New Google Penalty

Are you suffering from the Google Sandbox, the -30 penalty, the -950 penalty, too many reciprical link partners, an anchor text or link spam related penalty, duplicate content issues, or the latest algorithm, search index, or quality update? It may not be what you think. DigitalGhost recently described Google's most common SEO related penalty:

Let me tell you about the most common penalty Google uses.

It doesn't have a catchy name, and people generally refuse to talk about it because this particular penalty requires taking responsibility. It's much easier to blame the +-30 penalty, the Sandbox or the new 950 penalty than it is to accept that you've been nailed with the most common penalty of all. What is it you ask?

It's the My Site Sucks Ass And Google Just Figured It Out penalty.

I have a theory that for most people it is easier to create something worth marketing than it is to push something of no value. And that is probably one of the hardest things to get around as an SEO, because SEO can make it seem addictive that we can influence markets without creating real value, but the people who make growing income each and every month are generally those who have at least one real site of real value. Sure you can use SEO to boost it, but it works best if the SEO is done in conjunction with other marketing and real market integration.

It sorta ties in with that whole how easy is it to clone your business concept I recently mentioned. If what you are doing is easy to clone then why not think of a way to add value and make it harder to clone. Sometimes that added value can be just slapping on a few marketing hooks, other times it might be listening to the needs of the market, or commoditizing the business models of competitors.

Recently a friend of mine launched a site and I got them to the top 20 using the general SEO techniques I can apply to any site, but I had them read that clone post and they told me brilliant ideas they could do to add value to their market by commoditizing people who do not even realize they are in the same market. If your marketing strategy is just SEO eventually you lose out when an SEO aware competitor cares about their market and/or uses other marketing techniques.

Published: January 24, 2007 by Aaron Wall in seo tips


July 7, 2007 - 5:00pm

I have made changes to my site to comply by Google Guidelines, but its still being penalized. . Any Suggestions?

January 24, 2007 - 9:40am

It's the My Site Sucks Ass And Google Just Figured It Out penalty.

yeah that is the most common one... all this trash on the internet. Start a directory site to get thousands of submissions having (or getting) this "Google penalty".

January 24, 2007 - 12:19pm

Wow, excellent post Aaron. I just finished reading your SEO book and I am highly impressed with the information. I hope to attend the Elite Retreat in Phoenix this September. Thank you very much for the wealth of wise information.

- Nate

January 24, 2007 - 12:58pm

Man, that was a funny article.

It makes me think about how important it is to get into a market that you really love and care about.

So you feel motivated and inspired to contribute great and useful content.

January 24, 2007 - 4:37pm

Great post Aaron. Nice catchy title too. I needed a catalyst to improve some of my sites... this is it.

January 24, 2007 - 6:03pm

Sadly, Google doesn't send out notification to webmasters that their site sucks and it's being penalized because of it. That might help.

January 24, 2007 - 7:01pm

Certainly the most prevalent Google penalty...

January 24, 2007 - 7:33pm

Yet there are still so many naff sites at the top of the Google rankings! Hopefully not too long before Google snifs em out!

January 24, 2007 - 7:35pm

I'm wondering what exactly you mean when you keep on saying things like these:

[QUOTE] If your marketing strategy is just SEO eventually you lose out when an SEO aware competitor cares about their market and/or uses other marketing techniques.

Actually I'm trying to learn about more than just SEO, but whenever I ask, people tell me something along the lines 'ditch other sorts of getting traffic, it's all about the search engines'.

Maybe this is really just a self-fulfilling prophecy as people who focus on SEO will of course get mostly traffic from SEO?

I know how viral marketing can contribute to SEO, but what other marketing techniques are you talking about?

Is it possible to get SIGNIFICANT traffic from techniques that have absolutely nothing to do with the engines? like viral marketing/direct traffic (by visible links from the top sites + finding cheap links from people who dont know their website's value)?

January 24, 2007 - 10:03pm

Hi Patrick
It is not just about traffic. It is about mindshare and market position. Search engines want to be (a somewhat biased) reflection of the marketplace.

Josh Smith
January 24, 2007 - 11:33pm

I'm going to hijack your blog for a second Aaron for just a small rant. I hope you don't mind.

Patrick brings up some interesting questions. At the moment, people often treat SEO as their all encompassing marketing strategy.

I personally consult on a more wholistic level. I think viral marketing, SEM, Affiliates, Press Releases, Blog Contributions and a lot more can all draw traffic to your site. SEO is just one of the many components that should go into any "real" marketing plan.

The problem is a lot of small web businesses out there are just looking for quick and easy money ala TheRichJerk style and so SEO gets put forward because it's relatively low resource. You don't need to write quality content, you don't have to build an interesting community, you don't really need to generate anything but a good sales page or adfarm and the traffic will flow and the money will roll in.

I believe this is a shortsighted way of looking at internet marketing, as traditionalist philosophies exist for a reason. They're not suddenly untrue because you can draw 5,000 clicks a day. If anything, they're even more so.

Pardon the rant, it's just a topic that annoys me lately. I suppose it's time to start a blog.

August 2, 2007 - 1:38am

Just go to for best prices.

January 25, 2007 - 12:23am

Hey Aaron -
If you are hit with the 'too many reciprocal links' as discussed in this article, is there anyway that Google notifies you? If not, how might you go about figuring out if you are being penalized by this or other search engine penalties?

January 25, 2007 - 12:51am

I have put a lot of creative energy and third party seo services into my site. Three years later I am realizing that seo work done by someone else can be increadibly frustrating with out perfect communication and hard work on both parts.

I think I am dealing with a "too many reciprical links" penalty right now. I have only recently figured this out by the info on this blog and in your book. Thanks. I guess it is alot better than getting the "my site sucks ass and google just figured it out penalty"

January 25, 2007 - 2:37am

i'm not aware of this "google penalty" ..
always remember the rules..follow the rules.. then, google will like you... :D

January 25, 2007 - 5:44am

Aaron, actually while I was typing this I realized, that you were probably talking about copywriting and especially branding, too..but I was really interested how you thought about getting traffic from other I remember the advice 'dont do SEO as a standalone tactic(?)' and how you keep stressing that SEO is great, but also mention how important it is for your website to be 'Google-proof' and how you liked seeing when an idea spread like crazy and it had nothing to do with SEO. Sort of made me feel like you have the same opinion as Josh and myself on this.


I'm only a beginner so I'm left guessing...and hoping..that there are other great ways to draw traffic to my sites, that can lower my risk profile a little bit so 60-80% of my traffic don't depend on 1 single search engine...I really dont like that idea.

Do you have enough experience with viral marketing to tell me if it has similar potential for a 23yr old like myself (who doesnt have much money)? Im really considering if maybe viral marketing might be able to help myself as much as SEO can and lower my risk profile at the same time.

Im thinking about buying a membership to James Pearson's viral marketing site (
You dont happen to know if this guy's stuff is good or know of some other viral (online) marketing expert who got a cool book or something?

January 25, 2007 - 8:17am

ah, the comlex art that is not sucking!

i love when something relatively simple gets over-intellectualized, then back to simple.

January 26, 2007 - 3:52am

Well, thats a catchy penalty name :P
I think it's more like a combination of different factors, scores and points and make this penalty.
Good tips about the different marketing techniques as well.

January 26, 2007 - 11:29am

About penalties. Please read about the "googlebombing" concept evolution . All fresh news.

Then I invite you to made a search about the most famous google boming example. The "miserable failure" google bomb pointing always to the George Bush home presidential page.

I think the White House SEO staff now can breath with ease and they will show off about their capabilites. At least they have manipulated the press but never they manipulate Google.

BTW: I have spend lots of time learning about google bombing for good purposes only. ..

Now i have to put all the knowledge in the garbage can?

January 26, 2007 - 6:41pm

Hmm what i should do, if i rank on -950?

January 26, 2007 - 9:53pm

I am not sure why anyone expects favors from Google on anything. They won't email you if you have bad text or are being penalized. It's your JOB to figure that out yourself. They just put the algorithm in the rest is up to you. They don't owe you anything.

January 27, 2007 - 5:25am

If you run a brochure site, you probably have this penalty.

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