Is ranking on the first page of Google for keywords related to your business important to you?
Of course it is!
As you may already know, Google is constantly tweaking the algorithm that determines which sites get served as results to combat those that are trying to game the system.
Because of this, Google just released its latest algorithm update called Penguin 2.0.
And you may have just been knocked out.
…Unless you’re a TOFU Marketing client- of course.
100% increase in organic traffic for one of our clients
Bragging aside- If you’ve recently noticed a dropping in your rankings, it is likely related to this most recent update.
So, why was your site penalized?
The Penguin 2.0 update is focused on penalizing sites that use black hat tactics to generate inbound links to boost up their rankings.
In fact, many sites that were affected by Penguin 2.0 built links through guest posting on any old low quality site, in addition to more “old school” types of techniques like directory submissions, article submissions, social bookmarking, and more.
Here’s Post that provides a list of other components of Penguin 2.0.
Wait, I thought guest posting was good?
If you think guest posting is a white hat SEO tactic you’re not wrong.
If you think guest posting is a black hat SEO tactic, you’re also not wrong.
Guest posting on high quality websites will provide you valuable inbound links that boost your search engine rankings. However, submitting guest posts to sites that accept anyone and everyone will work against you.
What all of this means is guest posting is a great thing to do – as long as you’re willing to put in the hard work to create a high quality post and pitch it to a high quality website.
How do you know if a site is high quality?
High Page Rank
One quick way is to check whether the site has a high page rank or not. You can use a free page rank checker to gather this info.
Any site with a page rank of 5 or higher is a great site to pitch a guest post to. Any site with a page rank of 4 or lower should be avoided.
For example, you can see here that Mashable has a page rank of 8/10 – this means it is a very high quality site and would provide a valuable inbound link.
High Page and Domain Authority
You can also use the free SEOmoz Bar Chrome extension to help you determine the quality of a website.
Using the extension you will be able to quickly check the Page Authority of a site. Here we see that Mashable has a page authority of 96/100:
A high page authority, like a high page rank, means that Google finds the site to be credible. Therefore, any link from that site to yours will help improve your own search engine optimization efforts.
High Quality Content
If you sift through a lot of blogs, you’ll notice a very common theme- poor content with totally unrelated posts. In addition many of these posts include anchor texted keywords of the exact keyword that company is going for. It’s very obvious to see that these articles were not even written by someone that speaks English natively.
If you see a blog/news site that you don’t recognize and does not have a cohesive theme, be weary.
If the blog includes posts about coupons, deals, or other spammy types of completely unrelated topics, run for the hills. (see picture below and above in the previous point).
SEOmoz’s Open Site Explorer is a fantastic tool to produce lists of websites that link to the website you’re evaluating. If you notice that a majority of the links the website has are from spammy sites, do not try to get a link from them. Google’s view is- birds of a feather fly together. If spammy sites are linking to you, Google may view yours as spam!
How do I un-penalize my site?
If Penguin 2.0 struck your site, don’t panic, there are steps you can take to correct this.
The first thing you want to do is run a backlink profile on your site. Doing so will show you a list of all the domains that are linking to your site. You can use software like Open Site Explorer to run the report quickly.
Next you need to go through the report and remove any links that are coming from a site with a low page rank or page authority score.
After you have a list of all the inbound links that are from low quality websites, you’ll want to use Google’s Disavow tool to disown those bad links.
You will also want to contact the webmaster at each one of these sites and ask them to REMOVE their link to your site. This will work in about 5-10% of the cases as long as you ask nicely and point them to the exact page where the link lives.
Because Google is constantly re-crawling web pages using the disavow tool along with manual link removal should help you regain your good standing with Google.
This process is absolutely time consuming and very annoying, but also extremely important for your SEO efforts. If you’re not 100% sure how to use Google’s Disavow tool or you don’t want to deal with the process, you should hire a professional SEO agency to help you – one with a good reputation.
Once you have reached out to the low quality sites about removing your links and disavowing the others, you are now ready to work on building up some high quality inbound links!
Remember, before you guest post on a website, be sure to check the factors we mentioned earlier in this post! Also be sure to constantly run backlink reports on your site. If you see a low-quality inbound link popup disavow it and/or reach out to the site owner and ask them (nicely) to remove the link!