How to Recover from a Panda or Penguin Slap Down

google-penguin-updateUnfortunately, trying to get back on your feet after getting slapped down by the Panda or the more recent Penguin update, is not an easy task and almost always requires a complete remodeling of your entire website! This is mostly because the actions were taken were not manual, instead, they were caused when something triggered an algorithm alarm to devalue or remove your rankings and once that happens your site could get sucked into a black hole for a very long time or until you do something drastic to reset the algorithm. Ever since Google started rolling out their infamous Panda updates in February of 2011, site after site has been penalized and sometimes unjustly. SEOs and webmasters alike have been scrambling for answers.  In this article, I will be outlining instructions on how to recover from a Panda penalty along with actual case studies from other panda recovery stories.

First things first, before you can fix the problem you must identify the problem and this means you must diagnose the attributes that got you penalized in the first place. In doing so, you’ll need to find out if it was on-page or off-page. The earlier Panda updates only affected your site’s on-page attributes like content, internal link structure, and coding. That was until the Panda 3.5 update on April 19th, 2012 and the Penguin update on April 24th, 2012 that targeted off-page attributes like off-page content and external links. Identifying the culprit will require a deep investigation of your site’s content, code and your server configuration well as an in-depth look at the links that point to your site. Lastly, you will need to look at all the actions taken by all members of your team. This should have been tracked in a project management software and by making notes in your Google Analytics account. Identifying the problem is always the hardest part of the Panda recovery process and second opinions can be very helpful, this is why I offer a 150 point Panda Slap Analysis which takes 5 days to complete.

Now that you know what triggered Google’s algorithms to punish you, these are some of the most common practices used to recover from the Panda:

If Your Site Was Penalized for Having Copied or Low-Quality Content

Remove the content from your site or move it to another sub-directory with 301 redirects. On April 24th, the same day of the Penguin update, Google posted this guide on how to move your content. This is a very popular technique that I mentioned back in Oct. of 2011 in a post about the Panda 2.5 update. Alternative methods are changing your URL structure to force a re-indexing of the whole site at least to the URLs that lost ranking, not to the URLs that are still listed high in the SERPs.

If Your Site Was Penalized for Having Spammy Backlinks

Cancel your subscriptions to any and all link networks or link brokering sites. This especially applies to adult sites and Porn SEO.  Then work feverishly to try to build a solid foundation of white hat links to fill that empty void of links that were de-indexed. These must content based links which are considered Panda Friendly and can be very time-consuming.

Other Panda Recovery Tactics

The two Panda penalties I listed above are the most common but your site could have been slapped down for a number of different reasons so make sure you check through this list of other very helpful Panda rescue tactics.

  • Scale down on your ads
  • Hide affiliate links by using redirects in your .htaccess file
  • Integrate with social media YouTube, Plus and Blogspot, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest
  • Do more internal linking just like you see on Wikipedia.com
  • Clean up your code and optimize page load speed
  • Redesign your whole site
  • Enhance the user experience to increase stickiness and page views
  • Integrate rich snippets and microdata
  • Post regular content to the site

What Not to Do!

Do not file a reconsideration request! Firstly because Google only replies to manual penalties, not the penalties that result from an algo change. Secondly, because you most likely just be telling on yourself and fall victim to Googles Phishing Scam.

Do not use Matt Cutts Penguin tattle tale tool that he posted on Twitter or their Penguin Feedback form.

You can also use this list of past Panda updates to try to help you troubleshoot cause and effect of when your SERPs dropped.

Panda 3.5 on April 19th, 2012
Panda 3.4 on March 23rd, 2012
Panda 3.3 on about February 26th, 2012
Panda 3.2 on about January 15th, 2012
Panda 3.1 on November 18th, 2011
Panda 2.5.3 on October 19th, 2011
Panda 2.5.2 on October 13th, 2011
Panda 2.5.1 on October 9th, 2011
Panda 2.5 on September 28th, 2011
Panda 2.4 on August 15, 2011
Panda 2.3 on July 22nd, 2011
Panda 2.2 on June 18th or so.
Panda 2.1 on May 9th or so.
Panda 2.0 on April 11th or so.
Panda 1.0 on February 24th
In the end, if you are not 100% sure about your diagnosis or recovery, consult a real professional because you can easily make the problem worse.