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ianscott

Were You Penguin Slapped?

16 posts in this topic

As many web masters may or may not know, Google regularly updates its algorithms which can affect rankings for websites in the search engine results pages.

 

Over the past year or so, there have been regular major updates to what Google has called "Panda." However, on April 24-25th of this year, Google released what it calls "Penguin." It should be noted that Penguin is actually a filter, and not part of the search algorithm. In other words, Penguin is "applied" to the data that Google has - so far, it's been applied twice that we know about. The first one was the April event and then once again toward the end of May.

 

This post is not about all the details we've learned about Penguin, but rather some suggestions that you can do to your website if you found you were hit. If on April 25th, you noticed a sharp decrease in search engine rankings for your website, it is pretty much guaranteed that you were "Penguin Slapped."

 

There does seem to be quite a bit of misinformation about Penguin - I believe that this is due to the fact that no two sites are exactly the same and so different factors may have affected different sites in a different way.

 

Having said that, our research shows that Penguin is an "over optimization" filter and cleaning this up can really help to overcome that Google filter. Many so-called experts believe that Penguin was all about back links and while your back link profile may have had something to do with losing rankings after Penguin, in taking a look at dozens of sites that were hit, helping some of them to recover, show that onsite over optimization and other quality issues are a major component of Penguin.

 

Some things to look for on your own site:

 

1. Over optimization of keywords. This can happen when you are creating content and focusing on keyword phrases and they are in the Title tag, description tag and also the url of the content. You don't need all three to have the keyword phrases and indeed, Google is now looking at this as over optimization. Some webmasters will even repeat the keyword phrase in the Title tag as well. Don't do this anymore!

 

2. Write your content with humans in mind, not search engines. This can't be stressed enough. As has been said and written many times and other places, Google is pretty good at being able to figure out what your website and content is about. You don't need to repeat keyword phrases over and over, yet many web masters continue to do that.

 

3. Overuse of keywords in your own onsite linking.

 

4. Thin content - Google is now looking for content that is informative and that will engage visitors to your site. Keep this in mind. If you have lots of pages that are "thin" in content, considering either getting rid of those pages or combining your thin content into a larger article. Then do a 301 redirect to the new content from the old pages.

 

5. Duplicate Meta Titles and Descriptions. I know - especially on older non Word Press sites, it can be easy to use an old HTML page as your template to create new content and then in a rush, you forget to change the Title and Description tags. This is a quality issue that you should address.

 

6. Take a look at your links to other sites. Do you have many links that now go to non-existent webpages or websites? How about links to what used to be legitimate websites, but the domain is now owned by someone else and contains poor or irrelevant content? Perhaps even adult/gambling or other such characteristics? Again, this could be a quality issue if Google finds this.

 

7. Do you have a high number of 404's on your own website? Fix them! It may take Google awhile to discover that they have been corrected. A small number won't drastically affect your rankings, but a high percentage may.

 

8. Site speed is also a ranking issue. When you create images, do you save your jpg's too large in file size? Most graphics software will allow you to reduce the quality of a jpg (and you can view this to ensure you haven't reduced it too much) while still being suitable for viewing on a computer screen.

 

9. Do you have paid links on your website? Google recognizes that many sites offer links in return for payment - and if you have many of these, they should be all set to "nofollow." Google especially frowns on paid links that are not set to "nofollow" as they view this as attempting to buy page rank.

 

If you were hit by Penguin, and your site has not been completely deindexed by Google, there is still much hope that you can again achieve high search engine rankings in Google by taking a long hard look at your site for these "quality" issues.

 

Let me know how you make out!

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Ian I'm so glad you posted (and thanks also for helping me out with some of my client websites that were slapped) about Penguin. I know you've been studying the Google slaps for years and greatful to your input here for our network.

 

Look forward to you sharing your expertise with us on SEO :)

 

Love ya!

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Ian

 

Thank you for the helpful suggestions. I am re-vamping my website and will make sure that I incorporate your suggestions.

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Thank you for the helpful suggestions. I am re-vamping my website and will make sure that I incorporate your suggestions.

 

Ian's tips really work and I highly recommend you do Linda :)

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Thanks Linda. Revamping a website can be complicated at times, depending on its size. There are other SEO considerations in revamping including watching out for content which might have the URL changed. Keep that in mind! If you have to redirect from old URL's to new URL's, the best method is a "301 redirect" rather than leaving visitors clicking on a link and coming to a 404 not found page.

 

Best of luck to you! If you have any question, hope you will post them. I can't guarantee I'll know the answer to every question, but I'll do my best!

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Yay Thank you Ian!!

 

I sat down yesterday and did a no follow on all my affiliate links on one of my websites and google picked my site back up while I slept.

 

I went through 202 pages and it was all worth it.

 

Thanks for the tips!

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Great to read that, Danielle! Sometimes, changes can be quick; other times they can take some time before Google takes notice.

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Good info... I wonder if I had the opposite? I'm terrifed to change my website right now because I'm getting metric tons of cold calls right now. And good ones too. It's a great thing. I did send this over to my copyeditor though. Thanks for the info!

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Thanks for the tips, I review my static content regularly so I will be sure to incorporate our suggestions here. It is good information to know for my regular posts too. I run Broken Link checker but never thought to review the links for changes to where it is pointing. That is now on my list of to-dos.

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Thanks so much for all this info. I wasn't using any black hat techniques so I wasn't really disturbed by the commotion but you can get caught going down a wrong track even without meaning to.

If I'm not mistaken, I think except paid links, having your site listed on link exchange sites is a no-no as well, as are some low quality site directories.

I don't know if the Penguin catches it, but I do know that posting comments on some Do-follow forums and blogs might also harm your ranking, as is a page links to a lot of bad, spammy websites and it also links to yours, it might get characterized by Google as a spam site.

Again thanks so much,

~Eleni

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Good info... I wonder if I had the opposite? I'm terrifed to change my website right now because I'm getting metric tons of cold calls right now. And good ones too. It's a great thing. I did send this over to my copyeditor though. Thanks for the info!

 

You are very welcome! if your website is doing well, I wouldn't mess with it too much, but at the same time, I'd be on the lookout for any onsite "quality" issues that you can improve. There are always things you can make better! :)

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Thanks for the tips, I review my static content regularly so I will be sure to incorporate our suggestions here. It is good information to know for my regular posts too. I run Broken Link checker but never thought to review the links for changes to where it is pointing. That is now on my list of to-dos.

 

There is always something, isn't there?!? :) It is definitely a good idea to regularly check your outbound links (especially on older content) to make sure the link you have created is still valid and relevant.

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Thanks so much for all this info. I wasn't using any black hat techniques so I wasn't really disturbed by the commotion but you can get caught going down a wrong track even without meaning to.

If I'm not mistaken, I think except paid links, having your site listed on link exchange sites is a no-no as well, as are some low quality site directories.

I don't know if the Penguin catches it, but I do know that posting comments on some Do-follow forums and blogs might also harm your ranking, as is a page links to a lot of bad, spammy websites and it also links to yours, it might get characterized by Google as a spam site.

Again thanks so much,

~Eleni

 

It's about numbers and diversity, Eleni. If all your back link building is either link exchange stuff or low quality directories, you're likely to get penalized. I wouldn't worry about ensuring zero links from bad neighborhoods. No one can control what others do or who they decide to link to. It's when it appears unnatural and in numbers that don't match up for other websites in your niche that Google might raise some flags.

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Hey thanks you posted this but I read it late and my site was affected by it. Hope I would have read it early.. But now do you know how to overcome it???

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Hi Ashley - first thing to do is to look at your onsite SEO and make sure it's not overly spammy with keyword stuffing. An onsite SEO audit could be helpful. Also, take a look at my first post on the subject for some suggestions.

 

Also, take a look at any link building that might have been done to the site, including over optimized anchor text.

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