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Hey Simon, I think you have hit the nail on the head there. Any business that hangs it marketing hat on Google and Google alone, then they on shaky ground. Whether that is from algorithm changes or challenges in their niche, or bigger, more established players stepping up matters not. One single volatile marketing channel is risky business.
The stories of innocent people caught up in this is hard to take, small businesses that have been spending money with a local SEO company only to see their rankings tank when the blog network their 'SEO' was using got hit or the dubious links that were being purchased got hit - that is tough and they are collateral damage in this war on spam.
Another side of this is the many businesses suffering because their honest SEO attempts are not competing with the spam in their niche, that is another set of people who have been suffering, that may well be better off now (probably not, most likely still squashed by brands and big players but... it's an ethical argument at least).
We are content focused so I am hoping that despite the pain, this will work out and the better, content driven sites will get the visibility they deserve in the ever smaller bit of screen space google leaves for organic at least.
It's the wild west no more, sheriff Google has rounded up Black Hat Bart and his band of link wranglers!
1 year ago on Google Penguin and Webspam Penalties – Where Will it All End?