March of the Penguin
There’s been a lot of industry chatter lately about a crucial algorithm refresh – Penguin. But what exactly is this update, and what does it mean for you?
What is Penguin?
Google is notable for having around 600 updates a year. Many of them are minor, but some are so large they get their own codename. (If you’re not sure when they’ve happened – check out our Digital History of Google for a quick refresh.)
Penguin is a codename for an algorithm update – not something that is officially named by Google. It was initially launched in 2012, in an effort to fight some black-hat SEO techniques of linkbuilding, including link farms and link networks.
Prior to Penguin, rankings were heavily affected by the number of links pointing to a domain, rather than the quality of those sites and links. Penguin sought to fix that.
By looking at sites with spammy and unnatural backlink profiles and penalising them, Google ensures that it keeps the best quality sites towards the top of page one – keeping customers and users happy.
When is it coming?
Usually, when a Penguin update is rolled out, there is a huge shift in rankings across all verticals. Many of our clients see dips (or increases) in their rankings as the new algorithm changes how it sees many links to the site.
Back at the start of the year, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, Gary Illyes, said that Penguin was due to launch “within weeks” – however, this turned out to be false, as we have not seen any evidence of ranking shifts to the degree we would expect from a Penguin update.
We also heard back in June that the next Penguin update was “closer” and “not much longer”.
We’re now in August, and we’re finally starting to hear proper industry chatter suggesting that an update is on the way. So, not much longer.
What does this mean for me?
In light of this – and after seeing the major ranking shifts that we always see in the wake of a Penguin update, we’re suggesting that we undertake a full Backlink Audit for all clients. Penguin targets spammy links, so now is the perfect time to take a look at your backlink profile and clean out or disavow the links that may potentially negatively impact you when the update happens.
Not sure how to do a backlink audit? Give us a call. We’re experts and we’re not afraid to lend a hand.