Another Penguin update worked its way through Google’s index on October 4th.

According to Matt Cutts, head of Google’s web spam team, the update would affect about 1% of all searches.

More of the Same?

Officially, this is penguin 2.1, the second installment of the second generation Penguin technology that originally rolled out in March 2013.

For ease, we’ll go along with Search Engine Land’s numbering system, and refer to this as Penguin 5 (or, the fifth time the Penguin update has been run through the system in one shape or form, and been confirmed by Google HQ).

What this means for your business

Several websites are likely to have seen a significant drop in traffic on October 4th 2013.

You’re likely to be in a panic if you’ve engaged in overly manipulative link building practices such as:

  • Bulk Free or Paid Directory Submissions
  • Paid Text links or site-wide links
  • Focused on a narrow range of anchor texts
  • Spun or Spam articles or Submissions to article directories
  • Hidden links
  • Mass social bookmarking
  • Links from penalised websites / bad neighbourhoods
  • Anything that goes against Google Quality Guidelines

If you’ve kept all your offsite SEO activity above board, then you should be fine – in fact, you should have benefitted from improved visibility and traffic in search.

If you have been hit, consider Paid Search in the short term to regain lost traffic and keep conversions up. Then you can embark on your Penguin investigation.

Have I been hit by Penguin?

Penguin is a confusing subject, and it is easy to mistake normal fluctuations in traffic for a Penguin 5 penalty. For instance, if you’re not looking at the right data, if you’re not familiar with the investigation process or if the tools you’re using are inadequate for the level of insight needed.

Until you know for sure that you’ve been “Penguin’d”, take no further action in an attempt to resolve the situation.

If you’ve been hit by Penguin 5, then don’t rush headlong into any disavow or removal activity until you’ve properly understood how, where and why the penalty has occurred.

You will need to check your analytics account for a steep drop to any one of your ranking landing pages. Previously, you could do this at keyword level, which was a huge help, but with the recent move towards total blackout on keyword data, you probably won’t be able to do this much longer.

Once you know which pages are hit, you can use link intelligence tools like Majestic SEO to run a link report on the specific URLs that have been hit and assess your backlinks from there.

Often, it becomes a long, manual process of auditing your backlinks and compiling a list for removal, and later, disavow file activity.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Receptional are backlink experts and we’ve helped several sites recover from Penguin and manual link based penalties. We’ll be able to confirm or dispute a Penguin penalty, as well as offer a workable solution and roadmap to recovery. Call us today for more details about Penguin Recovery Services on 01525 715520.

Image courtesy: Chris Nystrom