According to Google, approximately 3% of sites were affected by the Penguin update on 24 April. A big reason why we believe so many blogs, businesses and websites fell victim to Google’s Penguin and Panda updates this year comes down to inexperienced, Black Hat, or just plain bad SEOs.
If you have paid for and used either inexperienced, Black Hat or bad SEOs, or are even one yourself, you were just waiting in line to be penalised. And now you’re likely left with a big mess to tidy up (yep, we’ve had a few potential clients come running to us asking for help).
For all of the bad SEO work that has gone on over the years, and all those “tricks” and techniques used to manipulate the rankings have led to these recent Panda and Penguin updates. A clean up of Google’s SERPs was long overdue, even if these updates have provided us with a few anomalies.
Separating the experts from the amateurs in SEO comes down to one thing. Research. No Black Hat or amateur is going to admit it, just like no one is going to admit they’re a bad SEO. So you need to ask the right questions, look at the results of previous work they have done, and maybe even ask for a testimonial or two from those companies they say they have worked with. This will go a long way to helping you make sure you’re working with the right SEO company for you. And helping you to avoid any future penalties that bad SEOs are vulnerable to.
What We Think We Know About the Penguin
I’m not going to claim we’ve cured the Penguin and know the exact reasons behind it, but we’ve got a bit of experience behind us now. And with that here’s a few things we believe sites are being penalised for:
- Unnatural Links
- Little Anchor Text Variation
- On-site Over-optimisation
How We Have Helped Others Recover
There’s plenty of rubbish on the internet about how companies and individuals claim they have recovered from a Penguin penalty. I've seen some include disputable Analytics data and then claim social is the way to fix it. From my experience, here’s a few suggestions I’d like to make to anyone looking to recover from a Penguin penalty:
· Make Your Anchor Text Look Natural – The days of purchasing unnatural anchor texts and in blog rolls are dying. The safer option these days is to guest blog and make sure anchor text links more natural. Have no fear in writing a long, informative article on a third party site with just a domain name link back to you.
· Dilute Your Anchor Text – Creating the majority of your links with just one phrase of anchor text doesn’t work anymore. Continue to do that and expect to be penalised shortly after. This year, you need to vary your anchor text, link to more than one page on your website and use your brand name in a high percentage of your links. · Build Quality Links – If you have a great, genuine product or service to offer then getting links from quality websites shouldn’t be a problem for you. Aim high.
· De-optimise Your Website – If you make it obvious to a user that you’re over-optimising and targeting a certain keyword or phrase on your website, then it’s obvious to Google too.
· Scale down Internal Links – We recently had a problem with one of our clients who had a massive number of links in their drop down menu. Their drop down menu was, of course on every page. Shortly after we trimmed these down their rankings started to come back. We only have one example of this to tell, but simple changes like we did in removing a large number of internal links made a big impact for us.
· Produce Better Content – The old phrase of “Content is King” is becoming fashionable again. Quite simply, the better the content you produce, the more willing people are to read it. With that, you can use it to attain links and social shares.
· Get Social – I’m still dubious of how bigger role social has to play in Google’s rankings right now, but do believe it will have more importance in due course. We’ve certainly seen it help push new articles and blog posts up for a short period of time, and that in itself is a good thing. So add social button to your site and get active on Google+ and Twitter etc. They do provide traffic and are predicted to play an important role in the SERPs at some point. I hope my real-life experiences divulged in this post will be of use to you.
And, if after all of these suggestions you are still suffering from a Penguin penalty… call me.