Christmas may be coming early for search engine marketers. The white hat ones, that is. Google is going to update Penguin before the end of the year, verified Gary Illyes, a Webmaster Trends analyst at Google.
This update will penalize spammy links, writes Erin Everhart on Tuesday in Search Engine Land. The SEO Manager for The Home Depot cites a tweet from Illyes, who perhaps ironically tweets more often than he adds content to his Google+ account.
“This next Penguin update should also be a real-time version,” Everhart says. “So as Google detects spammy links, sites may be impacted immediately — and when spammy links are removed, those sites may see a more immediate recovery.”
She was referencing how long the penalties lasted for sites hit by Penguin in December 2014.
Prompted on Twitter to disclose the exact date when Google would update its algorithm, Illyes made this statement on Nov. 11: “I don't know the exact timeline, but we'll not release something unfinished.”
Q: "Will Penguin roll out this year?" A: "Probably" HEADLINE: "Google Hates Christmas, Probably Jesus! DOOM IS UPON US!!" (cc @methode)
— Dr. Pete Meyers (@dr_pete) October 29, 2015
Here’s how marketers can discern if they’re in the danger zone, according to Everhart:
- Anchor Text Distribution. “All of your links shouldn’t include exact-match anchor text,” she writes. “Vary your external links by brand, URL, long-tail keywords and non-descriptive keywords.”
- Sudden Spikes and Too Many Referring Pages. This will raise Google’s attention, because it reflects spammy practices, Everhart says. What’s especially alarming is if a site links to every single page on another site.
- Disavowing Links. In October 2015, Search Engine Land Columnist John E. Lincoln provided an extensive guide to getting rid of bad links. Mostly, Lincoln suggests marketers visit the Google Search Console to determine if they have any spammy links.
- Optimize Your Internal Links. While this may not be part of this Penguin update, one never knows with Google. So Everhart advises SEO practitioners to:
Vary your anchor text with non-descriptive text, not just exact-match keywords.