Penguin Update

by Galyna on April 28, 2012

April 24 Google Update - How to Recover

What’s Up

On April 24, 2012 Google issued another update, called Penguin (this is actually is not a real name of an update, G itself describes it as an “algorithm change targeted at webspam”). Some of my sites that used to be on #1 in G got badly affected. While others did not and actually raised in SERPs.

What is Penguin Update

It is an “algorithm change targeted at webspam”. If you’ve notice that your site suddenly dropped rankings on April 24 or few days later, this very likely to be a reason.

What Known About This Update

As you might be aware, G never tells what exact changes they’ve implemented. This so “bad people” would not game the system. This leaves us to guess and to use Sherlock Holmes methods to find out how to recover from penalties.

  1. Update affect sites with keyword stuffing.
  2. Update affect sites that have backlinks that are completely unrelated to the actual content.
  3. It’s a penalty that’s applied automatically, not manually. That means that reconsideration requests won’t help. That also mean that if you remove all factors that triggered the penalty, it suppose to be removed next time Googlebot crawl your site.
  4. Algorithm affects about 3.1% of queries in English to a degree that a regular user might notice.
Here is My Plan of Actions

1. Check Google webmaster tools account for messages.
I did and didn’t find any clues there. No messages.

2. Go to Webmaster Central thread about ranking and read what other people are saying.
The real gold is when you see the actual real G employee respond to people’s questions.

3. Go to official G search blog. Read this post about April, 24 penalty

4. Read what reputable SEO sources such as Search Engine Land have to say.

5. Compare my own sites that got affected and those that had not.

So far I can tell that larger sites with more than 20 pages (and more than 1 year old) were not affected or even raised in SERPs. Small niche sites that have less than 20 pages and were receiving most traffic for one main keyword – got affected.

6. Compare Top10 competition. What are they doing/or not doing that I am missing.

I will look into several factors: keyword density, domain age, how many pages website has, backlinks profile and many other factors. I then will compare it with my own sites’ factors and implement changes to look like sites in Top10.

7. Clean up on-page factors:

– Removed outbound links to questionable sites. Links to sites like Wikipedia are still fine.

– Check for broken links with “Broken Link Checker” plugin for WordPress.

– Remove some AdSense blocks for now.

– Check keyword density with “Keyword density checker” plugin for WordPress. Make sure it’s less than 1% for main keyword.
Use keyword density checker to compare with sites in Top 3.
Remove more than one H1 (H2,H3) tags. Remember that title of WordPress post/page already is H1. So another H1 within article would be too much.
– Use to check on-page factors and compare with Top3.
Use same Meta keywords they are targeting.
– Tried to change homepage so it’ll show latest posts instead of a static page.
Website started to rank for main keyword! It was secondary page that ranks #92, but still it’s better than nothing.   Will see how it goes.
8. Off-page factors:
– Check backlinking profile for Top10 competitors.
I’ve noticed that the difference is that sites in current Top10 mostly have their URLs as an anchor text. As opposite, I had partially match anchors and sometimes keyword rich anchor text. Got to fix that.
This is much harder to fix though than on-page factors. So today I am going to write a quality article and post it to my site. Once I do, WordPress should automatically pin it and Googlebot will come to crawl my site. Once it does, it will see all on-page changes I’ve made and I’ll see whether it helped to my site.
I did write an article and posted it to my site. Googlebot did come but no changes in SERPs. This might mean that site will may bounce back once Google run another algorithmic update on their part. This might take few months.. 
My plan B: If sites not recover, I plan to take them all down, take articles from those sites and create one large authority site with them. (Many of sites are in similar niche). 
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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Vin 05.01.12 at 1:20 am

I definitely believe this update was all about off-site factors and had very little to do with on-site stuff. There have been plenty of reports of thin sites with very little content rising to the top of the SERPs. The one I’ve heard most about was “Make Money Online.” The number one result was a blank blogspot site with no content. It magically disappeared after everyone started freaking out about it.

I agree that you should keep your ear to the ground and get all of your information from Google and reputable blogs. My best suggestion would be to continue to build high quality contextual links with a ton of varied anchor text.

Hope this helps!

2 Galyna 05.01.12 at 4:33 pm

Vin, I am starting to think the same… Backlinks were the main reason… I also found one article that describes that the factor is “your backlinking profile differ from most of your competitors” therefore it looks unnatural to G. Therefore G penalize you.

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