Good evening guys,
I have a client who were hit by Penguin v1.
I've worked with them on and off for a number of years and trust that they'd be open and honest with me.
They contacted me as their traffic had been abruptly cut in half, from 80,000 uniques a day to 40,000. A quick look at their analytics suggested very strongly, that it was Penguin v1. Their traffic dramatically dropped the day Penguin was released.
Looking at their link profile, I quickly found a number of problem links, around 900 highly targeted links, mainly from directories. There were only a total of 6 keyword variations and each one was as I said, highly targeted.
The company are adamant that they have no idea how the links were placed. During my time in working with them, we'd never purchased a link, all SEO work was either onsite optimisation or increasing their brand awareness.
Could this have been a pre-emptive strike from a competitor? The evidence suggests, that these were all auto submitted. The same keywords, descriptions and most of them in random, unrelated categories. Several of the webmasters have also given me email addresses that were used to place the links, they were all different and seemingly auto generated. No 2 email addresses were the same.
What's surprised me is, that these guys are the absolute authority in a massively profitable niche. Their link profile is otherwise strong, they are naturally linked to from big publications to smaller blogs, discussed in forums etc.
It's certainly worrying that such damage could be done, using some auto submit software and it's definitely opened my eyes, as to just how vulnerable websites are to negative SEO.
I've contacted each website involved a total of 3 times and have documented the entire process and marked links that have been removed etc.
If the process doesn't remove enough links, to undo the effects, then I want my client to submit a reconsideration request.
What I want to know, is whether or not my client should be honest. My concern is that if they're honest and say they didn't place the links, it will go against them. Google must hear that story 1,000 times a day.
But then again, they shouldn't have to accept responsibility for something they didn't do. And as they've gone to great lengths to get the links removed, I feel they've done all they can.
Any advice, thoughts or opinions would be great.
Thanks a lot.