diberry - 4:47 am on Jul 6, 2012 (gmt 0)
Aha! You're talking about doing true optimization, not just knee-jerk obedience to old school "SEO" tips.
Well, that's definitely what I try to do. I read more marketing theory than SEO theory, and focus on targeting the right visitors and keeping them once they arrive.
If the problem is Penguin (and I'm not sure if you've confirmed that), then possible over-enthusiastic application of 301s, even when redirecting pages within a domain, could well be the source of your trouble.
Thanks for this suggestion. I redirected 10-15 pages this way - most people I've read speculate that this tactic is okay as long as you don't do it "too much" (whatever that is), so I kept it to a minimum. That said, volume might not be the only thing Google looks at with 301s. Maybe they felt some of the pages weren't relevant enough to the one they redirected, for example. I feel they were, and I feel I did the right thing by users, so if that's the issue, I guess I'll just have to ride it out, build other traffic sources, and hope that other improvements eventually draw Google back in.
As for confirming it was Penguin: all I know is, the timing was exact. I noticed a big drop on April 25th, so big it sent me here to see what was wrong. While I had stated I saw a drop on the 19th (date of the Panda update), I've just noticed it really doesn't look like a drop at all when I look at two months of my stats - but the 25th drop still stands out like a sore thumb, even at three months of stats.
I guess false positives are somewhat in the eye of the beholder. Obviously I did something that triggered Penguin. I just know that my *intent* was certainly not to spam or "aggressively SEO" Google or any other engine, which is why I would call this a false positive - even though I don't disagree with the changes in rankings. (Though I must say, some of the sites outranking me are worse or no better, LOL.)