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Post-Penguin SEO Advice for Beginners

Post-Penguin SEO Advice for Beginners

It seems like the SEO world has changed and so will the internet marketing world. With the large amount of old and outdated content out there it can be hard for newcomers to find solid advice and gain a foothold. There are many techniques that just don't work anymore yet they are still being pushed and/or sold to people who don't know any better.

So here is a little bit of advice to protect yourself and your sites. I’m not an SEO expert but I know enough to be able to help new people not make the mistakes that will get their sites penalized or worse. At least help them get a starting point.

evil penguins from the update
So lets begin.

If You Don’t Know What You Are Doing… Don’t Be Stupid

Stupid equals:

  • Taking shortcuts - Anything spammy, mass producible or easy. Yup that’s right, easy. If it is easy everyone can do it. Google will devalue it or penalize it eventually. Easy is short term, you want long term.
  • Relying on other people - If you don’t know something about SEO never trust someone else to do it. Don’t buy products or services. Do it first yourself to make sure it works.
  • Believing advice from other people (including me) - Never trust anyone. Don’t take any advice as fact. There is no fact in SEO. Test everything. Never trust someone with your site information or anything people can exploit or steal.
  • Not experimenting and testing on your own - You must test everything. Following someone else’s advice may work for a short time but you’re screwed as soon as the games changes even slightly because you didn’t learn how to do it yourself and adapt. Trust yourself and test every new method you hear about on a site you don’t mind losing before going all out with it.
  • Not thinking long term - What works today might get your site de-indexed or penalized tomorrow.


Why You Need to Be Careful

It doesn’t take much to get your site penalized these days and many of the penalized small sites may never recover, or might not be worth fixing. Before you do any SEO to a site consider if getting a penalty is worth it. But aside from that there is simply so much bad information out on the internet about SEO, the chances of newbies screwing up are getting higher by the day.

Old SEO Advice

Google some random SEO search and more than likely the results will be articles from three months ago or older. Which means Penguin didn’t exist when they were written. If you are reading articles from 2010 and applying those ideas today, you may be in for a world of hurt. The information could be good and relevant but it also could burn you if you just take it as fact and don’t use your brain.

Really this same thing holds true for internet marketing in general. If the technique has been around for years and there are tons of people selling all kinds of crap for newbies, chances are the money is already gone and dried up. Only the vultures are left, preying on the folks looking for “passive income” and “get rich quick”.

Many of the original SEO techniques from back in the day still work. But if you are reading articles about how well blasting a bazillion links or spinning articles are working, you may want to reconsider applying those techniques, at least on sites you care about.

Always ask yourself:

  • Is this technique too easy, too good to be true? If it is easy everyone would do it and it won’t be worth anything.
  • Am I doing this to benefit my users or just improve my ranks in the SERPs?
  • Is this a longterm strategy or a short-term fix?

If you are building site to sell or for short term profit then by all means, take some risks but if you are building a longterm business out of your site(s) really consider the SEO choices you make.

What Do the Search Engines Want?

Search engines want the best experience for their users. That is it. Which means they don’t want:

  • Spam
  • Over-optimized content (content made for search engines not people)
  • Scraped Content
  • Irrelevant or unreadable content
  • Spun Content
  • Content with lots of grammatical and spelling errors
  • Thin content with little or no use to anyone
  • Sales pitches disguised as something else

You can have success ranking sites with these things but only in the short term.


Most people are sick and tired of hearing about quality. Search engines cannot determine or measure quality, no matter what they or other people say. Search engines can see most of the things I’ve listed above. Aside from that they can only really determine what the content is about and how much of it there is. Which means simply having a large volume of content on one specific topic you wish to rank for can help. Duh.

Aside from that, perceived authority is the other determining factor. Who you get links from. Probably some social factors. 

What Still Works?

Like I said above, test these and every method you try. Don’t take mine or anyone else’s word for it. Try new techniques on your smaller sites you wouldn’t mind losing if things go wrong.

If you notice, most of these techniques have been around for years and they still continue to work. Anything could happen, but seeing that something worked four years ago and it still works today means it hopefully will be working four years down the road.

Quality Directories

Search engines still like directories, paid or otherwise, as long as they maintain a high level of quality for the sites they accept.

Guest Posts & Article Marketing

These have been around forever and should be solid ways of building links into the future.

The one problem I see with both is people can write great articles and link them to garbage sites. There is no way to confirm the site being linked to are relevant to the article or of equal quality. Still I don’t know what the search engines can really do to combat this.

Press Releases

Been around forever, should continue to work.

Building a Brand

Building a business and a brand is a longterm SEO goal. If you aren’t willing to put your name on something it probably isn’t quality. This is building authority.

Social Presence

Having a large presence across the web, not just a website. Accounts on all the major social platforms, or at least the ones relevant to your business and an active following. You can buy followers but not a real social presence. This is also building authority.

Blog Comments and Answering Questions

Not worth a whole lot but still worth something.


If you feel like doing some reading (a lot of reading). Here are the places to start. Going from complete beginner to knowing what you’re doing to advanced stuff.

Disclaimer: I’ve purposely chosen stuff here that might be contradictory. One person may say one thing and the next person totally disagrees. Remember SEO isn’t fact and there are many way to do the same thing and make it work. The point is to use your brains people and by showing you some different opinions you can 1) see what information is out there and 2) learn to take the bits and pieces that make sense for you and apply them to your own business.

Start with the super basics. As in find out what the search engines say about search engine optimization.

Google’s Guide to SEO. What Google says about seo. Not everything you should take as gospel obviously but it helps to know how Google feels about certain things. Look at how many stupid questions there are on the forums and such. Lots of the answers can be found right here in this little PDF.

Also listen to Matt Cutts. Well not this particular video… but it is good to keep an eye on what the Big G is up to. If you want to use their service you should at least understand their rules and what they are attempting to do.


SeoMoz Beginners Guide. Lots of people hate SEOMoz and the people on it, but I still think this guide is a good place for new people to start.

Chris Coyier on SEO. A podcast on seo from someone who is very successful on the web who doesn’t do seo. You aren’t going to get any amazing tips but hopefully you can see how making a quality site can lead to success, even with just basic seo knowledge.

This video is about analyzing traffic, specific of internet marketers, with real site examples. It starts out really basic but trust me its worth it. Skip to around 28 minutes to get to some actual site examples. This will help you analyze your traffic and find longtail keywords that will increase your conversions, not just increase traffic.


Or just subscribe and see the webinars as they come out. They are long but really quite good. Community SEO on Youtube.


The more popular internet marketing/seo forums. Places to ask questions, find little nuggets of knowledge and maybe find some people to outsource to or provide services you don’t want to do yourself like article writing.

Warrior Forums The warrior forums are where you go when you need to ask a dumb question or are totally new. Lots of bad information here and lots of people looking to sell you stuff but still you can find some good amongst the bad.

Black Hat World Even if you plan on being totally white hat it helps to understand how the other side lives.

Digital Point Another well traveled forum.

Wickedfire Some good information spread out amongst the various posts. Requires a lot of digging. I’d recommend not posting anything, just read and take it all in. The humor and attitude of the members is pretty juvenile and they tend to be as rude as humanly possible when people ask dumb questions or need to be called out for their bs but this is the internet and occasionally there is something that is actually funny.


Blue Hat Seo The site seems to go down somewhat frequently and there are lots of visible php errors but the information is great. A lot of the actual techniques are outdated but the theory is pretty solid. Lots of good tips and ideas. Worth reading the whole blog.

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Couchable is a web design blog created by Tyler Herman. Not really updated anymore because I'm busy doing freelance design work and busy launching my little WordPress theme shop Real Theme Co. You can read a little more about my at my personal site