Caught by Google’s Penguin? What to do?

Both Penguin and Panda was hot topics at the Pubcon Las Vegas conference back in October and there were quite some sessions with included Panda and Penguin updates either as a full topic or as questions in the Q&A part.

Google penguin update

Caught by Google’s Penguin? What to do?

So you got caught by Google’s Penguin update and your rankings are close to nonexistent and your traffic dropped like womens pants does in a James Bond movie, what to do?

The short answer is removing all the bad backlinks you have acquired as fast as possible.

All?
Yes all!

Both Penguin and Panda was hot topics at the Pubcon Las Vegas conference back in October and there were quite some sessions with included Panda and Penguin updates either as a full topic or as questions in the Q&A part.
I especially remember a question in the Q&A part of a session on link building. The “poor guy” had got one of the “famous” warnings about “unnatural links” pointing to his site (translated: we know you’re breaking our Webmaster Guidelines) and his site was basically “gone” in Google.

The Q&A went something like this
Q: My site is gone in Google, got the “famous” warning in Webmaster Tools.
A: How many links do you have? And which topic?
Q: Around 10.000 backlinks. Its in the gambling area.
A: Gambling..  Casino, Poker or?
Q: Casino.
A: Hmmmm…  ouch.. The toughest area.. And how many of the 10.000 backlinks would you call shady?
Q: (not sure what to say..hesitates…) – I guess all…  sort of… maybe 98% or so..
A: Then you need to get all the 98% links taken down before you can hope to see your pages moving slowly up the rankings (over time)

One of points to take away from this is that just taking a little away (of the bad backlinks) and hoping that Google then will be “happy” is a waste of time. When you get Google attention through the Google Penguin update you need to clean it all up and hope for better weather. And unfortunately the word hope fits very well in here – you don’t want to catch Google attention.

Be sure you got hit by the Penguin update!
My advice in the top was to remove all, but please hold your horses!
First step would be to make sure you in fact got hit by any of the “animals” and Penguin in this case.
Penguin (and Panda) is an update, so one way to determine if you got “hit” by them is to check you Google Analytics and see if a decline in traffic matches the dates for a Penguin update.

Penguin dates in 2012
Penguin – April 24
Penguin 2 – May 25
Penguin 3 – October 9

And did you receive a message/warning in your Google Webmaster Tools account?
If you didn’t get any decrease in traffic around a Penguin update and no message/warning from Google you site most likely hasn’t been hit by the Penguin update, buuut if you do see a decrease in traffic and rankings there are probably other reasons…

I would like to finish with a warning.
If you still think its time to remove a huge amount of bad backlinks and you find it difficult to allocate time for it and decide to go the easy way by using Google’s new Disavow links tool…
DON’T

Google’s Disavow tool was launched at Pubcon Las Vegas, so I’ll explain more in my next blogpost..just remember Don’t!

/Niels