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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]



 10:41 pm on Apr 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

Current results make no sense to me from any point. Nothing really makes sense, anyone wanna collaborate a little if they are seeing any positive listing?

Just when I thought our site recovered from all the Panda mess last year I see it is gone from top 10 pages again even though I didn't do a single thing past 12 months.

This is baffling. I have .co.za pages ranking on top 10, YouTube videos, 10 years old authority websites are totally gone.

I guess I better wait and see what will happen.


 10:48 pm on Apr 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

Um .. thought they did this about 5 years ago .. maybe Panda messed up.
Back to my bamboo shoots..


 10:54 pm on Apr 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

Some of my sites are going up
Some down
The better content sites are going up


 10:55 pm on Apr 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

In my industry I'm seeing a site with literally nothing more than a login page rank for a very competitive term. Nothing in title, and no on page relevant copy at all. Many, many aged perfect anchor backlinks. Seems the opposite of the intent.

I'm watching very closely, but I'd be hard pressed to say that this improved results in a "spammy" area if in fact it has already rolled out. (Noting the "In the next few days" at the beginning of the release)


 11:09 pm on Apr 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google has gotten a lot stricter in the past 2 months. If you've been gaming their algorithm, which seems like most websites in certain niches, you're getting hit.


 11:15 pm on Apr 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

What you will see is sites bouncing up and down


 11:20 pm on Apr 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

AH.. knew something was up. My site has had the most traffic since December. It's not spammy (to my knowledge), but there has almost always been an uptick in traffic before getting smashed with some sort of filter. I guess I'll just have to see how the next week plays out.

Robert Charlton

 11:35 pm on Apr 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

To conjecture about the "Again" part of the title... for me, anyway, these ongoing narrowly-targeted updates confirm more than ever that AI (Artificial Intelligence) is actively being used in the algorithm.

Why do I say that?... because, when using AI, it's important for engineers to correlate what they're targeting with the effects they see. Thus, I'm assuming, the updates are grouped together in chunks reflecting types of sites or situations Google is going after... with a degree of focus necessary to isolate cause and effect.

With regard to large collateral damage apparently being reported, I can only guess that Google initially needs to push things a little too far, not only to bring all the junk to the surface, but also to observe what kind of collateral damage is happening so they can fix it in a timely fashion. Otherwise, I'd assume, there would be a greater risk of longer term collateral damage that would go unobserved.

I'm assuming we'll see pendulum-like swings, as with any feedback system, as corrective actions are taken and the algo zeroes in on what it's targeting.

Conceivably also... still guessing... the value of upstream inbound links to some sites might be affected, which would affect downstream sites. In some cases, you might have inbound links from sites that are taken out, and it may not be your fault. Whether that's going to be calibrated to protect the innocent isn't clear. I would expect that Google certainly has thought about these considerations.


 12:07 am on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Well said Robert. Makes sense.


 12:32 am on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

We have a few sites that are affected and others that are not. All the affected sites are being outranked by scrapers whereas unaffected sites are not being outranked by scrapers. I see this with my competition that has been affected and unaffected.


 1:33 am on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

value of upstream inbound links to some sites might be affected, which would affect downstream sites. In some cases, you might have inbound links from sites that are taken out, and it may not be your fault.

Not sure if it's part of this update, but i've seen a major drop with multiple blue chip brands using links and lot's of similar anchor text over the last few days. Previously they may have been protected by their high PR and brand reputation IMO.

Given the extreme competition, they felt obliged to play the link game to remain visible. Those links were often from "trusted" domains.

Not now. They've been replaced by lower quality brands and sites of less use to consumers, that used less aggressive tactics.


 2:33 am on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

It's seriously like Stalin took over the algorithm. Like it's more about scaring webmasters into never violating their rules than returning quality results.

I don't see how they could severely punish anyone who built keyword-rich anchor text links when you could not rank without it until 2 months ago. Were people supposed to just wait until this day came for the past 7 years?


 2:40 am on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Most of the larger sites I oversee are pretty well branded, and I don't see any traffic dips so far. A couple have had spikes, and I think possibly a few competitors with shoddy link profiles might have been taken out, but I haven't had time to investigate yet.

I suspect that things are going to be boiling and roiling for a few days at least, so what you see today might not be the last word, for good or evil.


 5:20 am on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

News just in to me that a large network of destination related exact match domains [ probably 1000+], including many premium ones [ probably 50+], ultra optimized with unique content and only average quality backlinks with perhaps overkill on exact match anchor text, has been hit.

A few of the premium one's have escaped. Not sure if the deeper long tail network which were exact match have been effected, but they would have had little traffic.

The sites were built for pure ranking purposes, and although largely white hat, didn't do much beyond what other sites in the category do.

This is a classic case of building for SEO purposes only.

Anyone else seeing exact match domains being hit? I'm thinking there has been some tweaking in the authority ranking element for some.


 5:47 am on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Matt Cutts said:

“White hat” search engine optimizers often improve the usability of a site, help create great content, or make sites faster, which is good for both users and search engines. Good search engine optimization can also mean good marketing: thinking about creative ways to make a site more compelling, which can help with search engines as well as social media. The net result of making a great site is often greater awareness of that site on the web, which can translate into more people linking to or visiting a site.

Thanks a bunch for the kind encouraging words, Matt. Much appreciated :-)


 6:00 am on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hmmm .... another seperate site, which invested $100k's in content over the last year and has an exact match premium domain .... gone.

What i do notice, is a lot of recently added internal anchor link text on the home page - 100's of them. The site is way overdone with internal optimization.


 6:00 am on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)


I can confirm I got hit for 2 sites, both were EMD, however they had max 10-20 backlinks each and were ranking on page#3 I never worked on them.

Now they are not on top 50 pages. Makes no sense. However I see Google has given serious love to YouTube. Should we all accept it?

It is sort of harsh because one of the EMD I had we paid a big sum for. Content was all infographics+social media promotions nothing sneaky. Even a Google guy tweeted about our site.

Just got to eat it up ah?


My clean sites also got hit my personal name which I didn't build backlinks beside those 10 or so links it had.


 6:20 am on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

The mid level sites and small fry are being herded into putting their content and business on the huge 3rd party sites. Amazon, Facebook, G+, eBay, whatever...at least that part of your "business" becomes "safer".

Lots of reasons for that, one being they become easier to manage.


 8:11 am on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Ranking Increase = squidoo, blogspot, forums, subdomains
Ranking Decrease = exact match domains, sites with lots of backlink from spun content sources


 8:15 am on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Sadly enough, they are yet to fix that parking domains update released last week.


 9:18 am on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

I am so close to giving up. I was penalised in December last year for 'inorganic links' pointing to my website. Ironically these were built by people who had approached me after my website was suffering from Google Panda (I know this was not really related to backlinks but at the time I was desperate). I have since backtracked and made a massive effort to have these links removed by contacting webmasters and the people who created the links. This involved trawling through old hard drives and accessing old emails on them.

So I have been making good progress with this and have been documenting everything I have been doing. I saw light at the end of the tunnel and believed that I would be able to have this manual penalty revoked. This work continues but it now seems that Google has amplified this 'penalty' with an algorithmic component that effectively targets the same things. My rankings in the UK have taken another nosedive as of this morning. I review products in a niche which I am a qualified expert in and I have so much positive feedback from users. Even with the manual penalty applied you could find the individual product review pages fairly easily - not any more. The users love them and they give them exactly the advice they need, but Google in its blind ignorance decides that review aggregator websites or reviews with a paragraph or two of text that anybody could write by looking at the product specifications deserves to rank better.

So I am left wondering whether having this manual penalty revoked will make a scrap of difference anyway if this algorithm sticks the way it is at the moment. Or maybe being under a manual penalty makes you an automatic target for the new algorithm components. Honestly it makes me wonder why I bother. I have really been giving the users what they want and have some great things planned to treat them but I am really depressed about what I am seeing at the moment.


 9:40 am on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

I am seeing changes in the UK today, most of my affiliate sites are down which is annoying - all are exact match domains btw.

Most of the backlinks are from web2.0 sites with spun content in the downed sites.

One interesting point is that one of the sites which I had built most links to is unafected - the only differnce between this and my downed sites is that I never got around to adding the affiliate outlinks to this website - so google does not know that this site is an affiliate and thus no punishment has been dished out.


 9:55 am on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)


I've been hit very hard this time round and like you target the Uk market which means one thing alone traffic vanishes as lets face it G is the internet to the UK and they have never heard of bing ..

whilst I agree its looking bad, the sites that are ranking within my niche shouldn't be there in fact one thats taken a top term I used to rank is a blog last posting 2/2009.. so I fail to see this lasting and at some stage the quality sites will return ......bloody well hope so otherwise I'm on track to a 50% drop in income and setting me back years


 10:04 am on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

I really hope so too. I have had such mixed emotions this morning. Woke up to a lovely email praising my website and its reviews. Then checked my rankings on Google.co.uk. Ouch - what a rollercoster! Interestingly my website also has a broad US audience but my rankings there seem pretty stable. I think all I/we can really do is wait and hope. Obviously I will continue doing what I have to do to shed the manual penalty but I really hope the algorithm gets sorted out!


 1:29 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. For the past couple of years I have had success with ThisThatOnline.com. Logically people will naturally link to you as ThisThatOnline.com hence it will suggest to the algo's that you should rank for This, That, and This Online, and That Online without incurring a penalty since its perfectly natural to link to a site with its full name.

Now it seems you can't do that anymore. Your site needs to be completely unrelated with a subdomain or a category about This and That. Particularly if its video orientated.

Somehow this logic makes sense to G. Don't build a site about This and That with the keywords in the domain.


 1:38 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)


not where I'm sitting ...I've got 5 sites all at number one for 2 keyword urls


 1:58 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)


As you might have noticed, Matt Cutts has referred to the current update of Apr 24, 2012 as "algorithm change targeted at webspam" without given it a specific name.

However its clear that the said update is the "Over-Optimization update" which Matt has warned about in advance in recent days.

[edited by: reseller at 2:05 pm (utc) on Apr 25, 2012]


 2:02 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

I was hurt by Panda initially, now I have been hurt again, one more time and it will be fatal. Still it means I can start fresh and start an offline business of my dreams :) #everycloud


 2:05 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

my site was demoted for its name and for snippets of content (full sentences in quotes, meaning scrapers outrank me), but it still ranks #1 with sitelinks for a handful of longtail phrases. Traffic down about 30%. I am baffled, but I imagine the update is far from over.

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