ISOOSI Chat – Pandas, Penguins and Penalties

by Michelle Lowery  |  Published 9:00 AM, Thu August 21, 2014

Oh my! It’s shocking to think some sites are still trying to recover from the initial releases of these Google algorithm updates. It may be even more shocking to hear sites continue to get hit by them. Just because your site has been safe so far doesn’t mean you’re in the clear and don’t need to be concerned.

This Throwback Thursday #ISOOSIchat, which originally aired on March 11, 2014, focused on how to know whether your site’s been hit by an algorithm update, or worse—a manual penalty—and what to do about it.

Special guests were:

Along with chat regulars:

The panel started off illustrating the differences between Panda, Penguin, and manual penalties.

Google constantly struggles to clean up search results by refining their algorithms to address people who try to manipulate search results. The penalties for bad behavior have gotten more severe and are longer lasting.

Many business owners jump to the conclusion that their site has been hit by a Google penalty when, in reality, other problems are affecting the performance of their site. The panel discussed how important it is to step back and take a look at the big picture to find out what could be wrong.

Panda is all about your site itself. It’s a new way of scoring Web pages in order to rank quality sites higher in the search results. The panel offered tips for negative signals you should be looking for to determine if something is wrong.
Penguin is all about your links and the quality of those links. They discussed some of the signals that can negatively affect a site, and how to clean up issues to get better long-term results.

Google also takes manual action against violators of quality guidelines. Manual penalties can happen anytime and directly affect a site’s ranking. The panel talked about what you should do if you get a notice from Google in Webmaster Tools.

The group also talked about how dangerous it is to assume you were hit by a penalty. If you don’t know what has happened, they suggested using the Panguin tool. It connects your analytics with a timeline of Google’s updates, and can help you determine whether your organic website traffic has been affected by Google’s algorithm updates.

Some other topics covered:

  • What is the best way to recover from algorithmic or manual penalties?
  • Should you use the disavow tool?
  • Should you tackle the problems yourself or hire a professional to help?
  • Are there cookie-cutter solutions or shortcuts to recovery?
  • Are any of the products on the market are useful?
  • Should you jump ship to a new domain?
  • If your SEO got you into trouble, should you hire him/her to clean up the mess?
  • There are times to hire a professional who is skilled in forensic SEO.

The panel discussed what steps must be taken after a Google penalty to get a site back on track, and how you will have to earn back rankings by fixing systemic problems and building it back with more sustainable methods and an integrated marketing strategy.

They broke down the recovery process, talked about the Google disavow tool, and discussed whether recovery is even possible, and how long it can take. They also discussed whether or not it’s feasible to take legal action against a prior marketing agency.

Catch all the action in the video!

Join us next Tuesday, August 26, 2014, at 3pm Eastern/12pm Pacific for ISOOSIchat when the panel and special guest Stephanie Calahan will discuss The Lifestyle Business. See you there!


Michelle is the co-founder of Passion Fruit Creative Group, a boutique content development agency, and Passion Fruit Website Creation, both offering services to small businesses and entrepreneurs.

In addition to writing for the ISOOSI blog, Michelle is also its editor. She's a regular contributor to Search Engine Journal, 3Q Digital,and Authority Labs. Her work has also appeared on respected industry sites such as Buffer, Bruce Clay, and Raven Tools. She's also a PubCon speaker, and webinar instructor.

Connect with Michelle on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.