diberry - 1:51 am on Nov 19, 2012 (gmt 0)
@Splugged, now that is VERY interesting, that we're both seeing exactly the same thing. I wonder what else we should compare notes on? How about the niches? My "widget tutorials" is a modestly popular search term. When my page was #1 for it, I got 2000 visitors a day for that term, which is not bad but certainly not a hot, competitive phrase. There are only a couple of MFA sites targeting the phrase, and they only rose to visibility after Penguin. How does your "widget tutorials" niche look?
@mhansen, I'm in the same boat. I manage several sites, and only one got Penguinized. I carefully followed the Google webmaster guidelines as I understood them. I feel we're missing something, too. It's got to be something more subtle than the usual signs of spam, or else it's more than just spam in the way we're used to thinking of it. I keep thinking, many "SEO" tactics overlap with good marketing tactics - for example, repeating key phrases as much as you can without sounding unnatural can be a good sales or presentation tactic. I can see Google concluding this is SEO when the webmaster actually was just following good marketing rules.
As for the handful of big brands, it's the same in some of the queries I fell the hardest on. Now, if we do assume Penguin is about spam/SEO, then what are the brands doing differently from the rest of us? I had a meeting with a web development company the other day, and their main approach to SEO is link building, and they do it mainly with press releases. Dupe content with inbound links. What triggers Google to give some sites a pass on that behavior? Probably the authority of the site publishing the press release... which is high because it's associated with an OFFLINE brand (or newspaper, or whatever). If so, we may not be able to beat that without starting our own publishing empires or something, LOL.
But I do believe there's always a way to work around these things. It looks like Penguin is a total game-changer, so it's vital we figure out what it's about, what it's looking for, and what we can do to make our sites viable in the post-Penguin era.