Sound the alarm, Penguin 2.0 is on its way. Last Friday Google’s Matt Cutts announced on Twitter that a Penguin 2.0 update will be arriving in the “next few weeks.” It’s been a year since the first Penguin update rolled out in April 2012 targeting sites with unnatural link profiles. While there have been refreshes of the update throughout the year, Cutts refers to the impending 2.0 as “the next generation of Penguin.” Now on to the important stuff like how to know if you’re at risk of being affected by Penguin and how to avoid being slammed by the penalty.
Who Penguin Affects
If you’ve been partaking in black hat SEO tactics, you better watch out. The primary no-no’s targeted by the Penguin update include:
- Keyword-stuffed title, meta tags, anchor text, and navigation links
- Link spam including paid links, farms, and overly-optimized anchor text.
Two tools I recommend for investigating your backlink profile and identifying problem areas are ahrefs and Open Site Explorer. With both tools, look at the quality and quantity of your inbound links. Specifically, look at the “authority” of the inbound link, domain type (.com, .net, etc.), and anchor text.
How to Avoid Being Slammed by Penguin 2.0
- Get more high quality and relevant links
- Vary your anchor text
- Cancel or remove unnecessary footer links
- Take it easy on the internal “SEO” linking
- If you are purchasing sponsored links, be careful!
- Delete, destroy, or dilute offending or suspected low quality links
Since the original Penguin update, Google announced a new “link disavow tool” meant to aid in removal of offending links. While some see it as a ‘godsend,’ most SEOs approach it with caution and recommend use only in dire circumstances. The primary insight from initial analysis of the new tool is not to utilize the link disavow tool unless you’ve received an “unnatural link warning” notice via Google Webmaster Tools. There may be a danger that you are submitting “good” links for consideration for removal, which may hurt you. The other danger is in helping Google identify low quality links it may not otherwise have known about, exacerbating your situation.
The eyes of the SEO world will be even more trained on Google than normal as webmasters try to predict the arrival of Penguin 2.0 over the next few weeks. Don’t spend your time crossing your fingers you won’t be affected and be proactive by taking the actions outlined above.