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Hit By Penguin? Try These Tips from Google Webmaster Forum

Google’s recent Penguin update is rapidly earning a reputation as an SEO nightmare for affiliate partners. Penguin pretty much redefined link building practices that had been in practice for almost a decade and left many webmasters starting, pretty much, from scratch.

Not surprisingly, there’s no shortage of articles advising publishers how they can beat Penguin’s wrath. While we’re not discounting any of these articles, we thought that a visit to the Google Webmasters Forum could provide some new insights into the subject. Here’s what we found.

Like any forum, Google’s Webmaster Forum has it’s fair share of cranks. Those great nuggets of advice are often interspersed with heavy doses of plain old complaints. Every crank with a gripe against Google makes his or her case on the forums. But skip past them and there’s some pretty useful information.

Dropped from #1

In a thread titled Dropped from #1 a latex clothing retailer (don’t pretend like you don’t know what that is!) writes that he’s feeling some serious effects from Penguin. After five years in the number one spot for his keywords, he’s off the front page completely now. He also adds that he’s had some serious problems with content scrapers, too.

A poster named NYCWebmaster diagnoses the problem as follows:

links from the front pages of other domains to your front page.

  • Numerous sites have numerous links to you.
  • Lack of backlink anchor text for incoming links.
  • Links from the front pages of other domains to your front page.

Sounds like a classic Penguin attack. Here’s what other posters recommended.

The most popular suggestion was removing links from other, unrelated sites. This is a common problem for affiliate marketers who like cross promoting their various sites.

Reviewing a Site After Penguin

A prom dress seller named promro posts up that he’s having trouble with post-Penguin page rank and is looking for advice. But this guy doesn’t really need much advice. In fact, his Reviewing a Site After Penguin reads almost like an SEOmoz Friday Whiteboard. Here’s how Promro fought the Penguin.

  • Deleted all commercial links within the site.
  • Trimmed down excessive use of keywords.
  • Removed footer links that seemed overly commercial.
  • Reduced the number of steps on the breadcrumb trail by tightening up product descriptions.

Though Promro wrote advice, most posters agreed, he was already very much on track.

Hit the Fundamentals

We don’t like to blame the victim, but some sites that were hit by Penguin are guilty of simply not understanding basic SEO. On another thread, with the SEO friendly title, Why Google is Still Not Returning Our Rankings Even After Penguin Remedial Actions Taken, a poster laments his drop in page ranks.

The problem, it seems, is more an issue of SEO 101 rather than a problem with Google. It turns out that the poster simply never used no-follow tags at all. That could make a big difference.

At the end of the day, it’s important to understand what problems are the Penguin’s and which ones are yours.


You might have to sort through some cranky posts to get to the meaty bits, but Google’s Webmaster Forums are are great source of SEO advice.

How are you dealing with Penguin? Share your thoughts on our SEO Forum.