I like to share my real experience on how a4academics recovered from Google Penguin,Panda penalty in 20 days.
If your website is hit by an Google update, no need to panic. You can recover from it after rectifying the mistakes by following certain SEO Tips and Tricks. There are millions of sites around the world that are hit by recent updates.
By these updates, Google tries to eliminate bad quality pages from search results and penalize sites, which involve in link farms to get to top of search results. So now let have a look at the reasons for penalty and how to recover from it.
If you are hit by the update, you can easily identify the penalty by looking at your website's traffic. There will be a sharp reduction in organic traffic. I like to share my Google Analytics graph, to show the the traffic loss and recovery process. I was hit by the update on October 31'st and the penalty was revoked on November 19'th.
When I was hit by update, I was wondering what I had done wrong to get penalized ? I had gone through many blogs on Google penalty. Some of them suggested that, Google will notify about the reason for penalty via webmaster tools. It increased my anxiety because I didn't receive any notification in webmaster tools. So I decided to split my recovery strategy into two.
1) Identify the exact reason for the penalty.
2) Taking resolutions based on the causes.
Why Penalty ?
Tricky part of recovery process was identifying the exact reasons for penalty. So first I started checking the Google algorithms which impose penalty. They are
1) Penguin 2.1
Sole aim of the above updates is to provide the best and relevant information for search queries. Google algorithms also tries to penalize sites which do negative SEO like paid or bad links, keyword stuffing, duplicate and low quality content. If your site have any of the above issues, Google will penalize your site fully or partially.So I start analyzing different aspects of my website.
Bad or Paid Links
First I analyzed the sites linking to a4academics in webmaster tools --> Search traffic --> Links to Your Site. Before we receive penalty, I never paid much attention to the no of links or the source. Since we don't have paid links, I started collecting information on the sites that links to us. During analysis I came across, 5 sites which appears to be spammy/phishing sites. Since some of them are not in English and don't have contact details, I was not able to contact them for link removal. I use "disavow links" tool to notify Google that we don't have any association with these sites.
I also disavow few sites which don't have any thing in common with our site and seems to be practicing keyword stuffing. If you are having links from sites which involves in malpractice, Google might penalize you. So it will be better to disavow them.
Google loves good and informative original content. If your site is full of copied content, then probability to get penalized by Google is very high. But there are scenarios in which you may be forced to use a definitions or design from sites like Wikipedia to give a better perspective on the topic. Here I am talking about using certain information which would supplement your original post and not copy paste of complete article. We had such scenarios in few of our project reports. So we added a reference section with links to articles which we had referred.
Also make sure that content duplication didn't take place within site. Some websites have different page titles but have same article content inorder to rank high for different keywords in search results. This is a very bad practice that invites penalty.
No of Ads
Most websites used Adsense or other ad networks to generate revenue from the site or blog. Panda or Penguin update don't have any issue on the no of ads you display on a page. But if the ad content exceeds the article content, you will get penalized. Your website will be labeled as someone who gives priority to revenue than content. We made a mistake of publishing some categories without any articles hoping to add them later. Once we realized the mistake, those categories were removed. We reduced the maximum no of ads published on a page from 5 to 3.
Even though we didn't face any issues with Anchor Text optimization, I like to share its impact. Anchor text is the text that appears in the link to another web site. Google want the links to be generated naturally. Google takes into consideration the keyword used in the anchor text to determine the relevance of the link. Based on the keyword, Google evaluates the article to which it is pointed. If the article doesn't match with keywords used in the anchor text, it may lead to penalty.
Once you rectified the issues, wait for Google to crawl your website once again. If Google is satisfied with the steps you had adopted, it will automatically lift the ban. I had heard about sites which didn't recover automatically after 3 - 6 months. In that case, you can place a Reconsideration Request to Google with detailed explanation on the steps you had taken to improve your website. Its not mandatory that your penalty will be revoked after reconsideration request.