One of the biggest hassles with the Google Penguin update is the fact that if you got dinged by that update, it’s very hard to get out of that penalty hole. I’ve worked with and spoken to SEO clients that got penalized by Penguin right after Penguin came out and they can’t seem to get out of that penalty box. Even after they have gone through all sorts of efforts and all sorts of trouble to disavow their backlinks, they still cannot get out of the Penguin penalty box.
Through some intervention and through additional careful link building and link earning, you are able to make some slow progress. However, the results are not clear across the board. This has always caused quite a bit of confusion and serious headaches in the global SEO community. The saddest part of it all is, for the longest time, people are in the dark as to why it takes a long time to clean up the Penguin penalty. The good news is Google has recently gone on the record as to why Penguin clean ups can take a long time. Here’s what we’ve learned from Google’s recent advice:
The Myth of the Quick Penalty Recovery
You hear many stories offered by SEO agencies of clients that got slapped hard by Google Penguin. These clients were very aggressive with their link building strategies. Many of them use the same anchor text over and over. Others link to their websites from dubious sources. Regardless of their SEO sins, these websites all got the same penalty.
Interestingly enough, these agencies hype up the fact that in a relatively short period of time, these clients were able to get out of the penalty zone. They were able to recover the volume of traffic that they used to enjoy from Google. In some cases, some agencies happily report that their clients are getting more traffic now than ever. The problem with these anecdotal sources is that they’re only as good as the credibility of the people sharing them.
Since there is no independent verification system, we’re basically left with two options. We either have to take their word for it or we dismiss it. The reality is that a quick penalty recovery is a myth. It makes for great advertising copy. It makes for a great brochure, but in reality, it’s very hard to snap out of a nasty penalty from Google. Does it happen? Absolutely. Does it happen all the time? Certainly not.
Penalties can Come from Different Parts of an Update
Why is it so hard to get out of a Google Penguin penalty? The problem is the penalty may not just come from Google Penguin. You might have been penalized from other parts of other updates. Also, Google Penguin has many different parts. This is why Google’s recent explanations regarding penalties make a lot of sense. Of course, it’s called comfort for companies who have been in the penalty box for so long, but still a little bit of clarity is definitely welcome. It does give people cause for hope.
The Release of 1 Part of an Algorithm doesn’t mean that you’re out of the Hole
To make matters worse, if Google updates a part of its algorithm and it affects you positively, this fact alone doesn’t necessarily mean you’re free from the penalty. The problem with Google software is that there’s so many different parts to its algorithm that if you are penalized by one part and that part is updated, it doesn’t mean that your penalty goes away. You might have been penalized by another part.
Your Website doesn’t Exist in a Vacuum as far as Updates are Concerned
In so many words, a Google executive has gone on the record as saying that your website might be in the hole precisely because there are more than one update impacting it. It’s bad enough to realize that even within one single update there are many different parts that may be holding your rankings down. It makes it all that much harder to accept that many different updates might be also holding your rankings down. Unfortunately, with more than 60% of US market share for searches, Google is pretty much the only game in town. It calls the shots. You basically have to live with the fact that this is how Google’s search algorithm is configured.
Incremental Updates and Refreshes Happen all the Time
To make matters even more complicated, Google’s search algorithm goes through several updates in a relatively short period of time. These incremental updates don’t always add up to results that you can quickly see. As mentioned above, some parts of the updates might be holding your rankings down. In other words, what Google’s recent revelations point to is that you really have to wait for an overall update to see substantial changes in your rankings. For many websites, this may be a case of too little, too late.
Stop Focusing on Updates, Focus on Quality Instead.
So what’s the way out? Considering how byzantine Google system is, what is the way out? How do you get out of this SEO maze? How do you make sense of all these+ different interlocking and overlapping penalties and algorithm consequences? My answer is very simple: focus on quality. Instead of trying to come up with a gimmick or some sort of shortcut or maybe some sort of off-the-shelf solutions that will magically free you from your penalties, focus instead on the main thing you should have been focusing on in the first place.
Focus on adding as much as value to the lives of your website visitors. Focus on being a credible player in your niche. Focus on becoming an authority within your niche category. By focusing on quality and trying to add as much value to the lives of your end-users, you will go a longer way rather than trying to mess around with the highly complicated mass of updates and penalties that Google inflicts on you.