Unfortunately, there’s no data on the share of different penalties from Google, so I searched through recent threads on different webmaster forums and Twitter.
The most common manual actions that webmasters care to resolve these days are related to the attempts to manipulate Google’s search results. This may be a coincidence, but these penalties are even next to each other on the list of manual actions. These are:
Unnatural links to your site.
Unnatural links from your site.
Thin content with little or no added value.
I would say that almost all Google penalties now are given because the site owner was trying too hard to manipulate Google. Five or six years ago I did see a lot of penalties that came as a result of good, honest business owners hiring poor SEO companies who built unnatural links. But, now, most of that type of link is just ignored by Penguin. As such, if you get a link penalty, you usually know that you deserved it.
Marie Haynes, CEO Marie Haynes Consulting
So stop doing shady stuff, folks! 🙂
How to analyze your backlink profile to fix and prevent link-related penalties
Links are still one of the most important ranking factors, so “unnatural links” are the reason behind a large number of penalties these days.
Now, let’s be honest. If you see this notification in Search Console, you most likely participated in a link scheme and know what you’re hit for.
But if you purchased a website or are working on someone else’s website, you’ll need to do a comprehensive link audit. Here are a few quick things that you can work on.
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Check your anchor texts
You must pay attention to the dominance of irrelevant or over-optimized anchor texts that come from poor-quality websites.
The first step you should take is to plug your website into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer (or another backlink checker you like) and navigate to the Anchors report. We’ve recently enhanced ours with various helpful filters. Now it’s even easier to diagnose issues related to anchor texts.
With a natural backlink profile, most links are URL-anchored or brand-anchored. But if a site has been heavily involved in manipulative link building, you’ll usually see a lot of keyword-stuffed anchors from multiple referring domains:
Anchors report results showing lots of keyword-stuffed anchors
If the Anchors report looks something like this, that’s a bad sign.
As for “Unnatural links from your site,” you should look at the anchor texts of the outgoing links. Ahrefs’ Site Explorer has a special report for that.