For people in the SEO industry, there was a time when names like panda and penguin only reminded of two harmless animals. The time of innocence is – alas – over and now these names are synonyms of the two algorithm updates, which dramatically changed the answer to the question: how do I rank number one in Google? I need to be recovering from spammy links.
The Penguin update in particular (rolled out in 2012) hit those sites that presented an “unnatural” linking profile. Paid links, links from 5-post blogs, meaningless directories, blog networks, or from unknown forums or rambling comments on blogs, the vast majority with an exact keyword match anchor text:
Google took all this catalogue of rubbish backlinking techniques and made them useless in one fell swoop.
The result was a drop of ranking for many sites, with the inevitable consequences of huge loss of traffic and therefore income.
If you are one of those webmasters who saw their sites hit by Penguin or one of its updates, then hope is not lost, and in the SEO-sphere there are plenty of success stories of sites that started to climb the SERPS again.
Recovering from SPAMMY links:
- Once you have identified the spammy links, the first tool you need is patience: just like you won’t build a legit link profile in a day, recovering from a spammy one will take weeks, maybe months. And even if you manage to clean most of the dirt, you won’t necessarily jump back to the top, but at least you will start with a clean slate.
- Start earning white hat links. This is really something you should already be doing and considering that you might never get rid of all the bad links, then the good should outnumber the bad. How? Look for similar websites which you can link to and from. This will build credibility.
- Now gather all the bad links in a spreadsheet and send an email to each webmaster, asking to remove them. You will succeed, but you will also be ignored and even asked to pay money to have the link removed, but try and go through the whole list before you move on to the next step.
- For all the links that you won’t get removed, then you can use the google disavow tool, which was introduced by Google. With this tool, you are practically asking the search engine to consider that backlink as no-follow. One word of caution though: Google doesn’t like shortcuts and this is no exception. On the page of the tool it says:
If you believe your site’s ranking is being harmed by low-quality links you do not control, you can ask Google not to take them into account when assessing your site. You should still make every effort to clean up unnatural links pointing to your site. Simply disavowing them isn’t enough.
Pay specific attention to the second and third sentence: you cannot just enter the bad links in the tool and consider it done, Google wants them removed from the internet.
That’s why sending email requests as first thing is so important to start recovering from spammy links and why the disavow tool should be used only when you cannot go any further. If you have a huge list of links you want removed, the email outreach route will be a long, probably mind-numbing task.
Yet, it’s necessary to make sure that the next close encounters you will have with a penguin will only be at the zoo.