What is Google Penguin?
Of all the updates it is considered that Penguin 2.1 did the most damage to rankings, version 2.0 did not deliver the results they were looking for and the very first update was homepage only.
The penalty is applied automatically if Google thinks you have a large amount of unnatural links pointing to your website. It is also believed to be a site wide penalty, in better words even lf a large amount of links only go to one page, then the who site could be affected.
3 Steps To Google Penguin Recovery
There are 3 processes needed to get your site back to where it should be, that only specialists should attempt, as it can do more harm than good.
1/ Identify all perceived spammy links and remove, disavow or in some cases change the anchor text. This is where many fall down in term of recovery. What we perceive as a spammy link, may not be the same as how Google perceives it. In fact, it is very possible that links that came from a good source with good page rank, may now be seen as spam.
2/ This is an over optimisation penalty, not exclusive to links. A thorough look through the site, to identify "keyword over optimisation", then remove them, or and re-write content. This includes title tags and sometimes url's.
Once the above has been done, there is the assumption that rankings will return. It is true by this point after a reconsideration request has been placed, the actual penalty may have been removed. But now we need to replace the links that were originally seen to help the site, otherwise it is still unlikely that rankings will be where they were.
3/ Positive link building, to add page rank, trust and authority. (this is something that should be done naturally over a period of time, with the normal marketing activity)
There Is a 4th Unwritten Step
Before we work on anything above, there is the small possibility that rankings have been lost not due to your site being hit by a penalty, but the sites that link to you. In better words all that needs to be done in this instance, is get better links.
We will work on steps 1 and 2, to identify bad links, disavow them and review everything for over optimisation. every page and every link will be looked at, and that will take experience knowledge and time. This is not a process that should be done, with only a forum membership knowledge.
The best form of dealing with Penguin is to prevent the penalty happening in the first place. Only by regularly checking though link profiles and identifying any unusual activity or mistakes can this be truly avoided. Our health reports look for the initial signals that can eventually add up to lost rankings
Unfortunate what was supposed to be a penalty that improved the quality of listing, where only the best and genuine websites are bale to rank has also increased the likelihood of Negative SEO being applied to a website. Just by sending low quality links to a competitor, can seriously affect the quality score and so increase the likelihood of a Google Penguin penalty. The best way to avoid this, is like above. make sure a link health report is actioned regularly to identify unwanted back links, together with using the disavow to to remove any suspicious actions.