Surely you remember the dreaded Boogeyman from your distant childhood. He’s that frightening, nondescript monster who lived under your bed or in your closet – the thought of whom would make you cower and twitch as soon as your parents turned out the bedroom lights. My personal boog looked a lot like one of the creatures from Where the Wild Things Are, and luckily we reached a truce around the time I turned nine. Don’t kid yourself though, Braveheart. Boogeymen still exist in the adult world, and having come face-to-face with the buggers on many occasions I feel a sense of obligation to paint them with a scarlet ‘B‘ so the rest of the SEO community can steer clear themselves and, more importantly, help their clients sleep without a night light.
I’ve previously discussed the Click Fraud Boogeyman and now I’d like to introduce you to his older, meaner brother: the Penalization Boogeyman. But I’m getting ahead of myself. In my strange reality, where the sky is purple and I live on a Welsh submarine, a Boogeyman is defined as: “a bandied-about buzz-word that misinformed members of the media fill my clients’ heads with whom in turn needlessly make my life a living heck.” Said media can be as connected as an SEO “news” site, or as slow on the uptake as a CNN. The result, however, is always the same – me skating backwards, thowing punches like Tie Domi, when I should be actually working on the complainant’s behalf. And trust me, unreasonably skeptical client – I will eventually begin to bill you for that skating.
The kids are at the campfire, and the counselor is spinning a yarn about shops of Indians clicking PPC ads with an evil purpose, the duplicate content demons, or – for our purposes – Google penalization pixies. And now, when I should be writing a kick-ass article or developing a new domain on my client’s behalf, I’m instead tasked with dispelling myths, shooing away naughty witches and convincing my stable there are no sharks in the wading pool. Alright, enough with the cutesy horse puckey.
Does Google penalization exist? Of course it does, and it’s somewhat of a relative term. You can end up with the dreaded grey 0/10 PageRank bar, or you can drop in the rankings because you’re using the exact same content in too many places. The commandments, however, are very straightforward. Across all of the many websites I have worked on over the years I have never experienced total Google expulsion. SEO and SEM is like the Wild, Wild West – hence my slightly cowpokey blog theme – and if you cower in the corner like a wallflower, afraid to branch out and try new tactics or emerging media, your skill set will die on the vine just as sure as you’re reading this.
The vast majority of the time, websites penalized by Google genuinely deserve it – either through an ignorance of offending methods or a blatant disregard for fundamental guidelines that my 11-year-old cousin can recite for you. Limiting a project’s potential due to irrational penalization fears is like… wetting the bed because you’re afraid a big, hairy hand is going to grab your ankle if you try and make it to the bathroom. Stop living in fear and start raking in performance bonuses.