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The month is almost up, and so is the rest of the year. As the clock ticks down, your website might be in line for an unwanted present.

For the uninitiated, Penguin is the term used to describe the current round of major updates to Google’s search algorithm. Usually when these updates hit, they result in drastic drop offs in web traffic for the unprepared, so consider yourself warned: there is a planned update some time before the year is up.

This update will likely move Google towards a real-time model. This means that Google will be quicker to penalize those who violate its guidelines, and quicker to reward those who comply.

If you’re slapped with a ranking penalty, you’ll likely see an immediate drop off in traffic. On the positive side, there won’t be a delay in the restoration of rankings once the fix has been implemented, so like pickled herring flavoured ice cream, there’s some good, and some herring.

Four On-Page Elements That’ll Change Under Penguin:

  1. In-Text Links Dragging You Down

In-text links give you a chance to link to extra information related to your products/services. Therefore, including these types of links helps readers by pointing them towards information that is related and useful to the presented content.

However, shoving in-text links on every page over and over again just fills up screens with distracting blue links.

Fix it: Review your pages. If you see an in-text link, ask yourself a simple question “does the information that’s being linked help the reader”? If the answer is “yes”, then leave it. If “no”, then cut it out. That simple step will go miles in optimizing your site.

  1. Spend Some Time With Your Webmaster

Talking about penalties and removing them is one thing, but where do you actually find out if you’ve been penalized?

Fix it: If you’re not sure what Google Webmaster Tools are, ask your developer for help. Otherwise, navigating towards the issues tab will show you if you’ve been affected by any Google penalties. This type of work is also typically included as part of any good SEO package.

  1. Your Internal Link Structure Exists to Lead Readers to The Products They Need

This is a problem many manufacturers face, especially ones with huge websites with thousands of links. Navigating your website shouldn’t feel like a game of Pick-Up Sticks. Clicking on one URL shouldn’t stick your reader in some dark unused corner of your website.

Also, your link structure helps search engines when it comes time to crawl your website. The spider entering your website is rating the quality of the site’s content. A messy or convoluted structure can make it difficult for that quality to shine through. Your website is trying to tell the spider something, but a messy structure leads the spider off on tangents to unrelated content.

Fix it: If you’ve followed the advice in the in-text links section, then you’re well under way. The next step is to navigate towards your top pages and ask yourself if this is an important page thematically, and if the pages linking to and from it are relevant. If they’re not, then you might have some work to do.

It’s worth mentioning that messing with link structure can be dangerous. Moving a page from one location to another can change its URL, thus older links will no longer work. It’s best that an experienced web developer handles this work.

  1. No More Link Farming

Problem: Google will start looking closer at the quality of your links. In the past, many have gotten away with paying for links. Programs like Semalt are the biggest exploiters of this. They work by inserting links into public files on other websites, thus giving the illusion that one site is linked to another. And that’s just one example; there are hundreds of other link farming techniques, all of which will get you penalized.

Google will judge if you’re link farming based on two major factors: link quality and frequency. If Google sees a huge jump in links to your website in a short time and they are all from malicious sources, you’ll get dinged. On the other hand, if you are getting links from quality sources over a longer period then those will be considered valid.

Fix it: Well, for one: stop link farming. If you’re using Semalt and/or any offshoots, stop. Beyond that, keep an eye on who is linking to you. If you see a huge fluctuation, make sure the links have come from quality sources. If they look like spam or are completely unrelated, disavow them.

Are you prepared for Penguin? We’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you may have related to the new update.