How Penguin 3.0 Impacts Organic Search for Pharmaceutical Brands

Identifying What Matters and Why it Matters 

Have you checked where your brand’s website ranks in search engines recently?  Have you noticed any dramatic change in your brand’s site rankings since October?  Do you know where the links to your brand website come from?  These are the primary questions brand managers must ask themselves when it comes to Google’s latest algorithm update.  Although Penguin 3.0 does not affect paid search campaigns, it noticeably affects organic search.  It can mean the difference between ranking on page 1 and not ranking at all.

Flight of the Aquatic Algorithm Update

Google released their newest search algorithm update, called Penguin 3.0, on October 17th, 2014, and since that time we have been monitoring the change to understand what this means for our clients.  This re-emergence initially issued excitement and panic at what could save or further damage any given domain that previously passed through the algorithm.  Penguin had an enigmatic, scary reputation for penalizing websites that showed signs of obtaining backlinks from other websites, which were poorly managed and contained content irrelevant to the original website, and then offering no means of redemption until a future update rolled out.  Despite potentially inflicting unrecoverable domain damage, Penguin works for websites, not against them.  Search Engine Roundtable, a respected source for news in the search industry, summarized the latest update in bullet points:

Penguin 3.0 Recap•Only a refresh, no new signals added•It helps sites recover from previous Penguin updates that fixed their link profile•It demotes sites that have a bad link profileThe good news is Penguin is not out to get your website.  Penguin’s goal is to give credit where credit is due.  With Penguin 3.0, previously penalized websites that cleaned their backlink profiles have since recovered. On the other hand, low quality websites that avoided penalties before have finally been hit.

So What Does This Mean for Pharma’s Future? 

The best course of action is preventative, which is to maintain a high quality backlink profile where links going to your website only come from credible sources who themselves have good backlink profiles.  The following steps illustrate how you can develop a high quality linking strategy that will not be hit by future Penguin updates.

Prevent Penguin Penalties with these Steps

Sometimes, it is not enough to simply have a polished current backlink profile if your website has a history of bad links.  Cleaning up backlink history is worth every minute.  Google’s Penguin updates will only become more advanced and better at finding poor quality backlinks.  For the pharma companies that have always maintained high quality backlinks, keep up the good work.  Anyone else who has even a small cluster of links from poor quality websites should take another look and go through the due diligence of cleaning them up or risk being penalized in the near future.  The Search team at CMI/Compas has experts available to lend a helping hand with this process.