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|Penguin not working - sites continue to rank with spammy links|
It took me a while to decide how I should go about this post, even if I should really post in the first place. But with the recent "disavow" tool, I kinda feel obligated. The meat of this post:
Penguin is NOT working
There may not even be such thing as Penguin. I know, there are penalties, but I believe Penguin in general is seriously misrepresented, to say the least.
Recently I decided to enter a new niche. I'm not going into details, but it's rather competitive in the natural results. I have the knowledge, thus I am confident I can compete in this niche, as far as quality content. The first thing I did is to gather the main search keywords and analyze the competition, starting with backlinks, of course. It appeared that about 20 websites are currently occupying the top spots (first page) for the more popular keywords, so I ran ahref on all of them.
You would not believe the backlink profiles! 99% pure unadulterated spam. Site-wide links from foreign websites, blog roll links, almost all (at least 90%) of the backlink profile on ALL of them comes from websites not even remotely related to the niche. I mean things we used to see about 10 years ago. I just don't have the words to describe the "spammyness", blatant and wide in the open. If I showed you the backlink profile of just one of the websites - you will probably punch your monitor and go get drunk.
There is no way in the world that, if Penguin is what it was described to be, it would miss such websites. No way!
I have seen it with my own eyes and I strongly advise everyone to really rethink Penguin.
Now that I have seen this, my personal opinion has changed to: Penguin is just a jolt, most likely designed to bring as much "SEOs" out of the woodwork as possible, as usual based on FUD, or simply to scare them a bit for the future. It certainly is not really targeting anything in particular and seems to work randomly. Add to this that fact that Penguin has not reappeared since it was used for the first time.
I don't think google had any plan about "Penguin", so I have no idea if there is any recovery technique besides just riding it out and hope that one of the thousands yearly changes would trigger something that would improve ones position.
There maybe other factors involved.
How is the content?
|Site-wide links from foreign websites, blog roll links, almost all (at least 90%) of the backlink profile on ALL of them comes from websites not even remotely related to the niche. I mean things we used to see about 10 years ago. |
You're right. I've posted for a few months now about a website registered in July with 20,000 brand new, foreign backlinks ranking very well in the finance sector. They have recently lost some short-tail phrases, but still sit #1 on the more lucrative longtail phrases. Penguin removed established sites, but did nothing to improve the web or attack spam. I continue to say, consumer beware. And yes, we may need to rethink Penguin. I thought surely the data "refresh" from two weeks ago would have caught that spammy site, but it didn't. In fact, spam moved up, including press releases and yellow pages.
While shortly post-Penguin I would have disagreed with the statement that it wasn't working, clearly now something has changed.
I am seeing sites ranking for top three position on extremely competitive keywords on nothing more than link spam with exact match anchor text.
I suspect either another update is in progress, or something has been turned off Penguin wise.
FWIW, my traffic is highest point of the year with a stable and consistent conversion rate. I just watch things enough to see when stuff pops up that is manipulating Google and the past few days has had more of it than previously.
Atlrus, this is what I've been trying to say all along. I had a site lose 80+% of its Google traffic on April 24. There's plenty wrong with the site, and I say this as someone who runs several much better sites - I KNOW this one has issues. But I had never manipulated links, never done any real SEO on it - I don't even understand how one selects keyphrases for targeting. Whatever Penguin saw wrong with my site wasn't not any of the "aggressive spam" or "unnatural links" we've been told was Penguin's target.
I hope this time people will actually read this thread and NOT just assume we're all whining because our sites got hit. My site DESERVED to lose rankings, okay? Because the content is mediocre, etc. It's just that my site's shortcomings have nothing to do with anything we're told Penguin is about.
I think it's very clear at the very least there's more to Penguin than unnatural links. I think there's more to it than "aggressive SEO", because I'm not capable of aggressive SEO due to my ignorance and still got hit.
And I too have seem some really spammy sites stay right on top since Penguin. In one query I track - for which my site has been removed from the entire index, as far as I can tell - there is still a "exactkeyphrase.blogspot.com" full of pages that have titles followed by bodies that say "coming soon!" It's like the site's not even been built, but there it sits, ranking. Penguin cannot be that stupid, can it?
I'm glad I'm not alone in my observations.
|There maybe other factors involved. |
How is the content?
If there are other factors - I couldn't fathom them. There should be no factor that would leave these websites prospering with such backlink profile.
The content on most of them is barely OK. I don't think it's stolen, but it sounds like something a writer for hire would create, very little if any understanding of the niche. That was one of the main reasons I was going into this in the first place - i know I could do much better.
I've been combing the serps all day in disbelief and have come to the same conclusion, there is no penalty for keyword loading or spammy sites. Need a few examples? You'll laugh your hat off.
One site that suddenly ranks 5 positions above me in a listing I was holding #1 in, is a frames page with over 1500 characters of consecutive, blatant keyword loading. Here is the actual text from their home page with the company name and keyphrases words removed (took a while to edit). This is no joke...enjoy...
|At OUR COMPANY we can provide KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, and KEYPHRASE and KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE. |
KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE are what OUR COMPANY can provide for you.
When you need KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE be sure to call on OUR COMPANY for your KEYPHRASE and KEYPHRASE.
When you need KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, call on OUR COMPANY to supply you with great ideas for a KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, and KEYPHRASE.
If you're looking for KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, let OUR COMPANY provide you with the KEYWORD you need.
In need for KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, call on OUR COMPANY to give you the KEYPHRASE for a great KEYWORD.
If you have KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE needs, call on OUR COMPANY as your KEYPHRASE and inspiration firm.
Need KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, Let OURCOMPANY provide the KEYPHRASE for your KEYPHRASE.
When you hire a KEYPHRASE let OUR COMPANY KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE and KEYPHRASE for the KEYPHRASE.
KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE, KEYPHRASE are all services that OUR COMPANY can provide for your next KEYPHRASE.
Quality my KEYWORD!
Poorly made and relatively newly created EMD's and keyword stuffed, over-optimised sites have blown me out of the water, despite I've been going for countless years, have far superior, and numerous natural backlinks from authoritative sources. I took a look at the top of the results to see if there might be anything I could do to improve my own site, and was amazed how any of the sites ranking on page one were able to escape Penguin or Panda the first time around!
|Martin Ice Web|
@backdraft Keywordstuffing is supposed to be catched by panda not by penguin.
I know a few blackhatters and they all say they use all the same old crappy link services they used to but vary there anchor text ALOT! So yeah sites are ranking with all the old school blackhat methods they just have to vary them more. Blackhatters never stop! Google is a group of smart people but the blackhat community is a exponentially bigger group of smart people. They will always find a way. google's fight against these guys will never stop.
For example most of my blackhat friends still use blog networks.. yes even some of the ones that google de-indexed but they vary anchor and the blog networks have got smarter using joomla and drupal and othe CMS's to vary footprint. Like I said these guys are smart and collectively they have more combined smarts than even the illustrious Google.
SAD but true!
I've been seeing that for years for my widgets most especially from India and then China followed by quite a few UK and US sites that have obviously used Indians to write them since they follow exactly the same format.
It's pathetic, Google evidently cannot discern between quality and spam whereas, in my niche, Bing does not have this problem whatsoever.
Have Faith, they will go down, atleast 80% of them, then they will be replaced by other spammy sites, then they will go down as well and the pruning process continues.
When Google has sufficient data on these sites, they will be treated how they need to be. The 20% of those which won't be affected regardless of how spammy their backlink profile is mainly because of the kind of browsing experience they provide to their users, if their users are happy and trust them, they will stay.
|@backdraft Keywordstuffing is supposed to be catched by panda not by penguin. |
Penguin, Panda, it's all black & white to me.
The bottom line is that (in many cases) the algos don't work.
That, or we've just seen another iteration of their "quality" run.
Just makes me laugh.
BTW, just saw a BING commercial yesterday, hope the market finally starts swinging in their direction.
After all, Google is no longer a search engine. It's a futility engine.
UPDATE: The keyword stuffing site I mention above is also ranked high on BING. In that search, they are #1, I am #2. So, apparently this blackhat still works everywhere.
[edited by: backdraft7 at 1:12 pm (utc) on Oct 19, 2012]
In the financial sector, established sites are gone. What remains are proliferating press releases. I now see what appears to be a hijacked university website that redirects to commercial products. The url redirects upon click from Google. It has been in the serps for a few weeks, but I thought it would be gone by now. Google's algorithms/filters haven't caught it, and neither have their "raters".
As I said, the established sites are gone (or disappearing), and very, very spammy press releases hog the top spots. Furthermore, the remaining niche websites tend to be very small (10 pages), and/or spammy (as others here have pointed out). The consumer is very poorly served in this niche.
|@backdraft Keywordstuffing is supposed to be catched by panda not by penguin. |
The penguin/panda updates were "anti-SEO" enhancements that caused a big increase in google revenues. The sails are set folks, don't mess with the money!
It looks like news releases, magazine articles and forum posts have replaced pages that have commercial intent.
Revenue increased 51 percent to $11.33 billion from $7.51 billion a year ago.
|It looks like news releases, magazine articles and forum posts have replaced pages that have commercial intent. |
You're right. And this leads us to the antitrust events with the FTC.
The number of webmasters ( and SEO "gurus" ) who think that Penguin is all about links is incredible..
The number of them that think "that any given algo is all about *something*"..
Is only matched by the number that believe..
"that any given algo can't possibly be about *something*"..
Note in the second example I did not use the word "all"..
Beliefs such as these, make webmasters waste enormous amounts of their time and energy..as "beliefs" in general, make people waste enormous amounts of their time and energy..
But "beliefs" tend to make "gurus" rich, as they "explain", and offer paid solutions..
|But "beliefs" tend to make "gurus" rich, as they "explain", and offer paid solutions.. |
Yes, selling the dream, denying the reality. The mis-characterization of google is very profitable for a certain vertical.
I wouldn't put all the blame on the victim.
In general, people seem to believe what google says simply because there is no company in recent history that has been allowed to misrepresent their product on a constant basis like that. Now that they are public - people put even more weight on what they say and take it for the truth.
The problem is there is no accountability to their words and actions.
To give an example of the aforementioned findings about Penguin, I could compare it to a company claiming their new product will kill head lice, but it not only fails do that - in many cases it results in baldness :) As we have learned, once you go bald - you may try anything to get your hair back...
Google has never said that Penguin is all about links..that has been assumed and extrapolated ( from what was said by Google ) by the Gurus and those who blindly follow them..
Do your own research ..without preconceptions..and without listening to the gurus ( as TypicalSurfer mentions ..miss-characterisation and miss-direction are indeed very profitable for certain "verticals", companies and individuals when dealing with Google algos ) ..and you'll find out what algos are really doing..
When those with profits to make ..SEO Gurus.. are telling you that it is all about nails..( and Google are being deliberately obtuse and obscure in their public pronouncements ).. you are so much more inclined to buy the hammer that the Gurus or their friends, are selling..instead of really looking at what has happened to you and your site(s) personally..and choosing what to do and how to do it..
I only "blame" those who allow themselves to be lead around by the nose..because they refuse to open their eyes and who prefer to listen to the Gurus..
|It looks like news releases, blog, video sites, magazine articles and forum posts have replaced pages that have commercial intent. |
Added blog (blogspot), Video sites (Youtube).
Adapt or perish in the all new GOOGLE knowledge engine.
|Google has never said that Penguin is all about links..that has been assumed and extrapolated ( from what was said by Google ) by the Gurus and those who blindly follow them.. |
Yep. And it's always worth it to go to the source [googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com].
Just don't expect for Google to rid the SERPs of every bit of spam at the same time. That's just an impossibility.
|Yep. And it's always worth it to go to the source... |
The problem with the "source" is - it refers to BOTH penguin and panda which can be confusing.
It mentions Panda, the post and the examples are about Penguin.
Just the mention of panda confused a lot of people, but YES the examples are about Penguin.
|It mentions Panda, the post and the examples are about Penguin. |
Penguin seems to only work every couples of months. Any type of link still works and in sheer numbers, they just let the domain fall and do a new one and its game on again. I think Penguin has yet to factor in type of link, link growth rate etc and is just focused on mainly anchor text levels.
Nothing is about anything with Google, that's the problem.
But Penguin was clearly presented as being about links, the "disavow" tool is just another proof. Google may not come out and say "this is about that", but there are plenty of slip-ups to indicate the Penguin's main goal - links.
For example, one can find at the "source" the following statement:
If your site was affected by the Penguin algorithm update and you believe it might be because you built spammy or low-quality links to your site, you may want to look at your site's backlinks and disavow links that are the result of link schemes that violate Google's guidelines
I just hate seeing people panic and act irrational. I had the "luxury" of learning my Google lesson a long time ago and I simply did nothing after Penguin/Panda, but I certainly can't blame people for trying anything they could, just so they could get some traffic back.
I truly believe that opinions like yours are very valuable to any discussion, but I cannot agree that you would be able to change people's minds by going around and telling them they were "lead by their noses by the SEO Gurus"...
atlrus, leosghost is right. I was hit hard by Penguin, and early on an SEO in here insisted I had spammy backlinks and challenged me to prove it. I let that person look at my domain, and he admitted my problem wasn't backlinks. Others have since looked at it and confirmed the same. Penguin is definitely looking at onpage factors as well as offpage - maybe the vast majority of Penguin sites have backlink issues, but not all.
diberry - that was actually the point of my post - that either Penguin is not working as intended or it was never about reducing link spam.
Leoghost tried to make the claim that Google never said it was about links, which I have clearly disproved with quotes from the source.
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