Google’s Penguin algorithm update has been the bane of webmasters for a long time now. Low quality links or an un-natural looking link profile can send an otherwise fairly high quality websites down into the supplemental results.
Most SEO experts advocate removing bad links wherever possible, and disavowing those that you cannot remove, but one strategy that is often overlooked is the simple idea of building better links.
Good Links Will Benefit You
According to a statement made by Google’s John Mueller, building high quality links will “definitely help” webmasters who are trying to recover from a Penguin algorithmic penalty. Mueller explained that Google’s algorithms take into account not just the current status of a website but the general direction that the website is heading. He gave the example of someone who is unaware of how Google’s algorithms work, notices that their site is no longer ranking well, and makes changes to their SEO efforts to try to improve their rankings, without disavowing any links because they don’t realise that this is important.
Mueller explained that Google would not want to penalise someone for mistakes like that. If a website’s positive signals start to outweigh their negative signals, then their rankings will improve. Mueller does stress that it is still worth using the disavow tool on any low quality links that you are aware of, and to remove any that you have control over.
Link Clean-up Has a Greater Impact
Escaping a Google Penguin algorithmic penalty purely through quality link building would be a difficult thing to do, and a webmaster that disavowed low quality links while still acquiring a similar number of positive ranking signals would perform better in the SERPs than someone who focused purely on link building. However, the fact that the option exists is an interesting one, and proof of how difficult negative SEO can be. Given the knowledge that positive signals can cumulatively offset negative ones, the idea of flooding a competitor’s site with negative links seems impractical.
Some websites are affected by Penguin on only a minor scale; for those websites, an influx of natural links could be enough to push the ranking scales back in their favour, and get the penalty removed. However, for sites that have more than what Matt Cutts affectionately calls a “very mild case of Penguin”, recovery will take a more concerted effort.