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Recovering from Penguin is it worth it?

     
9:49 pm on Nov 18, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Do you think Google might take a year again to update Pengin?

If you had a specialized niche business that got screwed by Google would you still try to recover it after a year?

The past month alone I've had success removing tons of bad links by hiring a link removing service and calling up and emailing webmasters themselves through whois data information.

This last Penguin I had a slight boost but still clearly penalized by Google.

What do you think, is Google likely to put out updates more often now?

Thanks
12:24 am on Nov 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I think if I was in that position I would switch the domain to https without a redirect and just start over
3:30 am on Nov 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

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A hard question to answer because the unsuccessful efforts seem to get more exposure than the successful ones. However, even allowing for that, I suspect that most people have been considerably underwhelmed by what they have achieved from their Penguin repair efforts and/or efforts to climb out from Penguin collateral damage.

The huge investment in time arranging nofollows, disavow lists, unlink me requests, adding fresh content, upgrading site content, adding social etc etc etc .... has amounted to diddly squat for many people. Total waste of time and money.

IMO, and I'd love to be proven wrong, Penguin was a lot more than an attack on bad link profiles. In my travel niche, every "freeloader" site that made money off free traffic from Google SERP's disappeared post Penguin and have never recovered. The replacements were all the authority affiliate sites we see today.

There is a strong belief in my region that Penguin lowered the boom on small to medium sites in highly competitive niches that relied solely on free SERP's driven traffic. In the travel sector, those sites were mostly affiliate operators. There is no real expectation that any of these sites are ever coming back. Why would Google send traffic to freeloader sites that contribute nothing to their bottom line? A commercial reality....

There have been some reports of Penguin recoveries but I can't recall any that involved sites competing directly with Google in its own niches.

By all means do your own research in your niche, see if any of the above fits your situation... but don't get hung up on seeking a technical solution when it might just be a case that Google does not like your business model.
4:05 pm on Nov 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

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IMO, and I'd love to be proven wrong, Penguin was a lot more than an attack on bad link profiles. In my travel niche, every "freeloader" site that made money off free traffic from Google SERP's disappeared post Penguin and have never recovered. The replacements were all the authority affiliate sites we see today.


I'm not sure what you mean by "freeloader sites" or "authority affiliate sites," but Google has never made a secret of its dislike for thin affiliate sites. If you were using the Web 15 years ago, you'll probably remember how SERPs from the various search engines (including Google) were cluttered with boilerplate affiliate pages. A search on "Hotel Widgetville Arms" would yield hundreds of pages that had the same photos, the same lists of bullet points, the same search boxes, and the same rates. There absolutely nothing to distinguish them from each other except their churn-and-burn domains.

Of course Google wanted to get rid of such garbage, and of course it still does--not because such pages represent a financial threat to Google and its stockholders, but because they annoy searchers and lower the quality of Google's SERPs (as anyone who used search in the heyday of thin datafeed affiliate pages will understand).

BTW, intrinsically useful pages with affiliate links can rank quite well in Google, and those affiliate links can produce significant income.
10:47 pm on Nov 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Would switching to a new domain or https really be a good idea? My feeling is maybe the penalty would follow you or Google could associate the deindexed site with the new one? Not sure about that though.

Also my website is a specialized niche! We provide value and even if Google will put Amazon and Office Depot before us on some searches I can't imagine Google has a vested interest in my industry.

We also provide value for the internet! That's partly why this is so frustrating, I could put out a great article and Google's Penguin will laugh at it and give us like 2-4 visits a day.

I don't want to trash the site though cause I feel like if there is another refresh it could possibly be in a good position but Google also has kileld my income so I think maybe startin a second site might be a way to go even though it is very annoying to have to write all new content for a site but I have access and connections to all these great products and Penguin is hating on my site at the moment for the past year and a half.

All this said - Webmaster tools shows 67% up in impressions and 25% in clicks at 3,870 impressions and 70 clicks - I'm not sure if imprssions also includes searches that block me with ommitted searches so that may also be why which is another way Google is currently screwing my website.

Also if a Google employee reads this - I'd like to be on good terms with Google but it is hard to when they are killing your search engine traffic. :/

Thanks for the ideas.
12:14 am on Nov 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I don't want to take the OP too far off topic, but:

"freeloader sites"…. totally dependant on getting traffic from organic listings. Their business model is based on Google providing the traffic while they make money off the transactions.

"authority affiliate sites" …. Expedia, Trip Advisor etc. These guys make money selling merchant products and services, just like any other affiliate.

They survived Penguin (root domain authority?) while the small to medium guys did not, nor have I seen any recovery in my niche. There used to be numerous sites selling holiday accommodation in a very popular vacation destination and every single site was wiped out. Several of these sites were comprehensive, content rich destination guides with just a handful of unique "sell" pages. Before Penguin these sites drifted on a cloud of Google love and affection, after Penguin they had apparently developed a condition that required them to be kept from public view.

A multi-site wipeout on the same day from the same algo update is almost certainly the result of an intended action, not a coincidence. Some sites deserved to go but the fact that good sites were hit, and more importantly, have never recovered, makes me think the "thin affiliate" argument is too simplistic.

Google has never made a secret of its dislike for thin affiliate sites.


I seem to recall seeing posts and comments at various times (Tedster may have been one?) to the effect that Google dislikes ALL affiliates. The logic is that if the merchant wants exposure, they can buy Adwords… an affiliate is just an unnecessary middleman… affiliate sites clog up the SERP's with repetitive dross… why should Google's resources be used to provide free traffic to the affiliate…. and so on.

useful pages with affiliate links can rank quite well in Google, and those affiliate links can produce significant income


I agree…. a good page with unique content should have no problems just because there is a nofollowed link to an affiliate site. But if there are multiple pages that promote and link to affiliate products, then there is a clear signal the site is intentionally soliciting affiliate transactions. I wonder if that is a tipping point for Google to determine what is an affiliate site and what is not?
2:18 am on Nov 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

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But if there are multiple pages that promote and link to affiliate products, then there is a clear signal the site is intentionally soliciting affiliate transactions. I wonder if that is a tipping point for Google to determine what is an affiliate site and what is not?


There may well be a tipping point, but it probably isn't as simple as "multiple pages" or "X percent of pages." For what it's worth, our site has quite a few affiliate links (and many pages that include affiliate links), but we do quite well in Google Search--probably because the affiliate links are more like ads than the site's reason for being. (In other words, we use affiliate links, but we aren't "affiliate marketers." We sell to live, but we don't live to sell.)

I know that a lot of people think Google dislikes all affiliates, but Google's Webmaster Guidelines suggest otherwise:

[support.google.com...]

Anecdotal side note: A number of years ago, one of our pages of affiliate links was featured in a leaked Google quality raters' manual as an example of a "good" affiliate page. The accompanying text said that we added value with articles and other content. Interestingly enough, the page itself was simply an organized list of affiliate links. Most of the cited "added value" wasn't on that page, but was elsewhere on the site.
2:31 am on Nov 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Emphasis Added
A number of years ago, one of our pages of affiliate links was featured in a leaked Google quality raters' manual as an example of a "good" affiliate page. The accompanying text said that we added value with articles and other content. Interestingly enough, the page itself was simply an organized list of affiliate links. Most of the cited "added value" wasn't on that page, but was elsewhere on the site.

And we wonder why Google appears to be "broken" at times -- LOL
4:13 am on Nov 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

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JD_Toims: But Google wasn't broken. Google was looking at the site as a whole, even back then. (For what it's worth, the page of affiliate links was intrinsically useful to the reader, even if it seems primitive in comparison to what we provide today. And even today, that page and site would adhere to Google's affiliate guidelines.)

Again: Google isn't opposed to affiliate links, it's opposed to thin affiliate sites. (And that isn't simply my opinion; it's stated clearly in Google's Webmaster Guidelines.)

Edited to add:

I probably should have mentioned that those affiliate links back in the day were annotated links. (And the pages of links were probably no more than 1 percent of the site's total pages, so it would have been clear to any quality rater that the site wasn't an "affiliate site," let alone a "thin affiliate site.")
4:56 am on Nov 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Of course Google wasn't and didn't seem to be broken in your opinion. You ranked and got promoted in it's guidelines -- Nothing like a totally biased opinion to "set things straight" about Google's results and how they're perceived by the rest of the people who didn't get mentioned and/or promoted in it's quality guidelines.

Also, the rest of the story you seem to forget to tell is your site got *spanked* by Panda and still has not recovered to pre-panda levels of traffic AFAIK based on your posts, so, seriously, was Google right (not broken) when it promoted and ranked your site, or, was Google right (not broken) when Panda tanked you, because it can't be both.
4:35 am on Nov 26, 2014 (gmt 0)

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ever thought that your problem was not about links and penguin?

so many people are chasing the same wrong thing without actually testing why they dont rank. google updates the algo at the same time as they run the penguin and this seems to be enough to confuse most when the real solution is elsewhere... just sayin
4:47 am on Nov 26, 2014 (gmt 0)

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It is Penguin without question. I fixed up any potential Panda issues. My site when people looking for the products find it often buy from me. I've had customers from the embassy before.

The site is kept up to date, I keep blog posts updated and try to make them interesting and informative, product descriptions are original, etc...

The drops in traffic coinsided with the Penguin update from about two years ago. During this penguin update my site briefly recovered then fell back down as if they didn't let it recover for some reason.

I recently had luck getting rid of a number of offending links that were from overseas and over optimized anchor text - I have a feeling with another penguin update my site can see big improvements.

Basically since about two penguins ago my site went down from somewhere around 100 visitors today to 5 a day from Google.
 

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