Prepare Yourselves For The 2016 Penguin Update

February 4, 2016

Although we were all expecting it to happen this year, the latest Google Penguin update is due to roll out just after the holidays. For those who know no such thing, this gives them a chance to cross examine their SEO and make sure that everything is in order. Nobody likes putting off a site audit more than I do, but if you haven’t done one in a while, or are trying to recover from any previous link penalties, then now is your chance.

Prepare Yourselves For The 2016 Penguin Update

This new update is said to be real time. This means no more waiting weeks, months, or years for Google to get back to you after you’ve rectified a link issue. But it also means that you are far more likely to suffer ranking penalties if anything on your site attracts Google’s attention. And what is Google looking for? Irregularities in your link juice. So maybe now is the time to sit down and do a site audit, there’s no need to panic, now is the time to do what you can. You need to try and do something about those dodgy external links, and sort out those internal ones, but before you know it you’ll be done. Contact Digital Search Group online, to find out more about effective link building.

Manage your external links

First you want to use a tool like MagesticSEO or Google Webmaster tools to identify which links are the ones that are hurting you, then you can go about trying to have them removed. There isn’t always a lot you can do about bad backlinks, especially if you’re in a hurry. If you have been partaking in any link farming, then believe me this algorithm will pick up on it, so those are the sorts of techniques you should stop using immediately. Just in case you have the time and energy to do so, then try the following:

  1. Contact the site with a diplomatically worded email and ask them if they wouldn’t be so kind as to remove the link.
  1. If there has been no reply after a few days, try again maintain diplomacy though.
  1. See if you can get hold of them on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+; be like a polite but creepy ex-girlfriend who wants them to take their backlinks off.
  1. If you’ve still gotten nowhere then use the Disavow tool, but only if nothing else has worked.
  1. Contact Google and appeal to them for a reconsideration request, but only if you have a warning in Webmaster Tools, and you’re ready to have the spotlight on your website as well. Remember that this is currently a manual process, which is alleged to change once Penguin rolls out, but right now a Google employee will have to deal with yours and thousands of other requests, so it’s better to be nice. The thing is though, that at this point it might be worth your while to wait and see just how real-time the new update is.

Disavowing links

Prepare Yourselves For The 2016 Penguin Update

Before you start disavowing those stubborn backlinks, there are few things you should know about this tool first.

  1. Even after you have disavowed a link it will still show up as an inbound link in Google Webmaster tools. So don’t panic when you see them. It is the same with ‘no-follow’ links if that helps you feel more secure about that.
  1. The comments that you fill in in the disavow file are not meant to be read by the Webspam folks at Google. They are more for your own benefit, so that you can keep records of why you are disavowing those links, and what steps you went through before doing so. This will be helpful when you do future site audits and you need to remember why you disavowed them in the first place.
  1. A 301 redirect page can sometimes negate the actions of the disavow file. When you are redirecting to another domain it is probably a good idea to disavow the link on the other domain as well. To save yourself the hassle of having to create a new file, just use a copy of the original one.
  1. There is no need to apply a ‘no-follow’ link to the page being disavowed. ‘No follow’ links are there so that backlinks don’t affect your ranking, which is essentially the same thing as disavowing it.

Disavowing links shouldn’t be considered an alternative to manually getting the links removed, and so is best used as a last resort. It will bring Google’s attention to your site and the matter where it may previously have gone unnoticed, which might not pan out well for you if you have a slightly black-hatted history. But when the new algorithm rolls out, you’ll probably be better off if you’ve done everything you can to disassociate yourself with dodgy links.

Make use of tools

It’s not going to be long before the new Penguin algorithm hits us, so you need to ask yourself if you have the time to do all of this manually. You might, if you literally have nothing else all to do. So you should think about automating it, at least a little by taking advantage of some of these tools. They will make your like so much easier.

  • Use Deep Crawl to review your canonicals easily, it can also audit your redirect pages to make sure that your links are going to where they’re supposed to. Normally these would be tedious tasks, now they don’t have to be.
  • The Chrome extension ‘Check My Links’ is good for live reviews of the status of your links while you are editing a webpage that has loads of them. It can also do scans for broken links, which will really help you when auditing.
  • Ahrefs, has plenty of helpful features which will make SEO a lot easier. But for the purpose of this article, I will praise its site explorer feature which analyses your entire backlink profile for you, including where they go, what anchors they use and how strong they are.

There isn’t much time left before the new Penguin comes, so now is your last chance to get your thins in order. From what I understand, the only reason the update hasn’t rolled out just yet is because Google took the holiday season into consideration. Because if things go as predicted, those who are not prepared for this update are almost definitely going to suffer penalties.