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This 534 message thread spans 18 pages: < < 534 ( 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 [8] 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 ... 18 > >     
Penguin Recovery Tips - a think tank thread

 7:35 pm on May 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

Since the main Penguin Update thread has 700 posts and counting, I'm hoping to start a new thread solely focused on Penguin recovery tips. I have a site that was hit by Penguin and I am trying to work my way out of it.

I think reason I was penalized was my content. I was inadvertently keyword stuffing. This is just the way I have been writing content for years. I have updated the content on my main pages where I have fixed the blatant keyword stuffing. My density levels are much more in line. My main question is:

I have over 80 blog posts that have some instances of keyword stuffing. Do I need to go back and fix all of these pages? Some of the posts are over 3 years old? I also have some really old pages that are buried in my site that may have poor content. Should fixing these old pages be a priority?



 5:11 pm on May 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

@ hissingsid. This is precicely what I am seeing. The biggest spammers have been rewarded. So much for levelling the field.


 5:22 pm on May 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

As far as I'm concerned, keyword density = red herring
What's the difference between "density" and "stuffing"? Spelling?

 5:56 pm on May 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

interesting post by Duane at Bing [bing.com...]


 9:29 pm on May 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

Here's another odd observation...If I search for a particular key phrase, Google spits up it's usual (as of late) thin, useless results. What is strange to me is that of the four images above the fold on page 1, two of them are from my home page. Stranger yet, is that my home page is now on page 6.
WTF Google? My images are OK, but my site is irrelevant? This is that same across many of my old terms.

Now, does this mean they'll come to their senses and move the site back up? or does it mean they'll continue the filter out the useful eye candy and the images will eventually drop out. Place your bets.


 12:09 am on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

backdraft: Same issue with me. My homepage is now showing up on page 2 of Google. For Bing its still #1 position. What the?


 1:22 am on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Not particularly new. I sold a car in 2005, and hosted pictures of it on one of my sites - if you search for that exact year and model, the first and third image result are right out of my driveway, neatly esconced between the wikipedia SERP and the edmunds SERP. But my actual sale page (which is still up because people seem to like to come look at the pictures for some reason) is nowhere to be found in the first hundred results (it still ranks highly in Yahoo and Bing)

Those images have been there pretty much since 2005. I'm always surprised when I happen to notice they're still there.


 2:07 am on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

While I'm not holding my breath, tonight I am seeing some major improvements in long tail. Site doorbells are banging away again and hey! a sale even just came in! This is encouraging but not a full recovery.
Things are definitely on the move again! Where it shakes out is anyone's guess.


 2:10 am on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

My Google referrers were up over the weekend about 50%, and I've seen some small improvement of a few positions for a few terms, short and long. No improvement for what I would call my main keywords that remain on the first page but dropped several positions, which was enough to take a big chunk out of my traffic.

I have been redesigning my site since before this all started, so I've been continuing with those plans. That makes it hard to say exactly what might be helping. I did delete my blogroll last Wednesday, mainly because I already have those sites on a single resources page for visitors and I didn't want my sitewide links to have a negative effect on them. I think it's a quality/convenience downgrade for my visitors though, and Google's hypocrisy on that issue really irks me. Most link back to me as well, but there was never any nefarious plot to do so. We just post about the same non-profit cause, so we're interested in what the others are saying. Might share a tip 2 or 3 times per year, but we don't collaborate. That's some evil linking scheme.

The only other obvious things I did was to delete a couple of old blogs of mine a couple of weeks ago that were an offshoot of the main blog. They had a different but related focus, but were all interlinking. Hadn't updated them in several years and I had pretty much forgotten about them until I started digging to fix this problem, and one had been compromised with a spam injection. That's important, I'm sure, but the site is still indexed so I don't know if that would have shown a positive effect yet.

Another thing I noticed almost by accident today is that Google stopped caching my Twitter page on April 19th. I never paid attention to that in the past so I don't know how often they renewed the cache before, but the date has to be more than coincidence. Makes me wonder if anyone creating a new Twitter page in reaction to Penguin will see any benefit from it.


 2:46 am on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

My longtail keywords and product name searches are through the roof. I'm getting multiple results on page 1 with #1 rankings, coming ahead of my competition who have been around for 5+ years and even the manufacturer. My site is only 3 months old. I am struggling with short terms though. They were slowing getting better but from late april they started disappearing and dropping.

I'm hoping its just the whole "sandbox" effect and that my site will start ranking for them soon.


 6:43 am on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

I didn't read the whole thread, because I'm going to bed, but I going to drop this in here anyway...

When I look back over the last year and a half, my site was on the front page of Google, pretty much in the same position for the whole time, but I keep getting stepped throttles to my searches, just like I'm having little penalties added step by step. Each one takes a little bite out of traffic, with bigger bites now and again, like in October and April.

My thoughts are that as you fix parts of your site, you should see the little bites drop off within 30 days or so, and then see the big bites drop off in 3-12 months, depending on what the penalties are. Things like broken links and too many 404 pages should fall off pretty fast, while stuff like links farms and keyword stuffing will take longer.

As an example, I killed a link farm/link ring I'd built in early 2003 or 2004. Exactly 6 months to the day after I took it down, the site they were linking to popped back up on the front page, in it's old position. The site was killed on July 15th 2005, and just popped back up 4 years later, after I killed the farm. (I killed the farm in a couple of hours, by deleting the sites and parking them.)

My point being, get rid of the 404's, fix the spelling errors, remove all the dead links, check the code and make sure it's clean. Then, start on fixing the keyword density, the 50,000 spam p**n links that your competitor tossed your way from a $5 website I can't mention here, and make your content thick and rich. After a year or two, your site should come back... (Just about the time the bank forecloses. LOL)

I'm rambling... See, I told you I should be in bed.



 6:46 am on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Stepped throttles in searches that I showed up in per day, as found in WMT: 7000, 5000, 3000, 1500, 700. The site was always shown in the same position, but the search volume just kept dropping.


 8:04 am on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

I don't know Joe. For every approach that seems obvious to one person there are plenty of exceptions that I have been reading about here over the last month.

I hadn't posted on my blog for over a year, resuming at the end of February. If anything Panda had helped increase my traffic in the interim, and I'm not a professional SEO so I didn't even know what Panda was since I had no reason to complain or investigate a rise.

In addition to posting new original content, throughout March I spent a lot of time making the changes you suggest: fixing broken links, 404's, duplicate title tags and meta descriptions. Not as a SEO strategy but because a blog that has been neglected for a year needs some cleanup. It wasn't until all that was done that I started to see problems, some minor issues even before the big updates later in April.

I have PPSD (Post Penguin Stress Disorder) so this could be paranoia, but I'm starting to think the Big G is deliberately confusing the SERPs because we're not supposed to be able to figure this out. What better way to make it more difficult to game the system in the future? They have never cared about collateral damage as long as their revenue continues to increase; and for every loser there is a winner who takes the top spot, so only a small percentage of people are ever complaining at the same time.

Martin Ice Web

 11:34 am on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

As there is not much feedback, I want to ask if you still suffer from penguin or got your rankings back.

I did a lot of work, but goog did not catch it up since 3 weeks now.
There are time frames ( lasting 30 Minutes ) with good user action but then switch off. Conversions are down to Zero.

Serps have moved to very big brands + price compare sites and complete garbage.


 1:09 pm on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

4 weeks ago today, Penguin was unleashed. No improvements in serps as far as I can tell. I still see the spam, scams, and "this site may harm your computer".


 2:54 pm on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Nope, nothing here. My site seems to have stabilised (mostly) but is still about 60 to 70% down on traffic.

I spoke to someone earlier who is also affected. They think the refresh has already happened and that this is it. I am hoping not.


 3:21 pm on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

I keep seeing sites "recover" in my segment, in that new sites are jumping into the rankings. I've seen a site get banned, 301 to a new domain, and just resume the rank. I see even crap hacking attempts ranking. For one of them it only returns the header when you view it with googlebot, which is of course keyword stuffed.

I'd say that blackhats are having their day. The dark spaces are even darker than before the update.

Perhaps foolishly I'm just maintaining my strategy. Beyond reason I can't believe that Google will continue to allow these blatant exploits and we'll improve. We haven't exactly been hit, but I do see plenty of garbage above us. Perhaps the one glimmer that Matt posted an "example email to a hacked site" on April 27. They have to know it's a real problem right now.

It's frustrating to see it do the exact opposite of "rewarding excellent quality sites"


 3:24 pm on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

HermanMunster: Yeah, I know it's different for everyone, but that's my 2 cents worth, and that's all it's really worth....LOL

Maybe you shouldn't have fixed the: "duplicate title tags and meta descriptions."

The problem that webmasters are going to have is that Google knows what natural speech, email, voice mail and office documents look like, and I think they base their algorithm on the way the population using their products writes and speaks. By using Google Docs, Gmail, Google Voice to text etc... Google can keep up with trends in modern society, as well as changes in speech and writing patterns. It would be fun to make up a word, and then run a concerted effort with 1000's of Google accounts to see if we could get the fake word associated with something, just by using it in context in gmail, docs, and voice mail.


 3:42 pm on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'd say that blackhats are having their day. The dark spaces are even darker than before the update.

Yes they are. In the financial sector, I see fake service providers soliciting personal information by telling people to email their SSN for financial services. lol. I feel bad for the consumers falling for this crap, finding these pages where some trusted sites once appeared.


 3:47 pm on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm seeing more action on long tail searches. It's nothing like a full recovery - I'm still off the map for my most popular search terms.

But I've been doing some thinking. Penguin has really improved my bounce rate because... well, in all honesty, I've been running several websites for 7 years now, and I've always found Google sends the wrong people to the wrong pages, resulting in a lot of bounces and few conversions. I always thought it was that Google sends so MUCH traffic, statistically some of it has to be a dud. Or maybe it's my niches - I assume some of you got good, converting traffic from Google?

Anyway, my bounce rate massively improved with Penguin. This suggests that the traffic I'm getting is better matched to my content. In the longterm - especially if I keep picking up top positions on long tail queries - this might build my business better. I.E., if Google only sends me 1/5 the traffic it used to, but even 1/10th of that traffic converts, then over time I have a bigger reader base, a better reputation (because some enthusiastic readers will share my site with others)... and, ironically, less dependence than ever on Google.

Now, of course, things are still shifting. Probably next week I'll come back in and announce none of my Google traffic is converting AND it's miniscule, LOL.


 4:41 pm on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm not sure if this is the case for all Penguinzed sites, but many I've seen are ranking #2 to #5 for the site name (with or without spaces, minus the tld). Why would this be? I've seen some penalties where the company name is suppressed 50 positions, or some sites that are completely deindexed; but I am baffled as to why Penguin relegates some sites to position 3 for the company name. Still shows sitelinks. Should the phrase be used MORE on site, or should links to the homepage use the site name as anchor rather than 'home page'?


 6:23 pm on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Maybe you shouldn't have fixed the: "duplicate title tags and meta descriptions."

@Regular_Joe: I was thinking the same thing after the Penguin hit the fan, but Webmaster Tools was telling me that those were HTML errors that needed to be fixed to improve my visitors' experience. Why wouldn't I listen? Remember, I'm not optimizing my site, just cleaning it up.

The duplicate title tags occur in Wordpress due to pagination of multiple pages off the home page and category pages, etc. I used a plugin to add Page 1, Page 2, etc. to the end of the title tags, with no other change. It wasn't a total rewrite. There were a lot of those, but the duplicate descriptions were only on 4 static HTML pages that never ranked anyway, and that I don't really care about.

I also took care of some duplicate content issues that Wordpress creates by default. That never affected my rankings before to my knowledge, but that is what the pros were saying was necessary. All of these things are supposed to help but they had the opposite effect. That's what leads me to believe there is no one-size-fits-all answer.

Martin Ice Web

 6:52 am on May 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thanx everyone for your reports.

I see results are getting worser since 18 May. Every search in my niche shows more or less the same sites in a different order. That is leveling Mr Cutts! I canīt see it.

Did you notice that that the ads on the right side are getting less? Some of my keywords are showing alony the 3 ads above the results but no ads on right side. Is it due to the fact that most side canīt affort the ads anymore?


 7:01 am on May 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

@crobb305 Indeed, after Penguin my website was ranked #3 for my site name (whithout .tld) but I've just checked it now and it's again in #1.

But I'm still off the map for my most popular search terms.


 12:38 pm on May 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

@diberry, generally speaking, long tail keywords naturally converts better and display better site usage metrics, such as bounce rate. I would think the improved bounce rate is merely a result of your site receiving less short tail traffic and more long tail traffic. It does not necessarily mean Google is doing a better job than before.


 1:32 pm on May 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

OK, so on the 17th of May I filed a reconsideration request to see if there was a manual penalty on my site...today, the 23rd I received the following boilerplate...(pretty fast review turnaround)

Dear site owner or webmaster of [yourdomain.com...]

We received a request from a site owner to reconsider [yourdomain.com...] for compliance with Google's Webmaster Guidelines.

We reviewed your site and found no manual actions by the webspam team that might affect your site's ranking in Google. There's no need to file a reconsideration request for your site, because any ranking issues you may be experiencing are not related to a manual action taken by the webspam team.

Of course, there may be other issues with your site that affect your site's ranking. Google's computers determine the order of our search results using a series of formulas known as algorithms. We make hundreds of changes to our search algorithms each year, and we employ more than 200 different signals when ranking pages. As our algorithms change and as the web (including your site) changes, some fluctuation in ranking can happen as we make updates to present the best results to our users.

If you've experienced a change in ranking which you suspect may be more than a simple algorithm change, there are other things you may want to investigate as possible causes, such as a major change to your site's content, content management system, or server architecture. For example, a site may not rank well if your server stops serving pages to Googlebot, or if you've changed the URLs for a large portion of your site's pages. This article has a list of other potential reasons your site may not be doing well in search.

If you're still unable to resolve your issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.


Google Search Quality Team

So, that at least narrows it down to something BESIDES webspam.

What's troublesome then is the following:
As our algorithms change and as the web (including your site) changes, some fluctuation in ranking can happen as we make updates to present the best results to our users.
The BEST RESULTS FOR USERS? I think anyone who has recently searched for anything on Google will pretty take issue with that statement. Yesterday I searched for a lawn mower belt and a local parts store. I couldn't find any local stores on page one, two or three...I had to switch to Bing to find the belt itself. I did get plenty of dictionary & e how pages telling me what a mower belt is for though (lol).

Perhaps this webspam thing is less of a penalty for bad sites and more of a reward for what they now consider "good" sites, in other words, sites that say very little, so cannot be penalized. For many search queries, the top 5 sites are all one page wonders on the searched topic. There is no depth whatsoever for these results, other than to direct you to another related thin article. The reward of these thin sites appears to have displaced the authority sites with many pages of related content.

So, again, the bottom line is that Google is still appears to be broken, so, if this IS the results data set that they want to keep, I better sell my GOOG stock ASAP.

[edited by: backdraft7 at 1:41 pm (utc) on May 23, 2012]


 1:36 pm on May 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

...but I am baffled as to why Penguin relegates some sites to position 3 for the company name...

I see that too.

Especially if I am looking for the phone number of a site, so I will type in the company name and their city and state, and what will turn up are either a couple of phone book directories, or yelp, and then around #3 or #4 will be the company itself.

Occasionally, possibly higher "authority" pages will show up. Suppose there is a charity fundraising group that lists sponsors, and the company I am searching for has donated to that charity and is listed on their sponsor page. The charity's page that mentions the company I am searching for will rank higher than the home page of the company I am searching for.

The lesson here is; don't donate to charity's if you want your home page to rank...


 2:37 pm on May 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

Penguin at day 30. No improvements. The sad state of Google. The viag$a serps are unchanged. Don't click any results, it could harm your computer. I hope consumers out there gain some awareness soon, especially in other sectors with regard to the phishing and scam sites that are ranking where older/trusted sites once did.


 2:49 pm on May 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

We have been trying to figure out Penguin since the day it landed and are no closer to a fix than most on here by the sounds of it. We are testing out more varied anchor text on one affected domain, removing keywords from internal links on another, watering down keyword density on another and increasing social media interactions on another, to see if any make a difference.

The only pattern we can see between the affected sites is that the home pages have mostly vanished. Internal pages are now ranking instead of the home pages, but usually nowhere near as high as the main pages used to.

Anyone seeing the same with their affected sites?

Any ideas what this means? Has Google penalised/filtered out the pages it saw as over-optimised but not the domain as a whole?


 2:56 pm on May 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

Penguin at day 30. No improvements. The sad state of Google. The viag$a serps are unchanged. Don't click any results, it could harm your computer. I hope consumers out there gain some awareness soon, especially in other sectors with regard to the phishing and scam sites that are ranking where older/trusted sites once did.

Yeah, but on the plus side, Adwords sales are up, up, UP!


 2:57 pm on May 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Gmorgan I've also seen the direct opposite where homepages are not affected but deep pages are.

My suspicion is that Penguin is offset largely when pages have high quality links. I've seen cases where a site is badly hit, but one section is completely untouched (in this case /blog/ was unaffected, but the rest of the site tanked).

I've seen nothing as yet to convince me that there was any over-optimisation targeted in this. From what I've seen this is down to out-and-out webspam where links were overtly manipulated and/or pages contained utter gibberish.


 3:27 pm on May 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

major change to your site's content, content management system, or server architecture.

After losing traffic since last October (Panda) and now Penguin I redesigned the whole site and within hours of launching the new site it lost all top rankings. 301s and 404s are set up correctly. Is this sandbox or a new filter and how long would it take to come back? Anyone else had a major change (layout, urls, internal linking) during the last months?

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