Jade Coleman explains why backlink audits, high quality content and keyword tracking are more important than ever following the roll out of Penguin 4.0.

Google rolled out Penguin 4.0 on 23 September 2016, announcing that the algorithm is now a part of Google’s core algorithm.

The Penguin algorithm, first launched in 2012, is designed to prevent sites in breach of Google’s Links Scheme Guidelines from manipulating their way to the top of the SERPs.

The new edition will continue to do that, but in a more granular way (more on that in a bit). However, perhaps the biggest change to the Penguin algorithm is that the 4.0 edition is updated in real time. This is something of a double-edged sword for digital marketers.

Plus point:

Real time updates to Penguin 4.0 mean that digital marketers don’t have to wait around for a penalty to be fixed. Make quick improvements to your backlink profile and any drops in rankings that were first experienced should improve quickly too.

Negative point:

Penguin 4.0 implements its penalties in real time, and while this means that the recovery process is quicker, it also means that the penalisation process is swifter too.

Penguin 4.0 – More Granular Than Ever

Penguin 4.0 now penalises at a page level, rather than at a site level, which is good news, right? It certainly means that the effects of a penalty are contained to the relevant area of the site – often the page with toxic links, meaning companies are less likely to see their whole site drop out of the SERPs overnight.

However, these ‘micro penalties’ are more difficult to track. There are now no manual actions other than identifying that a Penguin penalty has occurred by monitoring drops in rankings. This means that it is now more important than ever to audit all sub domains and specific pages on a regular basis.

So how can webmasters best avoid a Penguin 4.0 penalty?

Four Ways to Prevent a Penguin 4.0 Penalty

1. Conduct Backlink Audits

Make it a regular occurrence to conduct more backlink audits. Once you’ve analysed your backlink profiles, remove any unnatural links that are low quality or are not related to your website, and prepare a disavow file for Google so it can remove the toxic links. For more on conducting a backlink audit, see our 6-Step Guide to Auditing Your Link Profile.

2. Good Quality Content

It’s been covered plenty of times across industry blogs and networks. More in-depth, data driven content that engages the visitor will gain natural, better quality links. Your site will be rewarded for well researched and useful content.

3. Track Your Keywords

Set up and monitor your keyword tracking software. That way you’ll be able to see if anything drastic has fallen in the rankings. Be granular in your tracking (after all, Penguin is) and make sure that you are tracking the keywords that appear on all pages, and not just your top level pages.

4. Consider Internal Links

All too often, webmasters are so pre-occupied with their backlink profile that they forget to consider their site’s internal links. Follow best practice and make sure that internal links are relevant, and that they are using a mix of exact-match keywords and general terms.

Google has said that this is the last Penguin update. There are clear guidelines to stick to, so for sites delivering on high quality content, while also constantly cleansing their backlink profiles, the arrival of Penguin 4.0 should be a welcome one.

Have you experienced a decline in rankings as a result of Penguin 4.0? Or want high quality content on your site, but don’t have the time to research and write it? Discover how our Link reputation management and content marketing services could help you. Contact us today. 

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About the author:

Jade Coleman is senior technical SEO specialist at ClickThrough Marketing. She is an experienced SEO strategist and analyst, delivering technical SEO insights to improve the performance of websites. Jade also has a degree in journalism and editorial design under her belt.