The Penguin Google update is a Google algorithm update which started to hit various sites on April 24, 2012. This new algorithm is “… aimed at decreasing search engine rankings of websites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines by using black-hat SEO techniques, such as keyword stuffing, cloaking, participating in link schemes, deliberate creation of duplicate content, and others” as you can read here.
As opposed to the earlier Panda update, the Penguin is mainly dealing with off-site SEO factors, mainly your backlinks. While there is (not surprisingly) no official explanation what *exactly* the Penguin update looks for when evaluating web sites, many SEOs agree that a huge factor in it is anchor text diversity.
The Importance of Anchor Text Diversity
In the “olden days” of SEO, that is, before Google Penguin, link building was rather easy: Establish a number of backlinks to your site where a high percentage of your links consisted of your “main keyword”. In addition, you also had your site “optimized” for your “main keyword” – and unless you did really silly things or you made some very obvious mistakes in your SEO, good Google ranking was then only a matter of time.
You need a natural looking link profile
Link building strategy is now exactly the opposite and needs to “emulate” a natural link profile as best as possible. Instead of a high percentage of anchor texts being your “target keyword” – avoid high percentages of a certain keyword at any costs. If you must, 15% or 20% for your primary keyword is the maximum you should have, with the rest of your anchor texts being plain URLs or generic search terms, citations and so forth.
This is actually not difficult to understand if one looks at natural backlinks on the web, say, for a certain article from wikipedia or similar. Reason being that it is absolutely not the case that anchor texts keywords are widely used in natural, “organically grown” backlinks. Webmasters, bloggers and users do not link to others using keywords. If they do, then this percentage might be rather smallish.
Fix Your Link Profile – Dilute Your Anchor Texts
If you want to recover your website from a Penguin algorithm slap and want to get back into the SERPs, the first thing you should do is to fix your existing backlinks and “dilute them”. In layman’s words: You should try to add as many natural looking backlinks (URLs only etc.) to bring your anchor text percentage down.
You can use Majestic SEO or AHrefs first to inspect your links, such as your anchor texts, origins of your links etc. if you spot a high number of anchor texts, say 40%, 50% or even more, a red flag should rise and you really should correct this.
Get Rid of “Bad Links”
But Google Penguin does entitle more, and this is where it gets a little complicated. As you can see at the wikipedia definition of Penguin here, Penguin targets all kinds of “Quality Guidelines Violations” and whatever Google considers spam. Chances are if you happened to use poor link builders in the past, or used “link blasts” such as Xrumer etc., your links will still come from unnatural sources. Here again it is useful to picture the “natural” way of how backlinks would appear on the web. An established high quality and reputable site would hardly get many backlinks from blog comment, Xrumer, Web2.0 profiles etc. spam or entirely unrelated websites.
If you spot such “bad links” to your site, you will likely need to (and I emphasize need to) contact webmasters of blogs and ask them to remove your links. I do not necessarily agree with this , simply because in reality this can become quite difficult. But Google insists you do this, or that you at least try. In a worst case scenario, you will have to rebuild your entire site to get back into the SERPs, simply because it could be impossible to get rid of all bad links. First, however, try to contact webmasters to remove your links and then you can file a reconsideration request with Google.
Make sure you let Google know about your efforts to contact those webmasters to get rid of the bad links. See how this goes and whether it will be sufficient to get your site back on track. As a last resort, if the reconsideration won’t be granted you will have to rebuild your site on a new domain.