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3 ways we won at Penguin

Anthony James
Anthony is CandidSky's SEO Manager. He has vast experience and expertise in organic search and digital marketing.

November 29, 2016

3 minute read

In September, Google finally updated their Penguin algorithm. We were pretty excited about it, mostly as we observed a number of notable uplifts across the majority of client accounts.

In this post we share the techniques needed to win at Penguin. But first…

We really did win

Just look…

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-13-21-06 screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-13-21-58

These images taken from SEMRush convey Search visibility over time. This is calculated roughly on tracked positioning across hundreds of ranking keywords. You’ll notice the clients above both witnessed significant improvements in visibility in September, which was directly tied to updates with the Penguin algorithm.

How did we achieve this? Well, experience mostly.

1. Link profile protection

Whilst we don’t often sling around the ‘N’ word, ‘negative SEO’ has been a present concern for many SEO experts since Penguin first flipped us a fin.

Negative SEO is the process of purposely developing low-quality links to a site with the aim of inciting a penalty. This results in a requirement to monitor link profiles to determine if low-quality link spam is being developed to a owned domain.

By monitoring and actioning protection protocols against link spam we have successfully kept clients link profiles clean of potential penalty-inciting links, and protected our campaigns from a negative Penguin effect.

2. Quality link development

Links are important. As a key ranking metric they provide search engines with trust, and as a direct result improved rankings. This was the very reason Google developed Penguin. Before we had Penguin, opportunistic SEOs would develop thousands of low-quality links specifically to game the system.

But how do you develop high-quality links that won’t result in a Penguin flag?

The most effective method we have found in developing high-quality links is the insurance of relevance. It’s important to align with partners whose audiences match the campaign, with resulting links directly benefiting the reader of their work. Whilst time intensive we cannot deny that our processes have benefited our current position.

3. Learning from past mistakes

Cards on the table… I’ve been penalised by Penguin. A lot.

  • Penguin 1.0 – April 24th, 2012. 4 sites penalised.
  • Penguin 2.0 – May 22nd, 2013. 15 sites penalised.
  • Penguin 2.1 – October 4th 2013. 3 sites penalised.
  • Penguin 3.0 – October 17, 2014. 2 sites penalised.
  • Penguin Everflux – December 10th, 2014. 2 sites penalised.
  • Penguin 4.0 – September 23rd, 2016. 0 sites penalised

In my defence, SEO has evolved greatly through this time. What many now see as ‘black hat’ SEO was simply ‘SEO’ in 2009. These penalties were tied naturally to Google’s evolution, and recent results emphasise how SEO as an industry has evolved with Googles Guidelines over time.

As an experienced SEO Manager, I believe that one of the most crucial steps in knowing what to do is knowing what not to do. We learn from our mistakes and become all the stronger because of it, and SEO is no exception.

If you’ve found your site has experienced a significant decrease in visibility or organic traffic following the Penguin 4.0 update then we’d be happy to have a chat, please feel free to get in touch with either our SEO team or myself.

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