The First Step Towards Penguin Recovery Is…

| May 17, 2012 | 12 Comments

… doing more, and talking less:

Penguin Recovered Site

Click the picture to display the full image

That site just returned to #3 yesterday after being affected by Penguin (or at least I think it was). Anyway, a few days after it happened I took a look at the niche to see how the sites were ranking. In this particular niche, it was focused blog comments that were niche specific. So I just concentrated on building these types of links. I built on average 2-4 per day but spent more time looking for on-topic blogs.

This may have been a fluke, so I’m trying to test this again with another site to see if my methodology is correct.

Rant of the Day

I’m going to lay it to you straight: let’s can the whole theorycrafting crap. Lately on blogs that I read I’ve been seeing a lot of:

  1. Complaints about Google, Panda, and Penguin.
  2. People posting theories about what will and what won’t work nowadays.

Sometimes I feel that I am guilty of #2 too much, so I thought I’d put up, shut up and do something about it. Aside from building new sites I’ve been working on this one site to see if I could resurrect it. So far it seems to have worked. I don’t know how long it will stay where it is, since it just got there, but at least I believe I’m safe until next month’s update (I assume that Google will just refresh Penguin and Panda on a regular basis). This was more of a learning process for me to see if I could figure out whether it was a waste of time to try and recover a site or build a new one.

Every time a big ranking shakeup happens I get the sense that a lot of people are stunned into inaction. This is the worst possible thing I think you can have at this point. Don’t. Give. Up. Work. Hard.

Secondly, there is a large amount of analysis and perhaps over-analysis of what happened, what to do, etc. Lots of theorycrafting as we like to say in the gaming world.

Instead of incessantly talking about it, let’s take action and start doing something. Lost a site? Cough up the $10 and buy another domain and build a new one. Don’t want to do that? Try recovering it. Don’t like Google’s organic search? Move on to other things.

Stop talking, start doing.

End of rant. (Sorry)

What I Did To Recover This Site

I kind of alluded to this here, but my basic plan was to look at what my competitors were using to rank and use that. So in this case it was blog comments, and I just built those types of links. I didn’t pay any attention to anchor text diversity or anything like that. Just kept it simple and built steady, relevant links. It looks like it worked, and it seems to be a success.

I also did not change anything onpage or in terms of site structure. I see a lot of people talking about keyword density, but none of my sites have keyword stuffing present.

However, it could be a fluke, so I’m trying this again in another niche with another site to see if I can repeat this. I’m pretty confident though.

Obligatory warning: don’t just try to build blog comments and expect to have the same result. Your niche may require something completely different.

In order to look at what ranks a site in terms of offpage, you’ll need a tool that can look at backlinks of a site. So you can grab a copy of SEO Spyglass (the free version will suffice), or use something like MajesticSEO. Whatever floats your boat.

Should I Recover A Site Or Build A New One?

The answer depends strictly on return on investment. If you’re spending too much effort or money to bring back a $10/month site, well, it’s probably not worth it and it’s cheaper to buy a new domain and 301 redirect the old one to it. So just as long as you’re spending less than you earn, you’re fine, and I would base any decisions on that. In my case this was about a $25/month earner and blog comments were essentially free except for my time, so I thought that I might as well do them. After all, if your site is in the gutter what else have you got to lose?

Caveat Emptor

There is of course, the possibility that by copying your competitor you will both get smacked if you just so happen to use the flavour-of-the-month ranking strategy. Remember high PR blog posts? I urge you not to think about it too much and just keep it in your head that it may happen sometime or other.

There’s also no guarantee of how long you will stay at the top. Again, don’t overthink it. Try any method and see what happens. If it doesn’t work out, move on.

You have to try these things yourself in order to know what works for you. I find it really hard to believe what methods actually work until I see it for myself, so that’s why I’m game for testing things out a lot.

Having a plan is good, but having a plan and executing it will give you results whether favourable or unfavourable. But at least, you know the answers and found them yourself.

In fact, you don’t even have to believe this post at all, and you should challenge the methodology that I used to see if it works for you.

“works for you”

Important part emphasized.

The Plan From Here

I’m keeping an eye on this site as well as another one to see where they end up. For the most part I’ve gone on to building up the sites that are ranking well with more content and such, rebuilding, or building new. I haven’t actually put too much into recovery of existing sites except for the two that I’ve talked about here, but it might be worth a second look.

I apologize for the less-than-meaty post, but I thought that this might help a few people lacking direction at the moment.


P.S. – This post is a motivational one, not a blueprint or a guide. If you came here looking for a step-by-step method, sorry but that wasn’t the intention.

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Category: Case Studies

Comments (12)

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  1. Wesley Banks says:

    That’s pretty awesome Andre.

    Every time a big ranking shakeup happens I get the sense that a lot of people are stunned into inaction.

    I think that pretty much sums it up, and while I’ve been working on my sites for a while there I was just kind of scared to do much. I’m going to reanalyze what is ranking in my niche and go from there.

    Hope your other sites recover, keep us posted!

    • Andre Garde says:

      Hey thanks Wes. I can’t stress enough how important it is to do SOMETHING and/or ANYTHING. If your sites are dead you can’t really lose more by changing things up.

      This site isn’t #1 but it went high enough that it’s worth it to keep trying.

  2. Thanks Andre. I was most definitely stunned into inaction (even more than usual for me). Though I have just recently started doing some things to promote my main site other than trying for search engine results. I did go through a slight updating of my META tags and other on site stuff. I also had BMR delete all my posts (not sure about that one).

  3. Hi Andre,

    My earnings got destroyed by Penguin, went from $25+ per day to around $1 per day lol. I thought about trying to fix my sites but i realised they were too far gone. Instead of trying to fight Google my new plan is to try and be one step ahead by building a massive authority site and not doing any backlinking at all, im not sure if it will work but its worth a try.
    If you want to check out how im going with it i’ll be posting regular updates on my new blog.


    • Andre Garde says:

      Hey Daniel,

      If you were already making $25/day why not just make new sites and copy the old content over? Then you can continue building your authority site along side them.


      • That’s basically what im doing, the first content that im putting on my authority site is the old content from my sites that were earning $25+ per day 🙂

        • Andre Garde says:

          Ah, I see that now from reading your blog earlier.

          Just a suggestion, but you can also try 301 redirecting the old domains to the exact URL of the new page on your authority site. Still should get some link juice and even authority from that depending on how old your sites are (were?).

  4. Paula says:

    I like your theory. I say the same things. More action, less pontificating.

    I assume you are talking about regular and not automated blog comments…hmmmm?

    • Andre Garde says:

      Hi Paula,

      A lot of what I think and write about is just pure theory. But I try to put thought to action and just try stuff out. I figure it’s the only way I’ll believe what I see when things happen.

      Regarding the blog comments, I mentioned focused and niche specific, and I did mean manual. It only took about 10-20 for this one, I think?

      From what I’ve been seeing of the competition, automated Scrapebox-style blog comment spam can rank you quickly but the drop is just as quick. There’s no permanence as I imagine there used to be pre-Panda and pre-Penguin. This can be “good” for the churn ‘n burn types doing CPA or some other affiliate thing. Wouldn’t work for AdSense. Besides, Penguin 1.1 killed more of those sites again.


  5. Joe says:

    I think my sites where hit a lot harder than this one as a few blog comments wouldn’t bring them back from the dead. Neither would lots of other links and about 30 pages of new unoptimised content.

    I am toying with the idea of moving the sites to new domains as some of them were making $100s a month.

    Not sure if it is worth the effort though in the long run.

    • Andre Garde says:

      Unless you’ve got a brand, domains are replaceable.

      Are you using the same type of links your competition is, or are you just carpet-bombing links on your sites?

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