Google’s New Penguin Refresh – A Brief Impact Analysis

Ending all speculation about the release of a new version of the Penguin algorithm, Google rolled out a Penguin refresh on October 17. Announcing the update in his Google Plus post, Pierre Far confirmed that the Penguin update is a slow worldwide roll out which would settle down over the next few weeks. Though it is a soft update, it has set webmasters thinking about the measures that need to be taken to optimize their websites in the wake of this algorithm update.

Google's New Penguin Refresh

In his Google plus post, Far points out that the main aim of this refresh is to help sites that have already cleaned up webspam signals caught in the previous Penguin iteration and to lower the rankings of sites with newly-discovered spam. No new signals have been added into the algorithm as was expected. The update affects less than 1% of queries in US English search results, says the post. So, the outcome could be similar to that of previous updates. Sites which had been hit by Penguin earlier and took steps to resolve their issues could expect to better search engine page ranking, while sites with a poor back link profile could expect to be hit.

To avoid getting penalized by this refresh update, online marketers should remove all bad links from their sites. The following strategies can be used to analyze backlinks:

  • Manual Link Audit – This involves pulling a list of links from Bing and Google Webmaster Tools, Ahrefs, Open Site Explorer, Majestic or other SEO tools and then manually and strictly loading the site to check whether it is ‘bad’ or not.
  • Automated Link Audit – It is not necessary to look at a linking site physically to determine whether it is bad or not. You can do this by using a metric such as ‘trust flow’ from Majestic, cross-referenced with social engagement metrics. This helps determine whether a site is genuine with a considerable degree of accuracy.
  • Rewrite or Remove Poor Content – Ensure that your content is informative and relevant as ranking well is definitely all about publishing high quality content and images.

You would know that your site has been hit if it has experienced a drop in traffic coinciding with the documented release date of this algorithm refresh. When it comes to ascertaining the quality of your backlinks, relying on automation, software or online tools is not a feasible option. While automation is useful for data collection, crawling and metrics gathering, manual auditing of backlinks by experts link auditors would be more effective, especially for websites subjected to penalties. Automated backlink analysis will not work as expected with a smarter Penguin algorithm like the current one, which has only just begun rolling out. Though manual auditing is a painstaking process, adding offending links to your disavow file is enough for a full recovery.