17th October the mischief night! Few days later at least 12 websites found dead! It should not be! The websites were extremely rich in high quality content. The ranking went down from top 5 to “not in top 100”! Unbelievable! Lots of screaming and panic heard and felt hard. It’s time to take a look what happened there in Google and on those websites.
It’s Google’s Penguin 3.0 update that makes things worse. It was automatic penalty. So didn’t receive any messages on webmaster tool. The ranking demoted drastically. But, why these websites and not the others? Let’s investigate. I, Googled for website IP address finder tools and run those websites on some of these tools and found that all websites hosted on the same IP address. There were lots of websites on the same IP address. Looks like a private network. All websites got a similar look and feel and content structure along with similar niche and link structure. I know that Penguin is mostly for external link penalty that is why I purchased SEO SpyGlass from link-assistant.com to help me identify risky links. This is a great tool indeed. I found several penalty risk links for each demoted websites. Most risky links were coming from site-wide links. I then contacted most of the webmasters and removed 20 to 80 percent links that has penalty risk, not 20 to 80 percent of all links.
The remaining penalty risk links disavowed on Google’s Disavowed tool. Remember, if you remove more than 50% links you should not expect recovery of ranking. Looks like too many anchor text are keywords rich, so I changed the link pattern to non-keyword focus or branded keyword focus anchor links where possible. Next, we hosted each websites on different IP’s and we converted the http to httpS that is secure socket layer or SSL. Because Google give extra point to SSL websites. But unfortunately, it didn’t works for the next 4 weeks. No progress at all! I turned crazy, what’s going on there. It’s time to look into on-page SEO issues. Seems like all websites got one single Gmail account for all webmaster tools, so let’s change it to separate accounts for each websites. They all are WordPress based websites. Looks like over optimization issue. How? I can see most important keywords for which the sites lost ranking were placed on each and every blog post and the anchor text from each posts were built with “keyword rich text” to the pages which went down from Google. Same gmail account author was used on every single websites. Same promotional call to action text has been duplicated on the bottom of each post. The links from the most important pages has exact match keywords and repeated hugely.
I removed all keywords and used the title as keywords; while I removed the Google verified author with a new not verified author. I changed the Meta description for each post to near 160 characters and they are unique now. I removed all promotion text and all internal links from each blog post along with unnatural placement of keywords, for example, find a doctor New York, missing “IN”, let’s make it meaningful. I removed h1 and h2 from post where keyword was placed. I then looked into the important pages that were ranking high previously but not anymore and I removed unnatural placement of keywords from the content. I removed all external links from those websites and tweak the internal links, removed excessive use of internal links too. All most clean now!
It’s time to remove the XML Sitemap and installed new sitemap plug-in, I installed no-follow plug-in and 404 plug-in. I installed Verify Google webmaster plug-in to verify separate Gmail accounts for each website to verify webmaster tools for. Now I used “Screaming frog spider” to extract URL information from each websites, I exported them into spreadsheet to identify pages and post. I then Googled for free domain authority and page authority checker tools and updated the spreadsheet with the DA/PA values. The next job was to link the most important pages from high DA/PA internal pages. But not from keyword rich anchor text rather from natural phases. Resubmitted XML Sitemaps on Google webmaster tools for each websites. Used “Fetch as Google” from webmaster tool and submitted to re-index.
Let’s wait … AND WOW ! YES it works!!! Most of the websites regained the ranking again. Ranking again within the top 10 within 3 days! Unbelievable! I really like it! For few sites though the internal pages which were ranking high didn’t shows any ranking update. So I duplicated those internal pages and removed some keywords focused text, internal links and used a different page name and did a 301 using 301 redirect plug-in, the old pages to the new pages and it does the trick. Yes, they re-gained old ranking in about 2 days!
Written by Yahia Khan – SEO Expert.