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Bouncing Back from Penguin 2.0 Hit

Posted on 7.08.2013

One company’s story of figuring out what went wrong after the Penguin 2.0 update and, now, how to fix it.


Google’s Penguin 2.0 update caused a lot of websites, including mine, to take a beating in terms of search engine rankings. If you’re operating a small niche business, this can be deadly. When you’re appealing to a narrow market, your target audience has to be able to find you.

It quickly became apparent that even though Google designed the Penguin 2.0 update to counteract artificial search engine optimization, some of the sites that emerged as the biggest winners in high-profile searches were obvious spam sites. Further analysis of sites that suffered dramatic changes in search engine status, whether positive or negative, revealed that the authority of linking sites makes a huge difference. Sites that emerged as winners after Penguin 2.0 had many more links from high-domain authority sites, while sites that ended up being losers had many more links from sites with only moderate domain authority.

In order to regain our status for HelmetMan.com, it was clear that we needed to work harder to get links from a wide variety of high-quality sites. To get these great links, we knew we needed to create even more valuable content that would attract people into linking to us. In the aftermath of Penguin 2.0, we’re refocusing our energy on great content, like blog posts and high-level PR, which provides information that both experienced power sports enthusiasts (our market) and newbies will find valuable. We’re also working on establishing a stronger brand identity for The Helmet Man, because good PR is the best way to earn positive attention in a natural way.

It’s a challenge that tests our creativity and especially our resilience, but I wouldn’t have gotten into the helmet business in the first place if I wasn’t serious about surviving to fight another day. After Penguin 2.0, my team and I are looking forward to the challenge of rebuilding an online brand that’s as strong as the products we sell.


Tom Doran is the owner of The Helmet Man, a Web resource selling protective headgear for sports ranging from automotive racing to snowboarding. He has over 20 years experience in the power sports industry and previously served as the president of Bell’s motorcycle helmet division. Tom has worked with top power sports athletes, like Jeremy McGrath and Larry Ward, to develop and test helmets that set the technological standard for safety, style, comfort and reliability.

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