I am currently working with two site owners who were negatively impacted by Penguin 2.1. Many of my other clients actually benefited from Penguin 2.1 and have seen an uptick in impressions and clicks, but these two clients came to me with a Penguin 2.0 penalty caused by the actions of former SEO providers. Any one who has tried to clean up a link profile knows what a hassle it can be. Both of my clients understand how they got into this situation and understand the long, hard road to recovery in front of them. If you are dealing with a Penguin penalty here are a few things we’ve done that might help you recover a little quicker.
1. Delete Author Profiles on Article Submission Sites
One of the client’s former SEO providers created a false identity, which they used to create profiles on sites like ArticlesBase, Amazines, and other mass article submission sites. These sites were hit when Panda first came out for having thin content, but now it looks like having those sites in your link profile could bring Penguin down on your head. Chances are any links from those sites are keyword-rich, as well as coming from less-than-stellar websites, so you’re better off just deleting the profiles and removing any articles that linked back to your website. In my client’s case, they didn’t have the login information but they were able to reach out to the sites and get the profiles deleted.
The same advice holds true for free or junky online PR submission sites. If they won’t add nofollow tags to your past releases just delete the profiles.
2. Disavow Entire Domains, not Just Individual Links
If you have a link from a site that exists on more than 2-3 pages it’s probably worth disavowing the entire domain (provided you don’t want your site associated with it in any way) with the Disavow Tool from Google. For instance, one of my client’s has a keyword rich link in the side level navigation on another site. That’s doubly unnatural according to Google. We’ve emailed the owner of the site several times to get the link removed or at least make it nofollowed, but never heard back. You can bet that domain is the first one in the disavow file we submitted. As far as we can tell that link never sent any traffic and the client isn’t even sure who created it in the first place. Their former SEO provider isn’t talking so we’ve taken the matter into our own hands.
Keep in mind we don’t know for sure how quickly Google takes this information into account so there is no telling when those disavowed links are no longer being held against you.
3. Delete Profiles from Spammy Bookmarking Sites
Bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon actually send a lot of traffic to websites, but as for sites like FolkD? Probably not so much. While those social bookmarking sites used to be a decent way to build up a few extra links, like any good link building tactic the spammers took it to a whole new level and ruined it for the rest of us. If old social bookmarking profiles aren’t delivering traffic to your site, don’t bother keeping it around. Delete the profile and any links tied to it.
Depending upon how bad your link profile was when Penguin hit, these tactics could decimate your link profile in a matter of weeks. As terrifying as that is, sometimes you have to start from scratch if you want to undo a penalty. While you working on removing the bad links, take time to focus on earning a few good ones to level out your link profile. Keep investing in your content marketing and social media efforts and look for new business partnerships and promotional opportunities that will introduce your brand to new audiences so you don’t have to rely so heavily on Google. Above all else just know that you are not the only one going through this painful process and you can learn from others as you go.