What is a Penguin Penalty?

A Penguin Penalty is a type of algorithmic penalty that is designed to target link manipulation in Google Search.

penalty visible from ahrefs

How can I check I have a Penguin Penalty?

The best way to check for any algorithmic penalty is through Google Analytics. Sudden drops in traffic that result in almost zero users each day are a good sign of punishment.

However, unlike manual penalties, there is no way to confirm this in Google Search Console.

Algorithmic Penalty in Google Analytics

How can I remove a Penguin Penalty?

To remove a penguin penalty, you will need to improve the quality of backlinks. This process begins by evaluating your link profile and then making some notable improvements.

The following tips will help you to clear low-quality links towards your site. However, there is no guarantee they will remove the penalty in all cases.

1. Check for porn links to your site.

One of the most common forms of negative SEO is porn websites linked toward your site. There is a good chance that Google might ignore these links, but to be sure we should add them to our disavow file in Google Search Console.

But first, you should manually audit all the backlinks toward your website. You can either use a free tool such as Google Search Console, or a paid tool such as Ahrefs.

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2. Check for foreign links to your site.

While not all websites that are foreign are bad, it’s a pretty good footprint for websites that are bad. I’ve found that the following domains are most likely to be spammy:

  • .ru
  • .gf
  • .us
  • .info
  • .gq
CTLD Distribution in AHREFS

3. Check for comment/blog spam links.

One of the fastest ways to get a manual penalty or algorithmic penalty is via comment spam. One of the most common ways to find this is to review the anchor text toward your website.

Typically the link in comments will use your name as the anchor text. By using a tool such as Ahrefs, you can quickly find all such examples.

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4. Check for anchor text manipulation.

Since the anchor text from external websites is one of the most influential ranking factors, the penguin penalty heavily monitors it.

Using a tool such as Ahrefs makes this easy to test by reviewing the top 20 anchor texts toward your website. You can also check anchor text for free inside the Google Search Console.

Checking these will help you to see whether your brand name is one of the most common anchors or not. If it’s not, then there’s a good chance your website is over-optimised. Combined with a drop in traffic, this may indicate a penguin penalty.

Use the disavow tool and manually remove any of these links if you’re able to.

anchor text percentages

5. Check for link distribution.

Another one of the more influential ranking factors is external websites linking toward internal pages. Link manipulation can often cause too many backlinks toward your internal pages.

You can check this by using the top links section in Ahrefs, or by using ‘links to your site’ in the Google Search Console.

Try removing low-quality links toward internal pages and focus on building high-quality, trustworthy links toward the homepage instead.

AHREFS best by links tool