Ranking factors SEO tips

Penguin 4.0 website backlinks penalty

The SEO community is scrambling after Google confirmed it’s release of the long awaited ‘bad links’ update – Penguin 4.0. Since the beginning of September many website rankings have crashed.

Overnight, some websites descended from page one for search terms to (in some cases) down around page 50. The impact of this will force some operators out of business – including quite a number of shonky SEO providers. It’s that serious!

So what is it and how could you be affected?

Penguin 4.0 origins

The first release of Penguin occurred in 2012 and was designed to crackdown on website owners buying links pointing back to their site in order to achieve better Google rankings. Basically, people were buying a whole stack of links from link farms to artificially inflate the popularity of their site. The initial Penguin update took aim directly at these obvious websites and followed those links (courtesy of Googlebot) through the web – applying penalties as they identified associated domains.

If your website has recently experienced what in your opinion is a massive drop you can pretty much assume you’ve got some dodgy sites linking back to yours. A lot of people got away with it the first time, but at version 4.0 you can assume that Google are getting a lot better at sniffing out sites attempting to ‘game’ the system.

The quest for higher PageRank

The whole ‘buying links’ frenzy started when SEO operators thought they could outsmart the Google PageRank algorithm. In short, the higher the number of high quality links from web pages with higher PageRank resulted in higher rankings on Google search results. The first release of Penguin put a stop to that – plugging a hole basically.

But SEO operators continued to devise sneaky tactics to get around Penguin. The link farms / networks morphed into low quality publishing platforms, but Google started to work this out too. So here we are today – Penguin 4.0.

You are probably reading this because your site has tanked, or you know sites that have tanked and hoping you aren’t next.

What to do now? Disavow, disavow, disavow!

There is a way out of this mess:

  • Locate websites linking to yours
  • Determine which ones are link farms / networks
  • Let Google know you aren’t responsible for the dodgy inbound links.

Let me know if you need a hand with this, otherwise you can Google all of the information you need to know about disavowing links.

Follow best practice

If you want a website to be found on Google it’s pretty simple:

  • Create ‘sharable’ content for your website people will want to see
  • Make sure your content is structured and nested under the appropriate titles and headings
  • Reach out to other websites that complement what you are doing and hopefully get them to link from their website to yours
  • Share your content on social media

If you have great content you may not even need to reach out for links – that’s the ideal!

Just DON’T try gaming Google, because in the end you WILL lose. Penguin 4.0 should have taught you that by now.