The Penguin 2.0 Countdown
With Penguin 2.0 coming out soon, the SEO space feels a lot like the first round of Penguin and the release of Panda. A lot of SEOs I know are still receiving unnatural link notices from The Big G from the last iteration of the algorithm, so news of another major algorithm update has a lot of them absolutely terrified.
Google has battled unnatural linking strategies for over a decade now, but only recently have they started to pull ahead in the war. Don’t get me wrong – black hat SEO still exists – and it always will. These days though, it’s much more of a short-term strategy than it ever was in the past.
For black hat SEOs, that doesn’t matter too much. It just means that their sites rank for a little bit less time overall…but when you’re making 5 figures a day spamming a site to the top of the SERPs, who really cares if you have to buy another domain and spam it to the top a week earlier than usual?
I shared similar thoughts on the Penguin 2.0 thread on Hacker News:
Black hatters these days don’t really even care about long-term rankings, they’re more about exploiting the inadequacies in the algorithm in the first month or so of a site’s life. Build it, rank it, bank cash, and burn it out. That’s the modus operandi right now…I don’t see this update changing much of that. It’s going to be great for those of us building out quality sites though!
User austenallred replied:
Exactly. If you really want to know what black-hatters do and how they get around Google’s filters, here it is:
- Buy a ton of domains
- Put up picture-based landing pages on those domains. The user only really sees pictures.
- Put up or spin content with relevant keywords, put it underneath the images. Google only sees a couple pictures (it doesn’t know what they are) and a bunch of really relevant content.
- Build a shiz-ton of links. This is where black hatters really make their money. I usually build about 125,000 links/day from completely legit sites, and to Google it pretty much looks like it’s going viral. If you know where to get the links, know how to generate the content, and can make them seem human, Google has a really hard time finding you.
- Link the landing pages to your money site using affiliate links.
- Wait until your site gets manually reviewed and pulled down.
So any somewhat decent black-hatter will have hundreds of sites in the works at any given time. The worry of taking a site down isn’t a big one, even though if you take down one site a black-hatter’s traffic could drop 3,000 visits/day.
The sites I work on usually remain up for an average of 6 months at a time, and the only way for them to be caught is a manual review. Some only stay up for a couple weeks, but some stay up for years. There have been times when landing pages are getting a couple thousand visits a day but I haven’t had time to go back through and redirect the traffic to the money site or update them from the generic landing page. Since all of the actions taken mimic closely enough what humans would do, it’s really difficult to be caught by webspam teams.
Technical SEO: Never Going Out of Style
If there’s one thing that Google will never penalize, it’s technical SEO. In all honestly, technical SEO should just be renamed “smart website architecture.” Fixing these for a client:
- Custom 404 pages
- 301 redirects
- Titles, URLs, meta descriptions
- Canonical content
- Indexation issues
- And many more issues
is technically optimizing for a search engine, but at the same time it’s really just making the website more usable for your visitors…which is what matters in the end. High quality website audits and architecture improvements are never going to die out. In fact, I think that they’re more important than ever these days.
Content marketing is nothing new. It’s been hailed as the successor to SEO for years now. Like SEO, the phrase has it’s challenges.
What exactly is content marketing?
Is it inbound marketing? Is it creating ‘linkable assets’ and spreading them out across the web via ‘outreach’? All of the industry jargon is starting to get a little tiring.
Content marketing, SEO, inbound marketing…it’s all just marketing.
This reminds me of the debate over the phrase “growth hacking.” My good friend Darrin of serpIQ covered this one in depth in his post, Growth Hacking is BS…It’s Just Marketing.
The only difference between what we do as SEOs, digital marketing consultants, inbound marketers, or content marketers, and what we know as “traditional marketing” are these three things:
- We have more data to back up our marketing efforts
- We can execute faster than other marketing channels
- Our efforts are more scalable than other marketing channels
That’s about it.
Let’s retire these words, stop endlessly debating the minutiae of what each one of them entails, and just get back to spending time on quality marketing.