How to Identify and Recover From a Google Penguin Penalty

If your traffic suddenly takes a nosedive it can be hard to identify what happened and what you can do about it. One of the first things to check is whether or not you’ve been hit by Google’s Penguin update. This video will show you how you can figure out if your site has been affected by Penguin in just a few minutes and how you can get your site on the road to recovery.

Video Transcript

Hey, what’s up everybody? It’s Brian Dean from Quick Sprout, and in this video, I’m going to show you how to identify and recover from a Google Penguin penalty, which is an update that Google rolls out a few times a year that targets unnatural links.

Your first step is to Google “fruition Google penalty tool”, because that will bring up a cool tool that will show you whether or not you’ve been hit by Google Penguin, because there are several updates that Google rolls out every year, and there are many reasons that your site search engine traffic could decline, so you do want to make sure that it’s actually Penguin that’s affecting your site.

So just Google this, and then this is the first result that comes up from fruition.net, and when you click on that, you’ll be taken to their “options” screen. And if you have one or two sites, you can use their free plan, which is very good. It’s actually fully-featured. But if you have multiple sites or you’re an agency and you want to use this for clients, you may want to consider the plaid plan. But if you have one or two sites, click on “get started” and that will ask you for Google authorization. What this does is it installs an app within your Google Analytics account to cross-check your changes in traffic with known Google updates.

So you want to click on “authenticate Google Analytics” and then Google will ask you, “Do you really want to add fruition as an app?” and you click “accept”. Then you want to choose the domain, so depending on how many domains you have set up in your Google Analytics account, you can, obviously, with the free plan, only choose one or two. I’m just going to choose one. And then click “continue” and then it’s all done.

Now click on “go to dashboard now” and scroll down where you see your Google account. Okay, now, right here is an impact probability, and I’ll explain what those scores mean, but what you want to do is click on “see results”. And this is a very fancy graph that shows different updates that they know of and whether or not you’ve probably been affected. In general, you want to see green, because that’s a positive impact, which means when the update came out, that means it didn’t affect you negatively, your traffic actually went up during that update.

So if you see that next to Penguin 2.0 or Penguin 1.75 that you see a big negative here, that is seems like you have been hit, that possibly means that you’ve been hit. Now, this isn’t 100 percent accurate because as you can see that on January 22nd, they think I was hit by Panda 24. Definitely wasn’t. So that’s something that you may want to take with a grain of salt. So this is just one way to determine whether or not you’ve been hit by an update.

But if you see that during one of these Penguin updates that are known, you have a high red percentage, or orange, which means you’ve been negatively affected by the update, then you want to go on to the next step. But if you see that maybe, like this one, Penguin 2.0, it actually increased traffic 100 percent at my site, it’s definitely not Penguin. That’s something you want to keep an eye on. But if you see this red negative and the percentage is very high, or an orange and the percentage is quite high, that means you’ve probably been affected.

Your next step is to look at the anchor text of your site. One of the easiest and fastest ways to check your anchor text is to use Majestic SEO’s Site Explorer. So just go to majesticSEO.com and put in your home page URL here, and click the “explore” button. When you do that, it’ll show you all kinds of information about your website. You just want to scroll down and look at the anchor text area.

Anchor text is really important for Google Penguin because it’s one of the primary ways that Google can identify unnatural links. So basically, what you want is an anchor text distribution that looks something like this, where other anchor text is used most often. Other anchor text just represents anchor text that is used so infrequently that it doesn’t have a place on this chart. So that’s what you want to see as a majority of your anchor text.

Then the other anchor texts that are used to point to your site are things like the brand name and the webmaster name and raw URL. So that’s really what you want to see when you look at your anchor text breakdown. If you don’t and you see that fruition says that you were likely hit by Penguin, that probably means that you were, in fact, hit by Penguin. So this is a type of anchor text that you don’t want to see.

If you see this anchor text distribution combined with the fruition data that implies that you were hit by Penguin, then you probably were. Under anchor text here, you can see that this site was targeting the keyword “payday loans”, and it’s used very commonly, 22 percent of the time. And then some of the other commonly used keywords also had “payday loans” in them, which shows that this is an over-optimized anchor text profile.

Now, you can do the same thing and get maybe slightly different data but the same basic information from ahrefs.com so you can head over there and put in “quicksprout”, or whatever your URL is and click on “search links” and when you scroll down, they will show you the anchor text distribution of your website. They show you an anchors cloud, which, as you can see, “quick sprout” is used often, “Neil Patel” is used often, and different variations of “quick sprout” is used often.

Then, under referring pages for anchor phrases it’s the same deal. A lot if raw URLs, a lot of brands, and Neil’s name, and that’s basically what you want to see for your site. That’s definitely, like I said, a red flag for Google Penguin, but if you want to dig deeper, you can actually look at your link profile, so to do that, click on “external tabs” under “backlinks” and what you’re really looking for are links that are from unrelated domains. So that’s another risk factor for Google Penguin, links from unrelated domains.

If you see that, let’s say we go to Quick Sprout and he’s getting a lot of links from sites about weight loss or fitness, that obviously looks very unnatural, but in Neil’s case, he’s obviously getting links from SEO Book, because it’s about SEO, Daily Blog Tips, Social Barrel, and other related websites. So if you see a lot of links from unrelated websites, or blog networks, which are kind of unrelated websites because, usually, the blog network sites are kind of about nothing, that is another red flag.

If you see these things, your first step is to try to get rid of as many unnatural links as you can, and then when you build links from now on, use a branded or raw URL or webmaster name anchor text to try to dilute this unnatural anchor text, and if you can do that in enough volume, you can actually recover from Google Penguin.

So that’s all there is to Google Penguin identification and analysis. As you can see, it’s a bit tricky to figure out what’s going on, but if you use a fruition tool and look at your anchor text it’s usually very clear right away whether or not you’ve been hit by Penguin, and if you are, you want to try to clean up as many links as you can and delete unnatural links, and at the same time, build good links that have diverse anchor text.

Thanks for watching this video, and I’ll see you in the next one.