Looks to Us Like Penguin 3.0 Update Has Rolled Out!
UPDATE 10/19: Google has confirmed the rollout of Penguin 3.0
I’ve only got one anecdote to support my suspicion, but a client who was a victim of Negative SEO lost all of their top 10 rankings, and as of today they are all back 100%!
Backstory: This client hired us in December 2013 to figure out why their rankings and organic traffic had dropped overnight on Oct 5, 2013 (date of the last Penguin update). We analyzed their back links using a variety of tools and didn’t take us long to discover they had been a victim of negative SEO. We found over a period of 3 months there were random spammy links added to their site to the tune of about 20,000 links a month! They had never done their own link building nor hired an SEO. Other than these links they had a very small link profile, with just natural links and only a few.
Because the rankings and traffic did drop right in line with the Penguin update, and there were no warnings in Webmaster Tools of a manual penalty, we knew this was an algorithmic penalty associated with these links.
It took us about 3 months to discover and disavow these links, and the reason why is interesting. The links were not showing up on the page every time – they would only occasionally show up upon a refresh. Each refresh of these spam pages was filled with about 100 random links, and each refresh showed a new 100 links. So any link checker would find the links some times, but not other times. We had no choice but to continue to run a link checker, 3 different link checkers as a matter of fact, about 1x a week. Each time we would discover new links that we hadn’t disavowed yet. It was a brilliant sneaky black hat SEO attack.
By around February, we were confident we had disavowed about 90% of the spam links. But no recovery.
As we have all learned since then, a site must wait on Google to update the Penguin algorithm before any changes in rankings or recovery can take place. Unfair? Absolutely. Especially in the case of Negative SEO, which is real and does work. And in this case it took Google over a year to update Penguin. Imagine us reassuring this client that as soon as Google runs their update, their rankings will be back. “When will that be?” “Uh, Google won’t tell anyone, should be within 3 more months”.
In the meantime, we worked hard on content marketing, blogging for the client, getting high quality content published on their site and blog, building out Google Local pages, hoping that when the update hit, their site would be stronger than ever.
SUCCESS! ALL of their previous important keywords are back to the top 10, as of today October 18, 2014. Some of them even higher!
We are torn between being thrilled and being sickened that Google can allow something like this to happen.