Preferred Member from GB
joined:July 25, 2005
I've got another confirmed Penguin 3.0 recovery and I thought I'd share some details with you. Who knows, maybe somebody finds this useful.
Attached is the weekly sessions report for Google organic source and there's been an average of 31% increase in organic traffic.
It's a medium-size website in a specific healthcare niche.
It has never had any manual actions and it has been hit by each successive Penguin update starting from April 24, 2012. Except for this last one, of course.
The client's webmaster has been updating disavow files ever since Google opened the tool to general public. And I think the main problem was with the disavow file.
I started by removing as many links as possible manually. It wasn't a big success because the majority of the links were controlled by a network owned by one of the client's previous SEO companies. BTW, they're still operating and have taken on new staff, so who says spam doesn't pay?
The amount of links removed was negligible, so there's no way this could have lead to recovery in isolation.
Then the disavow file. There were a few issues with it and I'll try to be as detailed as possible to hopefully help someone not to repeat these:
1. It had a lot of false positives - sites that you don't have to disavow. For example, a respectable infographic site that has nofollowed ALL its external links. And it's been nofollow since the dinosaur ages, so no need to disavow that. Also, a lot of resource list links. I never disavow links only because they're on a resource list or a page that's got "links.html" in its url. There are good resource pages and bad ones.
2. Typos. The file had a few commas and it also had this line in the middle of the list:
quotes and a comma. I don't know how Google handles typos, so it's better to make sure you don't have any.
3. The most popular Article directories were missed. Even the baddie daddy of the article directories was left out.
4. The original file had lots of blank rows. I have no indication to believe blank rows can cause problems but since it only took a few seconds I got rid of them.
5. It only contained domains downloaded from GWT. I used additional two link crawler tools and combined the results ending up with a much longer list.
In terms of recovery, it is nowhere near the pre April 24, 2012 traffic level but this is understandable because the site has now lost the majority of links that helped it rank high back then.
Normally, when you're confident, you do branding/link building alongside the recovery effort so that you get more traffic when the recovery kicks in. The client had no confidence in this site so he didn't allow me to build any fresh links. Now that the phones are ringing once again, he wants more links but, I tell you, he's not getting many - you need to read this post on Google Historical Data Patent to see what I mean:
A site that has had no link building history for the last 12 months can't just start adding dozens of links without triggering another penalty.
I uploaded the disavow file in early September and there was no movement whatsoever until the Penguin update happened. So, a disavow file has to be "activated" in order for it to start working. On this occasion, it was the update itself that activated the file.