It is a poor practice to be following Google updates, as you should feel comfortable no bad will come from a link based algorithmic update, however we wouldn’t be working in the industry if we weren’t curious.
The last Penguin update was 3.0 on the 17th October 2014, with many businesses frustratingly watching month-by-month for any news on when they can recover.
Approximately 1% of US/English queries were affected by this update, much smaller than earlier predictions, however this still equates to around 12 billion search queries. This update occurred exactly a year after the last one and the wait left a number of people deeply frustrated, however it doesn’t compare to the 16 month wait we are now going through.
Google representatives originally predicted the new update to occur before the end of December, however they then notified the general public that we should expect to see it at some point within the first quarter of 2016.
How Do I Recover If Hit By A Penalty
If you think you have been hit by a link based algorithmic update, the first step is to highlight all of the toxic links which could be negatively affecting your site.
I would recommend using a combination of backlink tools, inputting them all onto a mastersheet on excel and then removing duplicates. Some of the tools I would recommend include Google Search Console (always include this, as these are links you know Google is aware of), Majestic, Open Site Explorer and Ahrefs.
Once you have your mastersheet, you will want to sort through them manually (that’s right, you heard me). If you automate this task or skip vast number of sites, you can easily miss a few domains which could be the missing factor in you recovering.
If it makes it easier, you can use a tool such as SEO Tools For Excel (a free download) to sort each domain by page rank. This will take a long time if you have a huge list, so be prepared!
As you go through the list, you want to record whether you contacted them to have the link removed or changed, the sites you are blacklisting (to add to a disavow list) and whether the link has been removed. Once you have your final blacklist, ignoring all links that you have managed to remove through contacting, you need to list them all on a text sheet.
It is important you list them as a domain, rather than on a URL level, as you may have other URL’s linking to you from the domain which you haven’t picked up on. You also need to remember not to include www. At the start. This should appear like below:
If this is an algorithmic penalty, you don’t need to do a re-inclusion request as this is only important for manual penalties. Just the same, you also don’t need to include any comments in the disavow text doc.
You then need to submit the list via the disavow tool.
What To Expect
Here is the brutal truth, you shouldn’t necessarily expect a giant jump in rankings and traffic if you were to recover from an algorithmic penalty. The fact is you have removed the links which you shouldn’t have been getting link juice from, so you are no longer being held back by these links but you don’t necessarily deserve your old rankings as it was artificial based on manipulation of the rankings.
You should therefore still focus on building (or earning) high quality links during this process. This can also help to dilute some of these poor links and to help give you a boost for when you recover.
Link building isn’t dead, however the strategy and method of gaining links has drastically changed over the past 10 years. If you want to protect the future of your business, then don’t jump on to the next ‘fad’ or great quick-and-easy way to gain a link.
You need to change your focus to high quality content and PR outreach. You could use a tool such as Gorkana, a journalist database, to help you pitching out to the best sources.
Focusing on big data works a charm. Whether it be a survey on an interesting topic related to your business or industry, data on sales figures, trends and the changing environment in your industry, these are easy ways to gain links and brand mentions from newspapers and other big publications.