October 2014 Penguin 3.0 Recovery

Earlier this month I wrote a blog post explaining the imminent October 2014 Penguin 3.0 refresh. It was a little over a full year before Google finally went live with this particular algorithm update. Several of the websites I manage for clients have seen an increase in search engine rankings after cleaning up a bad link portfolio. I want to make it clear that I was hired to improve their SEO after the bad link portfolio was established. Although they are not back to #1 on Google search they have definitely seen a move higher in their Google search position and organic search traffic.

There are a few reasons these clients have improved their search rankings overnight. First and foremost, they are doing it the right way. Fresh content, no spammy or unnatural links, growing out a social presence and building relationship in the real world is what it takes to optimize a website for any algorithm. Unfortunately, there are some situations in which a business hired the wrong SEO firm or company and they had to adjust quickly. Google recognizes that we all make mistakes. Although it took almost a year for some websites to recover, they are now back and bringing in search traffic.


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Reconsideration Request After Manual Spam Action

One of the first steps in creating any business website is to install Google Webmaster Tools. I would say Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics are 1a and 1b in terms of importance as it relates to tracking keywords. Once Google Webmaster Tools has been installed, a business website owner will be notified, via messages, any type of issues with the website. One of the most questioned message is the Manual Spam Action message.

The unnatural link “penalty” is the most common when it comes to Google Penguin. Remember that Google Penguin is the over optimization penalty therefore it often revolves around too many links pointing to one domain or resource. A huge concern would be a large number of exact match anchor text links to a domain or resource. The message in Google Webmaster Tools will look like this:

Dear site owner or webmaster of http://www.[awebsite].com/,
We’ve detected that some of your site’s pages may be using techniques that are outside Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include buying links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes.
We encourage you to make changes to your site so that it meets our quality guidelines. Once you’ve made these changes, please submit your site for reconsideration in Google’s search results.
If you find unnatural links to your site that you are unable to control or remove, please provide the details in your reconsideration request.
If you have any questions about how to resolve this issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.
Google Search Quality Team

Note that you have the ability to control or remove the unnatural links. The disavow tool is powerful and sending emails to website owners that have pointed to your domain is an important factor for Google. Once you have submitted a reconsideration request it can take anywhere from three days to three weeks. If memory serves me right, Google will respond in one to two weeks. With Google Penguin 3.0 rolling out on Saturday, October 18th, 2014, there is a strong likelihood Google will be overwhelmed with the amount of reconsideration requests.

It is important to address the concern before submitting the reconsideration request. Remember that it can take one full year to see a recovery so there is no reason to rush the reconsideration request. While the Penguin algorithm update tends to happen twice a year Google waited a full year for the Penguin 3.0 refresh. This means it is imperative that a proper reconsideration request is submitted to the Google Search Quality Team.

Links Pointing to You Website Should Be Natural

Time and again I receive phone calls from lawyers, doctors, orthodontists, real estate agents, retail franchise owners, and attorneys asking why their website has seen a significant drop in traffic recently. When looking at their link portfolio in Google Webmaster Tools it is quite obvious why Google does not see their website as a valuable resource. I have seen link portfolios with over 10,000 links pointing back from domains in several different languages. They are also links pointing from websites that have nothing to do with the service profession of the business owner that has been penalized.

There is no reason to go out and “get links”. Links should happen naturally. If you are a business owner you already have connections in your industry and your community. This is where your foundation of links should come from. A lawyer should not be getting links from a Caribbean Vacation website. They should also not be getting links from a website related to lamp shades. This just doesn’t make sense.

Natural links from local business bureaus, meetup groups, professional organizations and other businesses in the community make sense. Why on earth would a Syracuse, New York little league baseball website link to an accident lawyer in Los Angeles, California? It is possible the Dallas, Texas lawyer has a son on the local little league baseball team but a little league team several hundred miles away? Sadly, these types of link portfolios are more common than not.

How to Control Bad Links

There is no way you can control all the links pointing back to your website. What you can do is try to avoid any bad situations. Just like in real life, there are certain situations in which you should avoid. There is a reason nothing good ever happens after midnight. The same is true with certain Internet websites.

The Google Disavow Tool is extremely useful. Use it! If you are building out a newer website or you have no concerns about working with a previous search marketing or SEO company all you have to do is build natural links with your business connections and amazing content. It is sometimes a good decision to hire a content writer or use a current employee to create content for your business website.

The best way to control bad links is to never get involved. This can sometimes be difficult as there are many business owners that are new to the Internet. Do your research and feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions.