It was a long time coming, but as you may be aware, Google’s Penguin algorithm has been refreshed and the wait is over. For site owners who had previously been hit by a Penguin-related penalty, this update will have been much anticipated, with great expectations of a surge in both rankings and traffic after working to undo the results of their bad linking strategies. However, this may not have been the case, with rankings seemingly unrecovered.
It’s possible the arrival of Penguin 3.0 didn’t bring the results you had been hoping or expecting for your site. So why didn’t you recover? There are a few potential explanations for this absence of ranking salvation.
Put simply, you may not have done enough to rectify the damage that your poor links had brought upon the site. When it comes to cleaning up your backlink profile, you can’t afford to be too protective over preserving links. All dubious links should have been removed, or disavowed. If a link causes uncertainty, then don’t take the risk. Assume it’s bad and remove it.
If you were under a manual penalty as well as algorithmic, then you would have needed to take extra care and work to show Google you have done everything you can to get back in their good books. This means actually getting the links removed, not only disavowing them. As many should be removed as possible, with the rest submitted in a disavow file.
So, you got hit. Penalised for a bunch of poor quality links. Understandably you then worked towards getting these links removed where possible, and submitting a disavow file for the rest. Why then, since removing these, have you not jumped back up to where you originally ranked or thereabouts?
Building these poor quality links initially could have worked in your favour for a short while, providing link value and helping you rank well prior to the penalty. However, once these links were devalued as you were hit, and removed in response, the links that were once holding you up have gone. Although your rankings may partially recover, rising fairly insignificantly, you will now be further behind competitors (assuming their link value remains as it was) you once sat alongside in the results pages in terms of link trust and value.
Although an immediate priority when you come up against a Penguin penalty is to focus on removing bad links, it is also important to work on building new and quality links to replenish link score.
In this case, your site may have received a second hit of sorts. For example, if you had a lot of links from low quality sources, your site itself will have been penalised in the first instance. You underwent a removal process of the bad links and kept a selection of neutral, non-violating links. When the next update came, these remaining linking sources were devalued but your actual site itself does not receive a penalty.
Put simply, it is not a penalty as such, but more of an adjustment to the link value being passed to your site. Similar to the second situation above, a partial recovery of rankings may occur. The difference being, in the second scenario, remaining links are good but not increasing, whereas in this circumstance, the remaining links are losing value.
With the next Penguin update expected to be less of a wait, you should get to work straight away on recovery. If you still have poor quality links to your site, get these removed and disavowed. In cases of a link stand still after removing bad links, get to work on building new and quality links to bring your link score up again. To prevent the issue of links becoming devalued over time, look to amend and improve your approach to link prospecting.