Extreme SEO – Punching the Penguin #a4uexpo
Search Engine Optimisation

Extreme SEO – Punching the Penguin #a4uexpo

2nd July 2013

This panel moderated by Bas van den Beld includes Martin MacDonald, Joost de Valk, Marcus Tandler and Christoph Cemper and covers Google’s Penguin algorithm updates with a range of subjects such as new linking techniques, multi-devices and site audits.

Marcus: in the early days, it was the wild west, but now it’s become more than just a village, but a metropolitan city with police, SWAT teams and criminals. It’s a good thing, and much better for site owners.

Joost: I agree – but it’s still incomplete. There’s still spam, and it still exists in a big way and more needs to be done about it, but in the end there’ll be no such thing as agressive linkbuilding. Whether that takes 2 or 10 years is something we need to see.

Christoph: his Link Research Tool is now something that has more of a need, moreso that Link Building Tool.

Martin: this all adds to the fact that Google is reactive to share valuations rather than caring what organic SERPs are like. All Google care about is returning searchers.

Joost: the bad thing about all these recent updates is the negative effect so, for example, negative SEO is something which can be more relevant. Google want to make people remove links, and these algo updates help that happen faster.

Marcus: but it’s also about PR practices and scaremongering. And it really works…

Martin:  what Google need to do is have a negative toolbar PageRank. If it triggers something such as being in a disavow tool too much, then make the TBPR to -1. The worst thing is that smaller site can get hit and they won’t get reindexed unless they have enough social presence to have a direct response from Matt Cutts.


Question from the audience – how do we punch the Penguin?

Run the domain through Link Detox and go through the backlinks manually. It’s a lot of work. Take that data and try to remove the most poisonous links. Today, SEOs generally don’t build links the way we built links a year ago so ensure moving forward that doesn’t happen. Those older methods of link building does work, but only for 2 months.

Even when you do remove all those links, you then need to build new [and good] links as your removed links will mean you don’t have as many as you used to (good or bad).

Google Webmaster Tools also doesn’t give you all the information you need. You need to use Ahrefs.com or Link Research Tools to find better data as Google won’t provide it for you.

Bas: so it seems there’s no real easy way out of it?

Marcus: not necessarily – if you do what you’re told and remove the poor quality links, there’s no reason why this shouldn’t work for you and regain your rankings. It’s just long and boring.

Question from the audience – how do you report on competitors?

Martin: use MajesticSEO fresh index and you don’t even need to be logged in and it’s free! Of course if you want to know more, you should sign up.

Disavow Tools

Bas: Is there any use?

Joost: Yes, but ensure you have all efforts documented.

Bas: Should people not just disavw everything?

Martin: Sometimes yes to be honest – by the time you go through everything you may as well remove everything and get new, much better links. That and you have to wait until Google decides to lift your penalty. Google says 11 days, but it’s really a lot longer.

Christoph: we’ve found removing bad links from a 404 page still works!

Martin: penance and submitting to Google definitely helps too. Don’t just respond saying “Hey, where the hell did my rankings go?! Sort it out!” – this will not get you back to where you once were. Be nice, apologetic and prove you’ve made an effort.

Generally – we feel bad for Google, and it’s no surprise numerous people within the Search Quality team have left within the last 18 months – they’re as bored of Penguin as we are!

Martin: In the end – we’re just turning into a bunch of online PR’s

Christoph: Google are just trying their best to cut out the middle-man, the credit card SERP is a great example of this happening. When it comes to affiliates, EAN wants you to transact on your own site so the affiliates can have their own customer retention whilst Expedia still deal with customer support.

Marcus: thin affiliates are old news, you need to make it your own brand.

Joost: yes – concentrate on brand searches as, as we can see from updaes over the past year, you need branded searches and brand presence.

Martin: and utilise social platforms – always works both from an honest marketing perspective as well as attracting more sales through those networks. The new way of manipulation, however, is all about social exposure and a much safer way to game the SERPs instead of  building crappy links.

A Last Piece of Advice

Christoph: if you haven’t cleaned up your current link profile, do it.

Marcus: it’s about sustainability. Don’t just get to the top of the SERPs – staying there is the real winner.

Watch the entire session

Performance Insights has released the entire session video:


Written By
Alex Moss is the Director at FireCask, an online marketing agency in Manchester specialising in Search, Content and WordPress development. Alex is also the Co-Founder of Peadig, a WordPress framework powered by Bootstrap.
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