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Recovery Tips for Penguin Impacted Site

4:04 pm on Feb 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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System: The following message was cut out of thread at: https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4834186.htm [webmasterworld.com] by goodroi - 11:54 am on Feb 13, 2017 (utc -5)

Hi I was wondering if you guys could give me some advice..

Long time lurker and first time poster.

I've taken over the SEO for an existing website that has been live since 2005. Previously it has been penalized through penguin and various tools show alot of spammy backlinks have been built over the years for this site.

I've disavowed these backlinks and in the last 6 month cleaned the site. Novembers update saw us rise to page 1 for our biggest keyword and Januarys update has knocked us back to page 9! now even though organic traffic has slightly increased despite this and all other keywords are steadily staying put or slowly climbing i just cant seem to move us up for this high volume keyword (one step forward and two steps back)

However we're staying put organically for longtail keywords that include this specific high volume keyword.
Is there anything i'm not aware of that would do this to one specific term? I've only ever experienced a drop across the board not one specific term. Id like to think that keyword stuffing would have this effect but we have the keyword mentioned less than some of our higher ranking competitors who are just blatently keyword stuffing.

Any help please? :)
7:00 pm on Feb 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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joined:Dec 11, 2014
posts: 43
votes: 14

In my experience, site's that have a history of Penguin can be more susceptible to other "issues" that other websites (your competitors) can ignore. Without looking at the website it's hard to tell. I had a client in a similar situation of ranking OK for long-tail keywords, and low for the primary keywords. They had link issues, as well as a subdomain that was very low quality, but still receiving the traffic (actually receiving more traffic than the root domain). We cleaned up the link profile, took down the subdomain, and redirected every page on that subdomain to the homepage. We have seen tremendous growth after this past update. So, look if there are any parts of the site that you can fix quality-wise, even if they are getting traffic. Hopefully this gets the wheels turning. If not, sorry for the long post!
7:22 pm on Feb 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator not2easy is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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Mass redirection to a single page might give a temporary bump, but the fall is almost inevitable if those are 301 redirects because they are considered to be "Soft 404" errors which are less desirable than 404s you would have by deleting the pages. If they are 302 rewrites and never replaced with new pages, that can come back to haunt you as well.

The redirected pages are given a break, as it is a temporary status if they are 302 redirected. That is seen as a temporary handling during a change, but if no change shows up, they are not beneficial.
9:20 am on Feb 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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joined:Sept 16, 2015
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Considering the granularity of Penguin 4.0 that can drop ranks per keyword, I would be on the look out for all backlinks containing the beefy keyword (even partial match) and disavow those. That might take a while (in some cases a long while), since Google needs to recrawl each of those linking pages you disavowed, for it to take effect
9:29 am on Feb 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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thanks for the advice guys :)
4:16 pm on Feb 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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joined:Dec 11, 2014
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Without going into too much detail about this client's situation, the subdomain pages were actually very similar and relevant to the homepage where the redirects pointed. So, I wouldn't consider them a soft 404. Two months later, Search Console hasn't considered them a Soft 404 either. It all depends on the situation. Good point though @not2easy. I wouldn't want to point someone down the wrong road.

Good luck @LinkDragmire