Internet Marketing Ninjas Blog

Great Links Won’t Un-Trip Penguin Penalty. Fix or Abandon.

Today I had a call with a new content marketing client of Ninjas.

Over the past two months, Ninjas had written 8 pages of content for the client and there were 20+ super highly trusted sites/pages that were now linking to this new content (Other sites are linking to our clients new content because our content is so wonderful and helpful and we suggest that related sites/pages link to this great content).

He had hired us because his traffic had tanked around the time of the last Google Penguin Update, and he had performed several disavows, but the site was still only ranking for about 2% of what it once did.

His solution, he felt, was to get trusted links to the site, thereby un-tripping the Penguin Filter…I thought that might work once too…

I can let everyone know, that we’ve tried this…several times…it doesn’t matter if you get tons of great links, and other citations, to your site…if you’re in a penalty…it doesn’t matter…you’re still in a penalty….it appears often like that any work done for a site while that site is under a penalty, is worthless during that penalty stage…no matter how much work you put into things….it doesn’t do squat in Google when you’re in a penalty….sure, once the penalty is lifted, then all that work you did when a site was in a penalty, will then takes effect….but until then, nothing matters except getting that penalty removed.

In simple terms, if you have a penalty, from what I’ve seen, you have to “fix the penalty problem”…and “getting even tons of super highly trusted backlinks” doesn’t “fix” the problem, or un-trip a filter.

So I told the new client this….

Then I reviewed all his backlinks which his site has… 50% of the backlinks he had to his site have the words “Cheap” in them….oh no! Google Hates the word “cheap” in my opinion … it’s an SEO phrase that, when found on a page or in links, I believe is put through SEO Sniff Tests by Google…does it smell like SEO?…if so, then the threshold for tripping a filter is way lowered.

The word “cheap” is highly known as an SEO commercial phrase. (see Google Patent by Amit Singhal, Matt Cutts, and Jun Wu or Bill Slawski’s great Translation …so I cringed when I spoke to him of all his fake backlinks using the word “cheap” as part of the link text to him.

I told him I’d peek at his disavow file, and give my thoughts (I’ll make sure he disavowed all links that have “cheap” in the link text (to start with)…which I’m sure he didn’t).  I also told him to remove the word “cheap” from everywhere on his site.

He told me about all the great rankings he once had, and I told him that he’d never have those rankings again….I told him he’d first have to get the penalty fixed…then he needs a whole bunch of new content to take advantage of all the phrases and user intents that his competitors are using to generate traffic. Because he’ll never be #1 for those short tail phrases again. It’s imperative that he make it up this traffic by creating more content across his site.

I also talked about how he needs to have more “value add” area of his site and that having several digital assets on his site could help as well. He has to invest in his site and his brand.

…But still in the back of my head, and I do tell him, that I question if his site is really “toast”. He has about 800 unique backlinks….nearly all of them need to be disavowed….and I didn’t see anything natural left….I asked if he owned other domains…he didn’t…everything he had invested into this one website…. sigh….

I then brought him to another sites where one can buy old websites…and I found one related to what his site was about…and old domain from 2002…about 300 backlinks…all natural…the site was a resource…so I said, “well, you could buy this domain…and 301 it to a new URL that’s brandable for what you’re doing…301 the old site to the new brandable url and start with that…. would that be better than continuing to work on his current site?…even if he removed all the spammy links, would the old site carry this “burdon” of “your site will never rank for any of these phrases again” …no matter what?… Google people have said that sometimes it’s best to abandon an old site…

So do we continue with the old site…do we start a new domain from scratch…do we buy and old domain with trusted links, and 301 that to a new brandable domain…. I left him with these questions, and another call scheduled for after I look over his backlinks and his disavow file.

From this limited information, would you do as a consultant/service provider?


3 Responses

  1. The Opportunity-Cost of clinging to domains poisoned by Google is staggering. All the money, energy and time spent ‘fixing the past’ is usually best spent moving forward on a clean slate.

    Every moment spent repairing, undoing, compensating – is often driven by emotion: Anger, fear, remorse, despair, etc – which is utterly IRRATIONAL in the face of Google’s corporate algo.

    At the very least – HALF the energy could be spent moving much more intelligently onto a new domain, with fresh content and a wiser approach – While trying to salvage on the back side.

  2. Maybe 8 articles and 20 fresh, trusted backlinks isn’t a large enough change in a website with 800 toxic backlinks to un-trip a Penguin penalty. Maybe you need close to 80 articles and 200 fresh, trusted backlinks. Maybe even more.

    In terms of what I would do? I’d pursue both strategies. You can build up and renovate his current site, while also building up the old site you’re thinking about buying. Eventually the current site can come back. And the client will have an extra resource for cross-marketing purposes.

  3. Depending on the amount of time toxic backlinks have shown up in a site’s profile and how fast you act with the Disavow Tool, the answer may be to stick with the old site.

    One thing I have found is the DT works much faster if ping the toxic links once submitted. Essentially building backlinks to those toxic links alerts the Googlebot and when it puts two and two together it works much faster.

    I have seen a site damaged by 1000 toxic links, once DT’d, links boosted return with 48 hours to it’s previous rankings.

    Monitoring for negative SEO is a necessary task that can be very beneficial. I think Google are aware of the vigilant and diligent when it comes to site backlink profile defence.

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