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The Impact Of Penguin On SEO: Should You Scrap Your Site?

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Youíve spent years building up an online presence, only to see the Penguin updates erode visitor numbers and reduce sales. Is it now time to give up and to start again with a new site?

This may well be a question that youíve been asking yourself and itís certainly something that I find myself being asked by those who have run into such problems. The answer is not always easy to find and tends to vary from one case to the next.

A question of time

The first point to make is that you will wish to produce a recovery as quickly as possible. Thatís true of pretty much everyone in this situation and it can be incredibly frustrating to learn that the solution is unlikely to be found overnight.

You may have encountered Google penalties before and seen a return to business as usual within a matter of days. This time around, itís fair to say that things are different. Typically, you may be looking at many months, before you see a recovery.

The time thatís involved will go part of the way to explaining why some people think about scrapping an existing site and starting again. After all, surely that will be quicker?

A new site wonít rank immediately

I often find myself explaining to local clients here in Hampshire that SEO doesnít tend to produce overnight results. We all know, of course, that itís possible to produce great results using techniques that will soon lead to penalties. Sustainable SEO, on the other hand, is something that takes a lot of time to get right.

This is obviously a problem, particularly in the case of a brand new website. Itís bound to take time to get some real traction, meaning that it may not actually be quicker than producing a recovery in your own site. Youíll need to take a judgement on what is best for you.

The cost of a recovery

Iíve seen many website owners attempting to resolve Google Penguin penalty issues themselves, but such an approach rarely delivers results. The problem here is that a considerable level of expertise is required, in order to understand and implement the necessary steps.

In practical terms, this means that you will be engaging the services of a search engine marketing professional. They will probably want to be paid a reasonable hourly rate to cover out the recovery tasks, particularly since this element of SEO work is not particularly interesting. In effect, this means that there is clearly a cost associated with producing a recovery. By the same token, however, you do need to take into account the fact that ranking a new site will cost something.

Great SEO costs more

It would be impossible to discuss costs without also mentioning the fact that good quality SEO costs more than poor quality SEO. Thatís an unfortunate reality of the situation and can come as quite a shock. If youíve been relying on buying cheap link building packages, for example, then sustainable SEO strategies are going to look pretty expensive in comparison.

Itís also true that the work involved in cleaning up a link building mess may be considerably more expensive than having those links built in the first place. Why should this be the case? Essentially, the original links were probably built by someone without an enormous amount of SEO knowledge. You now need a professional to get you results.

How much is it reasonable for you to pay? That`s not an easy question to answer and will largely depend upon the sector that you are looking to target. It almost goes without saying that it`s that bit more difficult to focus on keywords that will attract a nationwide, or even an international, audience.

Local targeting

It may make more sense for you to target local search terms. In these cases, it`s often that bit easier to get movement at an early stage. Perhaps more importantly, visitors to your site are more likely to convert into genuine leads and sales. This can partly be explained by the fact that they will be more highly targeted. Also, some people are certainly happier to spend their money with local businesses. There`s no shame on building upon this fact.

So it`s clear that local targeting can often be more cost-effective, enabling you to reduce your SEO expenditure. It is worth noting, however, that most of the tasks that are required will be exactly the same. If your SEO provider is going to be making extensive use of guest blogging, to take just one example, then they aren`t likely to reduce costs considerably by simply looking to focus on the local area.

In the case of that particular example, they will still be needing to handle the outreach process and the writing of good quality articles. It may be the case, however, that everything can be done on a much smaller scale. This may ensure that it`s possible to gain fewer blog slots.

What does this all mean for you? I would suggest that the hourly rate that you pay is likely to be the same, but that you may be able to budget for requiring fewer hours of actual assistance.


Before taking that decision to launch a new site, you clearly need to weigh up the implications. Either way, I would suggest that itís unlikely that you will bring about a particularly rapid recovery.

The loss of positioning that was caused by Penguin should be taken as a sign that Google was not very keen on the approach that you were taking previously. I`m aware that some website owners have taken the decision to scrap existing sites, prior to replicating the techniques that were used previously, albeit on a new site.

This seems to me to be a recipe for disaster. After all, the problem was not caused by the site itself: the issues result from the way in which your previous site was promoted online. If it is your intention to create a new site, then it should be clear that you will also be in need of a new methodology.

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Keith Barrett is an SEO consultant and advises a range of clients in Hampshire and surrounding areas within the UK. He helps those who have been hit by the latest Google algorithm changes.

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