How Google made me despise goats & press releases in one day

Derek Cromwell shares how he recovered from Google's press release links penaltyGoats that scream like humans are the funniest thing to me.

Excuse me… WERE the funniest.

You know the screaming goat in the Doritos commercial where its eyes went wide at the empty pantry, when all the Doritos went missing?

I did that, and it was all thanks to the latest July update from Google and their Blitzkrieg assault on press release links.

Never before have I ever had an issue with a Google update.  I practiced what I preached to my clients, so that meant that from the home page of my site to every piece of content I published I was all about my audience and delivering great content.

Are You &^%$#@ Kidding Me?

That was basically my reaction (post scream) when I got the slap from Google.  It was mid-August when I suddenly realized that my website was torn from page 1 of Google and shuffled all the way back to page 5 for my biggest money keyword.

My immediate reaction:

  • Sign out of Google and search again (didn’t help)
  • Switch browsers (didn’t change it)
  • Check from my smartphone (cried a little)
  • Checked from my laptop – page 6 (goat scream again, much louder this time)

I had the freak out that my clients have had so many times – the one where I have to calm them and tell them that it’s fixable.  It took me a few minutes to settle my nerves and try to figure out the cause.  I immediately turned to recent Google updates and that triggered it right away.

Uh-oh… My press release links.

I had done a number of press releases via PRWeb between 2010 and 2011.  When I published them they were one of the big pieces that helped push my visibility up for several keywords.  Now they were biting me in the ass.

I immediately logged into PRWeb, edited each, and stripped the anchored keywords away.  I changed nothing else and republished the releases.

Then I played the waiting game while I gingerly went about my content writing and marketing for by business.

Thankfully, as the days wore on, I began to see an immediate positive change as my site moved spot after spot up the pages – closer to page 1 each day.  I have yet to regain my original spot for most coveted keyword phrase but I’m confident that through the continued use of quality content that I will get there again.

“AAAAAAAAAaaaaaaa! But What About Me?!”

That ^%$#@ got you too, didn’t it?  Here’s some advice from my firsthand experience on how to recover when Google does come knocking and demands that you pay.

Take a breath – It’s going to affect your business.  It’s scary.  But there’s nothing you can do about it right this second.  Think about what you’ve done lately in your marketing, in the past, and what kind of updates have occurred in the world of search.  Take that info, pick it apart and define how you’ll respond

Here’s hoping you had and hung onto an editorial calendar so you know what you’ve been doing down to the day.

Undo what has been done – There aren’t too many things in life where you get a do-over.  Thankfully with the search engines we can do the “I didn’t take my hand off the piece” and fix our position… most of the time.

  • Keyword anchored links in a PR?  Remove them… immediately.
  • Spammy articles distributed online taking you down? Kill the author box links
  • Buying links and getting nailed for it?  Stop buying links, and request the others get taken down (or have them point to a competitor…. no seriously take them down.)

Plan for the future – Remember that despite all the changes that Google makes to their search algorithm and how content is ranked, they will never penalize you for having quality content.  It’s what you do with that content that matters.

The fastest way to recover from any downslide in the search results is to double down your efforts at producing, publishing and sharing really great content.  I’m confident that this, coupled with pulling those anchored links from my press releases, it’s what’s giving me such a quick recovery for competitive keywords in this industry.

And no more screaming goat videos.  It’s just not funny anymore.

About the Author ~ Derek Cromwell

Derek Cromwell is a graduate of the Success Works SEO Copywriting Certification program and founder of  He fancies himself as a website copywriter, peddling content marketing and copywriting to clients around the globe.  He enjoys well-deserved date nights with wife, military simulation paintball, raising his many children, and running with his rambunctious Siberian Husky, Bella.

photo thanks to PaulODonnell

Now through September 30th, save 25% off my SEO Copywriting Certification training with code SEPTEMBER


3 replies
  1. Asher Elran says:

    I feel your pain Derek. Press releases used to be considered as “white” hat SEO as it gets. After anchor text in press releases started being penalized may be the best SEO for ranking your site is just like you suggested “or have them point to a competitor…” strategy.


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