Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How to Deal With Google's Penguin Backlink Penalties

Case against "Black Hat" SEO and buying links: Not a long term solution.

Ever since Google's Penguin algorithm came out last year, many website owners and SEO "experts" have come out in protest of their affected sites, and more joined in when Penguin 2.0 rolled out. Now, out of the affected sites and searches, some of these websites were legitimate - in this post, I will cover the main reason why they were affected by this update: poor backlinks.

One of the earliest SEO strategies was to build up as many high Page Rank backlinks as humanly possible, as it was an integral part of Google's ranking algorithm. Of course, this led to years of people trying to game the system by buying tons of backlinks from people whose sole job was to create webpages with copied content and artificially inflated Page Ranks, a thorn in Google's side for years.

Fast forward to 2 years ago when the Panda algorithm came out and took down those sites with scraped/copied content - the obvious next step was to hit the backlinks.

From Wikipedia's page on Penguin:
The guiding principle for the update was to penalize websites using manipulative techniques to achieve high rankings. The purpose per Google was to catch excessive spammers, but it seems some legitimate sites and SEOs have been caught with this latest algorithm change. Few websites lost search rankings on Google for specific keywords during the Panda and Penguin rollouts. It appears anchor text was to blame in these cases, as the links pointing to these sites concentrated on only one or a few keywords while the content of the websites was satisfactory. As the update focused on the quality of backlinks, so the result varied for different websites.

So, website owners placed their trust in shady SEO companies/freelancers that spent money buying backlinks for specific anchor text to boost rankings for specific search terms, just to have it all collapse recently.

How to deal with the Penguin backlink penalty:

Now, this won't be quick, easy, or foolproof, but:

  1. Go through your Google Webmaster Tools page and find these dubious backlinks individually.

    Keep antivirus updated
    Google URL first too check for malware complaints
    Install NoScriptAdblock, and Web of Trust. Scan often for malware, with Malwarebytes. And I think Microsoft Security Essentials is the best free antivirus right now.
  2. Find webmaster contact info, and send them a nice email POLITELY asking them to take down the link. You can't just expect someone to do work on your behalf for something that might not have been their fault (ie: comment spam), especially if you're rude. I made a simple little template for a link takedown request:

    Hello Webmaster/Owner,

    We are following up regarding the link on

    The link is connected by the [comment name/anchor text].

    To our site []

    We appreciate your efforts to link with our website; however, we have received notification from Google that our site does not comply with their terms.

    We wish to seek reconsideration as soon as possible and must have this link removed in order to bring our site into compliance. Please note, as part of our reconsideration request, we have to report to Google any link we are unable to remove.

    Please remove our link from this page and any other page on your site.

    Thank you,
  3. Wait a little bit, and if this does not work, use Google's Disavow Tool in Webmaster Tools.

    Instructions on using the disavow tool properly:
Best of Luck!


  1. It's good to know that there's a specific tool intended for this one. I haven't tried the Google Disavow tool yet. Thanks for sharing the link for the instructions. Try also this one ClickMinded SEO Training


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