If you keep up with the webmaster forum threads such as the Google Webmaster Forum or Webmaster World you’ll hear about penalized site owners moving their content to a brand new domain name. If the penalty was due to Google Penguin* this tactic would eliminate the work of removing all the spammy back links. But, unless you’ve already assessed your site to make sure on-page factors weren’t to blame you could just be shipping the problem over to a new URL. So…
When should you fix and when should you abandon?
That depends on a number of factors:
- Quantity of spammy back links – if you paid someone from Fiverr for instance to build thousands and thousands of back links and you’re in the tens of thousands deep with spammy back links, your site may never be able to recover.
- Given the above, if your site content was good quality and not the cause of the penalty, you could delete your current site content and move it to a domain without a duplicate content penalty.
But, consider the following factors before doing something so drastic
After all, if you spent thousands of hours creating quality content, isn’t it worth the time trying to fix your site rather than abandon it?
- If you move the content, and the content itself had issues that caused the penalty, then you are bringing all the old problems to the new website.
- If you remove as many spammy back links as you can, submit for reconsideration and build high quality links with diversified and brand anchor text links, your site may recover its rankings and traffic much faster than a new site would be able to achieve it.
- Does your content reside on a good domain, i.e. either exact match or partial match? If so, you’re not likely to find a better domain and the domain itself would have more value if you fixed the problem. Even if you wanted to sell the domain, you’ve already messed it up and lowered its value by getting it penalized.
Stop and Think
Before you draw any conclusions about your ability to recover or not, make sure your site content is not to blame. If you’ve fixed your back link dilemma, it’s time to analyze your pages.
- Repeat keywords in your meta title or headline?
- Do you have too high a percentage of the same keyword on each page?
- Do you have hidden text or links?
- Do you link out to poor quality sites?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you have work to do. Fix your pages so they follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines. I try to stick to a 1% keyword concentration on the page. Naturalize your titles and headlines.
Ideally, we’d all love to see Google come out with the link devaluation tool in Webmaster tools, but you know what they say about things that seem too good to be to be true.
Penalized site content tips from Matt Cutts
Here’s two informative videos where Google’s Matt Cutts talks about different issues related to penalized site content:
Hidden content in Read more -drop down:
Duplicate content quoting a source:
If you are contemplating the same issue with your website or blog, please share your thoughts in the comments.
*If you want to learn more about Google Penguin and Panda read this: http://socialmediarevolver.com/syndicating-your-own-blog-content/
[Image: Flickr, Mark Fisher, Creative Commons license]