Fallen Victim To Google Penguin!

May 10, 2012 | By | 39 Replies More

Google Penguin has claimed at least one victim…

It has finally happened, even though I think it’s not fair! 🙁  haha!

I have fallen victim to the latest Google algorithm update that happened a couple of weeks ago, called “Penguin” (not “Panda” – that was last years big update!).

So what exactly do I mean by that? Well, I have had one site, my main money earner site, which has been on Page 1 of Google’s SERPs for most  its main keyword for the past 2 years or so. So I had a pretty good stream of visitors coming to my site (for free), and as you will know, the more visitors your site has the more revenue you are going to earn. Even though mine was not that much, it was still ok and I was (am) proud of the site.

Concerned by Google PenguinPretty exactly on Wednesday, 25th of April, I noticed a big drop in earnings. This didn’t concern me much yet – I have had the odd “very slow” day. But when it happened again the next day, and the day after, I was getting really concerned.

Straight away I went and Googled my main keywords, because I knew it must have to do with the search engine placement of my site. And guess what? My site had disappeared from page 1 (or 2 or 3 in some cases…) What had I done wrong?

You might know that Google has a certain algorithm to work out which sites get displayed in which order on page 1 of search results for certain keywords, right? And as Google continuously strives to improve their user experience, they also continuously strive to improve (which in this case means update and change) their algorithm to make sure only the best, most informative and most interesting sites will be on page 1.

Google Panda

Google Panda Attacks!

So first they did a major update around the middle of last year called “Panda”. I found some good explanations of it here and here. (Sorry, but I don’t want to rattle all the info off here if somebody else has written a good article about it 🙂 ) My sites survived that update!

Google Penguin Attack

Google Penguin Attacks!

Then, and I only found out the hard way, on April 24th Google released another change to their algorithm named “Penguin” with the intention of penalizing sites for over-optimization or spamming. There is a really good article on it here and on Matt Carter’s Blog.

After I noticed that my earnings had dropped and found out about Google Penguin, I logged into my Google Analytics account and checked out the traffic. And yes, on April 24th, I still had about 250 – 300 visitors a day, and then there is this rapid drop down to 125 or so in average. Have a look:

Google Penguin Victim

Hit hard by Google Penguin

That’s scary! So, panic settled in. What had I done wrong, and how could I rectify it?

After analyzing my site and what I had done with it in the last few months I found that

  • I had not updated it regularly at all. The site has a blog attached but I updated maybe once every 3 or 4 months – if that! And Google loves new content.
  • The site is mainly a site with static pages. Other sites on page 1 of Google in my niche were real blogs, with constant updates and changes happening. Fresh sites with a lot going on.
  • I had not been doing any proper link building or SEO at all. I had been concentrating on trying to get more traffic and backlinks by buying all these fancy plugins that promised “automation and a ton of backlinks and therefore better SEO and rankings in the search engines, resulting in a ton of traffic” – hey, I had so many backlink and seo plugins installed I got completely confused about what was working for me and what not.
  • I did not encourage my visitors to share my content through facebook, twitter, pinterest or any sites like that, which would result in more interest created about my site and therefore more visitors.

Google Penguin TargetSo, really, all I was when Google Penguin came along was a sitting duck with a “trying to be over-optimized” stale site that had been going ok so far but wasn’t really offering anything new or interesting to its visitors any more. So they just took me down!

But instead of throwing my hands up in the air and giving up, I am starting a counter attack to regain my previous status on the SERPs.  Here is my new plan of action of things to do that I believe Google wants (and to get what WE want we should do what Google wants, right?):

  • Write more content and update my blogs on a regular basis, even if its only every 3 weeks or so
  • re-think my static websites; static pages seem to have worked so far, but Google seems to put more and more value on sites that do stay fresh with new articles and information. I will either have to do regular updates on the static pages or run a blog alongside and keep things fresh.
  • No more backlink, traffic or seo plugins – just pick the best seo plugin and chuck the rest. Go back to good old school backlink building! (Asking other webmasters for link exchanges, forum signatures, internal linking, comments etc.).  All this over-optimization has not worked for me! Let the site age and spread over the internet naturally.
  • Getting into social sharing a lot more. Put share bars and social sharing buttons etc. on my site so visitors can tweet, facebook, pinterest or stumbleupon (etc.) what they find on my site and therefore also create more backlinks and visitors to my site. Of course, the sharing should start to happen naturally if I manage to keep my visitors interested and intrigued!

I believe that what Google wants are honest, interesting and informative sites that engage their visitors and offer them what they look for.

SpamIn my experience you cannot achieve that if you are trying to automate a lot of things, or try to over-optimize because you kind of lose control and that’s how the spamming starts. I have so many spammy comments on my sites these days its not funny any more. Trackbacks that get generated by some robot and are not actually coming from the site they refer back to, comments that on first look seem genuine until you start reading them and the words don’t make any sense. Thin websites with very little content are also on the blacklist. They simply don’t contain enough information.

So this latest Google Penguin update has certainly shocked me in my comfy chair 😉 I am convinced that I will be able to get my site back up and ranking for my main keywords, but it will take some work and time. On the other hand I will feel better for it, because I will know that my site actually will have something to offer to the people that are visiting.

I don’t know whether you have been hit or not, but I strongly advise you to consider becoming an “honest blogger” – we will probably all be surprised by the way Google is going to reward us for it in the future!

Now, if you liked my article, would you mind sharing it? Thanks! 😉

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Category: SEO, Website Traffic

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Comments (39)

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  1. perry says:

    Hey Petra i can i dentify with you I had one of my review sites get decimated by penguin littteraly went from page one to somewhere in the basement (stoped looking after page 10). I am experimenting with something new and was wondering if you might have som insight is it posible to rank a subdomain? IE a google sites webpage to page one. Any seo methods that are nessisary outside trodidional on page of page and backlink building?

    • perry says:

      Also same question for a weebly sub-domain.

      • Petra Weiss says:

        I have never worked with Weebly, but as I said, I believe Google looks at how interesting and “thick” a site is these days. Whether its a Weebly or WordPress site, if you do your SEO right and keep updating and engaging your readers, there is no reason why any site shouldn’t be able to climb to page 1.

    • Petra Weiss says:

      Perry I don’t quite understand what you mean. I believe you can also rank a subdomain if you are consistent in your linkbuilding and provide good content! About SEO – make sure you have the right keywords, not just one but also related ones to your topic, and get into writing unique and interesting content and it will spread around literally by itself if people find it worth sharing.

  2. Nick says:

    Petra, the same thing happened to me also.. I was in grave tension as to what it happened all of a sudden! Well, I shall soon finish the things very soon!
    Nick recently posted…Construction designMy Profile

  3. Emily says:

    Same goes with me! I was also a victim of these worries! Thanks Petra that you are helping me too! Kudos to your work!

  4. Jack says:

    I was so shocked that something like this was launched by Google off recent & it is causing such a havoc in the Blogging industry! Phew! I am going to change my keywords & follow the SEO changes!
    Jack recently posted…Sebastian Caruba Accordionist from Stereo LoveMy Profile

  5. Honesty is the best policy when dealing with Google’s Algorithms. From what I’ve heard once you end up on their “Black” list its extremely hard to get back to a good natural Ranking in the SERP.
    Anton Koekemoer recently posted…Generating leads with social media marketingMy Profile

  6. Well I had three sites take a hit. I can’t find them. I have to go back to square one again.
    Cute Animal Videos recently posted…Baby Masai GiraffeMy Profile

  7. It’s getting harder and harder to get a decent PR on Google.

    This way only the big fishes will get the top.
    Marcio Andrey Oliveira recently posted…Traffic HazardMy Profile

  8. Very much appreciate your honest post about this. In the end, Google gets what Google wants. ;0)

    I know a lot of people are kicking and screaming (and scheming) over this and are going to simply try and game Google again. I believe your revamped approach will win the race. Google is leading us down a path that is much more straightforward, and in many ways easier, in terms of how to rank. They are simply asking for quality content that the Internet community at large has deemed to be quality content. This Penguin update seems to be on the right track. I’m excited to optimize sites with these changes in mind.

    Thanks for the great post!

  9. Zara says:

    One of my main money making sites has been hit by Penguin too, but this doesn’t concern me much. As I know that website will be back at its position sooner or later when Google makes it all settle down.

    • Petra Weiss says:

      I start to think so, too. Big upheaval now, but let the dust settle and you might come back out somewhere where you left off. In the meantime, keep updating and make your blog more and more interesting, and engage with your readers! –> This is a tip for everybody!

  10. Ben says:


    I also had problems with the penguin update – I think it may be due to the fact that I put a lot of different variations of keywords in an image’s ALT tags… must tone it down a bit!

    Thanks for the post.
    Ben recently posted…Why Attending An Event Could Be The Best Thing You Did This WeekMy Profile

  11. Thomas says:

    It happened to me also, so I am very careful while accepting comments or any guest post. This can lead to many penalties to my blog by more spammer. I would consider your 4 points to avoid any such crisis in future. I hope I’ll make my blogs more useful and original. Thanks for posting important post.

  12. Markus says:

    Yep! Similar situation on my site! I have now to invest much more in user interaction and into building fresh an crispy content….. but I’m willing to accept the challenge 🙂
    Markus recently posted…Elfenmetall verzaubert mit Special Edition: Schneewittchen-AnhängerMy Profile

  13. Markus says:

    Same situation on my site! Ich have now also to improve in the area of “new content” and in the interaction with the users 😉 So take the challenge and just wrote a new post on the blog of my web site 🙂
    Best wishes from Switzerland!
    Markus recently posted…Elfenmetall verzaubert mit Special Edition: Schneewittchen-AnhängerMy Profile

    • Petra Weiss says:

      Hi Markus, ich bin ja eigentlich Deutsche – schoen, dass Du auf meinem Blog einen Komment hinterlassen hast! Viel Erfolg mit Deiner Webseite.

  14. Quant says:

    Oh so sad! Now all bloggers need to be very careful while accepting links, guest post or spammers. This will affect the blogs and decrease your page rank altogether. This will affect you loyal reader and your blogs. We need to take preventive measures before we become victim of Google.
    Quant recently posted…New Illiquidity Measure Week in ReviewMy Profile

  15. Lita says:

    I don’t think the lack of updates caused you to get hit by the penguin but it might help in other ways to get your rankings up a little bit.
    To me it seems like only the most competitive niches got hit. I have a website that had many weak links with the same anchor text and it lost all its traffic. Then I had another one to which I bought a link pyramid with thousands of bad quality links – it’s been increasing in traffic.
    Like you said, getting traffic from other sources (social media sites) than just search engines is also a good idea.

  16. Filipino SEO says:

    Google Penguin had victimize many Internet marketers affecting a lot of websites when it was launched because many were caught empty handed about it. But now it’s not much because we know what to do.
    Filipino SEO recently posted…Youtube Marketing Best Practices part 1My Profile

    • Petra Weiss says:

      Filipino, I think it still is “much” since it takes a lot of work to get back on your feet once you have fallen off the “Google” train.

  17. Allison says:

    Right now it looks like Movable Type is the top blogging platform available right now.
    (from what I’ve read) Is that what you are using on your blog?
    Allison recently posted…wushu torontoMy Profile

  18. John says:

    We’ve been hit by penguin too and honestly we don’t know what to do, like you, we’re small business owners, and we think it’s unfair what happened. We are trying to clean up the website etc.. but well if you need to become a NASA engineer to build a website now… Google really wants to get business to buy adwords, not to rank naturally, in fact i have found your site using yahoo , i find yahoo to have much more interesting results than google nowadays ( less hidden sites that google doesn’t want you to find 😉 )

    • Petra Weiss says:

      What you are saying about Yahoo is interesting… I have heard and also do believe that you do NOT have to become a NASA engineer to rank with a website (even though it feels like it), but that Google is looking for simply great websites where the owner concentrates more on creating great content for his visitors, instead of concentrating too much on SEO. But then again, when you look at the search results at the moment, there are some weird sites up on page one at times where you just wonder what they have to do with what you are looking for….

  19. Jason says:

    I admit, I’m also a victim of Penguin update. I cant blame anyone, its also my fault. I’ll take not of your tips.

  20. Google Penguin is basically focused to reduce spamming in link building, such as continuously using same anchor text for link building, over stuffing your keywords on meta tags & on webpage body. It is a great stuff for reducing the spammers.

  21. pressly says:

    Same as me petra, One of my client site was hit by penguin. I was rank the site in page 1 and went down to page 7 then after a few weeks the site disappear in search engine. I am wonder on how to get back in the rankings.
    pressly recently posted…Getting Your Inspiration for Potential Yearbook CoversMy Profile

    • Petra Weiss says:

      Yes, it’s not good. My former “best” site has completely disappeared from Google SERP’s. I am trying to up my social profile now – I have created a facebook page and do more with twitter and pinterest to get more people to visit my sites.

  22. Hi Petra, I enjoyed your article. My various sites have been hit so many times that I have had to figure out other ways to attract visitors. All this Google stuff is just too exhausting. I hope people start using Yahoo andf Bing more.
    Cheap Website Banners recently posted…Web BannersMy Profile

  23. David Lopez says:

    Penguin has been very hard, I’ve lost 90% of traffic in some of my newest sites,an absolute disaster!

  24. Pete says:

    It changes so rapidly, it’s hard to keep track of. It seems that everything now has gone very social, and I’m wondering if it’s even worth bothering with a site at all soon as surely a facebook page and twitter account would be simpler and work better. But then there’s a whole world of getting to the top of the facebook searches…

  25. Joseph says:

    I’m beginning to build affiliate sites and am doing everything I can to optimize my site so thank you for your sharing your experience, I learned a lot from it.
    Joseph recently posted…Bonos de Bwin PokerMy Profile

  26. And the penguin is coming again, and this time hungrier than never!

    Lets see what this newer version is going to mean in terms of rankings…

    Gob bless all of us!
    Kit Ganhe Dinheiro recently posted…rel=”author” e rel=”me” no WP e Outras PlataformasMy Profile

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