If Google's Penguin algorithm change had your online business scrambling, get ready for another significant search update. Matt Cutts, head of Google's web spam team, has confirmed on Twitter that Google's latest iteration of the Penguin update will be rolling out within the next few weeks.
Called "Penguin 2.0" by Cutts, the update is widely expected to continue the devaluing of link spam initiated by the first Penguin update release last April. The purpose of the original Penguin update was to weed out sites that attempt to game the Google's search algorithms by using an excess of on- and off-page SEO strategies.
In a video released this week, Cutts indicated that this anticipated change, "will go deeper and have more of an impact than the first version of [the initial] Penguin update." Given that the first Penguin rollout affected a sizeable amount of search queries and led to a major outcry from webmasters, an even wider-reaching Penguin update should not be ignored.
Here are three ways business owners and their webmasters can prepare their sites for Penguin 2.0:
1. Understand your site's link profile.
Since the initial Penguin rollout, Google has gathered a tremendous amount of data through link removal requests submitted through the company's disavowal tool. It's expected that the newest Penguin iteration will be substantially more sophisticated in its understanding of what constitutes link spam -- links between pages that are there simply to get those pages to rank higher in search results.
You can use tools like Ahrefs, Majestic SEO or the Open Site Explorer to understand the types of sites that are linking to your own. If you see low value backlinks or links from spam sites, do your best to have them removed as soon as possible.
2. Focus on natural link parameters.
Since there are a number of different parameters that can be used to identify link spam, avoid building links that:
- Come from sites built exclusively for the purpose of SEO.
- Use overly-optimized anchor text.
- Come from adult or other "bad neighborhood" websites.
- Come from sites that are irrelevant to your own.
If you've built these types of links in the past, now is the time to have them removed or disavowed before the launch of Penguin 2.0.
3. Build relationships with reputable sites.
Going forward, the best way to avoid suffering a loss in traffic from future algorithm changes is to focus your link building efforts on acquiring backlinks from reputable websites. One high quality, relevant backlink from an industry authority website is worth more than hundreds of low value spam links.
You can get relevant backlinks from other sites by creating great content, linking out to these sites from your own site or simply by emailing potential linking websites and ask that your link be placed on a relevant page of content. Some tactics such as guest blogging can still generate backlinks but the search factors involving those links could change in the next update.
Related: Why Buying Backlinks Is Bad for SEO