Google Penguin Recovery Process
So a site of ours was hit hard by the Google Penguin update on the 24th April. At first, we thought it must be just a blip until I jumped onto twitter and a few of the usual forums and realised that Google had released a new algorithm update by the name of “Penguin” and that this was going to change the SEO landscape forever.
Now, the thing I want to get out straight away is that you cannot believe any of the Penguin Recovery Stories that are out there in the forums until you see facts and figures. The only single story so far that I believe is the WPMU Recovery as posted on a trusted source of SEOMoz.org. If you were truly hit by the Google Penguin then you would have seen your traffic plummet on the 24th April (fact!), you will not be able to see a steady recovery back until you make changes and then wait for the next Penguin Refresh (fact!). So all those stories about sites that have recovered from penguin but give you very little information I would not rely on. I would focus on the facts we have:
- One great sample site that made changes after Penguin hit (removed footer links) then waiting for Penguin Refresh 1.1. and saw a recovery.
- Matt Cutts in an interview with SMX Advanced stated that Penguin runs like Panda in that it requires a manual refresh.
So what are we doing to help our Google Penguin Recovery?
- Download all links from Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) to our website so we have a good idea of what links google is looking at, I think had a small application developed that looked at each of these links and found whether there was still a Live link here and if so what its anchor text was.
- I then also used MajesticSEO to download all backlinks to my site and combined this with the data from GWT’ and got a feeling for my anchor text. It is here that I found that we were over-optimised for our main keywords and that our link profile could look quite un-natural.
- I also went through all GWT HTML Errors and fixed those, most were resolved with a Canonical reference now being included in the site. (Note: The frustrating thing about GWT is that it is so slow to update the changes you make).
- Removed all footer links from external sites referring to us.
- Removed many of the low quality links referring to us. The site had over 15K links, we removed about 1500 very low quality links… this took quite a bit of time and a lot of emails to webmasters!
- Built up better quality links with guest blog posts and more diverse anchor text.
- Constantly monitoring Anchor Text %!
Anchor Text Diversity
I believe this to be the single biggest issue as to why Penguin to a swipe at this site, with the main keyword accounting for over 70% of links to the site, the thing is with this website it is what the website is all about and its the main source of traffic to the site and the website converts well with this term. However, Google doesn’t agree with it so we have had to amend the diversity. We have done this by removing links, creating new links and amending existing links. Some website owners have been great about it and understanding and some dont understand why we would want it changed or a link removed. But over the last 3 months I believe we have come a long way in improving the sites anchor text diversity and as of today (17th July 2012) it rests at the below:
The other keywords section that accounts for 28% consist of 60 other anchor texts so there is quite a spread.
So whats next?
Well, for the moment I am glued to twitter waiting for news on the next Penguin Refresh. I believe it will be at the end of this month, that will mean its been 3 months really since the first update and the majority of sites that were hit by penguin would not have recovered in time for the first Penguin Refesh (1.1) and so will be preparing for recovery by the end of July and also that means its roughly 90 days which is similar to their manual penalties they impose. So we will see… expect an update from me shortly after the next Penguin Refresh.
If anyone has been hit by penguin and would like me to look into it for them and suggest an action plan feel free to contact me by email or twitter. Good luck!