I would like to share my personal experience post the Penguin era. And I would highly appreciate if I receive some helpful comments.
SEO seemed a bit easier before April 2012, isn't it? Some title and meta tag changes, header optimisation and few exact match anchor text links helped you boost your SERP rankings. Things have drastically changed now with Google trying to improve the quality of its search results through some major Algorithmic Roll Outs! Or shall I say Algorithmic Roll Ouch!!!
We observed another algorithm update in the form of Penguin 2.0. I haven't seen the Google love letter of 'unnatural links' in the Webmaster Tools account for any of the sites I work upon. Google recently came up with another feature in Google Webmaster tool which directly provides us details of any manual spam action taken for our sites. I didn't receive any such notification out there.
But for many of those sites I surely saw some drop in rankings. Sites that ranked for some good keywords on page one dropped to page two or three. This certainly affected the overall organic traffic with a drop of more than 40 to 60%. Below is a screen shot of one of the sites I work upon. You can clearly see a drop after Penguin 2.0 was rolled out.
What can we assume/conclude from this drop without any unnatural links warning in the Google Webmaster Tools? And what should be the Penguin recovery way forward? I reckon:-
1) All the other sites that are now ranking above my sites have done a brilliant job in optimising the site or probably acquiring some great back links! They have just toppled my sites with better SEO! Or probably Google devalued many of the backlinks that provided better rankings in good old days?
2) Too much of exact match anchor text back links targeting the keywords has harmed the sites' performance. But what proportion should I consider as too much? A new approach - 30% exact match, 50% brand terms and 20% white anchor texts like click here or visit the website - does this sound good?
3) An arduous backlink analysis for all the links build so far, followed by requests to respective webmasters for link removal. For the remaining dodgy links, I can use the disavow tool. But should this be followed by a reconsideration request. Ideally no - because I haven't received any manual penalty.
4) Get rid of directory or article submissions kind of stuffs and build quality back links. Get more into social stuffs like twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Any more suggestions for this guys?
The things aren't as simple as analysing the backlinks and disavowing the dodgy ones. The path to rebuild the authority isn't easy. Let us agree to it that we all tried to build links from directories or articles, we all enjoyed good rankings, but these things aren't working anymore. The post Penguin recovery isn't easy. I have seen my friends redirecting their affected domains to a completely new domain. I have personally tried to analyse links of many of my sites, write to webmasters for link removal and tried disavowing rest of the dodgy links. I haven't yet posted a reconsideration request as it seems my sites are algorithmicaly hit and not manually. I would prefer to wait for the next Penguin refresh or update to see if my efforts will fetch some good results.
I welcome your thoughts, suggestions and personal experiences during the post Penguin era. Many thanks! - Tejas Thakkar