No, I’m not talking about a new Batman film, but the impending Google algorithm update. Penguin 2.0, announced by Matt Cutts in early March, may lack the gravitas of our favourite caped crusader, but it is still set to be just as dramatic for some website owners. What is particularly important about this update is that it may affect the travel vertical particularly badly.

A Brief History of the Penguin

The Penguin, as well as being an adorable black and white, flightless bird, is the name of the not so adorable Google algorithm update that was first rolled out on April 24, 2012, with subsequent updates on May 24, 2012 and October 5, 2012.

The main purpose of Penguin is to penalize sites that are using manipulative techniques to achieve high rankings. This includes creating unnatural or ‘spammy’ links in the form of:

  • Site-wide navigation links
  • Links in forum signatures
  • Links in author signatures
  • Generic boiler plate links
  • Links in blog comments
  • Links in author profiles
  • Sponsored links
  • Blogroll links
  • Article directories
  • Press releases and many more

Google is becoming increasingly adept at discovering unnatural or manipulated backlinks. For Penguin 2.0, the only links that Google will value are those placed with editorial intent – placed with purpose by the webmaster because they actually benefit the reader.

Historically, the Google Penguin algorithm has tended to update fairly infrequently, meaning that you need to prepare and protect your site, unless you fancy losing out on SEO rankings and traffic for what could be an extended period of time. Once you have fallen prey to the Penguin, your site will not properly recover until the algorithm is next updated.

The Travelling Penguin

Unfortunately, the travel vertical is home to a particularly large number of low quality blogs and link networks, something the next Penguin update is bound to tackle. The travel niche is an incredibly competitive one and due to its size, it was easier and quicker to build vast quantities of links from lower quality sites than taking time to build a high quality and more natural backlink profile. However, come the next Penguin update these are the links that are likely to cause problems.

How to prepare for the Penguin

Google’s unnatural link warnings and their disavow tool are both incredibly good indications of how Google suggests that websites prepare for upcoming Penguin updates; by getting rid of the links that don’t correlate with quality guidelines, cleaning up link profiles and making sure that the links you get in the future come from having a fantastic product/brand and producing engaging content.

4Ps isn’t just another SEO agency. To discuss how SEO and content are evolving together in order to keep pace with new developments in user interaction and search algorithms, give us a call on +44 (0)207 607 5650 for a no-obligation coffee and chat about data, marketing and customer acquisition across all inbound channels. What could a 4Ps search marketing consultant do for your brand?