Chances are that if you are reading this blog, you have seen a substantial drop in traffic to your site over the last couple of weeks. If you monitor how your site is performing on keywords in Google serps you have probably seen a significant drop there too? If that has happened then you are likely to have been a victim of the latest update to the Google algorithm, the ‘penguin update’.
Hints of what to expect of the penguin update came from Matt Cutts back in April with his mentioning a future over-optimisation penalty. This was worrying talk for anyone who had hired an SEO agency, was their investment about to come back and bite them? Well, that rather depends on who you hired…
Sites that have been hit by the penguin update tend to have a couple of things in common:
1) Links on low quality websites that show no selectivity over which sites they link to.
Link farms and link networks are among the sites that are now likely to be hurting the performance of your site. These links may be, but are not necessarily, paid links
2) Excessive use of the same anchor text (normally a ‘money’ keyword) to the same page (or every page) of your website.
If you are working with an SEO agency and you have experienced significant drops in traffic then you may be starting to question their competence and/or ethics. One easy way to see where the problem lies is to analyse your site’s link profile. Are you happy with the sites that are linking to your site? How do you think they reflect on your brand?
If having looked at the sites that link to yours you feel unhappy, then chances are you are going to be looking to change SEO company. Otherwise, it may be that you are working with an ethical SEO who has been a little too repetitive with their anchor text. It is time to have a serious chat with them about what they are going to do to solve your problem because there is going to be a great deal of work ahead to get your site back on top.
Whether you have got a spammy link profile, or excessive use of anchor text, either way you have two choices to fix the problem. You are either going to have to:
1) Remove the offending links
2) Build lots more links to dilute the effects of your problem links
Option one is a quicker fix, if you have the ability to remove the problem links. There are a couple of problems with this strategy though. Firstly, although removing the links will stop them from hurting you, until recently it is likely that these links were actually helping you to manipulate Google results. This means that while you will be in a position to re-build, doing this is unlikely to take your site back to where it was in April. The other issue you may find is that many linking sites have now found a great new income from charging clients to take down links (often links that they paid to put up.) If you have worked with an SEO company that bought or rented spammy links, you may find getting rid of them is a costly option.
For most sites, option two is going to be their best bet. We certainly can’t offer a quick fix, or even as easy fix. Making sure that your site gets over the penguin update will take time, as will ensuring that your SEO is ‘future proof’. In the long-term though, this will ensure the ongoing stability of your site and is a very worthwhile investment. There are already plenty of companies out there who are offering a quick fix, but that is likely to be what got you into this position so we would suggest you stay clear of any firm telling you that fixing your problem will be quick, cheap or easy.
A final question that a lot of anxious clients are asking us is whether they are safe if they haven’t already seen a drop in traffic? Without a crystal ball it is impossible for us to see into the future, but we can look at what happened with the panda updates that started a little over a year ago. The first panda update was a bit of a bombshell, hurt a lot of sites and got a lot of coverage online. Following this there was a number of further updates (which seem to be ongoing) and each time this occurred more sites dropped out of the serps. It would be fair to assume that the penguin update will be similar, so this is no time for complacency.
If you already have a problem and need help fixing it, get in touch with us today. If things look ok at the moment we are still happy to perform a review of your site and let you know how likely you are to have a problem with future revisions of the penguin update.