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Google Launches Update Targeting Spam... Again? Penguin Update

 9:50 pm on Apr 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

Matt Cutts "In the next few days, we’re launching an important algorithm change targeted at webspam. The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines. We’ve always targeted webspam in our rankings, and this algorithm represents another improvement in our efforts to reduce webspam and promote high quality content. While we can't divulge specific signals because we don't want to give people a way to game our search results and worsen the experience for users, our advice for webmasters is to focus on creating high quality sites that create a good user experience and employ white hat SEO methods instead of engaging in aggressive webspam tactics."


Sites affected by this change might not be easily recognizable as spamming without deep analysis or expertise, but the common thread is that these sites are doing much more than white hat SEO; we believe they are engaging in webspam tactics to manipulate search engine rankings.

[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 4:31 pm (utc) on Apr 25, 2012]
[edit reason] added quotes - updated link [/edit]



 2:05 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

From what I can gather at least what I am seeing now. Is that you can't actually have your keywords in your url.

My main site is called "[keywords] oneotherword", so my natural backlinks tend to have my main keywords in it. So far I haven't seen any change in my position for that keyword (#3).


 2:06 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

It appears that over optimization includes if your domain has a keyword in it. Even though sites that are not spammy, if they have a keyword get nuked because a lot people will link to just the domain with the domain name.

Great job cleaning up the web google. All I see are eBay and big box sites more than ever.


 2:19 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)


Its very disappointed. Nothing is constant and reliable in SEO. Today one thing is good and tomorrow it will be bad. You will never have peace of mind in life.

I don't who is a SEO expert in this world where things are constantly changing day by day and no scheme is perfect:)



 2:22 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

I believe the real problem is that the competition can now take you out by buying a couple $10 link spam packages that include thousands of blog comments and bookmarking sites all pointing to your url and Google will drop you for gaming their algo. This has happened to a few of our sites now and it sucks. In the past Google ignored such links but now you get the un-natural link notice and huge drop. I don't want my site anywhere near the first page of Google just to avoid the onslaught until Google stops this nonsense.


 2:59 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Update - I'm still seeing some very questionable results in my area, but some of the low content stuff has been removed. Still full of rich snippet spam and exact match domains, however. I'm also seeing a lot more content pages rank for a commercial intent phrase.

It's clear that the shifting sands haven't set yet.


 3:00 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Anyone else seeing exact match domains being hit?

Yes, Just got -10 down from #1 to #11 (2nd page) for a well established e-commerce store on EMD. Few dozens of bought blogposts from the previous owner done more than a year ago are a possible culprit. But generally, the site isn't more spammy than any of the overranking competitors .. Some of the website that popped on the 1st page now are outright spam.

Interesting ...


 3:09 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Looks like every site I have got hit by this one. Even my competition is not ranking at all.


 3:26 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Looks like every site I have got hit by this one. Even my competition is not ranking at all.

Whats there instead?

Straw poll- who thinks EMD are specifically punished, and who thinks theu have been artificially boosted? Opinion seems very divided so far.


 3:30 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Wow! Just doing random searches is pretty funny.

On some well known keywords, the first results leads you to a page with ZERO content on it.

Now that's quality ;)


 3:33 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

I can't really make sense of this yet. I have had a very high quality site lose most of its rankings. This is an awful move by google to penalize so many honest businesses.


 3:37 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

In my areas the big boys have been creeping in slowly but surely, with this new update they are starting to dominate lots of my niches now. Seems like every few months I am having to go even more niche.

There will come a point when the scraps I am fighting over, the ultra niche stuff, will not be enough to make it worth it.

I have done well for many years now and cannot complain. I probably should have realised that the big boys were knocking on the door ages ago and moved onto pastures new but I have been a bit slow to react.

My advise would be to know your competitors because you can learn a lot from them and it will help you keep your head above water.


 3:39 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Here's who is being targeted:

Websites ranking high who bought links with anchor text

Here's who is benefiting from this update:

-Websites who did not engage in link manipulation at all
-Websites that are very well-branded

EMD's are not being targeted unless they were ranking high but weren't well-branded.

Quality sites are still being hit if they bought links. Google basically just got a ton stricter about link-buying, though they are cutting a bit of slack about this if your site is very well-branded.


 3:47 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

This has nothing to do with paid links, sorry but you are wrong.

None of my sites have paid links and I have not seen any other webmasters mentioning paid links as a factor.

All my sites are EMD but I do not think that EMDs are now toxic.

Probably should let the dust settle before we jump to any more conclusions.


 3:50 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

EMD are specifically punished

I disagree. I still see several EMD's (and even E-M-D.tld with hyphens) that are in the top 5 for the phrase, including sites with adsense AND affiliate offers. It may be somehow related, but not cut/dry as the EMD only.

IMO, this is about pushing the threshold of on-page optimization, which may be getting triggered by a low quality backlink profile. (I think its important to separate the two, as one is offsite seo, the other is onsite seo)


 3:53 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Here's who is being targeted:

Websites ranking high who bought links with anchor text

Here's who is benefiting from this update:

-Websites who did not engage in link manipulation at all
-Websites that are very well-branded

Here's who is being targeted:

Websites ranking high with competition buying links with anchor text

Here's who is benefiting from this update:

-Websites not involved with link manipulation by competition
-Websites that are so very well-branded that spam links can not effect


 3:58 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Straw poll- who thinks EMD are specifically punished, and who thinks theu have been artificially boosted? Opinion seems very divided so far.

No - I was ranking at around #5 for a keyword yesterday which is now taken by an EMD, full of scraped content - with only a no-follow blog comment backlink that I can find.


 4:01 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have noticed a lot of big sites that maybe a have a few pages of widgets rank VERY well for that term. Slowly im also thinking that mid last year and this year will be googles plan to loose as many seos as possible and get them on adwords, be cause since Panda a lot just dont make any sense, as example I see sites with maybe 30.000 spam comments on whole site, but rank no.1 out of 54.000.000 sites


 4:06 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

My EMDS are all in #1 to #3 and stable..( actually a small proportion of them oscillate from #2 to #5 sometimes )..been that way for ages ..

eg ..7 letter EMD ..search term over 2 billion #1 rock solid..

Interestingly ..last week when the entire Ip that it was on was de-indexed ( I mentioned it in Brinked's thread [webmasterworld.com...] post #443526 ) ..one of the other TLDs of this EMD ( I don't own them all )..came in at #3 when I vanished for a few hours ..it is parked with a generic oversee type click trap page..the description in serp was totally relevant ..but the description was nowhere to be found on the page..except in the page source where it was the "exact text" of the "no-script" text..

So when I was removed for a while, the "tricky crap" ( using methods which G dealt with long ago ) popped into top 3 on a 2 billion plus keyword..( IT based money term )..

Thus to my mind proving yet again something I've always believed ..

G do not run all the "filters" in their algos all the time..if they did they would now have tens of thousands of variables to deal with for each term ..so they rotate and watch the reaction from users ..consistently good reaction..you get a "stable" place..

And meantime they FUD the rest of the webmasters into confusion or compliance..or maybe adwords..

They do so remind me of religions ( and the Jesuits in particular ), in the way they can make everyone jump at shaddows* and toe the line of the "invisible, omnipotent thing"( sky fairy or search engine ) with just hints and innuendo and vagueness..

But if you "zig" when they "zag"..especially if you react too fast and too specifically..they know only SEO's watching the pot boil will do this ..and you get some variables assigned to your "tag" that the pages around you may not..and you suffer..

At this same EMD I'm watching the positions 8 to 12 rolling over and over, below the rest of us ..lot of spam popping up ..only to be replaced by new flavour spam within 3 or 4 hours..

If I were one of those affected ..I'd sit tight for a week , wait for the storm to pass, see where I ended up, and then reassess the situation..

My other EMDs ( I have many ) are all also stable ..spread out across many subjects,( health, tech, fashion, home, some local, even what some would think of as adult ;-)..it is a long list, eggs in many diverse baskets..English and French mainly ..only thing I'm not in is dating , or direct aff "squeeze"/"funnel"..

*I know, one should not be worried by shaddows ..unless one is a competitor in the same niche as Shaddows ;-)

<slightly OT>IME EMDs will always benefit ..but of late G is rather less inclined to rank composite EMDs ( ie KW1+KW2) for their separate parts ( ie ..G won't split the 2keyword "word" to get at the individual "keywords" and then rank one of them in the top 5 for that "keyword"..unless you also have the hyphenated version with the resulting distinctly "split" keywords..which has not always been the case..and reinforces ..get the hyphenated version at the same time if you can..it may occasionally rank better :)</slightly OT>


 4:27 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

I've got an EMD that's been hit pretty hard today. Not for all querys though. Still trying to figure all that out. Not an ecomm site.


 4:28 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

I always try to get EMDs if they're available, and mine are all fine, as are my clients. It's never as easy as just pointing at ONE thing and saying "Google's targeting THAT" Because for every person here who says they're targeting EMDs, there are five over on twitter who says they're artificially boosting them. You have to look at the WHOLE PICTURE.


 4:42 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google is no longer the place for "discovery". It is now no better than the yellow pages.


 4:43 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

My four EMDs (all firmly UK aimed in one way or the other)look to have improved ranking (though not much) from this update. They definitely have not been hit by the update.

Two of the sites have three keyword domain names and two have two keyword domain names. No spam, no link building, top quality content that I am expert in. Lots of pictures and lots of YouTube videos.

Two have very niche content, the other two are more broadly based.

My main site, not really an EMD, seems unaffected at the moment. But everything is very early days at the moment, too early to judge is my opinion.

[edited by: nomis5 at 4:52 pm (utc) on Apr 25, 2012]


 4:52 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

My take on the wording of the announcement is that the worries are OFF SITE, e.g.tactics of gaining links/comments/social mentions that are beyond white hat on-site tactics?
employ white hat SEO methods

So I shouldn't be worried if all my SEO efforts are white hat and on-site?

Wait a minute - off site is out of my control, I could conceivably get tanked by a competitor doing the nasty for me ?


 4:52 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

My advice: wait it out. Let the results calm down then see whats where. Google are probably doing mini tests constantly, adding/removing things for the next couple of days and seeing what is removed and is not removed to then fix any problems with it. Wait the "next few days" and then some then come back and show your findings. FYI, I have seen no movement yet except up.


 5:00 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

I might have to go buy SEn**e, and run some hot and heavy linking campaigns for my competitor's sites...

Wow, is that an ugly thought, or what?


 5:02 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Bounce rate: 33% last week, 88% today, now that's some targeted traffic.


 5:04 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Not only is the Google 'goalposts on ice' approach bad for genuine search marketers, it's also bad for searchers. No consistency, no equality, no chance.

Let's all just abandon organic search and go over to 100% PPC - I'm sure that would make Google so very happy.


 5:09 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Could it be that this update IGNORES some TLDs? Check this out - Google 'Make Money Online' right now and you find this in Canada - makemoneyforbeginners.blogspot.ca/

I'm linking that because it's a top 5 result but the page has ZERO content. I believe it's ranking because it's on the Blogspot service which means it's getting a free pass?

I didn't lose rankings this update, it looks like I'm receiving more traffic, but the results sure do look worse overall even in my niche. Yikes.

[edited by: Sgt_Kickaxe at 5:59 pm (utc) on Apr 25, 2012]


 5:10 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

I see crazy results, lots of most competitive serps are funny. Check 'make money online' keyword, empty blog with word 'make' has 1st position, according to google its the most quality site in that niche haha :)


 5:12 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

aww i see Sgt_Kickaxe posted about this when I was writing.


 5:13 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Right, that's a famous example that's been going around and around, and guess what - people keep linking to it!

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