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Penguin Recovery Tips - a think tank thread

     
7:35 pm on May 9, 2012 (gmt 0)



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?
2:15 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Good idea to start a new thread. The original thread is now locked - here's a link to it for reference:

[webmasterworld.com...]
2:42 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member billys is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



It's interesting that you think keyword stuffing is your problem. Most of the comments I read had more to do with gaming of links.

Matt Cutts used to talk about writing for search engines. Maybe someone here knows the reference. It was either on his blog or in a video. He actually explains how writing a certain way can actually help search engines. I follow that practice myself.

If you search for "google keyword stuffing" you'll find a WMT article that talks about this practice and penalties. It's always been on Google's radar and you can fix the problem then submit a reinclusion request.

I think it's been pointed out that Penguin is a ranking factor, not a penalty. Just like Panda, you cannot submit a reinclusion request. You keep your fingers crossed that the algo re-ranks you.

We weren't hit by Penguin, only Panda :)

Unless you really feel you were keyword stuffing, I would be careful about making too many changes too quickly. As much as it pains me, I'm taking a very methodical approach to seeing what might have tripped us up.

Best of luck to you.
4:15 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member crobb305 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



It's interesting that you think keyword stuffing is your problem. Most of the comments I read had more to do with gaming of links.


I think it's largely an on-site issue as well. Document-level classifiers such as N-grams can reveal excessive use of known phrases. I believe these can occur in body text or in anchor text (on page). For instance, linking to the same internal page 5 times on the homepage with varying anchor text or using redundant language (including synonyms), or covering too many known phrases for your site's theme. It's interesting to me that the only item in Google's list of 52 search-quality changes from April that has anything to do with spam is "keyword stuffing". That may be a hint.
4:45 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I feel that google sends each site a throttled amount of traffic. We have seen one keyword set rise to 8% of all referrals and it's totally irrelevant for our site. We've waited 2+ weeks and still th traffic pours in at the expense of other traffic. This morning we rewrote the entire page removing the two words. The hope is google sends is the right traffic instead. Will report on the effects.

The best way to describe it would be us being a car seller. Google is not sending us people that want to buy the car they are sending us people looking for examples of the car all done up. Its a misunderstanding of the users intent and I see it in my own searches.

I'll report daily on whether or not this stops the traffic. We are hoping it does as it is skewing our numbers. Hoping to see a bounce in other phrases.
5:15 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member




Are you talking about internal anchor links?

well that wouldn't make sense for an ecommerce site, of course the title of a link from one page would link to a page with that as it's title. How else would customers know what to click on to find the products they want.
(from the old Penguin thread, now locked)

You would need to see what I am. It's not internal links. It's regional franchises being made to link to the source / main company website. The top 2 sites in my SERP are an internal page from the main company and the company that they set up to supply them this product. All linked from ever regional site template for franchises. They have cornered the market. Another case of how a bigger brand can smash and dominate the smaller.

In my instance Penguin has rewarded what it's supposed to be fighting. Google is a discrace
7:46 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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



In my opinion there is much to be said for doing absolutely nothing and waiting for the dust to settle - which may take a while. Over here in the UK - at least in the verticals that I'm interested in - the results are very poor indeed and I doubt very much if this will continue indefinitely. There will be much fine tuning of the algo over the coming months which could complicate any efforts to recover from this mess.

Go on holiday, take up golf or, better still, build some more websites. Anything you do now could make matters worse when the next 'improvements' to the algo come into effect.
7:52 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@superclown I agree. Unless there is something obvious to fix. The results are shameful after a "cleanup" on spam.
10:25 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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It seems to be incoming link anchor text which kicks the process off, if you have unnatural anchor text with lots of money keywords from web2.0s, social bookmarks, forum profiles then google takes a closer look at the site.

If you then have thin content or affiliate outlinks then the site can take a nosedive.

For example I have two UK sites in the camping niche.

Both sites are built exactly the same with fairly decent onsite content 10-20 pages, not big but big enough with Amazon outlinks.

Each site caters to a size - one site sells the small size and one site sells the larger size.

I threw some web2.0 backlinks and social bookamrks at the site that sells the small product but never got around to doing the same thing with the large product on the other site.

And of course the site selling the small product has been zapped, the larger product on the other site is untouched.

They are totally the same in all other respects both built on wordpress using Reviewazon to generate affiliate commissions.

I have other examples of this, in a nutshell I think it is the incoming anchor text which starts the spam evaluation.
12:47 pm on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@ bostonyear

I was inadvertently keyword stuffing.


Can you give an example? I think I am doing the same thing, and while it may not be related to Penguin, it certainly is not written with the user in mind.

Thank you!
2:43 pm on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



I posted this in one of the other threads, but it also might be helpful here.

[searchengineland.com...]
3:12 pm on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



My site that was hit with Penguin droppings made it through all other updates with no problems. Loads of good original content, never sold or bought links, never even worried about it.

The only possible trigger I have found is a branded site hosted on affiliate domain that has several hundred thousand links back to the my site showing in WMT. These links were removed ten days ago, but still show in WMT.

After a 50% drop in traffic about 10% has come back. One site that pushed me down in rankings is like the poster child for things not to do, and yet it is getting better results.

Now its just a waiting game to see what happens. Income is still enough to pay the bills, but going to have to hold off on the Ferrari :) and settle for a bicycle.
5:03 pm on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@netmeg, thanx for posting this link. I canīt see the things Cutts is saying.
Itīs the same like every update, they say itīs going the way they wanted it to be.

But back:
-my traffic is quiet stable, but what can we do to get our conversions back, this is one of the most alarming issue of this penguin update.
-poeple may find quality sites ( in Cutt mind ) but is it what they are looking for?!
6:02 pm on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)



@Underglass

Here's an example of some of the keyword stuffing I was doing. Let's use "house painting" as an example.

"Our house painting services are the best in the area. Whatever your house painting project is, we have qualified painters to take on this project. From homes to furniture to fences, our house painting specialist are standing by."

Maybe my content wasn't this blatent, but you get the idea. Keyword stuffing is content that doesn't read well. It sounds un-natural and the keywords are forced and repetitive. What I should have been doing is writing the content for the end user in mind.
6:15 pm on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



but what can we do to get our conversions back, this is one of the most alarming issue of this penguin update.


I would be analyzing the traffic, where it's coming from, what keywords it's coming in from, where geographically it's coming from (if that's relevant), and then analyzing my funnel to see where they're dropping off.
6:36 pm on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



I was inadvertently keyword stuffing...

"Our house painting services are the best in the area. Whatever your house painting project is, we have qualified painters to take on this project. From homes to furniture to fences, our house painting specialist are standing by."


Well, that doesn't seem "inadvertent" to me... What is the opposite of inadvertent? Advertent?

Do I need to go back and fix all of these pages? Some of the posts are over 3 years old?


If the posts are over 3 years old, are they STILL the best posts on the particular topics they cover? Maybe there is room for improvement?

What do your user metrics tell you? Maybe it would be best to start with the pages that had the highest bounce rate AND lost the most traffic?
7:07 pm on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)



If suspect backlinks are one of the main causes of sites getting ranking penalties then it would be very easy for anyone to nobble their competition, this may be a contributing factor but there are probably a lot of other contributing factors, i agree with the other post about waiting until the dust settles, i'm also following the antitrust investigation of Google "http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/24/google-confirms-ftc-antitrust-investigation_n_883951.htmlwhich is currently underway"
9:43 pm on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I'm hoping to start a new thread solely focused on Penguin recovery tips


I think it's premature to speculate about how best to recover, when we know almost nothing about Penguin.

Here are a few of the things we don't know:

  • Whether Penguin removes the benefit of certain tactics or "unnatural" patterns, or whether Penguin penalizes sites having those "unnatural" patterns. (The difference is important for how one tries to recover from Penguin.)

  • Whether the tactics in question are reflected in the site itself (e.g. internal links) or external to the site (reflected in the inbound link profile).

  • Whether the tactics in question only become problematic when they are combined with other tactics.

  • Whether the tactics in question only become problematic when they are used in excess (too much of a good thing).

    Despite the length of the other thread, there was no consensus on even the most basic issues -- and surprisingly little speculation, or specific clues that might lead to any sort of meaningful list of recovery tips.
  • 12:32 am on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)



    but it's super easy to file a DCMA complaint with Google, and they usually remove it within days. Very quick and easy, and you can do several pages at a time.


    If this has already been commented about, apologies, if not, BS, if the offender is outside of the USA and even more so on a non com/net/org.

    I have thousands of scraped pages and images ranking at #1 and I can't do a freakin' thing about them regardless of what the UK/EU supposed regulations may be.

    The most remarkable thing is that Bing only recognises me, the scrapers are nowhere to be seen.
    6:39 am on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

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



    Is keyword stuffing or repeated keyword ( widget ) a single page problem or does the keyword count for the whole site?
    9:35 am on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



    Martin - things are not that cut and dried these days. There's no easy answer except to say "you've got to know keyword stuffing when you see it." There could be sitewide stuffing in some cases.
    9:50 am on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

    5+ Year Member



    We seem to be focusing on keyword stuffing, I think there is much more to penguin than overuse of onpage keywords.

    What about incoming anchor text overuse of.

    I am starting to think I may have penguined some of my sites with directory submissions which all used the same money phrase anchor text as incoming links - looks obvious when checked using a backlink tool.
    10:57 am on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

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



    There could be sitewide stuffing in some cases.


    But this would explain, that Tag pages as "NOINDEX", in some cases the site raises again?
    11:21 am on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



    I posted this elsewhere, but might as well say it here.

    Using a verb in anchor, which matches a verb in title and H1 looks more likely to have a negative impact than using "optimised" nouns.

    I've not done any testing whatsoever, so YMMV.
    3:48 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

    10+ Year Member



    Interesting searchengineland article. Nice to hear that recovery is possible if you clean up spam...and this will be reflected in the next penguin update. When that is and what constitutes spam is still a good question.

    Think the key is figuring out how google is discriminating between normal link building...and link building designed to take down a competitor. They seem REALLY sure that they don't have a problem and can tell the two apart...and this certainty maybe a clue to how Penguin works.
    4:08 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

    5+ Year Member



    The most remarkable thing is that Bing only recognises me,


    careful, we don't wanna give them any ideas now...

    :-/
    6:01 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

    5+ Year Member



    There certainly seems to be a link optimisation part.

    It could be as simple as checking the EMD with page title and H1's to extract the desired ranking keywords - buy red widgets for example and then checking the backlinks for a combination of these keywords if more than say 50% match then demotion.
    6:06 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



    Nice to hear that recovery is possible if you clean up spam...and this will be reflected in the next penguin update.


    I don't think we are certain that Penguin is "updated" on a repeating basis, a la Panda, are we?
    6:10 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

    5+ Year Member



    Yes Planet, it seems to be like Panda:-

    [webmasterworld.com ]
    6:20 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

    5+ Year Member



    reading @netmeg link, we must improve (de-optimize, links, content) and then wait for the next update?
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