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11 Nov 2014
Penguin 3.0

The Seasoned SEOs Guide to Penguin 3.0

  1. Introduction
  2. What’s to Come
  3. Penguin-Safe Practices After Recovering from a Penalty
  4. Link building Protocol Under the New Update
  5. Why Content is King


Google’s major goal with Penguin 3.0 was to not only increase the scrutiny that links must go through in order to weed out spam, but to also ensure the sites who have cleaned up their act and gotten rid of unnatural links will be rewarded for it. Its algorithms were updated to release sites whose issues had been repaired after the last update, but were still toiling under the low-traffic of post-penalty recovery.

This also means sites that might have had high rankings, but did not attend to any link issues, might see a sudden drop in traffic, as the new algorithms trawl the net with a fine-toothed comb. While many are seeing the results already, Google’s Pierre Far says you may need to wait a few weeks while it settles down for the algorithm’s new standards take effect, as the worldwide rollout is not going to be simultaneous.

While official numbers have not been released, some sites have experienced an increase in traffic since Penguin 3.0 was released – but the true fallout of this new update is yet to be seen.

What’s to Come

While this update is definitely important, some members of the SEO community think the changes aren’t impactful enough to justify a “3.0.” They believe this means there may be an even larger rollout in the near future, for which this recent release provided the foundation.

As the first Penguin update in over a year, this has left many to speculate something larger and deeper may be coming our way sometime soon.

But for now, the most certain aspect of this upgrade is that, like all other updates, it has provided a new ground on which we build our links, build our authority and rankings, and market our content. This can be particularly daunting for the group of people who may have only recently climbed out of a Google penalty. In the next section we will detail how to navigate Penguin’s waters after receiving a slap on the wrist.

Penguin-Safe Practices When Recovering from a Penalty

The good news for those who have toiled for months over recoveries and penalty removals, only to see little traffic in return even after their punishments are lifted, is that Penguin’s refresh has given many reprimanded web domains a second shot at better rankings. While official numbers are still shaky, there are a number of sites that have reported seeing a sudden burst of improvement after the update took place.

But with any new update, Penguin’s 3.0 refresh also means they are improving their standards, so sites that have been cited before must be incredibly careful not to get burned twice.

These are some good, cautious methods for cites bent on remaining on Google’s good side.

  1. 1. Develop authoritative, comprehensive content.
    • Everything you post needs to look trustworthy, thorough, and consistent. This means no fluff, no unnatural looking links, and lots of thorough, helpful information.
  2. 2. Conduct blogger outreach to create awareness for the content
    • One of the best ways to get authoritative reviews and links are through members of your industry’s community who might want to host an infographic, write a review, or recommend a product.
  3. 3. Conduct influencer outreach to promote your content.
    • Don’t underestimate the help you can get from the bigger guys. This is where a great infographic or awesome tutorial can do wonders: find the right host, and your content can find a home with a large audience, and your brand will have a whole new level of authority.
  4. 4. Use paid social amplification to promote the content to psychographically relevant audiences
    • The key to advertising on social sites is relevance – because they make it incredibly easy to advertise to exactly the right kind of people. Do you run a business that sells prom dresses? Then promote your brand directly to teenagers and mothers of teenagers. This helps you save money, and keeps your ads from becoming annoying or spammy by consistently showing to the wrong circles.
  5. 5. Brand amplification via social signals and social media outreach
    • While Google insists social signals don’t technically influence rankings, external experiments done by outside experts have found that increase in social media traffic can have a direct effect on their Google position.
  6. 6. Get press mentions using social amplification and PR.
    • Reach out to journalists and industry connections to start a conversation with important outlets and news sites that could host your content. Large social profiles within your industry are great resources, too.
  7. 7. Repurpose content.
    • If you have a solid tutorial, guide, or article that can be expanded upon, don’t be afraid to use some of your old content to create and rejuvenate new pieces. This isn’t duplication (don’t do that – that will get you into a whole world of trouble). But if you’ve written a great piece that offers information that can be used in different ways (infographics, videos, tutorials) you should explore all ways you can make that content easy to understand and accessible.

Penguin 3.0 mainly wants to reward links genuinely EARNED from great content – so give it to them. Having powerful, relevant content will earn it’s own links through quality and persistence. Editorially earned links are exactly the kind of activity Google wants.

Link Building Protocol Under the New Update

While most sites that are running consistent audits every month or so won’t have to worry about the penalty affecting their traffic, there are certain ways you can strengthen your protection and improve your overall rankings.

Rethink Guest Blogging

Earlier this year, guest blogging was DOA at best. Matt Cutts, head of Webspam, said it was “done,” and many marketers gave up the process altogether.

But as guest blogging is most definitely an archaic means of rank improvement, it still has other very critical benefits: you can build authority, credibility, and thought leadership through these kinds of posts, as long as you do them right.

Guest blogging done right is simple: you need to simply pick and chose wisely. If you build a relationship with a top quality site and contribute popular, thorough content that the readers respond well to, that in itself is a great way to build reputation, and can easily drive traffic to your site.


These visual pieces of content are amazing for building links, branding, and exposure. They can be catered around all kinds of different aspects of your industry, niche, or business, and they’re infinitely shareable: one of the easiest pieces to pass around the blogosphere or Facebook.

With content marketing, one of the biggest goals is to make the reader remember you. Even if they don’t automatically go to your website, or track down your business online, it’s still very beneficial to be seen as a constant source of interesting, relevant information – and it’s difficult in a world where the typical internet user is exposed to 174 newspapers full of information a day. Infographics deliver your information in a visual way that is not only easier to remember, but it’s easier to comprehend, as 90% of the information sent to the brain is visual.

Boost Every Aspect of Your Content

Here are some links to help you earn those highly coveted editorial links:

  • Long, extensive content that covers a topic thoroughly and completely.
  • Have a value-added component: they provide something new, or add a different angle to an old conversation.
  • Using links, quotes, statistics, and other supplemental content to not only boost your authority but to also make your content more exciting and well-rounded. Multi-media and the various tools available to us have rendered boring, simple, one-note campaigns outdated.
  • Relevant and on-point writing – that is also thoroughly spelling and grammar checked!

Why Content is King

Penguin has an intimidating connotation to it. It makes us think of penalties, decreasing rankings, and the ever-dynamic nature of Google’s Algorithms. In the past, Penguin penalties have been so difficult to shake, that many believed they were impossible to recover from.

Penguin 3.0, however, has a unique benefit to organic link builders and SEO experts, as it rewards sites that have clean, authoritative link profile earned from hard work, creativity, and passion. So whether you’re a coming from a penalty or hoping to steer clear of one, just remember the golden rule: if you maintain top-notch content, you won’t have to worry about Penguin, and will instead reap its rewards!  Combine mind-blowing content with outreach and social amplification and you’ll stay on the good side of Penguin, while your competitors are taken out of the running by the scary Google beasts.

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Search engine marketing expert with 15 years of experience in the industry, working with small mom and pop shops as well as large corporate websites. I have experience with all aspects of inbound marketing, including SEO, Link Building, Social Shares, Usability, Conversions, PPC, Email Marketing, and more.