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5 Ways to Protect your Website from Google SEO Penalties

Everyone in SEO is talking about it…a new Penguin update is on the way and it is rumored that it will make last April’s ruthless Penguin update look like child’s play.  People are running scared, wondering if their site, and business, will be slammed like so many others were last year.

In this article I will review 6 ways to protect your site so you can sleep safe and sound, knowing traffic to your site won’t dry up overnight.  And if you’ve already been hit, Chuck Price gives some great suggestions for recovery.

1. Audit your Links Monthly

Start by running your backlinks and getting a baseline.  How many of your links are from high quality vs low quality sites? And who is actually linking to you?

If you find links from spammy or low quality sites, why not email the site and request for the link to be removed?  If you do, document this!  Keep track of everyone you’ve emailed and when.  You may need this information if you DO get penalized and have to file a reconsideration request.

There are a number of SEO tools you can use to monitor your backlinks.  Pick your favorite and don’t forget to do this every month!

2. What’s your Anchor Density?


High anchor density for money terms is one of the main indicators of SERP manipulation that leads to Penguin penalties.

Keeping an eye on the anchor density of your keywords is important.  Anchor density will change constantly as new links are being built.  Every month, make sure you run an anchor density report and make sure you are under 15% for a money term.

I’ve seen anchor density for brand terms go upwards of 50% without penalties, but if the anchor text with high density is focused on money terms, then this could elicit penalties.  If you notice your density getting too high, quickly build noise or brand term links to dilute the percentages.

Be sure to use Semantically Related Keywords as well to avoid “fabricated” anchor text profiles.


3. Link Ratios: What to Monitor, and Why they Matter

Proper Company Promotion – courtesy © alphaspirit –


When google talks about Earned vs Unearned links, one of the ways they can algorithmically monitor these numbers is by looking at ratios.

Here are some of the ratios that I always look for when monitoring a site’s heatlh:


  • Link Type: Image vs Text vs Mentions

  • Link Location: Paragraph vs Link List vs In Content vs Sidebar vs Header

  • Domain Theme: Business vs Computers vs Reference vs Portals vs News

  • Site Type: General vs Blog vs CMS vs Link Directory vs Social Network

  • Sitewide Ratio

  • Deep Links Ratio

If, for example, too many of the links come from Link Directories, this shows an imbalance and I will try to build alternate links to create a healthy backlink profile.

4. Watch your Webmaster Tools account


This one is obvious but I can’t even tell you how many site owners I speak with who don’t have their Webmaster Tools account set up, or who don’t monitor it.  This is important!

Watching the links that Google displays in your account can help you find problematic links that Google is acknowledging are crawled in part of how your site is ranked.  Keeping tabs on these links will help you to quickly identify low quality or negative links.

Perhaps Googlebot is having trouble accessing your site, or something went wrong with your server and there are numerous crawl or page errors.  Monitoring your webmaster account for your site’s health will make sure you address and minimize potential problems BEFORE they become penalties or result in a loss of rankings or traffic.

5. Create Google Analytics Alerts


By creating Intelligence Events Alerts, you can have Google Analytics notify you if your traffic has decreased or if something has changed.

Here are some alerts that I set up for all of my clients:

  • 10% Traffic Drop

  • Bounce Rate increases by more than 5%

  • Google Organic Traffic decreased by more than 5%

Sometimes a small drop is an indication of problems, so I will review the site, backlinks, etc and address any problems before they result in penalties or major traffic loss.

Most Importantly, Don’t Engage in Spammy Link Building!!!


I’ve had clients come to me asking why their site is doing so poorly in the search engines.  They confess they’ve done some work on their own or paid a nominal fee to a company that spam mailed them to increase their rankings.

Almost invariably I find massive amounts of spammy links from directories or article marketing sites.  Some people have confessed to have used Fiverr gigs for link building, or foreign companies that build 10,000 wiki links or a 50 spoke link wheel.(And if you’re wondering how I know of all this, it’s because yes, I’ve tried and tested many of these services.   I’m always running tests with groups of sites so I can track what is or isn’t working; running controlled tests is one of my passions).

Just DON’T Do It!  

It’s not worth it! Perhaps these links work for a little bit, but they WILL get you penalized.  If not now, it will happen in a future algorithmic update.

Fiverr is GREAT for some gigs, like voice overs and fun images, but when it comes to link building, it just won’t work.  Link building is hard, and expensive, and nobody can genuinely build you hundreds of links for $5.


Build High Quality Links

One high value link is worth hundreds of low quality links.  I’ve seen it time and again by analysing backlink profiles of sites with strong rankings.  A handful of links from reputable sources can help a site’s rankings considerably.

Forget forum and blog commenting links, forget Fiverr and thousands of wiki links, and forget article directories and everything else that smells of dirty socks.  Focus instead on creating high value content assets, and the rewards will be tenfold, not just as your rankings increase but in getting your site grandfathered SAFELY into the rankings.

Category SEO
Marcela De Vivo CEO at Gryffin Media

Marcela De Vivo has been an SEO since 1999, promoting thousands of sites including large corporate sites and small mom ...

5 Ways to Protect your Website from Google SEO Penalties

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