Penguin 2.0: Breaking The News to Clients

Everyone’s favourite algorithm update is back and better than ever!

Matt Cutts sparked a frenzy in SEO spheres last week when he announced they were close to rolling out the sequel to last year’s infamous update that crushed dreams and gave spam it’s first real kick in the prunes. It made a devil out of anchor text and turned the SEO faithful from the darkness into the light of “content marketing” (read: guest post links)

Rumour has it that this next one’s a real doozy. If you’re honest, you might not have been playing as nice as your company blog insists.

Fear not!

In preparation for the massive reckoning about to befall you, I’ve prepared some template e-mails you can send to clients  that should get you completely off the hook! I’ve categorized them by the type of excuse you’d like to employ:

Negative SEO Attack

Dear client,

Would you believe it? While we were off doing pure, white hat SEO, some unscrupulous shysters came along and built thousands of directory links with the anchor text of all the terms we were going for! We didn’t catch it until now because we were so busy creating great content and building relationships, but rest assured, we will track down whoever’s responsible and make them pay for this. It’s just another reason the _______ niche has gotten so competitive lately.

“The last SEO guys you hired were total scam artists..”

…. as it would turn out, the SEO’s you hired back in ______ are completely to blame for your site being impacted by this update. While we’ve focused on unadulterated quality from day one, those last guys rode in on a dark horse, spammed your site to death with forum profile links and galloped off into the sunset with your money. We certainly had nothing to do with this (please don’t go back and read any of the reports we’ve sent you, they’re completely irrelevant now), but we look forward to being the helping hand that pulls you out of the enormous field of manure you’ve found yourself in. Thank God you switched when you did!

Blame the Intern

… while working on a completely separate internal project, our hapless intern accidentally used YOUR URL in a Xrumer blast instead of the intended website. We can assure you that this totally non-fictional intern has been terminated effective immediately as we work to clean up the mess he inadvertently caused. Please know that we’ve updated our training manual and hiring documents to add an extra emphasis to “attention to detail” so this never happens again.

The Bait N’ Switch

We regret to inform you that your site was heavily impacted by the most recent Penguin update. Visibility has been completely lost for all targeted phrases including your brand name; traffic has dropped by nearly 85%. The cause appears to have been the unnatural link profile accumulated on your behalf over the past several years. 

We also regret to inform you that WiseClick SEO has officially ceased operations and declared bankruptcy. We apologize for the inconvenience we’re sure this has caused you.

Fortunately, we’re excited to announce WiseClick Content Marketing, an exciting new venture entirely focused on the creation and curation  of awesome, share-worthy content! Our prices begin at…

The “Southern States” Approach

Client, now is the time to act! It appears that Google has been hacked by  capitalism-hating commie socialists, determined to destroy the American way of life, take away your guns and rob you of your constitutional liberties. The only way to thwart this great evil is to stand together and invest in this great nation through pay-per-click ads…

Take the Money & Run

…by the time you read this, “Bob Krandal the SEO” will be no more. Do not try to contact me. I’ve changed my name, sold off all of my possessions and travelled to a new sunset far away from here where I plan to frolic in the waves with shapely local women and drink Shirley Temples. I’m sorry for the way this played out. I still believe somewhere deep inside of me that I’m a good person, I never meant for it to end like this..

Get Angry

Listen, you bunch of half-wits! We mentioned the phrase “content marketing” like FIVE TIMES in our e-mails and reports to you. That you can’t understand a good thing when you read it isn’t our problem. Really, the only people you have to blame for this are yourselves. We wanted to do great work, but you just didn’t let us. Well, behold the fruits of your ignorance!

Fire Up The Smoke & Mirrors (Lie!)

Hi client!

Nothing is wrong and everything is great! See the below screenshot of your current rankings and traffic. Boy, you sure are dominating those search results – number one, same as always! Attached is your invoice.

Be Honest (Not Recommended)

Dear client,

Surprise! We’re dickheads!

49 Responses to “Penguin 2.0: Breaking The News to Clients”

  1. I highly suggest you all find ways to rank number one on google — perhaps by googling that term. I think it will help the most!

    Rank #1 on Google — RANK RANK RANK #1 ON GOOGLE – rango número uno en google – ?????google???1?? – ????????

  2. Anthony Pensabene says:

    ha. always a good experience reading. (friendly reminder for you to send me your book.) i pay in relationships. but in all seriouz, be cool for you to post more. if not but to share thoughts/practice writing.

    • Joel says:

      Good Lord. You are so overdue for that book.
      Thank you for the reminder. Can you email me your current address?
      I’ll send it tomorrow – actually, this time.

      Thanks for your encouragement :)

      • Gaz Copeland says:

        Did somebody mention a well overdue book, promised months ago and never received…?

        Very good read as per usual Joel. I’ll let you know which one I use in the next few weeks, you’ve saved me SO MUCH time!

        • Joel says:

          Gaz, please resend your address as well. I intend to deliver this time. :)

          Thank you for reading, sharing and encouragement.

  3. ceri says:

    the images on the last one made me laugh, loving the analytics graph!

  4. Max Minzer says:

    Dear Sir, please permit me to make your acquaintance in so informal a manner. This request may seem strange and unsolicited but I will crave your indulgence and pray that you view it seriously. This is necessitated by my urgent need to help you craft more email templates for your clients.

    • Joel says:

      Haste! The marble ballroom has most certainly been of fortunate assistance with my bros. You have knowledge well of the challenge I nose bone every afternoon on the swinging carpet! Please to be contacting me as fast as doable

      • Max Minzer says:

        Joel, this made my day!Thank you!
        I seriously can’t stop laughing. Do you also help with that?

        • Joel says:

          Yes. Just go read one of Neil Patel’s posts. You’ll be unable to do anything but weep softly.

          • Jon Cooper says:

            Hey, I like Neil’s blog! Where else can you find the same information blogged about for a 5th & 6th time (maybe this time in a super guide format)?

          • Joel says:

            Hah! To be more kind, Neil knows his audience (and his business).
            I’m just not a part of it!

  5. Jason says:

    Love it!

    Great Content, UX & Design > SEO keyword density and practices.

    I feel that in many cases keyword saturation is a drop in the bucket for high traffic or highly sought SEM. I’m in no way discrediting strong (and white hat) SEO practices, or the results they can produce; but holding page one in Google is absolutely useless if your site is crap and the site visit results in the visitor not completing (or wanting to complete) the task your keywords lead the visitor believe they would be able to.

  6. This guy says:

    Thanks for the chuckle….I didn’t get the joke until I was into the third example. Until then, I was shocked. :-)

    • Joel says:

      That actually makes me happy, as I try to write things grounded in just enough truth that they might pass as real to the casual observer :)

  7. [...] Today, 10:51 AM Thanks to Dave's share, here are some template client emails you can have ready when it hits.…ws-to-clients/ [...]

  8. Jonas says:

    Great post, made me smile on a cold tuesday morning.
    Another option is to blame Google, for not caring about small medium sized businesses.

  9. Thoufeeq says:

    can’t stop laughing…. :D :D

    Had a hard time rating one template over the other…

    Great work

  10. The ‘few weeks’ warning from Matt Cutts is invaluable. Gives time to lay some really good groundwork with clients about those unscrupulous competitor black hat activities ;-)

    • Joel says:

      Yup – in seriousness it actually is a great thing to have so you can prepare, whether with my templates or something more… Legitimate.

  11. Jan-Willem says:

    Awesome Joel! This will be usefull for some of the agencies out there :)

  12. Greg Smith says:

    Very cool post, made me laugh lol :]

  13. Jason Diller says:

    What? I just + all of their content and show clients my personal results for their keywords.

    Awesome post… and truth about Neil Patel’s posts. He always kills it.

    • Joel says:

      Hah! Good idea. And again on Neil, I’m not a fan of his writing but there’s a huge crowd who is, and he caters to them well. Thanks for reading!

  14. Made me smile :)

    Sadly I’m sure these are actually used quite a lot, and I guess a lot of Bait N’ Switch with Penguin 2.0

    • Joel says:

      It’d only be a continuation of what’s already going on in the industry – you don’t even have to look too hard to find it.

  15. Peter Hanley says:

    A most ballworthy post sir. Made my morning. :D

    • Joel says:

      Glad to hear it, Peter. Although I’m not sure what “ballworthy” means – are you donating me your testicles? I have two of my own. Is “ballworthy” like a new street slang equivalent with “swag”? If so, thanks. (In seriousness, appreciate your reading!)

  16. Phil Gregory says:

    That was without the funniest SEO related post I have read in a long time.

    the best was

    Listen, you bunch of half-wits! We mentioned the phrase “content marketing” like FIVE TIMES in our e-mails and reports to you. That you can’t understand a good thing when you read it isn’t our problem. Really, the only people you have to blame for this are yourselves. We wanted to do great work, but you just didn’t let us. Well, behold the fruits of your ignorance!

    Hilarious. Love the graphics too…

    Now …Do I get a Book? I’d like a copy of “Penthouse the best Bits” or alternatively ” How to get free Ebooks with no effort”.

  17. Miguel says:

    | The Life of a SEO Content Writer |
    Me: You need a Blog !
    Client: No ..
    Me: You all needs a Blog !
    Client: No, we don’t … why am I not in first place?
    ME: You don’t have a Blog..
    –Penguin 2.0—
    Client: What Happened to our rankings??
    Me: you don’t have a Blog or Content…
    Client: Why didn’t you add a BLOG??
    ME: (shoot myself)

    Moral of Story: Non

  18. [...] Penguin 2.0: Breaking The News to Clients, [...]

  19. The sad thing is that the people who *will* write these things to actual clients would read this and think it’s you, me and people who think this way that are the idiots.

  20. [...] Penguin 2.0: Breaking the News to Clients Joel Klettke Follow @cstechjoel According to Google’s Matt Cutts, the second coming of the Google Penguin update will be implemented rather soon. In light of this, Joel Klettke has taken the time to lay out a couple of template emails for you to send to your clients in case things haven’t gone as smoothly as expected. A few of these templates include blaming the intern, taking the money and running, getting angry, etc. This post is a nice, light-hearted way to wrap things up for the week, and any post that ends with “Dear client, surprise! We’re dickheads!” is probably a winner. [...]

  21. [...] And if all else fails there are a few good tips for how to break the news to your clients which was detailed in a great blog post by @cstechjoel – [...]

  22. Matt O'Toole says:

    Love it. You might want to consider changing the reference to Wiseclick SEO as there is a Wiseclick Media in NY (apparently)!


    • Joel says:

      L-O-L. No, I think that’s staying put. I basically just pulled out the most stereotypical online agency name I could think of, and, well, there it is.Too funny.

  23. [...] Joel who is the best looking man in the world from his post on – Breaking the News to Clients [...]

  24. [...] Penguin 2.0: Breaking the News to Clients by Joel Klottke ( Following the release of Penguin 2.0, Joel has put together a guide to breaking the news to your clients. There are a range of different excuses from ‘Blame the Intern’ to ‘Fire Up the Smoke and Mirrors’. *Please note, these email templates are for humour purposes only. Send to your clients at your peril! [...]

  25. wee bro web says:

    LOL! We didn’t get hit with 2.0 nor any of our clients so we will continue with bhat tactics and save your email templates for the next update just incase. Nah just jokes! Thanks for the laugh. :)

  26. Bob Andrew says:

    LOL – Thank you for the laugh. This is the most good news about Penguin 2.0 I ever read for the past 1 month :)

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