How to Determine if Your Site Has Been Penalized by Panda or Penguin

Lately we have been getting a lot of emails and phone calls from frantic website owners and even other SEO companies telling us that their sites have all of a sudden lost a lot of rankings and traffic and what can they do about it. Before doing anything, the absolute first step is to determine if your site was penalized, and if it was, if it was penalized due to the Panda update, the Penguin update, or both.

If you have Google Analytics and Google Webmaster tools installed this is an easy step. Login to your account and change the search parameters to be from January 1, 2012 to the present date. Look at the traffic graph and determine which dates you had significant drops in traffic. Then compare those dates with the known Panda and Penguin updates and see if any match up.

Here is a list of the updates:

Panda 3.9 — July 24, 2012
Panda 3.8 — June 25, 2012
Panda 3.7 — June 8, 2012
Penguin 1.1 — May 25, 2012
Panda 3.6 — April 27, 2012
Penguin — April 24, 2012
Panda 3.5 — April 19, 2012
Panda 3.4 — March 23, 2012
Panda 3.3 — February 27, 2012
Panda 3.2 — January 15/18, 2012
Panda 3.1 — November 18, 2011
Panda 2.5.3 on October 19/20th
Panda 2.5.2 on October 13th
Panda 2.5.1 on October 9th
Panda 2.5 — September 28, 2011
Panda Goes Global (2.4) — August 12, 2011
Panda 2.3 — July 22/23, 2011
Panda 2.2 — June 18/21, 2011
Panda 2.1 — May 9, 2011
Panda 2.0 — April 11, 2011
Panda 1.0 on February 24th

If for example, there was a Panda update on February the 27th and your site dropped in traffic on February the 28th you can determine that your site has a Panda penalty.

If however your site has not dropped in traffic on a date that matches with one of the updates, you can breathe easily and know your site has not been penalized… yet. 🙂

The next step is to create a course of action depending on which type of penalty your site has. If your site has a Panda penalty, then the issues with your site are more on site. You need to add new content, eliminate duplicate content, update your title and meta tags, and make your site more authoritative. If your site has a Penguin penalty, it is more complex. You will need to take a look at your backlinks profile and the backlinks profile of the top 10 competitors. The jury is still out on how to overcome a Penguin penalty and even some SEO experts are going as far as to say it is better to just start afresh.

If you would like the team at to take a look at you to help you to determine if your site has a penalty or not, give us a call!

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