Apr 30, 2012 117 reads by Navneet Kaushal

On April 24th, Google rolled out the Penguin Update and the webmasters affected have been sleeplessly trying to understand what is wrong with their site and how can they recover from it. The Penguin is targeted against ‘over-optimization’ of pages, against webspam. While we did give out some useful tips for Penguin recovery, but the solution of the problem lies in its cause: Why were you hit by the Penguin.


The ‘Over Optimization’ Penalty for Unnatural Links

The Penguin has come down on aggressive linking, on over optimization and on exact match domains. A look at the sites worst hit by the Penguin shows that it had issues with inbound links.  So, if your site has lost its rankings, its link profile probably had unnatural, spammy links. Here are some of the major inbound links problems that have invited the Penguin’s peck-

1. Paid Text Links Using Exact Anchor Text: If you have been buying links from other websites with the exact matching anchor text, then you were a sitting duck for Google. The search engine does not like paid links at all.

2. Comment Spam: The Penguin update has marked links from blog commenting as unnatural and spammy.

3. Guest Posts on Dubious Sites: Again, if you have been supplying guest posts on questionable sites with a focus on the anchor text, you are on the Penguin’s radar. Google appreciates guest posts on authority sites with good content. And not the thin content with focus on the anchor text posted on questionable sites by those hit by the Penguin.

4. Article Marketing Sites: In case you posted articles across low quality article sites using exact match anchor text leading back to sites, then your site would have been smacked by Penguin. Poor content and exact match anchor text leading back to the site are a combination, that the Penguin hates.

5. Links from Questionable Sites: If you have links from sites flagged as dangerous, malware and not just spammy, then you would have lost your Google rankings. Getting links from web spammers is a strict no-no for the Penguin and Google.

All these inbound links come under the umbrella of unnatural links. Your site indulging in such practices sends a signal to Google that you are violating their quality guidelines and are just aiming to gain traffic with these tactics.

The Road to Recovery

To recover from the Penguin, you will need to clean up the bad links but that is not an easy task is it? You can use tools like:        

  1. Majestic SEO
  2. Ahrefs Site Explorer
  3. Open Site Explorer

to see your backlink profile. The idea is to generate reports to see find bad links, site wide links and finding the over-optimized anchor text in your site. Running the links for relevance and PageRank; and then getting rid of them. Our earlier post throws more light on the same.

The other steps you can take to get back your site are:

  1. Optimize your data, not keywords and remove all exact anchor text links.
  2. Create rich, useful, unique content. Enrich your content with videos, formatting, headings, quotes, etc, and use it on your important pages. Keep updating your top performing content items every three months or less. After every update, the “last modified” field in your XML sitemap must be updated to mark the date of the change.
  3. Take care of all crawl errors.
  4. Get rid of keyword stuffing from content and page titles and descriptions. Make them unique.
  5. Get a blog, and update it regularly with high quality content.
  6. Ecommerce sites must create additional content for pages and products.
  7. Optimize long-tail keywords

Post Penguin Link Building Practices

Post the Penguin, further updates are expected, but there are some link building methods you can follow to be safe from the Penguin.

  • Brand Anchor Text : Build links with your brand name in the anchor text. This is a good practice as can be seen from the fact that a lot of top ranking sites have their brand name in their links. The best combination is optimizing ‘brand + keyword’ in your anchor text.
  • Domain/Page Authority Matters: Get inbound links from respected authoritative pages. Do not get links with exact match anchor text from poor sites.
  • Go Social: Future link practice must include getting links from social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Genuine mentions of your brand will get you a good rank.

You have to cultivate a natural blend of anchor text with brand names, image links, URLs etc.  This will keep you safe from Google’s filters and high on the search results.\

The Take Away

Fix all unnatural link issues, get rid of shallow content and keyword stuffing, or other spammy tactics. If the automated Penguin algorithm makes a note of your ‘cleaner’ practices and you get a Penguin recovery, good enough! If not, then you can make an appeal to Google. Do this only if you have been really hit by the Penguin and believe that you have been wrongly put down.

The Google Penguin Update - Link Issues and Recovery Tips!, 4.5 out of 5 based on 4 ratings
Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal is the founder and CEO of PageTraffic, an SEO Agency in India with offices in Chicago, Mumbai and London. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet's expertise has established PageTraffic as one of the most awarded and successful search marketing agencies.
Navneet Kaushal
Navneet Kaushal
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