Penguin 4.0 – The Aftermath & What You Need To Know
OK, now that some time has passed since Google announced they were rolling out Penguin 4.0 the SEO world has had some time to digest it, and collect some data. Let’s take a look and examine what it really means and how we can survive it.
Early on we really couldn’t tell what effects the update would have, and the only information that was available about it was coming from Google. I have to say I don’t exactly trust them when it comes to giving the whole story about their algo updates. If you think about it we shouldn’t really expect them to give us SEOs full and complete information in that regard, and so I don’t. I understand and accept that it’s not in their best interest to help me rank my sites in the SERPs.
A Penguin 4.0 Introduction
Google announced on the 23rd of September, 2016 that they were taking Penguin live.
Basically what this meant is there would be no more waiting for Penguin updates. The SERP adjustments that used to be rolled out on a schedule now happen in real time so the results are seen and felt immediately.
Prior to this update they would release the English update first and announce that it was only going to affect a certain percentage of the SERPSs. But this time they made it a point to note that every language and every country would receive it at the same time.
As I think about it, I’m thinking this could be a real problem for foreign language spammers. Some of whom have dominated some of the SERPs I’m aware of for years and years.
Should Make Disavow Quicker
According to Google one of the first things that should be noticeable is that using their disavow tool should result in having a quicker affect. This would really be a helpful as I know some SEO’s who have conducted tests and have reported that they’ve seen no effects at all, sometimes even months after using the tool.
In The Beginning
When I first noticed that there were some SERP fluctuations going on, even before it was announced, I thought it might be Penguin 4.0 and as it turns out that’s exactly what it was.
I watched as a few of the pages I was monitoring bounced around the SERPs. Some went up, some went down. At one point the results were so sporadic it really seemed as though the update had even been rolled back.
When the official Penguin 4.0 updated announcement was released it sent a big ripple throughout the SEO community as it always does. Bringing on all the wild speculation about what it means and of course there are always those who have to write posts proclaiming the death of SEO.
This update was quite different though. Unlike most of the previous updates this one didn’t show the same initial signs as many of the others did. With this one I noticed that it took several days before things really started moving.
The Weeks After
It’s been several weeks now since the initial announcement and I’ve seen the impact of the update on my SERPS. I’ve had a chance to analyze the changes for myself and talk with some my friends in SEO to get their thoughts on Penguin 4.0. As for my results I’ve had sites drop in the rankings and I also have sites that have seen very nice increases in positioning.
For me the sites that saw the biggest drops were parasites. I have to say though that I almost expected it as this seems to be the case with each Penguin update.
Though the property was well built, the anchor text ratios were extremely high with 80% being partial and exact, and 20% being branded and generic. This plus the high level of link decay probably made the links an easy target. It’s no surprise it was hit the hardest.
My Advice Going Forward
Now that I’ve had time to digest my own results from the update, with about 300+ pages having been hit, I can make a few points.
Anchor Text Ratio
As I did my analysis it became quite clear pages with the highest percentages of partial and exact matches are the ones that got hit. Those with rations that were greater than 30% got hit the hardest.
From the results I looked at it seems like there is a bunch of confusion about what anchor text ratios really mean. This might be something it’s time to study up on and get a better understanding of.
A Different Type of Backlinking
Here’s a simple technique I tried with one of my affiliate sites a few months ago. It didn’t seem to be doing much good back then but seems to have picked up steam these last several days.
What I did is put my keyword (and partial match keywords) around the main keyword when I created generic and branded anchor text.
When I did the experiment the site had less than 2% partial and exact match anchors, but it had a lot of branded/generic keywords used. Like I said during these last several days there’s been a big change having gone from about 850 visits per week to well over 3000. That’s a very notable increase.
Dilute Your Links
Right now I think the way to get ahead is by balancing anchor text profiles. A great way to do this safely and quickly is through the use of methods like infographic submissions, citations and comments.
Based on the research I’ve done it seems websites that have low anchor rations had the most diluted backlinks. I also noticed that webpages that recently had a mass press release distribution along with many Web 2.0 backlinks seem to have gotten hit a lot worse.
Win With Contextual Links
From what I’m seeing, my websites with backlinks coming from a high number of different referring domains are doing quite well. These are links from PBNs, articles and guest posting.
This doesn’t surprise me too much because I’ve always known Google certainly does favor contextual backlinks. If you really think about it contextual links generally come across as much more natural.
It should be noted that websites that have been using tiers to build backlinks to their backlinks may want to reconsider. Now that Google is assigning spam signals to all backlinks and your tiered links are no doubt a bit lower in quality you need to understand this low quality signal is being fed up stream. This creates a negative effect on your website rankings.
It still amazes me that so many SEO’s are not tracking rankings, reviewing links or even in some cases monitoring traffic.
I don’t expect everyone to start digging through log files every day, but at least have the basics covered. How can you measure the benefits of your actions if you are not collecting the data? How can see what went wrong and when? How can you move forward without this massively important info? In my eyes you can’t.
Which is just stupid, especially when you consider the massive amount of free SEO tools out there. It literally costs nothing.
It doesn’t seem like many others are covering this update in very much detail, however Jennifer Slegg over at The SEM Post and Marie Hayes are two sources of information about it that you might want to give a follow.
I certainly hope I’ve helped you to understand this latest round of updates a little bit better, and maybe even come out of it better off.
Thanks for reading.