Marvin in Tampa, Florida is rattled. He use to be on the first page of Google and now he’s MIA.

Dear Mr. Gustafson-

I was hit by Google Penguin but not until mid-2013. I’ve tried a few different firms only to discover they were clueless. Help!!!!!!!!!!!


Ouch Marvin. I’ve heard the exact same story more than a few times in the last year after the Penguin update.

Here’s the deal. Your spam backlinks need to be evaluated one-by-one. I do my Penguin work manually. Forget about those companies that automate your backlink analysis. There’s too much that can get missed.

Next, do you have any duplicate content? Hopefully not.

I recommend you run your site through a duplicate content checker. I’ve had good success with PlaigSpotter. Some SEO-ers claim Penguin has nothing to do with duplicate content. Honestly, it’s hard to pinpoint which algo update is harassing your rankings. However, start with spam backlinks first. Then submit them to Google Webmasters using their disavowal tool.

Rumor has it they’re about 2-3 months behind on penalty reviews so get started right away.

Another thing to consider is your anchor text links. If you’re building new links (which is a bad idea), Google now penalizes you with too many links using the same anchor text phrase. I’m not big into backlinking for my clients. But if I was, there would be more randomization in the keyword phrases I was using as anchor text.

Lastly, think about a new domain. A clean, fresh url will take time to get ranked. But it can be faster than dragging yourself through the slog of a penalty retraction. There’s no guarantee you’ll recover. I’ve had good success using the advice I’ve outlined.

My last secret is to be patient. Don’t expect things to change dramatically in the first few months.

Good luck Marvin and do yourself a favor and really think about a new domain.