Recovering from Google Penguin

Recovering from Google Penguin

On April 24th 2012 many websites suffered a drop in search engine rankings after Google launched the Penguin algorithm update.  Two weeks on Matt Cutts has suggested that those affected by this update should review his videos “When are penalties lifted” and “Does Google take manual action on webspam?” in order to understand how to clean up their websites and if the website in question will automatically return to it’s previous positions or whether a re-inclusion request is required.

MatPenguint Cutts, in a conversation with Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land, dispelled a number of myths which have been circulating in the SEO world since the update.  Firstly Google sees the latest update as a success and although a number of strange results were reported, in general they believe the results have improved and a large amount of webspam has been eliminated from their search results.

Since Penguin, negative SEO has also been a concern for many website owners, but Matt Cutts told Danny Sullivan that negative SEO is rare and stated: “We have done a huge amount of work to try to make sure one person can’t hurt another person.”

The recommendations for site owners who believe they have been affected by Google Penguin are simple. 


Clean up all the on-page spam.  This includes over-use of keywords, unusual internal linking practices and site-wide external links.  Check any WordPress themes for hidden or visible links which point back to the developers site and remove them.  Remove any pages which add no extra value (thin content,) and remove anything which is even close to duplicate content.  Engage your visitors by delivering webpages which are rich in interesting content.


Clean up all your off-page optimisation.  If you have received a warning in Google Webmaster Tools about ‘unnatural linking practices,’ contact any link farms or blog networks where you have paid for links using repetitive anchor text and ask them to remove the links, contact any other websites where you believe the links appear to be an attempt (in Google’s eyes) to manipulate the search engine rankings and ask them to remove the links.  When you think your link profile looks natural, submit a re-inclusion request through the Google Webmaster Tools dashboard.

By-pass the Penguin filter

One way of finding out if your site has been affected, which is currently unconfirmed by Google, is to add a negative parameter to your search, for example search for (without the quotes and substituting your keyword/phrase for widget) “blue widget” and then “blue widget -monkey” and you will get two different sets of results.  It has been suggested that the negative parameter causes the Google search process to bypass the Penguin filter.

And finally, once you have done everything you can think of to clean up the website then wait until the next iteration of the Penguin indexing process. 

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