Google's Penguin 3.0 Update: What It Means And Where We Are Going

For the past year, many websites that were impacted by the last Penguin update have been working very hard to clean up their act. Google wanted to clean up the search engine results pages by penalising sites who built spammy links to their own sites.

There was quite a bit of outrage after the last Penguin update, when a lot of businesses did work cleaning up their link building act, only to find there was no gain from it.

Penguin 3.0 appears to have rewarded those people who have cleaned up their act, but it's been a long wait – 1 year in fact.

What Is Penguin 3.0 Assessing?

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Very simply, the latest Penguin algorithm update has been designed to assess a site's link profile and to penalise sites that have a bad/unnatural one.

I don't think it's any surprise that the first people to call it when Penguin 3.0 was rolled out were people on the net's largest black hat forum. The churn and burn style of sites many of these people operate were the first to sink.

So if you have been building links to your site of a dubious nature, then Penguin 3.0 may have come as a shock to you. Alternatively, if you have cleaned up your act since the last Penguin update then this latest one may have been a pleasant experience for you, as you may have seen your rankings start to return.

So What Should I Do From This Point On?

My advice is to see the writing on the wall. If you are building links yourself, then you need to be extremely careful about it.

They need to be seen as natural, trusted and highly relevant. If you're building a site for the long-term, then you should be focusing more of your efforts on marketing your site and building great content that people will share.

I know that sounds cheesy and in some ways idealistic, but Google's ability to spot link building is going to get better not worse. You would be better to be focusing on building content than links.

And if you are going to build links, they really do have to be high quality. That means building web 2.0 properties that have ongoing content of a decent quality added to them, before linking them to your main site.

But I don't really want to go down that road too much, the message is clear. Don't build links to your site artificially unless you want to take the risk of being sat on by a big fat Penguin!

#penguin3 went live on Friday. Have you noticed any changes to your rankings? http://t.co/SANWo1yqtFpic.twitter.com/lOxVyuLSLf

— Corey Tardiff (@Corey_IA) October 20, 2014

What Does Penguin 3.0 Mean For The Future Of Search Results?

Another Google update, Panda 4.1, rolled out in September 2014. The Panda algorithm has now been acknowledged as mature enough to update pretty much in real time.

So at least partially, we're already moving out of the time when Google algorithmic updates happen periodically.

You can bet that this means Penguin will head the same way eventually.

Once Penguin and Panda have matured so that they can both operate in real time and together, then it's obvious that Google will trust them to manage themselves in true real time.

And it won't just be those two.  Above The Fold and Pirate, two other recent updates, will also head the same way. So if you are not playing by the rules, your sites could be hit by one or more algorithmic penalties that there could be no redemption from.

To make it worse, when all of Google's algorithms for improving their results are assessing and updating real-time, if you are hit you simply won't know what you have been hit by.

Ultimately, it will mean cleaner search results. Whether your definition of cleaner matches Google and its algorithms is basically irrelevant, the biggest search engine is heading in one direction and you'd best take note and move that way as well.

But There Is A Plus Side To Automatic Updates…

Although when you get hit it could be traumatic for you and your business, the plus side is you will no longer have to wait for the next algorithm update to know if you have enjoyed redemption.

The evidence is already out there that suggests that sites heading in the right direction are tolerated, but if they don't keep heading in the right direction and they stay within certain algorithm parameters, then they plummet again.

So it can work both ways almost overnight.

All this boils down to you looking at your website honestly from now on. It's time to look at the weaknesses in your website and its time to truly track your analytics.

When it comes to links, it really is time to have a look at your inbound links. You can use Google's disavow tool for links you can't get rid of yourself.

Then focus on upping your content game. Make it engaging, regular and interlinked, to lower those bounce rates. Work hard on engagement onsite and build engagement to it off-site, through social marketing.

I would also suggest it's a time to start having a “Plan B” for traffic. If you've been doing well in the search engine results up until now, at the cost of not building your social interaction, or mailing list, then maybe it's time to also look at a worst case scenario for your business website.

Having all your eggs in the Google basket is a dangerous game to play, so make sure that you start working just as hard on generating secondary traffic streams, as you do on pleasing Google.

Whatever you decide to do, it's time to get cracking. Google's Penguin 3.0 is a real warning shot for everyone. Real time algorithmic updates across the board will be here within a couple of years.

If your website is changed through a managerial hierarchy, suffers from different people having different ideas about it, has content that you don't look at objectively on it, or is just poorly managed overall, then you really do need to wake up and smell the coffee.

If you'd like to find out more about the update, here's few articles from other search engine experts:

Glen Gabe: The Danger of Crossing Algorithms: Uncovering The Cloaked Panda Update During Penguin 3.0

Barry Schwartz: Google Penguin 3.0: Worldwide Rollout Still In Process, Impacting 1% Of English Queries

Jayson DeMers: Penguin 3.0: The Definitive Guide To Diagnosis And Recovery