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

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 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."


[insidesearch.blogspot.com...]

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]

 

Whitey

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 12:28 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

@CainIV - spot on - an excellent summary on the high level strategic direction of Google's SERP's. IMO

The only definitive correlation I see in rankings and this update is the effect of branding and inbound links to brands.


It's worth reflecting on this:


- A higher value proposition
- Well written content
- Social and community stickiness
- Signals which support a logical company
- Naturally built inbound links


Google has been wrestling with the core of it's search ranking signals since inception - links. And this is one more step in the direction of lessening the emphasis on them.

The essence is to recognise brand, not by the number of links you have with the same anchor text, or the exact match domain [ EDM ], or the number of times a phrase is repeated, but by ever increasing improvements to the "quality detection".

As the quality detection [ Panda ] accelerates, so to will the deprecation of old signals and techniques.

Nobody talks much about Panda on 19th April, but i beleive it was very much alive in combined effects for SERP visibility, whilst many interpreted it's effects solely as Penguin.

A very large [ everyone knows it] site has had it's listings reduced in the trophy terms area. Arguably this is the largest site in it's class. Not sure if it was Panda or Penguin, or both. But it may have been a manual adjustment.

bluntforce

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 12:32 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

Shortly after I first read the Eric Schmidt quote about brands I started adding the site name on the right side of page title tags.

Site name is now always in the top ten keyword referrers and doesn't seem to negatively alter results for other keywords in titles. I suppose if you are willing to utilize limited space for branding rather than adding just one more keyword it might be seen as a "trust" factor.

crobb305

WebmasterWorld Senior Member crobb305 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 12:57 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

This update is not over despite what other sources say. I've been watching another drop in traffic and just lost two more key phrases in the past hour. It seems to be spreading to longtail phrases.

CainIV

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 1:04 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

The essence is to recognise brand, not by the number of links you have with the same anchor text, or the exact match domain [ EDM ], or the number of times a phrase is repeated, but by ever increasing improvements to the "quality detection".


Absolutely Whitey.

And lets face it, its easy for Google to measure brand signals at a rudimentary level, flag websites that do not convey those strong signals, and THEN consider filtering based on the SEO signals they receive. This might explain why brands that still build a considerable number of exact match anchors end up relatively fine long term - they simply don't fall under specific thresholds.

As you mentioned, its all a way to leave links as a primary metric for "quality detection".

Brands acquire links. Generic sites build them.

WebChicken

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 1:12 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

Has anyone noticed their Bing results?

My main site that got whacked is also whacked in Bing?

I am getting the same results - i.e. pages that are gone in Google are gone in Bing?

I used to RULE Bing?

My other sites still are?

garyr_h

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 1:17 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

@crobb305 it is far, far, far from over. They are even testing several new SERP layouts: more image results, indented results (like the old days), only showing unique domains.

I'm also seeing three different database sets with each going in and out of the different SERP layouts.

BillyS

WebmasterWorld Senior Member billys us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 1:19 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

>>Has anyone noticed their Bing results?

I've seen the same thing in the past. It's almost like Bing is using Google.

WebChicken

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 1:25 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think Bing is somehow using them?

Start comparing....

Leosghost

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 1:26 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

Brands acquire links. Generic sites build them.

Truth..

I agree with the analysis you and whitey have made, Google were quite clear about what they were looking at with approval, and even what some of it's signs would be..but they did not go into detail, they are looking hard, picking up a lot of things, examining them, and putting them back down again or rejecting them, but after each panda run and each aglo run, when the dust has died down, they do seem to be able to identify "brands" better..

If you are not a "brand"..looking like one to Google, is, like the saying goes "as hard as faking sincerity", and you won't pull it off forever..

[edited by: Leosghost at 1:29 am (utc) on Apr 27, 2012]

Whitey

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 1:29 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

A higher value proposition

It's worth flushing this out some more as i believe it gives some stronger direction to help folks survive whilst the elimination of old signals and techniques countinue to be depricated.

@Cain - if we were planning a strategy out of these painful updates [ for some ], we'd draw a list of things to retire from, and a list of things to work on. Your list makes this clear.

Anything that stands out as a short term advantage, also stands out as a major risk. Anything that builds on "brand" [ Panda style ] provides longer term protection. Good SEO is long term. Bad SEO is short term.

I don't think major offline brands will have as much protection in the SEO game on their company websites. Many agencies that support them are only really providing "enablement services" with crawl access and fundamental organisation. Many engage poor quality link campaigns and unimaginative on page content. Of course there are exceptions - both inhouse teams, and agencies. And these will be the winners.

But let's not forget that organic SERP's are secondary to Google's landing page design. Google is steaming towards owning every single listing with it's own assets.

If folks want to guard against further update hits they must work on the long term value, and truly ask, will they be around as technology accelerates.

[edited by: Whitey at 1:42 am (utc) on Apr 27, 2012]

randle

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 1:33 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

As more and more websites come onto the web, the single best way to determine quality is brand.


The brand thing has been building for some time now in the niches we patrol, its gone from around 20% brands on the first page to around 70% ever since Mr. Schmidt pontificated his feelings on that subject.

It looks even stronger now but whether thats cause or effect I just dont know. Certainly some non brand guys who were skilled in the arts shall we say took a hit, but the big brands held steady. What seems to have moved in are independent company sites that carry and actually sell the brands, plus a bunch of older sites I had not seen around in a while. I'm not ready to jump on the "EMD" bandwagon totally but there are some that popped up, a few that dont even have any real content on them.

Well theres always change in this business, just sometimes its a lot bigger than others. If someone had told me 10 years ago that one day in the future the Google results would be dominated by big brands, I would have thought they were crazy, and did not have a real grasp, or insight into the nature of Google. Now thats real change.

Leosghost

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 1:39 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

Big Brands ..or sites however small their resources that are "brands" that are different ( and offer that "extra" ) compared to the generic sites with the same product or service..

G seem to be looking for both of those sort of "brands", the big and the small..and are trying to remove the rest of the "filler / Me too" sites ( that bring nothing of value to the search apart from making the index numbers bigger ) or let them wither and die..

crobb305

WebmasterWorld Senior Member crobb305 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 1:46 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

@crobb305 it is far, far, far from over. They are even testing several new SERP layouts: more image results, indented results (like the old days), only showing unique domains.

I'm also seeing three different database sets with each going in and out of the different SERP layouts.


I agree. Although I saw a SearchEngineLand article declaring that it was over. Not true.

jeyKay

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 2:06 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

If you are not a "brand"..looking like one to Google, is, like the saying goes "as hard as faking sincerity", and you won't pull it off forever..


This might be a stupid question...but what is your definition of a "branded" site versus a "generic" - is it merely a site that people "know "rather than find? Meaning, get larger percentage of traffic through direct and referal traffic rather than search?

backdraft7

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 2:21 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

these ongoing narrowly-targeted updates confirm more than ever that AI (Artificial Intelligence) is actively being used in the algorithm.


If that is indeed the case, the current algo has a LOT of learning to do.

Leosghost

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 2:43 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

but what is your definition of a "branded" site versus a "generic"


Using WebmasterWorld ( here ) for an example..major web-marketing and webmaster resource site..

type in a question about javascript , css or htaccess, or panda, or which adsense alternative is best etc ..

Serps will have an thread from WebmasterWorld at or very near the top..it is a "brand"..it is referred to and linked to by very many serious people in the industry..

Lower down the page you'll get various other sites also some very reputable ones dealing with the same questions..

Somewhere much lower down the page or on page two or three or further in..you'll have sites that reproduce word for word the same threads from here ( scraped )..but change our "nicks" to other "nicks" in an attempt to capture traffic for the search terms..

you'll also find the kind of sites that will say "over at webmasterworld crobb305 said I saw a Search EngineLand article declaring it was over, not true" ..well I ( insert other website owner-blogger pundit-guru name here ) think what Danny meant was blah blah blah, and meanwhile randle had said..brands etcetc..and jeykay posted..etc etc ..

it all says pizza ..but real pizza has more taste and more topping and more care goes into the making of it..the rest is varying degrees of ersatz bread dough and tomato flavored goop with cardboard anchovies.

Google doesn't want to put ersatz pizza with tomato flavored goop and cardboard anchovies at the top of a search ( unless you pay them to do so ..and even then G has been known to say .."no the thing you are moving is crap, we don't want your money" ) ..in the organic serps at the top, they want a real brand..whether it is a big known brand with loads of signs pointing to it so people will go direct most of the time without passing through serps..or a real Italian home made Mom and Pop pizza parlour delight, that g knows about just because a few people genuinely praise it..and don't do so because the pizzaiolo paid them to say good things..G is trying to spot the quality by listening for the lip smacking and the contented belching of the customers..Because if you don't like anchovies..they might be running an ad alongside or above it for another Pizza parlour who make a pepperoni based one..

Yes I know that pizza have more than just those ingredients..but we talk food ..in Foo ..or at least I try to restrict my posting recipes to there ;-)

netmeg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 2:48 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

It's not just brand; it's also authority.

As a top rated forum, I really had hoped that people would rally not just around dancing to the latest tune but wake up and smell the coffee. This is a change designed to improve profits at Google regardless of the search results quality. It has nothing to do with making better search results and everything to do with CTR on adwords.


SeymourJames, the reason you don't see what you were hoping for is that your theories have been posited here many times already. The people who are going to believe that already believe, the ones who won't, don't. Nobody who's formed an opinion is likely to change it either way (at least not via posts on WebmasterWorld)

bluntforce

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 3:15 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

Well said, Leosghost.
Since food was mentioned, I often look for bread recipes on the internet. There's one site that seems to always have several recipes of the type I'm looking for. The recipes work, meaning it actually produces what I'm expecting to get.

Do I know what vetting or processes they go through to provide me with what I'm looking for?
No.
But I know it's a brand that gets me what I want.

I try to reproduce that experience for others.

Whitey

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 3:34 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

It's not just brand; it's also authority.

@netmeg - for the benefit of clarity, can you hone in on the relative definitions as you see them and how you see them differentiated between each other by Google. Maybe some generalised examples.

IMO, i see one associates with the other, but your view would be appreciated.

OT - Has anyone seen or heard evidence of internal linking being caught up with Penguin?

netmeg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 3:58 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

Two people discoursing on Panda and Penguin updates on their websites. One's me, and one's Danny Sullivan.

Danny would obviously be the authoritative source on this.

However, if the same two people were discoursing on, say, obscure DEC minicomputers, pyrotechnics, or Godzilla movies - well then in that case, I'd probably be the authority on those topics.

And the signals would be perceived by Google by means of cites, links, guest blog posts, social signals, etc etc.

One of my clients competes with the likes of Amazon, Staples and Office Max for about two dozen products. They're obviously brands, but we regular beat them in the SERPs on these products, because my client is the *authoritative source* for them. He knows them inside out, backwards and forwards. He has staff that can tell you which product is exactly right for your needs, and how to clean and maintain it for longer life. He sells extended warranties for the products. He's the one the news sources interview when the products are involved in current events. He's the *authoritah*.

Marshall

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 4:17 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

In trying to help understand what Google is doing, I offer this scenario using the e-commerce site I manage.

Doing a search using a combination of a well known manufacturer's name and the name of a product line that is exclusive to them, my customers site is first in Bing and has been for as long as I can remember. It use to rank 5th or 6th on page 1 in Google, but now it is number 2 on page 13 though nothing about the page has changed.

The truly curious result is what Google has as number one, a page where the url is the name of the product line. However it is, in essence, a dead page and only contains an image about how the product has been discontinued as the manufacturer is no longer in business. There is absolutely no text on the page nor is there a description tag. The only meta tag is the title tag and it only states the product line.

Now this dead page has been this way for over a year. It sells nothing, links to nothing, and other than what is written in the image, which I presume Google cannot read, it says nothing. So why is it first? It offers a user nothing whatsoever.

IMHO there is no logic to what Google is doing and, with results as I have pointed out, no way to truly anticipate how what they are doing will affect a site. It is as if we are rats in a maze to them.

Marshall

Whitey

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 4:34 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

So why is it first?

Because as one Googler recently put it, G can be too stupid sometimes.

Best to focus on improvements that meet the standards Google is seeking. As much as almost total dominance of the digital marketing search space irk's me, if the Romans are in charge, you have to learn to live with it. History tells us dominant forces have many imperfections.

This update is really a lot more black and white [ per Penguin ] than others - yet i think we've spoken too much about depricated link profiles, EMD's and keyword stuffing - I do believe there is much more to this update than this.

Can anybody help me?

jeyKay

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 4:48 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)


This update is really a lot more black and white [ per Penguin ] than others - yet i think we've spoken too much about depricated link profiles, EMD's and keyword stuffing - I do believe there is much more to this update than this.


Looking over my GA data from yesterday compared to the day before (before the drop in traffic)I am seeing about 30-35% less keywords used to find my website. Many of those keywords were landing users on sub pages...so is this really a link penalty, or is this more of a content penalty? Perhaps this isnt about link "deprecation" and more of a content algo...or maybe my content is losing rank because my "link juice" has diminished with this latest algo change.

CainIV

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 4:52 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

It's not just brand; it's also authority.


Brands have authority, but the reverse cannot be said to always be true.

IMHO authority is a measure of natural quality citations and links to your content over time.

Brand recognition has much more depth but includes authority, so authority - citations, links, is naturally part of becoming a brand.

If I were a search engine, other than inbound links I would be looking at signals like domain and whois, business ownership, memberships, associations, brand mentions, stickiness / bounce rate, community, social media, site security, transparency, authorship and likely a wide range of factors.

kidder

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 4:59 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

I don't think its under control yet, I'm still seeing US traffic on my AU sites. That's a pretty clear sign that sh1t is still getting sorted. I've seen similar patterns in the past and its come back..

Whitey

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 5:26 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

Brand recognition has much more depth but includes authority, so authority - citations, links, is naturally part of becoming a brand.

@CainIV - good analogy. It's really clear when you see how Wikipedia works. Wiki is probably now recognised as the most popular "brand" as a free encyclopedia.

It ticks most of the elements that you raised awareness on. For an article to become an authority, it must receive an authoratitive citation. Basically because it's outstandingly good at what it does compared to others.

In general terms, sites may provide other forms of brand - exceptional user experience for example. Talking about the same subject, uniquely infinitum , or getting 100's of links with same or similar anchor text, or repeating a keyword over and over again does more damage than good.

Doing something different that folks recognise and can have measured appreciation is the real winner.

So therein lies the moral of the story behind the Panda / Penguin updates IMO

@CainIV ... you've got my vote :)

[edited by: Whitey at 5:35 am (utc) on Apr 27, 2012]

reseller

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 5:30 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

Matt Cutts posted on Twitter today two interesting tweets:

If you know a site affected by algo update that you don't think should be affected, we made a form to provide feedback: [goo.gl...]


If you want to report spam that Google is missing, fill out a spam report and add the word penguin: [goo.gl...]

Whitey

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 5:52 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

@reseller - now that's seriously good

Planet13

WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 6:03 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

Regarding Brands:

This last year the ONLY thing I have been doing is trying to build up our "brand" signal. End result; rankings are in the toilet.

We are a brick and mortar store that has been around since 1997. We are on google places, yelp, patch, citysearch, facebook. We are also listed in our city's "official" business site.

We send out emails, try to get people to rate us (people rarely do), participate in fundraising for schools or other organizations (so we get a mention or link), are listed in all those "phone book" type directories. Write our own product descriptions, shoot our own photos, yada, yada, yada...

None of that helped.

Got a bunch of links by writing emails by hand to people who I thought might like our site, and saying if they do like it, to pass it on. That helped not, either.

Out of the blue, Huffington Post, PBS, and some other well respected sites linked to us. Total Benefit? Nada.

We Have a privacy policy page, about us page, street address with a google map on it, contact info, toll free phone number plastered on EVERY page of the site.

And the result? Big traffic drops.

No, I am NOT one of the people thinking this is some big conspiracy to squeeze website owners into buying adwords.

All I am saying is that just because you are a brand, and the signals are "obvious," google still might not care.

pelizden

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 6:19 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm really heartbroken here, some site copies my entire articles, even with my images, and ranks for these articles while I'm nowhere to be found for these articles even with quotes of sentences. Horrific...

marsattacks



 
Msg#: 4444830 posted 7:11 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

Championing brands is the wrong road for Google to take, it is clear by reading how it is affecting many of the actual unbranded authorities that are writing in this thread. There needs to be a switch to let the actual users of the websites take more of an active roll in website placement as ultimately that is what it is all about.

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