Google’s Penguin update was rolled out this week. It focuses on several things including, site-wide links that go against Google Webmaster Guidelines, spun content and over optimisation. If you think you have been hit by the latest update then there are a few things that you should consider doing before complaining to Google.
1. It is very likely that you would have recieved an “unnatural links detected” notice. Analyse your back link profile and single out any site-wide links from non-relevant blogs/sites. Here is a simple method that you can utilize to achieve this.
2. If your rankings have dropped it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have been hit by the Penguin update. Google did make a mistake and admitted that it was incorrectly classifying some subdomain/domains as “parked domains”. Matt Cutts from Google recommends filling out this form for those who believe they were targeted by mistake. The form says “if your site was affected by the “Penguin” webspam algorithm update on April 24th, 2012, and you don’t think it should have been affected, please give us more details below. It will then as you for the URL of your page, a few examples of keywords that you’d expect it to show for but which instead lists “non-ideal results” and any additional comments.
3. If your back link profile highlights that you have acquired links from non-relevant site, particularly links that are placed site-wide then I recommend removing those links and submitting a reconsideration request. Give as much information as you can in your reconsideration request. It would be very useful to highlight all the links that you have taken down.
If your analytic data indicates that your traffic dropped before 24th of April then it is very likely that your site was hit by the latest Panda update and not Penguin. Panda 3.5 was rolled out on 19th April to target low quality sites, in some ways Panda 3.5 only takes into account content and not your back link profile.
With that said, if your site has low quality pages and you have acquired unnatural links then it is very likely that you have or will be hit by both updates.
Was the Penguin Update successful?
It is too early to to make a judgement because it takes some time before these updates come into full effect. With that said, several individuals have highlighted that the latest updates weren’t that successful. For example if you search for viagra, you will see a lot of spammy and hacked sites. Danny Sullivan‘s research reveals some interesting facts on this. He states that “Google fails to list the official Viagra site in the top results, something that Bing gets right.”