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Google Penguin Still Packs a Punch Four Months Later

Penguin has caused plenty of headaches. It’s been four months since Google unleashed their Penguin update and many SEOs are still picking up the pieces. Penguin not only impacted revenue and traffic, it also radically altered the foundation of SEO, and link building in particular

This week, those same SEOs were dealt another big blow when Google Web Spam Team head Matt Cutts announced that the upcoming Penguin update would be, “jarring” and “jolting.” It wasn’t very comforting to hear this from a man who knows every word out of his mouth will be picked apart on over SEO forum on the Web.

In this calm before the next wave hits the Web, it’s worth taking a moment to look at what the impact of Penguin has been so far.

Lost Traffic and Revenue

Visit any SEO forum or comments section on sites like SEORoundTable and you’ll find plenty of comment like this one from a poster called Craig:

I have complained that 40 people lost their jobs when my site was hit by Panda and that Google gives no explanation of how to fix a site. He forwarded my complaints to Google and they wrote to me – with nothing new, just the same platitudes about quality content (whatever that is)

Putting aside any discussions about whether guys like this were using black hat SEO techniques in the first place, the financial impact of Penguin is undeniable. Webmasters saw page rankings drop out from under them and thousands of dollars worth of paid links rendered useless overnight.

Add in the thousands of hours that have been spent manually removing suspect links, and Penguin’s impact is sky high.

A Bit of Soul Searching

As much as anything, Penguin has ignited fierce debate, and no small amount of soul searching, amongst SEOs in all industries. For every guy like Craig who felt he’d been wronged by Google, there’s another guy, like Anti-SEO who thinks low quality web sites are the real problem.

But from the point of an average user view, Google is providing good results. That’s why people are still with Google. The SE market share didn’t change since Panda.

Anti-SEO, and many others, see Penguin as a necessary evil whose long term impact is entirely positive. Google always claims that these updates are aimed at improving user experience and, no matter how your feel about the company, that’s an accurate statement.

What Does Google Owe SEOs

There’s definitely something fundamentally wrong with a system that can wipe out profits as quickly as a Google update. The company has a captive audience that relies on them for their livlihoods and they just don’t seem to care.

At the same time, SEOs and affiliates forget who Google’s customers are. Cutts cares more about search engine users than poker affiliates because searchers pay the bills at Google.

Is Google playing fair with affiliates, or just rolling on a power trip? It’s a tough question to answer. A little more clarity from them would be appreciate so that these updates aren’t quite so jarring.

How have you been impacted by Penguin? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.