Dealing with Google Penguin: How to Recover if You’ve Been Affected
Google Penguin has changed the landscape of search engine optimization. In terms of making things “better,” Google considers it a complete success, as it only targets sites that have a high probability of being spam-filled. Unfortunately for you, your site got hit. It doesn’t matter whether your site actually had spam or not. The point is that you got hit and you need to make some changes.
Where Did it Go Wrong?
You’ll have to look at what could have ruined your site’s standing with Google. For the most part, you have to look at your linking practices and see where it went wrong. Exact match anchor text, for example, could get you in trouble if companies paid for it. Comment spam might also result in your site being tagged by Google Penguin.
Even seemingly legitimate tactics might have sent your rank out the window. For example, expert webmasters recommend guest posting on other sites as a way to create links and to improve visibility. Unfortunately, your site could have been affected because the site you posted on was affected by Penguin. Your site could have been marked as a co-conspirator, even if you thought the site was legitimate at the time. For that matter, links from questionable sites can also result in your site being tagged by Google Penguin.
Cleaning Up Your Site
First, you need to establish what backlinks exist for your site. Plenty of tools exist to help you in what could be an amazing endeavor. SEOmoz Open Site Explorer and Google Webmaster Tools Backlinks Report are only two of the many tools you can use. This is actually the easy part, considering. The hard part comes when you have to look through the list. See, what you need to do now is to evaluate each backlink to determine the quality of the site linking to you. It is as time intensive as it sounds. Using Majestic SEO goes a long way, as it also gives you a rank rating you can use to make this process go faster.
Now, the next step is to ask these sites to polite remove their links to your site, as it is negatively affecting your ranking. Make it easy for them. Give them the URLs where the related links are, and to what part of your site it points. Be clear as to why you want the link removed. It may seem difficult to tell someone to remove a link because it is negatively affecting your site’s Google page-rank, but it’s what’s happening and you need to get your site back on track. A quick WHOIS search will solve your problems if you can’t find the contact information for that site.
Generally you can expect one of the following responses to your request. They’ll remove the link, and inform you of the change. They may remove the link and simply not tell you. They could also simply ignore your request. At worst, they’ll only remove it if you pay them a certain amount of money. Just keep checking to see if anything has been removed and cross it off the list if it’s gone.
The last step is to inform Google of your efforts. Send them a spreadsheet filled with the information you just got, such as the removal of bad links and so forth. This will inform them that you’ve put in the effort to get your site back on their rankings. Don’t be disheartened if you couldn’t get rid of every single bad link – even the best site has a few spammers clinging to them. Google will recognize the change and act appropriately.
Just remember that Google Penguin is definitely far from the last update Google will ever enact – it’s simply how the company functions and survives. They want to make the best search engine available, and they’ll keep trying until the day the Internet gets replaced. You, as a webmaster, need to understand this. Search engine optimization is a constantly shifting battleground. You adapt or your site dies. It’s that simple.