Pending Penguin Update – Is Your Site Ready?

A new Penguin update could rollout as early as this week. This is a huge – you need to make sure your site is ready.

What is Penguin?

Let’s start with the basics… Google uses a number of factors to decide where (if at all) to rank websites in the search results. Site authority is one of the most important of these factors. Google determines site authority by counting backlinks (or links from other websites that link back to your website). In order for your site to show up well, it is very important to have quality backlinks rather than hundreds of spammy links. Unfortunately, many attorneys have found this out the hard way.

Penguin is code name for an update Google made to their algorithm. The intention of the update is to punish sites that use dirty techniques to obtain links (ie: buy them or trade links with other sites).

How the System Has Been Gamed

SEO’s in the legal arena are especially notorious for using spammy backlinks to try and game the system and boost their ranking in search results. Unfortunately, working with attorneys, we have seen far too many clients hit by Penguin penalties because of these shady techniques. It can be a painstaking process to clean up and remove the (sometimes hundreds) of dirty backlinks, but this is one of our most important jobs and is not taken lightly.

What Does This Mean for Lawyers?

Although the percentage of sites that will be affected is still unknown, we expect an immense re-shuffling of rankings, and soon. Many businesses are hoping to finally be relinquished from the pain of the last punitive Penguin update.

We have been waiting for a refresh for 364 days now. Every time there is a Penguin refresh, Google chooses to forgive sites that have committed to cleaning up their backlink profile. Disavowing bad links (or telling Google that you want certain links to your website to be completely ignored).

Unfortunately, according to Google’s Gary Illyes, it may be too late to disavow before the new update hits. However don’t fret, assuming this update isn’t delayed during testing, the new algorithm will allow for more periodic refreshes.  It’s never a bad time to run a backlink audit and prepare for the next impending refresh. If you’re currently benefitting from spammy links (which is the case for many attorneys) disavowing backlinks may feel like amputating a leg. However, if you don’t, it is only a matter of time before you suffer a Penguin penalty.

Summary For Those Who Hate Words:

The latest algorithm update for back-links (penguin) is coming soon and should help those who have worked diligently to clean up their backlink profile. For those who haven’t, now is the time to start.