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Google Penguin Impact Examined

Cutts calls Penguin a success.

It’s been one month since Google unleashed its Penguin update on the Internet and plenty of casino affiliates are feeling the impact. But are there some positive effects from the sweeping refresh? In a recent interview with Searchengineland reporter Danny Sullivan,  Google’s Matt Cutts laid out the good, bad and ugly aspects of the Penguin, the Panda and Negative SEO.

The whole article, Two Weeks In, Google Talks Penguin Update, Ways To Recover & Negative SEO, is a must-read for gaming affiliates who want to avoid further page rank drops.

Was Penguin a Success?

Shortly after Penguin’s launch, SEO forums lit up with posts from webmasters who felt they’d been unfairly penalized by the refresh. The best example was probably, the official site of the well known drug. Thanks to Penguin, this site was no longer indexed, while legions of spammy, counterfeit Viagra sites kept high page rankings. (That particular problem has since been addressed.)

But, according to Cutts, many of these problems, including the Viagra problem, pre-dated the Penguin. But Cutts did concede the refresh did cause a few of what he called, “false positives.”

“We’ve seen a few cases where we might want to investigate more, but this change hasn’t had the same impact as Panda or Florida,” he explained.

But fighting a false positive caused by Penguin isn’t as simple as fighting one caused by Panda. While Cutts acknowledges that, “no algorithm is perfect,” Google is not entertaining reconsideration requests from sites that may have been unfairly penalized.

Cutts recommends these sites do whatever they can, and wait for the next refresh to roll out.

Still cracking the Penguin code? Check out  10 Easy Steps to Link Building Post-Penguin.

Negative SEO

Because of the emphasis Google’s been placing on link networks and low-quality inbound links, many site owners have worried about the impact of negative SEO. Cutts discounted the idea that a webmaster could point low quality links at a competitor to bring down their page rank.

While negative SEO may join keyword density in the SEO hall of legends, the impact of unnatural link networks is still very real.

Link Up with Trouble

After Penguin many web publishers got the idea that links were behind their page ranking drops, but Cutts seems to dismiss those concerns as mere coincidence. He points out to Sullivan that bad link warnings went out well ahead of Penguin. But link warnings, according to Cutts, almost always are followed by a big drop.

Penguin’s Impact on Affiliates

Cutts is quick to point out that Google considers Penguin to be a big success. What’s more, he says that for every site that dropped, another one rose. In his mind, that’s a good thing. In the CAP forums, gaming affiliates didn’t necessarily share Cutts’ enthusiasm.

On a thread titled, SO How Much Traffic Did You Lose? CAP members told their stories.

  • A poster named Lenny says that his sites that had ranked between 1-5 had dropped all the way down to 799.
  • Belgamo reports that his traffic dropped from 170,000 impressions a day, down to just 22,000.
  • But on the other end of the spectrum, Elisha woke up on Penguin Day to find her bingo site getting 50%-70% more traffic.

Bounce Back

Many site masters impacted by Penguin have been frantically removing links in hopes of undoing the damage, but that may not be enough. Cutts and Sullivan both say that, in some cases, bouncing back from Penguin may involve starting over from scratch.

How have you been impacted by Penguin? Let us know on our SEO Forum Penguin thread.