Google Penguin 2.0 did not quite decimate the Internet marketing community like its major predecessor, but statistics and percentages are no comfort to those now sitting at the bottom of the rankings. When faced with the bleak prospect of starting over, it can be hard to know where to begin, what to correct and what to leave in place.
It is, however, possible to recover and even benefit from being penalized by Penguin 2.0. For many, it will serve as a wake-up call that the days of exploitative SEO are disappearing quickly. The following five steps will help any site get back on its feet after losing rankings to Penguin 2.0.
First, resist the urge to pull the plug on the whole domain and begin again from scratch. There is no need to waste months or even years of SEO in one moment of despair. In all likelihood, the issue can be remedied, leaving the rest of the website’s structure intact.
Become familiar with the minute workings of Penguin 2.0. The update targets low-quality backlinks and other spammy practices, some of which may ring a bell to those who were punished for them. Run an inventory of your domain, including all of the links pointing to it, assessing where it fails to meet Google’s standards. This will allow you to pinpoint and correct problems without damaging the SEO that still works.
Clean Up Bad Links
Run down the list of inbound links for your website and start separating those that are low- and high-quality. Anything from a paid linking service or spam-filled directory will negatively impact SEO. Links that appeared in short bursts, like those from a targeted campaign, appear artificial and may also raise Google’s red flag.
Essentially, if the link comes from a poor source, it must be removed. In the post-Penguin-2.0 world, quantity is less important than authority and ranking. This tidying up helps Google notice the truly valuable links that mirror the natural progression of fame and recognition a website should follow.
Simplify Anchor Text
Another obvious sign of sloppy link-building is anchor text that perfectly matches the main keyword phrase of the page or website it points to. When used sparingly from a domain of good repute, it can be a powerful tool, but too much begins to do more harm than help. If you have direct control over the poor links, simply adjust or delete them as needed. If not, there are other options discussed later in this article.
Using Tools to Correct Links
SEO experts are divided on the efficacy of using tools to weed through backlinks. Although some programs may prove to be worth their cost, they lack the finesse needed to examine tricky links on a case-by-case basis. Artificial intelligence is still limited enough that going through each backlink with a fine-toothed comb is worth the time and effort. Tools can, on the other hand, be very helpful for identifying potentially problematic links to be later reviewed by human eyes.
Seeking Google’s Help
Recognizing the potential for exploitation, Google has also introduced the disavow links service, which gives webmasters control over which links the search engine takes into consideration while crawling a page. Disavowing involves downloading a list of backlinks to the website and then choosing which of them to ignore and which to keep. It is recommended as a last measure to clean up whatever manual removal cannot reach, and when used improperly it may damage SEO.
The trouble with Penguin 2.0 is that it forces businesses to scrutinize their backlinks while insisting that they also allow them to develop naturally. Walking the thin line between cultivating optimization and treading on Google’s toes has always been a challenge, but it is not impossible. By staying up to date with all of the latest updates and avoiding black-hat methods, you will be able to ride out future updates without suffering a devastating loss of rank.