On Friday Google rolled out their first Penguin update in about a year, Penguin 3.0. While it’s still too soon to gauge the impact that it has had, certain websites (like mine) are already seeing a sharp drop in traffic and search results. If you’re like me and you did get hit by the most recent update, there are a few things that you need to do.

1. Don’t panic – There’s no need to freak out. After all, you have been doing nothing bad with your optimization, right? Over the next week or so there will still be some changing in the rankings while Google irons things out. Hopefully your website will bounce back, but there really isn’t much you’ll be able to do right now to impact your rankings. You’re at the mercy of Google.

2. Analyze your website – Use this time to look at what you’ve been doing to try and boost your SEO. The only REAL thing that is always safe is good, relevant content that is updated regularly. You should also use this time to manually check your backlinks to see if you have any bad or spammy looking ones. The more popular your site, the higher the risk that spam sites will link to yours.

3. Be Proactive – Make changes to your website for the better. While you don’t necessarily want to do a complete overhaul, you’ll want to see what parts of your website aren’t helping your SEO efforts, or perhaps might even be negatively affecting them. See spammy backlinks? Do your best to disavow all of them.

4. Analyze your competition – If a website jumped you in the rankings that means they checked more of Google’s boxes. Use this knowledge to see what they are doing, where they are getting their backlinks, and see if you can mimic their tactics.

Unfortunately, there will always be innocent victims of Google updates. The simple fact of the matter is that even if you are doing everything right, Google may recognize other websites as being better than yours based on their algorithms. Yes, it sucks, especially if you put a lot of hard work into doing everything in your power to help your rankings, but it’s the nature of the beast.

As always, the best thing to do for your SEO efforts is to keep up with your content, and keep it relevant. Google will never penalize you for having quality content that keeps your readers coming back. Now, it’s just a matter of getting your content recognized enough to have it linked by other authorities in your field, something which I evidently need to start working on right now!