In 2012 Google unleashed an animal on the internet… That animal wreaked havoc on websites both big and small. It sent SEO experts scrambling for answers and site owners cowering in fear.
That ferociously devastating animal that sent shockwaves through the jungle that the internet was quickly becoming was a… Penguin?
When Google first announced it’s algorithm update codenamed Penguin on April 24, 2012, many website owners were already feeling the wrath. Page rankings were lost in an instant. Some of those sites still haven’t recovered from the initial fall out.
But every yin has a yang. So, on the other hand, many sites were promoted to the top of the search engines. However, more sites were negatively impacted than positively impacted.
What was going on?
Well, it turns out thousands of websites had a proverbial target on their backs. If you used black hat techniques like buying links to boost your search rankings, Google Penguin had it in for you.
Indeed, after April 24, 2012, the SEO world was changed forever.
Since then Google has continued to update and refine its Penguin algorithm, most recently in September 2016, when they also announced that Penguin is now a part of their core search Algorithm.
Google introduced Penguin in 2012 for one reason: To target websites that use low-quality link schemes to rank high in Google’s search engine results. Basically, it’s a web spam algorithm.
When Penguin was released, it had an almost immediate impact on sites that used unnatural link building tactics.
The impact was felt far and wide, and a lot of webmasters were furious.
The complaints rang out from forums, social media, and even on the actual post, Google released about the first Penguin update.
Google quickly let the site owners that had been punished know exactly why they were being punished via a notice of unnatural links in their Google Webmaster Tools dashboard.
The message basically said:
“Hey unlucky webmaster, this is Google. We’ve detected that some of your sites pages are using techniques that violate our Webmaster Guidelines. Take a look around your site for possible unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate rankings. Basically, the jig is up. We know you’ve been building or buying links. Disavow them, and we will reconsider improving your rankings in our search engine. Sincerely, Google Search Quality Team.”
Okay, that’s not the exact message, but that’s pretty close. Anyway, people were furious, and for good reason. Can you imagine being a webmaster that’s at the top of the search results for a coveted keyword then one morning you wake up, and it’s all gone? The steepness of the decline in revenue and profits had to be absolutely devastating for some.
As damaging as the Penguin update was for some, the message was clear: The Penguin update was released to make search results better by targeting sites that used techniques to rank pages higher than they deserved to be ranked. If you were building a bunch of backlinks to manipulate rankings and Google found out you would be harshly penalized from this moment going forward.
Luckily for SEO’s everywhere link building isn’t dead. Amateur link building is dead; the old tactics won’t work anymore. The game has gotten tougher.
You have to be careful about the tactics you use and avoid techniques that will send red flags to Google.
If you want to.avoid the negative effects of Penguin here are a few things you should do:
And last but not least… When you do build backlinks make sure you have anchor diversity….
Anchor diversity is pretty simple to understand. The majority of the links pointing to your site should not have the same anchor text. A lack of anchor diversity looks unnatural to Google, and that’s a surefire way to trigger a Penguin penalty.
<a href=”http://www.example.com”>This is Anchor Text</a>
Let me break this down a little more clearly.
In the old days if a webmaster wanted to rank high for a keyword, let’s say “Ipswich web design” for example. He would go and buy or build a bunch of backlinks with the link anchor text “Ipswch web design.” That tactic worked in the past, but it’s a recipe for disaster after Penguin.
Now you have to make sure your anchor text is diversified and fits naturally into the article. So instead of building a bunch of links with the anchor text “Ipswich web design” you would diversify your anchor text by altering the keywords as such:
And so on and so forth. What you’re looking for is a good mix of keyword variations and exact matches…
Which raises the next question…
Well, let me first say that you must use exact match keywords sparingly. Most of the links you build should have anchor text that uses a keyword variation. You really want to air on the side of caution here. If you’re using exact match anchor text for more than four percent of your back links you’re asking for trouble. My optimal anchor text diversity ratios are:
That’s a pretty simple question to answer. Don’t over optimize. You have to diversify your anchor text and stay away from known backlink building tactics like private blog networks, comment spamming, and blog-roll links.
You should also put a focus on trying to build at least some links from real sites via guest posting. The more natural things look to Google, the better. As long as you stay away from over optimization your backlink profile, you should be able to avoid a Penguin penalty.