident.
Do a thorough backlink audit analysis to be certain that your website is not under the grasp of the Penguin in present, or in near future. If you feel that you are affected by the Google Penguin Algorithm, then there is not much you can do in the short run.
These are the 2 possible routes you could choose. Both routes are pretty painful to be honest, but that’s how it is.
- Quarantine Your “Bad” Links – There are no shortcuts here. Get a complete backlink profile of your website by using tools like Majestic SEO, Ahrefs etc. From then, it is only manual labor of checking out individual links and segregating them. Disavow all your bad backlinks and submit a cover letter to Google Webmasters stating your course of action and which links you have unable to remove (if any and why).There is not much to do after this except, keeping your backlink profile clean and waiting for the next Penguin Update (which can take more than 10 months) to recover your lost rankings.Unlike other penalties, there are no reconsideration requests for a website hit by a Penguin update. So you can either wait it out a year or take our next option, which is equally painful.Forget about Google for a Year at least and invest time and resources on traffic gathering activities outside the scope of Google.
- Forget Your Current Website – Another viable but painful option is to forget that your website ever existed. If you cannot wait one full year to do a Penguin Recovery, then you can just cut out your loss and start a new website (possibly with a different extension).
If we notice the track records of previous Penguin runs, we can expect a similar approach with the Penguin 3.0 this time. However, if such speculations are to be true, it is fair to expect a couple of Penguin 3.0 reruns in the next few weeks. If your website has not already been penalized by the Update, it is about time you get down to business and get your backlink audit done.
The process may seem painful and expensive for now, but trust me it will be worse if you have to sit out an entire year away from Google SERPs only to see your competitors take on a huge irrecoverable lead. It’s all a matter of time, so your hard time spent right now, will pay off in future with more benefits than you could anticipate. I hope you found this piece helpful.