How to Recover Your Business Blog from Google Panda or Penguin Updates’ Slap – without Google

Okay, it was difficult for me to share this publicly, but as I have “warmed up”; I already mentioned in “subtlety” on’s Facebook business page several times, we are hit by both Google Panda and Penguin updates – real hard.

Yes, we were hit numerous times by Google Panda and Google Penguin updates, and it seems that no matter how hard we try, is losing Google’s favour.

panda and penguin
Image by Rojer / Flickr

We are pretty bad – in the eyes of Google

No, I won’t rant about how unfair is Google with its algorithm update. This article is not about that; in fact, this article is about how to get your business blog on track, as I have done things with potentially promising results.

We have lost 60% of traffic – mostly due to the drop in search engine ranking. And yes, it’s not a simple 1-2 position drop; it’s 1-3 pages drop – even more – that’s 20-30 ranking position drop.

It seems that we have pushed many if not most Google’s hot buttons, causing us to get penalized by Google. Unlike what we were suspected initially, I have confirmed that the “slaps” we experienced are all algorithmic – meaning, it’s Googlebot’s doing – not Google staffs.

Website owners (should) know that Google bots are pretty smart, but they are not perfect: I felt victimized, but looking thoroughly on inside out, I found out that I’ve made some fundamental mistakes.

I am not alone, though. Many bloggers running quality business blogs were hit hat by the updates, often leaving them wondering what they have done wrong. I did too, but now I have understood the situation… and it’s not Google’s fault.

Honestly, it’s very tempting for me to point my fingers to Google. But I keep reminding myself that when I point one finger to someone, the other three fingers are pointing back to me. Just like what David Pratt has said – “Finger pointing never got anything done!” I have my fair share of mistakes in running my business blog and I need to take responsibility for it.

Learn from my mistakes

Since it was founded in 2008, is simply driven by the blog posts I and our guest authors’ contributed. We are growing steadily in traffic and revenue. There are some ups and downs, but business-wise, is a success…

…until a couple of years ago I understand more about SEO and start practicing the so-called best practices at that time – e.g. getting linked out by others using our main keywords as anchor texts, driving thousands of backlinks via various methods, such as WordPress themes sponsorship, blog posting on others’ blogs, article marketing and so on.

Then I got greedy; I hire an SEO specialist to help me strengthen my main keywords’ ranking on Google (at that time, we are on Top 3 position on the first page of Google’s search engine result page – in our main keywords!) Initially, it worked out very well…

In the past, that translates into considerable amount of targeted search engine traffic, enhancing our reputation, as well as our revenue. It really worked well!

That’s late-2011. I am aware that Google’s first major algorithm update in years has finally launched in February 2011, code-named Panda. Panda updates “punish” low-quality website. Websites were tumbling down from their previously high search engine ranking and the webmaster world was tumbled upside down.

However, was thriving. So, I thought we must have done things right. We are Panda proof, right?

I was caught off guard; I was wrong.

Google releases yet another major algorithm update in April 2012, called Penguin update. Penguin updates “punishes” over-optimized or over-SEO’d websites. We were not affected. However in May 2012, we were hit hard by Penguin 1.1 (2nd update.) Not stopping there, in June 2012 we were hit again – this time (finally) by Panda update 3.7 (Panda update #15.)

As I mentioned above, the aftermath is devastating: we are losing 60% of traffic. Our mistakes? We target our main keywords too much; we publish too many non-authoritative blog posts; we focus too much on blog monetization.

How to fix things out?

I have a couple of options, but I decided not to take either:

  • Option #1: Fix things the DIY style or hire SEO specialists to do that for me.
  • Option #2: Just neglect the site and start afresh.

Option #1 is quite logical: SEO specialists – the reputable ones, of course – can help point out where the problems lie. The downside, it can be very expensive, and might not be the best option for budget-tight blog businesses. Do-it-yourself? It’s time intensive and unless you are an SEO pro, chances are, you can make things worse!

Option #2 is often recommended by webmasters on online communities – not because it’s impossible to recover, but because it takes time, money and patience – most of us don’t have all three, especially in the “money” department.

So what to do? I’ve seen a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s becoming brighter as I start to see results… there’s only one, single thing I want to focus our effort on: Acquiring non-search traffic.

So, instead of allocating your resources on getting traffic from Google, Bing, Yahoo! and the rest, it’s better for you to focus on attracting traffic from other sources.

Here are some tips for you based on my analysis:

1. Social media rules!

Social media for business is not only all about branding and buzz; it’s also all about directing relevant traffic to your blog.

It’s nice to have many fans on your Facebook page or followers on Twitter, but the real question is, are they really engaged? Can you convert them into your loyal blog readers?

We will continue to build readership to our business page, giving valuable insight and thrive on offering “shareable” content, as we all know, content goes viral is the best marketing we can do for our business blogs.

2. Kiss SEO goodbye – today it’s all about inbound marketing

I learn about inbound marketing from HubSpot. The inbound marketing specialist offers great free resources on how to attract your target market to go to your site and do whatever you want them to do: Read your blog posts, buy your products, hire you, etc.

According to Wikipedia, inbound marketing is based on the concept of earning the attention of prospects, making yourself easy to be found and drawing customers to your website by producing content customers value.

SEO is not dead, but it’s a game not many of us can play anymore. Search engine algorithms change constantly, and what’s working for you might not be the case in the near future. Unless you can adapt on regular basis, you should play safe and pursue what works, such as inbound marketing and the always-reliable link baiting techniques.

3. StumbleUpon rocks more than Facebook

I have seen that during my effort in acquiring non-search traffic, StumbleUpon keeps on delivering views on our articles, way, way much more than Facebook! You might want to explore deeper about StumbleUpon.

4. LinkedIn can deliver you thousands of targeted traffic!

We once published a blog post by a reputable Author/Business Owner. I then share the article on one of LinkedIn groups and encourage members to chime in and share their thought.

I was surprised finding out that the discussion turned up to be an interesting one, attracting comments from business owners and professionals – and bring them to the article source –! We are getting highly-targeted traffic; the kind of traffic you want to get when promoting your blog on social media!

Just from a single discussion, we were able to attract thousands of visitors over 3-4 days period. This is quite an eye opener!

5. Pitching media with your top articles – or simply write for reputable blogs

Writing blog post for other relevant blogs has always be a good advice; surprisingly, we rarely do so and we will start our blog posting campaigns very soon. Well, leaving comments would also work, but blog posts have more impact, in my opinion…

Alternatively, you might want to pitch media with your top articles, kinda hoping for them to mention about your article in their next publication. We have “accidentally” get one of our articles picked up by a reputable organization, and shared it to their members and site visitors. From just one article, I get hundreds of visitors on daily basis! Just imagine how much traffic you can get having your content mentioned or shared on big online publications…

6. Write authoritative blog post

Classic advice, but it’s becoming more prominent today than ever in importance. While “authoritative” is often difficult to quantify, we can know that if you benefit significantly from the blog post you write, then it’s authoritative.

Giving advice, stir opinion (being controversial,) influence readers,… those are some of many traits that label you as an “authority.”


Well, call me a hypocrite, but the best advice I can give you if you really want your business blog to recover is by stop blaming on others for your misery. Don’t blame Google; don’t blame your SEO specialists; don’t blame your partners; don’t blame the economy… Everyone plays his/her own role and if you want your business blog to get better, you can start to achieve just that by doing what you need to do in the best possible way – and keep on trying until you succeed.

If you don’t want to do it and choose to blame others, instead, then perhaps online business is not for you… it’s not for the fainthearted!

Ivan Widjaya
Let’s start 2013 strong!