Penguin is a ba***rd. That’s essentially the message in Barry Schwatz’s article and I’m inclided to agree. 12 months on and that vengeful little s**t of a bird is yet to give its victims a break. Even attempts to correct the issues that triggered the attack have proven woefully ineffective:

  • Disavowing links – not only are we yet to see a site fully recover its rankings following a disavow, but we’ve actually seen sites lose further rankings, presumably as among the links disavowed were a number that had still, despite their grey hattiness, passed link juice.
  • Attracting new, totally legit links – We’ve been involved in a lot of PR over the last six months. While it has been really successful in a broad sense, the one thing it hasn’t done is recover sites from Penguin. One particularly mangled victim had a series of PR campaigns that attracted links from over 50 major news websites, including The Sun and The Times, and yet still the scars of Penguin have shown no sign of healing.

Of course one of the big problems has been the infrequency of updates. It’s been over six months since the last update so it makes truly understanding Penguin almost impossible. Who knows, perhaps the next update will shift our perception of the much maligned bird and we’ll start to view it more like its cuddlier and more forgiving older brother, Panda.

In the meantime Barry rightly talks about the importance of concentrating on content and user experience. I couldn’t agree more but I’d extend that to anything that affects your brand perception. Here’s why:

  • Clearly your site cannot afford to be dependent on Google – Penguin has demonstrated that – so anything you can do to increase direct traffic (social media, PR, email marketing) is vital to the long term stability of your traffic.
  • This is precisely what Google want to see! Google loves trusted brands so if it believes your site is reliant on search for its exposure then you probably don’t deserve that exposure.

There’s no way of knowing when the next penguin update will be and it’s expected to be a big one, so keep working on those brand signals!! It could be any day….

Dan