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One Shocking Secret to Beat Google Penguin

One Shocking Secret to Beat Google Penguin

In 2011 many affiliate marketers were hit hard by the Google Panda update. Just when we thought it was safe, Google unleashed the new-fangled “Penguin” algorithm update, which once again has the potential to alter the affiliate marketing landscape (for better or for worse, depending on whom you are)

The purpose of the Penguin update, it seems, is to reduce the amount of low-quality/spammy websites appearing in Google’s search engine rankings. In particular, Penguin intends to target websites that are using “blackhat” link building methods, or sites which are overly-optimized for SEO. However, it’s not changing your backlinking strategies that will yield the best results for boosting your rankings post-Penguin.

In this blog post I’m going to show you how to beat the Google Penguin Update by making just one simple change to your web strategy. Rather than boring you with complicated dozens of complicated theories or methods, I’ll show you the one shockingly simple thing you need to do in order to beat Google’s Penguin update for good. It doesn’t involve “ethical backlinks”, or completely changing your site structure dramatically, or anything like that. In fact, what I’m about to teach you is one of those things that is so simple, you’ll be kicking yourself for not realizing it earlier!

You see Google has been moving increasingly towards rewarding truly high-quality content in the search engines. The Panda update of 2011 was released with the intention of reducing sites that weren't offering enough quality content to search users. As much as it can be painful to admit it, many article directories, Web 2.0 sites, and so-called "content farms" really didn't offer that much in terms of quality content. Instead, they were lots of words for the sake of trying to get high rankings for certain keywords.

So Panda first punished sites that were thin on useful, informative, and fresh content. Penguin then came along and penalized sites that were attempting to "game" themselves into higher search rankings than they really deserved through backlinking (this is an interesting thing to note, as basically any form of SEO or link-building is considered "Grey Hat" by Google - tolerable at best)

What this tells us is that Google wants websites that provide the content search users want. Google wants quality! Google wants fresh, exciting content. And if you can give Google what it wants, you'll be able to beat the "black and white animal updates"!

So what is the one shockingly simple secret to beating the Google Penguin update?

Focus on your content, BEFORE you focus on links.

If you can provide truly fresh and informative content to your readers that isn't spun, re-worded, or words for the sake of words, then you'll be light years ahead of your competition. I've stressed this a lot, but I'll keep on stressing the importance of quality content over any SEO or site optimization forever and a day (and that's coming from a big SEO fan)

Here's a quick check list of what you need to do to supercharge your content (and send the Google Penguin back to the Ice Age):

  • Make sure every article on your site is at least 500 words long
  • Avoid spinning articles on your own site
  • Don't stuff keywords, or "keyword drop" - focus on making your articles and content readable for humans, not search engines
  • Focus your articles around problems, and then provide solutions to those problems
  • Write in an entertaining, compelling manner
  • Research as much as possible - even a brief look through Wikipedia or niche forums is better than nothing
  • Avoid weasel words and write only content of value

If you can follow the above list of guidelines when creating your site content then you will be able to beat Google Penguin (and any future "quality content" updates) It really is as simple as that! Google wants high quality content to deliver to its users - and if you're in a position to offer this then you will do much better than others.

I'm not saying that SEO and link building isn't important, but that you should get your content quality in order first. Only then should you turn your attention to link building and SEO!

If you want a full guide to beating Google's Penguin update, including how to build links like a pro post-Penguin, then you need AffiloBlueprint 3.0. Mark Ling has put together what I believe is the only comprehensive course out there that will show you how to make profitable affiliate websites, post-Penguin. Check out how AffiloBlueprint 3.0 will help you smash Google Penguin here.

Thanks for reading. If you want to know more about Google Penguin or how to create great content then leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you! 

20 Comments Add your comment
  • Reply Bryce Easton2961 days ago

    The biggest thing i have noticed since these updates apart from the drop in traffic (was minimal for me, about 5-10% across all sites, with others increasing as well) was the HUGE increase in quality of the traffic i am receiving. Much higher converting, more pageviews per visitor, lower bounce rates, higher interaction (subscriptions, commenting).

    My Tips:
    - Use Google Products (Google+, Blogspot, Adsense)
    - Backlink organically (let people create links for you by creating content worth sharing)
    - Use social media (engage your community, create a "brand")
    - Let your users create content for you (onsite forums, comments, submissions)

  • Reply Richard Ellis2961 days ago

    that's a really timely article - your point about research is a really good point - in fact the article could have been titled "research-research-research". one thing I have learnt so far from AFB 3.0 is that content needs to 'engage' readers with an issue or issues, and to provide readers with some direction about how to resolve, or at the very least, minimise their problem and make them want to buy from your site.

    great article, thanks

  • Reply Allan Yarbrough2961 days ago

    While I agree in principle with the premise of your article, “quality is good.” I don't believe that your post accurately reflects what actually happened... not even close.

    One of my affiliate sites got "bit" by Panda 3.5 (is that the right number?)... then, I got "pecked to death" by penguin, So, I know whereof I speak, as Shakespeare might have said.

    I got an "unnatural backlink":message as a part of the last panda. I dropped about 1 page in my rankings almost exactly a month after the unnatural backlinks message hit my webmaster account. I dropped from page 1 above the fold to pages 2 or 3, depending upon keyword. It then recovered a bit but not to my former positions.

    But, after Penguin struck a week or two later, if memory serves me, my site dropped from above the fold, page 2 or 3 (depending upon keyword) to as low as pages 10 to 30. My positions recovered from the lows, which, by the way, got worse when I dropped my syndicated feeds from my site’s content, back to where they are today after I put syndicated content back into the site. I deduce from that that maybe Google isn’t down on syndicated content because it’s syndicated since originators want it spread around. They are down on plagiarized content which isn’t the same thing.

    I reviewed my backlinks and only found one that looked remotely like it wasn't "natural;" whatever that is. I was never able to find it again when I got serious about fixing backlinks because I estimate that around 40% of the backlinks in my webmaster account went to non-existent pages which I presume were now dead pages... kinda hard to fix'em if you can't find'em.

    As far as the "spamy," thin, low quality site contention goes, I strongly disagree with your assumption... Quite frankly, penguin had very little to do with quality and everything to do with killing product name/product number keyword focused affiliate sites.
    It doesn't matter which model you used authority or silo, if you were oriented toward primarily one product you got nailed. I was an authority model site and I frequently posted and my main articles were high quality, original content. Although I had one, flag-ship product, training turned out to be my primary focus… The product just helped to pay the bills.

    As far as I know, I had no spun content on my site. And, yes, I did use RSS-feed syndicated content... but it is keyword targeted and when I see junk, I pull it down. My site is not a "thin" site. It had over 500 decent to good to excellent articles and posts.


    It’s in the pudding as they say.

    Maybe I’m wrong because I’ve made a decision to partially abandon the site for the time being (too much else happening) and haven’t studied the situation in depth or to the point of statistical certainty. But here’s what I found with a superficial analysis of the events that I lived through…

    … It’s quite simple, really. The last Panda and the Penguin Algorithm change combined to become a “surgical strike” of extreme precision… Target?... Affiliate marketing. The hit the bull-eye.

    Post-penguin is now putting all the product producers in page 1, slot 1 in the SERPs for all product name keywords that I checked. Wikipedia, Amazon, big authority sites like Mayo Clinic and similar Google favorites are not far behind.

    I have yet to see an affiliate site that pushes a product above the product site itself. It used to be the other way around. But as I said, I haven’t done an exhaustive study… Just enough to make a decision as to how I want to proceed with my one site that got hit.

    The last Panda and Penguin may have killed some spam sites but I believe that it was merely “collateral damage.” The last panda was a firing squad to get rid of product keyword focused sites that used “bought” backlinks (hey, you can’t survive without them) and it wounded many of us. Penguin fired the coup de grace to put the wounded sites that were still alive out of their misery.

    A well done article but I believe that you totally missed it… Google got rid of one of their pet peeves, single product focused affiliate marketing sites.

    What’s next?

  • Reply Guy Nadeau2960 days ago

    Very useful information Sam. Thank you.

    Especially when your intention is to build a long term thing that will still be up and out there after any soft or severe storm that might be ahead.

    We are often tempted (me first) to take the short way, to skip important steps so we get there as fast as we can. But it's not always the best strategy.

    It tends to prove one thing, that content still is king and doesn't seem to give up its throne any time soon.

    As i have heard from someone else, building your websites with your visitors in mind is the best strategy.


  • Reply paulie692960 days ago

    Thanks for an informative post Sam! :) I would have to agree with you. SEO, by definition is manipulating search engine results. And manipulating search engine results is completely against Google's Terms Of Service.

    brekkers • 2553 days ago

    Google puts out a guide to SEO best practices....I am too lazy to look for it, but just google it.....it will come out and it is made by them....

  • Reply Barbara Marian2959 days ago

    As a new person in the internet marketing business(or at least trying to be) and for someone like me who doesn't know very much yet, reading all this and not understanding very much of it makes me fearful wheather I can even do affiliate marketing and creating a web site to promote it. When I read that quality content is very important (which I definately agree) in order to rank up there in the pages, it makes me ask where and how do I get this content if you are not a writer yourself and was planning on using others to create the content. If I do this will my my affiliate sites get "bit" by Panda 3.5? I wouldn't even know where to start or what to do about it if something happened, then I would be wasting my money, time and effort in doing a website if it's going be on page 30 or so. Because I am so new at all this it scares me to death and makes me think twice weather I can do an affiliate website promotion. I would really like to have some professional comments on this for me in reguard to all this before I continue any further.


  • Reply Man And Van • 2957 days ago

    Getting penalised for over optimizing your website is not a fair deal. Cut throat competition in the open market and here on internent Mr. Gooogle penalised over optimised websites.

    No one is forcing people to buy from over optimised websites. The competition is there and poeple needed to get ther site optimised. People like me who work hard all day and at the night work on their website to rank well is not something illegal or un-ethical.

    The main reason to launch this algorithm change and hit over optimised sites was to target Paid Search Results. Mr. Google wants more paid search results so that the Google Pockets can get deep.

    If my site is running good, getting more hit, eventually it will be in the eye of Mr. Google and and that why my site got hit. There was not a single paid link exchange on my site.

    Thanks Mr. Google, well there is plenty of rooms in your domain still yet to be captured... :)

  • Reply York Graphic Designers • 2956 days ago


    Thanks for sharing your points which I agree with. I took my eye off the ball with my site and barely added any new content for a couple of months due to being too busy and got a bit of a hit with the penguin update but have since written some articles which adhere to the points you have made above and the site seems to have to returned to its original position. Its all about content, content, content!!!


  • Reply Grady Pruitt2956 days ago

    I believe my brother, James has said (and I recently heard confirmed by Matt Cutts in one of his videos) that keyword density is one of the most overrated stats out there. Yet I still hear people talk about how you have to have your keyword in as much as 5% of your test. That's 5 times per 100 words... And I think that is WAY too much!

    Just prior to the latest Panda/Penguin update, I had looked at my pages that were in the front page in Google. Of the more than 10 pages I had at the time, only one or two had a keyword density over .5%. That's HALF of the usual LOWEST recommended density.

    If you have a 800 word article, then having your keyword in there twice is enough. Three times, to me, might be pushing it. Any more than that, and it starts sounding stuffy and forced.

    Granted, I've been hit by Penguin and have yet to recover, but I'm focusing on my content first, both for my own site and for my promotional materials. After that, then I worry about where I'm placing my links. If I get rankings, great. If I don't, that's okay too because I'm working now on generating direct traffic from my efforts and any search traffic is just a bonus.

    I must admit I didn't do as well as I intended last month, but this is a new month, and I'm raring to go!

  • Reply Web Hosting Juice • 2950 days ago

    1. You sounds like Matt Cutts, i.e. someone from Google. You know... "Just focus on making quality contents and we will take care of you..." Haha. :D

    2. No one has really recovered from Penguin. Not a single report from the web (other than WPMU.org which I think is manually lifted). So nothing has been confirmed that will work.

    3. The Panda is to bring quality sites. The Penguin is to kick away people gaming the system. But Google doesn't know that a lot of sites that are gaming the system are actually quality sites. So that means a lot of quality sites has been filtered. And not surprisingly, sites that are too lazy to game the system are low quality sites and these are what we are seeing all over the SERPs.

    4. The biggest joke is that Matt Cutts said it affects only 3% of the results....

  • Reply twfitz2949 days ago

    Very helpful information for new internet marketers, Sam, as it provides clarity and perspective as to the relative importance of quality content, SEO, and link building. A great foundation for further learning effective internet marketing.

  • Reply William S • 2944 days ago

    I am new to affiliate marketing, this article really makes you think that there isn't room for beginners. They want keywords, but not too many. They want content, but not too much. They want back links, but be careful.

    I'm really beginning to wonder if there is still room for a beginner. It's shame that google can have so much influence on the web when you cannot even get in touch with them.

    Well what the heck, full speed ahead.

  • Reply Nick @ Cambridge Marketing • 2941 days ago

    An interesting observation and good to see the comments. I don't believe this was just aimed at affiliates although these were obviouslty targeted as they are well known black hatters.
    There have been more and more webmasters using black hat techniques to keep up with competition.
    The temptation to buy xrumer and all the other black hat software can become to much and now companies, affiliates and agencies are paying the penalty for over optimising content, duplication and spam linking.

  • Reply Pstewart • 2940 days ago

    google penguin is the worst mistake google ever made, well not really but it is very messed up for unpopular sites to grow.. made my site go way back in results

  • Reply Neil • 2937 days ago

    I entirely agree with the comments of web hosting juice. My site has been severely affected by Penguin, and I am amazed to see some of the junk, almost unrelated websites now appearing front page for my keywords. The SERPS is now providing worse result to web users than before.

  • Reply David Belt • 2893 days ago

    Hi there just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few of the pictures
    aren't loading properly. I'm not sure why but I think its a linking issue.
    I've tried it in two different web browsers and both show the same results.

  • Reply Trevor • 2888 days ago

    One of my sites seems to have been hammered by Penguin. I say, seems to have been, because it happened about a month after the update. Traffic just dried up.

    People talk about content, but I've seen sites replace me on the first few results in Google for a couple of long tail keywords, that are 2-page sites, with very little, poorly written content, and an ugly design. Sites you'd run away from as soon as the page loaded. Yet Google rates these sites better than mine, which is ludicrous, and very frustrating.

    And what I don't get is why it took a month.

  • Reply Richard Brokenshire • 2881 days ago

    I do okay with writing posts for my blog. They get indexed in a day or two by Google. Some of my posts get ranked quickly as well. I have had posts as high as #20 in Google without doing any back linking at all. So I decided to buy some social bookmarking links from a guy on fiverr.

    I did this for my #20 post. It worked. Well, it worked for a couple of days.

    It immediately went to #1 and the traffic was great. I averaged 300 new visitors for 2 days. I thought I had hit the mother lode. Well, on day 3 I went to #2 and traffic dropped to 125 new visitors.

    On day 4 my post was no where to be found.

    Was this Penguin at work?

    I only got 143 social bookmarks but I guess they must not have been high quality. Does anyone know what happened? Thank you!

  • Reply pozycjonowanie stron Rzeszów • 2713 days ago

    Normally I don't read article on blogs, however I would like to say that this write-up very forced me to take a look at and do it! Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thank you, very nice article.

  • Reply James • 2709 days ago

    This has given me a greater insight into the issues that penguin has brought and will help me create a better SEO strategy for my sites in the future. Thank you.

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