Rebecca's Thoughts on . . .

Google Penguin Gives Black Hat SEO The Cold Shoulder

Google Penguin Update Rewards
White Hat SEO

Over the past year we’ve seen continuous efforts by Google update its search engine algorithm to improve quality of search engine results. The latest, the Google Penguin Update, has apparently shaken many up. However, just as with the Google Panda Update, many of the same SEO’s that have seen performance improve have also survived the Penguin Update seemingly unscathed.Google Penguin Update

Natural Selection – Survival Of The Fittest in SEO

Just as in nature, those that adapt will survive. For years professionals that are legitimately able to put websites in the path of customers and sustain search engine changes have had to endure the “snake oil salesman” mentality cast on the industry due to the malpractice and/or abuse of client trust by amateurs.

Google Penguin Hearts White Hat SEO

Interestingly, White Hat SEO’s seem to be faring better than their darker counterparts (Black Hat SEO’s) when it comes to survival and continued performance in the wake of Google Updates.

Clients of my digital marketing firm have done very well amidst the Panda and Penguin. We have always deployed ethical, marketing-focused search engine optimization. And, believe it or not, we have never entered into link-building campaigns. (I’ve had heated discussions with self-proclaimed SEO’s that claim that you cannot achieve top search position without link schemes)…it can be done, and we’ve done it for years. 

In fact, when done properly, many websites have either solidified their top positions, or expanded visibility. Our clients have done quite well throughout numerous Google Updates due to our marketing approach deployed with a long-tail SEO and integrated social media approach. Some of my peers with similar success in persevering recent search algorithm updates have reported similar results. Bill Grunau of Esotech, Inc. has shared with me his search engine optimization clients have fared well amidst recent changes.

Some declare SEO is dead. Others move their search engine business to paid only…citing that Google has ruined SEO. I submit that if you deliver what the customer is seeking, without scamming the system, the search engines will do the rest for you. It’s been proven over and again for my clients over 10 years.

What say you?

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  1. Sunil
    May 8, 2012 at 1:41 PM — Reply

    What would you do if your clients budget was 300$ per month and wanted you to rank 30 keywords in top 5 in 3-6 months?

    Would you take the project and feed your family and employees or let go of the project and starve your family and lay off employees.

    It is easy to be smug and satisfied when you have all the resources and big clients – what of the little guys trying to make a living – clients and SEOs.

    I guess, neither you nor Google cares – because your stomachs are full and you have everything.

    • Rebecca Murtagh
      May 9, 2012 at 6:54 PM — Reply

      Hi Sunil,
      I appreciate your frustration. I hardly think my post was careless. Nonetheless, I believe the age of optimizing for a fixed number of keywords has long passed. I cannot stress this enough. Long tail SEO that strategically targets customers by optimizing assets in a diligent and methodical manner is the most effective approach for a website of any size. And, yes, it’s even been done for $300 or less per month.

      It’s all in how you invest the time and energy. I train people from all types, and sizes of organizations on how to effectively optimize their digital assets for search, and can tell you with confidence that when you deliver what your customers are looking for, the search engines will connect the dots for you. Its all in how you execute SEO.

      BTW, resources and clients are a result of being effective in sustaining algorithm changes by developing methods as a result of over a decade of hard work, monitoring, testing and adaptation.

      Google isn’t against SEO, they are working against Web Spam and have stressed for some time it’s all about quality content. So, if you really want to win the Panda, Penguin or any other algo update they produce over, you’re better off adapting. Or, you could just accept defeat. I encourage you to adapt!

      • May 10, 2012 at 6:13 AM — Reply

        Hi Rebecca,

        I just cam across your blog when I was looking for a penguin image and I would like to say that you are spot on with your comments. It’s white hat all the way. If people are lazy then googlebot will penalise them, I spend $99 dollars a month on SEOMOZ so that I can track what works and it took me 3 months from scratch to get on page 1 and endorses everything you say.

        • Rebecca Murtagh
          May 10, 2012 at 12:20 PM — Reply

          Thanks Paul, and welcome!
          Seems there is a definitive line in which side folks take, predominantly drawn by whether they lean toward white hat, or black hat SEO methods.

          Yes, Yes, Yes, White hat all the way! If I won’t deploy black hat methods on my own web properties, I’m certainly not willing to risk those of my clients.

          Thanks for stopping by, I’m glad you found the post and appreciate your taking time to comment!

  2. Brandon
    May 8, 2012 at 3:35 PM — Reply

    I actually think they are giving small business the cold shoulder, all you see is more brands and authority sites ranking more and the internet is about discovery, now its becoming an encyclopedia, which we all skip over wikipedia in results because we only use those types of sites for facts.

    Rollback to mid-feb updates and results will be better. I have never seen dumb search results like I have since Penguin Update, I started using yahoo again, and didnt need to in years. I never used to go past page 3 in search results, now I been going to 15. that tells you they screwed up.

  3. May 15, 2012 at 1:35 PM — Reply


    Better results for what exactly? What are you measuring Authority with? I’m not saying Google has got it right or is infallible but I know that from results that I measure your argument does not stack up without you providing defined search parameters in some way.

  4. rmm2
    May 15, 2012 at 3:22 PM — Reply

    Hi Paul,
    Better results in SRPs sustained over time. Google (and other search engines) use algorithms to determine Authority through interaction of on-page content, authors and their audiences. There are plenty of posts on this topic from the search engines themselves, supported by others who continually test. It is also important to monitor and adapt if the intention is to sustain SEO methodologies over time.

    From my perspective, It’s not about whether Google got it right or not. It’s about understanding how they (or any other search engine) interpret what is put out there so digital assets (website, blog, social media profiles, posts, video, etc.) may be optimized to be put in the path of target audiences. The more effectively you do so, the better the performance in search.

    This recent post on my company website featuring a blog post by Google may provide additional insight and answer your challenge better than I.

    (after all, SEO is all about meeting the criteria of search to acheive visibility, we certainly don’t make the rules…THEY do : )

    Thanks for taking the time to post a reply!

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