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Possible Clue to the Penguin Update - in a backlink profile
adder




msg:4468390
 3:42 pm on Jun 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi,

Here's an obscure case study of a site that was hit by Penguin AND received an "Unnatural linking" warning via GWT. I was asked to look at their link profile and here's what I found.

It's a medium-size site with half-decent content, trying to rank for a difficult three-word phrase, let's say: Fluffy Blue Widgets. Now every search involving "Fluffy" has dropped significantly in rankings. Longtail phrases involving "Blue Widgets" but excluding "Fluffy" aren't affected.

Here's the stats:
  • Total number of backlinks: 4,000
  • Anchors mentioning "Fluffy": 2,000
  • Exact match anchors "Fluffy Blue Widgets": 1,000


Incidentally (or not) the wast majority of the exact match anchors come from terrible sites: phpld directories with generic templates and those blatant blog sites that have a list of text links underneath each post.

One thing that stands out is that the link profile contains one low-traffic site that has put a sitewide link to the target site.

I have a feeling it's the combination of exact match anchors on low quality sites and this one sitewide link.

If this is so, I think I'll join Planet13 and open a pizza store because so far while working on this site I didn't find anything that I couldn't replicate if I was a bad SEO looking to ruin my competition. It's a typical victim - a small site with a weak link profile (owned by a self-employed webmaster if you read between the lines:) Ok, ok, in this particular case the site owner takes full responsibility for the links that have been built.

Does anything from what I've said here seem familiar or ring a bell? Have you recently seen similar backlink profiles on sites that have been hit by Penguin?

 

Planet13




msg:4468460
 5:58 pm on Jun 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

I ain't no Penguin expert (wish I were), but to me that sounds like a typical Penguin case; not a great backlink profile with LOTS of exact match keywords.

But are you sure the drop coincides with the date for Penguin? I seem to have "lost" my keyword around the 18th of April - not an exact Penguin date match (and I really didn't have more than two or three exact match anchor text links - although admittedly they were on blog comments and from INTERNAL pages.)

If this is so, I think I'll join Planet13 and open a pizza store...


Wish I were that ambitious; Right now I am just looking for a job as a delivery boy. Hope I am qualified...

tedster




msg:4468465
 6:10 pm on Jun 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

The challenge site owners face in cases like this is sorting out two issues.

One - there is a Penguin demotion, and that's algorithmic.
Two - there was an unnatural links warning, and that often comes just before a manual penalty.

The exact dates of traffic loss should help sort this out. update references [webmasterworld.com]

No matter which cause is in play - or even if it's a combination - you've still got to fix that heavy-handed backlink profile. Since there's a warning message, you can and should send G a Reconsideration Request when the clean-up is well under way.

aristotle




msg:4468469
 6:13 pm on Jun 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

that was hit by Penguin AND received an "Unnatural linking" warning via GWT


Two of my sites got hit by Penguin, but neither has ever received an unnatural link profile warning. Both sites lost about 25% of their previuos Google traffic.

Why did some sites get the warning but others didn't? And is there any coonection between getting the warning and how much Google traffic was lost?

aristotle




msg:4468480
 6:50 pm on Jun 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Tedster- You answered my question before I even asked it. Actually, you made your post just before mine and I didn't see yours until just now.

mhansen




msg:4468526
 8:59 pm on Jun 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Two of my sites got hit by Penguin, but neither has ever received an unnatural link profile warning


We had one of our managed sites hit by Penguin. There was never a link warning in WMT.

there was an unnatural links warning, and that often comes just before a manual penalty.


I different site we have WMT access to got the un-natural link message, but it was not affected by any penalties and flourishes still today. If anything, traffic has increased.

It's no we scratch our heads... LOL

aristotle




msg:4468538
 9:29 pm on Jun 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Despite the fact that some Penquin victims didn't get a warning, I still think there's a strong correlation between an un-natural backlink profile and Penguin.

mhansen




msg:4468563
 11:43 pm on Jun 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

I still think there's a strong correlation between an un-natural backlink profile and Penguin.


Agree 100%

MikeNoLastName




msg:4468572
 12:07 am on Jun 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

The Question is "do they" and "how do they" determine onsite and inter-site backlinks. Numerous sites have consistent navigation menus with the same major keywords across the top or side of EVERY page. This should be a good thing for "usability", no? Is it penalized?

Now lets take that a step further and say your website is spread across 2 or 3 domains, all of the pages on all domains have the same menu which links to pages on each of the domains, because the title of the site is the same on all 3 domains and each domain contains an integral part of the big-picture site. Can they recognize it as the same owner and all being the same or similar topic and thus one "big site" and thus NOT un-natural linking at all? (I doubt it). Alexa BTW has an option for interlinking the reports, but as far as I can tell GWMTs does not, other than the fact that you can add multiple domains under the same account, but there is no way to confirm that they look at this info when ranking.

Finally on top of all that, say you are getting 2 or 3 external dime-a-dozen type sites, unknown to you, and they love your reference page so much because they are too honest to scrape it and too lazy to create their own, that they link it from the template (i.e. reproduced exactly) side bar menu of their 1000's of rambling blog pages on topics barely or not at all related to YOUR site. I agree it probably shouldn't count for much, but this should not be penalized either.

I'm sure there are more examples of things that G probably has not bothered to think about in unnatural-inter-linking of sites.

Simsi




msg:4468654
 8:16 am on Jun 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

I still think there's a strong correlation between an un-natural backlink profile and Penguin.


+2

Question relating to adder's OP though. You mentioned site-wide links. Simplifying the question, if a site has 100 inbound links and 95 of those come from one site (say, a site-wide footer link) with the same anchor, could that disrupt the link profile?

On the one hand, it might explain a problem I am working on, on the other it seems a recipe for negative SEO.

adder




msg:4468669
 10:06 am on Jun 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

But are you sure the drop coincides with the date for Penguin?

The webmaster says that it does coincide but he's being awkward and not letting me look at his Analytics :)

Why did some sites get the warning but others didn't?

I think you can get the algo penalty for an on-site over-optimisation too, even though your link profile isn't spammy. I've got a feeling that's what happened to one of my own sites. I never received a GWT warning (because all my links are super-good and natural) but I still got hit by Penguin.

if a site has 100 inbound links and 95 of those come from one site (say, a site-wide footer link) with the same anchor, could that disrupt the link profile?

Sounds like a recipe for a disaster to me. 95% of inbound links coming from a single site, I cannot see how that's natural :) I wouldn't pursue ANY sitewide links before my link profile is well established and strong.

Simsi




msg:4468694
 2:04 pm on Jun 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

95% of inbound links coming from a single site, I cannot see how that's natural :)


Actually it was natural in so much as the site owner didn't ask for a sitewide, she was just given it by someone she'd helped out. The site doesn't ask/exchange/sell links so all are natural...just happens this one came through as a sitewide.

She can ask for it to be removed but it actually brings some quality traffic in...so do we keep it for that, get it removed or start to play the links game and go find a load more links to balance out. Quandary.

tedster




msg:4468743
 6:11 pm on Jun 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

She can ask for it to be removed but it actually brings some quality traffic

Then I'd keep some links, but maybe not run of site - you could ask the owner to back off a bit. Maybe go with just the home page, or whatever pages are sending the best traffic.

However the fact that there are only 5 other backlinks is more the problem IMO, not the one case of ROS. Surely if the site is worth ranking, then other backlinks are possible.

Simsi




msg:4468843
 8:36 am on Jun 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thanks tedster. Other backlinks are more than possible but the niche is not especially competitive and in my experience it is possible to rank without too many anyway. Will get the sitewides reduced to one to make sure but it seems fundamentally wrong that this could actually hurt a site. But hey ho...it's easy to forget that search is still in it's infancy.

tedster




msg:4468889
 2:20 pm on Jun 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

it's easy to forget that search is still in it's infancy

Beautiful! Thanks for saying that; it really can be hard to remember sometimes.

mirrornl




msg:4468931
 3:58 pm on Jun 24, 2012 (gmt 0)


it's easy to forget that search is still in it's infancy

Beautiful! Thanks for saying that; it really can be hard to remember sometimes.


And thank you both for this fresh perspective :)

adder




msg:4469131
 8:12 am on Jun 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Haha, lol... hmmm

Another thing you can do is ask the webmaster to make this sitewide link nofollow. If it's there for traffic purposes only, then it won't matter. Simply removing a link that drives traffic is madness! With nofollow you'll still get the traffic and be safe from any possible bans. Then start building links slowly and steadily.

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