If over the last 2 – 3 weeks you’ve lost a lot of traffic you may have been hit by the latest Google update called Penguin. Before you panic, this update is said to have only impacted around 3% of all searches so the chances are you’re fine. The update seems to have hit over optimised sites and also sites that have very poor quality inbound links. But what is a poor quality link I hear you cry!

To give you an example a very popular WordPress theme site that offers free themes has been hit because of the inbound link in the themes footer. Quite a few we’re being used by spammy blogs and pointless sites and they got penalised. Another reason for being hit is if your linking strategy has been a little on the iffy side. If you’ve accepted links from just about any type of site and not looked at the quality of these links then it may hinder your ranking or if you’ve been buying lots of links or taking part in automated link schemes you may have been hit.

How do I know I’ve been penalised?

If you’re traffic has plummeted recently you may have been hit, but the best way to find out is to look at the messages section of your Webmaster Tools account (you do have one?) as Google is emailing people to tell them they have been hit because of poor quality links.

How do I fix it?

Google has said that once the iffy links are taken down then things should revert back to normal. This can be easier said then done but first step is to contact any dodgy websites that link to you and ask them to remove your link. To be honest most people will remove links for you and if they don’t the chances are the sites won’t be around for long anyway. The main thing is to stop dodgy linking now!

What is correct natural linking?

Building links naturally is perceived to be a really difficult thing to do, but its not, honest! Think back to before the Internet and to promote your business you may write a guest article for your local newspaper or trade magazine, you may hold free tester sessions or hold group talks. You can still do that online with your website. Write guest posts for blogs and trade sites. Produce videos demonstrating your wares. Conduct online meetings or talks (something I planning to do soon). All these things will usually generate a link back to your site naturally.

I hope this has been useful as there’s been a bit of panic going on over the last few weeks. Try these links for some extra reading:

Two Weeks In, Google Talks Penguin Update, Ways To Recover & Negative SEO
5 Local Linkbuilding Ideas For The Post-Penguin/Panda Era
Google Webmaster Tools