Video: Google Penguin Webinar w/ Dan, Leslie, and David Harry

Forget the end of the Mayan calendar on December 21, 2012. The world ended for many businesses — regardless of size — on April 24 when Google announced major changes in their search algorithm, code-named “Penguin”. (A penguin is a flightless marine bird. Don’t let that predict the future of your business!)


Download the slideshow presentation (pdf) here

It’s been 3 weeks since Google revealed and implemented big changes. If your rankings are underwater (again, like penguins), and your SEO folks are scratchin’ their heads, every moment literally “counts”. Dan Thies, Leslie Rohde & David Harry lay it out in “Google’s Penguin Update: What We Know So Far (and what you can do about it)”. They’ve done extensive research into Google’s “Penguin” update, and they uncover the results right here, right now in this webinar replay.

Dan and Leslie have been digging into the “on page factors” in Penguin, and have some surprising results. David has been examining the “off page factors” like inbound links and link spam. Together they aim to help you avoid the end of your (business) world.

The conclusions they reach may surprise you. No matter how your websites have come through Google’s massive changes, Dan, Leslie and Harry offer specific actions you can take immediately to keep your business away from the eve of destruction. Watch this “Penguinar” — before you have nothing left to lose. And tell us what you think.

Further Reading, Viewing, & Listening

David Harry & Friends on Penguin etc.:

SEO Braintrust on Penguin:

SEO Braintrust on Link Building and Social Media:


  1. Okay this is where I am supposed to say … “great content guys” love you beyond belief… truth be told most of the stuff was over my head because I am not a “techie” … I built an e-commerce site to the best of my ability to sell products for board game fans plain and simple.
    In the words of the Cyber God Google I did no evil … yet after Penguin I lost 60% of my traffic .. with it a huge chunk of revenue. I did not buy links, did nothing to “spam” my customers etc…
    I thought Google was all about the “customer experience” I have 1000’s+ testimonials from customers that had a “great experience” yet I got the crap slapped out of me…
    There are very few people that I will listen to you are obvious because you are reading this (well maybe reading) …. However I am beginning to think that nobody really knows what is going on…
    As a rookie I heard “get links” “write articles” “get a social presence” “think about your customer” “don’t spam” be a good boy and eat your vegetables… things I did… yet I got slapped.
    As a rookie I heard “don’t spam” “don’t auto blog” “don’t buy from link farms” “wear a white hat not a black hat” blah blah blah … none of the things I ever did…yet I got slapped.
    Do no evil?? Pfft give me a break … Okay I will dismount from my soap box and stop whinning… the bottom line I have to fix this mess… which is a real challenge because I don’t even know what I did wrong.. I did not get a “you are a bad boy” message in my Google webmaster account.
    All the past updates had no effect on my sites in fact they rose in rank ….
    Thank you for this space to vent.
    I still love you guys …
    Steven “white hat” Barnhart
    CEO Smartshops LLC

  2. Hi Dan, this was a great webinar. It gave me a few action items. I just want to clarify one thing regarding hidden text. In the design of my site there are a number of instances where the designer (not maliciously) used an image replacement technique. So, for example, I have a few navigation buttons in my header whereby the user sees a row of links i.e. home, about us etc…In the code for the page these appear as list items of text i.e. , but on the frontend the user sees an image with the words home, abut us etc…on them. This is done by calling the image via the style sheet and then the style hides the text by positioning it way off the page. Is this an example of the type of hidden text you’re talking about, and if so, can I go by the rule that if it’s in the code of the page but doesn’t appear on the front end, then it’s considered hidden text by Google and could potentially cause me a problem? Thanks.

  3. Dan,
    I got hit very hard by the Penguin update which is really bumming me out. Now I only receive about 1/6th the amount of traffic that I used to get. Was at #1 spot for my main term.

    Now I typically rank at the 8th or 9th spot and sometimes at the top of the second page. So it varies where I am being placed- either the bottom of 1st page or top of 2nd page.

    My question to you is, do you know why they are varying my placement so much? Could it be for testing to see if its a quality site or something like checking bounce rates?

    Thanks for this webinar. I really appreciate it.

    • P.S. I clear my cookies each time and even use proxies to check. Still with them varying the placement maybe 50% of the time.

  4. Due to recent Penguin update, my site lost from the top SERPs for one of my main keyword. I learned from webinar and other resources that from now Google hate exact match anchor text in hyper links. So try to vary your anchor text in your keyword rich hyper links.

    • Kevin, if you have very many “keyword rich hyper links” under your control, outside of internal linking on your own site, you are almost certainly building the wrong kind of links in the first place. It’s not all about anchor text – it hasn’t been all about anchor text for some time – and Penguin is just another step down the road toward “stop targeting keywords, start targeting an audience” approach that we’ve been talking about.

      That approach already works, and in fact it’s been working for years. It might surprise you to learn that our clients do very little “rank checking,” but it’s true – and it’s also the right way to approach the strategic problem of acquiring customers through search.

  5. Regarding non-visible text. Are you saying do NOT use keywords in meta data? ie: keyword tag, description tag and title tag? NOT to use keywords in image alt tag? Seems a bit radical…especially the desc and title tags?

    • Sammy,

      No, but I am suggesting that keyword stuffing is stupid, has been stupid forever, and remains stupid today.

      The keywords meta tag is useless. The meta description should be written to help draw clicks from search results – if that means you use a keyword in there, so be it.

      The alt attribute of images is an accessibility feature – so that those who can’t see the image will know what’s there. Sometimes that involves keywords, but just stuffing the crap out of them is stupid, always has been stupid, and will be stupid until the end of time. The title attribute of images and links is NOT indexed – it’s not content – so stuffing them with keywords is a nice way to send a “hey, I am a spammer” signal without accomplishing anything else.

      See also:

  6. I might be a little dated in my comment here but I did finally take the time to listen to this discussion and do the red pen test and the info was terrific (as is the link liberation course! – no charge for the shameless plug).

    It seemed through most of the early issues with Penquin I didn’t see much change in my rankings but in June sometime things kind of slid a bit. I had felt then that I was probably over-optimized on some pages and this kind of proved it. My navigation links are apparently heavily laden with keywords. And one other thing I was wondering about. Due to moving my ecommerce site to a new platform, I had to relocated my once attached blog to another domain, but this site’s left hand navigation column is identical to what’s on my ecommerce site (I wanted them to appear related or look alike since that’s what our customers are used to seeing). It’s keyword heavy too.

    Anyway should I change this set up and reduce these keyword rich incoming links, no follow them, or what can be done? Other than go back to selling my body on the streets again…:)

    Thanks as always for the great information!

    • The best thing to do would be to keep the structure the same as before, but if that’s not possible, you will need to think about those blog links. They may be helping, or hurting. 🙂 We’ve seen cases where removing run of site links from an “separate” blog (different domain) helped, and cases where it clearly hurt. It’s not a simple process, unfortunately. If you have SERPs where you’ve had a substantial drop (falling down a few spots isn’t that much) that’s where I’d be testing – if you have anchor text links you can remove or modify, it’s worth trying.

  7. Thanks Dan…I kind of thought that might be the answer…one never quite knows. I’ve modified the links and we’ll see what happens. If I could have figured out a way to leave it as it was I would have as it made a relatively small site a good bit larger in pages and content, and I probably could have put it in a subdomain which may have been better than moving it entirely, but it is, where it is for now. So in testing this kind of thing…if I do see a drop from removing those links…is there a problem in putting them back later? Or, if I would decide to put the site back on a subdomain for instance, is there a problem with that? Stability probably looks better but…

  8. I have heard the use of the word penalties thrown around for spammy links – people have lost ranking but is this because the sites are receiving a “penalty” or just losing ground as they have more bad links than their competitors and their “bad” links disappear and the competitor loses fewer bad links. So when google tallies all the links the competitors have a higher total number. (But you are not being ranked lower based on the perceived method of obtaining links).