Don’t say I didn’t tell you so.

In February, when Google hit JC Penney with the Search Engine Invisibility bomb to punish them for employing Black-Hat SEO techniques, I applauded, but I’ve also suggested that Google can’t simply drop a company as large as JC Penney out of their index permanently, no matter how egregious their Black-Hat Search Engine Optimization might be.

What the right choice? Should Google drop a company guilty of employing Black Hat SEO a few dozen or a few hundred positions in their rankings? Should they penalize black-hatters by removing them from the index entirely, but allow them back in after a predefined period?

Looks like we’re going with “B”. Ninety days have passed. And JC Penney is back.

As this post at shows, JC Penney’s SEO rankings fell completely off a cliff. After 90 days, they bounced back a big piece of the way to where they were before being penalized. And they’ll come back the rest of the way, soon enough. I know this, because I’ve seen the effect of the Google 90-day Black-Hat SEO Penalty first-hand.

What does this say about Search Engine Optimization?

There’s a cynical part of me that wants to tell you that Black-Hat SEO is OK, so long as you do it SO well that Google has no choice but punish you with a slap on the wrist, and no more. I’m resisting that impulse. I suspect that Google has decided to mete out punishments, when called for, in a way that gets applied the same way for the same punishment—no matter who you are.

Of course, that means that big guys get punished and come back, where little guys get punished and go out of business. But the realities of business scale aren’t Google’s fault; this seems fair.

So yeah; it turns out that when it comes to Search Engine Optimization Penalties, Google Does Forget. Which is all the more reason to do SEO. But if you’re a small business, you’d really better do it the right way.

Last month, I showed you some details on how the long-tail marketing we do for ourselves here at Answer Guy Central works. I revealed the number of search engine impressions Google showed for us over a month’s time (75,000), that about 2,000 of those impressions led to people visiting Answer Guy Central, and most important that when it comes to discussing the long tail marketing effect, about 2600 separate search terms were pointing traffic at us.

Here’s this morning’s update:

The Ryan Giggs and Imogen Thomas Effect On Long Tail Marketing

You’ll note that on Monday, Google sent us so many impressions that extracting meaning from the graph becomes pretty much impossible. You’ll also note that our overall impressions and click-throughs, which Google provides as estimates, haven’t changed (although my guess is that since our day-over-day traffic is trending up and up and up—also as a result of how we do Search Engine Optimization and Long Tail Marketing—those numbers will look different in about a week).

But look at the number of search terms. Six weeks ago it was 2699. Now, we’re at 3155. That’s the long tail.

The spike in our long tail marketing numbers is due to drinking our own SEO Consulting Kool-Aid. More and more roads lead to Answer Guy Central, because we do Search Engine Optimization for ourselves the same way we do it for and teach our clients. But what about that huge spike at the end of the graph?

Thank you, Ryan Giggs, Imogen Thomas, and Sex.

When I wrote about the scandal that had spread from the British jurisprudence system to Twitter and back again, I created traffic to Answer Guy Central. I don’t expect Mr. Giggs, Ms. Thomas, or anyone in British Parliament to hire us as a result, and I have no statistics—yet—to show whether the traffic we get from that post creates clients directly. But I can tell you conclusively that as our traffic goes up, so does the number of phone calls we get. And that long tail is driving our traffic.

We’re for hire. If you’re looking for an SEO Consultant or Search Engine Optimization, is simple: Contact Us.

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