The Google Penguin update first touched down on April 24th and many webmasters that were hit by this update were frantically making changes to their web site in anticipation for a Penguin refresh. That refresh happened late Friday evening and we have one report that appears to be a legit Penguin recovery.
An SEOmoz story named How WPMU.org Recovered From The Penguin Update has a pretty good case of a likely Penguin recovery. How can we know it is a pretty good case of a recovery? The Google Analytics graphs show a huge dip in traffic on April 24th and then a huge spike on May 26th, returning the site to pre-Penguin traffic levels.
We have reached out to Google to see if this site did indeed recover from the Penguin update but from the looks of it, it has.
This site claimed the reason it recovered was because it was able to remove over a half a million links from sites using their WordPress themes. These sites used a WordPress theme supplied by WPMU.org, all with a link and anchor text “WordPress MU” pointing back to the site. They were easily able to get that link removed and over 500,000 links disappeared over night. They did not go after additional potential link profile issues prior to the Penguin refresh because they did not have time.
Other changes they made but don’t believe made a difference were:
- Pinged blogs that were originally highlighted by Matt Cutts in a conversation with the Syndey Harold – only one removed links, but they did come from a significant volume of splogs on the Blogdetik.com domain
- Submitted WPMU to the Penguin review form, twice, specifically referencing this article that was being beaten out by the links that referenced it
- Used SEOmoz campaign data to implement some canonical URLs to clean up crawl errors and also kill some unnecessary links across the site
- Did a bit of “SEO cleanup” that revealed WPMU.org sitemaps did not exist and/or were broken. Implemented sitemaps and submitted the feeds to Webmaster Tools, which was not happening previously
- Cleaned up numerous duplicate title tag issues as reported by Webmaster tools
- Continued to build natural links to the site and promote other positive signals such as referring traffic and social shares
- Very notably and importantly, got this specific use case in front of Google and also the greater SEO community that highlighted it
We’d love to hear more stories of Penguin recoveries. If you can supply evidence, access to analytics and steps you’ve taken to recover, let us know. Please comment below and we will take a look.