Recovering from Google Penguin 3.0 update in 2014

** Click here to see how I recovered! **

Sheldon Cooper HyperventilatingI was laid in bed enjoying a nice Saturday morning lie in earlier today when I happened to randomly check one of my SERPs on my mobile, only to my amazement my site was no longer there. I was panicking, and checked another keyword… Same story, my site was no longer there! By this point I’d flew out of my bed and was looking somewhat like Sheldon Cooper in that picture above!

I was refreshing my emails like crazy expecting an email from Webmaster Tools to land in my inbox, but no thing. I jumped on the PC  to check my SERPs only to come across this, which is certainly something no SEO wants to see:

Search Engine Positions

The reporting has gone a little crazy because they were fluctuating up and down so much, but bearing in mind these were all sat on page 1 they are now pretty much non existent.

I flew into Webmaster Tools to look for a penalty, which to be honest in the back of my mind I was actually hoping I’d find because I’d rather take a manual penalty over an algorithmic penalty (especially Penguin) any day of the week but as you’ve probably guessed I didn’t find anything…

So that leaves the culprit to the Penguin 3.0 update… It’s got to be. All that talk about it being released and then this… I frantically ran a few Google searches trying to find some news but funnily enough all the major players seem to be asleep, so it called for a twitter search instead & it looks like I’m not the only one affected:

Google Penguin Twitter Feed

Some are lucky enough to not have seen any fluctuations, but whether that remains the case or not will be a different question. The main question now though is for those who have seen fluctuations, how on earth are we going to recover, and ideally make that recovery as quick as possible?


Unfortunately I’ve been hit with Penguin because of my own stupidity. I was very careful about keeping a clean backlink profile to my website and disavowed any naughty links as soon as they appeared, but my site was running on HTTPS and being the idiot I am I’d only uploaded the disavow file to the non-HTTPS domain. That doesn’t matter now though, this is an algorithm penalty and there’s no reconsideration requests – I’m in the same boat as all of you guys that have been throwing links at your site like no tomorrow.

Stage 1 of recovery.

Right now the main thing you need to do is wait. It’s pointless taking action now until we see the true impact of the update. I’ve seen a lot of guys already posting in forums about 301 redirecting domains & what not, but forget all of that for now because you could end up causing more harm than good. Google’s own Gary Illyes said that if they notice any issues within the update the rollout will be cancelled, so for now let’s just all get together and pray this is going to be the case.

Not only that, but we don’t know how the update works – just because a site has gone down now doesn’t mean it isn’t going to come back up. Whilst it’s unlikely, it could be that you’ve caught it in it’s “shuffle phase”. As I said it’s unlikely, but it’s a possibility – and a chance that you shouldn’t hinder by messing around with redirects.

What you should do though is begin going through your backlink profile and clearing it up. Once again Gary Illyes said two weeks ago that it’s already too late to start clearing up your backlink profile and that’s certainly true. However your backlink profile is going to need clearing up sooner or later so there’s no harm in an early start. Don’t just disavow links, this tool should be used an absolute last resort – always make your best effort to remove the links from the source (Google will thank you for this).

Penguin update will be a “delight” to webmasters.

In this post I wrote that Gary Illyes mentioned that Penguin would be a “delight” to webmasters. Now I don’t think English is his first language so that may not have come across exactly how it was intended and many people have interpreted what he meant differently. However I believe that what he might be trying to say is that the damage of Penguin will not be as long lasting as it previously was. Previously you had to wait until the next Penguin update rolled out to see the work you’ve put in for recovery to take effect, but having to suffer the consequences of an algorithmic penalty for a full year was a bit extreme. I think hope that we may see the changes we make towards recovery take effect quicker than they did previously.

So what now?

I’m going to wait until my SERP fluctuations begin to level out and then I’ll assess the damage and take it from there. I’d highly recommend you do the same rather than take an early approach at doing anything drastic.

I’ve added the disavow file to both my non-HTTPS & HTTPS version of the site in Webmaster Tools. I was lucky enough to already have a disavow file together, but if you don’t then it’s certainly time to get creating one.

Other than that at this stage there’s not a lot we can do, but what I will do is document my full process in my effort to recovery, so if you’re interested then keep popping back and see how it’s working out – I’d also love to hear from you guys if you’ve found anything that’s helped your site to recover.

Good luck!

P.S. it’s time to be completely honest…

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About the Author:
Born & raised in England, Dale is the founder of Living More Working Less & he has been making a living from his laptop ever since leaving his job as an electrician back in 2012. Now he shares what he's learned to help others do the same... [read more]

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