Penguin 3.0 is Coming. Is Your Livelihood at Risk?

Penguin 3.0 is Coming. Is Your Livelihood at Risk?

Penguin 3.0 Algorithm Update


Beware. The Penguin is Lurking.

As a result of Google’s last Penguin algorithm update, hundreds, if not thousands, of businesses around the world were severely penalized and dropped from the search results.  This led many to the brink of destruction, and in some cases forced them out of business altogether.


As the months have ticked by, anticipation has grown as SEOs everywhere attempt to safeguard their clients against a similar outcome with the release of Penguin 3.0. As of the writing of this post, we are still waiting. However, John Mueller from Google’s Webmaster Team hosted a hangout, in which he indicated that the update should be expected at any time.


Many businesses are looking forward to this update as they have spent the past 10 months working hard and spending a great deal of money attempting to clean up their profile. Although Google may have removed the penalties assigned by the previous Penguin update, websites that were slapped with a penalty have seen zero impact in their rankings. This is because Penguin requires a “complete refresh,” according to Jim Mueller.


However, for those who have done the hard work of complying with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, Penguin 3.0 will likely reward their efforts. On the other hand, those who have continued engaging in strategies aimed at gaming the system, will likely be crushed by the next Penguin’s blow. In an instant, we’ll see entire companies dropped from the search results. Just like with the last Penguin update, we’ll see businesses declare bankruptcy, and individuals losing their jobs as a result. This is no joke, and if your web presence is the least bit of interest to you, make sure you take this seriously.


What’s worse is that once a website has been slapped by a Penguin 3.0 penalty, it could easily be another 10-12 months before they can hope to resurface in the search results.


Don’t wait for the aftermath of Penguin 3.0 to take action


Time is of the essence as this update is expected at any time. If you have engaged in strategies that leave you feeling uneasy as you read this, you need to get serious about cleaning up before you get cleaned out. Ensure that every link pointing to your site is in compliance with Webmaster Guidelines.


What will Penguin 3.0 Target?


Low-Quality Backlinks

Any time you use an automated service to generate backlinks to your website, you’re in trouble. These result in hundreds or thousands of links being distributed around the web on low quality and irrelevant website. For example, if you run a dog-grooming business, and you have a large number of links on websites are not related to your niche, you’re in trouble.

Guest Blogging Network Links

Guest Blogging Networks exist for the sole purpose of allowing businesses or individuals to make a guest post for a price. They normally have very low-quality content, some which is either spun or altogether unreadable – existing for the sole purpose of elevating rankings. In a recent post we discussed whether Guest Blogging is still a viable approach for building your online presence. You can read that post here. Long story short, however, is that Guest Blogging is still okay as long as it’s high quality and relevant to your businesses.

Paid Links

In most cases, paid advertisements are okay. For example, if you’re using search engine ads such as Google, Bing or Yahoo, you’re fine. Most others are fine as well. The big question is whether these links affect your page rank. To ensure you don’t have a problem, check the link for a rel=”nofollow” tag. If it’s there, you’re good to go. Otherwise you might need either remove the ad or add the tag.


If you’re using affiliate links on other websites, you might have some work to do. Again, adding the “nofollow” tag will ensure you don’t run into issues. For a more full understanding on paid links, you can visit this page.


Optimized Anchor Text

Anchor Text is simply the words used in a hyperlink – in this case “hyperlink” is the anchor text. Anchor text becomes optimized when it is a direct match to the keyword you’re trying to rank for. For example, if you’re trying to boost ranking for your dog grooming website, and use “dog grooming” as your anchor text, it is over optimized, and will land you in the penalty box. That’s not to say that one overly optimized link will destroy you, but if a large number of links are optimized this way, it will appear unnatural, and negatively affect your website’s rankings.


How can you know if you’ll be safe?

First thing you need to do is check and see if Penguin 2.0 affected your site. By using this tool, you can analyze your traffic to see if any drops coincide with an algorithm update. If there are areas of concern, you need to have a full analysis completed to dial into what exactly caused the penalty.


You’ll also want to check your link profile by logging into your Webmaster Tools account and identifying any suspicious or unnatural-looking links. If a link seems to be spammy in nature, use the disavow tool to inform Google that you’re aware of the link and are taking action. If you’re unsure where to start, there are many great audit services out there that will do the investigation and cleanup for a fee.


Do it now


Don’t waste time. If your website is of any value to you, it’s important that you either do the necessary work to avoid a Penguin 3.0 penalty, or have the peace of mind knowing that you’ll be just fine. If you’re a Brown Box Branding client, everything we’ve done for you is in line with Google Webmaster Guidelines, so you don’t have anything to worry about. In fact, you should be looking forward to this update, as you’ll probably see increased rankings as a direct result.


Jeff Bickley

Over the past decade, Jeff has worked with numerous Fortune 100 and Start-Up companies to establish, reinvent, and re-enforce their brand. A serial entrepreneur at heart, Jeff has a passion for leveraging his vast experience to provide solid and timely advice to business leaders at all levels.

  • avatar
    Posted at 04:39h, 18 November

    Excellent post. Taking all this to heart and making big changes for my 2015 SEO Strategy!

  • avatar
    Jeff Bickley
    Posted at 13:45h, 28 October

    Google Penguin 3.0 was officially released on October 17th 2014. Please see our post about the rumors and realities of what Google is targeting:

  • avatar
    Posted at 07:07h, 17 September

    Seems like things have been really quiet since all the buzz about the next penguin update back in August. Is this still anticipated, or have things changed?

    • avatar
      Jeff Bickley
      Posted at 13:26h, 22 September

      Hi Christine,

      Yes, things have quieted down since then. We’ve been keeping a close eye on this. On September 12th John Mueller said that a Penguin 3.0 update will likely launch this year. You can watch the video here:

      In the video he also said, “But, as always, there are always things that can happen in between. I’m pretty confident we’ll have something in the reasonable future, but not today, so we’ll definitely let you know when things are happening.”

      So there you have it. 2.5 months left in the year, so expect it at any time.

  • avatar
    Posted at 20:36h, 14 September

    With as long as they’ve been working on this, you can bet it’s going to shake things up. Really hoping all my hard work doesn’t get flushed!

    • avatar
      Jeff Bickley
      Posted at 13:32h, 22 September

      Lisa: Agreed. However, as long as you’re playing by the rules, and not violating any of the known guidelines, you should be okay. However, we’d be happy to do a site audit for you at no cost just so you can be sure there’s nothing you’ve missed.

  • avatar
    Posted at 10:06h, 11 September

    Great reminders. Thanks for sharing!

  • avatar
    Posted at 20:44h, 29 August

    Any update on the release of Penguin 3.0? It seems like things have been pretty quiet over the past couple weeks!