It’s been three and a half weeks since Google unleashed the wrath of Penguin upon the world, and if like me, you suffered at the wrath of what is usually considered a rather docile and friendly bird, you may be feeling some undue hostility towards Penguins right about now. Fear not I’m here today to give you a plan of action to get your site back on track to page 1!
What Does Google Want!?
Google Penguin was curated and developed to rid its SERPS of spam and low quality sites that may have been engaging in less than kosher strategies. Unfortunately a number of sites who may have been market leaders but engaged in these tactics were also hit.
This has levelled the playing field to a certain degree and means that with the correct approach to off-site optimisation you can give the big brands a run for their money! This does depend on whether you’re a “glass half full / empty” kind of person however as a number of webmasters feel that local SEO and small business SEO is harder than ever.
Is SEO Really Harder For Small Businesses?
To a degree yes, but not because your budget may be smaller than a corporate entity, but rather because you’ll need to invest more TIME on your brand and generating exposure in channels that are relevant to your business.
Sure this process can be outsourced to someone else and I’m sure they’d do a good job, but no-one knows your business as well as YOU! If you’ve got the dedication to make sure your businesses succeeds then carry on reading!
Your Plan of Action
1. Start From the Ground Up
The days of creating content thin, made for AdSense sites are in the past. Google is all about quality and you have to adapt. If you think a backlink campaign consisting of directories, social bookmarking, article marketing, blog networks, web 2.0’s and link wheels will work, then your perception of off-site optimisation is all wrong and your efforts could be causing more harm than good.
2. Follow The Market Leaders
SEO trendsetters are now in high demand and I highly suggest you find / stalk / follow people like Wil Reynolds, Rand Fishkin, Will Critchlow and Mike Essex – these guys are innovators in an industry that is plagued and tainted by copycats and people who do “SEO by the book”. There’s no such thing as SEO by the book, sure there are a few well known optimisation techniques that we should all be engaging in but once you’ve finished your on-page optimisation the real fun begins!
3. So What Do I Have To Do?
Do you remember that scene from Family Guy – “We can rebuild him, we have the technology… but I don’t want to spend a lot of money”. Unfortunately you’re going to have to spend a lot of time and really start investing in your brand.
First you need to re-analyse what it is you want from your website. If your sole goal is to “get position 1 in Google” then I can’t help you. If however you’re looking to build your reputation, engage in the community and set yourself up as an authority in whatever niche it is you work in, you’re ready for my help!
- 4. Analyse Your Current Situation
You need to start treating your website as if it were a person – I’ve created the following scenario to try and explain the gravity of your current situation.
You’re a criminal who decided to go on a bit of a crime spree (think GTA 4) after hi-jacking a few cars and stealing a few wallets you’ve made a fair bit of cash (positions), got lots of friends (backlinks) and are on-top of the world! As they say though, all good things must come to an end.
The police (Google) decided to talk to your friends (backlinks) and they’ve ratted you out. Now all your cash (positions) are gone and after spending some time in jail you have been released back in to the world with no friends or cash and the police are still on your case.
So What Do I Do Now?
You’ve got to start cleaning up your act! Go out and get rid of all your low-quality backlinks (where possible) if you know the site has been penalised or de-indexed then it’s worth giving that link the chop!
Some people may have made the fatal flaw of outsourcing their backlink strategy to fiverr, or engaged in any number of low quality backlink strategies including mass blog commenting via scrapebox or forum posting via xrumer. This recovery process is going to be a lot harder for you but it’s still possible to recover.
If you know you’ve engaged in low quality linking via an outsource partner then get in touch with them and see if they can remove these links. Most advanced blog networks have the option to remove all created links in bulk.
While you’re trying to clean up your reputation go out and build new ones. There are a number of activities you could be participating in to start rebuilding your organic visibility.
Create Unique Content
Regardless of the industry you’re in, there’s always something you can do to stand out from the crowd. Do a search for “Dollar Shave Club” – if you can make razors interesting then there’s nothing stopping you from creating the next viral video for your company.
Engage In the Community
Find forums and blogs that talk your language. Drop them an e-mail, start a conversation, hell if you’re feeling up to the task pick up the phone and talk shop to a complete stranger. I’ve had people contact me out of the blue on linkedin and twitter from a few guest posts and blog comments. If I can do it, so can you!
Become an Authority in Your Niche
So you’re telling me your competitor currently has all the organic real-estate? Who cares, Google isn’t the only search engine in the world. Go create a few videos and plaster them all over YouTube, start a new forum for your business.
If you were hoping to read this and discover that there’s a magic pill to cure all your SEO woes – I’m sorry to tell you but there isn’t one (although rumour has it 301-ing your penalised domain is a temporary fix). The worst thing you can do right now is to do nothing. Your competitors are all fighting for a piece of organic pie. Get out there and start making a name for yourself.
Conclusion: Recovering From Penguin Isn’t Going To Be Easy – But It Can Be Done!
I’m speaking from experience here, some of my sites have been hit by penguin, others haven’t but I have started to see recovery on those that have been hit. If you’ve built a poor quality site that doesn’t offer the user anything new then I’m afraid that Penguin will probably be the end of the line for you, but for those that are ready to start fighting in the trenches – I salute you!