Recovering Your Search Engine Mojo in a Post-Penguin World

Many web marketers promoting their websites in competitive industries were left shell-shocked by Google’s latest algorithmic update. Meant to devalue webspam and improve quality in the SERPs, Google targeted many accepted methods of link building.

The good news is that your website might see a boost. However, if you’ve relied on SEO more than producing high quality content, your search engine traffic might have taken quite a dip. Sites affected by this update report losing between 20 percent and 80 percent of their search engine traffic. To succeed in the ever-changing internet arena, adaptability is key, and sites that evolve with Google’s changes will continue to come out ahead in the long run.

Content Reigns Supreme

Google’s being saying it for years: Content is king. By tracking user interaction, Google can now put a value on content and utilize it as a signal when determining relevance and popularity. If your site provides high quality content, your users will stay on your site for extended periods, visit many pages, and come back to your site. This, in turn, can be analyzed by Google’s analytics system and incorporated as an algorithmic signal.

In fact, part of the reason that Google decided to rework its algorithm was to promote websites that had content that most visitors find useful, but that didn’t rank highly because the websites weren’t promoting their sites aggressively through SEO.

It’s important to analyze your stats to determine how users interact with your website.

  • Identify the most visited content and make it more prominent.
  • Focus time and resources on developing those video tutorials that you’ve been meaning to create for years.
  • Create white papers, how-to guides, product reviews, and ratings.
  • Forget about old-school tactics like keyword density and high anchor density.
  • Focus on your living, breathing visitors, whose interactions with your site and possible links can help build up your traffic and rankings.

Social Media: More Important Than Ever!

Google has publicly stated that they are using social media as a ranking signal. Many believe that Penguin upped this ante.

Now social media markers (e.g., Facebook Likes, Tweets, and Google+) and interactions are playing a major role in how a site ranks. Additionally, utilizing social media is a way of diversifying your traffic so you’re not so heavily reliant on Google’s traffic.

  • If you are already focused on creating quality content, make it easy for your visitors to interact with your site!
  • Make your content easy to share by adding plugins to share your content on social channels.
  • Share your content first, to encourage others to do the same, and take the time to ask your readers to do the same.

Make Your Link Profile Appear Natural!

Many believe that a key aspect of Google is anchor text and link analysis. Google considers web spam any tactic that manipulates the search engines to improve your site’s rankings. During the Penguin update, they added filters to analyze a site’s backlink profile and compare it to other sites in the same sector. When reviewing your site, make sure to check:

  • Is your anchor density to high?
  • Are you mostly using “money” terms in your inbound links?
  • Are most of your links coming from low-quality sites?

When promoting your sites, make sure your backlinks appear natural. For instance, what are the odds that out of 120 people linking to your site, 60 of them will link to you saying “Auto Insurance Quotes?”  Probably not. Instead they will link your domain, they will link the words “click here,” and they will link to the name of your brand. Also, search for different types of backlinks, including links from blogs, videos, infographics, and forums. Again, think of emulating a natural user profile.

Finally, spend some time looking at the sites that are still ranking well in your industry. You can use tools like Majestic SEO to examine backlinks. What sorts of links are you getting? What content is being shared on the linked site? Is it possible to get listed in a few of the sites where your competitors are linked?

Google’s Penguin is here to stay. The question now is whether you will adapt and swim, or simply sink to the bottom of the SERPs.

About Virginia Cunningham

Virginia Cunningham has been involved in internet marketing and technology for 12 years. She writes about Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Marketing at

6 Responses to Recovering Your Search Engine Mojo in a Post-Penguin World

  1. There is a misconception that keyword anchor text should no longer be used.  It just shouldn’t be used as much.  It’s important to vary the keyword anchor text as much as possible to appear more natural.  

  2. aranzamendez says:

    Yes, I agree with you Nick that keyword anchor text will no longer be effective as it is before.  The best thing to do right now really is create unique or original content on your website and build backlinks using your websites brand name and/or plain text url…

  3. Maybe this is a reminder to everyone don’t be complacent. 

    It always burns when trends change but if you look at the stock market its clear we are in choppy waters.  

    Did you get penalized in error?

  4. Caleb says:

    One other thing that the Penguin update did was look at over optimization at a on-page level.  Basically this means do not over optimize any one part of your website.  For example it was encouraged before the Penguin update to include your keyword in the H1, H2, and H3 tags.  Now after the Google Penguin update it is better to keep it natural and only include your keyword in one of the header tags.

  5. Nice article!!Love it!Helpful too!

  6. No matter what kind of adjustments we do in optimizing, Google will always find its way to adjust back.