Brace yourselves, Penguin panic is here. Digital marketers are deeply passionate about building quality links to improve search engine rankings, but with the anxiety of Penguin Penalties lurking at every click, it’s no wonder that fear has set in. Whether you’re fairly new to the world of digital marketing, or you’re an industry expert, having a healthy understanding of Google Penguin is essential for success.


What is Google Penguin?

Let’s start from the beginning. In 2012, Google launched the Penguin update with the goal of identifying sites that are guilty of spamming search results to falsely increase rankings – typically done via keyword stuffing or the purchasing of links from link networks.

Since the launch in 2012, several new versions have been released, all of which are designed to make the “capturing” process more effective and inclusive than the last. Today, we’re going to review the newest Penguin update – Penguin 4.0.

Avoiding Penguin Panic

The first tip in avoiding the dreaded Penguin panic is to perform preemptive backlink audits on your site. While many marketers underestimate the importance of these audits, the fact is, after Penguin has attacked and penalized, recovery is a lengthy and difficult process.

Google Penguin 4.0 is more detailed and efficient than ever, but with a cautionary backlink audit in your corner, you’ll keep those pesky Penguin penalties at bay. The best advice? Take a proactive approach to your digital marketing strategy. Read on to learn how to flawlessly execute your backlink audit – it’s easier than you think.

Build Your Backlink Portfolio

Since flawed backlink audits lead to serious implications, it is critical to seek out an experienced professional for assistance if you’re feeling uneasy about the process. To begin your backlink audit, you’ll need to gather enough backlinks to build a detailed report.

While many resources are available for marketers to use to compile their backlinks, some of the most common avenues include Moz, Majestic, and Ahrefs. Using the tools from these sites equips you with a diverse portfolio of backlinks to examine and audit, ensuring you’re covering all of your bases.

Footprint Identification

Once you’ve rounded up all of your links, merge them all into one Excel document then remove your duplicates. With even data at your fingertips, you can take the process one step further and start identifying any footprints within your backlinks.

Use the sort and filter features in Excel to identify these six basic types of footprints on your site:

1) Anchor Text Footprints

Identify which backlinks have money keywords in the anchor text, as well as those with +5% density, then unfollow those links or simply change the anchor text.

2) Discovery Date Footprints

Use Google Webmaster Tools to identify the date the backlinks were originally discovered. When finding dates with a noticeable increase in backlink retrieval, attribute that to link buying and building.

3) Patterned URL Footprints

During your backlink analysis, keep a keen eye out for the word “forum” built into the URL, link pages, or article submission sites. Group these links together to determine the total amount, type of content, and if any other footprints are present.

4) IP Address Footprints

When sorting by IP patterns, you can identify Private Link Networks. Once identified, group those backlinks by IP address to identify any potential patterns, issues, or other dangerous footprints.

5) Email Address Footprints

Dig deep into your backlinks to identify any commonly used email addresses. Once located, remove and unfollow.

6) Page Title Footprints

Finding multiple sites with identical page titles indicates that site content has been extracted and duplicated. When locating page title footprints, examine them closely to determine the value, as well as if those links need to be removed or unfollowed.

Backlink Audit Frequency

Simply put: one thorough edit is not enough. Backlink edits need to be done on a monthly basis to ensure Google Penguin doesn’t penalize your site. Set aside time at the end of every month to perform a backlink audit, and the process will get quicker and simpler each time.

Final Thoughts

Even though digital marketers are feeling Penguin pressure, the tool is extremely helpful in weeding out spam content in search engine results. To stay one-step ahead of the Penguin, keep your backlink audits front and center of your digital marketing strategy, and be aware of any potential or existing footprints on your site.