Google’s Upcoming Penguin Update: Implications for Brands & Webmasters

Post by Erik Bergstrom, SEO Analyst

Google’s next Penguin update has been confirmed for a 2015 roll-out by Gary Illyes, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, via Twitter. Penguin was initially an algorithm update that rolled out on April 24, 2012 to combat websites bolstering their external link numbers through the purchase of low-quality, spammy, or otherwise unnatural links.

In the past, webmasters could get away with acquiring a large number of low quality links, whether it was through article and forum commentary or by purchasing links from other webpages, and then watching as their rankings improved.


Google respects authoritative links from quality websites and rewards those who acquire them authentically; however, enough links from less trusted sites would still improve one’s position on the search page (SERP). With Penguin, Google penalized sites with spammy links and rewarded sites with authoritative inbound links obtained the old fashioned way, through people wanting to show other people your content. Case closed? Not entirely.

Google has obviously seen a way to improve this update and up to this point, only Gary Illyes has shed any light on Penguin’s upgrade. Before the Twitter confirmation, Illyes (at SMX East) stated the new addition will be the real-time version, implying the detection of spammy links will have an immediate impact on a website once processed. This means webmasters can recover from penalties rather quickly, but can also receive those penalties just as fast.


So, what can webmasters do to protect sites from looming penalties? There are multiple avenues each of us should thoroughly explore before Penguin’s release, namely:

  1. Disassociate your website from low quality links. Whether this means disavowing or manually removing them, talk to your Performics account manager for their audit plan and recommended strategy.
  2. Ensure anchor text is optimized by including either the brand or the topic referenced within the link. Stay away from “click here” or other non-descriptive text.
  3. Penguin inspects both external and internal links. Ensure your internal linking strategy is transparent, hierarchical and follows these rules:
    1. Anchor text should either include the brand, an optimized keyword for that page, or be referencing a specific topic within the link
    2. Link related content internally. If Page A and Page B share a related topic, ensure that a link exists on Page A to take users to Page B and vice versa.

Thoroughly audit the number and quality of external links to ensure respectable links are pointing to your site. Any large jumps in your link totals may suggest the rapid purchase or creation of spammy links, so be sure that this isn’t the case. If it is, remove them from your site as Google will penalize you for these links. A simple external link audit will go a long way in ensuring that Penguin’s update doesn’t negatively impact your website and brand.

For more information on Google’s Penguin update, please contact your Performics Account Team today.

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