Google Penguin Update was a search filter introduced in the first half of year 2012. ItGoogle’s main objective to bring Penguin was to penalize and demote websites that used to build large number low quality links in order gain top rankings in Google search. Penguin algorithm update affects a website’s performance in Google search only on the basis of its inbound link quality.Google Penguin Update was a filter introduced in the first half of year 2012. Google’s main objective to bring Penguin was to penalize and demote websites that used to build large number low quality links in order gain top rankings in Google search. Penguin algorithm update affects a website’s performance in Google search only on the basis of its inbound link quality. After Panda update, Penguin is the second major filter applied to Google algorithm to remove low quality results from SERPs.
Below are the 10 links building techniques that Penguin update targets:
(1) Links from low-quality directories
(2) Links from blogs solely made for link building purpose
(3) Paid links
(4) Large number of optimized links from article directory sites
(5) Forum signature links
(6) Excessive number of links with main keyword as anchor text
(7) Backlinks acquired through link exchange with other websites
(8) Large number of Links from irrelevant sources
(9) Link badges placed on other websites
(10) Backlinks from spam bookmarking sites
In late 2016, Penguin update has been added to Google’s core algorithm and it now works in real-time. This means we don’t have to wait for a Penguin update or refresh to recover from Penguin penalty. It is a huge relief for all the webmasters and website owners who are dealing with Google Penguin update and trying to get back their search rankings in Google.
Who should worry about Penguin?
Website owners who have never hired an SEO agency for link building need not worry about the Penguin algorithm update because most probably their sites won’t have bad links. But if you have used services of an SEO in the past then you should worry. Because the SEO person might have engaged in link building tactics that were fine at that time but are now against Google link quality guidelines. For example, do-follow anchor text based links from Press releases and guest blog posts were considered great a few years ago, but such links are not acceptable now—they must be no-followed in order to avoid Penguin.
How to Recover from Penguin?
Penguin recovery is not impossible—but it is indeed a tedious and lengthy 3 step process. First, make a list of all your backlinks, second, evaluate each link’s quality and recognize bad links, and third, removing all the low quality links. Below I have explained the process and mentioned some useful tools to make things easy for you.
Firstly, make sure, you are hit by Penguin algorithm update. If your website is not performing well in Google search even after putting great efforts, perform a link audit to determine whether it has been negatively impacted by Penguin or not. Check your analytics account and see if there is any drastic drop in organic traffic exactly after a Penguin update. If you can see such a drop, that means you have been hit by Penguin.
To recover from Penguin, now you should create a list of low quality spammy backlinks pointing to your website and then either remove or disavow them all.
Check your backlinks
Apart from Google’s own search console, there are several good third-party link finding tools are available that can show incoming links to your site. Never depend on one tool, use as many tools as you can to be able to find all the low quality links. Because some site owners do not want their websites to be crawled by third-party bots for different reasons.
Here are two most effective free backlink finder tools:
How to evaluate link quality?
This is a tricky issue, and sometimes even well experienced SEO’s make mistakes while assessing quality of links and they often misjudge a bad link for good link and vice versa.
When estimating link quality, do not make assumptions on the basis of the type of domain. For example, not all the .edu domains are of high quality and not all the .info domains are bad. You can easily find students selling .edu links on many forums.
In the same way, a backlink from an authority website cannot be automatically considered good. Many such websites sell links on the name of advertising.
Carefully investigate every link before removing or disavowing them. A great quality link must come from a relevant page and it should be editorially placed.
How to get rid of low quality links?
Once you have created a list of all the backlinks that are holding your site back, now you will have to either remove or disavow all of these links.
First, you should try to contact owners of these sites ask them to delete all the backlinks to your site. In my experience, some of them will remove but there will be many who either will not reply to your link removal request or will ask you money in return. Google does not recommend webmasters to pay a fee for link removal.
So what to do with all such links that you are unable to remove? Create a disavow file (text document), and place all such links there. Now submit this file to Google via search console. Don’t expect to regain previous rankings of your website anytime soon. Google takes anywhere between 4-6 months to process a disavow file. But once the process is done, Google starts to ignore all the bad links. As a result, there will be no more negative impact of Penguin algorithm update on your site.
Penguin Update History
Here is the list of all the major Penguin updates came over the last 5 years.
Penguin — April 24, 2012 (impacted around 3% of queries)
Penguin 1.1 — May 25, 2012
Penguin 1.2 — October 5, 2012
Penguin 2 — May 22, 2013 (Impacted around 2.3% of queries)
Penguin 2.1 — Oct. 4, 2013
Penguin 3 — October 17, 2014
Penguin 4 (Real-Time Penguin) — September 23, 2016