Google Penguin and SEO Recovery

So it’s been exactly a month since Google took the SEO World by surprise with its infamous Penguin update. Although widely criticized, Google didn’t flinch and keeps updating its algorithm as it’s always been doing.

Thus, one of the big topics lately, in Japan and the rest of the World has been “How the hell do I recover from the Penguin?”. Let me share with you my experience in this topic, as I was able to help a few struggling clients get their traffic back.

The first thing do understand is that penalties from Penguin are given automatically. In other words, there has to be some sort of “Overoptimization/Spam score” being calculated for pages and websites, and if your score is too high, you get your ass kicked. As simple as that. So in theory, recovering from these penalties is all about adjusting a number of variables.

It is believed the penalty is applied depending on a number of pondered factors, anchor text distribution being by far the most important one. I will focus on anchors for this article, but please understand that you will only help yourself if you remove links to low quality pages and avoid keyword stuffing/aggressive internal links. If anchors are not the problem, it is something you may want to take a look at.

So, back to recovery, I would see two big cases, which correspond to two levels of penalty:

  1. Page-based penalty: Only some of your pages have seen their rankings drop significantly. This one is rather easy, just check each individual page and the links they receive. Change the anchors of links you have control over to something less aggressive, and create new ones, also with “natural” anchors (brand name, “here”, URL…). Editing the page’s contents, adding new info can also help send positive signals to Google. If it’s not enough, recreate the page with a new URL and updated contents.
  2. Site-wide penalty: That one’s nasty. If you get it, it means you really screwed up your SEO and probably have thousands of nasty links pointing at you. Here, you have two possibilities: if you have some level of control on most of these links, go ahead and edit them, removing the lowest quality ones, creating new good quality links, maybe add a few good pages on your site, then wait and pray. If not, this is tough to hear, but you will probably need to start a new page. In this case, my advice is to reuse all your legit contents, get the old, good links pointing at your new domain when possible, and redirect the old pages that you consider of good quality and that don’t have a lot of bad links pointing at them

It might sound like a lot of work, but if your contents are good, there is no reason not to recover from the penalties you may get. Like I said in my previous post, this update is changing the SEO World and I still believe the Japanese SERPs didn’t benefit from the update at all, but the only thing you can really do is get back to work and put good stuff out.

If you were hit by the update or are trying to improve your rankings, please feel free to check my service page. And if you want a quick, free and informal diagnosis for your damaged site, just drop a quick comment below!

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