Attacked By the Google Penguin? Tips to Recover From the Penguin Update

The Google Penguin algorithm update had been anticipated for some time and was released on April 24, 2012. Google is calling it “another step to reward high-quality sites”, and while I’m normally skeptical about the effectiveness of their updates, I’m beginning to see a trend in updates and the necessary shift in SEO if one desires to continue ranking well.

Google says this about the Penguin update:

“The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines. We’ve always targeted webspam in our rankings, and this algorithm represents another improvement in our efforts to reduce webspam and promote high quality content. While we can’t divulge specific signals because we don’t want to give people a way to game our search results and worsen the experience for users, our advice for webmasters is to focus on creating high quality sites that create a good user experience and employ white hat SEO methods instead of engaging in aggressive webspam tactics.” And you can read the full article here.

Ok, but what does this actually mean for SEO?

First of all (and this is stuff that you should have stopped doing LONG ago), get rid of your keyword stuffing. Stop using hidden text or text that almost blends into the background and is hard to read to put a bunch of keywords in. Stop putting big chunks of text on the footer, header, sidebar or wherever else that have the sole purpose of using a bunch of keywords and related terms. We’ve all seen the “incoming searches” or “related searches” type boxes on sites. This is mild keyword stuffing, it can get a lot worse. Like, 500 words with a keyword repeated 100 times. Don’t do any of this. If the content doesn’t serve the visitor in some way, then get rid of it. I promise, having more content isn’t always better for your ranking if that content isn’t quality, which brings me to the next thing to fix/avoid.

Make your content readable and remove links that don’t have anything to do with the topic being discussed. Spun content is worthless for your website. There was a time that it worked for both article directories and sites, but that time is passed. If you don’t clean up your site, you will be hit if you haven’t already. I’m talking about stuff like:

“why not intent a life insurance policy today *link*free downloads*link* in order to get your siblings feel safe and harbored in any occassion”

You know when it is meant for people that can read and when it’s not.

Another thing that you can and should do is consolidate or get rid of near duplicate pages. I’m not talking about duplicate content, but having several pages that target a variation of the same keyword, like having one separate page for “life insurance” and another for “good life insurance” and another for “great life insurance”, etc. is obviously spam according to new standards and you’re really better off by combining these terms into a really strong single page.

Now Google says that they prefer that people don’t do any SEO at all and just sit back and create the best sites possible. Sure, that’s nice, it’s good to create cool stuff, but sadly, this utopian paradise does not exist. When you have a business, you don’t simply sit inside and expect people to show up without doing anything (and if you do, then you probably don’t have much of a business).

SEO is simply another form of advertising and I think the internet is ready for “good” SEO without the spammy tactics. It’s harder, it takes longer, but the rewards are greater and are sure to last through the ever increasing algorithm updates.

AUTHOR - Matt Greener

Matt Greener is a leading expert in online strategy for businesses and entrepreneurs. Helping propel clients to market dominance is his passion. For over a decade Matt has consulted for celebrities, CEO's and INC 500 companies, among many others. Matt takes full advantage of the fast-evolving internet, applying a potent mix of strategies with his clients. His expanding reach empowers a larger audience with powerful tools and specialized training which has placed him in high demand for business owners and individuals that desire to maximize their online potential. Matt also writes frequently for several internationally acclaimed websites including his own blog. Follow @RealMattGreener


  • Karen Pore

    Great info! I loved your class tonight and appreciate the update on how the recent Google changes can effect my current sites. Great info and will keep in mind when I’m writing my new content for this week :)


  • Mitchell Dillman

    Thanks Matt…
    Yep, seems like the changes are coming faster and faster too, and Google’s not alone. Youtube’s already implemented two major changes this year in their algorithms too.
    If you don’t like the weather…

  • Cheryl Ryning

    Thank’s Matt. This is really good. sound advice. And your advice on web design is right on as well.

    Best Regard’s,
    Cheryl Ryning

  • adrian georgescu

    Thanks Matt…

  • Mel

    Thanks Matt. Good information, I needed that.
    I’m an innocent victim of past vicious Google slapping. Although exonerated, my YouTube videos and accounts were never reinstated! I’ve learned not to place so much trust in Google. I was a solid supporter. But now I stay vigilant.

  • Don Hill

    Great advice, Matt! When dealing with website content, I always try to focus on the individual people that populate the target market I’m dealing with – and with emphasis on the “individual” aspect, just as though I’m speaking directly to them, one-on-one, across the kitchen table.

    After all, that’s really what Google and the rest of the search engines are looking for, and all of those complex algorithms really have at their root the objective of trying to replicate the mind (and mindset) of the “searcher.”

    Of course the search engines have to incorporate mechanisms to detect “spun” and other types of quasi-worthless content, but like any other type of business, Google makes money when they give their users what they’re looking for. If you create content that people WANT and LIKE, the combination of “organic” SEO and “social acclaim” will have a powerful effect on your rankings in the SERPS. The top of the first page will continue to be elusive, but if you keep this aspect in mind, you’ll be way ahead of the herd who will continue to search for (and probably try to sell) ways to “game the system.”

    BTW – Kudos for the webinar on April 24th – GREAT STUFF!

  • Ken Pringle

    Excellent information, great post.
    Thank you for sharing this with us.
    This is real important information
    everyone needs to hear.

    continued successes,
    Ken Pringle

  • Matt Greener

    Thanks everyone, I’ll definitely be digging deeper into this in the near future.

  • Robert Blakely

    How funny I was taught and told it was Google Panda not Penguin. Good thing to have multiple trusted resource’s to get information from. I’m thinking I may have to keep you as a great source of information brother 😉 Thanks for sharing time to go research more about it. 😉

    • Matt Greener


      To clarify, Panda was released early 2011 and since has gone through several modifications and updates, the latest which was just a few days before Penguin was released. The purpose of this post was to highlight Penguin, which is what has had everyone screaming lately:) Thanks!

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