Msg#: 4618551 posted 5:33 pm on Oct 23, 2013 (gmt 0)
I'd say No. 1 is potentially your main culprit. Or it's a combination of very repetitive anchor text across the whole site. It's unlikely to just be the sidebar navigation IMO as this is too common and it won't be the META tags as the only one that aids ranking is the TITLE tag and even that is getting less relevant it seems.
Also, are you sure it's Penguin? I once got slapped by the algo for having too many internal links using the same anchor text long before Penguin and after re-assessing the links so they made more sense in natural English, the rankings came back naturally (took several months though).
I'd say it is most likely to do with using the same anchor text to different pages which is confusing Google - or rather, telling Google the pages are too similar.
Msg#: 4618551 posted 8:59 pm on Oct 23, 2013 (gmt 0)
What you're describing as links is fairly standard internal link structure web-wide, so I'd start looking at other issues, unless you're way out of line with things but in that case you would likely know exactly what to change to fix it and not need to ask.
Meta tags are for the most part nothing, except to meta search engines. A couple of tags are used by search engines other than Google to a larger degree than Google uses them, but you're not going to tank your site by changing meta tags unless you stuffed them so full of keywords you broke that portion algo or something lol
Msg#: 4618551 posted 6:47 am on Oct 24, 2013 (gmt 0)
I am interested to hear more thoughts on number one as well. I recently had a site tank, what I feel is for other reasons, but it also coincided with a complete design overhaul.
Part of the design was pages with the same internal anchor text for each product such as features, awards, questions, purchase, etc. They all point to different urls, but the naming structure is the same for every product. I surely hope this wouldn't trigger a penalty as the link naming makes it the easiest to understand and navigate for the user - which Google stresses.
I honestly never thought that could be a problem, but would like to hear opinions on that as well.