Google’s Penguin 2.0 update was released on May 22nd 2013 and tightened the standards for link building. Links from domains that are irrelevant, low authority (i.e. page rank 0 or N/A), or spam give little to no benefit, and if the problems on a website are egregious, it may receive a penalty. Many websites who have these types of links, even if they were built years ago when spam was more tolerated (or rather, went unnoticed) by Google and other search engines, experienced a drop in keyword rankings as well as overall traffic to their website.

Do I have a Penguin 2.0 Penalty?

If your website experienced a significant drop in keyword rankings and traffic the week of 5/22/13 which continued to drop over the course of the next two or three weeks, you probably received some form of penguin penalty. It could just be that some of your poor quality links are no longer being counted, and therefore your site’s authority and/or keyword rankings dropped which caused the drop in traffic. Or, it could be a more serious issue where Google placed a penalty on your specific website because it believes you were over-optimizing and over-spamming your website with poor quality links from poor quality and irrelevant domains.

I have a Penguin 2.0 penalty… What do I do?

The best thing you can do right away is to analyze your link profile to determine which of your links are low quality and/or spam. The most simple and “dummy proof” way to do this is export your links from your Google Webmaster Tools and review them 1-by-1. First, check the page rank of each domain. Links from any page rank “N/A” domains should be removed immediately. You can remove links by either 1) contacting the webmaster and requesting they remove it (this rarely works), or 2) using the Google Link Disavow Tool. As you review your links, check for spam links (blog comments, message board posts, etc.), low quality domains (PR N/A and 0), irrelevant domains, links from spun content, and anything else that doesn’t look like a link from a qualified and relevant reference. Once you have a list of links to be removed, use the Google Link Disavow Tool to remove these links. One thing to note is the disavow tool is not an overnight fix. You must wait for the next major Google index update before these links are truly disavowed and not considered for your website.

The next thing you need to do in order to recuperate from a Penguin penalty is to work on building high quality links to replace the links that you lost. You’ve probably heard it a million times that the best way to get natural links is to create unique content that is valuable to people. If a video is informative and watched by your customer base, there is a very high chance it will be shared and linked to. If you write a very informative article, you are more likely to receive links to it. Another way to create links for an ecommerce website is to research review websites for your niche, and then send them product samples for them to use, review, and post an article about on their website (with a link of course). For example, if you sell shoes, find some shoe review websites and offer them free products in exchange for a review.

The concept of having quality content and links has become incredibly important as Google continues to increase their expectations of top websites. You can no longer expect to rank for keywords and receive traffic to your website in any competitive niche without unique content, quality references (links), and a solid presence online. Do not fall for the tricks of black-hat SEO which may provide an initial benefit but will only hurt your website and business in the long-run. Good optimization is not cheap, and cheap optimization is not good! If you are interested in working with experienced white hat SEO professionals for ecommerce optimization and consulting, contact Submit Digital today.