SEO In A Post-Penguin World

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A few months ago, thousands of website owners woke up and found that their world had been turned upside down. While they were fast asleep, Google flipped the switch on a new update, codename: Penguin.

If you spend any time on marketing forums and/or blogs, you’ve probably seen the name thrown around… along with a bunch of cursing and symbols like these *#&@*!

The goal of the Penguin update, more or less, was to reward what Google considered to be useful, valuable, user-approved content. To do this, however, Google pretty much had to slap a bunch of sites that had employed a bunch of sneaky tactics designed to trick Google’s algorithm into giving them higher search rankings — aka “spam.”

This is by no means the first time Google has done something like this… not by a long shot. But you can’t say that Google didn’t warn us.

Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s spam team, gave us a heads-up at SXSW, hinting around an “over optimization” penalty. Shortly thereafter, Penguin arrived.

Sites that Google deemed to be overly optimized got penalized. Tons of other sites that were deemed to be spam were simply dropped from Google’s search index…

Help PEOPLE Find You, Not Robots

If you’ve been doing SEO for years, you’re going to find this concept very challenging… because you’ve grown accustomed to writing for robots.

In a lot of cases, you’ll be better off if you completely stop all of your SEO activities. Because Google may penalize you for it.

The best thing you can do for yourself is to properly tag and title your posts with the appropriate keywords and drumroll, please… post useful, informative content that other humans want to read and share.

Inbound links are gold when it comes to post-Penguin SEO — they’re like an endorsement for your content. Sharing is the new currency of Google Search, which brings us to…

Social Preferences

Another huge component of Penguin was to boost the value of social media in Google’s search results. This no big secret or anything… Google officials actually came out and said that.

Social media is going to factor heavily into search rankings from here on out, and not just on Google. Bing, Yahoo, and others are moving in this direction. WHY?

It all flows back to the new definition of quality content… what used to be known as a “quality score.” When your content is shared on social media, that counts as a quality inbound link from a high-authority website.


Here it is in a nutshell: Google wants to reward websites that provide valuable content AND play by the rules — white hat only.

The definition of SEO has changed. Your goal now needs to be human optimization…

Got something to add? I’d love to hear your thoughts about press releases… leave me a comment!

Talk soon,


P.S. For more great press release tips, list building ideas, and other mastermind info… join DM Lab today!

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About Josh Loposer

Josh is the managing editor of Digital Marketer, as well an aspiring novelist. Find out more about what Josh is working on on Facebook, Google, or on his website.
View all posts by Josh Loposer ➞


  • Nathan says:

    @Paul Harvey. This is the Digital World. One thing that Ryan or Perry may tell us today may be out of date tomorrow. Things change so fast now-a-days on the web it really does make our heads spin. It is the nature of the beast know as Google Updates.
    I must add a major word of thanks to Perry Belcher and Ryan Diess. The information that I have received from you guys is worth its digital weight in gold. I have learn more and gained more value and earned more money from five minutes of your training’s then any other site out there.
    Thanks you guys

  • Bob From Holland says:

    Dear Ryan,
    Very good article, thanx !!
    Bob from Holland

  • Kelly says:


    Hear, hear! Google has become more concerned with disciplining publishers who don’t follow its hard-to-figure-out rules than it it is with serving its primary customers: those searching for information on a given topic.

  • Rachel Henke says:

    Really enjoy your updates Ryan. In a very busy inbox yours are always marked to read. :)

  • Jessica Marie says:

    As a new start up this is awesome news. I kept hearing about SEO and it was so confusing. Sure, I have keywords within my content, but I only want to post what is authentically helpful to others. I think it’s a good thing.

  • sherry gilderoy says:

    Thanks Ryan, it has been a challenge to figure out how to get my clients noticed. Glad to know my advice to create compelling content is still the gold standard!

  • Stephanie says:

    Hello Ryan,

    I appreciate the knowledge you bring to the market and currently am a ebook member to your publishing software.
    I am a partner in a SEP company and have an exciting new alternative to PPC. We guarantee you top 3 placement, 24 hours a day 7 days a week, on Google, Yahoo and Bing, that’s 97% of all searches. Exciting right? We do it for a guaranteed, no bidding, flat fee. I would love the opportunity to tell you more about Prime Web Placement.  We compliment all SEP effort and actually aid to them!

    Please reply to if I can share more with you. I think Prime could be very beneficial to the many URL’s you work with.

  • Morgan says:

    FINALLY! All of those tips to hire Fiverr and other sites to create backlinks on fake sites or false directories were horribly spammy and never right on. They never felt ‘right’ and I was shocked that they were suggested. Very, very black hat.

    • Josh Loposer says:

      To be fair, Fiverr providers DO offer a lot of really valuable media services. As always, you gotta read the fine print… especially when it comes to SEO.

  • Terry says:

    I have a site that ranked well because of a few tweaks that got busted down from the EMD Google update. The site explained how to do a certain health care protocol, and alternative medicine cancer treatment, and if anyone wanted to try it they could get the low cost supplies through my links. Otherwise everything was free. No one complained about the quality. In fact, a mall number of visitors got the content emailed to them when they subscribed with the content on the site the only prompt. The quality was not poor. Tweaks of that kind say nothing about the quality of the content and Google’s update does NOT consider quality either. It looks at whether there are tweaks, not at the quality of the content. Your implication that tweaks indicate poor quality content does not jibe with my experience.

  • David Carleton says:

    Great content + proper optimization = increased content and a better visitor experience – thanks for the reminder. By the way, are you using a plugin to get your blogs so show up like a Pinterest board, if so which plugin – it really looks sharp. Thanks

  • Mike Smiley says:

    Google has their vision and goals; each of us has ours. Most play by the rules and exploit them when possible for competitive advantage. That’s smart business. But some are always looking for loopholes to exploit in an effort to win their race to effortless, albeit often temporary, riches, leaving a behind a wake of disappointment and increased cynicism among their victims.

    I appreciate Google’s apparent efforts to deliver search results based on value vs artificially produced tricks. Long term, we all benefit by having to actually think, work, and provide value vs taking short cuts and short changing our customers. The people who win by providing real value will outlast the get “rich quick at the expense of others” and collectively raise the quality of life for everyone.

  • Matches Malone says:

    Press releases? I’ve heard of them. Most say they’re worthless these days. It’s why I’ve never bothered to learn how to write them effectively. However, as we are all press owners if we have a site, it may make sense to take another stab, based on what you’ve stated today.

    • Josh Loposer says:

      Digital press releases are a great source of inbound links, especially if you can find a writer that knows what she or he is doing.

  • Paul Harvey says:

    Does this mean that Perry’s advice to get over to Fiverr and spending $20 with various people is now dead info?

    • Josh Loposer says:

      There are plenty of Fiverr providers that offer totally “white hat” SEO services, like article writing and press releases. So, it’s really a case by case thing. If it feels spammy at all, well, you know the old adage “first do no harm”

  • micheal joyce says:

    Thank you Ryan for highlighting that Blogs need to be relevant and linked to Social Media. I like mine to Facebook and it is good to know this is also important.

  • John says:

    Post Penguin means more keywords and keyword phrases and the content that supports it. It also means more quality backlinks. The amount of money and effort to get traffic has increase a lot. Note: Find some other keywords to target, google is not going to allow a few spammers to dominate keywords they sell on adwords.

  • Kadi Abdul Hameed says:

    This is an excellent article highlighting what the website owners need to do in a single point “Human optimization’. That conveys all.

  • Kirby says:

    Hey Ryan;

    This isnt anything new to people like me who have been an SBI’er and online since 2004. I started my first website on a platform run by Dr Ken Evoy known as Site Build It. Dr Ken has written many digital books dating back to the late 1990’s (read Make Your Site Sell) and he has always taught new SBI’ers the importance of high quality content, natural inbound linking from other sites, engaging content etc.

    No offence, but I have to smile when I read articles telling folks that the “new” thing with the engines is quality content. Seems Dr Ken Evoy has been right all along.