Webmasters have rolled up their sleeves to do the necessary work to match Penguin’s demands. In fact, that has been an impressive amount of work since April 2012. The reason is that when websites are hit by Penguin, the traffic drops considerably, and so does business success. Business owners are at a loss about how to deal with the diminishing online findability, and fear they may have to lay off some of their staff.
Everyone is anxious to see a solution like a light at the end of the Penguin penalty tunnel. But it should be remembered that the work to be done to rise in Penguin’s favor should be of the reactive type. That means work should be implemented to enable punished sites to recover. For the time being, not many companies realize that the proactive approach is the only solution to remedying their online findability, even before Penguin awards its harsh punishment. One such case is described below, and everyone can trace the remedying process from the accumulation of unnatural links to a rewarding online profile.
Website Redesigns, WOT and Unnatural Links
The project of links improvement was implemented for a business owner who was contemplating a redesign of his website. The owner had a discussion with the webmaster who was his consultant, and it was pointed out to him that from the viewpoint of search engine optimization such redesign could present formidable hazards. A year later, the owner remembered the piece of advice, and contacted the webmaster again for up to date tips on the matter of redesigning. He also emphasized that there had been signals of low reputation of his website, as pointed out from the specific web of trust. He sought advice on how to find out the reason for the sinking reputation, and on how to remedy the situation. When the analysis was initiated, it turned out that there was a lot more in addition to the low WOT score.
Web of Trust (WOT) Explained and Human Intelligence Analyzed
The WOT, or web of trust, is a crowd sourced system which is operated to award ratings around the web. It is a counterpart of antivirus programs, and looks for spam to warn about its existence on particular websites. The data that is collected by means of that web is obtained from human raters.
In the case discussed here, there was the link spam warning. The association that it evoked was with unnatural links, comment spam, and of course, risk of falling out of favor with Penguin. The links issue was evident. Initially the webmaster doubted that the website owner was using comment spam, with the aim of obtaining exact match anchor text links. However, that was not very likely. The webmaster went on to explore and analyze the links profile.
What Infiltration of Bad Links Brings?
Google Webmaster Tools was the instrument to help to check the inbound links that had been judged by Google. But the owner of the business website did not have his own account.
So the first lesson to be learned is that setting up the Google Webmaster Tools account is a must, and as soon as it is set up, it is mandatory to verify the website profile. Google shares a host of information with webmasters, and that information includes inbound links. The webmaster used Majestic SEO and Open Site Explorer, in order to analyze the website link profile. The links amount shown was not the whole lot that the website had, but it helped to notice that a problem related to unnatural links was looming large. The webmaster spotted exact match anchor text with respect to competitive keywords that bear a relation to the business owner’s niche of activity (at the anchor text list top). The further scrutiny of the links helped to see that there were a host of Penguin like links.
The problem was beginning to take a clearer shape, as they were the type of links that lead to the hitting of websites by Penguin. Such links included exact match anchor text links provided in blogrolls, in comment spam, directory type links, etc. It was time for Google Webmaster Tools to come to the stage. It painted an even more formidable picture, with a larger amount of links to the whole site that included more spam type links than were visible with the previous two tools used, OSE and Majestic. According to Google Webmaster Tools, the spammy links amount formed a daunting 40% of the website link profile. What was worse, there was a trend for an ascending spammy links number.
It was time to learn the second lesson…
The strategy of quality content development, plus the appropriate social strategy, together with the link building plan, should be high on the agenda. The importance of worthy content and the relevant well developed social strategy can form the solid basis for a natural link profile that is also well balanced. The website being analyzed did not have many natural links, which was conducive to a risky situation with Google’s Penguin.
Finding The Very Essential Cause for the Unnatural Links
It was time to dig into the matter and find out where the root of the problem lay. It turned out the business website owner had not implemented any SEO activities for his website in the recent past. Neither had he strived to make any link building efforts. All that the person had done was to use YouTube. The webmaster showed the business person the examples of the spammy links that had been identified. The situation was perplexing for him, and he asked how such links could have been created.
The Culprit – Negative SEO
The business owner said none of his staff, and none of the vendors, had undertaken link building. Naturally the question arose of how such links had been formed. The culprit, according to the webmaster, was negative SEO. The whodunit work had to be done to find out those responsible.
Whodunit Type Analysis
The analysis dwelt on the pages that had spammy links leading to the website; the links had been found out with the aid of Google Webmaster Tools, Majestic, and OSE. The parties that had worked on the website in the course of the past 12 months had to be analyzed – it was highly probable that it was there that the root of negative SEO lay. The webmaster, in conjunction with the business owner, sent emails to these parties to explain what the links situation looked like, and how that situation could prove to be rather adverse in the light of the next Penguin update judgment.
The Email Replies, And How One of Them Provided the Response
The replies to the email did not take long to arrive, denying any negative SEO, and it could be seen these were genuine replies. But one of them provided the response needed and helped to clarify the situation. It was a company that had done some promotion work on the business owner’s services, so last year they also built links to his website to help enhance his online findability. It was clear those links were the spammy links identified with the aid of the Webmaster tools.
In fact, it was the work of a fourth party, as that company outsourced the link building task to some overseas consultants. Their efforts resulted in the building of exact match anchor text links within some spammy directories, as well as in blogrolls and in spammy blogs; there was also comment spam to add to the whole lot. Those links were just what Penguin needed to award penalties. Since its first hit on April 24, 2012, there have been a lot of instances like that.
The root of the evil having been established, and the culprit having been identified, the drawing up of the remedial activities was easy. The webmaster contacted the company that had built the links, to ask for collaboration.