The webmaster said they noticed a "sudden drop in rankings for branded" right after the Penguin 2.0 release. So they investigated their links and saw "huge influx of spammy links coming into our site from Chinese Wholesalers."
That can appear to be Penguin related but is it? Is it way too spammy to be even Penguin? Meaning, the really spammy ones that are so obvious might just be ignored by Google anyway. That is what Google Top Contributor Ashley said and she was right.
Gary Illyes from Google responded, saying:
These look like normal fluctuations for a site like yours. I don't see anything that's due to technical issues on our or on your side, so I would recommend continuing to work on your site, adding new content and improving existing content.
This type of response is not too uncommon from Google.
A sharp decline in Google traffic goes unexplained. It is not a manual action, it is not an algorithmic response to the site. It is simple "normal fluctuations" causing this.
What should this webmaster do?
Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.
Image credit for BigStockPhoto for origami penguin