One of the key components of a successful SEO campaign is being able to respond to the updates and changes that Google makes to its algorithms. At Measurable SEO, we pay attention to the algorithm changes and respond quickly by adjusting our strategies when necessary. We believe that a quality SEO campaign should be able to help a website avoid being penalized. But what do you do if you have already been penalized?
A term that many website owners have heard but may not fully understand is the Penguin update. First released in April of 2012, Penguin’s primary goal is finding websites that have what Google deems “unnatural” linking profiles. Through the Penguin updates, these sites are either identified and penalized manually or caught in the algorithm filter. Either way, the site’s rankings take a severe hit. Penalized websites can be almost impossible to find and will lose a great deal of web traffic. The absence of web traffic can be enough to have a destructive impact on any business if not corrected quickly.
Being hit with a Penguin penalty can really damage your business, but it doesn’t have to destroy it. Measurable SEO excels at resolving issues surrounding Penguin penalties. If you suspect that you have been penalized as a result of one of Google’s Penguin updates, we can help you get back on top.
Brief Overview of Penguin
It has long been Google’s goal to provide the most meaningful search results possible. In other words, they want to deliver search results that actually show what the searcher wants to find. Google, the dominant search engine in the industry, is constantly adjusting its methods in order to bring better search results to internet users. The Penguin updates are designed to target an activity that looks like spam. In particular, Google is looking at the links pointing to your website to determine whether or not you have been using an unnatural process to build these links.
Since the initial release of Penguin, there have been four additional updates. Determining if your site has been hit with a Penguin penalty is generally pretty simple. While you probably won’t receive any notification from Google to indicate you have been penalized, you will notice a big drop in your rankings and web traffic. If you experienced any big negative change in your website’s rankings around the time of a Penguin update, then your site was most likely penalized. Consult with the Google Penguin update timeline below for further information:
- Penguin 1.0 was released on April 24th, 2012
- Penguin 1.1 was released on May 25th, 2012
- Penguin 1.2 was released on October 5th, 2012
- Penguin 2.0 was released on May 22nd, 2013
- Penguin 2.1 was released on October 4th, 2013
While there is no exact date scheduled for future Penguin updates, it is certain that Google will continue to release these types of updates in order to improve the search results they can provide.
What Exactly Did Penguin Do?
The Penguin updates greatly modified the search results by changing the way the search engine evaluates websites in order to determine the rankings. Specifically, Penguin looked for any suspicious spamming activities that were clear indicators of a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. When evaluating a website, one of the things that Google is able to do is look at the linking profile of the site. Having a quality and diversified linking profile has long been one of the top ways to get a website ranked high. However, many SEO companies took advantage of this by using automated tools to build links quickly. Ultimately, these companies were able to get sites ranked by charging a lot of money for very little work. Penguin was designed to recognize these “unnatural” linking profiles and adjust the search results accordingly.
There are a lot of different ways that Penguin helps to detect unnatural links. In the eyes of Google, a link that is placed with the sole purpose of improving your rankings is considered unnatural. Posting a link on a site that no one reads has no value. Here are some other signs that your link profile is unnatural:
- Tons of links built very quickly
- Very little variety in the types of links
- A high number of hand-picked anchor texts
- Links from low quality sites or non-relevant sites
There are other ways the search engines can determine if your links are unnatural. The bottom line is that if they do, your site will likely be penalized.
Why Does Google Want to Penalize Me?
It’s important to understand that Google is not out to hurt your business. Rather, they want to prevent websites from manipulating the system in order to reach the top of the search engines. Simply put, they are trying to prevent cheating. While some people believe that any type of SEO is a manipulation of the system, Google has publicly admitted that they have no problem with SEO as long as it is done using ethical methods. That’s why Measurable SEO only uses white-hat techniques.
Getting Rid of the “Bad” Links
If you have been hit with a Penguin penalty, one of the first steps you need to take is to identify the bad links. The experts at Measurable SEO can quickly analyze your linking profile to determine which links are most likely the culprits behind your penalty. Once we have identified these links, we will work to remove them. This is a difficult and tedious process that is best left to search engine optimization experts. Since you likely worked hard and spent a lot of money to build your links, you want to make sure that you only get rid of the ones that are hurting your site.
Once we have removed the bad links, the next thing we need to do is decide whether or not we need to submit a reconsideration request to Google. This will depend on whether or not you received a manual penalty or an algorithm penalty. If you received a manual penalty, then you should have either been notified through email or in your Google Webmaster Tools. If this is the case, then we will need to request that your site be placed back in the search results. If the penalty was caught by the algorithm, then your site will naturally appear back in the search results once the bad links are gone. However, you won’t instantly rise back up to where you were before the penalty.
Getting Your Traffic Back
When you are recovering from a Penguin penalty, the process can take a long time. Think of it as recovering from any type of injury. If you broke your leg while skiing, you aren’t going to go skiing the day the cast comes off. Similarly, if your site gets unpenalized, you won’t suddenly be number one in the search results the next day. Essentially, having the penalty removed means that you will gain more visibility, not that you will automatically be at the top.
In order to get your traffic back, you need to engage in a smart SEO strategy that uses only approved white-hat techniques. This is where Measurable SEO’s Penguin recovery plan brings the most power. Our SEO strategies are 100% white-hat and withstand the test of time.
The Measurable SEO Penguin Recovery Plan
Our Penguin recovery plan is a comprehensive strategy to get your site back to where you want it to be in the search engines. This multistep process will take several months, but the return for you will be huge when your site is getting loads of new traffic. Here is a general overview of our recovery plan:
- Website analysis: We will thoroughly analyze your site and all of your backlinks in order to determine all of the causes of the penalty. We won’t assume anything until we have completely looked over your site. During this process, we will identify all of the links that are potentially hurting your site.
- Link removal: We will manually remove all of the bad links from your site. This involves contacting the webmaster of each website that is harmfully linking to you. This process can take several months, and there is no guarantee that every webmaster we contact will remove the links.
- Disavow Tool: If there are any bad links that cannot be manually removed, we will use the Google Disavow Tool in order to remove the threat. This tool must be used with great caution and should not be overdone. Our experts know all the ins and outs of this powerful tool.
- Reconsideration Request, if necessary: We will request your site be reconsidered only if you were hit with a manual penalty. Otherwise, the rankings will start to come back a little on their own.
- Rebuild Your Traffic: Once your penalty is lifted, we will use a comprehensive SEO strategy that focuses on white-hat methods to get your traffic back.
Recover Your Traffic Now
If you believe your website has been penalized by Google’s Penguin updates, contact Measurable SEO today to find out the best course of action to get your traffic back.