Everyone in the SEO world has been speculating about the next Google Penguin update. I must admit I was expecting a 2 year anniversary update sometime around April 21st-23rd, but it never happened. I thought I would have some insight into it, especially as I am hanging around with some top notch SEO dudes at the moment. I was in Vienna on the 16th May 2014 with Christoph C Cemper from Link Research Tools. This was the Link Research Tools Certified Event at the IBM Client Center, Schwedenplatz – downtown Vienna. At the event was Bartosz Góralewicz – a Maserati obsessed SEO guy from Poland. Bartosz is well connected with the SEO World and had confidently predicted that May 23rd 2014 was going to be the Google Penguin 3.0 date. He was wrong. A week on, we are now at May 30th 2014 – could it be tonight? I don’t think so personally, but…
Is there a pattern to the Penguin updates? Well, maybe there was, but I’m not so sure there is anymore. As I walked back to the U-Bahn with Christoph in Vienna on the night before the Link Research Tools Certified Event, we spoke about the pattern of previous Penguin release dates. Christoph was pretty sure that Matt Cutts had been watching his tweets in the past, and when Christoph mentioned he was going away to somewhere sunny for a week or so – Matt pushed the button! I think that was Penguin 2.1 in October 2013. The scenario brings a smile to my face in a weird way; Christoph goes off to Mallorca and then at +8hrs Pacific Time, Matt Cutts walks out of the office and pushes the Penguin button as he leaves. Boom! They both have lovely weekends, meanwhile Google Penguin victims are left in the gutter, dying a horrible death. By Monday morning the dust is beginning to settle and the death toll is being counted.
Google don’t call Penguins and Pandas penalties anymore, it’s for a good reason – for everybody who falls, somebody will take their place. Unfortunately for most of us who have been involved with SEO pre-2012, falling is what most of us see.
I have studied all the Link Research Tools metrics in quite intense detail ( you can read about my 9 Ways to Check the Quality of a Link if you don’t believe me) so I am quite clued up on what looks unnatural. I think that Penguin is looking for something new now…
The only thing I can think of at the moment that will not be picked up by the Link Research Tools metrics is where SEOs have created a well made link network. I don’t mean where someone has just gone to a specialist SEO hosting company and bought a load of SEO hosting on 20 different class C IPs and then built out their Link Farm – that’ll get sussed right away!
What I do mean is where somebody has carefully built a load of different hosting platforms involving Linux, Windows and Unix. They have hosted them on different servers around the World with different Class C, B and maybe A – IP addresses. Then they use WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Concrete, DotNetNuke, Umbraco and straight Dreamweaver HTML to produce sites.
So far so good yeah? But the problem I have is that the content on these sites is completely diverse. How often do you pick up a magazine that is about, rock climbing, anti-virus software, 60s music, colonic cancer, techno music, skiing and knitting patterns?
Imagine a bunch of articles where each one has a carefully constructed link to the real site about rock climbing or knitting patterns – is that starting to look suspicious?
So that, in my mind is the next thing that Google Penguin 3.0 will be looking for is – well hidden private blog networks (PBNs). If you think about it, the problem here is not going to be their lack of anonymity, but purely the fact that nobody is going to link to them! Because their ‘real’ content is somewhere else, they will not get linked to here. OK – So someone is going to say “what about the Huffington Post” or “I read loads of diverse articles in ‘The Times’, it’s a right mixed bag”, but that is not the case here. A site that provides loads of links to external sites, but has no decent incoming links, that looks odd. This is my prediction, so if you are involved in a PBN, be careful, very careful.
So when is the Penguin 3.0 date? Actually, I don’t think there will be another Penguin update at all. I think it is going to be a gradual tweak of the knobs, bringing in my SLOW idea of the ‘Google Diversity Penalty’, very very slowly. All the obvious backlink stuff is over now.
So what can you do meanwhile? – Just listen to everybody moaning about how they lost their business, because Google treated them unfairly? Or maybe you can plan your ‘War on Google’ and fight back by saying they are wrong? Really? Come on, grow up and take a look at your content and how people link to you – is it natural? This online marketing world is just like anything else in the slightly less virtual world, as I see it you have three choices:
- You work long and hard for a living and have a reliable income and all the stability that goes with it
- You steal cars and rob banks and have an exciting and luxurious time before you go to prison
- You come up with some great ideas, help people become better, educate yourself and enjoy the benefits
Believe me, I’ve done all 3 (sort of) – I have never been in prison, but getting my most profitable site hit by Penguin 1.0 in April 2012 felt like going to prison. Handcuffs – yes I am a spammer – yes I was aware that I was violating Google’s guidelines- Guilty!
What you should be doing meanwhile, is making sure that your backlink profile is OK. That doesn’t mean it has to be squeaky clean, but just so as it fits in with everybody else on the battlefield. Actually it isn’t quite as simple as that, because those people who are #1 might be about to fall. That’s OK though, we can tell you about that, we use Competitive Link Detox to work that out.
Link Research Tools currently have 29 Certified Link Research Tools Professionals available to help, you can order here and if you like, you can ask for me – Rick Lomas. I am here to help and prevention is way better than cure. Any comments or questions you might have about Penguin 3.0 or the services of the Certfied Link Research Tools Professionals are very welcome.