Google Penguin 2.1 – Two Years Later

The Google Penguin algorithm has been the specter for search engine optimization for close to 2 years now… Since Penguin 2.1 last year, webmasters are still asking how this update has impacted their site. From looking at countless penalized sites so far, the conclusion is clear, Google Penguin 2.1 had a significantly greater effect than its predecessor, Penguin 2.0. We have gathered a list of the most risky and commonly penalized links and link building practices. Many of these link building tactics were already hit by earlier updates but Penguin 2.1 became much more strict about it. Rather than writing a 10 page article about Google penalties, this post will be a concise check list first on the most risky links to avoid, and second, solutions and key points in the penalty recovery.

What Link Types Have Been Hit by Google Penguin 2.1 So Far?

Unsurprisingly, Penguin 2.1 seems to have recognized newer link spam methods. Some of these link methods were produced or gained popularity largely after Penguin 2.0’s rollout last May but others were already considered bad from Penguin 2.0 or before. The following list are of the biggest offenders.

  Blogroll sitewide links: Some of these on relevant sites might be acceptable but in general they are not and look like paid links. If in doubt, disavow and/or remove them.

•  Spammy directories: For those who have used SEO directories and still have live links form them, disavow these links ASAP. Directories are one of the most common causes for penalties according to Rewind SEO and other experts.

•  Classified ad web sites are being spammed with large numbers of links for SEO. Stay away from these for link building.

•  Blog Comments name and link spam: another common and outdated spam tactic is blog comment links. A few natural comment links to relevant sites are fine but spamming these will get you penalized.

•  Forum spam posts: This includes random off-topic comments in message boards and forums with exact match anchor text links… Considered spam since forever.

•  Links in Empty Forum profiles are another form of entry level spam. These have no positive value and high risk.

These are the top culprits for the latest Penguin algorithm but it’s not a comprehensive list of course. More of these risky link types are listed on Rewind SEO’s encyclopdeia of risky links which is a huge page that is constantly updated based on what they see in the latest penalties from their clients.

Suggestions for Penalty Recovery or Prevention

It is the same process as before. Downloading and assessing the links, developing a plan of attack to disavow and remove in case you need to, and as-needed, remove pages (unless they are significant). Here are some tips about how to proceed if you’re hit by Penguin 2.1:

•  Realize that Penguin targets abnormal link patterns. Compare your link profile to top ranking competitors.

•  Check Moz’s history of algo updates and see if you can identify what penalty hit you by the date of traffic/SERP loss.

•  Thoroughly assess your link profile, while maintaining a sharp watch on over-optimized anchor text and exact match keywords.

•  Remove bad links when possible and disavow the rest of the links. Make use of the domain operator within the disavow file if the domain is spam. Do not try to target particular URLs if you can nuke the whole domain.

•  Maintain good social media activity on twitter, facebook, and other sites. This will not counteract pure spam links you have to your site but it will help keep traffic coming to your site.

•  After cleanup, be patient. Disavowing can take months to process the links.

•  Based on the identified problems, change directions in your SEO strategy and ensure only quality links with safe linking practices are being created in the future.

Hopefully these tips will help anyone undertaking the recovery project on their own. The best bet is always to go with a professional penalty recovery service to handle the cleanup and then a good SEO service after that to manage SEO for the long term but not every business can afford this. Just remember that Google updates are only going to get more strict in the future. For link building, always focus on quality, relevance, and diversity.

About Daniel Delos

Daniel is the founder of Rewind SEO and has worked on hundreds of Google penalty analyses and recovery projects, recovering both manual and algorithm penalties. He has almost two decades of total SEO experience and has worked almost exclusively on risk auditing and penalty prevention/recovery since 2014.

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