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Tales from Penguin 2.0

Gadzoog Group


As many webmasters and SEO (search engine optimization) professionals alike know, Google’s second major installment of the Penguin update was recently released. The Penguin updates main goal is to cut down on spam, and penalize sites who use black hat SEO methods and link building strategies. On the other hand, the update works to reward sites who use white hat SEO and those that follow Google’s recommendations by not spamming low-quality backlinks to their website like many black hat SEO methods recommend.

Once Matt Cutts released a tweet signaling that Penguin 2.0 was coming soon many webmasters from all over the world scurried to see what they could do to stop it from affecting their sites. Hundreds of forum topics were devoted to the simple topic of pre-combatting Penguin 2.0 before it hit. There was even a checklist published completely devoted to steps webmasters could take to assure that they wouldn’t be hit by the Penguin 2.0 update and lose their rankings.

So when the day came that Penguin 2.0 was released (May 22nd, 2013), many webmasters were anticipating the results. Sites that had been utilizing black hat techniques had their fingers crossed, hoping that this update wouldn’t de-value their website’s rankings. Sites utilizing white hat techniques were hoping they would prevail over other sites that are using questionable tactics.

After Penguin 2.0 had some time to settle, and the effects of the update could be clearly seen, many black hat SEO link builders took to forums, talking about how Penguin 2.0 had devastated their website and ruined their rankings. As Penguin 2.0 claimed to have effected 2.4% of search queries, it’s no wonder it effected so many various websites throughout the world. Many horror stories and tales of Penguin 2.0 were shared throughout popular SEO forums – let’s take a look at some of the more prominent stories.

The first Penguin 2.0 horror story we’ll take a look at can be found on the Sitepoint forums. User AndyS1 writes:

“I represent a UK based workwear company and our rankings have fallen following Penguin 2.0. We are a relatively small company compared to many competitors and have noticed the arrival of large companies in the serps. Many are not even in the workwear sector and pretty irrelevant which is annoying. We have not received any correspondence from Google, but our fall from grace particularly for the word workwear has been big.”

The best thing this user could do is manually go through every link in his Google Webmaster Tools, and make sure every link is completely high-quality and relevant to his site. If a backlink isn’t, he can contact the owner of the website and ask them to remove his link, or manually remove it if he has access to it. After he has removed every low-quality link linking to his website, he should then submit his website back to Google for re-approval. As long as he’s removed the low-quality links as mentioned, he should have no issue ranking his site yet again.

Another very similar story can be found on the ever popular WarriorForum from user ChillKing. This person mentions that he was ranking incredibly high for a fairly difficult keyword, and then his rankings dropped like a rock. As he mentions, he was using a rich snippets sidebar link that was indexed on 3,000 different pages. Although this could be the issue, he should also take a look at his backlinks as mentioned earlier, and remove any low-quality ones he finds, then re-submit his website for a re-evaluation.

A great post on MOZ reflects similar stories via the comments section.

This comment from Chanel27 is common it seems:

“We were hit by Google penguin 2.0 because few months ago some SEO agency called us and offered to do SEO for our company but unfortunately after 4 months, we found out that they are doing massive non quality or related business link building. On 22nd May 2013, our ranking suddenly dropped and disappear.”

arindamdutta24 writes:

“We were hit by Search engines penguin 2.0 update and on 22 May our position instantly decreased and vanishes. Now we are trying hard to get back our rankings and I hope we will overcome this period of crisis.”

Finally, this great one from Lorel509:

“I manage about 50 client sites and only one of those were hit by Penguin 2.0 — the owner went against my advice and hired someone to gather links a couple years ago who promised they would be quality links, gathered slowly, with multiple anchor text, etc., etc. This site lost 1/4th of it’s traffic at time of the Penguin 2.0 pre-test on May 8, and has slowly declined ever since (it’s now about 1/2 of what it was almost 3 weeks ago).”

As you can see, the Penguin 2.0 update did in fact destroy a lot of websites that used improper backlinking methods. If you want to recover from the Penguin 2.0 update, chances are you can simply remove any bad backlinks pointing towards your website, and re-submit your website to Google. They will likely re-instate it, as long as you’ve fixed the issues.

In closing, you there are a couple of options to consider for the future:

1) Keep running around trying to understand all of Google’s algo changes, and continuing to try to beat the game
2) You can consider the advice from user Slava Rybalka from the MOZ.com post:
“I stopped caring about Google’s algorithms a while ago; as long as you provide value and put yourself in your website visitor’s shoes – you are on the safe side. Today, one can get easily lost in the amount of data and posts and Google’s updates and bloggers reviews on these updates. I just don’t have time for that.”

Also, remember to reference our other post on the New, Real, SEO.

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