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Well it would seem that +Matt Cutts and his band of merry men (The Webspam Team) have have been busy in the workshop cooking up Penguin 2.1 (AKA Penguin 5) which started to roll out October the 4th with most people affected seeing the results today October 7th.

With the recent change to Googles algorithm core, Hummingbird, this could also be considered Penguin H1 as it is actually the first penguin update for the new core of Googles search ranking system.

Who am I?

I am part of a very large team of extremely ‘White-Hat’ SEOs who pretty much live and breathe the ethos of companies such as Moz, who purvey the message of ‘better marketing for a better web’.

I along with my team, look after many clients with the sole aim to make their sites as entertaining, informative and useful to as many users as we can attract to the site. We create some of the best content in the industry and make users who would be extremely interested in that content aware of it by pure ‘white-hat’ methods such as social sharing etc.

Strange SERPs Findings

Looking deeper into the effects of Googles latest and greatest small cute little animal (Gremlin?) I have started to see a very alarming pattern, one that nearly made me fall off my chair this morning and question my whole outlook on SEO.

After catching wind of the algo update I started to monitor the rankings of mine and my clients sites very carefully recording and tracking every SERP movement as well as their competitors and new entries.

That is when it hit me, even though I had not seen a great deal of movement in my clients sites I did notice that a whole plethora of new sites were ranking in the positions above certain keywords that I had been monitoring for a while, when I looked into these sites what I found made me almost cry!

Without giving too much information away there are certain keywords, that have a lot of competition, and of course being a throughly wholesome cornfed white-hat I was not “specifically” targeting but hoping that Google would see the content we were producing as highly relevant and worthy showing for these kind of search terms, and although we were showing on the first page for those results we were not at the top just yet. 

Whilst investigating, I noticed that the sites above mine were suddenly all different post penguin 2.1 (1% affected rate you say! ha more like 20-30%) so when I delved much deeper into these new sites I had noticed that they were ALL! using some of the shadiest tactics that I had ever seen. One site in particular (when checked with +Moz OpensiteExplorer) shown no backlinks historically but over 1000 new (Just Discovered) backlinks all created over a 3 day period, upon looking at these backlinks most of them were forum and comment spam!! Isn’t this the exact thing that Penguin is supposed to be preventing?

So the mission went on and check after check started to show me that suddenly back-hats were winning.

Being an SEO and being in this game for quite a while, I know my fair share of black-hat tactics but obviously choose to stay on the white-hat team, so trying to gather more information I headed over to a very popular black-hat forum site to see what they had to say and just as expected they were all congratulating each other with virtual pats-on-the-back for ranking number one using some very dirty tactics.

I am not going to give you my username but I have an account on this site, for recon purposes and to see what latest methods these guys are using ( so I know what Google are going to target next ;-) ) and got talking to one very excited spammer that felt happy to tell me what method he had just used to rank #1 post penguin 2.1. He showed me some very interesting stats and methodologies and I even verified his claims in the SERPS and using other tools checked his claimed backlinking strategy and they all checked out.

He had used nothing more than a widely available piece of software that quite frankly make me sick, it collects lists of blogs and forums and using a script to copy a random comment and spin it, it posts it as its own (with a backlink of course), and did nothing more than hit go for a month previous to Penguin 2.1, and when it hit BANG there he was at number one!! (not even he expected that though!!)

So what kind of message is this sending to all of us that try to do everything by the book? Those of us that truly believe that making our sites the best they can be and creating content that users love, share and enjoy and letting others know in a pure and natural way, is the best way to go?

I hope that Google notice this and very quickly there is a Penguin 2.2 update to fix the amount of spam that seems to have flooded the SERPs and also to reward those who have done everything they have asked for.

If you have noticed a jump in the amount of spam since Penguin 2.1, share your thoughts here, if you dont mind outing anyone list them here and lets see if we can get Matt Cutts and co to notice. ( I will be adding a few sites in the comments myself as I come across them )

Also feel free to take this content and publish it on your blog, just include a mention please :-)

#penguinupdate   #penguin2   #penguin5   #google  
Tim Capper's profile photoAl Johnson's profile photoKirk Fletcher's profile photoDave Elliott's profile photo
Great post!!
With regards to the recently discovered back links. I have seen this happening over the last three - four weeks. Most of the sites in my field that have climed to the first 4 on page one have ALL been gathering the most spammiest of links and many of them. The kind of links I run away from. I have been thinking to myself "hasn't anyone told these guys??" expecting them to fall like dominoes. They are, for now at least dominating.
+Mark Preston Very very strange isn't it? I too have noticed it more recently like these guys knew penguin 2.1 was gonna rocket them? Until today I was laughing at them, now it seem they are laughing at me :-(
Interesting, +Kirk Fletcher. I'd love to see a couple examples of what you're describing. More than anything else I guess the thing I take away from these updates is putting all our efforts into one method is the worst thing to do for SEO. The algorithm is always changing, and to use only one method to get to the top puts you at great risk for a big fall. 
+Kirk Fletcher thank you for the share. I have not seen these kind of results yet but I trust that it must be happening to some degree to be seeing people posting about it today. How many are affected, why and for how long is not clear yet and I will wait for more details on this before jumping to any conclusions.

That said, the part that saddens me, aside from the fact that I cannot stand cheaters getting ahead, is that there are businesses that are counting on Google's SERP results to drive traffic. Compound that with the fact that there are many businesses paying for SEO services that are doing things by the book according to Google and still these websites are being beat by underhanded tactics. This is wrong in so many ways and is a great reminder to businesses that count heavily on Google SERP results.

STOP counting on Google to deliver your website traffic.

If you depend on Google SERP results for the majority of your traffic I would suggest looking for alternate means. Search is in a major transition period which tells me this is not a time that you want to have all your eggs counting on Google SERP results.  
June M
Very interesting post. I've seen the same thing happen across multiple G Algorithm updates from a clients competition. Not only forum spam but obviously fake "reference" type sites with huge surges in link building etc.
+Giorgio Capassi I am currently compiling a full article with examples of my findings, I will let others here know when I have completed it and published it online.
+James Cosgrove very well said! :-) as SEOs and ultimately online advisors for our clients we need to educate site owners of other sources of traffic and help them achieve that. Google is not the "be all and end all" business owners think it is (but it does make a huge difference)
+Kirk Fletcher I have noticed the same today. Some obscure, never seen before sites in my field were ranking high today. Have not checked their back links but their content was for sure not high quality. I would be interested to hear about other sources of traffic as for the moment I rely mostly on Google. Thanks
+Kirk Fletcher Fun post to read. The fact is that Google is not even close to as good as Matt Cutts would have you believe at detecting webspam. That's just a fact. It's an impossible task. To play arbiter of what is webspam and what isn't is hard work. They're trying but the bottom line is, some black hat techniques work, have always worked, and will continue to work because it is impossible to judge every single backlink as good or bad.

The other issue is the rampant growth of intentional link spamming to kick down competitors. Google has to be careful to take this into consideration, otherwise every black hat out there would be bombing 5 million backlinks with SENuke to their competitors in hopes of a webspam penalty.

Kudos for doing the right thing.

Guess what Kirk.

All link building is considered to be black hat seo!
White Hat SEO is all about writing / creating content that no one will ever read and then stare at the big fat ZERO at your visitors count.

I'm not saying it's fair, but you are trying to make money from manipulating Google, sometimes it works, sometimes it don't and have come so called White Hat Self Claimed Experts congratulate Matt Cutts when they release an algo that doesn't affect themselves, but make a noise like a 15.0 Earthquake?

And have you ever thought about the blackhat site didn't gain rankings but rather everybody else lost and have you considered that it may take days, weeks and maybe a month or two before Google can crawl the entire web.
Maybe they didn't have enough data to catch up with the blackhat site yet?

Just my 2 cents

#penguin5 #seo #penguin #penguinupdate  
hahahah Kirk you've been using black hat methods and you finally got caught it sounds like to me
+Tom Johnson hummmm I don't think you actually read my post did you? Either that or your illiterate. Please re-read as you kinda look like a bit of idiot troll right now. Sorry :-(
hahahaha i read it man...i bet you're 1 of those guys who goes around saying "i only do white hat blah blah blah" all the time and you really aren't. Heck you even admit to having a BHW account. I'm not trolling, i just find it funny that you, your moz boys, ect all are struggling right now and you act as if your shit doesnt stink. In reality you got caught for doing the shady things you accuse others of doing kirky boy...hahahahah!!!
Google makes 95% of it's revenue wit ads. That's the companies soul. Now think about how this can go well with 'not being evil'. All what you observe about google is connected to its mission to increase revenue.
And another thing: Every link that has been done with the intent of increasing rank is black hat. There is no white-hat.
And by the way Kirk I don't look like an idiot with my sites ranking all on page 1 for every look like the idiot with your sites ranking in the dumpster with many pissed off customers LMAO
Tim and Mehmet are both you even know the true difference between white and black hat?
Hi +Tom Johnson sorry for my last comment I may have gone a little far but honestly my work is not black-hat, as I said previously I was not affected at all by penguin 2.1, I did not lose rank but neither did I gain any, I just noticed that as soon as it hit a lot of the results that were previously above me disappeared and really terrible spam sites seem to have taken their place. 
honestly kirk you should think about changing up your can make a lot more money and save a lot of time by doing churn and burn with sites using spammy methods..its sad but true
+Tom Johnson churn and burn works for a lot of people but I am trying to build a business that can offer its customers the best possible chance of longevity in results. I'm not saying that your methods don't work because I know very well that they do, I'm just saying that particular method doesn't fit into my vision of the company I and my business partners are building. Good luck to you though buddy :-)
Why live on the small margin you get for sitting between the seller and the traffic, if you could become the seller yourself (monetizing with CPA, affiliate etc, own eBooks) and earn more from that precious traffic.
I would have to agree with you on this.

I have been watching a competitior build an extreame amount of the crappiest links since august and i have been patiently waiting for penguin refresh to slap him down .......... nada, zip.


Has penguin been dialled right back
+Tim Capper this is what I've been saying! I have now found a few great examples of sites that are ranking for very competitive terms using only BS backlinks. I am putting all this together for an article I'm about to publish
You guy will never get it, keep thinking you're the cream of the crop and following the self appointed gurus at MOZ and you'll never get anywhere. You talk about black vs white while you're doing things to manipulate the serps  too, that's is against tos, duh.  Who says you create the "best content" +Kirk Fletcher if it's not the conversion rate then it's just as bad or as good as you can convince you're customer it is. You say cheater? Who the hell are you? you're a guy trying to make a buck just like the rest of us. You have just convinced yourself that your way is the better way. I would like to see a list of your link building techniques and then see somewhere that Google has endorsed those same techniques. Impossible
Hi +Al Johnson I respect your comment but I would like to clear a few things up for you. Maybe saying we create the best content in the industry is a little up my own ass I admit but it does generate a lot of traffic and is re-shared more often than not, they also generate a hell of a lot of backlinks naturally! The only back linking we do is sharing on social networks where relevant and contact other niche sites that may be interested in the content we have researched and produced and offer a smaller sample for them to use and link to the main article with. Plus one or two more little tricks that are all perfectly within googles webmaster guidelines!!
+Kirk Fletcher The question is this, would you do what you do if not for generating links? Hard to answer but if not then you're link building to manipulate the serps.  2. Sharing does not equal $$$$  and per your post is not working anymore anyway. Have a great day, we're all out here for the same reason, yours is only a bit different than mine well maybe more than a bit, but all in all we're here to make a buck so don't look so down on someone doing it different, if you're right then you'll win in the end. 
Hi +Al Johnson I did not mean come across as looking down on you more just stating my concerns that all the ass kissing I do with google just seems to get me a kick in the balls, and when Google say "this is definitely what you should NOT be doing" it seems that is what seems to be winning, just infuriating that's all. 
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