Penguin Recovery – Seesaw Link Building
If you were hit by a Google Penguin update year (on April 24th, May 25th, or October 5th) it means your site was guilty of webspam tactics including keyword stuffing, link schemes, paid links, overuse of exact match anchor text and more. Unlike a manual penalty, where you can clean up your site and submit a reconsideration request to have a human quality editor evaluate your site, Penguin was an algorithmic update and the only way to really recover was to make changes (as best as you could) and wait for the next refresh. May to October is definitely not a short wait and plenty of site owners still haven’t completely bounced back.
There have been some stories of Penguin recovery, but if you’re one of the site owners that are still looking for a way out the best advice I can give you is to approach your link building efforts and link profile and treat it like a seesaw. Here’s what I mean:
The Google Disavow tool seemed like a miracle to many site owners that were struggling with Penguin and I’m sure more than a few scrambled to “dump” their Penguin-catching links in the disavow tool in an effort to rebound. This probably didn’t work for a couple of reasons. Google straight up said that the disavow tool was to be used only as a last resort, when you’ve removed as many of those “bad” links as you could on your own and were stuck with the last resilient few that you just couldn’t make go away. It was not a do-over for your link profile. Secondly, just because you submitted your disavow list that doesn’t mean Google automatically stopped counting those links against you – at the end of the day it’s just a suggestion.
So what does treating your link building like a seesaw mean? It means that if you are trying to salvage your link profile you have to slowly remove the bad links and replace them with good links, tipping the balance of the seesaw from bad to good. Now why the seesaw metaphor and not a slide? Because in my opinion it’s best to go about this process slowly. You need to really analyze every single link in your back link profile to determine if it’s one that Penguin is latching onto. And you need to look at each link from a multitude of angles, not just one factor like PageRank. It’s too easy to remove a link that might have been helping you (or at the very least not hurting you) in the effort to clean up your profile. One quality link typically does a lot more good for your website than one poor link can cause harm so it’s important you know the worth of each link before you decide to remove it!
You also want to make sure you are keeping your link building as natural as possible. A sudden dump or spurt of links might raise another red flag and get your site in more trouble. It takes a lot of time and effort to build 10 solid, high-quality links and Google knows this. If your link profile jumps up 1,000 links in just a week (after dumping 2,000) it might do more harm than good.
It’s also imperative that as you work to remove bad links your replace them with good ones. Obviously this might not be possible on a one-to-one ratio, but if you just try to wipe the slate clean and not refill your link profile you might not be left with much. It’s possible that the penalty will be lifted after the next refresh but your link profile won’t be strong enough to help you fully recover.