Since the release of Penguin Update on Apr 24, 2012, millions of websites and blogs have been hit, loosing search engine ranking, traffic and revenue.
Before jumping to the step by step guide – How to recover from Penguin hit, it’s important to know the basic fundamental of this link-spam fighting algorithm.
Penguin Update is not a penalty. It’s an algorithm update by Google with the aim of nullifying the ability to pass the link-juice or Page Rank of both inbound and outbound links, resulting in ranking drop in SERPs.
“Links” play an important role in Google’s search engine ranking algorithm for content. Google uses more than 200 ranking signals in its algorithm. And most of the signals are more or less associated with the links. For example – anchor text, co-mention, Page Rank etc.
That’s the reason Google has been investing heavily to clean the link-profiles of websites to return the best possible search results to its users. And remember “Link is here to stay (in SEO) in the years to come.”
Google started its spam fighting campaign in a more organized way with an algorithm update called Panda. This algorithm mainly attacks websites with shallow or thin content which don’t provide value to the web-readers. Panda Update is Google’s one of the best spam fighting algorithm which affected millions of websites with low quality content. When Panda cleared the major spam-junk from the web, Google integrated it into its regular ranking algorithm.
For your info – Google Panda mainly targets content (low quality) of websites and blogs. When webmasters and SEOs didn’t find an easy way to rank web-pages using content; they changed their focus to links. They started spamming links with all sorts of link building measures.
When link was abused, the cornerstone of Google’s search engine ranking algorithm, it realized the need of a link-spam fighting algorithm along with the existing “manual action (Penalty) for unnatural links.” Then Google introduced Penguin Update.
Penguin Update mainly focuses on link-spam along with some more spammy activities like keyword stuffing, cloaking etc.
It is wiser to “Go for low hanging fruits first.” So we will try to fix things which are easy to execute, result oriented and important from Penguin (Hit) point of view:
1. Paid links: Have you bought or sold links in the past?
Disavow all the bought inbound links using Google Disavow Links Tool. If you have sold links in the past, get rid of them or make them rel=“nofollow”. If you have published paid editorial posts with links which pass Page Rank (or link-juice), then make them nofollow.
2.Footer links: If you have site-wide footer links which pass link-juice; either remove them or make them nofollow. Lots of free website or blog templates come with footer links which are sponsored and dofollow in nature.
3. Widget-links: Are you using widget with embedded links on it? Remove them completely. Many a times blogging networks offer you a widget to display on your blog to be a confirmed member. Stay away from this.
4. Directory links: Find out how many directory links you have. Segregate them in to two groups like high quality directories (usually paid ones) and low quality cheap directories. Disavow the incoming links on low quality directories using Disavow Links tool.
5. Guest blogging: Make a list of all the anchor text links you have gathered by guest blogging. If you have access to the blogs or the blog owners, then dilute your anchor text profiles with variation using different permutation and combination of keywords. Stay away from highly commercial anchor keywords.
6. Exact match anchor texts: Make a list of all the exact match anchor text links. If you are facing difficulty changing them or removing them, disavow them using Disavow Links Tool.
7. Links from unrelated websites: If you have excessive number of this type of links; then disavow them, irrespective of dofollow or nofollow. Even though the links are nofollow in nature, it sends a very confusing and -Ve signals to search engines.
8. Link scheme: Are you involved in link schemes or link exchange? Remove all the associated outbound links and disavow all the inbound links pointing to your site (irrespective of 2 ways, 3 ways or multiple ways).
9. Blog commenting: Have you tried any type of mass blog commenting software? Or even the manual way?
Find out the dofollow inbound comment links using a good link analysis tool. Check the backlinks where you have used exact match anchor texts. Disavow all the suspicious backlinks. You should also disavow backlinks originating from blogs with lots of spammy comments.
10. Cloaking: Do you use any kind of sneaky redirects? I mean showing something to search engines and something else to your readers? Get rid of them.
11. Keyword stuffing: Checkout your high ranking and high traffic pages which have suffered the most due to Penguin hit. Check them for incidence of keyword stuffing. Consider re-writing them or delete them.
12. Invisible links: If you have knowingly embedded some invisible links and even keywords, get rid of them. If your site was hacked in the past or it’s a multi-author site, and you think somebody might have injected some invisible links (outbound) then you have to do some extra hard work to find them.
After doing all the above steps honestly, wait for the next Penguin Update to come. If you have done all the things right you will definitely recover from Penguin hit.
As Penguin Update hit is algorithmic in nature, filing a reconsideration request to Google will not work. It is reserved for manual penalty by Google for unnatural links on your website.
Are you hit by Penguin Update anytime? Share your experience and tips in the comments below.