Well people if you have come to read this post about the infamous Google Penguin Algorithm 2.1 that was pushed out on October 4th 2013 then no doubt you have been slapped by the evil penguin or are out to learn more about his evil ways. In this post I hope to point out a few things that will help with your recovery or at least get you prepared for the start of your recovery process.
Please understand that these are basic steps that should be done before you start to link build again, these steps assume you have some basic knowledge of search engine optimisation and if you are unsure about any part please ask here on this post or seek professional advice from an experienced SEO consultant.
Topics that I will touch on:
- 1: Signs of being slapped by the penguin
- 2: how to check your link profile
- 3: first steps of recovery
- 4: where can the disavow tool be found
- 5: how to set up your disavow tool – text file
- 6: how to find those toxic links
- 7: tips on gaining back some quality links
Section 1 – Signs of being slapped by the penguin
Firstly you might of noticed a drop in your overall traffic within Google web master tools or simply by the phone not ringing as regular. This drop if you check against dates of Google algorithm updates will correlate with the update which in this case were talking about the penguin 2.1 on October 4th 2013. You may have particular keywords that you have been targeting for higher ranks and no doubt its these keywords and related keywords that have suffered the penguins axe.
The penguin 2.1 update targets suspicious unnatural link profiles & link building strategies just like the previous penguin updates only that this one is slightly more clever and will search deeper into your site picking up more deep links and the ratio of links dispersed throughout your sites as well as the link velocity.
By performing a search for your chosen keywords and finding that your money page (the one you built links to) is either gone completely or is so far back it might as well be gone completely you can quickly ascertain which keywords or phrases that you have been penalised for. I will talk more about which are your penalised keywords in the next section.
Section 2 – How to check your link profile
The following tools will help you look deeper into your link profile and enable you to get a clearer picture on why you have been penalised and which links are most likely to have been the cause. They will also show you details on your link velocity and link building history, you may find you have been the subject of malicious/negative SEO which you would be able to spot using some of these tools.
Google search for:
- 1: Majestic SEO
- 2: Ahrefs
- 3: Analytic SEO
Please note that these tools only give you a slight insight into your websites analytics and the free usage is limited so make sure you use sparingly or you will have to wait 24 hours for another crack at the whip! These tools will enable you to look at your link profile and see the percentages of links pointing to your domain or specific pages, they will also show you the anchor text of those links which if you have been hit by penguin will mean you have a section of your link profile over 20% that has only 1 anchor text keyword (no one knows the true percentage that will trigger a penguin algorithmic penalty but if its over 20% you should deal with it appropriately). These tools will also show you the trust, domain authority & url authority of the links that point to you which should give you some clue as to which ones are toxic. If you are unsure about the validity of one of the links then chuck that domain through analysis too and see if it also has a suspicious profile.
Section 3 – First steps to recovery
You should have a good idea now of which links are causing you the problem and which anchor texts are causing the algorithmic penalty (be aware though that its not all about anchor text, you could of just built a lot of spam links from a range of anchors and triggered it that way).
If you have your list of links then great we can email the domain owners for removal or disavow them now, if not then we will talk more later on how to find those toxic links. The disavow tool is something Google released to help web masters cut them selves off from domains or links that point to their website and mark them as spam links or simply unwanted. These links will get the equivalent of the `no follow` attribute added to them and hopefully wont be flagging up any more when the algorithms probe your website.
Section 4 – Where can the disavow tool be found
The disavow tool can be found on the following link, you will need a Google Web Master tools account before you can use it however – disavow tool here -
Section 5 – How to set up the disavow tool – text file
The disavow tool is basically an upload button attached to your websites web master tools account. When you upload a simple `disavow.txt` document to this feature you are from that point telling Google that you do not want any relation to these domains or links and details of what you have done to remove those links as well as the ones you want to disavow.
This is a basic example of how to set one up for an algorithmic penalty (a manual penalty would require more supporting documentation than this disclosing in as much detail as possible the actions you have taken to get the links removed)
# Contacted owner of the websites 6-78 below on 1/10/2013 and 1/11/2013
# Contacted owner of the websites 78-275 below on 1/11/2013
# Contacted owner of the websites 275-479 below on 23/12/2013
# to ask for link removal but got no response
Note that anything placed on the line after a hash tag will be ignored by the tool and is meant for the Google team to read if they chose to. The `domain:` is used to disavow an entire domain which for spam sites is a good move. By listing the full url of a link like the bottom two links in the example you are telling Google to only disavow those particular links and the domain they are on will not be disavowed.
Section 6 – How to find those toxic links
Again for this there are a whole bunch of site analytic tools online that you can use to scan the links on your website and determine which ones you wish to disavow or ask to be removed by email. The tools mentioned in section 2 will help you look at each link/domain in detail in the same way that you check your own links, you can also visit the domains in question and make a judgement yourself.
Does it look like spam? Does it contain links going to all kinds of sites? Does it have a page rank of n/a, zero, or even 1? — All of these can be signs that the links are no good for your site, but be careful you do not disavow valuable links, be sure to check each link/domain in a number of ways. A page rank 3 website can be harmful just like a page rank 1 website can be helpful.
Section 7 – Tips on gaining back some quality links
Okay so now you have told Google to disavow a bunch of links and you have had some removed so your all recovered now? — Nope not quite, the chances are you have lost a lot of the link juice going to your site and you need to get some more quality juice back to replace it. This is best left for a new post about link building and content creation but here are a few tips on things you could do for better links.
- 1: Write good informative articles about your niche and ask for them to be published on reputable moderated websites in your industry. (avoid free for all guest blogs and manual submissions)
- 2: Buy high PR domains and gradually build links from them to your own site but be careful with this strategy you do not want to be seen as gaming the system again.
- 3: Make the odd comment on popular websites and blogs in your industry but do not do this excessively.
- 4: Use your brand or your name on the links so you do not end up with a money keyword back link profile again.
- 5: Use all of the social media channels more.
- 6: Create video content and get people engaged with it on Youtube.
Well that is it people if you have any questions or anything else to add please get in touch, I appreciate all feedback we are all still learning every day!
The author of this article Dean Signori can be found on Google+ — Please take the time to follow our company pages on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ & Pinterest on the footer of this website we appreciate your support a great deal!