Escaping From A Google Penguin Penalty

Has your website been hit by a Google Penguin penalty? It’s easy to fall into the trap of imagining that your site will never be able to recover, but now is the time to think about your strategy for escaping from this trap.

There’s a relatively simple process that you can follow, in order to get things back on track:

Was it definitely Penguin?

The first question to ask is whether you have definitely been hit by a Google Penguin penalty? I think that the best way to answer this question is by looking at the data within your Analytics package. If your site saw a significant loss of traffic, corresponding with the dates of Penguin updates, then you can be pretty sure that this was the cause.

It’s surprising, however, to see just how many people attribute their loss of visitors to such a penalty, without actually clarifying that this was the cause. It’s so important to know when your site was hit, since the best method of recovery will differ considerably.

There will be occasions, of course, when a single site has been hit by multiple penalties. This can certainly make the situation more complicated, but it needn’t be impossible to overcome.

Many people also make the mistake of believing that sites that are hit by Penguin will always have received a warning notice via Webmaster Tools. This simply isn’t the case and you should not fall into the trap of believing that some minor changes, together with a Reconsideration Request, will help you to overcome this algorithmic penalty.

What are the causes?

With a Penguin penalty, you need to start by reviewing inbound links to your site. Do they come from quality websites? How varied are the links, particularly with regard to anchor text?

One of the issues that many website owners are facing is that previous SEO best practice has rather been turned on its head. You may once have built links that included target keywords, with the clear intention of boosting the ranking of your site for those specific terms. This would undoubtedly have yielded results, encouraging you to do more of the same.

The Penguin updates have focused heavily on anchor text distribution, with an emphasis on maintaining a link profile that looks natural rather than engineered. Within this context, it’s easy to see why some website owners have been caught out. We’ve been approached by a number of business owners who are seeking to recover after penalties and it’s clear that there’s a need to reflect on the changing nature of link building strategies.

Should you remove links?

If you’re previously built poor quality links, or had them built on your behalf, then it’s time to start removing the worst of them. You may find, however, that some website owners are unresponsive, or attempt to charge you a lot of money to have them removed.

Google’s Disavow Tool can be used in such circumstances where it’s otherwise been impossible to carry out the removal process. It should be noted, however, that opinions differ significantly on the likely impact of using the tool.

A more secure route to success may well involve building new, quality links that can be used to dilute the impact of those older links. That’s certainly a path that we would recommend right now, since it certainly points to a sustainable future for any site.

There can be absolutely no doubt that the most recent algorithm updates have had a severe, negative impact for many businesses. The good news, however, is that it is possible to recover. It’s simply a case of putting a successful strategy into action.

SEO analyst Keith Barrett writes widely on the subject of digital marketing. From SEO to PPC techniques, he’s able to help with his comprehensive understanding of the strategies involved.

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