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Penguin Advice

I had the opportunity to speak with a penguin troubleshooting expert yesterday, and his message was very strong and very simple. He is a speaker at a lot of industry events.

1. Do not, repeat do not, build links to your home page. Only build links to interior pages. If the home page gets penalized, the whole site gets hammered. If an interior page gets hit, only that page gets penalized.
2. Penguin is all about anchor text. He recommends keeping your money keyword anchors under 10%. His analysis is that the value of keyword anchors is close to zero. Google is getting its topical signals from on page seo, and on-site links.
If you want a page to rank for multiple keywords, use them as internal anchors on your own site.

Every site that he cleaned had anchor text issues, and when the anchor text got fixed, the rankings came back. I can attest to this. We got hit on October 3. We control some client websites with footer links to our site. We got stupid and put exact match anchors on them. It threw off our anchor text %.

When we got penalized, it was only the pages that had the links pointed at them. Furthermore, once we changed the anchors to branded, and had the site crawled, our rankings came back.

Peguin 2.1 was not a big mystery. It targeted anchor text% at interior pages. The fact that specific pages got hit instead of the entire site is what threw people off.

Best Answer

  • edited November 2013 Accepted Answer
    I congratulate @Satans_Apprentice and the one he got in conversation with for point #2. He nailed it. I can confirm that internal linking in your own site with one post to another with the keyword you want to rank for has far more sweet outcomes.

    I'll tell my example only. I started a new niche site a month back (WordPress). I had 2 posts already added to it but I didn't saw much rankings. Then after adding the final and last (3rd post) around 4-5 days ago and then inter-linking my blog posts with various anchor texts/keywords that I was targeting for, the SERPs started coming out in sight out of nowhere just in a day and they're only progressing in the SERPs since then. It is a no-brainer that it works and also I can now understand why SILO works.

    So in the upcoming times, we'll also need to optimize our sites with onpage SEO and other important factors that we just tend to miss. Link building is just a part of the process, but not the full process itself.

    Just my 2 cents.
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Answers

  • goonergooner SERLists.com
    Nice post @satans_Apprentice
    I have to agree with that diagnosis, only my sites with high anchor % got hit.
  • Have to agree for most of it, only homepage's got hit, but not inner pages. I think that this 'penalty' will be lifted sometime in the future, it's just been to serve as a warning/slap for link building to homepages. Natural link building would include some direct links to home pages so it doesn't make any sense.


  • Back in the olden days when I started building sites, it was always the inner pages that got the links. The homepage was usually a 'Welcome to our site' or some dodgy flash intro. IMO every page of your sites should be treated like a potential entry point for business.
  • 2Take22Take2 UK
    edited November 2013
    @Satans_Apprentice - Nice share, that's all good solid advice.
  • @cherub - yeah man, they were the days :) Same nasty page, or choose your language page.
  • The point of this guys conversation is that building links to your home page is far more dangerous than building links to internal pages
  • I do not agree with #1. I watched as a site got it's homepage penalized for a single keyword but none of the other sub-pages got hit and the homepage still ranked for other terms. 

    I think you just have to be smart with your home page linking. Different sites have different profiles. For example I know of one query that returns sites which have basically a database of answers to long tail questions. These individual pages have very little chance of getting linked to naturally. 99% of all links would be to the homepage or a single sub-page. So that is what the link profiles look like for almost every site that ranks that is not a random sub-page like a Youtube video, etc. 
  • @Wizzardly - Interesting. Can you give some details?
  • What a lot of people miss is the fundamentals. Writing deep content in Silos with perfect on-page SEO reduces the number of links you need to rank. Reducing the number of links you need to rank reduces risk.
  • Nicely said @Satans_Apprentice --> clever SEO/link-building strategies is best for longevity than super-crazy-mental-spamming.
  • I don't agree with point 1. A website that has 500 links to the inner page but 0 to the homepage is an easy target too.
  • Agreed. Everything in moderation. Your home page should acquire links naturally, anyway. I think the real point of the message is to be very careful about the links you build to your home page. Another advantage is if a page (other than your home page) gets penalized, DELETE IT. move the content to a new URL on the domain, and start over again.
  • I am new to page ranking and I heard a lot of about penalized site, if I have a penalized site (actually I had a online store seem got penalized) and I built links to it before, Can I clean the so called anchor text issue by  changing  the site url structure? 
  • Penguin typically penalizes pages/keyword. If you have a keyword that drops in the rankings suddenly, it might be Penguin. The number one trigger for a penguin penalty is over-optimized keyword anchors on external links. If your keyword/money site page is "blue widgets", and you have a high percentage (in excess of 20%) of your inbound links having "blue widgets" as an anchor, you could get penalized for this. The penalty can be repaired by 1. Changing your anchor texts and getting them back in line. GSA has a tool to remove links now, which is pretty amazing. 2. Delete the penalized page. DO NOT DO A REDIRECT. You will just be redirecting the penalty. Move the copy to a new URL, and start over again.
  • hi Satans  if the penalized page is the home page, any suggestion

  • Clean up your link profile. That is all you can do other than start a new site. That was a topic of conversation don't - spam your home page.
  • @satans_apprentice - solid fucking advice for anyone whom was contemplating their options after a keyword drop/penalty. Bookmarking this thread. Lets continue this conversation. Have you heard of penguin penalizing entire domains? Or any penalty for that matter other than a manual penalty?
  • Penguin is generally an algorithmic penalty. You wake up one morning and Poof! Rankings are gone. You won't get a nastygram in Google Webmaster tools either. Yes, entire sites get hit, generally because they spammed the home page. What happens is that if a page, or pages get penalize, the link juice gets shut off, and this has an affect downstream for other pages that relied on the penalized page for rankings. The only good news with Penguin is that it can be fixed by cleaning up your link profile. Keyword anchors have been greatly devalued by google. So much so, that if you didn't use them at all, you probably wouldn't miss them much. The 2 best pieces of advice I can give - don't spam your home page, and keep your keyword anchors to a bare minimum.
  • @Satans_Apprentice thanks for sharing, One question here, how many main many keyword anchors you would used to build tiered links if the main keyword has exact match 6k?
  • goonergooner SERLists.com
    edited December 2013
    I agree with @satans_apprentice about the keyword anchors, 100% that is why some of my sites got hit.

    With regards spamming the homepage, i'm not so sure. I had sites where no links were built to the homepage and they got hit and likewise i've got sites where the homepage is the only page getting links and they didn't get hit.

    For me, the only common factor on all sites that were penalised was over-optimised anchor text.

  • @bizburger keep your total keyword% under 20%. That includes LSi, partial match, secondary, etc. the other 80% is URL, generic and branded. If your branded includes keywords, include it in the 20%.
  • Satans_Apprentice - thanks for that bit of clarification. I was thinking and looking at the breakdowns as <10-20% for [keyword], NOT including LSI, partials, secondary, EMD URLs etc... 

    I'm definitely going to have to re-look at a lot of my links now (which may be a good thing as it may explain some of the hits I took that I couldn't quite figure out before...)
  • @gooner What were % of anchor text of single keyword that you were trying to rank for?
  • goonergooner SERLists.com
    @pratik - Between 20 - 30%. They were older sites, so that was a normal kind of % at the time.
  • Satans_Apprentice 

    I follow the Google webmaster rules rather than self claimed SEO specialists. 

  • goonergooner SERLists.com
    Presumably you don't build any links at all then?
    Or you would be violating "any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site".
  • I feel confuse about the target url, I did link built before but my specific keyword rank in google search is not the page I link to
  • @andy1024 Happens. Happened to me too, mostly for WP sites where you have tags, categories and such URLs. Generally after some days it might lay its focus back on your original URL though.
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