How to See If You’ve Been Hit by a Google Penguin Penalty

How to See If You’ve Been Hit by a Google Penguin Penalty

In April 2012, Google released Penguin, an algorithm update targeted at fighting web spam. If you’re a business owner with a website, odds are you have heard of this algorithm update as it affected a number of business websites when it came to organic rankings. Following this release, you probably hired or thought about hiring an SEO expert to protect your website from getting penalized by algorithm updates like Google Penguin. The goal of Google Penguin was to reduce spam by decreasing the search engine ranking of websites that violated Google Webmaster Guidelines. The best way to avoid being penalized by Google is to abide by Google best practices and avoid any techniques that manipulate those guidelines.

First, let’s look at the website link profiles that Google Penguin checks:

  • Number of backlinks
  • Number of nofollow links
  • Number of dofollow links
  • Links from C class IP sites
  • Anchor text
    • Branded
    • Direct
    • Keyword rich
    • Varied keyword
    • Contextual
    • Commercial
  • Sitewide links
  • Author bio link
  • Contextual link
  • Relevancy of website where the link is coming from
  • Number of backlinks of other inner website pages
  • Links from bad neighbors
  • Links from news sites
  • Links from authority sites
  • Links from .edu and .org websites
  • Paid links

While it is difficult to reverse Google Penguin penalties, it’s not impossible. To get started, you want to check the Google Webmaster Tool.

Within Google Webmaster Tool a message automatically pops up at the site’s webmaster account if a website is targeted by Google Penguin. You can check for this message in the “Manual Actions” section located in the left sidebar. There are elven manual actions described by Google if you want to see the best way to check for “unnatural links to your site-impacts links” visit the Google Penalty Recovery Guide which will walk you step-by-step on how to recover your site from a Google Penguin penalty.

Ultimately you are going to be evaluating the backlinks to your website to determine the good from the bad. When analyzing your backlinks, keep the following SEO parameters in mind:

  • Domain authority
  • Page authority
  • Moz rank
  • Citation flow
  • Trust flow
  • Social signals
  • Domain age
  • Website content
  • Page rank

Once you have checked each of these per backlinks and checked each link’s anchor text (spammy anchor text will be less branded) you’ll be able to accurately conclude which backlinks crank out worthless content or spam. For any of the “bad” backlinks, you will want to send an email to the webmaster for those sites asking them to remove the link to your website. In the recovery guide (link above) you’ll find a template that you can repurpose to send to webmasters.

Contacting the webmasters is a crucial step to getting the backlinks removed and showing to Google that you care about your website and do what needs to be done to make your website successful. There is a high probability that some of these webmasters will not respond to your request. For any webmaster that does not respond, you can use Google’s Disavow tool to submit that backlink and domain to the Google Webmaster tool to request that Google remove the link.

If you have classified all your backlinks correct and followed the more detailed steps in the recovery guide then you’ll be well on your way to removing your Google Penguin penalty. This can take about 2-3 weeks.

About Alan Moore: Alan started his career in 1999 as a Marketing Consultant and is the owner of Over the years, he has migrated his focus of expertise to everything digital. His mission is to help you increase your revenues and decrease unproductive advertising expenses through proven, online marketing strategies. He manages over $3,600,000 in yearly marketing budgets and has worked with local businesses, agencies and the US government. Give him a call to schedule a Free Online Marketing Consultation for your practice.

To read more of the article that inspired this blog, please visit: Google Penalty Recovery Guide