Penguin, the one word that has struck fear into any SEO’s heart. Since the first iteration of Google’s Penguin algorithm in April 2012, the landscape of Search Engine Optimization has changed for all verticals. Gone are the days of comment spam, article marketing, and directory networks, and here to stay are more natural ways of earning back-links to your website. If you have not been abreast of the current nature of Penguin, you should educate yourself on the various updates that Google has pushed for its anti-spam algorithm here on Moz’s algorithm change timeline.

Beware, Penguin Incoming!

When should we expect Penguin in 2016?

Google (mostly employees) has released a few hints about when we should expect the next algorithm update, but no date has been set-in-stone by anyone at Google. The closest we have gotten to a confirmation was from Google’s Gary Illyes who responded to a question on Twitter which can be seen below:   Even this answer from Gary was slightly dodgy, but we should expect the Penguins to be “freed” at some point early in 2016. Release date or not, if you have not prepared yourself (primarily your website) for the impending algorithm change, you may want to get a head start on your competition.


Update (January 20th, 2016): Thankfully, we have received a more specific time frame for a Penguin update! Gary Illyes (the gatekeeper for much Penguin information as of late) has responded on Twitter yet again, specifying that the algorithm will be released in “weeks”, more specifically in the First Quarter, see below: Given this time frame, how does a website become well-prepared for an algorithm update?


Update (February 16th, 2016): And we have yet another update regarding the Penguin update, if you can even call it an update.  Do not expect the Penguins to be released in the first quarter of this year, as a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google has given us some insight on the impending update to their search algorithm, see below: Historically, Google has released major algorithmic updates at the beginning of Q2, so we hope to expect to see a Penguin around April or May of 2016!

Follow Search Engine Guidelines!

First and foremost, abide by Google’s Webmaster Guidelines which can be found here. Any SEO with half a brain can read this guide and realize that almost EVERY strategy pre-2012 is listed on Google’s comprehensive Link Schemes list. If you are practicing any of the following, do yourself a favor, and stop immediately:
  • Buying or selling links which includes trading free product for reviews.
  • Link exchange or link trading.
  • Article syndication & guest posting with keyword-rich anchor text.
  • Automated link building which includes comment spam, forum profile creation, and many other strategies.
  • Advertisements that pass PageRank.
  • Poor quality bookmark or directory site links.
  • Widely distributed footer, header, blogroll, or template links.
If you want to review Google’s Link Schemes post, check it out here.  

Check Anchor Text Optimization!

Use the Remove’em anchor text over optimization tool to get a quick snapshot of your inherent risk for a Penguin penalty. All you have to do is enter your website URL into the information box, and click Submit URL. See below:
Anchor Text Over Optimization Tool

Please note, the website I used as an example for the anchor text optimization tool is no longer active.

  If you happen to have an over-optimized anchor text profile similar to the one shown above, you will need to clean up your unnatural links. There are a multitude of ways to do this, but the easiest and most effective way would be to begin a link removal campaign. You can easily remove unnatural links by setting up a Remove’em account!   By using Remove’em to assist with your link removals, you can not only help clean up your bad back-links, but it helps clean up the Internet as a whole. Additionally, there are multiple features within Remove’em to prepare your website for the impending Penguin doom such as CSV exports to show progress of your link removal efforts and a disavow file creation tool.   If you are interested in back-link analysis, link removal, disavow file creation, or any Penguin website preparation contact our sales team at [email protected].