Pandas, Penguins and Why I Don’t Do SEO

Google warned us in advance about its planned webspam algorithmn update (now known as “Penguin”) and site owners who ignored those warnings are now paying the price.

Many of the comments posted to Danny Sullivan’s post about the Penguin update verify search engine ranking downgrades and loss.

Here are just a few examples:

  • “I just had a website that ranked on the first page for numerous rankings…. completely tank. One of the only websites that didn’t do comment spam in my SERPS. Didn’t do link exchanges. Now it’s gone.”
  • “5 out of 11 of my sites have dropped into oblivion today.”
  • “In one of my niches, of course, my site has disappeared.”
  • “I have 2 sites that went missing ..they are MIA .. No where to be found in any key word !!”

While I feel for the truly innocent who get caught in the crossfire of Google’s algorithm changes, they will mostly likely regain their rankings — as has happened in the past. By the way, if your site was affected by the “Penguin” webspam algorithm update on April 24th, 2012, and you don’t think it should have been affected, you may submit a report to Google here.

But some not-so-innocent webmasters are stating that Google doesn’t “play fair” and blame Google for the possibility that they may have to seek offline employment or go on government assistance.

Oh, too bad, so sad.

Forgive my lack of empathy, but give me a break.

I’m sick of the whining and moaning that ensues when Google dumps Viagra, make money online, and diabetes web spam over-optimized sites. Google stated that only 3.1% of English language sites would be affected by this update, yet there’s way too much emphasis placed on spammers’ reactions to such changes.

Instead of living in fear of Google algorithm changes, online business owners should seek out positive reports — and there are plenty of positive reports related to the Penguin update, including:

  • “I went to my analytics and did a quick search of traffic over the period from April 23-27 and saw my stats go up after Penguin. More traffic, coming from more places. My ranking in Google is stagnant at #4, but has gone up in Yahoo, Aol etc. Has anyone else seen positive signs from this Penguin update?”
  • “one of my sites is up 20-30%…”
  • “I’ll wait and behold, and start to arrive at any conclusion in a month or two. First of all, none of my sites dropped outta’ index. Second, being patient is natural for buddhists. Third, being an IT worker, I’ve never seen anything of that scale working well at the moment of release and later on. And I don’t really think I’m ever going to, to be frank)”
  • “my total search traffic hasn’t changed”

I too have seen a traffic increase in the past week on most of my primary sites, as is usually the case when an Google puts out an algorithm update.

Here’s a Google Analytics screenshot from one site to which no posts have been made for well over a week and no traffic sent from email blasts. Daily traffic variations remain completely normal and new visitor ratio is virtually the same.

After almost 15 years online, I must conclude that’s because I’ve consistently played by the rules. I do NOT do SEO other than naturally including important keywords in my post titles and text, i.e. I do NOT use silly formulas that may work today, won’t work tomorrow and will get me bounced from the index.

It’s Google’s game, therefore Google makes the rules.

Webmasters who want to rely primarily on free traffic from Google should know and follow Google’s webmaster guidelines.

Here are a few more recommendations:

  1. Don’t buy links
  2. Don’t allow links from low-quality sites and networks
  3. Don’t get sucked into buying SEO services that promise a #1 listing
  4. Don’t waste your money on crap tutorials that promise to teach you how to get #1 listings in Google

In other words, don’t waste your time on SEO – become a real business that provides real value to real people.

Has Penguin affected your site? Please leave a comment below!



P.S. Thanks to Stan Shebs and Wikipedia for the beautiful penguin pic. :-)


  1. says

    You probably already thought of this, but there’s no need to post my comments today. I don’t want to damage David’s reputation. I just didn’t know another way of contacting you. I tried the email form, and your Facebook link, but neither worked for me.

  2. says

    Please how can a newbie get visitors without SEO? I mean, if no one knows you (no reputation in your niche), you do not already have a list of subscribers, and are quite broke enough to not support an adwords campaign.

  3. says

    I did not post anything for a few month now (due to birth of my second baby boy), but my website traffic increased after this update. I actually noticed much more related keywords used to access my travel website. It did boost my motivation to start writing new content. :)

  4. says

    Rosiland — I used to be obsessed with SEO, but not any more. I just focus on adding value to the market and “serving” my core customer . . . . and then let the chips fall where they may. When I was obsessed with SEO, I was focused on backlinks, SEO tools and various SEO services. The more time I spent on SEO the less time I spent focusing on my customer. Bad move.

    And then there is article spinning! Man, am I so glad I never got caught up in that racket.

  5. Art Wesley says

    Hi Ros,

    This is my first comment in a very long time…
    (I did not include my primary website address in this comment for fear of tainting your popularity, etc.- and on and on…)

    Competitors and followers, one well-known BRAND and several “thin” affiliates, in league with a popular SEO business trashed my websites, one after another… They copied my content, complained on forums and blogs that I had stolen their content—my content… Some—not named here, encouraged their followers to report my websites as spam to Google! Links to my sites spiked +100 to +1000 times in less than a month, continuing for several months: all (links) spam, phony and outrageous TLDs pointing to FAT “doorway” sites pushing poor product! I had no choice but to take my sites offline for a time while I waited for a Google ruling. I have since put my sites back online, without content, to see if I am still under attack. This mess happened because I criticized a substandard product (a total rip-off) in two blog Reviews—I was not competing… I believed in honesty and content when I started to do business online… and I was hammered!

    Google’s notorious SE updates have enabled poor or black hat SEOs… I was surprised to see legitimate Brands encouraging and participating in this (my) destruction, for “A Fistful of Dollars”!

    So, how do I protect myself?

  6. James says

    You don’t feel any sympathy for those that were affected by the update, but
    you started by selling an affiliate guide on ClickBank with an affiliate base
    that is well known for spamming. So.. go figure!

  7. says

    Thanks for this great “Google algorithm” update, Rosalind. Being a kinda’ seasoned beginner, I’ve always been a bit stuck on the use of Google. But this newsletter has done a great job of sorting the whole Google issue. Thanks a bundle! John

  8. Sue says

    Hey Ros,

    You said that Item #2 was “Don’t allow links from low-quality sites and networks.”

    We can prevent this from happening by not posting an article to that type of site in order to get a backlink. How do we stop people with low-quality sites from linking to us? Is that possible?


    • says

      You absolutely can’t, and this is a big problem. Of course, most snooty self-proclaimed WhiteHat heroes will claim that “it hardly ever happens”, or that “Google will eventually sort it out”.

      Personally, I wouldn’t take much stock in that. Google itself directly confirms that reverse SEO is possible, and anyone willing to confront the truth can plainly see that it is. (BTW, it’s not *just* bad inlinks that these guys use… it’s a number of things – linking to nonexistent pages to generate tons of 404 errors, requesting DMCA takedowns of all your major SERP placments, sending cease & desist / link takedown orders in pretense to authority sites that currently link to your site, and of course, building/buying spammy links to your site and then submitting a spam report to good old Google themselves…)

      The major issue here is that you can seriously damage someone’s link profile if you have $5 to spend on Fiverr. Or whatever low-quality workpool you prefer. These neg-seo gigs are popping up everywhere, and it’s disgusting to see.

      I’m seeing this mostly happen in high-competition markets, but if Google leaves this exploit open for any length of time – you can expect to see it in a market near you…

      Just remember – everyone is “high and mighty” until it happens to them. It’s not until you’ve built hundreds of sites using every legal approach in the book (from spotless WH to outright buying your rankings) before you begin to see that it’s truly just a crapshoot.

      And that the good guys don’t always win.

      Who DOES win? Brands, and people who hedge their bets by diversifying both traffic sources AND seo approaches.

      “Building great content” is a load of crap unless you happen to be in a very vocal market, for example, the one Ros is in.

      But again – build many sites, and use many different approaches/link sources. “Doing everything right” will not save you. Nor will “only providing great content”. Unfortunately, it’s still a numbers game.

      I seriously can’t wait until Google actually rewards good content and links, and doesn’t leave gaping holes in their algorithm for Romanian crime rings, for example, to bulldoze legitimate sites as a business model.

      But for now, they do not – and so I do that which is necessary. So should you.


  9. says

    Here’s one for you: Amazon receives thousands of links for affiliates promoting their products. I’m sure many of us do. Do you think they were penalized?

  10. says

    Would you care to expand on one of your recommendations at the end of the post, namely:

    “Don’t allow links from low-quality sites and networks”.

    Or perhaps think about how ridiculous that is, when you’re dealing with very competitive markets (which I do), and where negative SEO is a very real threat, and one that we have seen in action, and working, time and time again, obviously being done by some of the zero-ethics competitors or otherwise ruthless affiliates.

    Someone can go and blast your site with 10 million crap links on for the price of a cup of coffee.

    And you know what?

    It works.

    Just ask Dan Thies,, and anyone else willing to tell the truth on this. Luckily, we haven’t been victims yet (aside from being victims of content scrapers, whose splogs many times out rank the true content, on our sites), but it’s just a matter of time if you’re in markets where ranking on page 1 equals 4 – 5 figures a day in profit.

    Our network consists of hundreds of sites. Our authority sites are always 100% above-board.

    Our mini-sites are 100% WH content-wise, but we do buy links. Why? Because it works, because it’s legal, and because the ROI is 1000 times better than relying on the myth of “building great content” or “creating a community of raving fans”.

    Yeah, like that’s gonna happen for a 5-page site about toenail fungus, or dental insurance, etc.

    What Google needs to do, if they actually care about User Experience, is discount links from low quality networks, rather than penalize them. That is the dumbest move in history, for them.

    As is evidenced by their current SERPs, which are far worse than Bing’s, and comprise far more than 3% of the results as they are stating.

    All it takes to verify what I’m saying is to go to a little site called and start running searches in ANY competitive market.


  11. Barb says

    Here’s what I’m sick of…people thinking that they are following google’s webmaster guidelines when in reality they are not.

    I would have to say to them, “Please explain to me why you think that you have obtained all of your backlinks by following google’s webmaster guidelines.”

    Here’s an example Rosalind, when I did a google search the search results clearly show backlinks throughout the internet to your sites with you as the author on sites such as article directories, social bookmarking sites and other sites that have direct links back to your sites. There are Youtube backlinks, blog spot backlinks, forum profile backlinks, hub backlinks, and other profile backlinks to your sites on linkedin, pinterest, google plus and the like. Does google really approve of all of these methods of getting backlinks that point to sites that sell products or have google and other ads on them?

    In reality I think not and the last time I checked getting those type of backlinks was considered to be an off page SEO strategy used to promote a site, as well as benefit site rankings.

    How can anyone call these people affected “not-so innocent webmasters” when I don’t think any one person marketing online can honestly say that they have never received a backlink in a way that google would not approve of.

    Can those who have affiliates promoting their products be sure that all the affiliates working on their behalf are not getting links pointing to their sites in a way that google does not approve of…these are still links that benefit their sites!

    Just because the product owner did not buy the links that their affiliates may be buying that are benefiting the sales on their sites, does not mean that it is right in the eyes of google and that the product owners sites are clear of what google is calling webspam. It may be 2 tier but it is still happening.

    In my opinion there is no need for anyone to call other webmaster’s out and say that they have always played by the rules. I don’t think any of us can say that we even know what google’s rules are from one day to the next.

    Does anyone know what percentage of webmaster’s may have been doing exactly what we have all been doing for our sites and they still got caught in this last google update unfairly? Read the post by Graham.

    No I don’t need a backlink…I simply want to let other people know that playing the “I have never done anything wrong” card is also getting old on this topic!

    • says

      Hi Barb,

      Yes, after almost 10 years online, NPT has just over 8000 links from external sites.

      To your statement – Does google really approve of all of these methods of getting backlinks that point to sites that sell products or have google and other ads on them?

      I guess Google considers NPT a content site with links in that are relevant, which were built up slowly and naturally. I’ve read the guidelines many, many times and always done my best to follow them to a T…


  12. says

    Ros, I’m confused by your comment to not do SEO. I’m in the process of making my website more targeted to my particular target market and brand based on a few long tail keywords. My blog post and writing have not been for a particular niche because I just write what I feel without a thought to a particular target mkt or niche. Now that I”m learning more abt SEO and long tail keywords its time for me to go back and revamp my site. I’m just wondering if its worth it. I’ve learned alot from you from your blogger pro trainings including SEO. Although Im working on a different site at the moment that’s not associated w/the bloggerpro training I still follow your SEO strategies you’ve outlined in the training. What other alternatives are there to attract our target market to our websites if SEO is not an option?

    • says

      Hi Angela,

      My ‘I do not do SEO’ headline was more for effect than anything else… sorry to concern you.

      As stated in the article, I put keywords in the title and throughout an article to the extent that sounds as natural as if you were speaking to someone about a topic.

      Your approach to brand yourself for your target market is a smart move!


    • says

      Great I was worried there for a second. I’ve been spending a lot of time on my brand and working on a long tail kw strategy and ready to move forward on implementation. Sometimes I find its difficult to be natural when trying to incorporate my keywords but I’m working at it! Thanks for keeping me abreast of the industry news. Thanks for your response!

  13. David Mitchell says

    Hi Ros,

    I probably won’t fit in here as I offer Seo services, and I must say only a small percentage of my clients sites were hit. lol I might not fit in but I love you Ros lol

    So what’s my take on Google Penguin, it should have happened years ago. A lot of people moan about things regarding Google, but it’s because it’s all they know. When I do any work on a site I am more working on Social media than Seo because this builds backlinks naturally. Having said that I do guest post, blog comment, and post articles but this is where LSI keywords come into play. If you shoot for an exact match your gubbed to put it politely Google hate it, they don’t need you to point out the keyword.

    My clients sites that were hit are now all back in place because I removed some of the exact match anchor text, ill need to be careful in future. :)

    Hope I can still come back to your posts Ros 😉


    • says

      Hi David,

      You are always welcome here! :-) I’m totally with you on working more on the social media side of things these days. I’ve gone that route too.

      Thanks for sharing the folly of exact match anchor text.. I hope everyone reads that part of your comment.


  14. says

    Ros, Great Post thanks. I am 100% with you. I’ve played the “fast gain” game and before I knew it I was hit by Google, so learned my lesson and now I concentrate on providing valuable content and I sleep sound at night knowing I am building an asset that will last as it is a
    cumulative collection of great content.

    • says

      Thanks Ernesto,

      I’m always happy to hear about folks who get a little poke from Google that helps them learn. :-)

      Thanks for sharing and sleep well!


  15. says

    All these Animal themed Google updates are quite amusing. I’d bet on the next one being a Parrot! This particular update was quite interesting because it hasn’t affected my YouTube channel or any other site which I control. It has however affected sites I don’t control but use to direct traffic to relevant online content. Sites like Hubpages, Squidoo and Wizzley have their own communities and ways of creating online content that either works or it doesn’t.

    One of my Blogger blogs has doubled in traffic however and for now this remains a constant thing and I’ve never spammed anything….well except when I first started I did as I didn’t know any better and quite frankly the internet marketing gurus instructed me to do it!

    Everything seems to fall into place when you set up a website or websites that you enjoy because you should look after it more by doing the right thing by your online property.

    • Lynn says

      They should be called the Piranha Updates.

      Rosalind, just a quick question…….is the All in One SEO Plugin a good or bad thing to use on a website? I’m wondering now if it’s a bad thing to use considering all these algorithm changes and penalties, etc.

      I don’t play the SEO game. I write how I speak. I do try and include in the title of my posts the relevant long tail keyword that the post is referencing. When I’m writing the post, long tail keywords just come out naturally. I don’t even think about Google when I write. I do use the All in One SEO Plugin and I’m wondering if I should dump it.

  16. says

    A question for both Roz and Carolyn (of Look Great, Lose Weight site) –
    Both of you say you don’t build unnatural backlinks. Yet you both have sites that, according to MajesticSEO, have tens of thousands of backlinks! How did you get all those backlinks naturally and how can we learn to do that, too?

    • says

      Hi Deane,

      NPT is almost 10 years old has just over 8,000 backlinks according to MajesticSEO – nowhere near what some newer popular sites on the same topic have… i.e. over half a million.

      The age of the site has a lot to do with it… as it has been referenced in other peoples’ work many times. Too, I’ve linked back to it from relevant comments on other blogs, my You Tube videos, Facebook and Twitter. All has grown slowly and naturally.

      You can definitely do that too. :-)


  17. says


    I understand where you are coming from with your post today but I think there is more going on with this than meets the eye. I have been reading a number of posts made by various people that I respect online and I would like to quote something I pulled from (Matt is a fellow New Zealander doing some great work on the internet and helping make it a better place).

    This quote also has a link to something written directly to Google management which I think is a must read for all of us interested in this latest Google update as well as the many others that have been implemented and that are bound to keep on coming.

    Google will not admit to this and neither will Matt Cutts, a billion dollar company they might be, but they have underestimated the consequences of the current updates and have got this one horribly wrong. And the assumption that having a great looking site with lots of unique content and a very low bounce rate appears on the surface to be the obvious answer to better rankings and more traffic.

    But then how do you answer this… Who can be more authoratitve in the DIY industry with more unique content other than Tim Carter the founder, he’s been operating his site for 17 years, and was even featured on googles own site as the perfect example of a quality site displaying adsense ads, and yet his traffic has tanked massively – by 80% (eighty percent) you can read what he has to say right here were he is pleading directly to Matt Cutts

    And now that negative SEO has reared its ugly head the situation is lot more serious than some would make out… your ‘SEO Masters Academy’ partner Terry Kyle was quick to spot this and informed his subscibers of a negative SEO case study on his trafficplanet forum. This has now gone viral and now we have the industries other top SEO experts, Rand Fishkin and Arron Wall giving their analysis, and to be frank it is not pretty, especially when you consider that a google ‘heavily’ penalized site can seriously harm another sites ranking with something as simple as a 301 redirect. This isn’t fiction this is happening right now.

    Matt Cutts certainly isn’t blind to all of this, I honestly think that he and his spam team have been taken by complete surprise not forseeing the consequences of their latest update… the question is how do they plan to address this giant sized ‘cockup’ of a mess that they have created.

    So from what I understand from all that I have read, and I’ve been doing a heap this last week, Google has caused heart ache for a lot of people who have been playing by their rules. Their systems are not perfect, this has been plainly proven time and time again, and what we all have to learn is to not rely on just one source of traffic. Sometimes we can start thinking that Google is the internet but it’s not. It’s just another business, a provider of services, that has just gotten so BIG that it’s every move has massive consequences for good or for bad. I have followed your work for some time now Rosalind and I think you have a well balanced approach to your marketing and that is to provide value to your visitors and the rest takes care of its self. I just hope that for all those who have suffered unjustly with this latest update will soon see things come right.

    • says

      Hi Graham,

      Sorry to hear about Tim’s site being lambasted. It does look like the percentage of traffic from search has been dropping almost steadily since the beginning of 2011 with a significant drop in the last 7 days. Having said that, both rank and reach on that site have increased markedly in the same time. Go figure.

      And yes, negative SEO is a frightening prospect, but I’m going to keep the faith and trust that Google will figure out how to spot intentional bombardments and stop penalizing the good guys.


  18. Larry says

    Although it’s wasted fodder, Ashot’s right. Google made it’s money from all the websites and practices of affiliate websites they now deem shady and in a few ways they continue to; hiprocracy at it’s finest. But as you state, we have to play by their rules – like it or not.

    But my real reason for commenting is to ask are you still earning income from the methods outlined in your course – Are you? Does the dating site comparison site still work?

    Thanks in advance,


    • says

      Hi Larry,

      You bet I’m still earning from the dating site… not as much as before, because I don’t work the site as much anymore. But still enough that it would be a nice yearly income for most folks. :-)


  19. says

    Hi Ros,
    I absolutely agree with you. It’s their company and if they decide to do an update – well, that’s how it is… The best is not to worry about ranking but about writing own stuff – not over-optimized with a silly keyword named in every heading. I really can see Google sooner or later treating that pages even more – or hopefully they do. In the end the best way to get pages ranked is writing. Optimizing and Backlinking is fine but should be more natural and done over days instead of minutes.

    • says

      Monja… you’re so right, especially about optimization should be done over “days instead of minutes”. Months and years, too. :-)


  20. says

    So Pandas take another step towards extinction!

    I’m glad Google has, and is, taking this action. As a newbie entering blogging with serious intention to make it my primary business & income source, the hyped-up junk peddled about
    SEO and keywords has disappointed me. Now, Google is restoring the balance. But I can understand how for newbies discovering advice on how to get their blog out into the arena might have been skewed will be grieved and bewildered (to put it mildly).

    As a copywriter, intent on supporting people harness the power of words to create their success, I promote the old-fashioned mantra that People buy not keywords.

    I began my blog as a beginner to blogging but as a copywriter who knew that what was being peddled so much by some people about SEO and keywords being the way to get on the first page of Google, rather than getting there by offering quality and a genuine intent to support, mentor and help people achieve their dreams, could not be proper and, hopefully, be stopped. Stopped either by the search engines themselves eventually, or by people realising what was happening & changing it.

    SE were always intended to work as indices; keywords being words indexed. Google is a librarian of sorts. Have you ever tried to get one over a librarian?

    I do feel for genuine people who have fallen for some of the hype (and scam). Better always to focus on people.

    It’s good to see Google cleaning house and levelling the play field. Whether Google are doing this for their own benefit or not, encouraging people to remember integrity is paramount to doing business is always a positive thing.

    Thank-you Rosalind for keeping this important discussion going.

  21. says

    Hi Ros,

    The only SEO I do on both wordpress and XsitePro sites is use the all-in one seo plugin for wordpress and the equivalent in XP. The only impact I can see is …umm nada same visitor flow.

    In the UK a penguin is the same as a hersey bar and thats the impact its had on me.

    To quote a book I read right at the beginning of my IM career – Its about the content -stupid – The book- Super Affiate Handbook. The quotes not exact but that was the meaning :-)



    • says

      Hey Nick,

      Thanks for your comment and glad to hear you weren’t hit.

      BTW, are you certain that I didn’t say it that way? Sure sounds like me! LOL


  22. says

    This is a fantastic article and one that is well balanced and offers food for thought. In fact i would go as far as to say, this is one of the few that i have found with a positive slant to penguin.

    • says

      Hi Jock,

      Thanks for your comment. And you’re right, I wrote the article because I felt like there was way too much ‘downside’ being reported.


  23. says

    I haven’t checked my website rankings for a long time but after reading this post, I thought that I would give them a check. The sites I no longer put much time into seemed to have dropped quite a bit in rankings. The ones where I have a blog attached and blog at least a few times per week have not had their Google rankings affected. Many key phrases are still ranked on page 1. I suppose this is fair and square since Google awards websites that have regular updates. The sites I don’t spend much time with anymore, get lower rankings while the ones I’m still very active on, still rank well. This shows in the amount of traffic too except for one of my websites that do not rank well anymore but still gets lots of traffic. I think the only reason why this one still gets many visitors is because it was built up over the years and it’s huge.

    • says

      Hi Clint,

      Your experience kind of mirrors mine. Fresh content seems to be the biggest factor to retaining rankings unless a site is old… like my dating site. Proof positive that you just have to keep plugging at it and you’ll be rewarded. :-)


  24. says

    Rosalind, either you totally misunderstood my point or I was not clear enough. If you have done any research on this update at all you will see that many high quality sites were hit by this, not jut a few. My point was that both the black hats and white hats were hit, and I was not condoning underhanded tactics whatsoever.

    And many search results are now skewed in weird ways. Just do a search for “window blinds” and you will see a totally irrelevant software page at #1. I’m sure Google is planning on fixing these oversights, but it goes to show that we are dealing with an algorithm here. A

    And while we are supposed to only focus on what our visitors want we are forced to think about what Google wants as well if we are wanting to get any free traffic from the beast. But the two don’t always match up, as you well know.

    Will those quality sites have their ranks restored? Some of them, but not all, and only if they choose to give in to what a search engine wants rather than what is best for their visitors. But that’s beside the point. If search engines are doing their jobs they are displaying the best possible results, not the results with the best looking backlinks. After all, even Wikipedia itself has a host of spammy backlinks along with the legit ones.

    • says

      Sorry Jon,

      Let’s keep an eye on the current search results for window blinds and see how long it takes to drop.

      A thought however – are most folks who search for Windows looking for information about the software or the glass variety?

      If the former, then Google is right and Stardock was uber-smart in naming its product.


  25. says

    This new update generally sounds like a good idea as it not only gets rid of, or at least reduces those spammy sites found at the top for a keyword search, but it also makes it fairer for those who want their sites to rank naturally, by providing quality content for their visitors.

  26. says

    Both of my sites have gone up a bit since Penguin. They are both relatively new sites. I am just getting started in this biz. Thanks for the great handbook, Ros. I have to agree with you about SEO. Some people try to play with it too much. It seems better to use “practical SEO” like putting keywords and phrases in the title, content, headers, etc. in ways that make sense.

  27. says

    Well, with two sites on the go, I’m still in the learning stages of so much even after 5 years. With Panda, I saw a mix of good and bad results, and eventually good “come-backs” after a few months. With Penguin, not totally sure yet. I did see one “good” page I know of take a bit of a drop, but it’s coming back again slowly.

    When I say I’m still learning, what I mean is, I’ve never been totally “technically-savvy” enough to take a close look at all of the things you “could do, but warned against doing”…I’ve just not had the time either. Maybe that’s been a good thing.

    To be honest, I just write what I like to when I have time and whatever happens happens. Certainly I keep in mind “keywords” and things like that; certainly I take what I’m doing “seriously” but I’m just becoming numb to pandas and penguins. It’s too hard on my nerves! And, I don’t want to feel like I have to sweat every little thing I do, so I choose to keep things fairly basic and simple, at least for me. I’ll just keep my fingers crossed that it pleases the powers that be.

  28. Philip says

    Wow, talk about hitting the nail on the head. You are oh so right. Cream will always rise to the top, there’s no hocus pocus needed.

    Yet there will always be tons of so-called “gurus” who make a living selling the latest and greatest SEO b.s. to the gullible.

    • says

      Hi Philip,

      And the so-called SEO “gurus” are the first to celebrate algorithm changes and offer their services on forums where folks are complaining about how their traffic tanked. Makes me shudder.


  29. says

    You are right Rosalind, this is Google’s game and we have to play by its rules. Like you, I am not an SEO believer. I know people who have collected 1000s of useless links, have published a bunch of cheap articles and now have traffic about 10 visitors a day. I agree with you 100% that one have to concentrate his/her efforts to create some kind of value for visitors, for customers.
    Unfortunately Google itself sometime loses its focus and making abrupt and wrong decisions. In my observation Google’s Search becoming worse and worse. Of course my conclusions are based only on the narrow area of my expertise, where I know all the keywords and all the players. I see over and over again how Google get manipulated by useless and shallow websites because they know Google’s rules very well. And when Google try to fight back with its algorithms it usually punishes innocents and messes up the search results further.
    I also don’t like Google’s hypocrisy. From the one hand they say that they want to fight with the spammers and from the other hand they provide perfect tools for spamming. Take for example horizontal Link Units in AdSense. It looks like menu and trick people to click on it to navigate in website. And who are eventually paying for those fake clicks, the AdWords users. So why they are doing that? Perhaps they don’t know? No, they are far from being stupid, they just like money as everybody else.

    • says

      Hi Ashot,

      To your comment about the horizontal Adsense link units. There are lots of other options, so webmasters don’t need to use the horizontal versions, and those that do are probably looking to fool their readers just in the way you suggested.

      My take on that is to feel sorry for them — making pennies to have people leave their sites… duh. :-)


  30. says

    I know “quality backlinks” are important. It does take time to find quality blogs to leave a relevant comment with anchor text link. Why do so many blogs have a comment area and never post comments?

  31. shalisha says

    Hi. Not at all. I have 2 content filled sites and they consistently rank well no matter what’s going on with google. I’m playing by the rules.

    • says


      You did NOT post a link to either of your 2 sites… are you scared to have anyone look at them and discover that perhaps you are NOT playing by the rules?


    • Larry says

      Hi Ros,

      it might be that she didn’t post a link, because she doesn’t want any additional competitors.

  32. says

    Absolutely on the mark.

    My site, Success with Money, gets first page for all my keywords without any real SEO except for the same essentials you mention, the use of my keywords in titles, main headers and a bit in the text. I depend solely on solid content on the site.

    I try to make sure my site offers the very best information anywhere on how to become financially successful, no hype or get rich stuff, just solid information. Hundreds of people read it daily. My traffic slowly continues to grow and has never seen a setback due to Google changes.

    While I have not monetized the site (I may some day but primarily want to share what I taught for years in my seminars, etc.), I have followed you for years and greatly appreciate your outstanding work. Thanks for sharing honest, helpful advice like this. And, as your post indicates, this is what makes for success.

    • says

      Hi James,

      Thanks for the feedback and I’m happy to hear that your sites were not affected… as they should NOT be because you follow the rules.

      Keep up the good work.


    • says


      My focus has been totally on my content and frankly I have never even looked at the Alexa ranking. Even my Google analytics are not installed correctly. I get my stats from Dreamhost (my host) which shows me what searches people are using, etc.

      Actually I am now getting about 275 visits a day now. It comes from a variety of search terms in addition to my main words. I think the main reason I get high listings without many links, etc., is because I have well over 100 pages of content, reaching toward 200, with no ads. I do have links out to some good external sites like government and educational sites.

      So honestly, I can’t tell you much.

      In my newsletter I do encourage people to read various articles on my site each month. Also, there are some financial educators (not many but a few I know) who refer people to the content on my site for simple but clear definitions of terms, etc. I am sure that helps.


  33. says

    Sounds like online and offline business have a lot in common.
    Common sense, hard work and finding your value point that you can offer someone who will pay you for it. No need to worry about the next DOO DOO BIRD update. Thoughtful post.
    Thanks for a nice kick in the pants!
    Time to get back to work.

  34. says

    Great advice as always Ros! I never do SEO either and its probably why my site wasn’t affected too. Believe me, over the years I’ve had a lot of great offers. (This is still preliminary yet, but it looks like my site’s overall traffic went up about 3% on the 28th or 29th of April and is still going up.) That’s cool with me!

    I do feel bad for anyone whose site got caught in the sand box. I thought I had that happen with Panda 2.5.2 and it hurt. But then I started taking a more critical view of my site and have been auditing it since last year. I still have a ways to go but I’ve only made the quality of my pages better, which may account for the increase in traffic now. I kinda think google had a point punishing my site. I got the message loud and clear too!

    With Penguin, Google is looking for links that lead back to your site that seem natural and that’s worth its weight in gold when you’re doing search.

    Best wishes always Ros!

  35. says

    Good post Rosalind,
    I agree for the most part.
    I have used some SEO and purchased links here and there.
    Some of the sites I’ve done this with have dropped a bit.
    But I’ve also put natural content into the sites and that’s probably
    what’s helping them stay up, although not as high as they were.

  36. says

    I have 15 sites and 14 of them have completely tanked. I admit I have gotten some links from joining blog networks, but I definitely don’t consider myself a spammer.

    The real frustrating thing since Penguin is to see the total crap that is now ranking. In randomly picking search terms to see what is now ranking, I’ve seen products that are no longer ranking for their product name, spammy press releases that are ranking above everything else, and even pages that are BLANK or totally off-topic ranking highly! I’m upset as a Google user, as well as an internet marketer. I depend on decent search results for doing research and I’m sickened by the state of the results I now find.

    I’m curious, Roz. You say you have played by the rules yet Majestic SEO says you have 97,000 external backlinks pointing to your site. How did you get all of these without breaking any Google rules?

    • says

      Hi Deane,

      I understand your frustration with the current search results, but that tends to be par for the course. Be patient and dig a little deeper in the meantime.

      Quick question for you… is Slimfit101 one of the sites that tanked?

      BTW, Majestic SEO says that NPT has 8,122 external backlinks.


    • says

      Hi Roz, No, SlimFit101 was the one site that didn’t tank. (I have a tool bar that probably isn’t very accurate that showed your 97K backlinks. Sorry for the inaccuracy!) But I’d still like to know how you got those 8000 backlinks naturally.

    • John the Deer says

      No answer on how you got those 8k backlinks without using some not so white tactics?

    • says

      Hello John,

      As mentioned in the article, the site is OLD. Too, I have tens of thousands of subscribers and readers of my book. Other than that, I’ve never bought a link nor do I have a backlinking strategy to get links from comments. I guess it’s the value of staying power.


  37. says

    Hi Ros, great points. I think that people are going to eventually figure out that a lot of people have been making money off selling SEO gimmicks – rather than actually doing the gimmicks they have been selling.

    Good post.

    • Donna says

      So true David. I had seen my sites traffic drop after using a certain popular SEO ‘tool’ . After removing it, all has returned to normal. Upon research, I also have seen alot of high ranking sites using virtually no or very little SEO ‘ tactics’. My own traffic has gone back to normal & even doubled on a few of my sites after the latest algorythm changes… :)

  38. Wendy Owen says

    I’m very surprised at your lack of empathy for genuine people who were wrongly impacted by this update. I have been a follower of yours for eight years, but this ends today. I can still remember you bitching and moaning when you were “wrongly” kicked off YouYube.

    Your arrogance knows no bounds. Goodbye.


    • says


      You do as you like… but I suspect you did NOT read the part that said “While I feel for the truly innocent who get caught in the crossfire of Google’s algorithm changes, they will mostly likely regain their rankings — as has happened in the past. By the way, if your site was affected by the “Penguin” webspam algorithm update on April 24th, 2012, and you don’t think it should have been affected, you may submit a report to Google here. ”

      Or perhaps you feel you were genuinely wronged despite having flouted Google’s rules?

      I see that you did NOT post a URL, so I therefore must suspect that is the case.

      Good luck to you.


  39. says

    I totally disagree. Bad SEO people were hurt sure – but the good guys were hurt also (and now OLD BAD SEO’d trash sites are now back in top rankings). I spent a year on one of my sites doing only white-hat marketing. Ever so slowly creeping up in the organic rankings. A year of writing my own good articles, a year of $300/month income. And finally I was starting to make money.

    My site is now no-where to be found. I don’t spam keywords either – I had a good site comparing two services and yes, now I’m crying along with a lot of other people who should not have been thrown to the sharks.

    Not all of us have big lists that we can count on for income, I guess that’s our problem. Good to hear you were unaffected. . .

    • says


      Sorry that you didn’t have a list… something upon which I INSIST.

      I suspect (KNOW) that your approach is tainted by teaching from you-know-who in the past — someone who had NO respect for the way things really are but was all about the money.

      PLEASE let this be a lesson… not another reason to try and buck the system based on a really bad instructor from the past.

      Your FRIEND,

  40. says

    While I appreciate your candid post, I think you need to keep in mind that many high quality websites that never did an ounce worth of spammy backlinks have been hit as well by the Penguin. There is no point to having a website if you don’t have visitors, and so webmasters had to find ways to market their websites, some using black hat tactics and some using white hat ones like writing articles and doing guest posts. But because of an overuse of the same anchor text both the high quality sites and spammy sites have been linked together. After all, it’s a computer’s algorithm that is determining quality here.

    Some of the “whiners” out there have been legitimate businesses that have been trying to play by the rules, and have not even tried to manipulate their rankings. But it’s a shame when we punish those who are actively trying to market their websites and reward those who just let their websites site and collect dust. Many marketers have seen a surge in rankings for spammy sites that never got any links at all, while the high quality sites they did build quality links to got slammed into oblivion.

    But when you want traffic from big G you have to play by their rules. We all need to realize that the internet is much bigger than Google, and with sites like Facebook and Pinterest thriving with traffic, we need to tap into those sources of traffic, even if Google ever decides that too many links from those sites constitutes spam.

    Whew, sorry Rosalind.. Didn’t mean to write a book. I think I need to write my own blog post about this and vent a little. Thanks for the refreshing perspective though. Just one quesiton, how can we “not allow links from low quality sites”? Negative SEO is booming now that Google is lowering the rankings of sites that have too many spammy links. And with these tactics being more effective than ever, Google has created quite the perfect storm it seems.

    By the way, I hate SEO myself. I just create ways for people to find my sites and leave the rest up to Google.

    • says


      Your “and so webmasters had to find ways to market their websites, some using black hat tactics” is telling.

      High quality websites do NOT need to use black hat tactics which are NEVER acceptable, so must be shunned…. always.

      If the sites you are thinking of are SO high-quality, then their rankings will be restored. If they weren’t, then you’ll find that out too.

      As for using Facebook, Pinterest and other social media marketing sites to enhance your visibility — YA, you need to employ those resources WITHOUT spamming them too. :-)

      Take a look at my FB site – Completely above board and NOT all about marketing.


    • says

      I do the same…neglecting to 90% SEO and just good stories and content satisfaction..Interesting subject. Going to Pinterest……..lots of work to be done…be well

    • says

      I’m meeting with a friend tomorrow, and in an email conversation we had organising the meeting he mentioned outsourcing he’s SEO work to someone in the east who works for peanuts, said I wasn’t ranking highly enough for a particular keyword, and then promptly told me he had lost most of his traffic since April, and showed me the stats.

      Luckily, I’m in the SEO industry (though my skills are thankfully limited to the advice you’ve given above, keywords in the proper positions, and write great content) and balked at his idea.

      In tomorrow’s meeting, I’ll be sharing this post with him. Ramon, if you’re reading this, please say Hi!

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