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Why I Blog Less Frequently: I’m Scared

by Jon Cooper
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I could be like a lot of other SEOs, saying how fearless I am and how I’m not scared of Google. I could blog about how a lot of greyer tactics & strategies are still alive more than ever, and show you evidence of them. I could even create a case study to show factual evidence of old fashioned, tactical link building (not necessarily grey/black hat) and its effectiveness.

But the truth is, I’m scared. And paranoid. When you read news sites like Search Engine Land and Search Engine Roundtable and see penalties handed out left & right for things that seemed generally white hat just a few years ago, you can’t help but think “maybe what I’ve thought for so long that’s completely white hat is targeted next?”

When you see helpless pleas claiming that their penalty was unfounded (and how difficult they are to get removed), you can’t help but be a little distraught.

When you pour all your blood, sweat, and tears into a site, and see it tank because one human reviewer decided that it deserved a manual penalty because of the latest interpretation of what is & isn’t spam, it’s hard not to lose a little sleep at night.

And it doesn’t help when you see the darker side of the SEO community claim that they’re being personally targeted because they poked the bear.  Regardless of the legitimacy of those claims, knowing that G can destroy everything you’ve built without breaking a sweat is quite unnerving.

“But Jon, you’re a generally white hat link builder. You rarely recommend, if ever, anything that most would consider is black hat. What do you have to worry about then?”

That’s true, but if I’ve learned anything, time changes the interpretation of what’s white/black hat, and generally anything that’s actionable (which is what I like talking most about) gets abused, then targeted. I don’t want to wake up one day to find G targeting all sites I’m associated with (clients, my own sites, etc.) because of some new reason to be angry with.

For example, what if they start setting examples not just by going after individual target sites, but also bloggers advocating certain tactics/strategies that are suddenly not? What’s stopping them from doing this? It’s a great fear-building tactic, and they sure as hell don’t care about bloggers enough to feel any remorse. I know to a lot of you that sounds ludicrous, but there are a lot of truths today that might have sounded absurd just a few years ago.

It also doesn’t help that Google can easily get away with anything that they’re doing. We’re at a point with the Web now that for a lot of mildly competitive verticals, there are plenty of sites that deserve to rank. Even if you think you’re the best possible result, there are very few instances that anyone is going to care whether or not you no longer show up at the top (this is really only the case for branded search).

What this means for my blog…

The aggregate of all this sucks. A lot. Some of the most enjoyable moments I’ve had as an SEO were publishing a new post here on this blog, and watching the interesting conversations that would pop up around new ideas.

But now I’m reserved when it comes to publishing anything that might be considered a violation of G’s guidelines sometime in the future and watching everything I’ve built come crashing down.

I now understand why there is so much regurgitated crap in this industry advocating the same generic, fluffy white hat strategies that make us throw up upon reading. It used to be because no one wanted to give away their good stuff, but now its also because they’re either scared of advocating something that could soon be considered against G’s guidelines (and thus hurting their reputation), or because they could be poking the bear.

I really believe Google is transitioning from being on the defensive, to being on the offensive. Fear building is continuing to grow, and its definitely off to a hot start in 2014.

I still want to post here because I know how helpful it can be for some people, but I’m debating whether or not to start publishing more content privately through my other channels than on a public blog or via social media.

It’s essentially risk mitigation, which I believe is really going to become a theme not only for SEOs who blog/speak, but also for actual target sites (i.e. removing blog comments because of outbound links).

You can easily say that Google is winning because of a post like this being written, and I wouldn’t disagree. But is it really worth potentially poking the bear? For me at least, there’s too much at stake. I’m trying to give my clients the highest chance of success, and I’m pouring way too many hours into my own sites for me to take such an avoidable risk.

So with that said, you now know one of my deepest insecurities about being an SEO. I’m paranoid; I’m not denying that. We all know that it comes with the territory that you live & die by Google’s rankings as an SEO, but with more & more sites being randomly targeted, my paranoia has definitely peaked.

But I’m curious to hear what you guys/gals have to say about this. Am I way too paranoid? Do you think I’m arrogant to believe that Google cares about what I’m publishing on my blog? Comments are much appreciated, and I’ll be responding to any & all.

Note: my goal is not to sell you on anything in this post. I just wanted to give you honest feedback on what’s on my mind. But if you want, you can sign up for my newsletter; I send emails infrequently (once every 30-45 days), but I plan to keep you guys updated there on where I plan to publish more content, if not on the blog.

This post was written by...

Jon Cooper – who has written 119 posts on Point Blank SEO.

Jon Cooper+ is an SEO consultant based out of Gainesville, FL who specializes in link building. For more information on him and Point Blank SEO, visit the about page. Follow him on Twitter.

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63 Comments
  1. Matt Morgan says:

    Was this “fear” brought to the surface after what happened to Ann?

    • Jon Cooper says:

      It may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, but by no means is it the only thing in the last 90 days thats continued to shake me; a lot of the links in the post are to recent stories.

  2. Ben Meyers says:

    I am blogging more. In fact I have increased my blogging to make as much noise as possible. We have SEO people claiming to be affected by Negative SEO, we have bad advice being dished out on a daily basis and Cutts has us chasing our tail trying to stay safe. I refuse to let them win. I blog to vent and share ideas. I don;t do it for traffic, sales or Google approval. I comment on post to share my thoughts and illicit thought.

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Thanks Ben; that’s all righteous and all, but if you really think one medium level SEO blogger is going to make them change the way a company of that size does things, that’s very optimistic thinking. That was sort of the way I felt when I first started blogging 3 years ago, but as time past, my sentiment changed.

      • Ben Meyers says:

        Jon, I see a lot of different SEO’s starting to ban together. People are upset with the horrible suggestions that get posted as fact. I think the what happened to MBG last week may have woken a lot of people up. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” That is a great moto to live by.

  3. AJ Ghergich says:

    Great post Jon! I think this is the fear that many in the industry have even if we do not voice it. Some of us hide behind our cloak of white hat but I believe that is just a self-soothing mantra. Look what just happened to Portent.

    The fear becomes larger the more you have to lose. When I started out I had 0 to lose so I sold text link ads and pretty much ignored Google’s guidelines altogether.

    Eventually as you get older or have something to lose you long for more security. Also, for me buying links and other gray hat activities was simply not emotionally rewarding work.

    I have found a very happy place with creating and promoting content. This gives me a creative outlet I can be proud of (Its fun to make cool shit) and adheres to Google’s guidelines.

    However, I think the fear that I share with you is that I could wake up tomorrow and Google could say. Hey I see you are really kicking ass with infographics and gaining tons of links and thousands of social shares…we decided this must be spam…you are out!

    I would be powerless to stop Google from doing this as would anyone else in our industry…so thus the fear. I rationalize this fear away but it is still there.

    What I have decided to do going forward is that while I do not really trust Google (they change their mind too much on the rules) I know I have to work “with” them.

    So what I am doing now is focusing on things Google CAN’T ban. You publish an infographic and put it on 200 crap directories…that is an activity that Google could easily ban and punish. You publish an infographic and get it posted on Upworthy or the NYT? That is never going to get banned.

    Almost anything the General public can eventually scale will get banned. White or Black will not enter into the equation. If it becomes fairly easy to do…it’s going to get treated like spam.

    So my advice to you is to focus on the HARD to do things…the impossible links…the activities Google will never ban. You will sleep better at night or at least it’s a little white lie you can tell yourself to sleep better ;)

    Keep up the good fight. Can’t wait for your next post.

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Thanks AJ! I totally agree about building defensible links.

      My only concern lies in that they could ban whatever they feel like banning. They make the rules, and they could bend them in any/all circumstance if they want to.

      Chances are you’re going to get links (whether you built them or not) from questionable sites (i.e. scrapers), and if they really wanted to, they could use those as the reason for targeting you.

      I’m just saying it’s not as simple as just getting links that are hard to get. The interpretation of what that means, plus the effects of doing real shit (again, i.e. scrapers picking up your content), still leaves an open door.

      • Ian says:

        Even what we would consider defensible links, in sufficient pattern, show the intent of “manipulation’ (read: increased rankings). You can get penalized for anything (if you don’t have VC money, apparently).

  4. Doc Sheldon says:

    Welcome to the party, Jon! ;)
    I can suggest a quick home remedy for that fear…. it readily converts to rage. Which, by the way, is what my recent post on The Meld was… not a helpless plea. A good kick in the crotch would be more effective than a plea, but it’d take a lot of us to field a boot big enough to do that. In the meantime, I’ll content myself with raging.

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Thanks Doc!! :)

      Totally understand; my apologies for the way I linked it. More so meant that it was helpless because what are the chances that any of those people at Google read that & give a crap?

      But if this site was penalized for the same thing (and “thing” is difficult to describe in this case since there is no explanation for the penalty…), I’d be raging quite a bit too.

  5. Scott McKirahan says:

    What is really sick here is the fact that we have all been brainwashed into thinking there are things we should and should not do to get our sites to rank better – things that have absolutely nothing to do with the quality of a website. At the beginning, Google’s concept of using backlinks to judge a site’s importance was revolutionary and was an excellent idea BEFORE there really was an SEO community that learned how to exploit it. Backlinks are a horrible way of judging the quality of a website these days. Even “good” links from quality sites can be a result of nothing more than a “boys” club. People are jumping on social now and that’s even easier to abuse than backlinks are. Wait until the hammer falls on that in the next year or two!

    The fact is, Google’s algorithm is completely broken now. They have no way at all of judging how to rank websites anymore. We are made to feel like it is something that we’ve done wrong when the problem clearly lies with the search engine, itself. Heck, all of the major search engines are so clueless, they can’t even tell you which is the most relevant page on a single site (which is why you see the same site showing up multiple times for a given query). So, instead of fixing their algorithm – making it so that it truly DOES show the very best sites for each query and not the most popular ones – they decide to rank the big boys at the top for every query, whether they deserve to be there or not (they “trust” them more). They convince small website owners that it is their fault they are not ranking higher and laugh as they force them to pay for ads, instead.

    If the SEO industry is as good as they say they are, they would be spearheading a worldwide movement to boycott Google in favor of a search engine that gives much better results – like duckduckgo.com. Let’s put you to the test “gurus.” If you think you are so damned good at spreading the word and marketing, use your power to bring Google to its knees. I dare you!

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Thanks Scott!

      Great point on the signals G is using to rank sites; it’s definitely broken to an extent. More so, I was meaning that since Google is the powerhouse of search, and since search is how people find websites, it’s scary what they’re capable of doing with the power that they have. Them not ranking sites correctly is a whole ‘nother discussion :)

      • Scott McKirahan says:

        I totally agree with you Jon about the power Google has and how they can (and DO) abuse it. Little guys get hit with a manual penalty; they are down for months, years or never recover. The Big Boys get hit, they are slapped on the wrist for a week. ANYTHING we do to increase our SERPs is technically search engine manipulation. At any time at all they can change the rules.

        They only have the power because we have given it to them. They were once a fledgling company that nobody had heard of. It can happen again but it won’t be Bing or Yahoo that overtakes them. It’ll be a smaller company offering a different search experience – one with more relevant results. Like Google did, they’ll start at the grass roots level, marketing to universities in the hopes of raising a whole new generation of web surfers.

  6. Gene Eugenio says:

    The implication of your blog post, as honest and deeply felt as it is, should cause Google some concern. The reality is that Google needs SEOs and linkbuilders and SEOcentric content creators. The problem is that Google wants to corral these people into what IT wants based on ITS terms. It is a one-sided relationship. Big G’s been acting like an abuse boyfriend or husband and it isn’t out of the realm of possibility for its heavyhandedness to blow up in its face. This is why SEO is fast morphing into social content management.

    • Doc Sheldon says:

      Even worse, Gene… they want us to follow standards that are deliberately vague. “You want something… try telling us what you want, without being cute!”

  7. Jim Thornton says:

    I’ve had a similar slow churning feeling from my start in SEO – 2012ish so I’ve started doing a couple things:
    - consuming more sunshine and rainbows type content than red flag type stuff (ty moz)
    - started going hard at paid search and display to hedge my risk and inform architecture
    - started getting picky about picking up clients from standpoints of quality, USP, and willingness to participate in the process
    With the blogging vs. not blogging, I don’t really get the concern, maybe bc I have no profile. I think we will see more private forums and hangouts as time goes on. And honestly, the whole (over?)sharing thing at blog level is all pretty ridiculous to me. Other industries don’t do it instinctively. We preach it bc it attracts links, mentions, and its the trend, but it’s always felt kind of unprofessional to me.

  8. Gael says:

    I think Google didn’t really change.

    The masks just fell off. Most search people at Google have always been against any kind of SEO and ranking gaming. Matt Cutts kept a poker face for a while mostly because they were afraid of all the FTC and anti trust stuff pending for them and didn’t want to look like they’re bullying webmasters.

    Now that they won most of those cases and they know they don’t have to be worried about how they rank stuff, they can act as they always intended to act and fight/bully people.

    One thing I really focus on for that one reason is to build a long term relationship with the people reading my sites. They may originally come from organic but I work on getting their email, follow me on Facebook/Twitter etc because at least I can capitalize on the traffic I got in the past forever.

    SEO is doomed to become a resistance type industry where secret groups meet and talk, people give each other away etc.

    Good move not to share too much on link building.

    Gael

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Thanks Gael; that’s a really interesting way to look at it from a legal perspective. Who knows it’ll get to that resistance point, but I feel it’s certainly possible..

  9. Adam Smith says:

    Hi Jon,

    We just had our website shot down last week with a Manual Penalty.
    We believe it was caused by a new affiliate blasting our site with 21,000 backlinks overnight, having forgotten to attach their affiliate tracking code (and No Follow them).

    The shoot down literally came within 1 week, to the day.
    Our affiliate manager didn’t spot it, I didn’t look at it (because it’s an affiliate site, those links don’t pass Page Rank – duh!) and now we’ve got a huge clean up to do before sending a plea to Google…

    Only problem is, the site is built on 6 years of things that Google doesn’t like today.
    So if the site does come back, it’s going to be a shadow of its former self.

    Meanwhile, 3 marketing people may be well out of a job…

    • Adam, I can pretty much guarantee any penalty last week was related to myblogguest not your affiliate site. Plenty of people got hit, even if you didn’t use it but those who linked to you did

  10. Lorne Fade says:

    It is definitely a scary truth for many of us, we are at the mercy of the Google algo. There is changes happening on an almost daily basis and its becoming increasingly harder to measure effectiveness of link building campaigns especially when the line between white/grey/black hat starts to become as skewed as it is. I have been trying to get my site out of the gutter for awhile now and its frustrating to say the least especially when i see new sites pop up and rank in no time with very low quality content, zero social engagement and an array of spammy backlinks. SEO is still alive and well but I think without some meaningful measurements in place we are all basically throwing shit at a wall hoping it will stick.

  11. Nevyana Karaksheva says:

    Hi Jon,

    I really enjoy your writings and creativity, thus I am a bit surprised by your current stand. Don’t you think that you are turning into a victim of this “fear-building tactic” as you call it and thus actually making it work.

    On the fun side I’d share a great thought that applies perfectly to this situation:“It’s not worth doing something unless someone, somewhere, would much rather you weren’t doing it.”

    Don’t get me wrong I am aware of the responsibility one bears for his customers, but it is in their and one’s own interest to believe in what one does (that is rendering high quality, relevance and white hat service – as you’ve said) having clean consciousness is what gives you the right to frown upon whimsical restrains of an engine that instead of assisting has adopted the privilege to punish as well.

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Thanks Nevyana. I actually admitted in the end that yeah, it worked on me. And I really don’t care. When you’ve got too much to lose, it’s not worth trying to “stand up against the machine” or anything.

      At the end of the day, I’m here to make money. I’m not here to fix the industry or anything (unless it pays!).

  12. Nick LeRoy says:

    I’ve actually considered shutting down my personal blog. I tend to like to push the limits ans show what works in Google today within my posts. Since I don’t have any products associated with my blog (like long tail pro – spencer haws or empire flippers and their website flipping) all the risk is on me. Let’s be honest, the time used to blog could be better used to work on my side sites. It’s probably a little bit of ego that has motivated me to continue writing. I’m thinking about simply chasing the dollars and say fuck any notoriety.

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Thanks Nick! Glad you get what I’m hitting at.

      But I’m not even trying to do it for the notoriety; let’s face it. I might’ve started this blog as a hobby, but now I do it for profitability, even if it’s not short-term. In my case, the two overlapped as my blog somehow managed to gain traction.

  13. Ann Smarty says:

    “The fear becomes larger the more you have to lose” – Well, as the one who lost everything, I can say, that too will pass :)

    On a more serious note, I am sorry this has happened. I never really intended to be the reason of such a huge slap. I wish they just came down for me. For what it’s worth, I really did create the monster (even with best intentions). I am willing to bear all that responsibility. But I hate the fact that other people got hit too!

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Thanks Ann for stopping by!! :)

      In your case with MBG, can’t really put the blame on you. People need to know the risks involved of what they’re doing.

  14. Travis says:

    Jon,

    You have one of my favorite link building blogs to read and it is sad to think you may no longer be sharing the great information you previously did on your blog.

    In 2012 I wrote a post talking about guest posting for traffic referral purposes with the secondary intent of higher search rankings.

    Do you think we are going to see a big shift towards SEOs primarily becoming content marketers seeking referral traffic with links (and Google rankings) coming in as a secondary goal?

    I believe that using this strategy we are all free to share what we think and so long as posts are made on site that are likely to send referral traffic, we have effectively hedged ourselves against a complete loss of traffic from search.

    In addition, I have found that posting a keyword targeted article on a high authority site is a good way to put your information in front of people searching.. Create a topically similar article and sharing it on 2-3 sites (different views, tips, variables, etc..) seems to be the most effective way to ensure a strong presence for numerous keywords and you reduce your risk of losing search traffic as multiple sites would have to fail for a complete loss on your end.

    I hope you decide to continue blogging or at least share your thoughts on your own forum or in email as they are always appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Travis

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Thanks Travis! I really appreciate it man.

      In terms of your question – unless users shift from using search to find things (which doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon), I don’t see SEO losing its value. But at the same time, as SEO becomes more complex and possibly riskier, you’ll see marketers start to mine opportunities for referral traffic, which has been largely unexploited to date (not that it was never there, just never targeted as much as it should be).

  15. Jon,

    I will admit on the whole the Penalties dished out by Google are VERY harsh and it is all scare tactics, if Google is serious about making a message their are so many other more serious training courses offered by people in the market they can target, many run training courses which offer low quality methods and training like buying dropped domains and running branded links on the network and saying it is “Google Safe” haha it is VERY worrying the number of events I go and people are like have you watched the videos from blah blah, what are your thoughts on this method we are going to roll it out for new clients we have ect. I always say are you SERIOUS!!! It is the newbies who are doing HEAPS of damage and people who push these dodgy training courses.

    I guess the message here is many who uses MBG were used scaled methods which were low quality, we are working with numerous brands who have been hit VERY hard by penalties on the 20th, it is kind of getting annoying fixing up the mess but some one has to do it.

  16. Hi John,

    Really interesting article, and very eloquently put. I’ve never really kicked off in my blogging, despite my best intentions, and am starting to give it a real push this year. BUT, I’m sticking to stuff I feel will be the safer topics in the future – technical SEO (making sure you’re crawlable), and content creation and strategy (as in proper content strategy, not just a calendar of blog posts). The reason for this is I want to write, and talk about with other, aspects of our industry I can use for a brand (big or small) without risk of them getting slapped in the future.

    Point Blank has long been one of my favourite resources for link building thoughts, but wouldn’t blame you if you shifted tack slightly to cater for this new environment – there’s still plenty you can write on.

    What;s frustrating is perhaps the fact that there’s plenty of sites ranking using bad tactics, but unless you like risking the income of a client, you can’t replicate them. Until Google does a stronger job of filtering what is a good and bad link, this will continue for a while. You can’t just build a great website and visitors will come, but building a great website rather than just links is where my focus has shifted in past few years.

    • @Charlie – good point on Google filtering what is a good link and a bad link. There really needs to be no penalties for link building, just a filter process. Sooner or later (remember meta keywords anyone?) what is considered a useless SEO tactic, is dropped. All link building takes time and effort to create, no one is going to spend a second on something that doesn’t work. So good point, filter links they don’t like, allow links they do to produce the SEO benefit. I guess I am not the first person to have this thought but one that needs to be echoed, yet again.

  17. Enstine Muki says:

    Looks like everything whitehat today will gradually fade into the blackhat landscape the next few years Jon. The simple reason is that people over use and abuse the things that have been accepted to be correct but I don’t think allowing fear to rule is the corrective approach.

  18. Mark Hayes says:

    Hi John

    With Copyblogger removing comments from their blog the other day I think you are hitting the nail on the head with some of your ideas here. How long before other link building strategies that have been considered white hat for years are then suddenly considered spam by Google?

    I agree with Charlie, until Google can find a way to identify what is a good vs bad link then we are going to be playing this game for a while to come!

    • Clayton says:

      That’s actually a really good point @MarkHayes. I as well think this process of “scaring” people into not posting will be a game that’s played for a long time. Manual Penalties that have recently been happening are really what’s alarming to me.

      We’ve seen more and more manual penalties that it almost feels as if we’ve gotten to this point of micro-management by the spam team that has gone too far. I for one can’t wait to see how this all turns out.

  19. Hi John,

    I am really surprise why you are scared for frequent posting on your own blog ? I mean does Mr. G sees an active and informative blog as spam ? and yes as Einstein Muki said “Everything that is white hat today will become black hat in the next few years”.

    I am not an expert but I realize that Google doesn’t support to those guys who follows G’s guideline and white hat techniques, for example look at Google’s recent stance on guest posts. Due to some spammers Google close the doors for all. Google should improve its algo’s instead of closing all doors for ethical SEO’s.

  20. Puya says:

    Hi John,

    Thanks for posting this article. It takes a lot for a popular figure like yourself in the SEO community to come out and really point out what they’re afraid of. The truth is that (I think) all of us are in deep sh*t. Let’s face it. Google has monopolized the search market so much that a client can lose their livelihood and they can lose it overnight.

    So what do we do? Is this how we want to make money? Because the client is sure as hell not going to be blaming Google. This is a dangerous game we’re playing. Our clients pay premium dollar to do well online and increase visibility.

    I don’t know what else to say other than we have to put our eggs in a bunch of different baskets just in case Google decides to take a fat dump on all the SEOs and online marketers.

    We’ve spent so much time and money on our new website, which should be launched in a couple of months. I really want to do this right way, which could be the wrong way next month.

  21. Tommy says:

    Jon, long time reader, first time commenter.

    I highly respect you and all the ideas you’ve given me throughout the years. (hat tip)

    With that being said, never be paranoid. Just adapt, mitigate risks, and move to a monthly subscription model for your information, and remember that Google is just like a girlfriend that will always complain regardless if you do things right or wrong.

    Cheers my friend.

  22. George says:

    Jon, i cant ‘t say you are wrong or paranoid, but thinking of you being “scared” of G, i really don’t know where the www will turn into.

    At least, internet needs great content like the one you offer. If you think that way, what others should do? In my opinion, we all need to focus on this untill we make up our minds and try to help each other (by just linking naturally).

    And believe me, you guys do this, you link to each other. In countries like mine people are not so open minded.

    Back to the point, if G want to destroy the internet its ok. I will stop blogging, or even surfing, when i see a site like yours penalized. Untill now, i only see “scrap” lose their rankings and it’s ok with that!

  23. Mario says:

    In the beginning, Google was trying to understand the internet. Now the internet is trying to understand Google”

  24. Steve B says:

    If most of your traffic is organic, then of course you have a reason to be paranoid. For people like me that just started a blog not too long ago, it’s easy to say “kiss my a..” to Google because we have little to lose.

    Google is feeling high and mighty right now, but they are biting the hand that feeds them. And, I’m talking about everyone. Eventually, even the great one can fall.

  25. Kris says:

    So true. One of my sites was totally destroyed by Google. I’ve tried 3 times and removed more than 2,000 links from my site, disavowed another 3,000 (which covers nearly EVERY link to my site) and still not enough. Yes, I did build some crap links. But nothing devious. It’s a legit site.

    And “poof”, I woke up one day and 10+ years is gone. Why a manual penalty and not just allow the algorithm to bury me?

    I guess it’s Google’s way of admitting their algo sucks! Oh well.

  26. I think there is a lot of fear going around about Google and moving from defensive to offensive tactics against web spam / search engine manipulation. The offensive nature is definitely scaring the well intended out there, but we always have to remember that Google is trying to provide good results to its users. If they penalize good sites with good content (on mass) they are shooting themselves in the foot aren’t they.

  27. Jorge says:

    Hi,

    I… well, not me, one of my sites… was penalized by Google some time ago. I learned a lot during those days:

    - First, that Google is just another domain on the Internet you could buy at $12/year if it was available.
    - Second, that there is a life without Google, and it can be good. Just as there can be a life without Facebook or Twitter or PornHub.
    - Third, that a Google penalty really shows you who likes your site. (Before the penalty my site had 90K visitors a month; during the penalty the site had 30K visitors a month, which is not despicable at all)
    - Fourth, the most important one, that if people think Google has any power, it is because “they have bought”. Look at Ann’s site (MyBlogGuest.com). It was penalised by Google a few days ago and her best way to fight it was to include…

    User-agent: Googlebot
    Disallow: /

    …on her site. Very bold, I must admit, but I think she’s set an example. That was the end of her problem with Google, and the community is live and kicking.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. Google is a popular site, as popular as Facebook or Pornhub or Twitter or YouTube. I don’t mean to deny something THAT obvious. But moving from “let’s see what I can get from Google” to “I will do whatever Google says I must do” is plain ridiculous. We are free people. We can do with our sites whatever we want, period. There is no need to be afraid.

    Can you imagine what would happen to Google if they penalised all of us? Ha! There would be no results!

    Trusting Google to get all our traffic is —to say the least— naïve. Google should be considered a supplementary source of traffic, never the only one.

    Even if you are penalised, there is a life for your site without them.

    My 0.02.

    • George says:

      +1 (and i dont mean through Google + :@). Great words Jorge! I absolutely agree with you.

  28. Ivan says:

    Guys, the issue here is very simple. Most of you think that something is “White hat”, when in reality, it just isn’t. Google is clear about one thing: every link that you did not earn on a basis of having great content is simply black hat. They don’t care if you call it guest blogging, content marketing blabla. We all know that in the eyes of their Webmaster guidelines, all of these tactics are black hat. This hasn’t changed for years, it’s only that they are being more aggressive this time. The same rules applied when they were passive, and we all used to break them all the time.

    My point is, Google hasn’t changed their opinion on what “white hat” or “black hat” really is. They have changed their tactics from being passive to being proactive, and they won’t stop that soon. I mean, think about it, they’re one of the biggest companies in the world. How would you feel if you owned such a company and a bunch of nerds exploited your weaknesses all the time. You’d get pissed, right? Especially when they brag about their technology all the time.

  29. Chris says:

    Have we really got to this stage? Not blogging because we’re afraid of Google?

    The simple fact is that the Google SERPs have become sick, very sick, and pandering to them in this way is not going to cure the problem. By over relying on authority in the current algorithm Google are now giving search results that are so predictable they’re almost irrelevant. Bing/Yahoo provide us with only a fraction of the traffic of Google but it is consistent and I intend to reward them for that in the future. Perhaps there should be an international Disallow Googlebot YEAR, never mind day, to see whether they can start to act like responsible partners rather than the personality-disorder teenagers they seem to want to remain.

  30. Do not stop blogging is my advice.

    Google is a source of traffic that is diminishing in its worth and quality. With my own blog and BHU forum I have decided not to target Google at all. If Google wants to rank me fine, but i’m not going to stop good practices and giving my readers what they want in order to fit in with Google’s backwards guidelines on the layout or marketing strategy of my blog.

    What bloggers need is independence of Google, once you make that independence work for you (i’m sure you already do) then the reliance and meaning of Google is reduced.

    PS* I can assure you, everything I said in my blog post about what Google did to me is true, I try to be as truthful and accurate as possible, i’m not a bullshitter.

    Come over to blackhatunderground.net John and I can sort you out with a free membership to the forum, if it is something you’re interested in.

  31. NickM says:

    Jon
    I’ve long been a believer in keeping your head beneath the parapet (and thereby avoid getting it shot-off by Google) and there’s something to be said for keeping trade secrets close to your chest.
    But where I’d disagree is with the concept that ‘white hat link building’ actually exists, surely it’s an oxymoron?
    Any attempt to solicit links could be interpreted by G as violating their guidelines (and that includes everything from running competitions to publishing white papers) and SEO is fast becoming a game where looks really do count…so long as you look natural!
    I for one will be continuing to keep my head beneath the parapet, but I hope you don’t as your posts make for good reading.

  32. Ashley says:

    I totally see what you are saying and i don’t blame you. I’m very reluctant to post about any tactics i may use publicly and keep everything very general on my websites (even though my techniques are mostly white-hat/grey-hat). I go into more detail only when speaking one to one to clients or in smaller more controlled groups… i guess it’s similar to what you said when you wrote “I still want to post here because I know how helpful it can be for some people, but I’m debating whether or not to start publishing more content privately through my other channels than on a public blog or via social media.”

  33. As has been pointed out by numerous SEO’s, Google’s manual penalties are a sign of their inability to control guest posting spam algorithmically. Anyone that thinks that Google has figured out how to combat the spammers tricks should try a search for designer apparel. The results are infested with spammy pages from offshore copyright infringing counterfeiters. They effectively use: 1) hidden links; 2) spawning pages with geographic locations, and 3) scraping text from U.S. based websites. The fact that over 1,000,000 copyright infringing URL’s are reported daily to Google daily provides an indication of the scale of the spammy pages that are being created. And if Google was more effective at blocking these spammy pages, the copyright infringement and counterfeiting problems would not be as enormous as they are.

  34. RichardF says:

    Does anyone have an executable plan to topple G from the throne? Certainly G-net is no longer an organic field in which to grow a site. So what if Organic farming is “harder”. There are many that would rather thrive organically. Especially those that have been damaged by the pesticide laden and over-fertilized place that is G. Push a little to alternative search to searchers, create a universal database of websites, just a list by category, allow each domain to list 10 records. Then as a searcher, I can find the entire universe of services in a category. Many of those good strong businesses that haven’t drunk the goolaid, And admittedly, a number of weeds would exist in each category, but they wouldn’t be able to overgrow that corner of the garden.

    G gets its power from everyone fawning over it and paying homage to it and dragging others to the Alter of G to kneel and pray.

    The entire SEO industry, hundreds of thousands of people owe their livelihood to G. It of course has created this industry and now everyone keeps hoping it to grow to bring more manna from heaven. But what if. . .?

    What if, site owners were willing to forego G ranking for a little more stability? What if 60% of the websites moved slowly but steadily to a different alter? and All that was left at G-field was a few idiots that still thought they could game the gamer. Search had left,

    LinkedIn groups is an example. There are something like 3 million groups. And they all have a continuous stream of posts, but no one is reading them, almost like everyone has left the room but the TV is on playing endless infomercials. LinkedIn groups are no longer generally relevant.

    Why can’t G end up: “No longer generally relevant”?

  35. Vince Lin says:

    The question I always ask myself Jon is: How would people find my site if search engines didn’t exist?

  36. GregB says:

    Man I agree, Google is definitely playing the offensive role instead of defensive, and watching a site tank because a reviewer decided that it deserved a permanent manual penalty is BS! Sure some website deserve penalties, we all get that, but the web spam team/reviewers could be way, way more clear inside of the manual actions tab what needs to be rectified in order to be “clean” in their eyes.

  37. Great Article. I am Agree with you. all Tips is Really helpful for all Blogger. Thank you very much for Sharing with us.

  38. dave says:

    Damn this is a sad message. Did you see what happened to Charles from GOS? Seems like there might be some truth to this afterall…

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