By 11 months ago in Blogstorm

4 Penguin recovery case studies

Regular readers of the Branded3 blog will know that we have been working with a large number of clients to try and get manual penalties removed and have done a huge amount of link clean-up. Our link clean-up team has been working for around two years looking at back link profiles and, as well as getting pretty fed up of looking at bad links; they have gathered an immense amount of knowledge on what constitutes a good and a bad link, so much so that we have created a black list of over 100,000 domains, which is growing all of the time.

Our team has helped a number of sites recover from manual penalties, however we have not seen any evidence previously of a recovery from Penguin. Also, we have never really seen any credible examples of recoveries from Penguin from any other agencies or websites that we are not working on. Some people have tried to show examples but when you look deeper into these, there are other underlying factors that actually show there has been something else going on such as site changes or other Google updates.

Matt Cutts, head of web spam at Google, announced late on Friday that Google was rolling out a new version of Penguin, version 2.1, so as always we have been excited to see the results and hoping that we can see some improvements in rankings and traffic as a result of the updates. I’m pleased to announce that it looks like we have actually seen some credible evidence that several sites have now started to recover from Penguin and I’ve included some examples below:

Site 1

This was one of our first ever link clean-up and manual penalty recovery clients. After years of using spam to get to the top of results, including trying to switch domains to dodge the penalty, they got in touch with us after they were finally hit by a manual penalty and subsequent algorithm updates. After discussions with Google and finally being given access to the disavow tool in October 2012, we got the manual penalty removed but it was clear that there were some underlying Penguin issues. Today, Search Metrics is showing some small improvements in rankings despite no other real activity occurring over the last few weeks.

Penguin Recovery Example 1

Site 2

This is another site with longstanding issues, particularly around over use of anchor text, that decided to work with us to clean up their profile. Again, Search Metrics is showing a small increase in visibility that could show some green shoots of recovery. Recovery so far looks to be small, in some cases you have to realise that if you have had to remove all links to your site because they are potentially hazardous, then you have to start again with a solid natural link strategy to promote your brand and improve rankings naturally. Relying on the remaining links may not be enough to bring you back to previous levels, but as you create more natural links and build a solid strategy this should hopefully see your results begin to improve.

 Penguin Recovery Example 2

Site 3

This is a complex one as we believe there are underlying Panda based issues that have also been affecting the site. The site was originally hit in May 2012 around the time of both Penguin and Panda releases by Google which happened very close together. It has been difficult to pin down the exact cause of the drops so we have been working to improve the site, remove duplicate and thin pages, as well as cleaning up links. If Google has run the Panda algorithm update at the same time as the Penguin update this weekend then this could have indicated that the fixes on site we have put in place could also be a factor. Google has suggested in the past that Panda will be included in the main algorithm instead of an additional separate algorithm, but it is unclear if this has happened just yet. But whether this is Panda or Penguin this is a great recovery and not only shown in the Search Metrics data but also in their traffic figures increasing over the last few days.

 Penguin Recovery Example 3

Penguin Recovery Example 3 analytics

Site 4

This is actually a set of interrelated sites run by the same company. Again, as with site three, we believe there has been some internal and cross site duplication that could have caused some of the issues when the sites were originally hit, again at the time of two very close Panda and Penguin updates. Again, we have been working to get the duplication fixed but we have also cleaned up link profiles on an on-going basis, including regular monthly refreshes of data as Google releases more to webmaster tools. We have now had a disavow file in place for several months but the update this weekend appears to have had quite an impact on the affected sites.

 Penguin Recovery Example 4

As always, it is very early days and there is still a lot of data analysis to do to understand if these are genuine Penguin recoveries, just temporary increases, or even competitor sites being affected by the recent update. However from our point of view, it is really great to see that recovery from the algorithm based issues is possible. Google is taking notice of sites that have genuinely tried to clean-up their links and are starting to create great sites that have a reason to be at the top of the search results. For our clients it has been a long road to get here but hopefully if these initial findings continue then we will see some positive results from our last two years of link clean up.

If you think you might have been hit by Penguin or manual penalties then get in touch with us and we would be more than happy to discuss how we can help your site – I’ll also be hosting a Google+ Hangout on Thursday 17th October along with Tim Grice on Penguin 2.1, so be sure to follow us on Google+ to get involved in the discussion!

By Matthew Jackson. at 4:48PM on Wednesday, 09 Oct 2013

With a background in analytical chemistry, Matthew has been analysing data for the past decade. As Chief Search Strategist at Branded3, Matthew’s analytical skills are put into good use helping us understand data trends and adapt our SEO strategies accordingly. Follow Matthew Jackson on Twitter.

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5 Responses to “4 Penguin recovery case studies”

  1. Interesting case studies and good to see the Search Metrics data, too many supposed penguin recoveries never give the data, as you say if you have removed all the links you are indeed starting again so it’s going to be ‘a while’ before the client sees the site return to pre penguin levels, if ever, in all honesty.

  2. John Callaghan says:

    Over a year to start to see a turnaround….that must have required a lot of patience and determination. It would be interesting to see a follow up in 3-6 months time to see if the trend continues.

  3. Robert H says:

    So, just to make sure I understand. You don’t think recovery from Penguin is even possible?

  4. Joshua says:

    We have recovered a number of websites prior to P 2.1. However, we saw the biggest bounce in rankings after it’s release.

  5. Kris Reid says:

    I’ve been working on Penguin recovery and having a mixed bag of results. Can you show an update?

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