tedster, it hurt us, I had noticed the dip june 25/26 and wondered if there was another update, sure enough, there was. Our site is responding to each and every penguin and panda update since april. Negatively.
Our site is guilty however, not so much in spirit, as in intent, ie, we did things to try to get advantage in google knowing that is what we were doing, but we also added tools and features that were good for users, so it's a gray area type site, I'm not whining or complaining, although I do feel personally vindicated since I have long disliked the methods of generating content just to get seo bonus points. Long have I tried to get owner to focus on generating unique quality content but he just will not see the light, and there's not a lot I can do about it.
Other than taking the lesson and building out my own well situated sites of course, which for some odd reason never seem to see any bumps of note in these google updates over the last decade. Weird what decent hand written content can do, useful pages, information that answers questions quickly, with links pointing OUT to the relevant resources, and the only seo concerns done to make sure google sees and indexes the page topic.
The real trick I find, however, is to release or write things that people actually find useful, then there's this odd result, natural inbounds on quality sites just appear as if by magic.
Just checking some stats, I had 1400 references to one of my things last month on web forums, many of those contained links to the host site. So google sees this thing, notes its name, which is reasonably unique, notes that people link to it from authority sites in the topic area, and lo and behold, high page rank, never did any seo on it at all... beyond maybe using a few well placed backlinks to launch the thing, but only after creating real users on real forums to really post things.
To put this into perspective, I did the same search filters on webmasterworld.com and they showed 2000 references last 30 days. And WebmasterWorld is a unique, valuable resource. So it doesn't need to plant links on repetitious link farms (man... talk about easy to algo detect, I've been going through them, zero creativity, boilerplate, of course that garbage was easy to penalize for... almost certainly blackhat made our case worse, negative seo is looking more and more likely to me)
However, one thing I do see, decent page rank and inbounds from top authority sites is doing a very good job protecting site y, another site we do in the same general topic area as site x, the one that is getting slammed by every single penguin/panda update.
My conclusion: I'd be way better off doing this stuff myself on my own sites than trying to get people who keep looking for shortcuts to change their behaviors.
Just checked, a few days ago did a quality posting, on a site well regarded, now ranks for 8 million plus two key word phrase, not front page, but 12, page two. Has i believe only one backlink to it, but that's on an authority site in the topic area.
I think a lot of people aren't getting that content isn't good because you think it's good, it's good because other people think it's good. The ability of the black hats to place bad sites on the top ten should be ignored, they do tricks and do not care about the sites they promote, period. Creating a quality site with products that people organically link to with zero, no, prompting from you, is the only viable long term plan, otherwise you are just relying on a free google ride.
I know my client got caught up in the black hat seo game, and certainly has always preferred the easy route over the quality route, and now he's paying the price, this was a good site and could have been a great site if they had generated their own content as as well as their own tools etc for users. But no.. the temptation of easy content generation for key word search placement is just too high, it's like a drug.
I have no idea what people are talking about when they refer quality content as something one writes tons of every day without any thought or research.
I am, again, not discounting that black hats are placing sites on the top ten of their targets, they are always going to be ahead of google in many ways, there are just too many tricks and it's too easy to emulate real sites and real backlink structures.
My guess re small sites ranking, which just popped in my head after this morning's seo chat with client, is this: small sites tend to have real content written by a real person. Not always, not in all cases, but my guess is it's far more likely than not. Large sites, not so much.
I can generate a few quality articles a month max, stuff better than anything out there, or as good. Not more. I can also do a lot of quick forum postings like this, which tend to bounce back to plague me when I do searches on the topics I'm interested in, lol.
To do a quality forum post, that might be worth reading, that's a few hours. And I can only do it on a few topics, and usually am too lazy to make it good enough.
I know I've read, and linked to, many times, my favorite site in a similar topic area to the one that was hit, for over 10 years now. I read it and link to it because the main guy who runs the company writes a weekly blog type item, and what he writes is seriously high quality. He never has to worry about seo is my guess, because every article he writes is going to get first class authority links pointing to it, or at least often enough to not matter. I don't care about his products at all, I care about his analysis. And nobody can copy that. They can scrape it, but it won't work because he's been there so long google knows its his stuff. So that's one good weekly analysis/overview done, I think one a week is about as much as you can really hope for, otherwise it just gets redundant and the quality drops, I know all the real bloggers and authors I read online only do one a week, and that one tends to get instant floods of backlinks to it.
[edited by: lizardx at 11:26 pm (utc) on Jun 27, 2012]