Penguin, Panda, it’s not that black and white..
We’re getting quite a few site review requests and SEO consultancy requests recently for people that have been hit by a sudden drop in traffic after the recent Google Penguin update. Because there has been quite some news about Google’s Penguin update and before that its Panda update, people are blaming those. In our perspective, whether you’re blaming Penguin, Panda or another update from Google isn’t really that interesting if you’re not an SEO. What matters most is: you’ve lost traffic, how are you going to get it back?
Why you’d want to know whether the Penguin update caused it
The idea is that if you know which update caused your traffic to drop and you know what that update targeted, you only have to fix that specific issue and your rankings will be magically restored. The reality is that it’s really not that black and white. Quite often now people blame one update, but if we look at the SearchMetrics stats for their domain, they’ve had a gradual decline over the last few months with a bigger decline in recent weeks. If we based our actions solely on what Penguin update targeted (and that’s not even really clear yet within the SEO community) we might be missing other issues.
There were other updates that didn’t get named by Google in the same way but had a huge impact in some countries. We’ve seen sites with over-optimized anchor text being hit from the beginning of the year already, but suddenly people now attribute that to Penguin. The end result for you as a site owner: it doesn’t matter.
You need to fix all your issues, not just the ones that this specific update “targets”.
How to get “your” traffic back
First of all, it’s not your traffic. It’s Google’s traffic. Being mad at Google, or anyone else for that matter, won’t help you one bit, it’s Google’s traffic and they can do what they want with it. So to regain the traffic your website was getting from Google, you need to play by their rules and in all honesty: those rules haven’t changed all that much over the last 10 years. The only thing that’s happening is that all the ways people found of bending those rules are slowly breaking.
Don’t try and play a game with Google if you don’t understand what you’re doing. There are dozens of great blackhats out there whom I respect, but that’s because they do their own research and they don’t start complaining publicly when Google catches them. If you have to read about and apply other people’s tricks, you’re probably not going to win. As the old saying goes: if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.
So how do you get your traffic back? By getting your site re-aligned with Google’s values. If you’ve lost in the Panda update or Penguin update and now recently lost a lot of traffic again, Google is sending you a message: your website doesn’t fit our idea of quality. Fix that. Don’t try to remove the one or two links that you think might have hurt you.
Now of course, you’re more than welcome to order a website review and get our opinion, but please don’t expect us to come up with a silver bullet. There are no silver bullets in SEO, just a lot of shiny silver drops of sweat, coming from your forehead.