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Penguin Recovery Tips - a think tank thread

     
7:35 pm on May 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Since the main Penguin Update thread has 700 posts and counting, I'm hoping to start a new thread solely focused on Penguin recovery tips. I have a site that was hit by Penguin and I am trying to work my way out of it.

I think reason I was penalized was my content. I was inadvertently keyword stuffing. This is just the way I have been writing content for years. I have updated the content on my main pages where I have fixed the blatant keyword stuffing. My density levels are much more in line. My main question is:

I have over 80 blog posts that have some instances of keyword stuffing. Do I need to go back and fix all of these pages? Some of the posts are over 3 years old? I also have some really old pages that are buried in my site that may have poor content. Should fixing these old pages be a priority?
8:15 pm on June 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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AND THEN run Penguin again

That's the key, isn't it? Penguin was only re-run one time on May 26. That would be the only time a true Penguin recovery could have happened.
8:56 pm on June 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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AND THEN run Penguin again


That's the key, isn't it? Penguin was only re-run one time on May 26. That would be the only time a true Penguin recovery could have happened.


You could be right Tedster. But it seems to me that if millions of links are suddenly devalued, the effects might not spread throughout the entire web instanteously, but that the "reverberations" might continue for some time as the devaluation propagates from site to site..
11:02 pm on June 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I have seen major changes in uk I think its an algo update, if I am right can we call this Zebra
11:46 pm on June 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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But it seems to me that if millions of links are suddenly devalued...

As far as I know, link devaluation was not a direct part of Penguin - even though it occurred around the same time. Penguin was a true penalty against specific sites, not just an ignoring of certain links.

In fact, there was also a program to manually penalize websites with manipulated backlinks last month (and ongoing, apparently) that also was not a part of Penguin, which is algorithmic and not manual.
9:27 am on June 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I'm scratching my head trying to fathom out why my site took a big hit after Penguin. I have cleaned up some duplicate title tags and taken about 10 links down that I had to my main site from other sites I own (just in case) and I submitted a reconsideration request to Google and I have had a reply saying no manual penalty. What I want to know is does Google send out the same response to a reconsideration request or is it possible that they look at your site and give you a vague clue on what might be the problem.

Here is the response I got from Google. Is this the standard response or might there be a clue on why my site suffered a 50% drop in traffic? Any commenst appreciated.

"If you've experienced a change in ranking which you suspect may be more than a simple algorithm change, there are other things that 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".
10:31 am on June 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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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


Or if my server is fine, Googlebot isn't blocked, the URLs are all the same, the pages haven't had major changes, and the ranking issue applies only to Google?

I don't think it has anything to do with the ranking issue, but I have noticed that WMT reports very slow page loads for my site (possibly because my server is in the UK and they are loading the pages from a server in California). On independent checks at this end the page speed is good.

Has anyone else had slow page loads reported in Site Performance on WMT.
10:45 am on June 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Hi wilburforce, yes, I am in the UK too. My WMY says that my site loads slower than 67% of sites :(
11:03 am on June 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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UK too. I host my sites with BT, quite bullet-proof and currently I'm loading faster that 74% of sites.
11:37 am on June 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Sorry to disagree but surely links WERE a major part of Penguin... although also coinciding with the "unnatural links" messages around the same time..

the article at [googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.co.uk...]

"Here’s an example of a site with unusual linking patterns that is also affected by this change."
12:35 pm on June 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@Gemini23 Who are you disagreeing with?
2:03 pm on June 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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tedster wrote:
As far as I know, link devaluation was not a direct part of Penguin - even though it occurred around the same time. Penguin was a true penalty against specific sites, not just an ignoring of certain links.

I agree that two different things happened, but I think they occurred either simultaneously or at least on the same day. ( I believe it was April 24.) My reasoning is as follows:

1. On my two sites that were affected, most of the pages only fell 1-3 positions in the rankings for their main keyword. A few even held onto the number 1 position. These pages have moved very little since then.

2. However, some of the pages on these two sites had bigger initial drops, at least 20 positions, and these pages have dropped even more since that initial drop.

So the pages in category 1, which fell only slightly, appear to have been hurt by a massive link devaluation, but weren't "penalized", at least not for their main keyword. But the pages in category 2, which fell much further, apparently were penalized for their main keyword.

Since both categories of pages were initially affected on the same day (April 24), I think that the link devaluation and the Penguin implementation both occurred on that day, and possibly even simultaneously.
3:01 pm on June 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@lufc1955, you're not the only one confused by why you got hit, and the message you got is standard (same as I got).
3:18 pm on June 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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As far as I know, link devaluation was not a direct part of Penguin - even though it occurred around the same time.


Was it possibly the 26th of April?

My site seemed to be ok on the 24th and 25th, but tumbled on the 26th.
7:29 pm on June 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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April 24th and 25th was the Penguin.... depending on where you are in the world with regard to the date....
2:36 pm on June 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Was it possibly the 26th of April?

My site seemed to be ok on the 24th and 25th, but tumbled on the 26th.


Planet - I remember we were talking about your site in another thread, and concluded that it was probably inflicted with a penalty on one of its keywords. The site could have been hurt by a link devaluation as well of course, but a big drop like you experienced for that keyword was probably mainly due to a penalty.
2:50 pm on June 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@ wilburforce - yes my WMT also shows that my page load speed has got slower (significantly) quite a spike in the last month. HOWEVER I know for a fact that the pages are quicker than ever - due to the lack of traffic on my £3000 pa servers.
1:04 pm on June 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I've been keeping a weather-eye on a competitor who has remained mid-first page throughout all this chaos. Their content was quite lightweight and they had a roughly similar backlink profile and spread of anchor-text types (keyphrase, url, brand name) as my site.
Today I note their site has changed. They have turned practically every page into a full-screen slideshow. Look at the text-only version of the cache and it just shows blank pages.
Maybe they've concluded the onsite over-optimisation and the backlink penalties affect each other's trigger points? So the closer you get to zero content the less negative effect your spammy backlinks will have...?
1:19 pm on June 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I assume a lot of people have now made changes/improvements to their penguin affected site now and are waiting on the next refresh from Google. I think this is going to be a key update as many people would have had time to clean up their backlink profile. At present I can only see one clear example of a penguin recovery from the first refresh, but I assume after the next there will be far more. I hope the next refresh comes soon...
1:27 pm on June 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I assume a lot of people have now made changes/improvements to their penguin affected site now and are waiting on the next refresh from Google. I think this is going to be a key update as many people would have had time to clean up their backlink profile. At present I can only see one clear example of a penguin recovery from the first refresh, but I assume after the next there will be far more. I hope the next refresh comes soon...


I was just thinking the same. Best of luck everyone.

Any predictions of the date they will refresh?
1:39 pm on June 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I think it will be around 25th June... just keeping it at monthly intervals approximately. Fingers crossed.
7:55 pm on June 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I am thinking about re-doing the navigation on my site. I think I am overkilling it with product links. Do I run the risk of demotion if I change the entire footer nav of my site?
7:46 am on June 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Every change runs every risk, to some degree or other. The "safest" change is one that brings your site closer to the published Google guidelines.
1:11 am on June 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I'm making an odd recovery but only with the most highly trafficked keywords and phrases. Most pages had dropped 60-450 positions and are now front page. Only things done were re-inclusion request (non-WMT), added link on home page, and targeted eight copyright thieves. It could last or not. The oddity of the recovery seems to be based on the higher the traffic the more the recovery. The vanishing was on a Friday and the return on a Friday. From day one I felt I was unfairly hit by OOP and still do.

I think it will be around 25th June... just keeping it at monthly intervals approximately. Fingers crossed.


That's when I would have targeted it but since it isn't a Friday and close to a holiday maybe the 22th. Then again I run either two weeks ahead or two weeks behind when reporting begins.
2:31 am on June 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Only things done were re-inclusion request (non-WMT)


Outland88, did you get a reply back on your reconsideration request?
2:38 am on June 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@outland88, I'm seeing pretty much exactly what you're seeing, and I've made huge changes on my site. But the odd thing is that while I'm finding myself on page 1, visitors are not, according to my analytics package. Either visitors decided to take a day off from searching these popular terms, or people elsewhere are getting different results than what I'm seeing. But it's a little early to tell - my traffic's so low since Penguin that it's hard to discern patterns quickly.
5:52 am on June 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Outland88, did you get a reply back on your reconsideration request?

No I didn't Crobb. I was just listing what I did.

I'm finding myself on page 1, visitors are not, according to my analytics package

About the same as you Diberry. I also expected a bigger jump especially on less trafficked keywords but I didn't get it. I also plan to consolidate some link pages but from what I'm seeing it's just an adjustment by Google based upon the traffic. Also keywords that didn't rise are heavily infested with domains having multiple pages listed.
2:59 pm on June 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@outland88, I did a little more investigating last night and used Google through several proxies. The results were NOTHING like what I'm seeing. For my former most popular term, the one I've finally crawled back onto page 1 for, one proxy showed nothing but UK results, with incredible repetition of brands - maybe 3-4 sites represented on each page, at most. Another showed mainly US sites, but the brand repetition was even more bizarre - the top three pages were just clusters of three brands, massive host-crowding. As a user, I would feel like, "Well, Google's been hacked" and try some other engine or something.

Both proxies are supposedly in the US.

I wonder if Google is serving up dozens of different sets of SERPs right now?
3:44 pm on June 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@outland88, @diberry

I'm finding myself on page 1, visitors are not, according to my analytics package


Google is now doing something "smart" with cookies, and I have had the same (local to this computer) effect a few times lately. I think it is more likely to happen if you are logged in to WMT, but can happen if you are not. If e.g. you try your term for your page, then find your page on page 6 of the results and open it from there, the next time you search it is at the top of page 1. You then need to clear your cache and delete all Google cookies to get back to "normal" results.
3:48 pm on June 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Only things done were re-inclusion request (non-WMT), added link on home page, and targeted eight copyright thieves.


@outland88,

Was content from your website appearing on other websites and is that content not appearing on those websites now? Were there link backs to your website from the other sites that are also not there now?

Can you tell me how long after the content and/or links from the other sites were removed did you see an improvement to your website's rankings and traffic?
5:39 pm on June 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Gouri some of the sites had link-backs because they were stealing the whole page with navigation others didn’t. I can see the direction of your thinking. If there's no link-back I definitely kill them off if you're wondering.

Can you tell me how long after the content and/or links from the other sites were removed did you see an improvement to your website's rankings and traffic?


Two and a half weeks. Interestingly the site would plummet to new lows within 12-24 hours after a response from Google that they were removing the offending content.

Just tossing it out there:
Interesting thing about your question is I checked about 12 hours ago and Google had not removed the content. Now the first thing people would say is Google has not de-indexed it may take time. What caught my eye once again was some pages that I had filed DMCA’s against long ago were still in the index and Google said the same thing then.
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