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Will Your Dealership be Affected by the Penguin 2.0 Update?

by Doug Antkowiak, SEO Specialist

Penguin 2.0 Launch

Google might tell you there is a new predator at the top of the web food chain. An animal so destructive, 65% of SEOs are still recovering from its devastating squawk. Give this monster a reason, and it will swallow your search rankings faster than a frozen sardine at Sea World.

Penguin 2.0 is Google's fourth update to the Penguin search algorithm, and this march against webspam isn’t stopping anytime soon. As sphenisciphobia (the fear of penguins) sweeps the web, here are a few tips to keep you as calm as the docile tones of Morgan Freeman’s voice.


Penguin Won’t Hurt You If It Trusts You

The Penguin algorithm update focuses on link building and trust. Back in the day, a link was a vote for your dealership website. More votes = more authority. Until recently, black hat SEO strategies revolved around gaming search algorithms by creating clusters of links from unrelated or foreign websites.

To combat these linking practices, Google designed Penguin to find websites with links from untrustworthy sources and penalize them with reduced visibility in organic search.

How is Penguin 2.0 Different?

Google is focusing on more aspects of spammy link building practices. Here are five red flags that this bigger, stronger, faster Penguin will be looking for:


Irrelevant or Low Quality Guest Blogging

You get what you give when it comes to automotive SEO. If you give irrelevant information or submit blog posts to low-traffic or untrustworthy websites, guest blogging won’t do you any good.
With that said, small businesses, like car dealerships, should be sharing news and information to their local neighborhood blogs and newspapers. Guest posts are still a good way to build links and visibility if it includes useful and original content.


Comment Spam

You won’t be violating Google’s user agreement if you reference your pasta salad recipe on your neighborhood’s Fourth of July comment board, but if you build too many blog comment links, Penguin will find you.


Article Marketing or Duplicating Content

Duplicate Content

If someone writes a blog post with a link to their website and submits to an article submission forum, some automated websites will spin or duplicate the work, spreading the post throughout the web. Since the process of article spinning (rewriting content) and duplicating blog posts doesn’t meet many editorial guidelines, Google knows the websites that utilize article marketing aren’t trustworthy and lowers the value of their links.


Paid Links & Exact Match Anchor Text

Google looks for a natural diversification of words in the anchor text of a link. If the majority of links pointing to a website use the exact same phrases, Google assumes users are manipulating or purchasing these links. Similarly, Google is targeting advertorials (ads that look like editorials) because they are essentially paid content, which violates Google’s user agreement.

Google does take into consideration exact match anchor text when it comes to brand names, but it is still a best practice to diversify the language of the anchor text pointing to your site.



Links from Dangerous Sites

Dangerous sites typically include pills, poker and pictures of naked people. Google is also targeting foreign-hosted domains (especially German sites) because of lower standards and practices. There are very few reasons for a car dealership in Detroit to have links on a website in Dubai.


How to Safeguard against Penguin in the Future

With all of these changes to Google, it’s important to remember that search engine optimization isn't a Ronco Rotisserie--- you can’t just set it and forget it. It’s important to work with your website provider and understand your link profile and your link building strategies.

In the end, the best Penguin repellent is a reputable SEO vendor, preferably one with a specialty in automotive, that only uses white hat strategies. If you have any questions, or think you have a pesky Penguin problem, contact your webmaster or SEO strategist.


About the Author

Doug Antkowiak Cobalt Automotive SEO Specialist

Doug Antkowiak is a Search Engine Optimization Specialist at Cobalt. In his current role, he forms strategies with car dealers to increase the relevance and rankings of their websites in organic search. Doug comes from an agency background with many years of experience as a copywriter, SEO and social media strategist for various clients, including Autoweek Magazine. If you see him on the road, he'll be driving his silver Honda Civic Hybrid named Egon. You can follow Doug on Google+ or on Twitter at @SocialDoug. Or feel free to reach out to Doug directly at

Views: 578

Tags: 2.0, Content, Google, Penguin, SEO, Strategy, Update, dealer


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Comment by Alexander Lau on July 18, 2013 at 10:58am

Developed by Paul Rushing, a member here.

10 Things Your SEO Company Won't Tell You

Nice work Paul! You make some very good points. Especially the "gaming the system" remarks in terms of backlinking:

7.  Every link they build violates Google's guidelines.  “Any links intended to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme.” Google would like to see a web where every link was given editorially.  I have provided millions of links for dealers and website vendors.  Some completely organic "looking" and others varying shades of gray.  I would not recommend any of that at this point.  Blog networks for link building now provide zero  value.  Your dealership should concentrate on getting links from automotive resources and other business in your local market.  If you have a blog like discussed in number three above and are providing good content that others see as valuable you will get the natural links that Google loves.  Link request should be made thinking about the traffic they would provide not the SEO value of the link.  If you keep those two points in mind your link building efforts will provide dividends and never place your website at risk. 

Comment by Alexander Lau on July 18, 2013 at 6:52am

Ralph, I used Cobalt for over 5 years and during that time period they provided poor execution in terms of their web hosting services (CMS failures, SEO, etc). Therefore, I think it's my right as a contributor to this forum and duty to let everyone know of my experiences. Are we not going to bat for the dealers themselves or is this is a sales forum? Not that it matters, as most dealers are held down by the OEM and web service provider compliance.

I don't care if they post their wares on this forum, super have at it. It just opens them up to the reality behind their impersonal and poor services.

I'm still waiting for legitimate answers from my first post. Blanket statements help no dealership. What is their process?

Comment by Ralph Paglia on July 18, 2013 at 6:45am

Alexander Lau - Having a professional network that is open and uncensored means that your ultra critical comments receive free air play without moderation (obscenities would be). Likewise, the Cobalt Group is a well established, well staffed, high R&D budget legitimate supplier and one of the auto industry's pioneers and leaders in the historical and ongoing development of digital marketing and online advertising for car dealers.

I have personally and professionally competed with Cobalt for OEM business for over 11 years... 7 years at Reynolds and 4 years at ADP.  The Cobalt Team is a formidable group of professionals, know what they are doing and have resources that eclipse most of their competitors. So, while I will take shots at Cobalt myself from time to time, I disagree with your suggestion that they should not be allowed to post their blogs, articles and forum discussions.

Cobalt is also an ADM Professional Community sponsor, which is how the network can operate without charging user fees and be able to host and deliver over 30 GB of data each month. 

If you are so "tired" of the Cobalt "pitches" then why do you seem so attracted to them and post more comments to them than anyone else? I think Rush Limbaugh is an idiot, so I don't listen to his broadcasts...

The people that work for the largest digital marketing and advertising provider in the auto industry certainly have a right to participate on ADM, as do you... Give them a break!

Comment by Alexander Lau on July 18, 2013 at 6:16am

You're right Manny and still not a peep out of Doug. Silence is proof. Just another sales pitch here. Growing tired of it, might have to look for a new forum.

Comment by Alexander Lau on July 17, 2013 at 10:41am

@Doug, again, while working for a super dealer, as their internet marketing manager, I caught one of your "SEO specialists", writing nearly the same exact competitor descriptions, titles tags using the same demographic data, provided to us. The competition (forced to use Cobalt as well) was only 25 miles away. You cannot favor one dealership versus another in the same general location, you must have some sort of non-compete clauses developed into your contracts.

Additionally, your SEO people have to dial into the same dB and pluck the same generic, template descriptions or you wouldn't be able to manage the numbers you currently have, impossible. How do you balance the workload, what is the process, exactly?

Also, I dealt with a number of Cobalt SEO people. I was never able to find the same person twice (impersonal experience). Either Cobalt would move the person or this was being done through a team effort. No one truly knew what was going on internally and there was absolutely zero process or goals set.

Additionally, the reason you say "Your active participation with your SEO Specialist is the key to differentiating your dealership from your competitors" is because Cobalt fails to understand dealership demographics. I used to have to school your SEO people in areas where our customers were the greatest. It's not always about population, that's actually a bad way of looking at it, through my own experience. In other words, don't go into the SEO business if you fail to understand the entire country.

The title of your article is "Will Your Dealership be Affected by the Penguin 2.0 Update?", unsure what you mean by other marketing services...? Besides Content and Social (really just SEO components now), what do all of your services have to do with the Penguin 2.0 Update?

Comment by Doug on July 17, 2013 at 10:07am

To answer your question Manny, we can tell you that with our large team of SEO specialists at Cobalt, we make sure that no one person works on two competing dealerships in the same market. We measure our SEO strategists based on the performance and success of their marketing strategies, which are unique to each dealership’s goals and needs. Your active participation with your SEO Specialist is the key to differentiating your dealership from your competitors.


Keep in mind that search engine optimization is only a part of the marketing strategy. Cobalt offers the solutions for many car dealers to achieve their goals, but at the end of the day, the dealers that are energized and involved in these efforts experience the most success. If you’d like more details, please don’t hesitate to contact me on Twitter @SocialDoug

Comment by Curt Kelley on July 15, 2013 at 10:43am
Comment by Alexander Lau on July 15, 2013 at 8:44am

Manny, another reason to stay away from them. Exactly!

Comment by Alexander Lau on July 15, 2013 at 6:47am

I've used Cobalt SEO while working for a super dealership two years ago. By no means was their PowerSEO very powerful. Our sites lacked content and punch, there was no clear definition of the SEO processes being used. Very few backlinks were created (I'd get a an E-mail once in a while stating "We've created one backlink for you, hooray!"). Frankly, you'd been selling "SEO" to a bunch of unbeknownst suits, before I walked in and cancelled your package, entirely.

You're making blanket statements, which helps no one. Dangerous sites, which dangerous sites? Backlink diversity (numbers?), both in terms of backlink source and anchor text. Same with blog comment links, numbers, exactly? Article marketing, what's your process, do you write based upon search volume or whatever the dealership wants? 

Per the usual, another blatant Cobalt advertisement, folks. If you're chained to the wall based upon OEM compliance (should be illegal on all levels, including website hosting = monopolization), fine, but if not, look for a better option than Cobalt SEO. There's nothing powerful about it.

Comment by Alexander Lau on July 15, 2013 at 6:25am

Not if their Cobalt hosted site is down, much like you did to a boatload of dealership's recently.

Cobalt dealership Web sites disrupted by traffic deluge

Many auto dealerships that use digital marketing vendor Cobalt to power their Web sites -- including General Motors' dealer network in the United States -- had their service disrupted today by a deluge in Web traffic. Cobalt is "addressing this issue with the highest priority," said Chris Reed, Cobalt vice president, in a statement.

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