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[2 CENTS] Tips for Recovering from a Google Penguin Penalty

Discussion in 'Black Hat SEO' started by vishal2890, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. vishal2890

    vishal2890 Power Member

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    When Google caught on to link farms, ?overseas SEO companies? and keyword stuffing on websites, anyone engaging in these types of black hat strategies was punished. First, there was Panda, which focused on ?reducing the rankings of low-quality content.? Then came the next animal-themed algorithm, which used link quality to gauge the credibility of web pages. Penguin, the latter, link-focused algorithm, may be the cause if your traffic take a nose dive around late April 2012, when Google launched the ranking signal. It might also be behind SEO flops in May and/or October when the company updated its Penguin algorithm. Although iterations have changed the formula slightly throughout the year, a simple point is clear ? a strong, above board linking structure will be rewarded, while past indiscretions and current mistakes will be met with indifference, or even punishment.

    So what now? How do you recover from being downgraded by Penguin, or fixing your current linking structure? Here are a few simple steps to set you on the road to recovery:

    NOTE: This is my personal experience, any suggestions and corrections are welcome :)

    DIAGNOSE THE PROBLEM


    So you think something may be wrong ? you?ve seen a drop in sales over the past two quarters and your website traffic has taken a significant hit. Maybe your website isn?t showing up in Google results for some of the keyword searches you used to dominate. You think it may be due to this Penguin update everyone is talking about, but how can you be sure?


    First, dive into your Google Analytics and poke around. Set the dates from sometime in March 2012 to sometime in June 2012. Did you see a considerable decline in traffic and conversions? That is most likely due to the Google Penguin update that first went live in April of this year. Penguin 1.1 rolled out in mid-May, so you could see a decrease there, as well. Also, measure September through November in your Google Analytics. If organic search traffic dipped around October 5, you might have been hit by the third Penguin update.

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    After you view the traffic overview, migrate to the organic search area. Are you seeing a drop in organic searches as a traffic source? Are your main keyword referrals plummeting, too? This is a strong indication of a penalty.

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    Finally, hop into your Google Webmaster Tools account. Verify that you did not receive a huge penalty here for something else (404 errors, 500 errors, HTML improvements et al.). Look at the search query data and verify whether your site?s PageRank has dropped significantly since the expected penalty took place.


    Review the new Google Webmaster Guidelines before you make any changes ? everything you do should be within the expectations of these rules.

    CLEAN UP YOUR ON-SITE AND OFF-SITE LINKS


    When Penguin hits, its essential to review your link portfolio. Start with external links pointing to your site.


    If you had an overseas team or even a domestic SEO department submitting your site URL to various directories or link farms, have that team remove those random links immediately, and consider cancelling this type of service. URL submissions to link farms or other below-board sites are not noticed by Google (at best) and heavily penalized (at worst). Ditch these links as soon as possible or request their removal from webmasters. A friendly, cordial note requesting they be removed is a good first try. If that fails, a cease and desist or stronger lawful action may be necessary.


    You may also notice through Google Webmaster Tools that you have hundreds of other websites linking to yours. Download this table and analyze the referring sites. They should be coming from legitimate websites with ties to your industry. At the very least, these should be coming from real websites written and owned by real people, not robots or dummy pages specifically created for linking. Look out for spammy sites ? especially any that send a high volume of links to your site ? and repeat the process of reaching out to webmasters to request they remove links to your site if and as necessary.


    If you need a last ditch effort, the new Google Disavow Tool can help you clean up your backlink profile by essentially telling Google ?ignore these.? I can?t stress how careful you need to be, as this will destroy the link juice from any links submitted and it is a last resort only for sites in serious link trouble. If this is ultimately the way you decide to go, methodically review your entire backlink list in a .csv spreadsheet, and delete the ?good? links and leave the ?bad? links ? then upload to the Disavow Tool. This has a high probability of ?throwing the baby out with the bathwater? if you disavow links that were actually doing you a lot of good, so please proceed with caution.


    Once you?ve looked at foreign enemies, turn your attention to domestic threats. Look on your own site ? are you over optimizing with internal links? The proper keyword ratio is about 1 percent keywords per length of piece. So if you have a 300-word blog post, do not include more than three keywords with links (one or two is probably even better). Also, look for keywords that you use as anchor text (the phrase attached to the link) too frequently. Diversity is good for readers ? and for Google ? so you might be in trouble if you use the same exact-match keywords in every blog post to point to product pages. Strip down your most over-optimized posts, and vow to maintain the clean slate moving forward.

    REBUILD USING BEST PRACTICES


    So now that your bad links are cleaned up as best as possible, you need to start utilizing best linking practices to rebuild your profile.


    If you feel like what you?re doing is a shortcut, it probably is (and Google will not appreciate that). Instead, earn your backlinks through producing high-quality content on your website and spread the word so readers will share links to your blog or website organically. Mine your competitors? link profile or the highest shared pieces in your industry ? what worked best for them? Do something similar.


    Anchor text is important, too. Anchor text should be diversified, yet fit the page it?s pointing to. As mentioned, you can control the anchor text on your internal links. With a natural backlink profile, this will not be an issue for external links, either. When you?re paying for or submitting your backlinks in a negative fashion, the anchor text is often duplicated and can be flagged as fraudulent.


    Another important white hat link approach is to get involved with social media ? be sure to set up profiles on all the major platforms and update them on a daily basis. Create unique content for each, and share the content you?re already creating on your main site. Social signals are still in flux in Google?s mind, but they are definitely being rewarded. Engage as much as possible on these platforms, and as others share your content, they will naturally link back to your main site.


    Gain some strategic partnerships with friends and allies in your industry ? guest blog on each other?s sites and/or link back to each other naturally whenever possible. In this case, a rising tide lifts all ships. Along the same vein, look to secure high-quality links from high-quality blogs or news sources in your industry. These are worth hundreds of bad links from unqualified sources or directories.

    HAVE PATIENCE


    Many sites have reported not seeing any gain or recovery from their efforts yet ? this update has been quite difficult to recover from. Some sites reported seeing a slight or full recovery, but only after a new iteration of Penguin ran. So after doing all this hard work to recover, don?t be discouraged ? you may need to wait a number of months for Penguin to launch a new update to see the payoff.


    Good link building is a slow burn, not a spark. While link schemes may have taken you far fast in the past, white hat strategies can take a while to drive significant results, but your site will keep warm in the long run.
     
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  2. camuk

    camuk Junior Member

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    That's all well and good, but I use only blackhat methods to rank and for that reason I would never sign any of my sites up to analytics or webmaster tools. Never. You might as well email google and tell them that you're backlinking your own site...

    There are plenty of other ways to check for penalties.
     
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  3. DamageX

    DamageX Elite Member

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    Couldn't agree more.

    Please share some.
     
  4. camuk

    camuk Junior Member

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    I don't look at visitors to my site, I couldn't really care less. I look at how many visitors to my affiliate program that I get. If you notice a significant drop, then I look into my site rankings.

    I take a sentence and google it. If it doesn't rank 1st, then I take a look into my keywords that I'm ranking for. If I don't rank for any of them in the top 5 pages I assume that I've been hit and start again.
     
  5. vishal2890

    vishal2890 Power Member

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    I want to read some ways :)
     
  6. DamageX

    DamageX Elite Member

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    Apparently you can't.
     
  7. yipddd

    yipddd Guest

    Thanks for sharing. Appreciate it.

     
  8. rugbyjack2005

    rugbyjack2005 Power Member

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    I don't think a strategy of getting rid of all black hat links and rebuilding with good links is an overly inventive strategy, it certainly isn't anything new!

    My 2 cents would be to do the following:
    Identify why you have dropped in the rankings - use tools like Chartelligence and SEOMoz algorithm change history to identify if your drop correlates with a particular penalty. Chartelligence is particularly useful as you can overlay it on Analytics. If it doesn't then look at malware etc. on your site or other reasons. If it is Penguin, look at your link profile, if it is Panda, look at your onsite SEO.

    Onsite (Panda)
    Key points are duplication errors and keyword stuffing. Most duplication errors are either caused buy people being lazy and copying content or buying cheap content and not checking it with copyscape. Other common causes are poor site structures e.g. e-commerce sites where products go in more than 1 category.

    Offsite (Penguin)
    The most frequent problem here is people do not keep proper records of their link profiles so making sure their site fits into the correct parameters is pretty hard. Put simply though, you should be recording all of your tier 1 links that you can, their keyword densities, whether they are indexed or not, type of links (so you can calculate link diversity), and whether the domain is indexed (you shouldn't build links to sites that aren't indexed as that is stupid as they won't count so any domains that are not indexed have therefore been deindexed). If you see a high percentage of deindexed links then its probable that a link network that you are using has been deindexed. If you use link networks, you probably saw the drop coming anyway.

    Tools like ahrefs are useful but remember that they are only going to show links that their scrapers can find which in most cases means indexed links so they don't always show the full picture. There are no exact values of what to look for but if you are uncertain, just analyse another site in your niche that's at the top and work off those values.

    In terms of fixing it, there are a few simple steps:
    Step 1 - get all your links with varying anchor text indexed that haven't been already
    Step 2 - modify the anchor text of particular links where possible
    Step 3 - Diversify links with generic and branded anchor text

    Hope that helps!
     
  9. FuryKyle

    FuryKyle Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    Yeap, you're right. There's no black and white way of knowing whether your site is penalized or not, but in most cases it's easily extrapolated - e.g. containing a good amount of links and anchor texts but with the site not showing up in the top 500. Common sense to most people :)
     
  10. RealEcon

    RealEcon Regular Member

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    Why not just correctly structure your site like an authority site. Say, using the Silo method, then optimize meta info correctly, and remove poorly written content and then disavow poorly written content backlinks?

    Seems like a lot easier, way.
     
  11. alternatesword

    alternatesword Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    In my opinion, it's total waste of time to analyse the backlinks profile and sending removal requests, 77% we won't get any reply from them. We can build a new site and rank well within that time. The one think we should keep on mind i.e Not doing the same mistake we previously did and we should always keep concentrate on authority rather than quick ranking boost.
     
  12. Bestbuyfoam

    Bestbuyfoam Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    Thanks for sharing this... This same thing happened to my site...

    As for as original content my site got hit back in April by one of the animals... Two of my friends told me to redo my site with original content or build a new site which I did both... My old site ranked for over 1400 keywords in the top 20 and after site go hit it went to under 300 keywords according to SEMRush... I put new content on it and nothing else and today it's back to over 1000 in top 20 for all my inner pages... But my 5 major keywords is still like 150 to 200 that ranked for my homepage in the top 20... So I'm adding more pages and unique content and keep building more innerpages...
     
  13. vishal2890

    vishal2890 Power Member

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    That's not true, recently I pushed a website again on the top page of google for around 7 keywords by following these techniques, so shared...because it works!!

     
  14. Arsis

    Arsis Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    My favorite method is to build a new site immediately, because the success rate on recovery is incredibly low from what I have seen and experienced. The best thing I ever did for some of my clients was rebuild+rank a new site for them.
     
  15. Bestbuyfoam

    Bestbuyfoam Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    So what you saying is some of your clients got slapped down?

    If yes,

    What was you doing for them to get slapped?