Surviving Google’s Penguin Updates
Every time Google announces an upcoming major algorithmic update, website owners start getting edgy. This is true no matter how big or small a website may be and whether the website owner practices black hat SEO or not. Horror stories about legitimate websites getting hit by the updates almost always circulate after each release. Of course, it goes without saying that only a small number of legitimate sites have been affected negatively by the updates, but still the last thing you want is to be included in that short list of unfortunate sites. If you are a website owner, the only thing left to do is to buckle up for the updates and to know what to concentrate on for each kind of update.
Since the last major Panda update that was announced by Google on March 14th 2013 has already been rolled out (and in future will integrated within core algorithm), what you need to focus on for the moment is making sure that you don’t get penalised with future Penguin updates.
The Panda algorithm was last updated on October the 5th (again it is rumoured that future updates will be integrated within the core algorithm), and the exact date of when the next Penguin update will be implemented hasn’t been confirmed, we know that Matt Cutts did say during the SMX that they are “working on a new generation of Penguin”. So whether you like it or not, a major Penguin update will come sooner or later.
If you want to avoid the negative effects of a Penguin update, you first need to understand what Google Penguin is about.
In general, when Google releases an algorithm update, their aim is to find ways to separate the “good” or “high quality” websites from the “spammy” and “poorly designed” ones. Penguin updates are specifically designed to pinpoint the websites that use black hat techniques and to penalise those sites by lowering their rankings or kicking them in to touch all together.
What this means as a website owner is that you don’t really have to overly worry about having your rankings affected negatively by a Penguin update IF you haven’t employed questionable techniques. You don’t even have to worry about each and every backlink you get since Matt Cutts has explained in a video that they simply devalue all outgoing links from sites that sell links (e.g. link farms) and do not directly penalise the sites linked to. Of course, if your site’s link profile makes it obvious that you are buying links (e.g. Majority of backlinks to your site comes from identified link sellers) then you can expect to get hit by Penguin updates, but if only one or several of the links come from such sites then Google knows that you can’t really control who links to your site and will overlook them.
This does not guarantee 100% that the next Penguin roll out will have no effect of your website, since as we well know by now, errors can be made. Still, if you do not employ techniques that directly violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, then you can just focus on finding ways to increase the quality of your website and hopefully fare better in the SERPs because of this.