SEO and Penguin Recovery: Remove Links or Just Disavow?

At Rouge, we understand that for many sites, obtaining a good ranking on Google (for the right terms) is important for the very good reason that over 70% of people search on the  Net for a solution to a problem or for a product that they want to buy.

SEO is Full of Pitfalls for the Unwary

But SEO, the means by which you ‘convince’ Google to rank a site is full of pitfalls, it being just as easy, perhaps easier, to make a mistake and ‘annoy’ Google and it’s family of rules than it is to get it right.

Manual Penalties from Google – VERY BAD NEWS

There are three ways that you can get penalised by Google, the worst being a Manual penalty when they put a notification on your Webmaster Tools panel saying that they have found an issue with the site and that if you want your rankings back, you’d better tidy something up, this normally being about links.

Google’s Animals – The Penguin and the Panda

But there are two other ‘lesser’ penalties that you have to be careful about, these being triggered by the rule sets named Panda and Penguin. Panda is about On Page issues, whilst Penguin is about links. Both are fully automatic and when they come into play, can cause a site to lose their rankings to a greater or lesser degree. You don’t get a warning, you just see your traffic dry up. It’s then up to you (or your SEO expert) to find out what has gone wrong.

Sometimes these rule sets are triggered in error, the site soon regaining its rankings and traffic, however, if the traffic loss goes on for more than a few weeks, then there is something wrong,  and something will have to be done about it…

We came across this excellent article about Penguin and how you can put things right when they go wrong so thought we’d share it with you. We do hope it helps…

If you have been affected by Google’s Penguin algorithm, should you be actively trying to remove your unnatural links? Or, is it just good enough to use Google’s disavow tool? In this article we will discuss the pros and cons of each and also look at what Google has said on the subject.

A Refresher on Penguin

The Penguin algorithm is Google’s way of assessing the quality of your backlink profile. If you have a lot of links that were self-made with the intention of manipulating your Google rankings, then Penguin may cause Google to lose trust in your site. The result is that your rankings will be suppressed. This suppression can be debilitating if you have a large number of unnatural links. I have also seen cases where the suppression is rather minor.

In order to escape from the grips of Penguin, three things need to happen:

You need to do a thorough cleanup of your links.
You need to wait until Google reruns the Penguin algorithm and reassesses your site.
Once your unnatural links are removed or disavowed, you have to have a good quality site that has enough natural links to support rankings. In other words, if your previous rankings were only there on the basis of links that are now considered unnatural, you may not see much in the way of recovery even if you do a thorough cleanup.
In a previous Search Engine Watch article I discussed several reasons why a Penguin hit site may not recover.

In regards to point number one on my list, can you do a “thorough cleanup” just by using Google’s disavow tool? Or do you need to actively try to remove all of your unnatural links?

For the full article on SEO, Penguin and the Disavow tool click the link