Google Penguin and The Children's Furniture Store

Emmanuel Rivera's picture
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Google Penguin and The Children's Furniture StoreLet's say, hypothetically speaking of course, that the Google update, code name Penguin was a major flop. What if Penguin failed to accomplish what it was programmatically designed to do, detect low quality links, detect over optimized anchor texts and keyword stuffing? Maybe it wouldn't be such a big deal for Google to candidly discuss the particulars of the failure, but I doubt it. It's just not the Google way. But what if in the process of failing the Penguin update had caused untold harm to legitimate Web sites and the businesses behind them?

Several months ago I came upon an article on the article is based on a tweet made by Jane Copland about a small online business in the UK, Children's Furniture Store.

Jane's tweet was about an online letter in which they (CFS) announced that, due to the Penguin update, they were forced to close their business down. As you can imagine, substantiating such an allegation would be impossible without access to business and financial records and even then the site may have closed due to some undisclosed personal problem. Maybe the result for closing the business was a combination of contributing factors and Google's Penguin made a good scapegoat. 

It's quite eerie to visit the site. What we can see without refute is that the site has been laid to waste -de-indexed - as in Pharaoh declaring to be wiped from all records as to remove any evidence of its existence. The actual site doesn't even look the same today as it did two days ago when it had some resemblance of how it once looked. Maybe I pulled up a cached version. Not only was the site not found in Google but it wasn't found in,, or Yahoo! Ironically, when you visit the site, you find "Google AdSense" ads down every page.

The case makes for an excellent case study, at least it did before the crime scene was cleaned up. That's what it looks like. Now that the site has been de-indexed and disavowed by the community at large one can only speculate that its downfall was the result of gross linking activity. Surely it can't be an isolated case.

Fair Warning: Google Update Coming Soon

Historically, Google never announces an update until it has actually been launched. Sure, there has been one or two hints in the form of slips, but for all we know the so called slips could have very well been some form of counter intelligence, maybe to incite a bleep on their radar. Or not.

As for Google admitting that the Penguin update fell short of its mark would be the equivalent of inviting a slew of litigation maybe in the form of a class action lawsuit thus the use of idealized misdirection in an effort to justify collateral damage.

Many may argue that if a business is going to hire someone to promote their Web site in the search arena that it's the business's responsibility to assure that they're getting the right representation. Some may even say that it's their responsibility to know the particulars of what is right and wrong that field of knowledge. How many people who hire Web site designers know anything about HTML, CSS, JavaScript or PHP? Let's re-frame the question, how many tax payers know the particulars of their tax system or how their tax preparers use loopholes in the tax laws to get their clients bigger returns? No, and the same can be said about any field of knowledge where a consumer feels compelled to hire an expert they hire to fill a gap in knowledge. 

Regulation is not the answer. As in the trades and professions, think Wall Street and banking, regulations and laws come into effect after wrong has been done, and, as in most circumstances, it's the consumer that's left holding the short end of the stick.


If there's a takeaway to this story it would be kin to "Buyer Beware" where the weight of responsibility, for better or worse, falls on the consumer, though historically that has changed from time to time depending on the political climate (USA), it's always best to err on the side of caution. 

A great man, gambler and businessman, once advised me, "Before doing business with a man, make sure you can touch him".

As such, before signing up with an SEO company, it’s important to research the company's history, reputation and depth of client relationships making sure that references are not being faked. Make sure that affiliations, certifications and awards are real, independent and verifiable.


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