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SEO Website Audit

3 Months and Still No Penguin Recovery

January 30, 2013

Dear Jill,

Image Credit: State Library of Victoria CollectionsOur site has been affected by Google's Penguin update. Our website traffic and search queries are down almost 80%.

We have reviewed our website and removed all the bad links that might affect our site. For the past 3 months we started getting high-authority links. We updated content for all the pages, and even changed our hosting server. However, we have not seen any improvement in ranking and traffic.

Your advice is highly appreciated by us to give us proper direction for the improvement.

Thank you,

++Jill's Response++

Hi Tapan,

Of course, it's impossible to say what might be the problem without doing a thorough review of your website. But here are a few questions and ideas that might help you.

First, an 80% drop in traffic is huge, which makes me think you were doing some pretty spammy stuff. If so, Google doesn't forgive and forget that very quickly. If you received an unnatural links warning via your Google Webmaster Tools account, then read my article about what to do here. It's not just a matter of cleaning up the links, but you also have to submit a reinclusion request. If you couldn't get all of the links removed, you'll also want to use Google's newish "Link Disavowal Tool" (must be logged into Webmaster Tools to see).  If you never received a warning, then your links may not have ever been the problem, nor should you need to file for reinclusion.

You mentioned that you started getting high authority links, but I can't help but wonder what you mean by that. Most sites can't get links from high-authority sites just because they want to. So you may want to review what you've done in that respect as well. If you've purchased those links, you'll continue to be in Penguin Hell because that's a big no-no.

Updating your content may have been a good idea, but only if it really needed to be updated. If it was keyword stuffed, then having a professional copywriter rewrite it should certainly help. But if you just freshened up bad content, then it's unlikely to make much difference. Also, if the content was the main problem and you completely rewrote it, you'd probably be seeing a traffic improvement by now. I'd suggest taking another look at your content and making sure it's truly useful to your target audience. Be sure that it thoroughly provides information that relates to the search queries for which you'd like to be found.

From the little you told me, that's about all the advice I can provide. I know that losing so much of your organic search traffic can be painful to a business's bottom line. So if you're not already doing so, you may want to look into setting up some Google AdWords campaigns to help gain some of that lost traffic back while you work on making your site even better than it was before.

Good luck!


Jill Whalen has been an SEO Consultant and the CEO of Jill Whalen High Rankings, a Boston area SEO Company since 1995. Follow her on Twitter @JillWhalen

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Post Comment

 Muneeb Ahmed said:
That's a great way to handle this situation but i would disagree with Jill here. I've watched one of the video from the guys in Distilled, i would totally agree with one of the presenter there named Todd Director of SEO @ salesforce. He talked about Google's penguin update and everything we should be doing to recover your site back.

To what i can get about Disvow or Re-inclusion request is that Google just want to categorize those websites which admit that they have done bad-SEO and after getting that information from us they just want to re-enhance their current algo which they did; we have seens tons of updates coming each day from Google ain'\t we? ----

I believe the best way to approach with this kinda situation is to either follow the content strategy pathway and add mix of social media into it as Google does consider Social media as a strong signal for rankings and if that is strong everything else gets aligned pretty quickly i'm sure.

I'm an SEO consultant myself and this is what i did to recover a client's site from panda/penguin. i would say 80% recovery was successful - don't expect to get the same exact rank again but yea improved rankings : )
 David Duval said:
It is my personal belief that google has a pretty good idea which sites are being visited regularly by human who do things like add content, return repeatedly, and tell their friends. When this is not happening combined with "link building", it makes for Penguin bait.

You really need to ask yourself what you can do to get real people visiting your site repeatedly. When you get this part right, the search engines won't matter as much, but you can be reasonably sure they will take notice!
 Nicholas James said:
I would use ahrefs spy on the competition see what links are being ranked and start copying what they give u as the results. Follow the above advice on disavow tool, check any of your articles for too many exact keywords, and switch them out to similar keywords but not exact , make long tail ad a word to each and keep the same relevance. Hire someone on fiver to do some you tube comments on the keyword and backlink to your videos ,youtube always brings the juice.
 Ricky said:
That's a great answer, Jill. It would be necessary to define what's the meaning of "high authority/qyality backlinks". I see many people selling crap by calling them a high authority backlinks.
Disavowing and sending reconsideration request is yet another matter. It is also advisable to mention all the steps taken in the reconsideration request so they can understand the steps taken by the owner.
There is nothing wrong in doing multiple reconsideration request if the previous one is rejected.
 Fionn Downhill said:
What I have seen is that the percentage of "toxic" links must be in single digits once you get into double numbers the penguin starts flapping. The other issue you might want to look at is anchor text, I have seen anchor text in excess of 20% of keywords kill a site. Also agree with one comment on social media sharing we saw one site come back by tweeting and sharing all the new content on facebook and google+ the site has a regularly updated blog so there is constant fresh content. Also build new links with naked URLs to counter any anchor text problems but be very very careful where you get your links from and how you do it.
 Morgan Moran said:
Does anyone have a suggestion for complete website overhaul? Who can really analyze a site in the marketplace and tell you what your issues are? Bad Links, Bad Content, etc... Enquiring minds would like to know. Thanks
 Jill Whalen said:
@Morgan, please see my services page.
 Sean Hecking said:

Great advice. 3 months is way to short to expect a site to go from spam to spectacular. It's a short term mindset that got them in the trouble in the first place. I'm giving the same advice to others who have been hit by Penguin related drops. Sites that were hit often spent years building up their spam link profile so they should expect it to take several months or at least a year plus for improvement.

Any effort right now should be spent making the link profile and content appear more natural to search engines. If anything looks like it's there just for SEO, clean it up or remove.

Examples of spam include; excessive cross linking, exact link anchor text in excess, links from spam blogs, link farms, etc.

Do stuff that real companies do; sponsor non-profit events to get links, release news worthy news, be active in social media, create great products worth talking about, wow your customers with great customer service to get reviews, etc.