The Noah Principle

If you’ve attended any of the FREE webinar classes that Acorn IS teaches, or have heard us speak in person, or are an Acorn University student, you more than likely have heard us reference The Noah Principle as an analogy to Website owners needing to follow Google’s Guidelines.

Noah's Ark The story of Noah and the Ark is where God tells Noah that he is going to destroy everything on the earth with a flood. (Genesis 5:32-10:1)

And God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth.”  “And behold, I Myself am bringing flood-waters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die.”

God gives Noah detailed and explicit guidelines on how to build the ark (Genesis 6:14-16) and then he gives Noah more detailed and explicit guidelines on how to choose the animals to be taken onto the ark. (Genesis 6:19-20)

“Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did.”

Noah The one thing about this Bible story is that NO WHERE did God ever tell Noah WHEN it was going to rain. Or even exactly what rain was. And if you do the math, you’ll see that it took Noah approximately 100 years to complete the ark before God caused it to rain and flood the earth.

I’m sure you can imagine that Noah’s neighbors had to think Noah had lost his mind. Building a huge boat for when it was going to rain and flood the earth? They had to have been thinking, “What a waste of time!” preparing for something you don’t know for sure is going to happen, or even when it was going to happen.

Which brings me to today.  Every time I see a new Google “Suggestion” or “Guideline” I think of Noah.

GWoman working on PCoogle gives everyone who markets their businesses online “Suggestions” and “Guidelines.” But not everyone chooses to listen to Google’s direction. And just like Noah’s neighbors, they think their competitors have lost their minds as they watch them doing work like blogging, social media, NAP clean-up, rebuilding their sites to be responsive and fast and the list goes on.

They think to themselves, I have good placement, I’m getting business, I don’t need to do _______ where the “blank” is whatever Google is telling all Website owners to do now.

And just as God didn’t tell Noah when it was going to rain, Google rarely, if ever, tells us when they are going put their guidelines into action.

Often times Google give us YEARS and YEARS to prepare and follow their rules before they “flip-the-switch” and it rains.


Below you will find 3 Case Studies where Google has told us for multiple years specifically how they wanted you to build your site where finally, they “flip-the-switch” and those who weren’t paying attention ended up in the flood waters.

Case Study 1

Google has said for YEARS, you must have Quality Content on your Website
Since at least 2005, Google has been using a large, worldwide focus group to help review its search results and the quality of the web pages that rank well in its algorithm. [REF]

  • 05/20/2008 Intro to Google Search Quality from Google’s Official Blog [REF]
  • 06/03/2008 Improved Google SEO Documentation from Matt Cutts [REF]
  • 07/01/2008 Google on how to hire a quality SEO Company [REF-1] [REF-2]
  • 01/22/2009 Thin, Scraped, Stuffed, and Hidden Content is Spam [REF]
  • 10/02/2010 Duplicate Content and 32 pages of other Google SEO Guidelines [REF]
    And these are only a few references of Google’s “suggestions” and “guidelines”

Panda was released February 23, 2011 [REF]

Panda ReleaseAt least 6 years after Google first started advising Website owners about the need for Quality Content

Panda cracked down on thin content, content farms, sites with high ad-to-content ratios, and a number of other quality issues. Businesses who had not heeded the 6+ years of warnings, found their placement drop with the initial and subsequent updates to Panda.

9 updates in 2011, 14 updates in 2012,  3 updates in 2013,  4 updates in 2014


Case Study 2

Google has said for YEARS to stop over-optimizing your site and only acquire quality, natural, in-bound links

  • 03/11/2008 SEO Advice Getting Links [REF]
  • 06/17/2008 Ways to get links that are likely to stand the test of time [REF]
  • 02/24/2009 Natural links are better than non-natural [REF]
  • 03/09/2009 Keep links on a given page to a reasonable number <100 [REF]
  • 09/21/2009 Google doesn’t use the keywords meta tag in web search [REF]
  • 10/04/2009 Google is all about Search Quality and dealing with Spam [REF]
  • 03/03/2010 Google wants your help to tackle LInkSpam [REF]
  • 03/04/2010 Effective techniques for building link, presented by Matt Cutts [REF]
  • 06/21/2010 Quality links to your site from Google’s Official Blog [REF]
    And these are only a few references of Google’s “suggestions” and “guidelines”

Penguin was released April 24, 2012 [REF]

Penguin ReleaseAt least 4 years after Google began advising Website owners of the need for quality, natural, in-bound links and NOT to use over-optimization tactics of the past.

After weeks of speculation about an “Over-optimization penalty”, Google finally rolled out the “Webspam Update”, which was soon after dubbed “Penguin.” Penguin adjusted a number of spam factors including keyword stuffing and bad inbound links.  Businesses who had not heeded the 4+ years of warnings, found their placement drop with the initial and subsequent updates to Penguin.

4 updates 2012, 2 updates in 2013, 2 updates in 2014


Case Study 3

Website Speed, Natural Language Search and preparing for a Mobile dominated world

  • 11/18/2008 Google Mobile App for iPhone [REF]
  • 09/11/2009 Google Mobile App revisited [REF]
  • 11/13/2009 Google Webmaster Blog indicated you need a mobile presence [REF]
  • 04/09/2010 Google incorporates site speed in search rankings [REF]
  • 01/04/2011 M.URL.COM is recommended to a separate mobile site [REF]
  • 06/06/2012 Responsive Web design is Google’s recommended configuration [REF]
  • 08/01/2013 Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool is updated [REF]
    And these are only a few references of Google’s “suggestions” and “guidelines”

Hummingbird was released on August 20, 2013 [REF]

Hummingbird ReleaseGoogle tells us the name “Hummingbird” comes from being “precise and fast.” Hummingbird is also paying more attention to each word in a search, ensuring that the whole sentence or conversation or meaning is taken into account, NOT JUST individual words or phrases. Think about Mobile and Siri and “Speak your Search”. Hummingbird is all about Conversational Search and Natural Language, and was a full algorithm Re-write.


The scene is set, Google has told everyone they need to be building their “MOBILE ARK” and the skies are starting to darken.

  • Nov 2014 Google “Mobile-Friendly” display tag on Organic Mobile SERPs [REF]
  • Jan 2015 PageSpeed Insights is updated for ‘SPEED’ and ‘USABILITY’ [REF]
  • Jan 2015 You Must Fix Google mobile usability issues now [REF]

The Morale of the Story Is…

  • Panda took 6 years before the rains came and people ignoring the Content Guidelines found their placement dropping.
  • Penguin took 4 years before the rains came and people cheating with Spam and Bad Inbound Links found their placement dropping.
  • You may or may not realize it but Mobile has been on Google’s radar since at least 2008. That’s going on 7 years, if not more!
  • The “Mobile Guidelines” Google continues to provide are picking up momentum.

We here at Acorn IS and many others in the Google SERP arena believe that the rains are coming for those who have ignored Google’s Mobile Guidelines.

Keep in Mind… Noah waited 100 years.
We’re going on at least 7 years with Google when it comes to Mobile.
Only time will tell…  Will you be ready?

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