I haven't been hanging out here or at any other SEO sites much for quite a while now, so I'm a little behind with what is going on with Google updates.
But from what I can tell, since traffic on my main site dropped down to about a 3rd of what it was around the end of April, I guess I've been hit by Penguin.
In any case, my site is a legitimate site, not just set up for spam, blackhat stuff or something like that. And Google was very effective at shutting down most of the traffic to my site.
I posted a little about it a while back in another forum. Some years ago me and a few other bloggers had all applied to another site to be one of their bloggers and got rejected, so we decided to set up a little network of our own about the same, somewhat broad, topic. We had no intention of doing anything spammy, hadn't even thought of anything like that.
Shortly after we started I noticed one member the group had hidden text and stuff on his site, so I never linked to him, just to the others. The other people in the group didn't know html or SEO, mostly they had blogspot blogs and stuff like that, so they had no idea what he was doing.
I noticed recently that he was still linking to me (as well as the others) and that his site had gotten even worse - very spammy looking with possible malware, etc.
I also noticed in GWT that the largest number of links to my site were from him. 8254 at the time, then 8500 and last I checked, 8748.
Not aware that the disavow tool had just been released I went searching for something like that and found it. When I asked about it most people seemed to advise against using it - but I finally did. Saturday night I decided to do it anyway, even if it didn't have anything to do with my traffic loss in April, I don't really want to be associated with that site.
On my disavow.txt file, I left really long comments explaining the whole thing, like here, only in more detail with specifics. I'll wait and see if it helps any.
Of course it could have also been that the links from his site were helping me before, got discounted and so my rankings dropped, I don't know.
I should try and get some more links - more recent ones, to my site, but that is hard. I used to think I knew what I was doing, now I don't know where to start.
I worry a little about some pages that are kind of short, but then I've seen web sites of major magazines that have pages with little actual text that seem to be doing just fine - a couple paragraphs of text and the rest of the page is ads or links to other internal pages. They divide the article text up into lots of short pages, my site isn't any worse than that and I don't have a tons of ads or other links on those pages either.
I'll still try to make those pages better, I had been planning to reorganize/reformat the main content of the site anyway, so I guess I can try and do that sooner.
I'm curious to know if others with 'legitimate' sites have also been affected like me? Has anyone else left really long comments in their disavow file? I don't know if that will annoy them or they will really read it and see that my site a real site and wasn't trying to be involved in something bad.