Anyone who’s involved in Internet marketing can tell you that Penguin is more than a cute little seabird that lives in Antarctica.
The Penguin 2.0 algorithm was released by Google in October 2013 and basically penalized websites for having unnatural, irrelevant, low-quality, spammy backlinks. Those that may come from link farms or sites that pay for backlinks.
The “penalty” Google issued directly affected the website’s search engine results ranking and website traffic, which of course would affect the company’s sales and lead generation efforts. So needless to say, this little bird was devastating to some businesses.
If you’re not sure if your site’s traffic was affected by Penguin, you can visit this free tool to see if in fact your website traffic had dropped in correlation with the time of Penguin’s 2.0 release: http://reconsideration.org/penalty-tool/
Now with talk of Penguin’s big brother, 3.0, coming down the pipeline, it’s prudent to do a link audit on your website to avoid possible fallout.
So where do you start?
You can check your own website’s backlinks to ensure those sites that are linking to you are relevant and synergistic to your own site’s content.
You can also go into Google’s Webmaster Tools and select your website.
Then, go down the list and see who’s linking to you. This may be laborious, but well worth it. Sites like Removeem.com have free “predictor” tools, where you can see how many bad links your website may have. And it also offers paid-for self-service and full-service link removal options.
Next, it’s literally a manual process of visiting the “bad” link’s website and contacting its representatives to remove the link going to your site. If there’s several “bad links,” it’s best to create a form letter. According to searchenginewatch.com, the letter should state that you are a website owner trying to recover from a Google penalty and would like the following links removed. Then, list the URLs where the links can be found, the URL on your site they point to, the anchor text ─ all the info needed to easily find the link you’re requesting be removed.
Sometimes, it’s easy to find contact information of “bad links.” You simply visit the site and can find email or similar information in the footer or “Contact Us” area of the website.
Other times it’s harder, and you may need to engage in some free tools to help determine a bad link’s website owner. According to searchenginewatch.com, such tools are:
- Domaintools.com: If you want to find out who owns the site your link is on, visit domain tools or type “whois.sc” in front of a URL.
- C-Class Checker: If you have a list of all the links you want to get rid of, you can run them through a bulk C-class checker to see how many of them are on the same C-class.
- SpyonWeb: If you only have 1 URL to work with, this tool lets you find out what other domains they are associated with. Just put in a website URL, IP address or even the Google analytics or AdSense code and you can find all of the websites that are connected to it. Keep a record of all efforts to contact “bad links,” as it will show Google you’ve been making a good effort to get rid of these irrelevant links.
If you find that Google’s last Penguin update has affected your website and you believe there may have been an error of some sort, there is a form on Google you can fill out to pinpoint search terms that you believe you shouldn’t be penalized for.
Just remember, when it comes to SEO backlinks, it’s all about quality not quantity. Relevance is key. As long as you keep it lean and clean, all should be fine when our little seabird friend comes to visit again.