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|1 year anniversary of penguin, no recovery |
Well it's been a year since our site got hit by penguin demoting pages for specific keywords. Over the course of the year we have attempted to correct the issues that presumably caused the manual action and as of yet have had no success regaining the ranking we had for the specific keywords.
Early on we launched a campaign to remove the inbound links that we created/had built. We were successful in getting about 90% of the links removed.
We submitted a list of all links that were created/built by us to google along with the attempts that were made to have them removed.
We removed directories/pages that had excessive inbound links. (for example, example.com/widgets was removed and the content was added to example.com/widget)
We did not use the disavow tool.
We did no link building since penguin was applied.
We have not yet seen any upward movement in the serps for the affected keywords, still ranking 900+ for the affected keywords and the pages that are ranking are obscure pages that should not be ranking for the keyword.
Also, when penguin hit we lost site links and those have not come back even for a search of the domain name (example.com).
With the exception of the site links issue I would think that we have not regained our rankings due to the fact that we have not done any link building since penguin.
We still rank very well for long tail keywords.
Technically called an ooops I believe.
That post presented an argument that Penguin might be all about Google clearing the playing field of sites that it sees as competitors for revenue it wants for itself.... and once your site has been thrown into the Penguin basket, there is no way back.
ie... Looking for technical solutions to appease the algo may be a total waste of time and effort if all that happened is that your site strayed into the path between Google and the money.
Personally, Penguin triggered the realization that if I can't afford to pay for Adwords, then my business model no longer works on the internet. Either my days in the sun are over or I have to develop another business model.
|However, there are a few hit sites that have recovered - definitely not many, and especially not e-commerce. |
@Tedster - there's only been one update, so how can you be sure?
btw - I've also heard from a good reliable source of a couple of recoveries from Penguin, but, again without seeing, it's hard to believe sometimes.
The updates of Panda and Penguin seem, by design or default, to be a permanent purge of sites that had held no long term value to Google. Either in user experience or for longer term commercial gain. At least that's what it looks like to me. I can't believe that with the footprint of knowledge that participants here have, that there have been no significant success stories. Somebody would have noticed.
But I can't blame Google [ even if I don't like it ] for making sure that all it's search real estate was occupied by tenants that either pay with a reasonable show, or organic folks that put on a good show for free.
If your show has relied on poor quality links and boring, "same old, same old" content scripts, I'd say Google is saying " no show ". And that's permanent.
With one landlord, to gain free entry, you have to impress. And I think that lines up with what Tedster is saying and experiencing.
@Tedster yes it's a bleak outlook but it is shared by very many web masters. In fact, the vast majority.
I am not aware of any proper proof of recovery. I have seen a couple of well respected blogs publish articles dealing with supposed recovery examples but even in those the details are sketchy.
Until proven wrong I remain of the opinion that google is leading all of us around by the nose and the concept of recovery is this Utopia which they themselves have largely avoided . At a recent conference I asked a high ranking Google Webspam team member if we can expect recovery in the next update and his answer was very non-commital.
Anyway we are planning our business on no recovery. We have done a TON of work to try to recover good sites, removing links, changing link profile, disavow etc.
If any of them come back it's a bonus. I don't think anyone can plan their business on the hope of Google flashing them a green light. They really don't care which is fine. They don't have to.
I am experiencing the same problem. No recovery yet after 1 year of Penguin update and now just waiting for next update suspected this month, may this update help me to recover as i worked now on quality link buildings.
|We have done a TON of work to try to recover good sites, removing links, changing link profile, disavow etc. |
I can't help but wondering how many people may have made too many changes that have a ranking influence too close together and moved from an initial Penguin "hit" to being flagged as spam by the Rank Modification for Spam Detection portion of the algo?
|20. A device, comprising: a memory to store a first rank associated with a document; and a processor to: retrieve the first rank; dynamically compute a second rank associated with the document; select a rank transition function that represents a transition, over a period of time, from the first rank to the second rank; compute, based on the rank transition function, a sequence including a plurality of transition ranks over the period of the time; detect, during the period of time, changes to one or more ranking factors associated with the document; compare the sequence to the detected changes to the one or more ranking factors; identify a signal of rank-modifying spam based on comparing the sequence to the detected changes to the one or more ranking factors; determine whether the signal of rank-modifying spam satisfies a threshold associated with a positive identification of the rank-modifying spamming; and reduce, when the signal of rank-modifying spam satisfies the threshold, a rank score associated with the document. |
It might not be recovery from Penguin is impossible as much as it is "changing, changing, changing" when rankings aren't right where you want them as soon as you make a change is getting people dinged for trying to manipulate the algo.
Then what do people do when they get "dinged" for manipulating?
Change, change, change again.
Can't get out of that, but not because of Penguin. Can't get out that situation because of too many attempts to manipulate rankings and they have a system to deal with people who try to manipulate their results like that.
So you say google penalises your site because you removed links and changed anchor text plus built new links over the period of a year?
I say no.
You can say no all you want; Google's patent says yes, you may be penalized for doing what you just stated you did to try and increase your rankings.
Emphasis Added, See My Previous Post for Link to the Patent
|The purpose of rank-modifying spamming is to raise the rank of a document so that the document appears highly ranked in a set of search results even if that document is not relevant, or not as relevant as some lower ranked documents, to the search query. Various techniques exist, such as keyword stuffing, invisible text, tiny text, page redirects, META tags stuffing, and link-based manipulation. |
|An exemplary rank transition function consistent with the principles of the invention may be derived from a conventional ranking algorithm. For example, the rank transition function may insert time-based and/or random factor(s) into a conventional ranking algorithm. In one implementation, the conventional ranking algorithm may rank documents based on link-based information (e.g., information regarding the incoming and/or outgoing links associated with the documents, such as the number of incoming and/or outgoing links, weights assigned to the incoming and/or outgoing links, information regarding the linking documents, etc.). |
|The rank of a document may change over time due, for example, to changes in the document itself, the links pointing to the document, or documents with links to the document (sometimes referred to as "linking documents"). These changes may be the result of legitimate modifications or rank-modifying spamming. The rank of the document before the changes may be referred to as the "old rank" and the rank of the document after the changes may be referred to as the "target rank." The rank transition function may generate a "transition rank" that is interposed between the old rank and the target rank. The transition rank may cause a time-based delay response, a negative response, a random response, and/or an unexpected response to occur during the transition from the old rank to the target rank. |
|As explained above, the delayed and/or negative response to the rank-modifying spamming may cause the spammer to take other measures to correct it. For example, for a delayed response, the spammer may subject the document to additional rank-modifying spamming (e.g., adding additional keywords, tiny text, invisible text, links, etc.). For a negative response, the spammer may revert the document and/or links to that document (or other changes) to their prior form in an attempt to undo the negative response caused by the rank-modifying spamming. |
|When a spammer tries to positively influence a document's rank through rank-modifying spamming, the spammer may be perplexed by the rank assigned by a rank transition function consistent with the principles of the invention, such as the ones described above. For example, the initial response to the spammer's changes may cause the document's rank to be negatively influenced rather than positively influenced. Unexpected results are bound to elicit a response from a spammer, particularly if their client is upset with the results. In response to negative results, the spammer may remove the changes and, thereby render the long-term impact on the document's rank zero. Alternatively or additionally, it may take an unknown (possibly variable) amount of time to see positive (or expected) results in response to the spammer's changes. In response to delayed results, the spammer may perform additional changes in an attempt to positively (or more positively) influence the document's rank. In either event, these further spammer-initiated changes may assist in identifying signs of rank-modifying spamming. |
|When signs of rank-modifying spamming exist, but perhaps not enough for a positive identification of rank-modifying spamming, then the "suspicious" document may be subjected to more extreme rank variations in response to changes in its link-based information. Alternatively, or additionally, noise may be injected into the document's rank determination. This noise might cause random, variable, and/or undesirable changes in the document's rank in an attempt to get the spammer to take corrective action. This corrective action may assist in identifying the document as being subjected to rank-modifying spamming. |
You are implying that every SEO who advocates a Penguin risk management strategy is wrong. Every person who has tried to get a site out of Penguin now has a slew of new penalties?
This is the first time I have seen this suggested. Who knows, you might know something that the entire SEO community has not considered. According to your theory they are wasting their time and the money of their clients by trying to mitigate what got them nailed by Penguin.
What I do buy is if a site smalls bad to for whatever reasons it attracts more attention so I am not entirely disagreeing with you.
The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.
|You are implying that every SEO who advocates a Penguin risk management strategy is wrong. |
Uh, well, uh, is there any proof of recovery from following their strategy?
(There may be, but I don't recall seeing/hearing any myself.)
I think changes are necessary to get out of it, but I think "getting it right the first time" and being patient might be keys, rather than "constantly adjusting" over time.
I actually think there are many here who are getting "slapped" by the rank-modification system and don't realize it's not that their site "sucks" or "Google's broken", but the constant tinkering and adjusting is determined to be manipulative behavior by the algo.
Make a few "keyword and link text changes" which gets them into the "testing for manipulation" stage, then they bounce like crazy or nothing happens, so they make more changes because the last ones didn't do what they wanted right away and that either hits the "more variance and unexpectedness" level, then they change more or revert and if they aren't already there from "round 2" of the changes "round 3" hits the "rank-manipulation spam" level and "poof" they're gone and can't figure out why, so what do they do? Yup, they make some more changes.
I've personally seen pages bounce for over 2 months in the system, and sometimes not even pages I made changes directly on. Waiting (patience) seems to have been the key to not tanking.
|but wondering how many people may have made too many changes that have a ranking influence |
That's a good point, however in our case all of our changes were made in the first 2 months following penguin (may/june 2012) and we have made no seo changes in the last 10 months.
Also, and maybe most importantly, it should be noted that we are in direct competition with google in this niche. Google invested in our main competitor about 2 years ago. I am hopeful for but definitely not expecting any recovery.
|That's a good point, however in our case all of our changes were made in the first 2 months following penguin (may/june 2012) and we have made no seo changes in the last 10 months. |
Did you make them all at once, or did you make one, then another, then another? (Sequential changes would put you right in line with the rank-modification spam detection portion of the algo.)
One thing I haven't heard or read anything about is if you get "hit" for rank-modifying spam if the "lower rank" expires after some set time or if they just "write you off" for trying to manipulate.
How about something like changing from an old theme to a new one? This is a huge change that I would hope the Rank Modification for Spam Detection portion of the algo doesn't penalize for. They have to expect a site to change/update their theme once every couple of years.
|Did you make them all at once, or did you make one, then another, then another? |
Basically all at once, as much as changes like we made can be. Link removal took about a month with the reconsideration request and list of links sent once that was completed. Heavily linked page/directory removal happened at the same time. All changes took place within the 2 months following penguin.
Now it could be said that what we are seeing is not "non-recovery" but in fact simply ranking appropriate to the fact that we have not done any seo since removing the bad links. For example: we could have been ranking #1 for keyword due to spam links, once those links were demoted/removed we no longer had any basis for ranking for that keyword.
Build a second site, start over and keep plugging away at your main site. Work on building the brand and not the rankings. Make improvements to conversion and usability. I know people that have done this and have regained most (not all) of their previous revenues.
Probably not the answer you wanted, but I think it's the best path to follow. Once hit with Penguin, it's like your site got hit with a felony conviction. While it may get a little better, it's always going to haunt the site. Thus, making a fresh start with a new site seems to work.
I am seriously thinking that as this progresses that it looks more and more like an clear violation of obstructing free trade. When I look at things and compare what I have known to considered spam and rank manipulation and then look at what my site had or has today and what is outranking me, it appears more like penguin and panda is more the meaning of white hat black hat. And it looks more like we flipped from white hat to black hat. The reason I say that is I was really clean. Now I see mirror sites that are linking 30K backlinks between 3 sites which are all related. Keyword stuffing to the extreme and doorway pages. Multiple cases from different website owners. Is it maybe time to maybe disregard the normal SEO practices and implement more the black hat side because it sure looks like that is what is rewarded. You know the saying Nice guys finish last.
|clear violation of obstructing free trade. |
I can't agree with that, as far as I'm concerned this is just business. Google, like myself and many of us here, is a business. I have a site that is 90% informational and 10% ecom. This site is a top destination for people seeking information on this specific product/topic. There is no way that I am going to promote my competition for free (or otherwise for that matter) on this website. Would that be considered restraint of trade or just good business?
I'll put this out there for discussion.
On April 24 2012, my traffic tanked severely. I'm not sure if the forum rules allow me to post a link to the graph, but the "search impressions" line from Google Webmaster Tools was at around 600,000 from March 1 (the earliest I had data when I did the screenshot) until April 1. On April 1, the impressions got really weird. They cycled up and down between 600,000 and 1,000,000 per day. That didn't correspond with any external activity in my site's niche (it is a sport). Then on April 24, bam! Impressions dropped to 250,000. Again, that didn't correspond with any external activity in my site's niche. It was about a 30-40% drop from the previous year. My site has been around since 1998, so I know my traffic, and this clearly was a penalty. Exactly on April 24. Penguin? Sure seems like it. I wasn't totally devastated because my site has a firm reputation and many repeat visitors, but it impacted traffic by 20-50%.
As my sport went into hibernation for the summer, the impressions dropped even lower, down to around 100,000 to 150,000 per day. Traffic was down by almost 50% from the prior year, though part of this was because the top league of the sport that my site focuses on was on the verge of cancelling their season.
Then, on October 13, bam! The impressions skyrocketed to 450,000. It can be argued that October is the time of the year when my traffic normally picks up, but the increase was too sharp for this to be that kind of increase. It was clearly a recovery.
One thing I had noticed was a hallmark of my penalty was that pages where my site should have been #1 (because I'm the only page on the topic) were coming in at #11. Not all pages, but long-tail pages without external links to them. My sense is that pages with a good number of external links were able to overcome the penalty. The difference between the affected pages and the non-affected pages may also have been the amount of information on the page - I was never really able to figure out the reason for the penalty. Still, I felt the penalty was sitewide. On October 13, that phenomenon disappeared and my longtail pages were again appearing at the #1 position instead of #11.
All summer I had posted repeatedly in the Google forums and the (mostly rude) posters there mostly focused on my content even though the penalty was on April 24. Consequently, most of the changes I made were to my content, site architecture, and internal navigation. I did ask a few sites that had linked to me blog-roll style to remove their links, but I never felt like my backlinks were a problem because I have so many of them and they are all natural.
To be clear, I have never bought, sold, or traded links, so this was a false-positive hit, in my opinion. My primary theory on why I recovered is that my site had a non-typical backlink profile which falsely tripped Penguin, and that on October 13 Google rolled out a fix that corrected their error. My secondary theory (which I hope is not true) is that there is a traffic threshold level for Google's penalties, and that from April to October, due to the seasonality of my sport, my traffic dropped below the threshold and lost its ability to overcome a penalty which might still be lurking out there.
I installed Google Analytics on July 1, and have been monitoring various factors since then. One thing that puzzles me is my breakdown between Organic/Direct/Referral. These three numbers have remained relatively constant from July 1 to the present. When I was in the penalty phase, they were about 62% Organic, 24% direct, and 14% referral. When the penalty lifted, they were 66% Organic, 24% direct, and 10% referral. The only variation I see in these numbers is from weekday to weekend, when my direct traffic increases due to people viewing my site on their mobile devices (mobile traffic goes from 35% during the week to almost 50% on weekends). I was expecting to see a much larger shift in those numbers considering that Google was now referring 30-40% more traffic post-penalty than pre-penalty.
TLDR: I wanted to put that out there - I was undoubtedly penalized on Penguin day, and my traffic undoubtedly returned on October 13.
A site I developed got hit for the penguin keyword stuffing portion after April 1. I was fairly confident about it because the site tanked for the main term in SERPs. ~1,500 pages or so. Many long tail pages with unique content also were demoted. I gutted the content and rewrote many titles and checked keyword density on nearly all the pages. After doing so on around May I waited. It wasn't until Nov-Dec 2012 that these pages began to appear on their old SERPs. Some were totally removed and just magically came back. The site is now page 2 for the main "stuffed" keyword and climbing. So there you have it. It takes a REALLY long time to overcome this even if you make the proper changes NOW.
Just a thought here.....I know some of you have websites that are huge and this would be impractical....
But for the rest of you....
Why don't you just build a new website?
I did just that and regained my old, lost rankings.
My main website that got unfairly hit by Penguin is ~8 years old and I hired some guy from India for a period of 2-3 months to "build backlinks". This was done 2? years prior to Penguin dropping. So if Google wants to penalize my site for that? Ok....
I just switched tactics and now I'm ranking #1 again.
In this day and age....I think the majority of you guys need to understand that your websites are disposable and when/if it gets hit with a penalty, just build a new one (you should already have a few sites waiting in the wings to take the place of your old ones).
Google cares not about the small mom-and-pop webmaster who's just trying to make a few bucks every month (via affiliate links or advertising) in order to put food on his table and a roof over his head.....so why should you listen to the propaganda that comes out of Matt Cutt's mouth?
"Build the site for your users".
I got a bridge for sale in Arizona. I plan on attending the next SEO convention and approaching Cutts and see if he'd be willing to sell it for me. He strikes me as a very good salesman.
TOI, I agree with you about the "ding you for making changes" patent algo. It seems to have been designed to make recovery from algo slaps difficult if not impossible: do nothing, and you won't recover, but if you do something, you may or may not recover, and you'll also get slapped by this other thing so that you won't be able to tell.
This may in fact be my situation.
My Penguinized site - which, like many here, was actually totally hands-off on link development - was my most meh site, from a user perspective, but Google had ranked it very well for years so I was afraid to make the drastic changes I felt it needed. If any of you compete with me, my site would probably have had you questioning why it ranked so well - it wasn't spam, and it wasn't bad, but it certainly had no business being #1.
Then Penguin came, and it wasn't. 80% of my G traffic disappeared, so there was no reason not to make the changes I felt it needed. I knew about the "ding you for making changes" algo, but didn't care. So I changed the domain name for re-branding. I improved pages that had ranked well even though I thought they were kind of crap. I got rid of some pages and built some new pages. All this by the end of June. Predictably, my Google ranking fell even more.
Then I stopped making changes and started focusing on other sites. Months passed. (BTW, Ralph Slate, I did not see any kind of change on October 13, but then we may have very different issues with our sites.)
Suddenly at some point in the last couple of months (that's how often I check my G rankings), my sitelinks - which disappeared right before Penguin - made a modest return, and some of the terms I'd been de-indexed for came back... very, very low, but at least they're there.
Is this a Penguin recovery, or just a recovery from the "ding you for making changes" algo, or what? Impossible to tell. And not worth thinking about anyway - they're still only sending me about 37 visitors a day, so I really don't care how they rank my site. I have other traffic sources, and I'm connecting with users who like the site as it is now. If Google prefers not to be part of what, who cares. I have reasons to believe they are no longer dominant in my niches anyway.
Funny on the sitelinks, have not seen them for main site hit by penguin since getting hit. Site home page is a pr3. have another site started post penguin, home page pr0, has sitelinks.
Tracking the number of keywords coming into your site is pointless with Keyword Not Provided growing.
|All summer I had posted repeatedly in the Google forums and the (mostly rude) posters there mostly focused on my content even though the penalty was on April 24. |
You refused to look at sound reasoning and you started thread after thread about the same thing.
The date isn't the thing that matters... it's a single clue. There are other important clues you don't wish to look at:
1.) You rank exceptionally well for the phrases you have tons of same anchors - that's the opposite of PENGUIN
2.) You lost results on volumes of obscure longtail phrases that you also had minimal information about.
"THE DATE" is important because it showed you had more link juice before April 24 & less link juice after April 25 but that does not necessarily mean you yourself was damaged by PENGUIN... those linking to you had loses and that spilled over into your project... and you only lost your obscurity phrases which for each one maybe on a few clicks but collectively was a sizable amount.
That said, you can't fix your problem without fixing your content.
|Then Penguin came, and it wasn't. 80% of my G traffic disappeared, |
When you started your website did you rank and have lots of traffic?
If you lost 80% of your traffic you probably lost 80% of your backlinks and you could say you moved 80% back in time when you didn't have as many links, ranks, and all that comes with it as you did when you got nailed.
You CANNOT really recover from PENGUIN... chances are you haven't done any link development since you got nailed and that is the cause of your non-recovery.
Google through PENGUIN removed your ability to use inorganic links so all you can do is "make your website great!" But if you aren't investing in something that generates "BUZZ" on your domain... you will be like a domain that never started doing link development at all... and since there is no buzz either... they just don't rank.
|You refused to look at sound reasoning and you started thread after thread about the same thing. |
That said, you can't fix your problem without fixing your content.
|TLDR: I wanted to put that out there - I was undoubtedly penalized on Penguin day, and my traffic undoubtedly returned on October 13. |
Uh, sorry if I'm being "dense" but I'm not sure why they would need to fix the content on that which is not broken. Can you explain why you think they need to fix their content to recover the rankings of a site that we're being told recovered?
|My Penguinized site - which, like many here, was actually totally hands-off on link development... 80% of my G traffic disappeared... |
|Google through PENGUIN removed your ability to use inorganic links so all you can do is "make your website great!" |
And in this one you're saying a site that didn't do any link development probably lost their inorganic (developed) links and that's why they don't rank now. Uh, not sure I follow that one either.
Can you explain how you think a site that didn't build links lost it's rankings due to inorganic (developed) links being discounted, because I'm not sure I follow your reasoning.
Maybe I don't understand what you're calling inorganic links, because the post about the site clearly states they didn't build any links to it, so what are you referring to as inorganic links in a situation where links were not being built prior to or after Penguin?
|the "ding you for making changes" patent algo." |
Matt Cutts just released a video two days ago that pretty much says "Yes, it's our patent. No, we aren't using it right now." [youtube.com...]
Really? That's fascinating when I've sat and watched bouncing right after changes that stabilize over time.
Hmmm... I didn't quite get that out of it. I got him encouraging people to "not stop making changes or updates", but I didn't get the "we're not using it" in some way.
"Just because that patent comes out doesn't mean Google's currently using that technology."
"Just because MC mentions a patent in a video and says it's coming out doesn't mean it's used, doesn't mean it's not being used."
He doesn't say "we're not using it" in there and I watched it 4 times, he implies, but I would think if they really weren't using it at all he wanted to "put the "misconceptions they were to rest" he would just flat out "we're not using that right now at all" just like he has with the keyword meta tag, but he doesn't say it's not being used anywhere in the video.
[edited by: TheOptimizationIdiot at 8:06 pm (utc) on May 3, 2013]
|I've sat and watched bouncing right after changes that stabilize over time. |
Me, too. I mentioned that observation too, right after the patent hit the light of day. I'm thinking it may actually be applied, but only in very specific cases. My guesswork, not Google's official statement at all.
Yeah, it was applied for in 2005 and I have a tough time having seen the things I've seen and thinking it hasn't been in use for quite a while actually.
Back in-the-day when I'd make a change to a set of pages, like clockwork, they would drop immediately after they got spidered. (I mean disappear from the SERPs). 4 to 7 days later they would bounce back in to page 4 or 5 then they'd start to move up. (If I made a "significant change" then, "poof", they were gone from the SERPs for 4 to 7 days again.)
It's been a while since I've seen the "exact pattern" so I might not have this quite right with the positions, but, when they hit page 3 if they were 26 to 28 they'd end up on page one, usually in the top 3. If they were 23 to 25 there was some "flux" on where they ended on page 1. If they hit 21 or 22, they got stuck on page 2. If they were 29 or 30, they'd stay on page 3 for another bounce. If a page's initial landing position on page 2 was 11 or 12, it stuck there didn't make the first page, but 14 to 16 was almost always top 2 on page 1 when it stopped.
It was so mechanical I used to know within a place or two of where they'd end up as soon as they hit page 2.
|Uh, sorry if I'm being "dense" but |
Obviously without the half dozen threads at Google Group and the 200 posts dedicated to this specific topic I cannot possibly make you see the connection.
Let's just say - if you are still beating NHL and ESPN in SERPs for their data PENGUIN isn't the problem.
|I mentioned that observation too, right after the patent hit the light of day. |
There's actually quite a few mentions of bouncing around in the EMD update thread [webmasterworld.com] where people are redirecting to non-EMD domains.
I think "triggering events" like you suggest could definitely "be in play" for it though.
Maybe, when a site is currently penalized, when a redirect happens, significant changes to page titles, significant changes to a large number of pages at the same time, significant inbound link/anchor text changes, and things along those lines, so "minor changes in the wild" get ignored by it, but if there's a "threshold" hit over time or major changes they "check to see" why you're doing it?
Maybe we should break this off or start another one or something?
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