It’s been a few days since Penguin came out, and already we’re starting to get a grip on what Penguin actually is all about.

In the last article, we talked about how Google Penguin was about blackhat spam. We mentioned that although it didn’t have a massive effect on over-optimization, it still hit on it. 

Now, that’s changed. More and more, it’s looking like Google Penguin was the over-optimization penalty Matt Cutt was hinting about. Penguin is a “mini-Panda.” Unlike most of Google’s recent updates, Penguin did affect a significant amount of results – 3% of them, to be exact. So if you recently had a traffic drop, it’s very likely Penguin has something to do with it. 

That being said, is Penguin a “stand out” update, like Panda was? 

At this point, it looks like no, it wasn’t. It seems that Penguin is simply an addition to the Panda algorithm, although it’s certainly one of the larger additions since Panda 1.0 was released last year.

Was your site hit, and are you clueless as to why? Well before Penguin was released, we wrote an article on how to prevent the upcoming update from hurting your results. Although the update’s already happened, look to that article to determine what may have hurt your rankings.

In the meantime, what do you do now?

Don’t Panic

So you woke up sometime in the past two weeks and checked the analytics. Much to your dismay, your traffic levels had dropped significantly.

At times like these, it’s difficult to prevent a panic attack. For many, a site’s rankings is the difference between a full-time income and nothing. This is a HUGE deal (and it’s also why we recommend you don’t put all your eggs in Google’s basket).

But it’s important to keep calm. Although Google may seem to release updates that destroy websites for no reason, there’s a big picture. Behind the decreased rankings and panicked internet marketers is a pattern – a pattern that Google’s been following since their inception, just about.

That pattern is about quality. Google’s looking for quality websites – we’ve said it a million times. It’s why we’ve been advocating “New SEO” non-stop.

So take a breath and calm your mind. Realize that a decrease in rankings may be the best thing that could’ve happened for your business.

Sounds crazy, right?

But realize that Google penalized your website because it wasn’t up to quality. Either your content delivers or—especially in this case—you were doing something Google deemed as inappropriate (over-optimizing). 

Both over-optimizing and failing to deliver value aren’t just about rankings that don’t deliver – it’s about a business that isn’t delivering. Even if you were rank #1, chances are you weren’t getting NEARLY as much out of your business as you could’ve been.

We’ve seen this time and time again with post-Panda websites. Major sites get hit, re-do their content strategy and improve the user experience, and BOOM – their site’s back on page #1. Not only that, they’re getting more business than ever before!

Yes, a short-term hit on your rankings hurts. Believe us when we say we feel your pain. But it truly is NOT the end of the world. This is a time of great opportunity for your business. You can either throw in the towel or you can make some changes. You can either refuse to play “Google’s game” and try to spam your way to page #1 (it won’t work), or you can start playing along with Google and get rankings you can keep.

Make Realistic Changes

Immediately following a Google penalty, it’s tempting to trash all the SEO you have on your site. It’s tempting to remove all the on-page anchor text links, the keywords – everything.

But start small. Read our article on over-optimization, then check to see if you’re over-optimizing your website. If so, remove those portions of your website. If you have a keyword-stuffed footer, for example, remove that immediately.

Make the changes you can make now, but don’t go overboard. Don’t panic. And stay tuned – we’ll be releasing more details on Penguin and giving more tips every single week.

How to Get Those Tips

If you’d like these tips and updates delivered straight to your inbox, go ahead and fill out the form below. If you’d prefer to have them posted on your Facebook wall, head on over to our Facebook page and give us a “like.”

Lastly, on-page optimization problems are a big red flag for Google. By using our free on-page analysis tool, you can see whether or not your SEO has any problems that may have caused a Google penalty.

If you liked this article, you may also enjoy:

The Google Penguin Update: Bye Bye Blackhat?

2012: The Year the Blog Networks Died

Panda 3.4: Is your Traffic Up or Down?

How to Improve The User Experience