Nowadays, Google Penguin has already become a household word to the webmasters. Everyone is aware of Google’s algorithm update which has already managed to wreak severe implications for the online community – websites, businesses, and of course the SEO industry. Months have passed since it was launched, but all businesses are striving to conform to Google Penguin criteria to escape ranking penalty. There are some simple steps website owners can do to recover from Google penalties.
Step 1: Problem Diagnosis
The first thing to do is to find out the reason why the ranking of the website has deteriorated and as a result the traffic to it has dropped. The analysis performed on traffic data is the fastest way of finding out the cause of Google Penguin’s penalizing attitude. Websites whose rankings considerably dropped around April 24 last year, when the algorithm update was launched, have certainly been influenced by that algorithm. Website owners and webmasters should try to isolate traffic data to conform to Google’s organic search traffic. It is there that Penguin should have had its unfavorable impact. Indeed both traffic data and ranking data indicate if there is Google penalty awarded, another approach to verifying the results is the analysis performed on the inbound link profile.
Google Penguin judges websites by analyzing their inbound link profiles. In doing so it searches for links that seem unnatural and inferior in quality. A criterion used by Penguin is the anchor text of links: when the predominant part of the inbound link profile comprises non-branded identical anchor text, this is a signal for the algorithm to award low rankings as it deems such text to be unnatural. The further result is the total devaluation of all links which comprise that anchor text and are included in the inbound link profile. Then, owing to devaluation, rankings plummet for each keyword which has a high exact match anchor text ratio. Website owners would like to know the threshold for exact match anchor text ratio. That question is difficult to answer, because it varies with circumstances and niches. A rule of thumb could be a percentage of 2% of the total inbound links which can contain the anchor text for any primary keywords for the website, and also under 20% of exact match keyword anchors for the inbound link profile. For everyone’s information, Penguin considers websites to conform to the best practices when the percentage of exact match anchor text ratio is from 40% to 50%. When the ratio is higher, Penguin deems such websites as overoptimized, and then penalties follow.
Step 2: Find Out Poison Links
In connection with the above step, website owners start asking themselves if their inbound link profiles are overoptimized and hence in danger of being awarded ranking penalties. To answer their questions, they should draw up a list of the inbound links of a website. There are special tools enabling that, viz. Majestic SEO and Open Site Explorer. The former typically has a more comprehensive link index than the latter, so it is preferable to use Majestic SEO. After running the anchor text report on a domain, a website owner should export the CSV file to his desktop. After opening the CSV file, all columns should be deleted, with the exception of the AnchorText and the TotalBackLinks ones. Then a new column should be added under the name Percent of Total, to calculate the anchor text percentage for the overall inbound link profile.
When there is evidence of manipulation of anchor text backlinks, website owners ask themselves about the term within which the website could recover. There are some activities to do to facilitate the recovery. The anchor text which has a ratio higher than 2% should be highlighted, as it must be these links that are instrumental in decreasing rankings. Such links are very likely to be the target words. It is recommended to check the website rankings in Google for these target keywords. If the website does not appear in the first 50 websites group, that is an indication Penguin has been guilty for the lower rankings.
Branded anchors, universal anchors, or naked URLs should form the predominant part of the website profile. Otherwise, there is a great likelihood of getting penalized. Link profiles which are extensively optimized are ranked negatively by Penguin owing to overoptimization. The greater the optimization, the more strenuous the efforts to recover from Penguin. In the process of recovery, it is recommended to delete and dilute. First of all, the links that have contributed for the reduced rankings should be identified and deleted. Then it is time to dilute, adding new links that conform to the state of the art link building practices. When the backlink profile is visualized, the bad links should be isolated from the good ones. The links to be isolated should be the ones with the anchor text that has been identified as the culprit for the problem.
In Majestic SEO, all that is needed is clicking the anchor text which is found in the Top Anchors section within the Reports area. Domain clustering should be turned off before the analysis is started. The list of links obtained should be exported to the desktop as a CSV file, and the links should be sorted using Majestic SEO’s ACRank. Links with ACRanks of two or less should be highlighted, because they should be targeted as the links to be removed.
Step 3: The Link Removal Process
After the bad links have been identified, website owners should turn to their webmasters and ask them to carry out a link removal campaign. Webmasters contact information is available on the Contact Us page. If there is no Contact Us page, the contact information can be found using WhoIs lookup. Although link removal is not a profitable activity for webmasters, professional SEOs carry out such removal to maintain the quality of websites by repairing their rankings chances.
Step 4: The New Link building Campaign
After the link removal, the new link building campaign should start. Its purpose is to dilute the inbound link profile of a website, in order to make it appear more natural to Google Penguin algorithm. To consider websites as having natural inbound link profiles, Penguin uses the following criteria:
- Large domain diversity
- Large link type diversity (examples web 2.0 sites, availability of press releases, editorial content published, blog comments, forums inviting visitors to share opinions, etc.)
- Large anchor text diversity
- A large number of signals of linking to social media (examples: Twitter tweets, or Facebook likes, or social bookmarks, or G+1 links, as well as linking to Diggs, Stumbles, etc.)
So it appears that it is simple to achieve natural high rankings. For the purpose, the tactics employed should offer variety. The anchor text which is used for the website links should be given special attention. Anchor text types that enable the safe link building after Penguin which offers efficiency are found below:
- Branded anchors (example: websitename)
- Naked URLs (example: www.websitename.com, or websitename.com,)
- Universal anchors (examples: click here, visit this website, etc.)
- Hybrid branded anchors (example: Social media news at websitename)
High quality links are built thanks to quality content on the specific website. Such content can be in the form of blog posts, primary data analysis, opinion offering, or intriguing data visualization. Some businesses seem more boring to online users, so their owners can benefit from helpful advice on the matter of developing winning content strategies. After the quality content has been created and posted, the offsite link building should start. There are well known methods of offsite link building, such as:
- Quality content which is posted on niche related blogs, on web 2.0 sites, or in high quality article directories
- After writing press releases informing of recent company developments, they can be distributed using PR distribution services, e.g. PRWeb
- Contacting influential blog authors in the niche in which the website owner’s company operates, with the offer of writing guest posts
- Offering insightful comments on some relevant blog posts
- Participation in forums which are industry related
- Syndication of a blog’s RSS feed to available RSS aggregators
- Creation and publishing of images to Pinterest
- Publishing videos on YouTube
The number of tactics which enable website owners to obtain new inbound links is high. It should be remembered that the process is time consuming. Nevertheless, on the competitive online market, that is an effort that cannot be avoided and is crucial for the maintenance of websites in as high positions as possible in Google searches.