Penguin updates are expected to shake up SEO, and Brafton offers tips on diagnosing Penguin hits and recovering with social, link-worthy content in this month's Third Thursday Tip video.

Matt Cutts has hinted that the next Penguin release will have a big impact on search results – and marketers should be prepared. Brafton offers insights on diagnosing Google Penguin hits and recovering in this month’s installment of our Third Thursday Tips video series! Account Manager Patrick Berzai presents tips for using Google Analytics to identify Penguin-derived traffic losses around specific keywords, as well as simple solutions for getting rid of low-quality links and rebuilding your site with content. Check out the full video below:

Video Transcript

With Penguin updates shaking up SEO, it’s important to understand how to diagnose traffic losses due to algorithm updates and recover.

The first essential checkpoint for Penguin hits is to look at your organic search traffic volumes.

  • Start with a broad picture and look for non-paid search traffic dips. Do these correlate with the releases of Penguin updates? 
  • If you’re having trouble determining, compare organic search traffic levels a couple weeks before and after Penguin releases. For Penguin 1.0, you’d want to measure a couple weeks before and after April 24. For Penguin 1.1, look at the two weeks prior to May 25 and the two weeks following. 
  • You can do this around the release of any announced update to see if there is a drop in visits. 

If there is a loss that coincides with a Penguin hit, remember to consider why Penguin targets sites: Webspam.

  • Webspam tactics include keyword stuffing and link schemes.
  • Make sure you’re aware of if and when your company received any warning notices from Google about spammy links pointing to your site! 

Then become your own keyword detective. Use Analytics to determine if you lost traffic on any particular keywords.

  • To do this, compare organic traffic visits from referring keywords for the month or so before Penguin and the month or so after.
  • Be conscious of your industry and any seasonal trends or events that might have an impact on keyword referrals over examined time periods. 
  • If there seem to be significant traffic losses around specific keywords, consider how you use these phrases on your own site – is use natural and reader-friendly? 

Of course, Panda is more focused on quality website content…But Penguin is rooted in a similar principle. At this time, it seems to go after sites building links that aren’t merit-based from quality content.

Use free tools, like Majestic or Open Site Explorer, to see what your anchor text distribution looks like from links across the web.

  • Are any of your most common phrases also the phrases you’ve lost traffic for? 
  • Use backlink profiles to determine which of the sites linking to you on these keyphrases have low domain authorities. You can contact these webmasters to request they remove the links. 

Once you recognize a Penguin hit, and particular keywords you’re being penalized for, start a link-building campaign that’s rooted in high-quality, social content. By publishing valuable insights on the web, you can achieve merit-based links from relevant and authoritative domains, and build lots of social signals using your content to engage ideal audiences online.

Katherine Griwert is Brafton's Marketing Director. She's practiced content marketing, SEO and social marketing for over five years, and her enthusiasm for new media has even deeper roots. Katherine holds a degree in American Studies from Boston College, and her writing is featured in a number of web publications.