(Image Borrowed From http://libeltyseo.com/)
I have a problem with Google's whole approach to "cleaning up the net" with their "spam-eating Penguin".
First of all, the Penguin update clearly does not work very well in spite of Matt Putz saying that it was a success. It clearly was not a success. Anyone who does much research using Google's search engine knows that the first page results are now inferior to what they were before the Penguin arrived.
Yesterday I was looking at laptops and the results on Google's first page are absolutely DOMINATED by some very spammy apparently Asian-made Amazon affiliate sites with NO content at all - just the most basic of info taken right from the manufacturers and reviews that seemed to be stolen from amazon. The first 5 results were created by the same amazon affiliate with different sites and were absolute crap in terms of design and in terms of content. As to SEO I didn't have time to investigate but from what I've seen Google has discounted a lot of SEO so my guess is these guys were just lucky.
In my own niche it's the same thing: ALL of the results on page one are worse than my own site which got severely Penguin-slapped back to page ten or so. Some of the results on p. 1 are absolutely content-free, just pure advertisements, "click here to buy".
Bear with me a minute while I back up and point out that Google has always pretended that they hold that "content is king".
If you do some looking around - especially at search engine discussion sites - or just do a search for "how Penguin screwed up the search engine rankings", "problems with the Penguin update" and so on, you will find plenty of proof that what I am saying is true.
Now, were these sites punished because of "unnatural backlinks"? I'd say most were, but many were not. Maybe as many as 30% were Penguin-slapped for some unknown reason, apparently just caught in the crossfire of the Penguin algorithm's shotgun approach to cleaning up "spammy sites".
Regardless of WHAT GOOGLE HAS ALWAYS *SAID* IT WANTED (great content), the fact is that it valued backlinks more! I don't think most people will argue this point. While good content may have played a part in google's algorithms for SERP, what really made the difference for most sites was backlinks, with quantity mattering more than quality.
This being the case, how does Google have the right to just suddenly start punishing people for giving Google what Google apparently WANTED?
I know that I improved my rankings by doing link exchanges and building links like my competitors did. But I still could not get to page 1 EVEN THOUGH MY CONTENT WAS WAY BETTER than any of the pages on the first page.
So I happened to discover an SEO company which claimed to be white hat and which claimed to get first page rankings, guaranteed. I hired them. They got me to page 1 within 2 months for 5 keywords. If Google did not want this, why had they been rewarding it for over a year??
I found out soon enough that this SEO by this company I hired was NOT white hat, but was being done by spammy articles on a spammy blog network. But... it was too late... the damage was done... and besides that it was working! I was finally on page one where - with all due modesty - I DESERVED to be because my site had a lot of really good expert written original content (I know because I wrote it! ;-D )
So.... Google slapped me hard. My site was put WAY FURTHER BACK in the rankings than it ever was before Penguin! So this appears to have been more a punishment than just a de-valuing of the article network links.
Here's my problem with this:
If Google wanted to get rid of spammy backlinking why didn't they just issue a PRESS RELEASE stating exactly what they did not want and WARNING that these type of backlinks would lead to punishment?
This all they really would have had to have done: just make clear to everyone what they don't like. Then everyone could have gone about their business without losing income. I went from making $1000/month to zero a month on my main site. In this economy people cannot afford to lose this kind of money based on Google's whims, or poorly conceived algorithm changes, or misdirected vindictiveness.
While some sites may have fared well or better under the Penguin's update, you don't have to look very far to see TONS OF SITES that are now on page one that are NOT deserving of it AND see that tons of sites were punished which had great content.
Seems to me that Google is more interested in punishing backlinkers - who may not have been trying to "game" Google as much as just give Google what was apparent that It wanted - than it is in providing good search results. Otherwise why not just have released a clear warning as to exactly what they were going to base rankings on and what they were going to de-rank?
And clearly the search results were not just a litle but much better before the Penguin came to town.
What does this all mean?
I think it means the people at Google are:
c) cutting off their nose to spite their face
d) screwing up their own search results so they can punish gray- or black-hatters
e) all of the above