Oh No You Didn’t, Penguin! Recovering From a Penguin Penalty

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One of the biggest Google algorithm changes was Penguin back in April 2012. The first version mainly dished out the dirt on off-page ranking factors, and it pretty much owned anyone with a spammy backlink profile.


Penguin 2.0 shook things up a little bit more when it was released in May of the same year. It updated on the 4th of October this year, and on the whole appeared to have moderate effect (although obviously, more spammy webmasters got owned).

Like Panda, Penguin is all about making a better user experience for Google users. To keep Penguin at bay, you’ll need to keep your site awesome according to the rules.

Awesome Off-site

If you’ve got a load of links from rubbish sites, you’re pretty much asking for a Penguin penalty.

Your links to your site should be relevant – if you’ve got links from sites which have nothing to do with your content or links in the wrong category of the linking site, Penguin doesn’t like it.

Anchor text is something else which you need to keep as natural as possible. If you’re looking to rank for ‘women’s dresses’, that’s far too keyword intensive. The odd link like this won’t necessarily hurt you, but lots of them definitely will.

Take a look at your link profile. A variety of anchor text is what you need.

Weeding out the chaff

All those bad links need to be sorted out. And by that I mean you need to get rid of them.

Get on Google Webmaster Tools and use the disavow tool.


You can go ahead and contact webmasters asking them to take down the content, but in my experience that can take forever and they sometimes want some form of compensation for it – which isn’t happening. If it’s just anchor text you need changing, see if you can get in touch with the webmaster. If not, it’s time to get disavowing.

According to Matt Cutts, the disavow tool ought to be your last resort. You should try to remove links manually first. If you’ve been hit by Penguin, it’s worth using the disavow tool for the links you couldn’t remove manually.

After the disavow requests have been submitted, you’ll need to wait a little for your site to be crawled and indexed again. By the way, you don’t need to submit a reconsideration request unless you’ve been hit by a manual penalty.

So to keep Penguin at bay, you’ll need to build only quality links. Create linkable content, and aim for guest posts on good quality sites.


Written by Sarah Chalk

Sarah Chalk

Sarah is an SEO Account Manager at 360i and has a keen interest in all things SEO. She has also written for a number of sites, including Vue cinema’s film blog and a number of tech websites.

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