I have a number of sites built using the open eCommerce software zen cart. One of these sites was penalised by the original Penguin algorithm back in April 24, 2012. The reason for the penalty was that two ecommerce sites in Hong kong had a link to the above site in the footer of their 2000 & 4000 product website. I have no idea why the site had these inks and even though I did contact them a few months before the Penguin massacre asking them to remove the footer link but that said, I was technically unaware of the ticking time bomb that they presented.
The result, as is now engrained in SEO history, was that the site was moved to sit alongside Googles equivalent of the restaurant at the end of the universe and stayed there for 2 long years until April 2014.
As I had never indulged in link building for the simple reason that I found it laborious I was obviously infuriated with the resulting loss of revenue but that was balanced with an understanding that I had not kept pace with the changing landscape of SEO according to Google.
The quest I am now on is to increase my 3 sites profile on the web without getting another spanking from Google in the near future. The problem I have is that white hat today may well be black hat tomorrow. (I can recall the days when Google said links are good and everyone went out and asked other websites to link with them and look where that led.)
So do I ignore actively cultivating links as some suggest and look to produce good content (which is quite difficult when you make mugs and candles by the way.) or do you go out and look to intentionally build links by studying competitors links, reviewing link opportunity or use other means which could soon just as easily become illegal as deemed by the penguin.
For a small lifestyle entrepreneur like myself, the ever changing seo landscape and the amount of time & effort it requires is slowly and inevitably pushing us back out to that restaurant mentioned earlier.
If only Google had a little brother that was designed purely for small businesses – like it was in the good old days before the dinosaur that is big business lifted its head and thought hmmm! whats that?
On a personal note I would like to add a caveat that trying to feed the Google monster for positional gain generate pointless amount of cyber content leading to the web becoming something akin to a SEO landfill.
Which leaves me nowhere really – but I think I am okay with that.