penguin seo dark side

How to recover from the Google Penguin update

By Paul Morris

So you have been hit by the Penguin Update then/ are worried about future roll outs?


Here goes with some tips on how to recover/ how to minimise the chances of being hit in future roll outs (and as we all know; Panda is a moving veritable feast hence I see no reason why Penguin will not follow suit):


1/ it’s not your fault

Do not file a reinclusion request as it will not help you with this type of automatic algorithmic change.

Instead use this form.

The algorithm might have been over sensitive in your case or you could have been hit by black hat seo-ers e.g. where unscrupulous SEO Jedi/ Ninjas/Idiots link bomb the competition.

There have been reports of a few false positives however to be frank the update seems to have generally hit the right sites.


2/ It is your fault/ your agencies fault

Tools – Start by laying the foundations and gather together/ utilise useful SEO tools. These include Google Webmaster Tools, LinkDex, Majestic SEO and/ or Open Site Explorer/ SEOMOZ.

Site Wides – Find site wide inbound links that clearly do not look natural. E.g. obviously paid for site wide footer or side nav links. Get them removed.

Anchor text – Look at your anchor text and find anchor text links that have been over-egged.

You know if you have been dodgily over optimising for certain target keywords. Get them removed (or if the site is relevant and on theme perhaps change the anchor text to something much more natural e.g. click here, empty anchor text, the url, etc).

There is a nice case study about stemmed versions of keywords and how the strength of exact match domains have altered post Penguin on the sayulabs site that is worth a read.

Dodgy 301’s – Have you been engaged in buying copious amounts of parked domains and redirecting them to your main site? If so stop it and reevaluate your current domain strategy.

Poor Quality links – Use the tools mentioned above and rank your links in terms of commonly used metrics e.g. AC Rank, PR, DA, PA, etc. Remove the poorest quality links. If you are then going to do a thorough job you need to look at related metrics in more detail e.g. number of outbound links from the referring site, number of inbounds, whether the positioning and links look fishy, etc and get those removed as well.

Now I’m not trying to be smart by saying the above and this is no easy task. As an example if you have engaged in ‘quality’ directory submission tools such as Directory Maxymiser then it is going to be difficult to get those links removed. You could find yourself paying more to have the links removed than it cost you to get it in the first place. However feel warm and squishy in the knowledge that many other companies (and I’m including big brands in this statement) are in the same boat as you are!

Yang to your Yin – To outweigh the bad stuff do more good stuff. This will include more white hat link bait (quality… PR syndication, social media outreach, blogger engagement, gamification, infographics, guides/ infotainment, etc)

You need to do all you can to make your link profile look natural. A chaos theory approach to link building is good where you vary activity up and do not over rely on any one link building tactic.

Plug Ins – Use WordPress? Make sure the plugins/ themes you are utilising are not inserting hidden links. Find out more from Omri Shabat.

On Page – And whilst all the above focuses on offsite make sure you undo some of your on page over optimisation. E.g. meta details, page content, spammy internal linking, image alt tags, duplicate content, etc.

Wait – Google will not roll this back as Matt Cutts and his team thinks it has been a success.

A reconsideration request will not help those correctly hit by Penguin.

Before moving on to the next point you need to wait it out. No one knows when the next Penguin update will be released however I bet it will be within the next few weeks so you quite simply have to wait or…

Start Again – Seriously! Matt Cutts recommended it as an option so there. If you are a black hat SEO practitioner then take it on the chin and move on. Remember the scorched earth military strategy.

If you are a brand then unfortunately this is not an option!

3/ Prevention

Pretty much do point number 2 above before you get found out!


Good luck.