If your website has been hit with a Google penalty, don’t freak out yet, there is still hope for your domain. With the right techniques, tools, and people, your website has the opportunity to fully recover.
In our last post, we spoke about the differences between each penalty that you can get from Google. How you recover from a penalty depends on the type of penalty you have. If you want to save your domain, you need to make sure your website and backlink profile is up to par with Google’s quality guidelines, almost perfectly. Let’s dive into the different penalties and the approach to take in order to bounce back from a penalty.
Recovering from a Panda Penalization
In order to come back from a Panda penalty the first thing you need to look at is the overall quality of your website. Google’s goal is to provide search results that create a better user experience. In order to keep your rankings your website cannot be outdated, have low quality/duplicate content, and/or a poor user experience (high bounce rates).
Improving Your Site’s Quality Score
When you’ve diagnosed that your website has a sitewide or partial penalty due to a Panda update or refresh there are some things you need to do in order to gain back Google’s trust. The goal being a higher quality score.
- Rewrite Your Entire Website (or Pages Being Affected): If your content is either duplicate or low quality, you need to rewrite the content to be the highest quality it’s ever been. If specific landing pages are being affected because they are duplicate content, rewrite those pages first. Unique, high quality content is key when time comes to gaining back Google’s trust.
- Re-Design Your Website: If your website is being penalized because it’s outdated, then it’s time to re-design/develop your website. You want clean code so search engines to easily understand the content. You also want to make sure your website is providing a better user experience, meaning up-to-date navigation and calls to actions on each page. This may also require a full rewrite depending on how old your content is.
- Re-Silo Your Website: Part of user experience is having the right bread crumbs and navigation in place. If your site missing pages or you have pages that are buried deep in the site, it’s a good idea to silo or re-silo your website navigation. This not only helps improve your user experience, but search engine crawlers can understand which pages are more important.
- Check for Broken HTML: If you’re site has broken HTML errors, <div> tags, or PHP errors, you need to make sure all of these are fixed. It’s important to perform quality checkups on your site frequently and have your site constantly updated to reduce the chances of more errors happening in the future.
- Improve Site Load Time: Another major part of quality user experience is the loading time of your site. How fast does it load? There are tools you can utilize that will let you know if your loading time is too slow and needs to be improved.
- Revamp Low Quality Landing Pages: Go through your Google Analytics to determine which pages people aren’t staying on or reading at all. The key metrics when looking for low quality landing pages are: low average visit duration and high bounce rates. Once those are determined, you’ll need to re-design, rewrite, and re-develop these pages for a better user-experience.
To come back from Panda it’s all about user experience and accomplishing what their needs are. Do your web pages offer a solution for your potential visitors? If not, chances are they’re going to bounce off your website and find one that does. In order for Google to believe that your website has been improved to help your users, they will need to see proof, which is in the analytics themselves. Are users staying on your site longer, visiting multiple pages, reading your content, and converting? If Google sees they are, you have done your job. Besides, that’s ultimately the goal for your website anyways, right?
Recovering from a Penguin Penalization
Penguin is all about your websites inbound links (backlinks). The goal behind this update is to reduce the amount of web spam and manipulative backlinks that webmasters utilize to achieve higher website rankings artificially.
Creating a High Quality Inbound Link Profile
With link building today, you want to make sure your backlinks are high quality, just like your website has to be. If your backlinks are low in quality, chances are they are going to be hit with a penalty which can lead to a Google penalty for your website.. Every link placed should be strategically thought out with a clear reasoning behind the link. You can’t just go get any old link anymore! That’s how you will be penalized.
- Identify the Links that Are Negatively Impacting Your Site: There are tools out there that can help you identify which links are low in quality or over optimized. Majestic SEO and Open Site Explorer are two primary tools we use to identify these links. Once you run a report with these tools – export to a CSV file and focus your attention towards Anchor Texts and Total Backlinks. Calculate in excel the percentage of total backlinks to anchor text ratio. Focus your efforts first towards anchor text links that have a percentage of 2% and greater. The reason you want to focus on these first is because they are probably the ones being penalized due to over optimization. If the primary anchor texts are branded terms then we would look at the sites that have the lowest quality scores linking to you.
- Begin Removing Links: After you’ve gone through and identified the potentially harmful links, it’s time to get those removed as soon as possible. In order to get them removed you need to contact the webmaster directly. You can find their contact information usually on the wewbsite contact page or by checking out their WhoIs profile. Remember, these webmasters don’t have to remove your link if they don’t want to. It’s important to be courteous in your email and maybe even offer an incentive. Your goal is to remove all of the negative links you can. Often times Google will not accept your website back even if you only have one negative link still. This can be a time consuming process which is why an incentive may speed things up a bit. Any links that you were not able to get removed have to go through the Disavow tool. However, using that tool should always be your last resort.
- Begin Building New High Authority Links: After you’ve completed removing all the negative links, it’s time to start building new links to your site. You want your backlink profile to look as natural as possible. Consider the following techniques to build high quality links:
- Create high quality content that people WANT to link to – eBooks, press releases, case studies, helpful tips, blog posts, videos, etc.
- Focus on increasing your social signals with high quality content – giveaways, promotions, campaigns, viral marketing, etc.
- Submit your website to high quality directories and build profile pages on authority sites, such as Yelp.
When building links, don’t forget to:
- Diversify your backlink types
- Use branded anchor texts ONLY – the last thing you should be thinking about is keyword anchor texts…
When dealing with a Penguin penalty, you always have to think “natural” in the back of your mind. If you question a link, chances are Google will too.
Coming back from any Google penalty is extremely time consuming and difficult. You want to make sure you have an SEO expert help you with this process as we know what to look for since we understand Google algorithms. We’ve had the opportunity to help many business owners recover from a Google penalty and regain their rankings. Give us a call today if you need expert help recovering from a Google penalization: 800.871.4130