Pecked by the Google Penguin? Use it to your advantage.

So, you checked your rankings this morning, and much to your horror, you’ve taken quite a hit from the Google Penguin update.

What your reaction was: “*spits out coffee* NOOOOOOOOOO!!!”

What your reaction should have been: “Sweet.  How can I use this?”

That’s right.  Now is the time to jump in, and use this to your advantage.  Thinking in terms of your own websites and products is very linear, and you’re forgetting an extremely important and relevant point: If this happened to you, it happened to your competitors too.  I’ll give you a second to clean up that spilled coffee, and let this sink in.

Remember: you have an advantage.  You use SEOquake, and you probably use a tool like SEMrush.  I use SEMrush, of course, so I’ll frame the discussion with examples from there.

The first thing I need to do is hop on SEMrush, and take stock of where everyone stands, pre-update.  I’m going to export everything.  Specifically, all of the organic keywords and all of the Adwords keywords for all of my competitors.  I already know where I rank, of course, so that’s a moot point.  Now, I have a documented and preserved roadmap of the status-quo, pre-Penguin update.

Next, I’m going to wait for SEMrush to refresh.  This is going to happen in the next several days.  Once it does, I’m going to go through all of my competitors, and export all of the new data.  Now, I’m already going to start seeing a few holes.  Someone once ranked for an important keyword, and now they no longer do.  I might as well have just heard a cash register ring, and I’m going to jump on that keyword with reckless abandon.  I’m going to do this to every relevant keyword I find that my competitors lost.  I am now pulling ahead in this race.

Speaking of race, though – SEO strategy is not a sprint.  It’s a marathon, and I’ve got to keep going because my work is far from finished.  I still have much more I can glean from my SEOquake and SEMrush induced advantage.  I’m going to wait for the SEMrush database to update again, and repeat the above process.  And once it does, I have an even bigger arsenal of information giving me an enormous advantage over all of my competition.  It’s rather simple, really:

  •  There will be even more holes, as the full impact of the update will in effect.  Your competitors will likely be tripping over themselves trying to get a grasp of what’s going on.  They’ll be handling this in a reactionary manner, while you are handling it proactively and using it to your advantage.
  • You’ll be able to see which keywords they are fighting to get back.  These will be the keywords most important to them, and the keywords you can focus on beating them on.  If they ranked 1 for a keyword pre-update, 20 for it post update, and now are up to 15 – it’s a safe bet that they are spending time and resources to fight back in the rankings for it.  You had the jump on it, though, because you watched this all unfold – you can just apply a little more pressure to stay ahead.
  • You can look at keywords that fell from organic rankings for your competitors, and they have now poured money into Adwords advertising on.  These keywords mean a lot of money to your competitors, and thus they should to you as well.

Yes, I know what your question is at this point.  I saw your metaphorical hand raised.  “Aren’t my competitors doing this, too?”  Yes, they are, and that’s why you need to get on this ASAP.  Unless you’re marketing ice cream in Antarctica, your competitors aren’t stupid.  Heck, they might even be using the same tools as you are.  That’s why it’s important to start now, get a grasp of what’s going on, and start planning your next steps.  If you don’t have a competitive research tool, it’s time to look into one.  I know I’m biased, but SEMrush not only has the largest, most accurate and most up-to-date database, but you can even get started for free.  Just head over to and click “Register Free” in the top left corner.

It’s not about fighting change – it’s about using change to your advantage.


About Sean

Sean works as VP of Strategic Development at SEMrush, and handles things like API integrations and partnerships. Sean is also a hobbyist programmer, and enjoys a watching nerdy movies and going to craft beer bars in Philadelphia.
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26 Responses to Pecked by the Google Penguin? Use it to your advantage.

  1. John Mihalik says:

    Hey Sean,

    Great article. I’ll be very interested to see where the rankings end up after your update!

  2. Heru says:

    thanks this is very useful for me..

  3. Nguyen Thanh truc says:


  4. JosephDiego DiaMante says:

    This is GREAT! I’ve come here for basics and I’m walking away with some advanced strategies. I’m here to stay. Let’s watch my Blog move up the ranks thanks to SeoQuake.

  5. Gloria Grove says:

    My traffic has actually gone up over the last few days, so I am not sure what to make of that. Could be nothing to do with Google, we have very few visitors per day (90-100) so it is hard to tell.

  6. Jay B. says:

    While I like the overall setup of SEMRush, I’ve noticed that it takes forever for them to update rankings. I’m on my 2nd week and absolutely no update with the rankings.

  7. Sean says:

    Hi Jay,

    The biggest part of SEMrush is competitor analysis based on monthly trending data. It’s easy to look at realtime rankings – just look at your server logs or hit counter. SEMrush lets you see this data for your competitors, though – something you really can’t see elsewhere. For this type of research, SEMrush has the biggest database, most recent information, and of course is the most accurate 🙂

  8. gnsw says:

    And my web sites have experienced a change in the SERPs only this remained unchanged

  9. Christine says:

    Great article – I appreciate your positive perspective – it gives me something to go on!



  10. gamis cantik says:

    okay then…take the challenge and fight the penguin!! be the winner fellow:)

  11. Mr.Ekachai says:

    i want how to Recover website.

  12. Scotty Bee says:

    One of my sites crashed from top of page 1 to no where to be found. It is slowly creeping up without any changes at my end so I think google are still tweaking. Thanks for the great post Scotty Bee

  13. Scotty Bee says:

    One of my sites crashed from top of page 1 to no where to be found. It is slowly creeping up without any changes at my end so I think google are still tweaking. Thanks for the great post

  14. forex says:

    Very useful article. Thank you very much. I am looking forward to more articles.
    Great blog.

  15. RJ says:

    Thanks for the helpful info. Things are always evolving. Hopefully my blog can take advantage

  16. Ashish says:

    This Article has clearedso many doubt of mine. Thanks for sharing
    Ashish Jain

  17. toko online says:

    Wooow, Change a Google Penguin? Thanks Master Seoquake for article sharing. I bookmark Your article

  18. Aaron Alexander says:

    I like how in a world of “Penguin Lemons”, you showed the people how to make Lemonade : ] Very positive spin on a situation that has hammered some. Aaron Alexander Approved!

  19. Bali Wedding Photography says:

    Woww, this is really a great article, thank you for sharing.
    Bali Wedding Photography

  20. Anna Acton says:

    Sean, your article is REALLY fantastic! Thank you!

  21. xamthone plus says:

    thanks a lot for saving me, Sean.

  22. Eli Aguilar says:

    Wow, this is a great insight. This input can help us with our tight competition and with what I saw with their performance they really got hit by penguin… It’s time to race up and get ahead.

  23. Emre Ilkme says:

    This is nice and interesting platform for me. The more then use full for all about it. I like this.

  24. allan says:

    great post, you should go deeper into the “fight for a keyword” procedure

  25. Alan C says:

    I have only just started using the SeoQuake Toolbar for the last month but am obviously not utilising it as much as I should – thanks for the heads up.