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Penguin 2.1 Launched; October 4, 2013

     

netmeg

10:10 pm on Oct 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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



Tweet from Matt:

Penguin 2.1 launching today. Affects ~1% of searches to a noticeable degree.

Jez123

4:16 pm on Oct 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



@sixsigmaus & Jez123 - could you provide some details which would be helpful for members?


OK, here's what I did, FWIW.

My main site was hit with Penguin 1.0 on 24/4/12 and I lost approximately 70% of traffic. 100% of quality traffic.

As soon as I knew it was link related I removed any links that I could control, Opera blog and a related sitewide of my own, plus links from a friend who always generously linked to any new pages I put up.

Then I waited for a while and in that time redesigned the site and tried to gain loading speed by moving all images to the cloud to speed everything up. De optimised some of the pages titles and any excessive KW counts.

All of this caused the site to drop further. Most likely due to loss of what quite easily could have been links that google didn't know about or wasn't bothered about.

A while after that I looked closely at my backlink profile and discovered that someone had run xrumer (or similar spam tool) on my site and added loads of spam forum profile links and bookmarks. This turned out to be a misunderstanding by someone that was helping me to put a link bait idea that we had had and he instructed someone in India to add 1,000 links pointing at my site. He apologised and did what he could to help me get those removed.

I also found that an article that I had written in 2004 had been syndicated to 100's of really spammy article sites. I couldn't do anything about those so when the disavow tool was launched I disavowed them along with some other nasties that I still don't know where they came from.

All this time, no gains, most decent KW's were way out/ Page 12 and beyond and in one case page 50 to 55 (it fluctuated).

I pretty much gave up at this point and launched 2 more sites to cover 2 of my main sites main niches. And concentrated on these for as while.

In May this year Penguin was updated and my site looked a lot healthier. The main SERP's came mostly to page 3 to 5 and some longer tail stuff was getting about 30% more traffic. About this time I looked at the link profile again and went through the disavow again and caught any links that I had either missed, weren't present or were new and submitted it.

I didn't do any link building in this time. I was lucky enough to get one of my products written about in the guardian.co.uk (big UK newspaper) and a link from them and then subsequently a few other magazines etc picked up their story and kept my link intact so that was probably quite a powerful trust adding bit of luck. Even with these powerful links, there was no movement on the site's SERPs (this was back in July this year) until Penguin was refreshed this weekend. This tells me that adding links alone will not pull a site out of Penguin. Nothing will happen until the refresh.

The only other thing that I have spent a lot of time doing has been pinning my products on Pinterest. The links that you get from that are nofollow but it's fairly easy to get hundreds or even thousands if your pins are popular (plus you can get some traffic too). I am wondering if these links helped balance my link profile and water down nasties and too much direct anchors. This is just speculation but I believe that it helped.

My site is probably not as strong as before Penguin hit it – and it may even get stronger after another Penguin update (just a feeling due to some KW's seemingly still “penalised”) but I am not complaining. The site is my main business as well as my main income so I am happy to have it returned to me. Lets hope it sticks.

The main thing is that it seems that you WILL NOT recover from Penguin without a Penguin refresh. It is possible to do though.

So to recap. The things I think that helped are:

Removing / disavowing bad links.

Diluting links with nofollow, no anchor links. Such as social media

Getting extremely good new links that are unsolicited preferably without direct anchor text.

Being good and keeping your nose clean for 16 months.

netmeg

4:28 pm on Oct 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

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



My top site has never been hit by Penguin, but since the 4th I've seen a 34% increase in the amount of Google referrals. With the limited amount of keyword data I'm still getting from my stats program, it looks like I'm getting more long tail keyphrases and some keyphrases I've never seen before.


Maybe the Penguin didn't affect you directly at all, but affected others in your sector, sending more traffic your way. I've definitely seen some signs of this on a couple client sites.

aquanaut

6:50 pm on Oct 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



@Whitey - Last disavow update was 6 weeks ago and the first one just after penguin 2.0 (3 months ago) so I am sure google has had enough time to process the file. We have been disavowing the largest sources of spam - anything that has been deindexed, malware or hacked sites, heavily spammed forums and dropped domains re-purposed for link networks. Some of these links probably do pass quite a bit of juice but we do not want anything to do with them. Total domains disavowed would be around 1700 so total links disavowed would a few million.

We did manage to get 500k links removed from a few of the larger free hosts but within a few months these were replaced so link removal is not a viable option - the daily volume of spam is just too much - just the nature of the vertical we live in.

Site has never had a manual penalty and has not been affected by panda as far as we can tell.

smithaa02

7:13 pm on Oct 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Major recovery for us. We did do heavy link scrubbing to get rid of our SEO links and we disavowed those that we couldn't remove.

Perhaps that did the trick?

Whitey

9:45 pm on Oct 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

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



@Jez123 @aquanaut - good feedback +1

Getting extremely good new links that are unsolicited preferably without direct anchor text.

This corresponds with John Mueller's comments regarding "bridging the gap" [webmasterworld.com...]

@smithaa02 - what sort of thresholds were you pushing in the disavow & link removal process ie domains / total domains or links / total links ?

Do you feel that you removed all you could have done or was there more to go?

The reason I ask is that I'm wondering if Google hasn't cut itself some slack [idioms.thefreedictionary.com...] to have another attack on sites later on. Equally, going in too hard on links is likely to leave sites at risk of not ranking at all.

ohno

10:49 am on Oct 8, 2013 (gmt 0)



It will be VERY interesting to see if the ones reporting recovery see it stick. I've seen this before, only days later it goes back to square one.

Jez123

10:53 am on Oct 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

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It will be VERY interesting to see if the ones reporting recovery see it stick


I really hope it does. I have not seen a recovery on this scale revert. For my site at least.

carlos the jackal

2:23 pm on Oct 8, 2013 (gmt 0)



I've had a thought about this update. What are the chances of Google running the refresh, taking sites at 'face value', then applying the disavow data afterwards?

It would make sense for some websites that are reporting issues across the forums (ours included).

diberry

2:52 pm on Oct 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



Maybe the Penguin didn't affect you directly at all, but affected others in your sector, sending more traffic your way. I've definitely seen some signs of this on a couple client sites.


Thanks for sharing this, netmeg! It would seem to fit what I'm seeing.

zambala

3:48 pm on Oct 9, 2013 (gmt 0)



This is the accidental website of Nr.5 on 1 page Google - and I really wonder why? - a .wordpress blog article with some 300 words , 7 articles in the whole site , nothing optimized ,2 silly comments...well, 54 Facebook likes

(OK, I will not put actual URL, not sure if it's allowed)

aquanaut

8:06 pm on Oct 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



@carlos the jackal - are you suggesting that sites might see an initial drop and then a recovery after their disavow file has been processed? I suspect this is what happened to us. We saw an initial 10% hit with a bounceback after around 36/48 hours.

Whitey

10:43 pm on Oct 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

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



@aquanaut - it takes more time than that for Google to respond : see Matt Cutts @ 3:15 [youtube.com...]

Whitey

1:15 am on Oct 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

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



@aquanaut - One more thought, did you file a reconsideration request at the same time as your disavow file?

aquanaut

2:04 am on Oct 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



@Whitey - no we have never had a manual penalty, so did not think we needed to file a reconsideration request.

Link spam has always been an issue for us and we have seen a big uptick again over the last 6 months - we are seeing around 50k showing up every day. Figured we finally needed to do something about is so submitted a disavow about 6 weeks ago to deal with the main sources.

We took a hit in the original penguin update but none of the others until this one. This drop was about 10% but that has mostly come back. Not sure if the disavow caused the drop OR the bounceback OR maybe to soon to tell - will wait a few weeks to see what happens.

carlos the jackal

7:32 am on Oct 10, 2013 (gmt 0)



@aquanaut - I'm not sure. I'm hoping so.

Our situation is this - we received a manual penalty in March 2012, and worked on link scrubbing, finally disavowing the stubborn links that clung on. Early last month (yes, it took us that long) we had the penalty revoked.

Friday 4th came and we were hit by Penguin, dropping one page on average for most, if not all, keywords.

I can't understand how we could be punished when we'd cleaned up our act and had all spam removed or disavowed. We still have a great amount of blog comment spam (neg SEO IMO), but this has been disavowed for some time. The only thing I can conclude (and hope) is that the update isn't quite done yet.

Bones

2:43 pm on Oct 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



The only thing I can conclude (and hope) is that the update isn't quite done yet.


Sadly, I don't think that's the case.

Matt Cutts recently tweeted that it was an "algo update + data refresh".

carlos the jackal

2:48 pm on Oct 10, 2013 (gmt 0)



Sadly, I don't think that's the case.

Matt Cutts recently tweeted that it was an "algo update + data refresh".


You think it's finished rolling out then?

tigger

3:18 pm on Oct 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

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



Carlos

Just to offer you a little bit of hope - I'm watching a couple of sites that are currently ranking that shouldn't be because they are auto generated doorway sites and the sites haven't been touched in 6 years! - both are ranking high, both are pure spam...I can't see how G thinks its good to display rubbish like that

I bet we see a refresh next week or maybe the weekend, if not then more users than are currently leaving G will be heading over to bing

Bones

3:55 pm on Oct 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



You think it's finished rolling out then?


It's looking that way. :-(

ohno

4:04 pm on Oct 10, 2013 (gmt 0)



No way on earth this is finished, the signs are all there that it's been ongoing since Tuesday. All IMO of course.

Bones

4:11 pm on Oct 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



No way on earth this is finished, the signs are all there that it's been ongoing since Tuesday.


Panda, maybe?

ohno

4:16 pm on Oct 10, 2013 (gmt 0)



I think so....

diberry

10:08 pm on Oct 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



One of my sites got a new, totally natural inbound link yesterday, which sent me some good traffic. Today suddenly my Google referrals are up 47%. Unfortunately, I don't know what search phrases are seeing the increase.

Whitey

4:25 am on Oct 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

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



@sixsigmaus & Jez123 / others
(5) With that, when you do add comments to your disavow tool properly use comment out tags. People often forget to uncomment out or comment out and it causes syntax errors. It may be better off not to comment at all in the file or limit your commenting, Matt said. [searchengineland.com...]
Matt Cutt's made a big thing out of wanting to see siteowners making efforts to get link removed, although this quote is not supporting this as strongly.

Did your disavow success include using domain: and/or #comments with regards notes to contacting webmasters to take down links?

[edited by: Whitey at 4:57 am (utc) on Oct 11, 2013]

Jez123

8:18 am on Oct 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



@whitey. Yes, I and the guy that inadvertently spammed me manually took down loads of forum profiles. I manually removed my own "link spam" Opera blog and my own sites that were linking in (though after seeing the discussion here [webmasterworld.com ] I wonder if I did the right thing in that - maybe it was just too much direct anchor text?)

I asked my generous friend to remove the links that he had freely given over the years - again - probably too rich in anchor text.

I disavowed about 4 or 5 pages of article syndication spam (the same article repeated hundreds of times across many, many copy cat article sites) and some other junk that I still don't know how it got there.

I forgot to mention that in links gained - there weren't many, but I got a link from wikipedia. Coupled with the strong UK newspaper and some magazines that linked to me I think that the authority of those links might have tipped the balance. Or google took its foot off my head for while.

EDIT - I used # comments on the ones that I couldn't remove myself.

Sample of what I used is: # Contacted the author at last but refused to help even when I offered to pay. Said it was impossible.

Whitey

8:47 am on Oct 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

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



Sample of what I used is: # Contacted the author at last but refused to help even when I offered to pay. Said it was impossible.

It's good that you have escaped, but I wonder if Google might like a bit more detail. e.g. something along the lines of:

# Contacted the author ( name if possible ) at author@example.com on MM/DD/YY last but refused to help even when I offered to pay. Said it was impossible.

I'm thinking that these files might get reviewed and the added detail might assist a better sense of authenticity to Google. What's the thinking for those that have done this, or are contemplating it?

Jez123

9:04 am on Oct 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



@ Whitey. I did ponder what to put. Makes sense I suppose. I did wonder to myself if they ever were or ever would be read at all. I feel like it needs to be ultra brief and directly to the point as you may be including several "excuses" per file. I know if I was expected to read it I would want the facts upfront with no fluff.

ohno

9:10 am on Oct 11, 2013 (gmt 0)



I'm finding it hard to believe they are read at all! Is that scalable? Think how many files are uploaded thanks to the updates, there must be millions? Reviewing all that info with nothing more than non standard reasons after a #

Hmm.....

Jez123

9:19 am on Oct 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Hmm.....


I agree. Hmm..... I'd even go so far to say Hmmm......

carlos the jackal

9:29 am on Oct 11, 2013 (gmt 0)



I rescued our site from a manual penalty by wading straight in with 'domain:' disavowals, 1200 in all, with no notes added at all. It worked and we had the penalty revoked.

Of course less than a month later we got nailed by Penguin ...
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