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Matt Cutts on stages of Penguin recovery
Whitey

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4580460 posted 1:59 am on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

Matt Cutts tweeted: A pretty good overview of the stages of Penguin recovery:

Bring out the machete.

Sounds violent, right? It is, sort of. Let me explain.

Once your site has been inflicted by the damage of unscrupulous SEO practices, itís in serious need of emergency services. Itís time to scrutinize your link profile, and do your best to remove any links that could be causing your website to be affected by Penguin 2.0. Hereís how the process works, described simply:

[searchenginejournal.com...]

 

Whitey

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4580460 posted 3:56 am on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

Recovery is possible, even from something as cataclysmic as Penguin 2.0.

Perhaps that's the nugget folks should focus on. Happy reading and let's look to some positive inputs and/or supporting folks in trouble.

viral



 
Msg#: 4580460 posted 5:02 am on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

There is nothing new here that hasn't been discussed on this site a hundred times before. What is also annoying many webmasters here have actually outlined taking these steps and nothing happened.

Sounds like more spin to me.

ColourOfSpring



 
Msg#: 4580460 posted 7:07 am on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

I read the article and comments below it. The recovery the article speaks of hinges on a reconsideration request to Google, yet they should only be sent if you are manually penalised (as many of the comments highlight in this article). That makes sense - Google are all about scalable operations. Creating an algorithmic penalty, and then waiting to manually handle and deal with a completely unknown number of reconsideration requests based on an algo update isn't scalable. If RRs are based only on manual penalties (and the consensus seems to be that is the case), then Google know exactly how many RRs they could expect and therefore deal with.

In any case, the article is a rehash of a lot of things we've been over here with many people simply not seeing recoveries: write great content to win links, reconsideration request (been over that one), disavow links, wait and wait.

In my opinion, better advice is to simply focus on new traffic streams while continuing to improve/optimise conversion rates. Waiting til Penguin 3.0 in October 2013 or April 2014 or whenever it will be is not really viable for most companies.

Whitey

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4580460 posted 7:55 am on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

@ColourOfSpring - the article links to a checklist of things to do. What was your view about these?

MC opens up about why the disavow tool may not work for some. "Folks are not going in hard enough". [ I've got a problem with this communication, because previously SEO's were told to go carefully, but maybe Google were surprised by the limited depth of the disavow submissions, and needed to review the comm. ]. Maybe some SEO's were having an each way bet to protect themselves. Did folks completely cull those links who claimed the tool didn't work, - what do you think?

For me the key takeaways are:

-A 3rd reinforcement from MC and John Mu of Google to cut links.
-Follow the process outlined, and now validated by Google
-Wait and be patient. Time and scale of link removal.
-Restore authority over culled links by using the methods outlined in the supporting articles
-Penalized sites have nothing to loose*

* I think they risk loosing further traffic, which many site-owners might be surviving on while being patient and waiting.

One thing that beats me is why Google just doesn't ignore these bad links. There's a niggling concern that Google might be looking to forgive sites that come forward in truth, before it's willing to forgive. A kind of amnesty or "truth commission" where past wrongdoings are admitted for the purpose of going forward at a new level.

But that's academic, better to focus on the purpose of this thread which is to get folks out of Penguin and interpret the communications as they now exist.

Martin Ice Web

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4580460 posted 9:04 am on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

They only thing I get from this is, that negative SEO does work. Put many spammy links to your competitor and he will suffer from penguin!

Season opened!

Whitey

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4580460 posted 9:33 am on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

* I think they risk loosing further traffic, which many site-owners might be surviving on while being patient and waiting.

Actually, that's partly untrue. Bing and Yahoo have nothing to do with Google's disavow tool. Take downs do though.

Rasputin

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4580460 posted 9:40 am on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

There's a lot of seemingly inaccurate and conflicting information about penguin which makes it hard to know what's best to do. I note that Matt Cutts says

If you have been hanging out in a lot of blackhat forums, trading different types of spamming package tips and that sort of stuff, then this might be a more eventful summer for you


But I'm guessing most people here (like myself) have done nothing of the sort, but perhaps (also like me) have some dubious incoming links from very old link exchanges and directory submissions, and others they don't know where they came from.

So it's clearly both inaccurate and rather insulting to say that penguin 2 only applies if we 'have been hanging out in a lot of blackhat forums, trading different types of spamming package tips'.

Also the whole question of whether it is an actual penalty or just a new ranking with more of the dubious links ignored is not clear - but this makes a big difference to what approach is best (if they are now just excluding lots more links then why bother disavowing them or trying to get them removed)

Lastly, reports of a genuine and full recovery from penguin are few and far between to say the least - are there a few actual documented cases where sites have definitely recovered from penguin, and whether this was due to removing poor quality links etc?

I'd like to be sure this is something I have a chance of successfully tackling before I start wielding the hatchet...if the whole thing is really just deeply flawed (as I suspect when I look at sites in our niche that have been penalised) or has a completely different goal for google than what they are saying (eg brand promotion or ad promotion) then it's probably not worth doing anything to try and sort it out.

lindamartin



 
Msg#: 4580460 posted 9:46 am on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

what are the main things to be consider in Penguin 2.0 updates,please share details

ColourOfSpring



 
Msg#: 4580460 posted 9:55 am on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

@ColourOfSpring - the article links to a checklist of things to do. What was your view about these?


They're a recap of Matt Cutts quotes from the last 12 months. If these peices of advice helped you recover from Penguin, you'd see a lot more reports of Penguin recoveries from Penguin 1.0. I didn't really hear of recoveries from Penguin refreshes in October 2012 or May 2013. There's a whole thread on how the disavow tool simply didn't work (in regards to helping recoveries). Also misuse of the reconsideration request service isn't advisable either (use it only for manual penalties).

BeeDeeDubbleU

WebmasterWorld Senior Member beedeedubbleu us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4580460 posted 10:25 am on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

Rasputin:
But I'm guessing most people here (like myself) have done nothing of the sort, but perhaps (also like me) have some dubious incoming links from very old link exchanges and directory submissions, and others they don't know where they came from. So it's clearly both inaccurate and rather insulting to say that penguin 2 only applies if we 'have been hanging out in a lot of blackhat forums, trading different types of spamming package tips'.

I think you are right on the money and I am finding Matt Cutts' and Google's attitude to all of this quite offensive. The overriding impression is one of "Na na na na na na na! Serves you right @H!"

What is also distressing is Google's willingness to change the rules and to start penalising people for indulging in practises that were accepted throughout the industry, like having Exact Match Domains and also practises that they themselves previously recommended like using keywords in your anchor text.

turbocharged



 
Msg#: 4580460 posted 10:30 am on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

There's nothing really new here except for SEJ's opinion on the subject of Penguin. As ColourOfSpring, Rasputin and Viral noted, there is one piece of this puzzle missing - recoveries. The lack of recoveries should make webmasters pause before they do anything that may harm their sites in other search engines.

Whitey

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4580460 posted 11:10 am on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

They're a recap of Matt Cutts quotes from the last 12 months.

@ColourOfSpring - Maybe I wasn't clear in the question. The article links to further articles in bold, referenced specifically from step 3. Do you or anyone else have issues with that list? [ I do have some concerns - btw ]. But let's try to isolate specifics. :

Here are the steps you need to take to recover from Penguin 2.0:

Step 3. Build new inbound links using white-hat tactics like guest blogging, while abiding by proper anchor text rules with your new inbound links. [audiencebloom.com...]


>> Next ..... >

I note that Matt Cutts says

If you have been hanging out in a lot of blackhat forums, trading different types of spamming package tips and that sort of stuff, then this might be a more eventful summer for you


Rasputin:
But I'm guessing most people here (like myself) have done nothing of the sort, but perhaps (also like me) have some dubious incoming links from very old link exchanges and directory submissions, and others they don't know where they came from. So it's clearly both inaccurate and rather insulting to say that penguin 2 only applies if we 'have been hanging out in a lot of blackhat forums, trading different types of spamming package tips'.

I think you are right on the money and I am finding Matt Cutts' and Google's attitude to all of this quite offensive.

@Rasputin / BeeDeeDubbleU - this is the article writer Jayson DeMers words. Matt Cutts is endorsing the article as an accurate way to get out of Penguin 2.0.

There's nothing really new here except for SEJ's opinion on the subject of Penguin.

@turbocharged - well what's new is that it's the 3rd mention of the disavow tool application made over the last couple of weeks by Googlers, the first time it's been mentioned in relation to Penguin 2.0 , one of the only times I recall that MC has referenced how to get out of a penalization referencing a procedure to escape and restore , and it follows a reversal of previous advices of "going easy" on the disavow tool issued last Oct/Nov'ish 2012. The latter follows on the heels of an earlier thread [webmasterworld.com...] referencing MC on the use of the tool like a machete rather than going in too timidly. This is a new emphasis supported with a lot of detailed referencing and a break from policy about commenting on penalties [ even if in semantics it's no longer termed a penalty by Google].

I'd be interested to know more about the specifics of why Jayson DeMers article's could or could not work. [ just re iterating I have some concern's about elements, but I'm not for one moment saying I'm right]. Positive / objective thoughts / specifics anyone ?

I believe it's an exceptional nugget.

viral



 
Msg#: 4580460 posted 11:48 am on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

Whitey the problem is that everything we are going to say here is subjective.. We can't be objective because none of us actually know what the hell is going on.

Why has Matt Cutts pointed to it? Because it pretty well delivers the same old drivel that Matt lets out every time he does a video or whatever.


As has been mentioned before. Submit a reconsideration request on an algorithmic penalty? We have been told don't bother to do that before by Matt Cutts himself!

So the article is a mix of regurgitated Cuttsisms and confusion. It really isn't even worth talking about.

ColourOfSpring



 
Msg#: 4580460 posted 12:32 pm on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

whitey, on this point:-

Step 3. Build new inbound links using white-hat tactics like guest blogging, while abiding by proper anchor text rules with your new inbound links.


How is it "white-hat" if you're guest blogging to build links - how are they natural links? Natural links aren't negotiated and quid-pro-quo'd - they're published unbeknownst to you by other webmasters. I've had some guest bloggers who came to me and I published their articles but I nofollowed their links. They demanded I unpublished their articles when they saw the nofollow so they could get them uniquely published elsewhere. Excuse me - I thought they wanted to guest blog, not link build :) - so how is that natural? I can understand guest blogging to win natural traffic from a nofollow link in an article, but to do it for dofollow links is 100% against Google's guidelines (and I'm not being facetious here, it's pretty obvious it's flouting their guidelines).

Also, on reconsideration requests, it's simply wrong advice to tell people to use this when they've had loss in rankings due to an algorithmic update.

However, maybe you're right on the disavow tool and it does actually work if you use it in a very specific way. But why does MC tell us this relatively recently when Penguin 2.0 was imminently being released? Is this advice for the next Penguin update in 6 months time? Seems like horrible timing from him - why wouldn't he issue this advice months before Penguin 2.0? He had plenty of user-data to see if people were using the disavow tool too "delicately". If Penguin 2.0 used disavow data, then horrible timing from Matt Cutts to advise us days before Penguin 2.0 (WAY TOO LATE) - if it doesn't use disavow data, then what use is the disavow tool?

There's simply too much FUD being spread around - vague statements from MC, some wrong/irrelevant advice from non-Googlers.

treeline

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4580460 posted 12:58 pm on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

The beautiful thing is once a bunch of you aggressively use the disavow tool, Google will have a clear guide to sites & techniques used for link building....many they already know, but now they'll find the ones lurking beneath their view....should power an interesting 3.0 next fall.

If you're using the same tool/method/sites as others and haven't been clobbered yet, look forward to them panicking, disavowing, and exposing the process.

jimbeetle

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jimbeetle us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4580460 posted 1:26 pm on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

If you have been hanging out in a lot of blackhat forums, trading different types of spamming package tips and that sort of stuff, then this might be a more eventful summer for you

But I'm guessing most people here (like myself) have done nothing of the sort, but perhaps (also like me) have some dubious incoming links from very old link exchanges and directory submissions, and others they don't know where they came from.

So it's clearly both inaccurate and rather insulting to say that penguin 2 only applies if we 'have been hanging out in a lot of blackhat forums, trading different types of spamming package tips'.

Rasputin, Matt wasn't talking about Penguin 2.0 in this case but as something else to expect [mattcutts.com] in the next few months.

diberry

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



 
Msg#: 4580460 posted 5:04 pm on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

Step 3. Build new inbound links using white-hat tactics like guest blogging, while abiding by proper anchor text rules with your new inbound links.


And we appear to have confirmation that Google WILL penalize you for hosting a guest blog that links out in the body of the text: [webmasterworld.com ]

aristotle

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4580460 posted 6:59 pm on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

Before this last updater, I had been hoping that Google would fix the flaws in Penguin, or even better, just throw it into their garbage pile. But evidently they don't care how flawed it is, or how bad their current search results are. So my advice is to ignore what they say, and just create the best sites you can based on your own standards and guiding principles.

Whitey

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4580460 posted 8:28 am on Jun 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

@diberry - could you quote the specific text you are relying on for your point, just to save folks time in referencing.

Re use of the disavow tool as part of the fix process, an update from Rustybrick:

Update: I asked Google's John Mueller this in a Google Hangout today and he confirmed that you do not need to use third-party tools and that Google Webmaster Tools is fine. He did say, sometimes third-party tools may help with cleaner reports but not needed.
[seroundtable.com...]

fathom

WebmasterWorld Senior Member fathom us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4580460 posted 11:26 am on Jun 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

The true quote was:

Matt Cutts wrote:
Hmm. One common issue we see with disavow requests is people going through with a fine-toothed comb when they really need to do something more like a machete on the bad backlinks. For example, often it would help to use the ďdomain:Ē operator to disavow all bad backlinks from an entire domain rather than trying to use a scalpel to pick out the individual bad links. That's one reason why we sometimes see it take a while to clean up those old, not-very-good links.


I'd be extremely surprised that Matt meant this being done as an aftermath practice to a PENGUIN devaluation. I'm positive this is preventive maintenance not recovery steps. Once PENGUIN devalues the links they are devalued. What purpose does devaluing them again do?

Additionally, Matt is Head of the Webspam Team - because that Team deals with Manual Reviews day in & day out ... I suspect his quote is not referencing PENGUIN recovery what-so-ever.

this quote:

Once your site has been inflicted by the damage of unscrupulous SEO practices, itís in serious need of emergency services.


That was never said nor implied by anyone at Google and seems to be spin from a SEO with an agenda.

[edited by: fathom at 11:43 am (utc) on Jun 4, 2013]

fathom

WebmasterWorld Senior Member fathom us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4580460 posted 11:38 am on Jun 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

Step 5. Resubmit your site to Google for reconsideration.


This is a joke or the guy is completely incompetent if a step in PENGUIN recovery is to submit a Manual Review Reconsideration Request.

The output of this dumb move is:

Dear site owner or webmaster of http://www.example.com/,

We received a request from a site owner to reconsider http://www.example.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.

Sincerely, Google Search Quality Team


Or they slap you with a Manual Review and... ya OK no more PENGUIN problem because you have a manual review now.

It does not do anything but make things even more difficult

ColourOfSpring



 
Msg#: 4580460 posted 11:51 am on Jun 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'd be extremely surprised that Matt meant this being done as an aftermath practice to a PENGUIN devaluation. I'm positive this is preventive maintenance not recovery steps. Once PENGUIN devalues the links they are devalued. What purpose does devaluing them again do?


Am I missing something here....if all Penguin does is devalue certain links, why on earth do we need the disavow tool, if all the disavow tool does is....devalue links? In fact, isn't it better to let Penguin decide rather than use our own judgement?

preventive maintenance


...to what? To Penguin merely devaluing links? So to stop Penguin devaluing links, we use the disavow to devalue the links before Penguin devalues them? What's the point of that?

morpheus83

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4580460 posted 7:15 am on Jun 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

Bad links gaining such an importance in the rankings is actually disappointing. For a small publisher running a website since the past 8 years it is very very tedious and time consuming to actually go through the backlinks, follow up with them for removal, disawow. Yes there are webmasters who might be doing it but not all of us do this. Plus doesnt this competition a lot of teeth, if I want to screw the competitions rankings all I have to do is insert links to his key pages on scrummy websites.

Whitey

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4580460 posted 9:06 am on Jun 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

...to what? To Penguin merely devaluing links? So to stop Penguin devaluing links, we use the disavow to devalue the links before Penguin devalues them? What's the point of that?

I have no idea. Perhaps it's a kind of trust building exercise / "truth commission", where Google is "prepared" to restore a site back into a higher level of trust when it removes links and/or disavows them, if it first admits to it's bad practices.

This isn't new. In 2007 I observed inadvertent participation in a link network , which cause a site to be filtered out of the SERP's. Removing the links caused the site to return to the SERP's within weeks. Google knew these links were bad, and preferred the webmaster to fix it. The same principle may exist under Penguin with some more complex considerations associated with it.

ColourOfSpring



 
Msg#: 4580460 posted 9:24 am on Jun 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

I have no idea. Perhaps it's a kind of trust building exercise / "truth commission", where Google is "prepared" to restore a site back into a higher level of trust when it removes links and/or disavows them, if it first admits to it's bad practices.


Then in reality Google don't just devalue the links, they penalise the page that the links point to in some way, and that penalty can only be lifted through paying some kind of penance through disavowing the links. That can be the only explanation. If Penguin DOESN'T go further than merely devaluing the links, then just let Penguin accurately pick off the links it doesn't like - why do it yourself through the disavow tool?

Whitey

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4580460 posted 11:44 pm on Jun 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

why do it yourself through the disavow tool

True, but perhaps it's worth reflecting on why folks asked for the tool in the first place. At least it's a way to communicate with Google the intentions of the websites. I must say that submitting reconsideration requests supports my thinking around the manual intervention side of things. But manual action for such a large exercise perplexes me.

Whitey

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4580460 posted 4:22 am on Jun 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

Recovery is possible, even from something as cataclysmic as Penguin 2.0.

Since this thread is about recovery, I wanted to post this positive testimony for folks to assist in their recovery.:

Iceman88

Wanted to share my experience with the Disavow tool.

I worked with a client who was hit by a manual link penalty, received the GWT message.

We started by looking at their backlink profile using GWT/Majestic SEO and removing the ones we deemed to be 'spammy'.

It took four tries on the re-consideration request (we got rejected three times) but the penalty was lifted. This was quite recent, traffic was bouncing back to pre-penalty levels, however now they have just been hit by Penguin 2.0.

My theory on this:

I was at a recent conference in the UK and their were some ex-google guys there. He said that when spam team review a manual penalty they only look at 10% of your back links, so it could be that the set they analyse is random and on the fourth try, we were lucky to get a reasonable clean set of links and they lifted he penalty.

Clearly the algorithm can look at more than just 10% of links as well as other factors, so the overall link profile was still 'spammy' and now they have been hit by an algorithm penalty.

So did the disavow tool work? I would say YES, it was the only thing we did. [webmasterworld.com...]

The conversation that follows describes several reconsideration request attempts and further disavowing, the summary of which seems to be to go in harder to make things work, which is what the OT suggests.

Although it relates to Penguin 1.0 - it appears to be relevant to Penguin 2.0.

Iceman88 is a self confessed "lurker" [ an avid reader of Webmasterworld, not a contributer]. So a "double thank-you" Iceman88 for stepping out and contributing with this special input. These threads and post penalty analysis' only work to resolve issues when folks are prepared to share actual experiences.

Let's hope we get some more positive contributions like this to assist folks with similar stories to cross validate experiences, from any other "lurkers" out there.

aristotle

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4580460 posted 9:13 pm on Jun 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

Although it relates to Penguin 1.0 - it appears to be relevant to Penguin 2.0.

I thought Penguin 2.0 superseded Penguin 1.0, so that if your site is still affected, it's because of 2.0.

chalkywhite



 
Msg#: 4580460 posted 12:35 pm on Jun 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

Guys, do you believe that outbound links can be part of penguin 2.0?

This 41 message thread spans 2 pages: 41 ( [1] 2 > >
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