Update: Google has announced a link disavow tool which supposedly addresses some of the points in the below discussion. Check it out here: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.ie/2012/10/a-new-tool-to-disavow-links.html
I recently took on a client with the hope of salvaging something from a site that has been penalised due to absolutely disgraceful prior link-building practises. I’m not entirely familiar with who or what was onboard back-in-the-day to handle the company’s SEO needs; but they did a spectacular job of getting thousands of links from many blatantly woeful sites.
This of course begs the question – in the context of link acquisition, what factors constitute a quality site vs a bad one?
- The site is relevant to your potential customers, target audience or industry.
- Good Page Rank (above 2+ is a good starting point in my experience).
- No 404 or script errors.
- No ridiculous advertising, banners.
- Comments on posts that are full of links and or spam.
- You have established and recorded the contact details of the webmaster/owner.
- Terms and Conditions & Privacy Policies are present on the site (check the footer).
So, I have found myself trying to communicate with web-masters on a number of sites that have over-linked to my client causing a penalty. Some sites have been transferred to new owners. Some web-masters have just abandoned their sites and moved on. Google has already rejected the first re-inclusion request and it is likely my client will be able to move forward with their business on the penalised domain.
At the end of the day, the Penguin update hasn’t changed anything that Google had already deemed unacceptable or outside their guidelines. But my concern in having taken on this client is how much of the their particular scenario exists out in the greater web? Aside from businesses that get conned by a bad SEO freelance ‘expert’, agency or business; now that the SEO rules have changed courtesy of Panda and Penguin, how long until those rules are deliberately and blatently broken at the expense of honest (dare i say) smaller businesses in the spirit of cut-throat competition?
The landscape of SEO has changed and there maybe a new channel of SEO business requirements in recovering from previous SEO tactics that have now resulted in disaster. But saying this suggest that once you’ve removed a penalised site’s keyword stuffing, bad quality content, improved it’s back-link profile and any other spam issues that you will be get the desired Penguin recovery, yes? No guarantees!
While Google keeps the exact signals it uses prior to penalising a site, very close to it’s chest there are no guarantees.
Some more tips on link acquisition tactics in the modern era of SEO can be found here: http://www.searchenginejournal.com/101-ways-to-link-build-in-2012/