Life After Penalty – What’s the Prescription for Restoring Website Health?

When coping with the aftermath of Google Updates, many business owners want to know the steps they should take to repair damages caused by penalties. Often, figuring this out means that more research and analysis should be completed to determine the full extend and severity of potential damage. Was a site engaging in unethical SEO practices or paid link programs – even unknowingly? If the answer to this question is yes, you may be better off starting with a fresh URL. However, before making a final decision it may be helpful to permit some experienced SEO analysts a chance to carefully assess your site’s status and vulnerability. In many cases, logging into Webmaster Tools may reveal Manual Actions have been applied by Google.

Deal with any bad links

If a site does receive a Google penalty for bad links, then repair may be more difficult than they seem at the outset. So, what is considered a “bad link?” Anything that is irrelevant or very low quality. This can be a grey area, but there are some guidelines that may help to discern the troubling links from the beneficial. Business owners can use trial accounts of MajesticSEO or Moz Analytics to better assess existing backlink health. There are many complex explanations by experts on determining a link’s status, however the idea is to secure truly relevant links from trustworthy websites; not link farms, crummy directory sites, or other poor associations. MajesticSEO shows a nice summary screen that provides scoring for a website’s overall Link Profile. This is displayed as Trust Flow and Citation Flow and the higher the number the better the perception of quality with a given link.

The general idea is for a site with this infraction to generate reports that reveal the troublesome links, then locate contact details for each associated webmaster. Ultimately, the goal is to make contact with each one to request removal of any offending backlinks. For those that do not respond, site owners can use a Google Webmaster Tool known as Disavow. However, the use of this tool is recommended sparingly for the most positive outcome.

Why should you care about anchor text?

Best practices in website promotion also require the savvy webmaster to use a diverse selection of relevant anchor text, or keyword phrases for linking. This can also be checked within Majestic and will quickly show if a website is over-optimized for any terms. The idea is to remain diverse and relevant. If your anchor text profile isn’t you will want to work on improving this area of your web marketing. Consider a range of terms, branded, non-branded, and generic for the best success.

Incoming links should point traffic to deep and shallow pages

The whole concept of this idea is that incoming website links should direct traffic flow to a variety of pages – not just the home page. Check in Majestic or Moz to determine how backlinks are currently distributed. Fine tune your efforts to diversify incoming links in future work, taking care to link to a range of deeper internal web pages with high quality information.

Tell Google you’re sorry

Once you’ve completed your homework to determine the areas of vulnerability or guilt, it may be time to reach out for forgiveness. Of course, this is after you’ve reviewed any Manual Actions that may be showing within your site’s Webmaster Tools and addressed the common issues described above. We also recommend that any business owner, or webmaster, that believes they may have been penalized review Google’s Webmaster Guidelines to ensure they are adhering to current SEO best practices. You can learn more about submitting a reconsideration request of your website to Google here.

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