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Google Penguin Update Forces Webmasters To Adapt

The Google Penguin update has shaken up quite a few people in the last week.  Starting last February, Google announced its Panda updates, which aimed at taking low-quality websites out of their index.  That update caused quite a bit of confusion because it heralded a new era where old tactics didn’t work they way they used to.  Penguin takes things even a step further.

Stop Over Optimizing!

Stop Over Optimizing!

Google stated the update was intended to level the playing field for all webmasters by ‘rewarding’ high-quality websites.  Of course these terms are relatively meaningless without context.  Most webmasters think of their websites as being ‘high-quality,’ so when they’re demoted, they tend to lash out.  Google claimed they aimed this update directly at ‘black hat webspam.’  For people who lost rankings, being labelled a ‘black hat webspammer’ is a tough pill to swallow.  Naturally, not too many people have stood up and accepted their penalties happily.

Many webmasters running now-penalized websites say they didn’t participate in the types of schemes that were attacked by Google Penguin.  Many said they never concentrated on ‘backlinks,’ let alone ‘black hat backlinks.’  However, over the years, it’s safe to say that numerous companies casually engaged in purchasing ‘backlink services’ offered at low costs in order to increase their rankings.  Naturally these campaigns were low-level spam jobs that created numerous links from sources like ‘blog comments’ and ‘forum profiles.’  When checking someone’s backlinks, it became common to discover tens of thousands of these types of links.  In fact, as more and more people saw these tactics working, they copied them for their own websites, hoping to stay up with the competition.  Soon an ‘everybody’s doing it’ mentality arose.  Google’s new update seems intent on stopping the perception that it’s ‘OK’ to spam backlinks, even if your competitors are doing it.

Of course not everyone was penalized.  In fact, any time one website falls in ranking, another rises to replace it.  Many White Hat SEOs rejoiced at the new update.  It seems their tactics have been rewarded at last.  The old idea that’s it’s best to ‘do nothing’ and ‘focus on the user’ is back in style again as the damage of ‘over-optimization’ decimated many keyword rankings.  In light of this update, let’s take a look at what probably works and probably doesn’t going forward.

Post-Penguin Do Nots

  • Don’t ‘build backlinks’ of dubious value with the hopes of influencing search engine rankings.
  • Don’t place backlinks on highly unrelated or low-quality websites
  • Don’t use ‘spun content’ or gibberish to make content, even to link back to your main website.

Post-Penguin Dos

  • Continue to produce high quality content that’s designed to solve user’s problems.
  • Do your job as if Google never existed, focusing instead on what benefit your website can bring visitors
  • Build a fast-loading and eye-pleasing website with a clear navigational structure
  • Concentrate on social aspects of marketing your website
There doesn’t appear to be any quick-fix for websites that have been penalized by Penguin. Google indicated that these penalties are all algorythmic, so requesting reinclusion will prove pointless.  Instead, these penalties are most likely time-based.  The trouble is, no one knows exactly how long they’ll last.  No matter, it’s probably a rational approach for people to begin ‘cleaning up’ what they perceive to be over-optimized.  Alternatively, folks can consider buying a new domain and building a new DIY website.  There’s no telling how long your website will be effected by Penguin.  It’s probably good to start at least one new project and avoid using the tactics that landed you in hot water in the first place.  Keep in mind, if you once ranked highly, you have the talent and ability to do it again.  Just stay focused and be positive!  Thanks for stopping by.

About Darren McLaughlin

I'm the President of MostHost Inc. I'm interested in cloud hosting, email security, social media, cats, business development, and my wife Heather. | |


  1. Robert says:

    Our site, previously leader of its niche lost positions for all monitored queries. Now the leader is a site full of adult links and banners, although the niche is non-adult.

  2. Robert, there seem to be a lot of similar reports. This algo must still be ‘learning’ what quality is.

    Hope things pick up for you and thanks for stopping by,


  3. Richard says:

    Basically Google wants to kill niche sites so that frantic small to medium companies start using adwords. What is left is mainly brand sites that are mostly useless content or rehashed content and authority sites with many thin pages. The rest are sites that webmasters gave up on and did no work at all. “Content is King”…that’s bull. I do agree that spam should be taken care of but you know what, many sites that were doing white or even grey seo, were hit badly. These people really took care of their sites, its content and because they loved their subject matter not like those brand sites.

    And its so funny. Google cannot follow its own rules either. They have been caught buying links for Chrome and also other schemes that go against their webmaster guidelines. The only reason they punished themselves is because someone else caught them red handed and brought it to everyone’s attention.

    Matt Cutts is living in a dream world if he thinks a new site owner can just create great content and people will flock to your site to link to you. First you have to be found. you can’t be found if #1, you don’t move up in the search engines, #2 you syndicate quality content in other sites, press releases etcs. Its called traditional marketing…its the way its always been. Don’t think because you just opened a great restaurant, everyone is going to flock to your place. Its ridiculous. Out of millions of competitors, your site is simply going to automatically appear on top because of great content. GOOGLE doesn’t even know the meaning of quality when it allow empty pages and old pages on the first 10 spots. Its all a bunch of balony to get smaller companies to give up and resort to paid advertising. Notice that they are making more and more difficult to rank. Its to weed out the ones without the money gone and the ones with money lined up to pay, not the ones with great content.

    By the way, because of this, they have started a reign of terror with negative SEO. I have seen at least five cases of tests run against sites and it works like charm.

    I hope the FTC lawsuit kicks them where it hurts.

  4. marty says:

    Its laughable that google say they reward high-quality websites - take a look at the results in the serps - simply not the case.

    Re backlinks - you will always need quality backlinks to rank - content or a ‘high quality’ site will never be enough, its a matter of getting smarter about where the backlinks come from - as you say ‘social’ is looking like the way to go



  5. Marty,

    Sentiments are running higher than usual after this update. Internet marketers are feeling pushed to PPC. I know I have been. The glory days of organic traffic are behind us.