If your website was hit hard by the latest Google Penguin update, it’s important to try and get back in the rankings (literally) as fast as possible. Although recovering from algorithm changes is never easy, there is always something you can do to help gain back your momentum and remain popular and profitable.

For those who are unfamiliar, the Penguin update occurred on April 24 of this year and was designed to stop spam sites from ranking well on SERPs. Although websites are considered spam for several reasons, the main reason is low quality links on the site and low quality links linking back to the site. You can read learn more about the Penguin update and read stories from real people affected by the update here. Being able to understand what went wrong is the first step to helping bring your site back to life, and I think you will find that recovering from a Penguin attack is a bit less strenuous than recovering from a Panda attack.

Top 5 Ways to Recover from the Penguin Update

Being able to recover from any Google update takes time, but the Penguin update is probably one of the easier fixes. According to SEOMoz, the Penguin updated only affected about 3.1 percent of English queries, and there hasn’t been too much fuss over these changes. This update may have actually hit your site because your site does need a little bit maintenance. Whether you’ve just acquired a website with some spam history or spammy sites are linking back to your website, you were likely hit for a reason. Fortunately, this means that fixing the problem isn’t so bad. Consider the major reasons you were hit and then how to fix each:

1. Get rid of all unrelated links on your website.

If you have a sports blog and you have been accepting guest posts about business, chances are your site is filled with unrelated links. Make sure that going forward you only post related links on your site such as sports marketing, sporting event promotional items, etc. Spend your time trying to get rid of as many of these links as you can and then trying to build up more related links on your website. According to experts, at least 20 percent of all links on a website should be from related websites.

2. Only obtain backlinks by guest posting on relevant sites or by providing great content.

Many sites were also hit because they had a history of buying backlinks; therefore many spam-type websites are displaying links to your website. It is never a good idea to buy backlinks because these are almost always automated links that connect your website with spam-type websites. Talk with these sites and ask them to remove your links, and make sure going forward you are not buying backlinks, but earning them because of your quality content.

3. Try and get links to your site with different anchor texts.

Some site owners were hit by Penguin because they had hundreds of identical anchor texts pointing back to their site. This makes it look as though your links are potentially spam and not natural. If you’re targeting the keyword “web hosting,” try and use a variety of anchor texts—web hosting providers, web hosting companies, web hosting sites, etc.

4. Keep the number of ads limited, and focus on navigation for your readers.

These are two things that spam sites simply don’t have correct, and Google is quickly catching on and trying to use this as an indicator of a spam site. It is extremely important that your site is designed for users and not search engines. Make sure it is easy to navigate from page to page (utilizing internal linking, install breadcrumbs, etc.) and it isn’t filled with ads. Consider talking with some of your readers about how you can improve their experience.

5. Try and include only contextual links.

If you have a lot of sponsored links on your website that are simply stuffed in your footers on in a sidebar, no matter how authoritative they may be, you may have been hit by Penguin. Google much prefers links that are within the body of content because content is what is ultimately valuable to most Google users. This helps ensure that the link is relevant.

One of the most important things to remember is that recovering from the Penguin update is a little bit different than recovering from a Panda update. Google used to ask websites to file requests when the site was hit by an update, but Google has made it clear that these requests won’t do anything for those trying to recover from the Penguin update. Simply make sure that you avoid black hat SEO tactics in addition to the suggestions listed above. All you have to do is clean up spam.