However, had webmasters done the right thing to begin with they wouldn't have been affected so badly if not affected at all. The update was Google's latest attempt at helping to fight spam as well as penalize webmasters who were using blackhat or greyhat SEO techniques. That said there were a fair number of honest site owners who too witnessed a decrease in their rankings.
If your website has been penalized then don't lose hope. The following checklist should help you get your website ranking high again.
Is the website overly optimized?
You need to double check to see if the content on your website flows well so that it makes sense to the reader and have all the required important keywords. That said you should check for instances of keyword stuffing. A better way would be to use synonyms of the phrases you are targeting.
Look at inbound links with anchor text
Open up 'Open Site Explorer' to examine all the text that other websites have used to backlink to your website. If you see that there isn't enough variety in the incoming links then you have a problem. Links with the same keyword will raise a red flag with Google's algorithm. Look at your competitor's back link profile to find out how they have achieved better rankings. This should give you an idea of how to mix things up. That said you will also find out exactly where to get quality links from which will enhance your SEO efforts.
Focus should be on quality and not quantity
If you've used or are using automated backlink building robots or various other paid services to get back links then you need to stop right now. Getting a low quality link from a site which isn't relevant to your niche or is not an authority is a waste. Your focus should change; your links should come from high quality relevant websites and authority sites. A few ways to achieve this is guest posting, writing blog posts, and writing good content which is shared on social media websites. This will help you attract natural backlinks.
Stop using paid links and participating in link schemes
If Google catches you paying other webmasters for links back to your website in exchange for cash or a similar favor your website will be penalized. Worst case scenario you run the risk of actually ending up with your site being de-indexed.
Landing pages need to be complimented with solid content
Today, Google has moved away from deciding how relevant your landing page is in comparison to a particular phrase just based on your homepage's content. Google will take your whole website into account as well as try to determine how every page is linked internally to all other pages. So, you need to make content which targets the search phrase in order to improve relevancy and improve a visitor's experience. But the content needs to be really good or you'll be penalized!
Fix all the broken links to improve your ranking
You need to check all the links to and from your website. You also need to check links which link to content within your website i.e. internal links. Google's Webmaster tools can also be used to find out if there are any issues that the crawler has found with your website. Once found make sure these issues are fixed ASAP.
Know what the SEO company you hired is doing
If you've hired an SEO company to improve your rankings and it has rock solid credibility then they for all intents and purposes should be aware of the latest Penguin 2.0 update and what measures to take to rectify any loss you've experienced. Make sure that you tell them about the drop in rankings you've noticed and then work alongside them to put a good strategy in place to recover from this. That said recovering after being hit by Penguin 2.0 can be a long process because you need to identify the exact reason for the drop in rankings. Then these particular issues need to be fixed prior to waiting for Google to update.
As a business owner you need to know what methods the SEO company is using to build back links and improve rankings for your website. Many cheap SEO companies use low quality back links and software which builds hundreds of back links from irrelevant websites which does more harm than good. However, if the SEO company you've hire is not asking you to update the content on your website or add fresh content as part of the package then they are just doing half of the job. A good content strategy is the bread and butter of a successful SEO strategy.
Stick to Google's webmaster guidelines
You should make it a point to read through and check Google's Webmaster Guidelines. Understanding these guidelines is the key to ranking well.
Find out what Google may have in store for the future
Google may be working on a number of things which could in fact impact the future of SEO. Knowing and then planning for these can be difficult. There are numerous websites, blogs and forums that discuss what Google may be planning which should help you formulate a solid SEO strategy. That said keeping things simple and making sure that you follow the guidelines outlined by Google will ensure that regardless of what update comes next your website is in a safe zone. It is also equally important that you monitor your website on a regular basis so that even the slightest change in your rankings does not go unnoticed. In addition you should also know how these changes are affecting visitors or the quality of the visitors landing on your website since conversions matter more than receiving thousands of visitors.