It is Saturday May 11, 2013 at 9pm – if you are an SEO, by now you all know that a major Penguin update is coming, dubbed “Penguin 2.0.” If you haven’t heard, yesterday Matt Cutts tweeted that it was coming:
Anyway, I am sure that it will be just as “jarring and jolting” as the original Penguin (and its refreshes) if not more.
Before we get to our predictions, here are a few precautions to take, if you haven’t already. Penguin and other algorithm updates can be very unforgiving and relentless. It has taken a number of major enterprise level websites right off the map, and thousands of other sites as well.
1. Check your links. Go into your favorite backlink analyzer and do a roundup. Look for any paid links, automated links, or signs of SPAM.
2. If you do see a good percentage of not-so-good links in your portfolio, now might be the time to disavow. If the first penguin didn’t hit you, this one might be the one to do it!
3. If you are building SPAM links to your site, stop.
It is much easier to prevent an algorithmic penalty, then it is to come back from one. Take this time to review the standards from the first Penguin, as well as Google Webmaster Tools guidelines.
The first Penguin and subsequent refreshes focused heavily on low-quality back links. There were subsequent refreshes that specifically targeted link networks such as SAPE.
Prediction 1 – Low quality “guest posts” – After the first Penguin, a lot of black hatters changed gears from automated link building to building link networks & swapping links on other peoples link networks which they call “guest posting.” I think a lot of these smaller link networks are going to get hit bad. Particularly the ones that have no particular niche and you see everything from “payday loans” to “Minnesota drycleaning” and “timeshare resale properties.”
Prediction 2 – Tweaked to perfection – There have been a ton of anomalies and just plain weird stuff going on in the SERPs. Even after the first Penguin, we would see the first page of certain niches filled up with SPAM, when the update was supposed to target this exactly. I think this round of Penguin will be much more precise and targeted .
Prediction 3 – Hacked sites – We are seeing a ton of sites that are relying on links from hacked sites to get ranked. This is more of a hope then a prediction, but I would love for this round of Penguin to target sites that blatantly rely on hacked links for juice.
One thing is for sure: they are definitely going to target sites that are using automated backlinks, backlnks that have nothing to do with their niche, any kind of SPAM, and any other sort of backlinks that are unnatural. In short – its going to be about sites that use bad link signals.
But really, no one knows that is going to happen. The algorithm is a very strange entity. We have seen sites with 1000’s of SPAM backlinks not get hit, and then others with a few bad links get penalized.
The best state of mind to operate in, is to always live by the GWT code, and treat every site as though you are building a brand for life.
A great quote from State of Search Editor Sam Noble that I’ve always found relevant to Penguin is:
My advice to all website owners is to start building a brand. I don’t mean that you need to take on the big brands out there; you just need to start sending those important social signals which separate you from your competitors.
What should we expect in the next few months (May/June 2013) in terms of SEO for Google?
We're glad you stopped by. We blog about SEO to contribute to the community, and to help educate those looking to learn more about it.
Part 1 - An SEO's Guide to Tumblr
Part 3 - The value of Tumblr links revisited