Google last month launched "Penguin Update," a new spam-fighting algorithm targeting websited engaged in keyword stuffing, and link schemes.
The goal of any algorithm update is to improve search results. So how's Penguin been for Google? "It's been a success from our standpoint," Matt Cutts, the head of Google's web spam team said.
How Can You Recover? One of the most difficult things with this update is telling people how to recover. Anyone hit by Penguin was deemed to be spamming Google.
In the past, if you spammed Google, you were told to file a reconsideration request. However, Google's specifically said that reconsideration requests won't help those hit by Penguin. They'll recover naturally, Google says, if they clean the spam up.
So, how do people pull themselves out of these link networks, if perhaps they don't have control over those links now?
"It is possible to clean things up," Cutts said, and he suggested people review two videos he's done on this topic:
When are penalties lifted? In this video Cutts, respond to a question "Is there a thing like a permanent Google penalty for sites, or if the necessary fixes were made according to Google guidelines the penalties are lifted in all cases?"
The second video addressess, "Does Google take manual action on webspam? Does manual action result in a removal or can it also be a demotion? Are there other situations where Google will remove content from its search results?"
Here are some Penguin recovering tips:
- Clean up on-page spam you know you've done
- Clean up bad links you know you're been involved with, as best you can
- Wait for news of a future Penguin Update and see if you recover after it happens
- If it doesn't, try further cleaning or consider starting over with a fresh site
- If you really believe you were a false positive, file a report as explained here
- Clean up WordPress themes that inserted hidden links, that could have caused a penalty.
- Clean up WordPress plug-ins that apparently insert hidden links.
Google Penguin update targeted most to WordPress blogs due to hidden links WordPress Plugins and WordPress themes.
Here's a small list of plugins which are found implementing hidden links into the blog(s). If one of those plug-ins installed on your blog, make sure you check your page's source code when you're logged-out. Apparently, in some of those plugins the hidden links don't appears on the site's source code for logged-in users and therefore even if the blog owner browse through the code, he/she won't find the hidden link.
Also note that most of these plugins have already been removed from WordPress plugins directory.
- YD Recent Posts Widget
- Easy Mashable Social Bar
- Custom Contact Forms
- Easy Popular Posts
- Highslide 4 WordPress reloaded
- Share Buttons by Lockerz / AddToAny
- All in One Webmaster
- Tweet-Retweet-Post 2.0
- Visitor Like/Dislike Post Rating
- Last Year Widget
- KnxDT Bookmarks
- AnupRaj Tell Friends
- Post videos and photo galleries
- Collapsing Categories
- RAX - Google Language Translator
- RAX - Twitter Share Tweet Button And Counter
- IGIT Follow Me After Post Button
- RO Social Bookmarks
- Kontera (very old report, seems they fixed that already)
If you are using third-party free WordPress theme, chances are you've hidden links issue. In any case, you can use this TAC WordPress plugin to examine the authenticity of your WordPress theme.