Update October 23, 2016. For the latest on the Penguin Google update, including the 4.0 rollout, please read the excellent commentary from Search Engine Land.
It seems that Penguin now processed immediately, rather than something which periodically refreshes.
Archived Report From 2012
The old article from 2012 can be read below but the information contained may be outdated, but we’ll leave it here for historic purposes 🙂
Was your site hit by a loss in Google search engine traffic on April 24th 2012? If so you may well have been targeted by the Penguin update.
The Penguin is an algorithm update that was aimed at Websites in violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, especially the over-optimisation of anchor text backlinks. Alas a percentage of legitimate sites were also initially affected.
Here’s what we believe worked on a client’s site who had survived all previous updates but got pecked firmly by the penguin on the 24th of april 2012, resulting in a significant loss of traffic.
The site finally returned after almost two weeks out of the top 10, initially it was slammed to page 5-50 for many of its keywords.
Also it seems to be that different markets are getting pecked harder.
We and many others believe you need to dial down repeated keyword rich anchor text backlinks pointing to your site, and include more variety in the way people link to you.
We can’t say for certain if these 7 tips will work for you, because every site needs to be evaluated differently.
However, we hope at the very least they provide an interesting case study to compare with your own data and findings.
Dialing Back The Over-Optimisation
1 – Attract New Backlinks – Quality content was commissioned which resulted in links from sites in related niches. The anchor text did not contain keywords.
2 – Lower Keyword Density – We considerably lowered keyword density on the client’s page, in the title tag, meta description etc and used more synonyms and more natural sounding H1 titles and descriptions.
3 – Remove Keyword Stuffing in Image ALT Tags – We noticed a lot of repeated keyword phrases in the image alt tags and file names of the client’s site.
For example, the url was an exact match domain something like JoustingLances and the image url had the phrase in the file path with the alt tag also including the exact match keyword phrase. This gave the impression of keyword stuffing, so image urls were changed, and the alt tags from “Jousting Lances” to something more natural and descriptive.
4 – Add Fresh Content – Fresh indepth articles were added, and older content on the site was refreshed with new content on each page, and also keyword density was lowered on all pages. Relevance was the goal of ongoing link building strategies.
5 – Dial Down Repetitive Anchor Text Links – Internal links on the site were changed from keyword anchor text to Home. Some of the anchor text of older inbound links was changed from keyword phrase to brand name to avoid any anchor text repetition. All new inbound links just feature the brand name of the site.
6 – Remove Duplicate Content – Tools like Copyscape were used to locate copied content, the offending sites were contacted and asked to remove the content, but in the meantime it was rewritten to try and snap out of any duplicate content filter.
7 – Increase Social Media Activity – The client’s content was distributed socially using platforms such as Twitter and Pinterest.
Google is planning on releasing algo updates in the future, so following the tips above may help you increase the probability of avoiding any future filters, and is also a good opportunity for you to complete a thorough Website audit.
Update! – October 5th 2012 – There was a data refresh, was your site affected?
Update! – May 22, 2013 – The next generation of Google’s algorithm, named 2.0 was rolled out today.
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