I'll never look at Penguins the same way again.
Those were the words running through my head a few days after checking Google and noticing that most of my highest-earning sites dropped from above first-page fold to the nether regions of the SERPs.
After joining the huddled masses of desperate webmasters on SEO forums it became readily apparent that Google had struck again.
According to Google, their now-famous Penguin update on April 24th affected approximately 3% of sites in their index. However, a disproportionate amount of Penguin victims were bloggers and SEOs that built backlinks to improve their visibility in Google.
Here's a screenshot of my Adsense impressions for my top-earning sites:
I'm going to show you how I was able to bring this site back from the dead in the weeks following this devastating update.
What We Know
Although Google will never publicly detail the specific factors they use to penalize a site, here's some conventional wisdom garnered from top bloggers, SEO firms and the collected wisdom of forum posts:
Overly Optimized On-Page: Keyword stuffing and over-optimizing meta tags likely put your site on Google's radar.
Too Little Anchor Text Variation: If you have a site about poodle skirts and all of your anchor text are variations of poodle skirts then you're waving a huge red flag to Google that you're backlinks aren't natural.
Links From Unrelated Sites: Again, if you run a site about poodle skirts, its definitely going to raise some eyebrows at Google HQ if your links come from websites about rocketry.
Spammy Links: Many think that Google got better at detecting profile links and mass blog commenting spam.
How I Got Back In Business
After treading water for a few days I decided to take action and see if I could recover at least some of the rankings Id enjoyed.
Here's what I did:
- Bought an Aged, High PR Domain From GoDaddy Auctions: Using an awesome service known as DomainPeeker.com, I was able to acquire a 10-year old PR3 domain for $85. I immediately used a 301 redirect to point this domain to one of my KOd sites.
- Diluted Anchor Text: Because I had been over-optimizing my anchor text, I build new links using generic anchor text, such as here, this site and bare links. I also changed the anchor text of my existing links where I could.
- Distributed a Press Release: This was designed to get my site some new, high PR, contextual white hat links from authority domains.
- Built Blog Links: Using some gigs at Fiverr.com I had bloggers write articles with links pointing back to my site (also mixing in generic anchor text).
And The Results…
After about 3-weeks, my site came back above its original spot in the SERPs, with the increase in traffic you'd expect:
I later tried this method on another affected site. It brought it back from the dead, but not back to where it was before. It may not be a magic bullet, but this method may do enough to keep you afloat while you work towards cleaning up your backlink profile over the long-term.
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Spencer Mitchell is the SEO and coffee addicted founder of several niche websites, including his latest, the online surveys for money hub, SurveySpencer.com where he just posted a review of the paid survey panel CashCrate.com. When he's not locked in an SEO lab, he loves to travel in Asia and Europe.