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Rankings taken a dive?


Here’s how to tell if you have been affected by Penguin Algorithm Update or have actually received a penalty in Google.

So, you have done some searches and where you were ranking you now are not. If this is a recent change (i.e. post 30th April 2012) then there are two scenarios…

1. Your site was considered over-optimised and is affected by the Penguin Algo update.

2. You have received a penalty in Google.

To determine which is what, login to your Google Webmster tools and look for any messages or critical issues. If you find the following message then you have copped a penalty – usually a result of a human manual review.

We’ve detected that some of your site’s pages may be using techniques that are outside Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include buying links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes.
We encourage you to make changes to your site so that it meets our quality guidelines. Once you’ve made these changes, please submit your site for reconsideration in Google’s search results.
If you find unnatural links to your site that you are unable to control or remove, please provide the details in your reconsideration request.
If you have any questions about how to resolve this issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.

If this message has appeared in your account, now is the time to panic. No seriously, that won’t help. Stay calm and assess the situation.

First thing to do is to establish the date that this message appeared in WMT. Quite often it will take approximately 10 days following this message appearing before the rankings drop further and settle at their final destination. This will give you an indication of the severity of the penalty and the damage that needs to be undone.

These messages and penalties are becoming more and more common and so the first thing you need to do is stop doing what you were doing wrong.

If you had employed a third party to engage in link building activity on your behalf, cease this activity immediately. Further, if you were paying this third party to engage in this un-natural or spammy link building activity then you should request that they remove any suspect links.

You can use a free SEO tool such as Open Site Explorer or type in “links:www.yourdomainname.com” into google to look at the offending links. Unnatural links would be a heavy distribution of  commercial anchor texts in the top linking anchor texts.

Once you have undone as much of these as possible you could then apply for a reconsideration request indicating in the request that the third party involved has now ceased building these spammy links for you and that you have taken all measures within your control to operate within the quality guidelines. This will usually be considered to be okay providing the time between the message appearing in WMT and your reconsideration request is 2 months.

Failing this, your only other option would be to start again. Transfer your website content to a new domain name and take it very cautiously to build quality links from reputable domains.