Hit By A Panda Or A Penguin?

Hit By A PenguinAs fluffy and cute as they sound, Google’s recent algorithm changes have hit a lot of businesses hard. On the 24th April (Penguin), one of my major income niche sites sites lost 80% of its traffic and the only reason I can fathom is that over a year ago, I drip fed several “specific anchor text” links to it which i’m assuming Penguin has picked up on and penalised the site. Hey, I was young and foolish! (well, younger and err… foolisher?!)

Google is constantly reworking their algorithms to try and make the search experience better for the end user and ridding the results of spam and non-relevant content. “Great” you might think, and I agree (my site BTW was extremely relevant for my anchor text – ho hum).

Earlier in the year Google introduced the Panda update that hit poor quality sites and a few weeks ago the Penguin update came into play to hit more spammy  sites.

One of the main issues with Penguin is that it came less than a week after a fresh Panda update, so sites that suffered a traffic drop are not sure if it’s down to poor quality (Panda) or spam (Penguin).

A simple way to check if your site was hit by Panda or Penguin is look at your analytics. You do have Google analytics, right? Good.

If your visitors drop off after April 19, then you have issues with quality. If your traffic nose-dived after April 24, then you have issues with your website related to spam.

So, what if you’ve never used spammy techniques but still got hit by Penguin? Maybe you have duplicate content on your site, maybe you’re using the exact same anchor text on all your inbound links or maybe you just have a high keyword density on your home page – any of these can flag up your site as potentially being “spammy”

Whether you’ve been hit by a Panda or a Penguin, you’ll need to work on the points or areas that don’t match Google’s quality guidelines. A complaint to Google will not necessarily reverse any Penguin related loss of traffic (as Panda/Penguin are constantly updating and learning as they go). Best bet is, clean up your site and, with a little bit of luck, you’ll bounce back to the original position in the SERPS.

Remember, Google is not anti search engine optimization, in fact, it has written thorough guidelines helping you to get it right. Simply optimize to the best of your ability using legitamate White-Hat techniques.

Here are a few Key Points that you should keep in mind:

  • Bin or rewrite all duplicate content and check your anchor text on inbound links
  • Google is not going to roll the Penguin update back.
  • Google says Penguin has had less impact on sites than either Panda or Florida
  • Don’t take drastic measures just yet. Clean up your site & inbound links so when Google refreshes the update, you can hopefully float back to your origal position in the SERPS

Have a great day all!