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How to Overcome Google Penguin Update in Link Building SEO

Updated on October 24, 2019
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Danson Wachira is a certified Trainer in Computer Science, Information Technology and related studies.

When Google Penguin update hit late last year 2012, many websites and blogs went down crumbling while many others dropped on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) to far bottom places. Newer sites and blogs, some looking simple but with concrete content, have now dominated the SERPs and are riding high on traffic.

You look at your website or blog and you ask yourself how such sites or blogs can be on top of SERPs before your content. Well, you need to look back on your link building Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and more so the source of your backlinks.

Google Penguin update was meant to demote sites which draw their backlinks from low quality sites and especially those sites with backlinks that look unnatural to Google. Many webmasters, having known that backlinks have a direct impact on search engines page ranking, have embarked on all sorts of link building SEO.

Be warned if your site or blog has links from link farms, link exchange sites, link directories and all other forms of unethical or questionable link building practices. Such link building SEO strategies can hugely cost your site.

Google Penguin update
Google Penguin update | Source

What happened?

Earlier, webmasters and internet marketers paid much attention to the quantity of backlinks pointing to their sites without much consideration to the quality. With Google Penguin update, Google now rewards more on quality than quantity.

In post Penguin update, it is better to have 10 backlinks from authority sites, (read, sites with high PR), than 50 backlinks from low quality sites including cheap article submission directories.

Search engines like Google have become smarter with intelligent algorithms and will run down on any website, web page or blog with backlinks crafted purposely to artificially inflate a site's backlink profile and cheat on SERP valuation system.

Having a site or blog with backlinks from low quality sites or links acquired from link schemes will be like begging Google for penalties. Google now even consider the relevancy of a site's content and its backlinks by comparing the language used on the site and the one used in backlinks.


A lot of buzz has been on with SEO experts on why Google Penguin will penalize links with anchor text from authority sites but it is all natural to Google. Having backlinks from multiple sources with keywords stuffed in form of anchor text like “Click here” or “See it now!” and all pointing to a single landing page is no longer darling to Google.

Although search engines will not necessarily penalize a site for having some keyword-rich anchor text, when anchor texts are not deservedly diverse enough, it appears unnatural to search engines and therefore triggers red flags.

This implies that Google want to see more distributed quality backlinks on your site and not thousands of them pointing to a single landing page. It is important to note that currently Google does not penalize sites sparingly but rather, if some sections of a site have problems, then the entire site faces Google penalty.

Backlinking SEO
Backlinking SEO | Source

The way forward on Google Penguin and link building

Google has openly shown that quality will always come before quantity in backlinking and relevance will always be a key factor in link building. The sites which will matter to Google are those with high quality natural backlinks and which consistently pass Google’s relevancy indicators.

If your site was hit by the latest Google penguin update, the first step to remedy that will be to carry out a thorough link audit on your site. Using web tools such as link analyzers and backlink checkers, get a detailed report of the current health state of your site’s backlinks.

The worst case scenario will be if your site was badly hit, which may require bringing the entire domain down. That has already happen with some sites.

Link Building SEO
Link Building SEO | Source

Tips on how to build backlinks

If the link audit report shows that your site is recoverable, you need to drop all the bad links and then follow proper and ethical link building SEO when building new ones. Here are some tips:

  • Multiple Backlink Sources

While most webmasters regard article directories as quality link sources, a lot newer and cheap ones have come up so, desist from going for every any other article directory and especially the newer ones.

Do not even think about link farms, link buying, link schemes or any questionable link building practice because doing so will only attract the wrath of Google. There are better sources that offer quality backlinks such as guest blogging, blog commenting, online forums, social bookmarking sites, submitting to PDF directories etc.

  • Multiple links with anchor text

Pull down any link that you posted for your site that is keyword stuffed and any that overly reference your site or a single web page. Google penguin can now detect different types of clickable anchor text and those that contain excessive keywords. Distribute links evenly in a natural way and avoid too many links pointing to your site from one direction such as article directories.

  • Link building for landing page

Homepage is regarded by many as the ideal landing page for a website and while it may look so, pointing every link to your site’s homepage can appear unnatural to Google now, more or less like spamming. It will be safer to find a more diverse range of landing pages on the site such as selected web pages rather than the homepage only.


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