Small businesses devastated in the wake of Penguin tsunami



For the past few days I have been on a mission of mercy down at the epicenter of the fallout from latest Google update. The Penguin tsunami has left site owners dazed, confused, frustrated and grasping for answers.

The main problem with many of the victims is that they have been pawns in a larger campaign of misinformation by Google, SEO blogs, friends and well-meaning strangers. They were told by Google that in order to get their site to rank well they need to focus on their visitors. The problem with that statement is that it isn’t exactly true. It’s a great goal to have, but it’s simply not 100% accurate. Google knows that the best site on the web is unfindable if nobody links to it, so you also need to focus on obtaining links as well as building an awesome site.

So now you have an awesome site and you have a handful of links from your friends. Your site still doesn’t rank because you don’t have highly relevant links, but you don’t know that yet so you start reading SEO blogs. There are 355 million results for a search for “seo blog“. Luckily some of the good ones are at the top. You start reading and realize that it’s a lot of work, so you reply to that email you received from Acme SEO & Window Washing that promised you page one rankings.

Google Rank Tips


You start to rank slightly better but never really make it to the promised land of page 1. You call it quits after handing over $500 to your “SEO consultant.” You rank ok for a while for your treasured keywords and make some profit.

You then stop seeing your site in any of the results, you have no idea what’s happening. You trudge down to the SEO town commons known as the Google Product Forums – Webmaster Central. You see hundreds of other webmasters also standing around, their entire onsite life rolled up in a dirty sheet and slung across their back. They’re looking for answers, but Generalissimo Google isn’t even in the district. The Generalissimo is up at the palace dining on the best of everything at one of the 18 dinning areas.

I take my small black bag of balm and ointment over to the busiest tent in the commons; it’s labeled “Crawling, Indexing & Ranking.” The secretary hands me a sheath of papers with the maladies afflicting each of the people: Search doesn’t show my website, sudden loss of rankings, website no longer appearing in search, dramatic fall in rankings, website disappeared overnight.

As I start to get a history from some of the patients they all talk of “never built any links,” “nothing even remotely spammy” and “100% white hat.” I’ve watched enough House to know that people lie, especially when they’re in trouble. I x-ray them and almost always find a long history of really bad link building. The sites they built their foundation upon might have well been im-a-spammy-linker.com.

Still form Alfred Hitchcock's "I Confess"

I confess

I sit them on the edge of the cot and explain that the medicine I am about to administer is bitter. They nod but look worried.

The 131 domains that you have links from with the exact anchor text “super hydroxinated omega 6 acai berries for health” look unnatural. Maybe it’s because nobody in real life would ever build a link with that anchor text or maybe because your nearest competitor only has 2 domains linking to them with that exact anchor text – either way your site was targeted by the secret police and has been dragged into the back alley, beaten and left for dead.

The medicine consists of 1 part chemotherapy: You must neuter or kill the links from those 131 domains. That means either change the anchor text to brand/domain, add a rel=nofollow attribute to the link or have it removed all together. You must also actively seek out other cancerous spam and do the same to those lesser know spammy links.

The second part is prayer: You must then write out your sins and the penance you performed to properly pay for said sins. You then must mail the document to the Generalissimo asking for his forgiveness and a special dispensation to return to the general population.

Has Google started to abuse their power?



  1. Sad but true. So many innocent people getting hurt.


  2. Growing up in New England I learned some about the famous early preachers. This whole episode remided me of:

    Consider the fearful danger you are in; it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of Google, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in Hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce Google to spare you…

    with apologies to Jonathan Edwards


  3. Google search results are getting progressively worse, not better with all these ‘high profile’ updates.

    There are things that Google fails to realise. 9999 times out of 10,000 not one competitor will link to you.

    The places were they can get ‘on-topic’, or semi ‘on-topic’ links from are now being blown out of the water.

    At this rate, there is going to be one website left in every industry (slight over exaggeration).

    I have found that post Penguin and Panda, Bing results are much cleaner and (chuckles at Google) more relevant. In Google’s haste to eliminate spam from their index, many, many high quality websites with spot on content and information have suffered.

    To be fair, Google wasn’t even broke. Their results used to be pretty dam brilliant, so why do they keep tampering? Penguin and Panda has done more harm. I’m not talking about the businesses that have been lost rankings either, I’m talking about the end user, the person doing the search.

    In my opinion, Panda and Penguin has not improved search results at all. It has made them worse.



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