65% Of SEOs Hurt By Google's Penguin Update

May 28, 2012 • 8:35 am | comments (43) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Penguin PollAbout a month ago, we polled our readers asking how they were impacted by the Google Penguin update.

We have well over a 1,000 responses and I wanted to share them with you. Keep in mind, those who were negatively impacted are probably more likely to take the poll. That being said, 65% said they were negatively impacted by Penguin, while only 13% said they were positively impacted.

Penguin Poll Results

This is way more than the Panda update where only 40% said they were negatively impacted by the Panda update. Again, it depends who takes the poll but huge differences. Note, Panda was a larger update and should have been felt by more sites on the web. But Penguin was likely targeting specific SEO techniques, because it was originally named the over optimization penalty.

Forum discussion continued at Google+, WebmasterWorld, DigitalPoint Forums, Cre8asite Forums and Google Webmaster Help.

Disclaimer: Please see my poll disclaimer post before coming to any conclusions on these results.

This post was pre-written and scheduled to be posted today.

Previous story: Only 14% Of SEOs Trust Google


Peter Elmhirst

05/28/2012 01:21 pm

I'd be interested to see whether the SEO'ers had customers sites hit by Penguin, or if it was their niche money sites. I had a couple little niche sites hit since there wasn't as much emphasis on keyword diversification and they were exact match domains, but dozens of other sites that actually mattered were safe. If I were to answer this survey I would have said I was hit, but actually wasn't when it came to genuine seo efforts.

Todd Kron

05/28/2012 02:21 pm

A few older niche sites for adsense and lead revenue were hit. A very old wordpress news site of mine that had always ranked high with all hand written traffic and only natural links, never asked for one....also got whacked. So that made no sense at all and showed the stupidity of trying to solve web spam with a computer formula approach. Client sites, improved, company's site improved also. Over all Id say negative impact but type of site decided it.


05/28/2012 03:47 pm

This Penguin update is atrocious. My sites that have been up for years on the first page have been clobbered yet I have noticed a trend. There are thousands of fake sites that are now at the top for the keywords I was looking for. It seems what this update has done is rank sites like walmart, JcPenny, facebook, and others higher but has also helped the spammy sites that have EMD to the number 1 position as well. A few other bloggers I know have been killed by this update and they are seeing the same thing. Google is now ranking the sites that advertise on adwords higher while killing others. I thought a monopoly in the US was illegal but it seems when you are Google it is fine. It has turned into a pay to play situation


05/28/2012 04:00 pm

It does make sense. 1. "sites for adsense" - clear violation of Google terms. 2. "wordpress news site" - sorry, to inform you, but nowadays millions of people know how to use CMS and can write articles. How your wordpress website is better to rank higher ? You have to create at least something new (know-how) to pretend on top positions.


05/28/2012 04:07 pm

I bet you're visiting big brand's malls at least weekly. Same as majority of people. Why do you think they should be ranked lower in this case ? Internet is not a different live, it's a part of reality. People vote for these brands by wallets, internet just reflects this.


05/28/2012 06:09 pm

I was slapped by the penguin update and I have absolutely no idea why. If I knew what I did wrong, that would be terrific and I would move forward and try to improve it. I know my site is absolutely the most informative and relevant to my tiny little niche! Yet, I have been moved from #1 position to about page 50 of Google. I've learned all I can about Penguin this last month and I'm completely out of ideas. I don't have keyword stuffing, I don't have spammy links, I don't have excessive keyword bolding, I don't have bad titles, I don't have duplicate content or pages, I have never used any black hat seo methods. I just don't get it! I have great content! I'm ranked on first page of Yahoo for all my top keywords... and for some reason, Google hates my guts. Could it be that Google doesn't like sites that sales products?


05/28/2012 06:58 pm

It's simple ... You're studying how Google works. This way doesn't work anymore. You must study your visitors instead. Interact with them in all meanings. Hopefully they will interact back. Google will measure your interactions and will decide if your website is good enough to be listed on top, so more visitors could enjoy your perfect information. In general the same as TV channels decide what show will be shown in prime time.


05/29/2012 02:00 am

that's a bunch of malarky... my sites were engineered for users not google, and a few have been hit and others not... this update is crap

Ashraful Ayan

05/29/2012 05:26 am

A single Update of Google comprises many thinks, if you did something in long time and some update comes it will catch you right from the beginning. Penguin is more about quality linking, means proper linking with anchor text and to relative sites. Maybe the page rank play viral role in linking? being a fair to penguin if your site is not raking well, as far as my limited knowledge you need to create more links. I can only advice to enroll yourself in social media, quite preferred these days by Google. Some good one's like Google+, Pinterest, ScoopIt. I think if you go for latest social media site, in their early stages they provides good amount of backlinks... well this is my experience...!


05/29/2012 05:28 am

After this Penguin update, I got a 100$ adwords coupon in my gmail....saying comeback Hmmm....conspiracy jones perhaps?


05/29/2012 09:17 am

You see there is difference between "were engineered for users" and "is in active use by users". Feel it.


05/29/2012 09:20 am

Google is sending adwords coupons routinely during many years.


05/29/2012 10:46 am

@Anti-SEO Man you need to know that when you are in googl's world you need to learn google. You can't just say about users. Users come from where ? Google is the starting point and the end point. Search is where seo's need to play.


05/29/2012 01:16 pm

Here is your problem. You consider Google as start and the end. Google is probably the start, but your website should be the end. Why rate you high, if visitors don't want to return to you ? If after the visit they forget about you almost immediately ? You can be proud of your perfect website "engineered for users", but it means nothing for Google, if users will not acknowledge your website perfection by there interactions with website.


05/29/2012 07:09 pm

The first penquin update killed my new site. For 6 months the site was improving and getting more and more traffic each month.Penquin killed it and I saw all my traffic disappear after. All long tails were gone. About a week before the official announcement by Cutts we saw a dramatic increase in the long tails and after the update we are ranking much better again and have been getting traffic. This is of course till the next update……. Its a hard year to decide to enter the Affiliate market but we will persevere. I have one comment about MR Cutts. When I was starting out I looked up to him and found his videos pretty interesting. In the last 3 months I find it irritating to watch and listen to him. In fact I can quite safely say I have a great distaste for his “Puritan” stance about Google and outlook in general. At the end of the day all Google cares about is themselves and making more and more money which is fin as we live in a capitalist world but please spare me the BS with the goody two shoes spokesman they have.

Bellwether digital media

05/29/2012 08:17 pm


Bellwether digital media

05/29/2012 08:18 pm

hope this is not Matt Cutts in disguise :)


05/29/2012 09:33 pm

Can someone please tell me how to differentiate between a good and bad link? Is every backlink with a pagerank of 0 considered bad? Is every backlink that is not related to my niche considered bad? Are backlinks coming from article submission sites now considered bad?

Danny Sullivan

05/29/2012 09:40 pm

I surveyed a room of about 200 SEOs at our SMX London conference. The breakdown was about 3% saying Penguin hurt them, 3% saying it helped and the rest saying no change. That's as unscientific as this poll, but I figure I'd toss it in there.

Barry Schwartz

05/29/2012 09:43 pm

Yep, to be fair, I said this was a reader poll. Not polling all SEOs in the universe.


05/30/2012 05:35 am

Since 3 weeks our raking are going down,Even we are not doing any spaming or black hat seo. but still ranking are going bad.Yes you are absolutaly right that 65% of seo is been hurt with this penguin update. but can u please suggest wat should we in such condition, because we need to get ranked???


05/30/2012 05:37 am

I am also planning to make my own website and doing seo on that .Any suggestion what should i take care in making that or about seo what work should I go for?????????


05/30/2012 06:03 am

true, might be coz u newer know what Google can be :)

Rebecca Murtagh

05/30/2012 01:37 pm

I'm hearing from White Hat SEO's that they, and their clients have surivived the Penguin Update quite well, with one caveat...websites that did experience hits from Penguin turned out to be as a result of actions taken by the webmaster or company outside the parameters of services provide by their SEO firm, consultant or vendor, such as link-exchanges, paid links and connecting other assets with links. SEO is so much more than keywords. It requires strategy and technical implementation from architecture, content and optimization to relationships with people, places and other data. Google has recommended a marketing approach and White Hat SEO. That's where I've worked from for the past 11 years and were I'll stay in order to achive optimum results for my clients over time. Recent algorithm updates should serve as a gentle reminder (if not stern warning) to those dependent upon search to compete for and win customers to engage experienced SEO's they trust and implement what is recommended! (can't achieve 100% of the results with 30% of the ingredients, right?)

Frank Watson

05/30/2012 10:21 pm

so 65% are working in highly competitive spaces and the rest are not


05/31/2012 05:14 pm

Amen!! All about the $$$$$$$$$

Zach Dexter

05/31/2012 11:38 pm

...in john's version there's noun-verb agreement and in yours there's not? Or some other difference?


06/01/2012 08:45 am

Please give me information for that who we improve the website ranking.?and what is natural links?

Daniel R.

06/01/2012 02:59 pm

i can explain what went wrong and i can help you out call me back toll free 1-855-429-4419 ext 1011 ask for Daniel. Thank you

Daniel R.

06/01/2012 03:06 pm

the thing is there are always shortcuts to doing everything, and alot of companies decided to take shortcuts to get to the top and the result was Google found all the companies that took shortcuts and re routed them to the last pages due to the fact that there were companies doing it correctly but were getting pushed back by all the companies who took shortcuts. The shortcuts are called black hat SEO

Mark N

06/02/2012 08:41 am

My 80s site is packed with content and natural links, and I add new content on a daily basis. It had been ranking pretty well until the update with around 800 daily visitors. A site with absolutely no content (just videos) is now on the first page in a search for 80s and mine is now only getting around 400 visitors and is down on the 15th page. What's the point in even trying? I feel like giving up.

Ewan Kennedy

06/05/2012 10:18 am

@LadyLuck. Here's a guide - http://www.seomoz.org/blog/definitive-guide-to-qualifying-a-link-prospect-video


06/08/2012 12:43 pm

As someone else was writing... About the same time as we lost 50% of our traffic we got a coupon from Adwords in the mail...


06/10/2012 12:18 am

Is not the exact match keyword domain name will be punished?Deliberately operating suspects?


06/22/2012 09:12 am

We have so many other options like Microsoft Bing


06/27/2012 06:09 pm

In my opinion poll results are correct and more than 65% SEO affected by this update. No of sites may be different for different SEOs


07/18/2012 07:38 am

Come on Danny, there's no science in SEO just a series of Guru's that through repetition or a shared collectiveness of ideas manage to palm off strategy and best practice to people that can't work it out for themselves. And the science at arriving at those conjectures is sufficiently robust to convince a large section of the industry that what they are saying it true. Barry, this post is as scientific as SEO science and it works because of it. The aim of this update was to rip brands away from SEO agencies with a blanket mixup. I have access to too many verticals and too many different types of business to say otherwise. But don't listen to me, I'm just another SEO dinosaur trying to sell you something ;) or getting you to read my blog (which I don't have!).

todd kron

08/22/2012 06:42 pm

"wordpress news site" - sorry, to inform you, - Don't confuse your opinion with information.

Todd Kron

08/22/2012 06:52 pm

So clicking on a website or buying from them is how a site ranks. hmmm Sounds like the tin foil hat is typing.

Todd Kron

08/22/2012 06:53 pm

If you were at a SMX conference surrounded by peers all of whom have reputation that are a large part of marketing themselves. And someone asked you if you websites went down from the update, would you say yes?

Todd Kron

08/22/2012 06:57 pm

Wow, did I just watch a commercial? Word of mouth and assumptions as to the cause of a change in rank is making bad decisions with flawed in formation. If you don't test it yourself A/B style changing single variables one at a time then the information is more likely dangerous than helpful.


09/08/2012 09:27 am

Before the Penguin I was paying a SEO company to index my website and it was in the first three places (www.musica-para-bodas.com). In May 2012 this company told me that they had stopped working it and the website has just disappeared. I don't know what to do. No visits, no income.

David Frankk

09/27/2012 05:24 am

Happy to know I was in the top 13% !

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