The algorithmic update of Penguin 2.1 left “devastation and destruction” in its wake for many websites but believe it or not, it also brought along recovery and relief to some who were hit by the previous update.
Some companies were hit by the so-called “one-two punch” by having been hit by both Penguin 2.0 and 2.1 (with the latter hit being even worse). Basically, those companies did a good initial job on removing the unnatural links but didn’t bother monitoring and maintaining their “squeaky-clean” link profile so Google slapped them even harder. Others took fresh hits from links that were presumably built by third parties and were blindsided by it.
For some, their hard work paid off. They addressed the technical and content issues on their website as well as removed as many unnatural links as possible and disavowed the rest.
So just because you were hit by a Penguin update doesn’t mean you can’t ever recover. That being said, it is still an uphill climb. So long as you have lots of patience, perseverance, and an excellent SEO consultant/company helping you out, you’re golden. 🙂