Case Study: Fixing A Website After Penguin Attacks – Part Two: Link Quality And Relevancy

Yesterday I wrote about a site of mine that was impacted by Penguin and went over the first step to the recovery process. Now that you’ve looked at your link profile and know how you want to rebalance your links, it’s time to go a step further and look at link quality.

First, link quality is something that Google has cared about for a long time, however over the last year they have placed more emphasis on it than ever before. Along with quality they are also looking at relevancy. Over the years more and more people had been building up backlinks to their site through completely random, unrelated sites. If Google sees enough of these, Penguin will attack, and at the end of the day most SEO’s know this was going to come to an end someday.

Let’s start with link quality. Once again I’d recommend using OpenSiteExplorer from SEOMoz. When you look at the backlink profile for your site you will see something called “Page Authority” and “Domain Authority” listed for each backlink. Here’s an example, taking a look at CNET’s backlink profile:

As you can see, CNET has some pretty powerful links with sites like CBSNews.com linking to them which has a Page Authority of 96 and a Domain Authority of 98. In general just stay focused on Page Authority. You only want higher authority sites linking to your site. As you can see from this link profile the top links are all in the 90’s. While it can be hard to get backlinks in the 90’s you should have at least a few in the 80’s.

In general I recommend focusing on backlinks with a Page Authority above 50. This means that before you reach-out for a backlinks, you want to first look-up the site, and the specific page your link would appear on and make sure it’s a high-authority link.

Here’s where Penguin comes in. If you see that your site has a lot of links with a Page Authority of 10, 20, 30 – pretty much any number below 40, then you have a problem. These low authority sites are not well loved by Google which means that having them link to you isn’t helping you at all, it’s actually hurting you. Right now there are thousands of webmasters contacting sites that link to them and asking them to remove the links. It may seem a bit backwards since SEO up until this point has always been based on building links, not taking them away. However if the link is hurting you, then taking it away is moving you in the right direction.

Google has mentioned that they may release a feature in Webmaster Tools where you can select links and specify that you don’t want Google to consider this in your link profile. Until this is implemented you’ll have to do it manually and contact each website owner directly to get your low authority links taken down.

So that’s link quality, now let’s talk about relevancy. Relevancy simply means that the sites linking to your site should be related in some way. If you have a site about cars, linking to it from a site about dog training wouldn’t make any sense right? Well Google knows that people with high authority sites sometimes sell their links to other people running completely unrelated websites. Penguin is not a fan of it and some of the links you think might be helping you because they are from a high authority source, might not be if they are completely unrelated.

The process for fixing this is the same that I discussed above for low-authority links. Contact any site that is linking to you that is completely unrelated to yours and have the link taken down.

That’s it, if you’ve followed along so far then you are two steps closer to getting your site back where it belongs.

(Photo Credit)

{ 6 comments… add one }

  • Snowbird June 15, 2012, 10:24 pm

    That means we can send penguin to competitor site by owning some High ranked unrelated Domains and place links to competitor until they aware of how to get rid of penguin effect

    Reply
  • Vincent Jacques June 16, 2012, 12:51 pm

    Great posts here Morgan! Look forward to the remainder

    Reply
  • Searchengineman June 18, 2012, 12:06 am

    Dunno man. I had a site penalised. Insurance industry.
    What I’ve noticed from PANDA is that it’s not the entire site that’s banned anymore. It’s pages.
    If you’ve over optimised certain pages on your site, those pages get penalised. If there are other strong pages on your site, they stay they don’t drop off.

    So STEP 1 is actually to determine which pages have been penalised.
    Step 2 is to figure out if:
    1. It’s over optimisation of your page
    2. Bad backlinks

    Then we follow your steps 100%. Having said this, do you honestly think that not removing bad links is going to help? I’ll be following this very interested.

    Reply
  • Radu July 2, 2012, 7:02 am

    Thanks for the great tips! Quick question though: if I want to build links through comments, what should I choose between a page with High Authority which already has lots of comments OR a page with a lower authority with few or zero comments?

    Reply
    • Morgan July 2, 2012, 12:30 pm

      @Radu – typically it won’t matter since comments are most likely no-follow links. In general you should avoid building links this way, Penguin knows these kinds of links are often not built naturally.

      Reply
  • designerpk September 21, 2012, 4:19 pm

    Again a very nice information by morgan..you are doing well…Wish you success..

    Reply

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