Penguin Recovery & Google Search Parameters

At Web Gnomes, we stay on top of the ever-changing world of Internet Marketing so you don’t have to. We enjoy learning new tricks of the trade and putting them to work for our esteemed clients. Here are just a few of our favorite Internet marketing posts from this past week:

Strategies for Diagnosing Penguin and Recovering

Ever since April 24, the interwebs have been abuzz about Google’s Penguin Update. Check any webmaster forum, and you’ll be bombarded by Penguin-related questions. What is it? Who did it impact? How do you recover from it?

In this post, John Doherty answers these questions and more. He begins by giving a brief overview of the update, and then, he dives right into a 4 step process for diagnosing a potential Penguin attack:

  • Step 1 – Analytics: Slice and dice your analytics data to determine if Penguin is responsible for a traffic drop.
  • Step 2 – Which Keywords Dropped?: Dig even deeper into your analytics to identify the keywords that lost the most traffic.
  • Step 3 – Download Anchor Text Data from OpenSiteExplorer and/or MajesticSEO: Grab the anchor text for your site’s backlinks.
  • Step 4 – Combine Data to Pull Out Learnings: Aggregate the previous observations to take your analysis to the next level!

I encourage you to read the full post for more details about this 4 step process. John gives extremely insightful examples, and he also provides an incredibly helpful spreadsheet to help you with your own investigations.

For more information about the Penguin Update, check out my recent post on the subject: Everything We Know About The Penguin Update.

Dealing With The Increasing Complexity and Volume of SEO Tasks

This post by Everett Sizemore is easily the most comprehensive (and complex :-P) post that we saw this week. It is all about the increasing complexity of SEO and the growing list of topics that an effective SEO audit should include.

The post begins with a quick recap of “old school” SEO factors that are still important (e.g., optimized titles, meta descriptions, robots meta tags, etc.), but then it jumps right into the topics that have been added to the SEO task list recently:

  • Site Performance / Page Load Time
  • Brand Building / PR
  • Http Header Status Codes
  • Content Quality
  • Sitemap Changes
  • Social Integration
  • Usability and User Experience
  • Rel Canonical (single domain and cross-domain)
  • Usability and User Experience
  • Micro-Formatting, Rich Snippets and Structured Data
  • Navigation & Pagination
  • International SEO
  • Local SEO
  • Link Building
  • Analytics
  • Paid Search
  • Mobile Search
  • And more…

Did I mention this post was comprehensive? For each of the aforementioned topics, Everett provides a helpful description as well as links to amazing resources that give even MORE information! Basically, the post is a must-read.

For another resource about SEO audits, check out my recent SEOmoz blog post: How to Perform the World’s Greatest SEO Audit.

Google search parameters in 2012

If you’ve ever wondered what all of those crazy parameters mean in the Google search URL, this is the post for you!

Obviously, we’re all familiar with the standard “q=your+query” parameter that is at the heart of every Google search, but how many of you know what the “as_occt” parameter does? Or what about the “nfpr” and “tbo” parameters?

Without question, this post is the most detailed guide to Google search parameters that I’ve ever seen. Armed with this information, you can finally make sense out of the alphabet soup that routinely appears in the Google search URLs :-).

Happy Father’s Day

In honor of your father’s special day on Sunday, here’s an infographic with a few “nifty” father’s day facts:

Father's Day Infographic from

Father’s Day Infographic by

Happy Friday, and enjoy your weekend!


  1. says


    What’s your view on Site Wide footer links which is natural (with my brand name as anchor text)?

    That is.. if I place a sitewide “Powered by” footer link at the bottom of blogs designed by me. Will it raise any red flag?

    – Mahesh

    • steve says

      Hi Mahesh,

      The short answer is that it depends. It depends on your overall link profile (i.e., do the “Powered by” links account for a large percentage of your overall links); it depends on your specific niche (i.e., do you use significantly more of these links than your competitors), and it depends on the quality of the sites that include these links.

      If the site wides account for a very small percentage of your overall link profile, I wouldn’t be too concerned. However, to be on the safe side, you should consider only putting the link on the most important page on a given site (e.g., the home page). Alternatively, you could use a contextual link in a Partners page (and remove the site wides).

      Another option would be to combine approaches. Specifically, you could keep the site wides (for traffic generation purposes) but nofollow them to avoid any red flags. Then, you could use a dofollowed contextual link (or simply dofollow one of the site wides) for passing link juice.

      Currently, the most relevant case study is this post by Ross Hudgens: How Recovered From The Penguin Update. got in trouble with site wide “Powered by” links, but they also had a significant number of them (many of which were placed on very low quality sites).

      I hope that helps :-) And thanks for commenting!

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