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Escape Penguin With Slight URL Change?

 1:29 pm on Jun 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi there, Everyone:

Question 1) Has anyone been able to get a page to escape Penguin by changing the URL slightly (so that any links pointing at the page would return 404s)?

Has anyone simply added an article such as a- or the- to their URL and been able to escape Penguin? Or made some other MINOR change to the URL that DOESN'T affect how google classifies the content of that page?

Question 2) Has anyone escaped Penguin with a 301 redirect to another internal page?

My page widget-photos.html stopped ranking for the keyword "widget photos" but STILL ranks for the singular "widget photo" as well as some three-word keywords that contain the phrase "widget photos," such as "widget photos displays"

When I say stopped ranking, I mean it was at #9 since last July and is now gone from the top 100 SERPs (and although I am not 100% sure of the exact date, it appears that it stopped ranking due to the Penguin update.)

I understand that by changing the URL I would either 1) lose ALL PR from external links pointing at the page, or 2) have to do a 301 redirect and possibly "redirect the penguin effect" to the new page.

While my preference is for a 301 redirect to help preserve whatever natural PR is out there, I haven't heard whether people have been able to recover from Penguin with a 301 to another page on the same domain.

Thanks in advance.



 3:41 pm on Jun 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

The search for anyone at all who has escaped Penguin is a tough one. There's been only one update and that only affected 0.1% of searches.

These two approaches sound like things people tried to escape Panda - it would be interesting if they work at all for Penguin, too. Breaking a connection to heavily manipulated backlinks sounds like something worth trying, however I'm not so sure that backlinks are playing the heavy role that so many people think they they do. After all, backlink devaluation and manual backlink warnings and penalties occurred at about the same time, but they were independent from Penguin.

That said, I'd also like to hear from anyone who escaped Penguin, including the use of these two approaches.


 3:52 pm on Jun 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

My opinion is that it is better to be fair with yourself and the things that appears, without tricks.
Just recreate the content of those pages, deleting the spamm words, and keep the URL. The page will have the backlinks, than, while the pages and their content are re-indexed, their rank will change according to the changes you made.


 4:05 pm on Jun 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

Just recreate the content of those pages, deleting the spam words, and keep the URL.

That's the problem...

There really AREN'T that many backlinks since I never built bcklinks to that page.

And I haven't keyword stuffed the page. It's got a LOT of content on it so yes, the keyword appears multiple times, but since it is cited as a reference by various wikipedia and ehow articles, and has the HIGHEST time on page and the LOWEST bounce rate of any page on my site, I figure that the content is probably as good as I can produce...

<sigh>Looks like I better start searching for a job delivering pizzas...</sigh>


 4:14 pm on Jun 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

How is the site's internal linking structure? Is it heavy on the SEO, trying to boost or focus PR on certain pages?


 6:21 pm on Jun 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

tedster wrote:
That said, I'd also like to hear from anyone who escaped Penguin, including the use of these two approaches.

The SEOmoz Blog has a post titled "How WPMU.org Recovered From The Penguin Update". The specific situation may not apply to everyone hit by Penguin, but it might offer some clues.

The gist of the solution is that they removed something like 500,000 backlinks with anchor text that may have looked suspicious (footer links in WordPress themes they offered). Those backlinks were on a domain offering community blogs using their themes. The domain was also under their control, though, so they had it easy.



 6:40 pm on Jun 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

@ tedster

How is the site's internal linking structure? Is it heavy on the SEO, trying to boost or focus PR on certain pages?

yes, it probably could be the only thing that is considered over-optimized.

I have linked from some (about 5) popular internal pages to the target blue-widgets.html page. The anchor text in those internal links is a mixture of optimized and non-optimized.

I did add content to those pages so that there would at least be some relevant content on there where those in-text links occur. The topics of those pages might not be 100% aligned with the target blue-widgets.html page, but there is a nexus there.

also, that target page is linked from the left hand category tree navigation on every eCommerce page on the site with the anchor text "glue widgets" because that is what the page sells.

and there is an in-text link on the home page with the "blue widgets" keyword.

I guess I could remove the links from the other popular internal pages. But I can't see how I could possibly be helping my visitors if I were to remove it from the home page...


 1:40 pm on Jun 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

I am in the process of doing the same thing for one of my websites. I already parked a new domain on the site to let it get indexed under that domain.

I do not plan on using 301's to redirect, because they pass PageRank, and I'm worried that Google will just look at it as the same website.

I too, am curious if anyone has recovered from panda / penguin that way though.

I was thinking about using 302's or some other means of redirecting the old site to the new one.

The thing I'm trying to eliminate here, is the penalty we are getting from a low quality backlink profile.

I have another site where I am sending out link removal requests in order to recover, but it is very time consuming. I'm hoping this alternative may have a chance to work.


 2:54 pm on Jun 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

Question 1) Has anyone been able to get a page to escape Penguin by changing the URL slightly (so that any links pointing at the page would return 404s)?

I have tried that - renamed inner URLs - hoping that they would loose their bad backlinks, also reduced keywords in H1 ect, - no improvement.

I ended up with so little SEO on the page I could not tell what the page was about.

The whole problem could simply be that no improvements will occur until this thing is run again.

It is worth mentioning how vicious Penguin is, generally sites plummet down 5-10 pages, it is hard to accept that onpage SEO problems would cause that sort of demotion.

I would say Penguin causes penalty type demotions rather than reranking demotions is the best way I can characterise the drops.


 8:32 pm on Jun 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

Although my personal experience with URL changes and page removals comes from my attempts to remove a harsh manual penalty and AFAIK not directly related to Penguin (and predates it by a month or so), I would have to say that nothing short of actually removing the bad links from the OTHER sites works if you want to remove the effects of bad links on your site.

I have tried both approaches you suggests - remove the link target completely (I used 410 instead of 404) or redirect it elsewhere. Nothing worked until I by sheer chance was able to get in touch with the owner of a site that had something like 10K of my links in the WP theme he used (I sponsored the theme, hence the links) and he removed the links. Additionally, again by sheer chance, an abandoned spammy autoblog using the same theme with my links thus creating something like 7K more bad links had its domain name expired. So, I was able to lose 17K of bad links in one week and that's only when the G traffic had picked up a little.

What I think is happening is that if the link is still up, it passes some sort of a "juice" (for lack of a better term) to your site even if the destination page on your site has been removed or redirected. In other words, that link's vote for the page most likely does not count (and is meaningless anyway) but its vote for the site overall somehow still does.

My takeaway from this was: Google would not take anything other than complete removal of the bad link for a remedy to that link's negative effect on your site. It's crazy difficult to remove links from sites you don't control hence not many people can report escaping Penguin.

It's also why negative SEO works: bad links are easy to setup, impossible to get rid of.


 8:52 pm on Jun 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

1script, did you try starting a new domain without redirecting? I may just do that and let the old one die off with no redirects.


 9:11 pm on Jun 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

The Penguin site we're working to recover was hit on April 24th. Penguin for sure, we lost 80% of Google referrals. It's a US based buying guide website, in a very tight niche market. Site content is 100% expert written, (20+ years selling direct to consumers) and we have several high quality, unsolicited deep backlinks, government backlinks, etc.

On the other hand, we had quite a bit of low quality article directory type links from a few years of article/guest content marketing on lateral topics. Our content is often used as a reference from places like eHow, Howto, etc... with the usual nofollow backlinks.

Late April - May, we wrote new pages to replace the content that was linked, and 301'd old url's to new. We also went sitewide and updated old links to the new location in each page.

We aggressively chased down and requested removal of hundreds of low quality backlinks using GWT data.

We walked through our site and de-optimized anchor text, and reviewed hundreds off pages for over-optimized content issues, or what we assumed were over-opt content.

Through the month of May, we reclaimed about 10-20% of the lost traffic. However, none of the previously high ranked 1-2-3 word search phrases returned any of our pages. We saw no recovery at all on the late May Penguin refresh.

June 1 - Now. We have since removed the 301's and simply return 404's on the old urls.

Contacted many of the authority sites and made sure old urls are updated.

Continued to aggressively chase down low quality ILB's from article marketing and guest articles. No change in the links reported in GWT, however many of them have dropped from web and cache dates updated.

Currently, we are still 50-60% down from pre-penguin referrals at Google. Some of that may be seasonal, however none of the top 100 phrases that used to drive traffic are relevant.

From what I found, there was a distinct change in the way certain words were affected by Penguin. Although we saw a reduction in our ranking for specific 1-2 word phrases, other sites saw a huge boost, whether they service the niche or not. For example, we lost rank to Amazon on a phrase that included "cost", yet they don't even sell the products, or provide expert buying guidance.

Looking forward to next refresh and hoping for more progress. The hardest part is walking away and finding something else to do, versus making constant changes that you have no idea whether they will help or hurt.



 9:27 pm on Jun 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

@seoArt: It wasn't a throwaway site, really. I did not want to abandon it completely because of fair amount of good links to it, user accounts, nice brandable name etc. I understand that it may be sometimes easier to start afresh but it does not work in every situation.


 10:08 pm on Jun 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

I do now of a site that did recover after doing a 301, they recovered their original positions and it took the 3 days.

I have followed their methods and 3 weeks on i still have both sets of URL's in the index and lost traffic, i have confirmed the 301's are working but i suppose they were lucky and i was not, however 3 weeks may be not long enough.

Apart from the site above i have heard very good reports of 301's working but i cannot verify those, however you have to be 100% that as mentioned it was just not the devaluation of your incoming links that forced the drop in the first place otherwise the only thing that will bring you back is more quality links.

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