We have seen similar results across sites claiming to have been penalized. At RankAbove, we work with a tremendous amount of data. Some of these data are client data and some are data we have been tracking to glean insights.
Across almost 25,000 tracked keywords for sites impacted by Penguin, we saw little change.
What does this tell us? Basically, that not a whole lot has changed since the last time the update happened and devastated sites across the web.
There were such high hopes that a Penguin refresh would save the day for many small online businesses, but the results say otherwise. It seems we will not see the same kind of drastic changes we saw in the past. We have finally arrived at the leveling off point and this seems to be the new normal.
But what about all the online businesses who were hoping for their royal pardon? Why haven’t they recovered?
When Penguin and Panda first arrived on the scene, they shook up the search engine results pages (SERPs) in a necessary way. There was so much trash and spam out there. And there still is.
The purpose of these algorithm updates was to fix these spam problems. By putting into place systems that allowed them to devalue those who had been playing an unfair game, Google caused a major shakeup, with sites falling out of positions they “deserved” through hard work.
This was, perhaps, the biggest fallacy of them all. These sites never did “deserve” those results. They were artificially placed there because of their shady practices.
Therefore, when sites talk about recovering, they should never anticipate getting back to that artificial point. For them, their current post-Penguin-update position is their rightful place in the SERPs.
And then, of course, there is all the speculation on what happens when a site is hit with Penguin. Do they lose the value of all their bad links and then an additional penalty? Or do they just drop to their rightful place in the SERPs?
After this most recent update, it seems to me that the penalty sent these sites to their rightful, non-inflated place in the SERPs, which is assuming there is no additional Penguin penalty.
Regardless, penalty or no penalty, the difference between the two is so insignificant to the initial drop in rankings the site incurred that it likely makes little difference.
I speculate that the actual “Penguin penalty” really makes little difference for a couple of reasons:
Also, another point to consider on why we are seeing so little change in SERPs could also be attributed to the age and freshness of links. Webmasters which consistently built spam links pre 2012, likely spent little to no time earning new quality links.
Post 2012, they spent the majority of their time cleaning up that spam, and also not earning new quality links. Which means, for the past two years, their backlink authority on any given topic has waned. Simply put, a link you received in 2011 is not as valuable as that same link you receive in 2014.
Everything seems to be pointing to sites ending up where they rightfully belong in the SERPs. The Pandas and Penguins have been among us for a few years now. We have had time to get to know them, and it should be clear to everyone that the old ways don’t work anymore.
The old linking tactics and the old junk content — they’re not part of a valuable strategy and won’t bring the results you are looking for.
Link building is nothing more than marketing. Penguin and Panda have forced us to realize that and work the way Google intended their engine to deal with links in the first place.
Create good, high quality content. Earn relevant and solid links because of the incredible content you build. Rinse and repeat to keep things fresh and make sure there is a constant supply of quality, useful, and valuable content being generated.
And for all that is holy, stop worrying about the damn algorithm updates. Those days are over (unless you’re a spammer).
This isn’t just the new normal, this is the original reality, and the way it was always supposed to be. So stop lamenting that you didn’t “recover,” and go out and do something positive with your site.
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