Google Penguin 2.0 – Analysis & Recovery Strategies
by Chris Fielden on June 6, 2013
What Is Penguin 2.0?
Penguin is the name of a Google algorithm update that penalises websites with poor quality links in their backlink profile. If you have undertaken any spammy SEO practices in the past, like paying for links from a known link network for example, your website is likely to be penalised.
Penguin was first launched in April 2012. Penguin 2.0 is the latest algorithm update. You can see a full history of Google algorithm updates on Moz.
When Did Google Launch Penguin 2.0?
Google launched Penguin 2.0 on May 22nd 2013. There were many rumours and warnings about the severity of the update. Matt Cutts had also talked about Google’s priorities over the coming months, indicating that Penguin 2.0 would target more unethical SEO techniques, with the aim of making the SERPs more relevant to the user.
How Will I Know If I’ve Been Penalised by Penguin 2.0?
You will see an obvious, unnatural dip in organic search traffic. Here is an example graph taken from Google Analytics:
There have already been studies regarding the impact of Penguin 2.0, but it’s currently too early to say exactly how much impact the update has had for a number of reasons.
Seasonality Caused by Holidays
Penguin 2.0 was launched just prior to the May bank holiday and half term school holiday in the UK, as well as the Memorial day public holiday and beginning of the school summer holidays in many parts of the USA.
Long weekends and school holidays can cause seasonal dips in search traffic, especially when the weather is good. B2B businesses are often the worst affected on these occasions.
Year on Year Comparison
In addition to this, last year the half term school holiday dates in the UK were later due to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee (June 2nd to 10th). So if website owners undertake a year on year comparison, traffic during the week after the Penguin 2.0 update is likely to look worse than the same period last year.
Disregarding seasonal impacts on search traffic has caused some website owners to panic unnecessarily when they have not been impacted by the latest algorithm update.
How Will I Know If a Dip in My Traffic Is a Result of Seasonality?
Due to the holidays, it is still too early to say whether any downturn in organic traffic is definitely a result of Penguin 2.0 or seasonality. By the middle of June a clear pattern should be obvious.
Below is an example of a website that suspected they’d been hit by Penguin 2.0, but due to the quick recovery it was obviously holiday seasonality that caused the dip:
What Can I Do If I’ve Been Impacted by Penguin 2.0?
Penalties resulting from Penguin can be very difficult to recover from. There are no quick fixes and a long-term strategy is required. However, the strategy for Penguin is often similar to that of Panda.
Google’s Panda updates target poor quality and duplicate content on websites. By ensuring that content is fresh, unique and appealing to the user, websites can recover from Panda relatively quickly.
Below is a recovery example taken from a website that was hit by Panda. It shows an obvious recovery shortly after a high quality, popular piece of content was launched on the site:
Due to large amounts of social sharing and natural links being attracted during the week after the content was launched, the recovery was quick and effective. Sales increased alongside the rise in traffic.
Having a long-term content plan that includes creative content marketing is a good strategy to employ when combatting Penguin penalties. Sharing the content increases social engagement to your site which in turn attracts natural links. This improves your website’s backlink profile which, over time, can aid recovery.
We have seen this strategy work after Penguin was originally rolled out. Below is an example of the rate of recovery from Penguin 1.0, using a long-term content strategy:
Alongside the rise in traffic, rankings increased for a variety of affected phrases in the SERPs, but as you can see this took months rather than weeks.
The key is to plan for the future and think about long-term goals using sustainable SEO techniques, not to attempt quick wins using spammy methodology. If you use spammy techniques, you are highly likely to see poor results and incur further penalties in the future.