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New Penguin Update: For Better or Worse and What To Do About It

Posted by on Apr 27, 2012

Penguin Update

Though I am far from an expert blogger, I felt motivated this morning to say a few words about the Google Penguin update that was just rolled out. For those of you asleep at the wheel, Google just released Panda 3.5 and then shortly after, released Penguin ??. Being in the lighting business, my business partner and I were dismayed at the loss of 80 number one rankings for our site because of this change.

Like many SEO gurus out there, you might have realized that the new top rankings for many important Google searches are just plain trash. I have contacted several of my colleagues at prestigious SEO firms and spent hours on end analyzing all 2000 pages of our site. This includes pouring through every single backlink, (about 20k), a mixture of press releases, social media and articles alike, regardless of low or high PR (Page Rank)

What Can You Do About It?

Here’s what I’d like to share with YOU about fixing your rankings but first, let’s make sure we are on the same page. I’m operating on the premise that it is still Google’s goal to provide the most relevant search result to the user, enabling users to find exactly what they want.

Most of you already know that Google is punishing sites for the following:

• Keyword Stuffing
• Cloaking/Redirects
• Link Schemes
• Duplicate Content

I’ve noticed that on several respected SEO blogs, people have been discussing the tactic of switching the anchor text, providing a mixture of keyword anchors and opt in text like “Click Here.” While I do see the benefits, I dont think it is a game changer. I also don’t believe many of the other suggestions I read like http://searchengineland.com/penguin-update-recovery-tips-advice-119650, will significantly fix any rankings that have been lost. Most SEO professionals already have a good idea about these ideas, making them less exciting then say, a strategy overhaul. My goal is to outline the best possible strategy to bring your website to the top of the newest standards while appearing as natural as organic text.


First and foremost, run “Spy Glass” or any software you have that will allow you to view any and all links that have ever been built to your site. Once you have generated this list, it’s time for some serious manual work. The goal here is to remove BS links that link back to you like “spammy” articles. On top of just removing them, which I will touch on later in this article, you want to categorize all of the websites that link back to you by PR (Page Rank) and relativity to your main keywords.

For example, if you sell cars and have a back link from a website that is a forum on cleaning teeth it can now hurt your ranking – even if it is coming from a high PR site! The only cure is to remove the irrelevant link immediately. In the past, many of us could get away with building back-links in this way, or even slipped under the radar because Google was focused on measuring PR more than backlink relevancy.

The main point I’m trying to express here is that relevancy and PR together, are key to Google saying “Hey these guys really are the dominate website in the niche, all of their back-links come from relevant sites and almost all of them are credible. I think most of us know this rule, but because our backgrounds are in SEO or hiring someone to do SEO for you it is bound to happen that random links get built.

Removing The Junk

Everyone has an opinion, but no one really knows what the deal is or how to fix what has happened, especially if you are one of the unlucky Google Penguin victims, like Matt Cutts. I can assure you that this strategy, if executed properly, will help fix many things about your rankings.

After identifying the list of links pointed towards your website, you will have to manually travel to each link to see if it makes sense to have a back link from that site. If the link is from a directory, Yelp for instance, and you are a local business, then that’s a relevant link because Google understands the way Yelp operates. However, like I mentioned above, if it’s just some random link, or the content you posted around the link does not make sense, is keyword stuffed or irrelevant, then you are going to have to take every possible route to have that link removed.

Suggestions for removing links include sending emails to the website admin. You can usually find a contact page somewhere on the offending website but, worst case scenario, you will have to run a “WHOIS” search, then email and call until you get what you need…the bad link removed. Remember the goal is to make your website dominate your niche in the most organic way possible. I know this is terribly tedious and time consuming, but my research tells me this is one of the best ways to get back in good standing.

Hard To Scrub Links

Let’s just say that removing the link proves to be impossible, what do you do then? I had this discussion with my business partner about how hard it might be to remove all the spammy back-links and he suggested to simply redirect internally, so that the link doesn’t actually point to a crawled link on our site.

For example, if I am trying to make sure a link is not pointing to my website, the idea would be to change the URL to something else, leaving the spammy link pointing to nothing. The down fall of this strategy is that you might have hundreds of fantastic links pointing towards that particular URL removing it could actually hurt you.

A Possible Formula To Help You Make Good Decisions
I would use a 10 to 1 ratio to determine if it’s worth it to change your URL. For every 10 bad URLs, there has to be 1 good URL. By the end of your analysis, you should be able to get an idea of what is most valuable. DONT STOP THERE. You need to take it a step further and factor in PR (Page Rank) by averaging the PR of the sites with good links together.

Here is a quick example of what i mean:

If you have 1000 bad links and 99 good links pointing to a particular URL, the first step would be to get an average of the 99 links PR rank. Let’s assume the average PR of your 99 links came to a PR of two or higher. By my calculations you should keep that URL and focus on trying to get rid of as many bad links as you can.

Please be aware this is my own theory and even though I fully believe in it, I don’t assume that it’s perfect.

Now What?

Let’s pretend that you went ahead and followed my suggestions, now what? Clearly you want to make sure, that from now on, you only use relevant sites for linking. I am not going to spend my time explaining on page optimization here but I will tell you what I feel needs to be analyzed to meet Google’s new requirements so you can fix them.

Keyword Stuffing

Yes, we all know that too many keywords looks spammy and Google doesn’t like that, but does anyone know what % of keywords Google thinks is spammy? Previous companies I owned and worked for would have articles written using around 1.5% of a 500 word article for keywords, most the time even less, and it was never a problem.

Even when the rankings dropped significantly, I didn’t consider it an issue until I noticed that the pages that had moved up or maintained their rank had a significantly lower density of keywords. I took a random sample set of pages that dropped rank vs a random sample of pages that stayed or went higher in rankings and sure enough, the pages that maintained rank or rose in rank had a lot less keywords.

Because there are so many factors that come into ranking a page, like how many links are built to it etc., I kept searching and came to the idea that, in the Penguin update, Google is focusing significantly higher importance on the page title and keywords in the URL than on the keywords in the actual page! Trying to make some sense of this, thinking outside the box, I boiled it down to one assumption. If an article is extremely well written the quality is determined by the meaning behind the keywords not always the actual keywords themselves.

What I’d like to point out is that after the first few lines of an article, writers start to focus on what’s important about the keywords, not focus on using the keywords over and over again. Pick up your newspaper tomorrow and you will see what I mean. I guess what I’m trying to say is that Google has just made organic style content even more valuable.

DO’s and Don’ts

Lastly, there are some simple things that I feel every website should do and not do.

• Video embedding from YouTube is a must. Google owns YouTube, and I can assure you that much of your competition has not put videos on their site yet.
• Add a blog to your site and update it daily.
• Facebook and Twitter are a must.
• Google Authorship needs to be done for every article you write, on page and off. It puts a human touch on the article that Google understands.

Too Much Information

Regardless my suggestions, I believe there is one thing that will remain constant – we have not seen the end of these updates. There are way too many discussions arising about how sites of value lost rankings rapidly and complete spam or compromised sites moved up for them to keep the update for long. Take a look at just a few I pulled here:

• http://searchengineland.com/did-Googles-search-results-get-better-or-worse-119469

• http://blog.nolo.com/online-content-SEO/2012/04/27/Google-penguin-update-returning-odd-results/

Future Posts

Whether I am right or wrong, I think I am on the right track for fixing my current sites rank and I have spent hours analyzing and comparing sites to create these theories. Even if my theories are flawed to some degree, my ideas are not based on junk. Tomorrow I am having two conference calls with reputable SEO firms to discuss my ideas and what they have found in relation to my input. I will update you soon.

Above all, I am creating this post because almost all SEO professionals are in the same boat and sharing ideas is how we excel. Please feel free to send me a message or call the 800 number to discuss these ideas with any one of my team members.


Will Deane
Expressed Media



Hmmm The idea that you are going to be able to get links removed enmasse from websites is a joke for anyone other than a massive company with dozens of employees to throw at this.

Trying to remove 30,000 backlinks? Come on. Get real. Not gonna happen. People will just ignore the requests, even if they get read, which most of the time they won’t.

Your suggestion to change the urls themselves was intrigueing though.

Be interesting to see if changing page and then 301 re-driecting the old page to the new is enough to make it count as a ‘new page’, send over the cumulative ranking juice, but not get the page penalised.

Need a network of sites to check that theory.

This is dumb on Googles part. They should just discount the links.

Creating an industry where the goal is to remove links is a tragic waste of human time.

And thew irony is that all these changes have lead to FAR WORSE results. Way to go Google!

i agree remove link is waste of time, and what if your competitor add for you?

i just don understand, why we make the G to dominate the search engine, we can also count on B and Y as well. we create the monopoly and make them richer and richer….

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