Almost immediately after Google unleashed the monstrous Penguin algorithm update, it was clear that sites with many unnatural link were hit the most based on the multitude reactions on the web. The game has been changed and new rules have been applied.
Unlike other algorithm changes, this time penalized webmasters had to take action OUTSIDE of their own sites which makes the recovery task very complicated. Those site owners were no longer in full control as they try to remove/change links on OTHER websites.
The first Penguin data refresh (update 1.1) has arrived about a month after the initial launch on May 26th and I can now say in pretty certainty that there weren’t many recovery stories. In fact, almost only sites’ traffic improvements which been reported, were from websites that haven’t been hit by the Penguin to begin with.
However, I don’t think it’s because Penguinlized webmasters didn’t took the necessary steps, but simply because Google didn’t had much time to process all the changes. It takes a lot of time to find the spammy links, remove or change them and then wait for Google to re-index enough of those pages to retain a “healthy” link profile.
Therefore, for almost all sites which been hit by the Penguin on April didn’t had much time to make a recovery until May. However, for all you Penguinlized pessimistic webmasters, there’s hope on the horizon.
The Recovery Story Of WPMU
WPMU.org is a WordPress portal which offers, among other things, plugins and themes. Whenever another site owner has installed one of WPMU’s plugins or themes, it included a link with the anchor text “WPMU” or “WordPress Mu”. The creator receives his recognition with a link. Looks legitimate, right?
Well, not according to the Penguin…
All those links with the exact same anchor text made WPMU’s link profile to appear as too spammy in the eyes of the Penguin and when it struck on April, WPMU lost over 80 percent of its Google traffic! That was obviously a huge hit for the business.
But unlike other sites which been hit, WPMU had a relative advantage- About 30% of the “spammy links” came from the education blogging service EDUBlogs.org, which was owned by… WPMU. The allowed WPMU to remove a massive amount of allegedly spammy links almost instantly.
The results? Joy oh joy, full recovery on May when Google run a Penguin data refresh:
Because WPMU could have eliminated nearly third of its toxic links fast, it managed to escape the Penguin prison quickly. Obviously, most site owners which been hit don’t have this possibility, so the toxic link removal process takes more time.
But this story proves that recovery is indeed possible.