Google

Here’s a quick overview if you want to know what you should do if your website has been hit by the Google Penguin update.

As a reminder, Google updated the way in which it ranks websites. It has decreased the rankings of sites that are breaking the Google quality guidelines by getting unnatural or artificial links to your website that are designed to manipulate your PageRank.

Google has always said that artificial links are bad practice.  The change is that it is now better at detecting artificial links, and it is applying stronger penalties.

First, make sure you have indeed been hit by the Penguin update

You probably know that you have been doing some dodgy link building in order to improve your rankings in the search engines.

But now Google knows about your black hat activities, and it is very likely that in your Webmaster Tools account that you will have received a warning about your unnatural link building:

Hit by Penguin

 

Next, you will definitely notice in your Google Analytics that you are receiving less traffic for specific key phrases, and these were likely to have been the objective of your poor quality link building activities.

In this example, the website was previously receiving 50 or more visits per day for a highly specific keyphrase, and now it has tumbled to fewer than 10:

 

Hit By Penguin - Analytics Data

And, if you are using reports to keep track of your rankings in the search engines, you are going to that you have crashed and burned out of the search results.

In this example, a company’s ranking has dropped 106 positions, previously right near the top of the results and now languishing in position 119.  Ouch!

penguin hit - serps rankings

Now that you have the evidence, what should you do next?

The process is quite straight forward to fix your Penguin problem.

Or more accurately, it is simple to describe the process, but it is an awful lot of work to actually do!

1.  Audit and prune out the offending links.

You have to get rid of the bad links. Three characteristics that you want to keep an eye out for our

  • links from bad neighborhoods.  Bad neighborhoods include websites that are part of link networks, or low quality article marketing sites, or just trashy sites.
  • links coming in that have hiqh numbers of identical, key word stuffed anchor text.  Not sure what anchor text is?  Then you are going to need some help, give me a ring!
  • links coming from lots of pages on a single website, also known as site wide links.

We have written a post about getting rid of bad inbound links, or link pruning.  Read our guide here.

 

2. Contact Google for a re-inclusion request

Once you have gotten rid of the bad links, you can file a request for Google to forgive you for your nasty link building activities. You will do this from your Google Webmaster account.

You need to make a good case, and I would suggest:

  • provide extensive evidence of all the links you have removed
  • acknowledge that you have made a mistake, and are no longer working with the offending SEO company, or that you have fired the individual who did the unnatural link building
  • promise to never do it again.

3. Start getting high quality links

And finally, you need to get cracking on what you should have been doing all along:  getting high quality links to your site.

I wrote a guide to good inbound links way back in 2007, and I have to say the principles are still good today.

Here is a guide to what makes a BAD link

 

Can you recover if you have been hit by Penguin?  Yes, you can, and right now we are working with businesses who have come to us with this problem.

Get in touch if you want us to help you fix this problem, or want to discuss your SEO.

 

Further Reading

Link pruning: SEO and the Penguin update

Over-optimisation:  can you do too much SEO?

The perfect inbound link:  21 signals that a link is great

More signs of a great inbound link

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