By now, every SEO has heard of the rumbling that marks the imminent arrival of Google’s Penguin 3.0 update.
The internet has been brewing with speculation and predictions as to when it will be rolled out, and what it will mean for search engine optimization as we move into the second half of 2014.
However, as everyone should know by now, Google always keeps its cards fairly close to their vest, and there has been no definite announcement regarding Penguin 3.0, it’s due date, or if this will even be published name for the next update.
Still, it’s no great leap to assume that there is a new version of Penguin on the horizon. After all, it’s what Google does.
It’s our job, as SEOs and content marketers, to be as prepared for Google’s upcoming updates as humanly possible.
So, with Penguin 3.0 (or any unnatural link update), let’s look at what the update will likely hold in store, and how to keep our websites and blogs from falling under the little birds hammer.
Google’s Penguin – A Potted History
Google’s Penguin first arrived on our shores in April of 2012. Since then it has undergone a number of iterations, the latest being the Penguin 2.1 update, back in October 2013.
At its heart, the Penguin algorithm was designed to target so called ‘black hat’ SEO tactics. Low quality links were hardest hit, particularly paid links and spammy backlinks.
The Penguin also targeted overly optimized anchor texts designed to boost a website’s page ranking. What is anchor text? Put simply, it’s the clickable text of a link.
The purpose of the Penguin was, presumably, to level the SERP playing field.
Penalizing those sites relying on manipulative SEO tactics to score high in the search results, and rewarding those websites that stayed away from spammy link building methods.
Penguin 3.0 – What Can We Expect?
No one can predict the full content or impact of Google’s Penguin 3.0, but we can make some educated guesses.
Obviously, 3.0 will continue to enforce Google’s emphasis on search relevancy and will continue to penalize sites using manipulative tactics to score some prime SERP real estate.
This Penguin will be looking even more closely at link strategies, anchor text usage, and on-page SEO than ever before.
It’s estimated that Penguin 2.0 only directly affected a little over 2% of English language search results.
Look for 3.0 to dig deeper into your site looking for any questionable SEO tactics.
While we can’t know all that Penguin 3.0 will entail, there are some steps we can take to prepare our websites and blogs for the oncoming update.
Audit Inbound Links
This is something we should be doing on a regular basis, but the rumors of Penguin 3.0 is another reason to kick this process into high-gear. Perform a thorough link audit, paying special attention to anchor text distribution and inbound links from low value or spammy websites.
You’re looking for links from non-niche directories, low quality articles or profiles, spammy blog comments, and irrelevant or unrelated websites. Use tools such as Link Detox to help streamline this process.
Avoid Overly Optimized Anchor Text
Exact match and keyword rich anchor texts are questionable SEO tactics. Why do I say questionable?
Let’s face it, if you “earn” a link from a high-value site, do you think the anchor text will really matter? Probably not.
However, if you have a lop-sided anchor text distribution, you can definitely bet the anchor text will matter a lot!
Focus more on co-citation and co-occurrence. Google can understand the surrounding content for topical relevance.
Guest Blogging Links
Much has been written about the death of guest blogging, and while it can still be an effective way to promote your website, it has turned into something of a mine field.
Where guest blogging is concerned, stick with high-value industry related sites and authors, and repeat the mantra “relevance”.
Evaluate Your On-Page SEO
Google wants to provide quality content to its users, but that content still needs to be properly optimized. Abandon the old practice of keyword stuffing, and embrace a more advanced on-page strategy.
Use short, keyword rich URLs, write more effective title tags, include relevant outbound links to authority sites, add multimedia content, add H1 tags to your content, and keep your code clean to decrease loading time.
It seems that whenever there is an update to one of Google’s major algorithms, SEOs and digital marketers go into a fit.
But we all know these updates are coming, even if we don’t know when.
Penguin 3.0 will another in the latest line of updates, and there is no reason to stress over its imminent arrival.
Take to your websites, perform a thorough audit, and bring them in line with Google’s best practices. That’s the only surefire way to avoid the wrath of the Penguin.
Who knows. Maybe all the hard work we’ve all done with disavows and link cleanup since Penguin 2.1 will finally be rewarded?