Given the seemingly endless announcements that websites, link networks, and even large companies have been punished for unethical link building, a growing number of webmasters and SEOs are becoming paranoid that their websites could be next on the chopping block.


As the list of Google casualties grows longer by the day, it’s tempting to think that your website could be next. The reality, particularly for white hat SEOs engaged in little more than ethical, straightforward link building and content creation, is that the likelihood of having a white hat website unfairly punished is very low.


By and large, Google’s policy updates have been targeted at the most egregious and obvious offenders. Websites that used massive amounts of automated links were the first target, falling quickly to Google’s Panda update. As a result, SEOs entered into a state of collective paranoia regarding which of their practices could get them hit.


Amazingly, it was none – very few white hat SEOs were affected by Panda at all, and even fewer saw anything more than a tiny drop in rankings. The next major update to Google’s algorithm – this one called Penguin – had much the same effect. Some of the worst websites took a serious hit, but almost all ethical websites survived.


There’s a tendency to default to paranoia and silliness in SEO communities when any form of change arises. It’s only natural, given the somewhat fluid nature of the SEO industry itself. Changes often come with little clarification or reason, making it natural to resort to farfetched theories and defense mechanisms.


For ethical SEOs that stick to white hat link building strategies, however, there truly isn’t anything to worry about. If your conscience is as clean as your site’s backlinks, you can sleep freely knowing that you won’t be hit by any future policy updates.