A new Google Penguin update is no longer a rumor, but now the main focus is when the update will hit. Recently in a Google+ Hangout John Mueller was quoted as saying “engineers are working on it [Penguin 3.0]” and admits that it is “not far away”. Since we know a Penguin 3.0 update is on the horizon, it is important to make sure your site is prepared.

Update 10/20/14Google Penguin 3.0 was released on Friday October 17, 2014 and affects fewer than 1% of search queries.

The last time we had seen a Penguin update from Google was Penguin 2.1, which was launched in October 2013. Not only has it been almost a full year since the last update, but we continue to see black hat SEOs adapt and more spammy results are being shown in competitive SERPs. Also, since the launch of the first Penguin algorithm update in April 2012, Google has refreshed the update on a consistent basis of around two times a year. All of these signals suggest a Penguin update from Google much sooner than later.

What Can We Expect from Potential Google Penguin Update?

With a new Penguin update, we can expect to see Google holding up its values to enforce search relevancy and penalize sites who continue to manipulate Google’s search results. Personally I believe this Google algorithm update will focus heavily on low quality backlink strategies and over-optimized anchor text usage.

Throughout the SEO community it is believed this will be a full algorithm refresh rather than a small update, which means that Penguin will continue to enforce negative or questionable SEO tactics. As always with Google, just because a tactic worked in the past does not mean it is still practical today. We have seen this in the past with many link building strategies such as forum & comment links, guest blog posting, and directory link building. This is why it is so important to keep up with Google’s updates and industry news.

How to Protect Your Site for Penguin 3.0

We all know a major update is on its way so now is the perfect time to take the right precautions and prepare your site for the Penguin 3.0 update. Listed below are a few precautionary actions you can take with your backlink profile ensure your site will not be penalized:

Audit Inbound Links

  • Both free and paid tools can help you audit your backlink profile: Ahrefs, Majestic, and Moz’s Open Site Explorer
  • Watch for backlinks coming from low quality and non-niche directory sites, deceptive forum and comment links, and links from irrelevant websites.

Focus on Anchor Text

  • It is believed that the Penguin 3.0 update will be examining and punishing sites very hard for over optimized anchor text.
  • Google has targeted sites that have anchor text options that are heavily optimized, specifically when anchor text is an exact match to the page’s optimized title tag.
  • The days of exact match and keyword-rich anchor text link building are all but over, and backlink profiles must reflect this.

Avoid Paid Links

  • Each Penguin update so far has targeted paid and obvious sponsored links.
  • We can assume that with the next update Google will continue to punish sites who are violating their terms and paying for links

Irrelevant Links

  • Links from high authority sites can help strengthen a backlink profile, but relevancy really matters in the eyes of Google. A website about NYC restaurant reviews receiving links from a site about space exploration can send warning signals to Google, and trigger an algorithmic penalty.
  • Blogging networks and paid link networks should still be avoided at all costs. By using Majestic’s Neighborhood Checker, you can attempt to identify any link networks in your backlink profile.

Avoid Foreign Domains

  • Unless your company operates worldwide, gaining hundreds or thousands of backlinks from spammy countries like Russia and China seems very fishy to Google.
  • At Elite SEM we have seen a large increase of negative backlinks from Chinese scrapper sites. While auditing backlinks profiles, the first place I check for low quality links is from sites located in China.

By performing an audit of your backlinks, monitoring new incoming links, and following Google’s guidelines you can assure your site safe passage through the next Google update. Don’t be afraid to use your outreach skills to ask for links to be changed to “no follow”, and make sure you use Google’s Disavow Tool for any suspicious links you cannot get manually removed. Penguin 3.0 is on its way and coming very soon, but it isn’t all doom and gloom if you prepare your sites correctly.

Learn how Elite SEM helped two online retailers remove Penguin manual link penaltiesClick here to download the Penguin penalty removal case study

Here is a recent video on Penguin 3.0 I did with my colleague Tony Edward

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