Anyone who has been involved in the internet over the past few years will have noticed that Google seems to have made more changes to their search and site ranking algorithms over a few short years than they did for most of the decades before.
If you thought you were safe since the dust settled on Hummingbird and Mobilegeddon, then you had better brace yourself, because Penguin 4.0 is coming this year, and it is going to have an immediate impact!
What Is Penguin 4.0?
Penguin 4.0 is the latest version of the Penguin update, which was first released in 2012, designed to evaluate link quality and penalize sites for spammy or black hat link practices. The first time it was released, it changed search rankings overnight, and every time it has had an update since, it has turned search results upside down again.
The Penguin 4.0 incarnation will still be targeting poor quality and spam linking, but now it will be doing that in real time, which means your site could see an instantaneous drop or rise in the search rankings, depending on your link building practices. No more waiting for server updates.
Should You Be Worried?
Every time Google announces an algorithm update, it causes internet marketers and business marketing professionals around the world to break into a cold sweat, envisioning their rankings dropping like a stone, and their sites disappearing from the results over night.
The truth is though, that if you have been following Google’s well-publicized best practice tips and advice regarding links and site quality, you shouldn’t really have anything to worry about. In fact, this update may actually be good for your site–especially if you’ve been abiding by the rules and your competition has not.
How Should You Prepare?
If your site has been around for a while, and you’re not sure whether you have any dubious quality links (and remember, incoming links can cause trouble too!) then the best thing you can do for your site pre Penguin 4.0 is to conduct a link audit and clean up your link network before the changes hit. Here is how you can do that:
- The first thing you need to do is to determine where your incoming links are coming from. Type ‘who links to me’ into your browser, and you should find a few services where you can type in your website and check for links. Ahrefs is a good choice.
- Evaluate the quality of the links you have. Generally speaking, you want links from sites that are related, genuine, and high quality. Link wheels, spammy directories and other low quality sites should immediately be red flagged.
- Disavow links if you believe that low quality links are harming your ranking. This is a service that Google offers, where they allow site owners to request that links be excluded from crawling and ranking.
- Contact site owners directly to ask them to remove links. This doesn’t always work, but it’s worth a try.
- Concentrate your efforts on building high quality links.
The good news is that links are not always the reason your site slips in the rankings, and there is a strong chance you won’t even notice the Penguin upgrade. If you are worried though, start assessing and repairing your links sooner rather than later, and you should minimize any impact.