How To Recover From Google’s Penguin Penalty
Tools – SEMrush, Google Analytics, Search Console
Penguin Overview –
The Penguin penalty mainly focuses on filtering and demoting websites with an unnatural backlink profile. This includes black hat (self made) links and highly targeted anchor text.
An unnatural backlink profile can encompass a variety of factors. Here are a few:
The Big 4
Backlinks with over optimized anchor text
Backlinks from low quality websites
An unnatural link velocity and quantity
Links within unrelated or low quality (spun) content
Example: Philadelphia Eagles
Anchor Text Percentages:
Natural Backlink Profile –
80% (Brand) – “Philadelphia Eagles”, “philadelphia eagles”, “Philadelphia Eagles Football”.
10% (URL) – “philadelphiaeagles.com”,”http://philadelphiaeagles.com”,”www.philadelphiaeagles.com”.
5% (Generic) – “click here”, “visit our site”, “contact us”.
5% (Other) – “see the top draft picks by the eagles”, “Philadelphia’s official football team”, “eagles new roster – view here”.
Unnatural Backlink Profile –
25% (Brand) – “Philadelphia Eagles”, “philadelphia eagles”, “Philadelphia Eagles Football”.
5% (URL) – “philadelphiaeagles.com”,”http://philadelphiaeagles.com”,”www.philadelphiaeagles.com”.
10% (Exact) – “Buy Eagles Jerseys”
60% (Exact) – “Eagles Jersey For Sale”
October (4 New Links), November (8 New Links), December (15 New Links), January (22 New Links), etc…
October (4 New Links), November (52 New Links), December (2 New Links), January (112 New Links), etc…
Have I Been Hit by Penguin?
In most cases if your web page is hit by penguin, you will notice a decrease in rankings followed by a decrease in organic traffic. Its best to take a look at your analytics or SEMrush traffic to determine when you were penalized.
So Your Site Has Been Slapped, Now What?
If you can determine the point at which your site or page was hit, then you can take a further look into your backlink profile and SEMrush Backlink Audit to determine which backlink(s) may have caused the penalty.
How to Determine if a Link is Toxic
By using SEMrush we can get an accurate look at what the backlink profile for the website or URL is. Within your SEMrush project you can view your backlink audit which will notify you of toxic links.
When analyzing the backlink profile you want to look at a few key areas on the URL/Page level –
1. Does the page have a high percentage of backlinks with exact match anchor text?
Example: Your website is called Ashley’s Pet Spa . com and you’re based in New Jersey. You buy 500 backlinks from fiverr with the anchor text “Pet Grooming in New Jersey”. This anchor text now accounts for 50% of your backlink profile and will trigger a penalty.
2. Do the backlinks display anchor text relevant to the page’s content?
Example: Your website is about pet grooming but there are links to your website with anchor text as “buy gucci bags” or “best pizza in NY”.
3. Are the backlinks to the page from trusted sources (are the referring websites spammy)? Spammy websites have thin/duplicate content, no theme, a high number of outbound links on page, etc…
Example: Those 500 fiverr backlinks are all from Chinese or Russian websites with 30 blog posts on each homepage. Each blog post is unrelated to the website with topics such as “Find a Plumber in California”, “Best PC’s in 2016”, “12 Facts About Cheetahs That May Surprise You”, etc…
4. Are these backlinks from related websites?
Example: Your site is about Pet Grooming buy you find that you have 12 backlinks from websites about fly fishing, 35 backlinks from websites about traveling to london, and 24 backlinks from websites about training your dog.
If you come across a backlink that doesn’t pass these checks, record it within SEMrush by selecting move to > disavow domain for the recovery phase.
Recovering From a Penguin Penalty
Here are the 3 ways to recover from a penguin penalty.
Build more under optimized links from quality sources to lower your anchor text percentages. Brand and naked/url anchors will help to dilute your backlink profile.
Contact the webmasters for link removal. SEMrush has a remove feature within your Backlink Audit. By adding toxic or unwanted links to your removal list, you can obtain the site owner’s contact info and easily send a removal request all from within your SEMrush project. Once the links are removed, wait about 3-4 weeks and check if you’ve regained or are regaining your rankings.
As a last option you can submit a disavow file to Google within search console. Create a list of your toxic links in a .txt format or continue to add them to your SEMrush disavow list, save or export that file and submit.
Follow the guide above and you should regain any lost traffic and rankings within weeks. If you need further help or a consultation, you can contact us here.