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What If The Google Penguin Update Inadvertently Killed The Web As We Know It?

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What If The Google Penguin Update Inadvertently Killed The Web As We Know It?
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Note: Perhaps the headline of this article is a little sensational, but don’t overlook the “what if” part. I’m not suggesting Google has some plot to kill the web. However, many businesses rely on Google and people are freaking out about backlinks. Some are going so far as to threaten legal action if links are not removed. Links. If such legal action ever resulted in the outlawing of links in any capacity, the web as we know it could be put into great jeopardy. People would be afraid to link. I don’t think Google intends for anything like that to happen, but people don’t always respond to things in the most rational of ways. I don’t believe we will see links outlawed, or that the Penguin update will kill the web. However, reactions to Google penalties are leading to some pretty strong actions from some.

Google has said on multiple occasions that it thinks the Penguin update has been a success. Do you agree? Let us know in the comments.

PageRank And The Web

WWW, as you may know, stands for World Wide Web. It’s a web because it it’s connected by links. Sites all over the web link to one another, creating a path for users to click from page to the next. Often those pages are to different sites. This is the way it has worked for years. Just think what it would be like if sites couldn’t freely link to one another. The web would be broken, and users would suffer.

When Google launched with its PageRank algorithm, it was a revolution in search. It seemed to be a better way of doing search. It gave a rhyme and reason to the ranking of search results. Today, Google uses over 200 signals to rank its search results, which are becoming more personalized than ever before. PageRank still matters, but it’s far from the only thing that matters.

Yet, it is PageRank that has given links on the web so much power to influence the visibility of web content. Now that just about everyone is on the web, everyone is fighting to have their content seen. Once upon a time, you would have thought: the more links the better. More links can only lead to more chances people will see your content. Now, somewhat ironically, people are finding that that the links they have out there are making their content less visible. In some cases, they’re making it practically non-existent in Google, or at least so buried, it might as well be non-existent.

Freak Out Time?

Google’s Penguin update has been a major wake up call to webmasters about certain kinds of linking practices. The update was designed to target sites violating Google’s quality guidelines. Among those guidelines are: “Don’t participate in link schemes” and “Avoid hidden text or hidden links.”

Some of Google’s guidelines are obvious – avoid obviously unethical practices. But in the link schemes department, things can get a little blurry. Just ask WPMU.org, which got hit by Penguin over a few questionable links (interestingly enough, after seemingly benefiting from Google’s Panda update, designed to reward higher quality sites).

A lot of webmasters have taken to the forums and blogs to complain about the Penguin update, but Google has, on more than on occasion, deemed the update a success. We’ll also be seeing it come back around every so often, much like its Panda predecessor.

Even before Penguin, Google was sending out tons of messages to webmasters alerting them of questionable links. All of this has gotten webmasters in to a frenzy to clean-up their link profiles, and reduce the number of links Google considers to be of poor quality, in hopes that their content can find its way back into Google search visibility.

Legal Action Over Links?

Some webmasters have even gone so far as to threaten legal action over sites that are linking to them. We referenced this in another article after Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Roundtable mentioned that this was happening. Now, Greg Finn at Search Engine Land has pointed to a specific example where PSKL got a DMCA take down notice from LifeShield, after writing a positive review.

Now, to be clear, this DMCA takedown notice is not in reference to any content theft or content use. It’s about links. It threatens legal action. It says:

I request you to remove from following website (pskl.us)
all links to www.lifeshield.com website as soon as possible.
In order to find the links please do the following:
1) If this is an online website directory, use directory’s search system to find “LifeShield” links.
2) If there are hidden links in the source code of website, open website’s main page and view its source code. Search for “lifeshield.com” in the source code and you will see hidden links.

It also says:

LifeShield, Inc will be perusing legal action if the webmaster does not remove the referenced link within 48 hours.

Jeremy at PSKL actually shares the entire conversation around the matter, which did include an apology, indicating that PSKL shouldn’t have been on the list of sites that received a notice. Jeremy, however, took issue that there was a list of sites getting such notices. Throughout the conversation, it is revealed that LifeShield had a site “cloak lifeshield and generate over 700K back links” without LifeShield’s knowledge, and that “Google stepped in and slapped” them with a penalty, which led to layoffs at the company.

Jeremy responded with, “So you’re saying that somebody went out and bought 700K back links for you, knowing that it would get you penalized by Google? So does that mean you had (Company name) send out 700K DMCA notices? Talk about throwing good money after bad. Report the linkspam to the spam team at Google, then spend that money on an SEO expert rather than on trying to bully people with intimidation.”

The response was actually longer than that, and included the metaphor of putting out a house fire with manure, but that was the main gist.

I suggest reading Jeremy’s entire post. It’s pretty interesting.

Is This Where The Web Should Go?

He does make another important point in this: A party creating large quantities of backlinks to a site in order to generate SEO (or, in this case, destroy SEO) is unethical. It is not illegal.

While many may not have a problem with such practices becoming illegal, it’s the idea that the law could intervene with linking in any form that could lead to greater problems. Just consider all fo the gray area there already is in fair use law. There will always be different interpretations, and that can get dangerous.

For the record (granted, I’m no lawyer), I wouldn’t expect any legal action, such as that threatened in LifeShield’s DMCA notice to hold much water in a court of law. Finn also points to two cases (Ford Motor Company v. 2600 Enterprises) and (Ticketmaster Corp. v. Tickets.com, Inc.), where the legality of linking prevailed.

But even if things like this have to go to court, it’s going to be a major inconvenience, and legal fees will have to be paid. If sites practicing legitimate, ethical linking habits get caught up in this, where will that leave the web?

Is this what linking on the World Wide Web will become? Will you have to worry about getting sued because you linked to a site, and that site may or may not find your site to be a strong enough site to desire a link from? Could you get sued because your page didn’t have a high enough PageRank, and not enough link juice to help the site you’re linking to in its search engine visibility?

LifeShield seems to be targeting some very specific webspam, but sending out notices to a whole list of sites. It’s likely that LifeShield isn’t the only company panicing and resorting to such action. It’s unfortunate, for the company if some negative SEO (it’s unclear if this was from a competitor) was able to have such an impact on its business, as Jeremy suggests, this may not be the best way of trying to resolve the issue.

Let’s Give Google Some Credit.

You can point to Google’s guidelines and its algorithm updates, which clearly do cause some to think this way, but just the same, Google can’t be held entirely to blame for this kind of mentality either. The company has said in the past that people shouldn’t obsess with PageRank, and that it uses over 200 signals to rank content. PageRank is not the only thing that matters. In fact, the company puts out huge lists of signal changes every month.

It shows the power over society that Google really holds though. It shows how much businesses rely on Google search that they will go so far as to threaten sites that are simply linking to them with legal action.

Should such legal action ever lead to a victory in court, that could mean very bad news for the Web as we know it, and people could be afraid to link. I would imagine that would spawn more issues of sites not getting the credit (and possible referral traffic) they deserve.

Do you think Google’s guidelines and penalties can have an influence on the law? Now that would be power, and made even more ironic still, by the fact that Google is constantly under scrutiny of its own.

Share your thoughts in the comments.

Image: Batman Returns (Warner Bros.)

What If The Google Penguin Update Inadvertently Killed The Web As We Know It?
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  • Lester

    Google has been allowed to influence websites for far too long. While it is true that people are allowing themselves to be influenced by Google’s policies, the fact remains that they are doing so out of concern over what the mighty Goog could do to their online businesses by de-indexing their sites. People should be allowed to earn some money by selling some links after all Google makes a great deal of money by selling links. Sure the buying and selling of links interferes with their algorithms but that is their problem and they shouldn’t be putting their problems on to the rest of us, they should fix them for themselves. Bottom line here is that people gave Google the power they abuse and the people can and should take that power away simply by using other search engines. If that doesn’t work then constantly contact your members of government at every level to force them to do something about Google and their greedy ways.

  • http://powerofattorneyform.com poa forms

    I think google is trying to get webmasters to focus 90% of their time on on-site focus for webmasters rather than 90% on off-site and getting anchor text links

    • Lester

      Sure – that may be true but really should Google be trying to influence webmasters to do anything to their sites as they do not like it when we do things to influence theirs. Clearly another case of “do what we say and not what we do”. I will give Google credit for one thing though; at least they stopped lying to us about “doing no evil”.

    • Michael

      I’m inclined to disagree. If that were the case they would have rolled out the Knowledge Graph updates to AdWords as well and told webmasters to stop worrying about keywords and focus on content to improve their Quality Score. The fact this update was rolled out to organic search only, along with other changes over the last year like the obfuscation of the referring keyword from logged in Google users leads me to believe this is a shot across the bow of organic search by Google.

  • http://www.eplatformmarketing.com Jim Hobson

    Let me first say that (knock on wood) our clients have not been harmed by Penguin.

    To me, it seems to be unearned punishment for the multitude of business owners who have hired internet marketing people, and had no specific knowledge of what work was being done. The business owners paid a third party and did not think about it any further than watching their rankings. Now, business owners are being judged harshly when they are effectively innocent. I have no problem with algo updates, but to assess punitive measures seems a bit much.

    And it may put a lot of people in India and the Phillipines out of work . . . I’m just sayin’

  • http://www.jenx67.com jenX67

    I’ve written a post about this, too. How Google Penguin ate me like a Krill! http://www.jenx67.com/2012/05/how-googles-penguin-update-had-me-like.html I also included some information about the timing of this update with Blogger rolling out new search preferences.

  • Todd

    Listen, Google is a bit out of control. Someone needs to knock them off of their high horse. These updates are supposed to bring BETTER search results but they have done NOTHING but create a LOT of bad results.

    I do professional SEO. I have always recommended to all my clients to have good content, and we do. Some of our sites have been hit hard. These sites that have been hit hard have MUCH better content than many sites now ranking well above us. Some of the keyword phrases we monitor are now loaded with really bad sites. It should be embarrassing for Google.

    They made their bed by ranking sites through links (mostly) and now they overreact and penalize GOOD sites. It is amazing! I sincerely hope someone powerful takes Google to court and brings this far too powerful company to their knees.

    For them to say they want good content and then actually penalize so many sites that have great content is a fiasco. The problem is that the general public only really knows the name Google and how to do basic searches. They do not realize that Google basically has to answer to no one, so they can do what they want even though their search results now are a total joke.

    • http://www.jenx67.com jenX67

      I think you’ve stated the case eloquently, and you’re the first person I’ve read who said Google should be embarrassed. Honestly, the results I was getting in just every day, common research like “CDC Statistics for Teen Suicide,” were so ridiculous, I was like UNBELIEVABLE. Then my husband who is an AUDITOR and is never on the Internet came home and said, “Google is messed up. I can’t find anything anymore.” When an auditor who is buried in numbers all day long notices Google has gone wonky, we’re in trouble. I have known that government sites in particular now rank very low. This is just shocking. They provide so much reliable data, and yet I have to search forever just to find what I’m looking for. What’s really scary is we all began to THINK like Google. And, we intuitively knew how to submit search strings to find what we were looking for. Those days are gone – at least for now.

  • https://plus.google.com/117895169424507660944 STR82U

    I’m only slightly fuzzy on this but have to say I’m really happy with the results where backlinks are being discredited. We don’t buy links and finding decent, relevant link partners in our niche is hard to come by. In a case where Joe Smuck goes and scrapes a site’s content then buys a bunch of backlinks, his site would suddenly become the new authority with no effort. In the case of corporate sites that tried using the easy method of buying reputation through backlinks, they should have been paying to create fresh content about a subject in general rather than aggregating it. Sounds like I’m talking about what’s fair and what’s not, and to a degree I am.

  • http://www.a1webstats.com Andy

    Whatever ‘improvements’ Google bring in, there is (in my view) still a fundamental flaw in the concept of ‘links’ being used as a measure of a website.

    ‘Links’ don’t really say anything about the quality of the product/service being offered. ‘Links’ are easily gamed.

    If Company A provides a better service/product than Company B (who provide a poor service/product), but Company B are much ‘better’ at SEO (including link building), then is it ‘right’ that search engines will rank Company B higher? So, Company B get more business and the really good guys (Company A) aren’t in a position to be wowing clients/customers with what they do. I fail to see the benefits of a search engine giving prominence to businesses just because they’re better at SEO.

    Of course, I don’t have the answers to all this but it does seem mad that REAL ‘quality’ doesn’t come into the equation of search engine results.

    • http://www.sedonaindianjewelry.com matt leo

      You are right on… my photos get copied, my text gets copied, even my photo background and web colors get copied. I’ve been on the web since 1997 and involved in this for 35 years. I’m lost in a sea of intellectual and copyright theft of my own work. It appears everywhere. Now, Google dropped my rankings dropped from page one to “I give up looking”. Come on Goggle, how about a break!!

      • http://www.mattbeswick.co.uk/ Matt Beswick

        I’m not sure how other people using your images is Google’s fault? Yes, it’s really annoying but there’s plenty you can do about it (a quick email saying “oy, eejit, that’s my image and you’re not allowed to use it” is usually enough).

        With regards to rankings, the focus is now on quality, relevancy, and freshness; just because your site’s been around since 1997 doesn’t give it the right to be at the top of the rankings. Spend some time tidying up your site, interacting with your industry, and creating some great new content.

        The site that appears top for ‘turquoise jewelry’ (http://www.durangosilver.com/) have a reasonably nice looking site, and a history of the product on their homepage. They’ve also got a load of links into their site (some of them good, others not so good) and are fairly active on social media. They’re not doing anything outstanding though – it wouldn’t take much for you to do a bit of a redesign and spend some time building links :)

        - Matt

    • Seo Guy

      If they are better, they probably earn more money or at least they have the potential…so they are supposed to be able to hire a SEO guy, a better one than the competence of course. This generate jobs and quality structured websites (always having in mind white hat seo).

      So yes, if company A, even being better than B…don’t hire a SEO, they deserve to be under company B in search results.

      Google give much importance to brands in the last update…even pages that have no content, not updated…but just because the brand they rank higher. We should penalize Google for overstupidity and arrogance.

      • http://cass-hacks.com Craig

        People likely to hire a ‘SEO guy’ likely fell for the hype that there is anything magical about providing quality content.

        As much as the SEO ‘industry’ would like everyone to think it’s rocket science, it really isn’t.

        From the spam I and my company get from ‘SEO Experts’, most claiming to be a CEO of this or that company, offering to do a free review of a site they ‘liked the looks of but thought they could help improve’, one is more likely to get their site tanked than improved.

        A day spent on Google’s Webmaster forum is more likely to produce useful results than hiring an ‘SEO expert’.

    • http://gocabrera.com Adrian

      My sentiments exactly and the same applies to advertisers. Just because they have a big budget and can get on page 1 at the top as an advertiser does not make them the best.

  • http://www.simplyclicks.com David Burdon

    I find it ironic that many of the same companies that were selling the low quality linking schemes that provoked the Penguin update are now out there selling Penguin remedial schemes. Essentially its not a question of over-optimisation, just an issue of poor optimisation. In the end an SEO programme built entirely around poor quality links will eventually get found out.

    The firms that operate on the basis of wholesaling poor quality links know where to find them. I guess its a question of what goes around, comes around.

    • http://www.eplatformmarketing.com Jim Hobson

      I agree with your comments about the “switcharoo” from the spammy link builders. It’s almost like the sketchy “spyware” companies whose software cause false positives and then sell themselves as the solution.

      Business owners need to evaluate their SEO providers based on something more than a cheap price and slick sales pitch. Hopefully the sites of the black-hat SEO hacks will fall away, thereby disproving their claims of SEO competency.

  • Tren

    Wall street journal just wrote about penguin according to it penguin is a total success http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303505504577406751747002494.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLE_Video_second

  • http://www.webstatsart.com/blog webstatsart

    Penguin is fantastic because it increases the visitors of huge websites

  • http://www.iftekharahmed.com Iftekhar Ahmed

    I think it is better to have the trash out of the search engine results, with google penguin update I and other SEO’s are very much delighted because now only the true marketers are in competition.

    • http://borisbenz.com Boris Benz

      And this comes from the guy who is giving an outdated, anti-penguin advice on article publishing? You’ve got to be kidding… What’s your definition of a true marketer? A brain-dead parrot who knows how to type?

  • Thomas Brewer

    Google has opened a can of worms on the bad link good link thing. While it looks wonderful on paper there will be many unforeseen consequences. Your article says give Google some credit. My website took a small hit however I am still on page 1 for ranking in all terms. I do not agree with the magnitude of the algorithm change. I do not believe Google does either at this point. Look for an update soon!

  • http://www.zapwebs.com Charles

    It’s frustrating to see the continual changes by google and the gamers (those simply using spam tactics) whom jump all over the newest method to unfairly rank ahead of legitite businesses and sites that offer true value online.

    I don’t know how or when but I think it’s just a matter of time before a new breed of search engine(s) comes along and figures out a more legitamite way of ranking search results. A method that rewards sites of value to those searching and minimizes or eliminates the gamers.

    Yahoo got kicked to the curb by Google. It could happen again and I hope it does.

  • http://www.barplan.com Steve

    While this update did remove one spammy site from my niche, but it promoted dozens of thin content, ad ridden sites that are of no use to the user. After some investigation, I found that a few sites I never even heard of have tons of backlinks to my site. My site is under 100 pages but scraper sites like: askives.com, updowner.com, aolstalker.com and the like have over a thousand links each to my site. WTF am I supposed to do about that? and should we all be put out of business because of these thieves?
    I know of many legitimate business owners who will lose vital income and in many cases even their homes to Google’s latest slash & burn update. I’ve even heard of business owners committing suicide over their losses. So is this a good update? NO!
    Was it smart or well thought out? Hell NO!

    • http://www.tipsinablog.com Daniel

      Steve, I have those Updowner Links to my site, also….

      In fact according to my Google Webmaster tools, Updowner has the most links pointing to my site…

      Which really sucks, as I spend so much time visiting and commenting on quality sites, then have to see that site name(updowner) sitting on the top of my links profile…

      Just a quick note: Those Updowner links do not seem to appear in other link Analysis tools only Google Webmaster tools…Though, not too sure why…

      They are not the only one doing this, there are hundreds(probably thousands) of sites blasting these links all over the net…and scraping content….

      According to the Google help forums, we are advised to just ignore these links(including updowner and even much worse sites) and are told not to hit them(follow, etc)….

      Updowner and a few other sites, seem to be the main culprits of this current wave of mass link blasting…

  • http://www.neverpaintagain.co.uk Alex

    Some drunk webmasters in a bar after work………

    …….”So who is up for starting a new company, link bombing people, even using fake accounts on fivver, which results in peoples websites getting banned from google for un natural link building.

    We could charge a hundred bucks per billion spam links send out, all automated, and within weeks we would be millionaires!!!!!”…………

    That scenario, although i’m of course kidding, to highlight the point, is very real now.

    This is progress?

  • deathtoll

    I am wondering just how many people in the world depend on intangible services and have built their entire career based on providing services that depend on a damn search engine. The many billions of dollars wasted on trying to optimize search engine results, the promises of results with the very strong chance of failure. Every time I see an update about Google’s search engine I see the SEO people come out of the woodwork to defend something that shouldn’t even be in existence. SEO itself reminds me of the snake oil salesmen from the old days. Your career and well being should not depend on Google page ranks, and I have to ask the “SEO experts” what else are you doing for the company paying you lots of money to guarantee results on search engines? Do you inform them about advertising their URL elsewhere in real world applications, such as billboards and such? Do you even care once you have taken the money and tried your best then Google makes some changes and you have to charge them more money? Do search engine results really make or break a business? Does anyone remember the WWW before search engines… it was a very good convenience thing to begin with. Google did not get where they are today by allowing the kind of spam linking and irrelevant search results that other search engines encouraged. If you are going to get angry at Google, why not get angry at the people who place so much stock in Google results as well? And get angry at the heads of these companies and corporations who think their entire online business rests in the results of a simple Google search. Ask them what else they are doing to promote themselves online, but you may find yourself obsolete if you are focusing entirely on SEO.

  • John Melo

    Unfortunately, Google (more and more, with his algorithms updates) are going to get the title of “The companies killer”. It is a shame.

    And I do not understand, to grow a company you need friends and not a lot (what lot!) of enemies.
    If you think that with his updates he will be better to do searches, this is not true. To be better, you need semantic content analysis, and we will get this is more than 50 or 100 years.

    Until that, as any company in the world Google needs friends and not strong enemies.

    Or I am crazy?

  • Walt

    Hey, you guys know the rules Love it or Hate It.

    “NO ONE CAN BUY OR SELL WITHOUT THE MARK OF THE BEAST”

  • http://www.wedgeim.com Wedge Internet Marketing

    Welcome to the new age of negative seo, for 20 i can have your site added to 3000 directories in an hour. I believe we should do this to all sites who threaten legal action against other site linking to them like the above example……seems like a good 20 dollars spent to me.

  • http://www.thecollectorshub.com The Collectors Hub

    Is Google actually penalizing sites for spam links or are they simply keeping those links out of the ranking equation? If a site’s ranking drops because it benefited from spam links, that’s a good thing. If it’s actually penalized beyond that, it’s going to encourage the misuse of take down notices.

    • http://www.mattbeswick.co.uk/ Matt Beswick

      For the most part, I believe it’s the latter. The sites that are most likely to get a penalty from this are those that only have obvious spam links and nothing else… but if that’s the case then chances are that you’ve been ‘evil’ and deserve to get smacked down.

      It just wouldn’t make sense to impose algorithmic penalties (and remember that penguin is an algorithm change, not a manual penalty) based on a few crappy links that anyone could’ve built. Google are a pain in the backside at times but they’re certainly not stupid.

  • http://www.ifa-orisha.com Jaap Verduijn

    I’m sick and tired of Google. Not that it personally matters to me because my website is on G’s first page for all keywords and key phrases that matter to those who are interested in my content (without any back links to speak of), but the whole concept of webmasters having to run pantingly behind a search engine appalls me. Remember years ago, when AltaVista was THE search engine? I always found what I wanted there, I’m serious: Google never meant an improvement in search for me. So let’s all go back to AltaVista, and let Google play its little games with itself only.

    • http://www.zycon.com/ Zycon

      @Jaap Verduijn – I definitely remember Altavista. In fact, when Google first came out, AV’s results still remained one of the best, if not the best. It’s too bad that AV is no longer a player nowadays since Google effectively stomped on them and squashed them. For 2012, though, a search engine like DuckDuckGo seems to have fairly decent results (much better than Google, IMO), but they’re just a small fry out of the whole meal.

  • http://www.turkeystylishlettings.co.uk Tim Smith

    Google Penguin is a major step backwards from Google.It has ruined my hard earned web traffic and now ignores most of my links. Unless things improve I will abandon my website as it is just not worth the time and effort spent just to please the big G only to find the ball game being changed yet again. BING RULES NOW!!!

    • deathtoll

      You will abandon your entire website because you can’t get results on Google? Where else do you advertise? If you are depending on search engine results to drive all traffic to your page, then you’re doing it wrong.

      On a lighter note, search engines in general have ruined the way people remember things. Nobody remembers anything if they can simply open Google or any other search engine and type what they are looking for. Even simple things like addresses and phone numbers. If anything people should be angry at Google for dumbing down society and making people think less. I like that comment about the mark of the beast, because its pretty much true. I will remain unmarked and let word of mouth and advertising my URL elsewhere drive my business. It will be a very chill day in Hell before I would attempt to pay for results on something that really has no bearing on anything else I do. However Google has other services that are much better than just the search engine. Internet advertising is dead too, with the advent of AdBlock + Chrome browser, don’t browse the internet without it now, and my experience is much more pleasurable than people I see who don’t use it.

  • thetruth

    1 word. Antitrust. Google is going to have to face this issue sooner than later and the penguin update, imo, has made an antitrust case vastly easier to build.

    also the latest serps quality has gone down so much I now use bing about 30% of the time.

  • http://www.kimoftheworld.com Kim Tyrone

    Chris this is another great content coming from you, and this is the exact sentiment of many SEOs and Internet Marketing professionals all over the world. Google has become so obsessed in “cleaning” and policing the Internet. It has has become desperate in preventing spam that it has forgotten the very foundations that gave the Internet its power – and profit to them.

  • Danny

    The current Google results may be deemed a “success” – but in reality, its MUCH worse.

    Sites that were sitting at #1 in the mid 2000s…and have done NOTHING to improve them since then (no additional updated content beyond an automated script to spin), are now sitting back at the top of the search results.

    And older 301 redirects are not working properly any more. You can even find examples of these old 301s, with the OLD URL showing up in the SERPs now. Before Penguin, the 301ed URLs didn’t show up. Now they do = 301s are not being treated like they should. (Spare me the “get the old links to point at the new domain” argument. When you have 600,000+ links going into an old site that you spent years creating – and you rebrand your company so that it is more customer friendly, there is no way to go by hand and get all of them pointed to the new site.)

    Heck…there are even old sites that have NO CONTENT whatsoever except for Meta tags, and an on page title – that are ranking in the top of the search results now.

    Old sites = win. No matter the customer experience.

    And fix 301 redirects NOW!

  • http://incomefromhometips.org bj @ Income From Home

    The results lately . . . SUCK. Forgive my french but there is no other word to describe it. I end up on page 3 of the serps to find anything relevant to what I’m looking for. And since one of my income streams is freelance writing and I’ve used google a LOT, that’s the kiss of death. I’ve actually resorted to using stinking BING. Sheesh . . .

  • http://www.rwrinnovations.com Ron Nixon

    Why does Amazon come up as #1 on almost every book search? Even when they don’t carry the book? Their page content above the fold is in no way unique and many times is copied word for word from the jacket of the book.

    I’ve been a strong supporter of Google since they started, but, they have changed and it is sad. I’ll start believing in Google again when they apply the same rules to the big corporations that they apply to the rest of us and I see Amazon removed from page 1 of organic search until they start adding unique content to their pages. (They will still be on page 1 since they spend millions of AdWords and other advertising.)

  • Jim S

    Google in my opinion has basically said we have been wrong for the past 12 or so years – here are the real results.

    Sure their are people that will try to game the system. But for everyone of those there are probably 10 or more that develop good content and work on their site, trying to make it valuable.

    Versus just slapping up a page in 20 minutes. Some of the results I have seen in several of my niches are a joke, not all of the results but how does a site that was Number 1 or 2 in Google for many years with thousands of pages of content get demoted to the bottom of the second page while sites that are either 1 or 2 pages of content or are mostly a page with some links to other sites rank ahead of it.

    If Google was producing these results back when they started they would not have become the top search engine they are today.

    Sometimes a company can get too smart for their own britches or is this really a revenue generating ploy. Top ranked websites in key niches were making a lot of money through search engine traffic. Could Google have said to themselves, “Let’s force these people to get that traffic by paying us for Adwords?” Makes you wonder!

    Will Google wait until they’ve increased their Adwords sales and then go back to reasonable results, thinking these people will continue to pay them for Adwords?

  • Andre

    I switched to Bing after this update, because I can not find what I need, all I see now, is a lot of really strange and irrelevant results, very bad websites ranking high. So I don’t understand what’s good in this update?

  • coyotech

    I’ve noticed in the past few months and especially the past few weeks, that Google search results have gotten pretty bad. I’ve been using Yahoo for search now, because I can actually find the information I’m looking for. Like it used to be with Google.

    If Penguin is called a big success, the goal wasn’t improving search results.

    • http://www.php-developer.org/ Codex Meridian

      Its simple. Just use Bing. Problem solved.

      • http://www.webmediatree.ca/ Max Dennis

        In google panda when someone who are in the high page rank it drops then who running ppc campaign and advertise more adds its also dropped then in penguin it said who do social media marketing then it better.

  • Guy

    Google has way too much market share and power. The results in Google since Penguine are terrible. The whole ethos behind Penguin was to apparently “level the playing field” . This has not happened as the website that has now taken first place in my niche should not be there, his backlink profile is obviously 70% paid homepage links from websites that were supposed to be wiped out by the update.
    I hope the “playing field” is leveled and that the other search engines get a fair share of the market after this screwup to make it far more healthy. Google is way to big for its boots and I hope this knocks them down a peg or two, I very much doubt it will be anytime soon without some major press, a few hundred thousand webmasters like myself having a moan will not encourage the average user to try a different search engine than Google. I use Bing not only because I am sick of Googles preaching but because the results are better. Come on Bing seize the moment, this is your best opportunity to take a bigger slice of the cake.

  • Kevin Knight

    I think Google have shot themselves in the foot, their high and mighty approach to customers and page ranking in their recent past has led to businesses investing more time and effort into promoting their sites through other means, social websites and the like, and looking to minimise their reliance in picking up customers via Google. We shall see.

  • http://lots0cash.com lots0

    Page and Brin have gone Mad with the power…

    They are like politicians, who are completely out of touch with the people that voted them in.

    Page and Brin want total control of the goo corporation, they are being sued by their own share holders…. because the goo two have gone totally bonkers with the power and money that was dumped in their laps.

  • http://www.discount-pool-supplies.com AJ

    Either Google has no clue as to what they are doing, or they are trying to extort more advertising dollars.

    I have always focused on content and relevance and played by the rules, never engaged in link spamming, and yet for the last few years have seen pretty sizable damage from Google’s updates. I have not focused much on link building, but then again the legitimate links I do have Google pays no attention to. Go figure.

    My bounce rate from Google is the highest ever – compared to any of the other sources. They are sending very poor traffic.

    Penguin and Panda to me are two unmitigated disasters and I see no evidence that they improved anything.

  • http://ww.charlesbarr.com Kevin Hutchins

    My company relies on he web we have gone from no 1 page 1, to Page 7 not in the first 100 on all of the important keyword ranking, it has taken us 4 years to build. How can I recover if I have no idea why?

  • http://Www.jasjotbains.com Jasjot

    Penguin update was a major fail. It has countered the aim it was launched for, and I don’t think the example you gave is the only one example of sites threatening legal action. If penguin is not rolled back,Google is surely going to lose its number one spot to bing or any other search engine. Rolling out an update with the aim of improving web results, and ending up doing the opposite is NOT SUCCESS MATT CUTTS !!

  • John

    Hi All, Since everyone is talking about google panda, i had a question.

    1) there is a company offering my company SEO services.
    How they have it is,

    a) they bought a about 20 domain names ( apart from the main one) and have created somewhat obscure one page websites ( they call them silos, i call it bullshit)

    How its structured, for each of the 20 domain names they have one page. Example: http://www.cosmeticliposuction.ca/

    click on the related articles, so articles “YES” – but different domains.

    My question specifically is,

    1) Is this legal (by google standards?)
    2) In our board meeting, i already explained this is bullshit, meaning we are married to the hip with them. for any benefits we get, we will have to pay for a lifetime, otherwise the day we cancel the contract and they take down those pages, then that’s it.

    What do you think? All opinions welcomed

  • Lou

    It is a real problem when 80%+ of your business comes from organic search in ONE search engine. Back in the day when there were more than a dozen search engines (remember Alta Vista, HotBot, Snap, Excite, etc.), no one gave a rats read end when one did a algo change.

  • http://www.orangechimp.com jeff

    google penguin is not a success. its googles failiure and this may be the start of downfall for google. Google needs to kill this update if they want to save themselves. the penguin update is simply favoring large corporations like amazon, walmart who are supporting google on this update by paying them millions. this makes google search a non organic and bias search. i have already switched to bing for most of my web searching because they are still going the natural way.

  • http://amazon.rivousel.co.uk/amazon/index.htm Damien Handslip

    I have several websites, this is the one least likely to be harmed.

    my main website has lost half of its visits overnight sinc Penguin descended.

    Reason? The site is a normal retail site, selling small diesel parts. A catalogue containg a table of parts images, descriptions, prices and a PayPal button to order the parts direct. In addition there is instructional material to help select the correct part for the car in question.

    I would have thought this site is useful, funcional and good looking all at once.

    There is no overblow marketing strategy involved. Surely if you are looking for bosch solenoid for your pump, this is where you would want to be?

  • http://www.top10googleresults.com Philip L. Franckel, Esq.

    I find it interesting that people will rush to threaten lawsuits. I also received one of these threats and refused to remove the link. I’m a litigation lawyer and don’t have to pay for legal fees. Unfortunately, others may be inappropriately bullied into removing links. I have now written two articles about this. See Remove My Links – The Penguins Are Coming! at http://www.top10googleresults.com/remove-my-links/ where I linked to this article!

  • http://search.engine-optimization.gr SEO Greece

    In my opinion it destroyed companies, professionals, small to middle sized websites and left untouched all of the outdated and never-promoted-before web sites.

    I used to be a fan of Google for almost 10 years but now i am an other disappointed “customer”. That is exactly what happens when you don’t have strong competition… I wish it could come a new search engine and change all these problems.

  • steve

    I consider it a total failure. I was first page, bounced to 3, 7 sites rank above me for a search query that has absolutly NO relevance to the query. Google is really starting to suck!

  • Spamexterminator

    The WWW isn’t in jeopardy only Google is in jeopardy. If they keep forcing their ideals onto the world they risk sending everyone to their competition Webmasters and Users alike.

  • http://www.captaincyberzone.com Cap’n Cyberzone

    Things are going to end-up in court … the ambulance-chasing lawyers will be all over this.
    One problem that I do have with Google is stated in the article,
    “In fact, the company puts out huge lists of signal changes every month.”
    It sounds like Google is infested with “obsessive-compulsive” tweakers who are forever scrambling the parameters.
    Perhaps the original Yahoo had it right all along!

  • http://networkmarketingsa.info/ peter – network marketing blog

    Frankly…

    1. I’m confused.

    Didn’t this “cleanup” happen a few years ago already?

    or was google just bluffing all the way?

    2. Now I know how to get rid of competitors…:) (just do a blast of spam comments through a proxy server, pointing to the website you want to take out…what was google thinking??? How can you hold someone accountable if you cannot prove he was responsible? I guess the constitutional right of “innocent until proven guilty” does not apply to google…)

    3. By punishing people for bad backlinks, google has unleashed a monster – even worse than the pagerank one.

    4. I’m going social. So far, it’s giving me better results than google.

    and I think it will ultimately be more stable as well.

    just my 0.02c

    • http://www.captaincyberzone.com Cap’n Cyberzone

      Peter, you don’t sound confused to me.

  • http://www.ipnostudio.com Andrea

    Probably what’s wrong with the title is “inadvertantly” unless someone believes that they can make these kind of things by error. They can’t as they are Google and Google is perfect or aims to be. And if they make these kind of errors it means that really they don’t know what they are doing. Whatever the case they won’t go back as they can’t admit they did something wrong with their faboulous algorythm. So the damages of Penguin has been done either on purpose or because they are amateurs; but they won’t go back as it would ruin their reputation, if Google still has a positive one. I don’t think so.

  • http://www.ever-so-sexy.com Jenny P

    I have read that the Penguin update was not supposed to improve the quality of results…. well in that respect it is certainly a success. At least that is what we are seeing in our market sector. For just one brand (which we do carry) and used to be on page 1. The results now show 4 pages from the same company! Other search terms produce even worse or irrelevant results. Perhaps it is time for Google to learn that when something ain’t broke it is not a good idea to try fixing it!

  • http://bloghands.com Chris

    A big misconception I’ve been reading and getting from some new clients I acquired after this update is that they think their site was penalized… the truth is it wasn’t it’s just the traffic they had before this update was artificially inflated. The links they had weren’t all they where cracked up to be and now Google has basically devalued them.

    People are spending a lot of time and money chasing these bad links when in fact they should just be working on getting better, more ethical links.

  • http://hdtenniscamera.com Volleycam

    They simply went too far. Google distrusts new websites, new links so much that their SERPs are full of old results.

    Example: I google “how to fix deep scratches” and in the top 3 is a BMW forum post from 2005. It’s so old that the pictures (essential to answering my problem) are missing.

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