A lotta mass hysteria going on these days regarding Penguin 2.1. Look I get it, sites got smashed and incomes lost. However to be honest there is no point in over-analyzing what happened etc. because you already know more or less what was the cause was etc., but the theories that come up are only speculation at best. So lets move forward. As someone that manages/tracks thousands of keywords across hundreds of sites/niches etc this is what I can tell you from the data. - Some high quality websites that were 100% white hat got hit (zero linkbuilding) - Some sites that are purely propped up on spam remain on top - Some sites with tons of original content got hit - Some sites with crappy content remain on top etc. etc. The point is people are trying to "make sense" out of an algorithm that is flawed. You're trying to make a rational argument out of something that is imperfect. It is pretty clear that Google is a clusterfuck. I mean why do things like the disavow tool and spam report forms even exist? Because the algorithm is flawed. Everyone here (or at least should) know how to get a website to the top of Google. The only question is how long will it stay there. Sure some methods are more "stable" than others, however nobody can definitively say with 100% certainty that a method is "update proof". What is "white hat" today may be deemed "black hat" tomorrow. What provides stable rankings today, may not do so tomorrow. Think about what happened on the latest updates: - Some sites with paid links / blog network links etc. tanked - "White Hat" web 2.0 tiered linkbuilding schemes were hit - Some sites with pure automated spam are on top etc. etc. These updates should tell you that the only things that are guaranteed are: 1. Nothing is guaranteed for sure 2. Google doesn't give a [email protected]# about you If you build a 100% high quality content site and only focus on building "great content", that doesn't mean your site won't tank in a future update. Likewise just because you build a "spammy" site doesn't mean it will be penalized in the future. Sure some "methods" are more "stable" than others, but remember nothing is 100% guaranteed. I read a lot of people talking about "white hat" and how they are going to go 100% "white hat", and that would be a great solution if it wasn't for the following reasons: 1. Just because you do everything "white hat" doesn't guarantee you will never get hit 2. Doing something white hat isn't necessarily the most "profitable" route Remember at the end of the day whether you do something black/gray/white etc. the only thing that matters is PROFITS. A lot of Warrior Forum nuthuggers are parading around in their mom's basement about how "white hat" is great and all the black hatters got trashed (wrong of course), however I just laugh because I live in the real world. In the real world, time and resources are not without limit. You know how stupid you sound when you go to a business talking about your "white hat" methods, but oh wait, it'll cost them $5,000/mo for you to manage their site? At the end of the day it all comes down to the numbers. To be honest I could give a F#*% if I stayed on top of Google forever if the costs of doing so is more than the profits it brings in. Remember at the end of the day it is all about "profitability". I am not saying that you should go black, gray, white or whatever hat, I am just saying that too often people lose site of the main objective, which is to profit. Of course Matt Cutts and his Google circle jerk buddies are gonna say "spammy links are bad" and focus on great content blah blah blah and Google will reward you. If only that were true. If building something 100% white hat made a site bulletproof, the argument would be valid. However these updates show that this may only be correct "most of the time". I mean would save save save everything and never spend anything and put all your money in a bank that was uninsured and could possibly get robbed tomorrow? Maybe, maybe not. If you do this I mean are you really more intelligent than the guy who takes all his money and blows everything and saves nothing? Maybe, maybe not. SEO is a gamble, what risk you take only you can decide. Moving forward you know what works, you know how to rank a site, the only question really is "how long will it last?" And to be honest nobody can answer that. If your site was hit, rebuild. Shit happens. Whether you choose to do it white, gray, or black hat is a matter of personal preference, and no method is necessarily better than the other. Just do what at the end of the day is the most profitable for you and your business, and never forget that at the end of the day it's not how you get there, but whether or not you get there. So BHW seriously, just get back to work, everything will be fine.