First it was the Panda Update that drove everyone insane people talked about getting hit on every forum and blog. Now, we can probably anticipate a similar trend with webmasters thinking they’ve been hit by Penguin. Again, sometimes this will probably, in fact, be the case. Google, of course, makes algorithmic changes every day.

Penguin launched on April 24…and it’s a Google update that wanted to penalize those pages that violate Google Webmaster Guidelines on spamming.

It’s safe to say that by now the update is over if you didn’t notice any changes in lost of traffic or ranking then you’re good to go and if you see a dramatic increase in traffic you may assume that Penguin actually benefited you.

For websites that have been hit by the Penguin update, one common theme appears to be a severe lack of natural links.

Paid text links using exact match anchor text: For companies that want to rank for a certain term (such as “red widgets”) one way to accomplish this is by buying links from other websites with that exact matching anchor text. This is against Google’s guidelines, as Google would consider this a paid link that exists solely to manipulate PageRank, rather than to provide any value to visitors.

Links from dangerous sites: Do you have inbound links from sites that have been flagged for malware, numerous pop-ups, or other spammy issues? This was another factor that caused websites to lose their Google rankings, so links to and from web spammers or “bad neighborhoods” are a danger.

Guest posts on questionable sites: Although guest posts are a legitimate way to earn links to your site, sites dinged by the Penguin had links pointing to their website from sites filled with low-quality articles where the focus was on the anchor text rather than the content.

How to recover from Penguin

So what should you do if you’ve been penalized? Well, if you’ve been hit by Penguin, then your first step is to get rid of any spammy pages on your site.

In fact, log in to your Google Webmaster tools account to see if you have messages from Google about spam on your site. If you’ve never done anything about those warnings…now would be the time to do it.

Use the list of violations Google has given you as a starting point and correct all those mistakes.

You can use the form that Google has set up to report what you think are errors to your site from the Penguin update.

Additionally, Google is constantly making tweaks to its search algorithm. So check your traffic in analytics and make sure your traffic indeed was impacted starting on or after April 24. If your traffic vanished before this date, another change might be to blame – there was also a parked domain classifier issue the week prior to Penguin’s launch in addition to the latest Panda refresh on April 19.