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Penguin 3.0 Updates Continue To Penalize Black Hat SEO Strategies

Jason Squardo
Penguin 3.0 Updates Continue To Penalize Black Hat SEO Strategies

In a continued effort to clean up the Internet and rid search results of low quality, spammy links, Google has released another algorithm update to its Penguin filter.

The holiday release, confirmed by Google, launched a series of new updates to Penguin that will continue to penalize brands using black-hat SEO techniques to increase authority online through external links. The update began in late October but continued to roll out over the following weeks through December. Surprisingly, Google has remained quiet about the update despite more than a year since their last rollout.

The good news is that Penguin 3.0 seems to have only affected about 1% of English language queries, and if you’re sticking to ethical SEO practices you may have an opportunity to increase rankings. The bad news is that Google keeps marketers in the dark when it comes to total factors that influence Penguin’s effects on search rankings. How much your site is impacted will depend on your industry, current rankings, and competitors you’re sharing the SERP with. Your best defense is to watch Google closely and monitor analytics for drops in traffic and page rankings.

This new update has been said to only be a refresh of the previous algorithm with no new signals added. The bottom line is that if you are already monitoring the effects of Penguin on your brand’s search results and promoting your content with white hat SEO, keep at it. Down the road we expect to see more major updates to the Penguin filter to increase the speed and reach of search ranking adjustments.

Below is a list of the changes to Google Penguin to date. Some point number updates are still waiting to be confirmed by Google, but have been validated by publisher reports.

  • Penguin 1.0 on April 24, 2012 (impacting ~3.1% of queries)
  • Penguin 1.1 on May 26, 2012 (impacting less than 0.1%)
  • Penguin 1.2 on October 5, 2012 (impacting ~0.3% of queries)
  • Penguin 2.0 on May 22, 2013 (impacting 2.3% of queries)
  • Penguin 2.1 on Oct. 4, 2013 (impacting around 1% of queries)
  • Penguin 3.0 on October 17, 2014 (impacting around 1% of queries)
  • Penguin 3.1 on November 27, 2014 (confirmed by Google, no impact given, Google considers part of Penguin 3.0)
  • Penguin 3.2 on December 2, 2014 (not confirmed by Google but based on publisher reports)
  • Penguin 3.3 on December 5, 2014 (not confirmed by Google but based on publisher reports)
  • Penguin 3.4 on December 6, 2014 (not confirmed by Google but based on publisher reports)

This global roll out will continue to help control spammy inbound links on low quality websites. We can expect to see another round of changes to Penguin soon, so keep a close eye on your digital assets and external links. Leverage Google Analytics and tools such as Majestic SEO to track external links and monitor obstacles and opportunities.

Establish a monthly process to inspect link quality to avoid future drops in search engine rankings and maintain a quality digital presence. And keep a close eye on your inbound and content marketing strategie — new updates may be just around the corner.

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Jason Squardo is the executive vice president of search at ZOG Digital, a digital marketing company based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Jason has worked for more than 16 years helping Fortune 500 and emerging brands with their SEO efforts.
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Julia McCoy
It's great to see Google continuing the war against poor quality on the web! As a content creator, I always strive for quality in what my team and I deliver to our clients. When Google upholds quality in their algorithm updates, the entire web is benefitted with better content. Thanks for your insightful article. Interesting to see that Penguin 3.0 has only affected 1% of English language queries, and if one is practicing ethical SEO they will benefit from the update.
Does anyone have any idea of how tight Google is getting regarding the penalties. For example I have a client who is insisting to keep 6 of his paid backlinks, I have let him know this can now get him into trouble, however his paid link service is insisting (As they would) a few paid backlinks is far to small to be picked up by a algorithm. What are your thoughts?
Gerry Downey
I think he/the client understands what the risk is but no one is safe from the algorithm and if he insists on keeping them I wouldn't worry about it, even if he did get a penalty, once he has control of those links he can then get rid of them and that seems to be the risk he is willing to take those links are probably powering his rankings hope that helps.
Gerry Downey
Yeah I suppose if a penalty comes round i can always remove the paid links from the campaign. From research does Google target small link schemes like this, or is it only if you have bought hundreds.
Gerry Downey
There is no way to really tell but anyone that has access to paid links is defo not safe the only way to have some bit of security is to own the links yourself and not share, rent, or let anyone else have knowledge of them, I would be blocking all link scraper bots in that situation :)
It's primarily based on anchor text ratio and overall link profile. But they've penalized for one or two obviously suspect links in the past. Overall, if he has thousands of links,

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