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Does my website prove the google sandbox / Penguin 3 test?

     
12:15 pm on Aug 26, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Early last year we started a site that today has become one of the biggest in its niche (sexuality, personal growth and relationship). We are not a "cheap" dating or sex site trying to sell affiliate products.

After a slow start, which is normal, our high quality content started paying off and people started sharing it a lot and I mean a lot (100k,200k some even more than 300k). And this is not a funny image picture sharing site. We have well written, intellectual content allowing people to expand their horizon on all levels of life.

Up until the site really started taking off our SE visibility was slowly but constantly growing. Once our site started really taking off (1M unique visits and more a month) and thus getting tons of back links from all over the web weird things started happening.

Best described by looking at the attached image.
Google SE Traffic over the past 12 months:
[imgur.com...]

- every 2 month we have seen a vast increase in SE visibility
- increase lasts between 1 to 4 weeks
- during these short periods search results for our keywords seem to be more relevant, less spammy
- does not impact all our keywords
- changes are instant from one minute to another (like on/off switch)
- changes go along with what can be seen on many SERP change sites

My theory so far is that google has been testing something over the last 10 months or so and we happen to be in it somehow. Maybe Penguin 3 that has been rumored to arrive soon.

Would be great if you could share your thoughts or would be great to connect with people experiencing similar things.

Thanks,
Oliver

PS: Never done any off-page SEO, Link profile is totally natural
.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 6:17 pm (utc) on Aug 26, 2014]
[edit reason] fixed image link [/edit]

2:58 pm on Aug 26, 2014 (gmt 0)

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What do you mean by sharing? If we are talking about 300k sharing events, it would be helpful to be more specific. Is that people retweeting on Twitter, posting on Facebook, forwarding an email, writing a blog post or something else.

Just because you haven't done any off-page SEO does not mean your link profile is safe. If you have 300k people sharing something it could accidentally trigger a spam filter. I don't think this is your situation but imagine a new website gaining 300k identical anchor text links in one day. That can look like spammy paid links even if it was natural. What is your backlink profile looking like? Are the people that are linking to your new site giving you permanent links or temporary backlinks?

You say you have "1M unique visits and more a month" do you mean 1 million or 1 thousand? If it is a million visits a month, it looks like you are only averaging about 30,000 monthly visits from Google according to your screenshot. What is driving the other 97% of your traffic?
4:49 pm on Aug 26, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Hey goodroi,

thank you for getting back to me and sorry for not being precise enough.

- yes i was referring to social signals (tweets, shares, likes, mail forwards).
- from what i can tell the profile looks pretty normal for what i would consider medium size site. Google webmaster tools is showing around 10k right now, nicely spread across all our pages with quite some high quality ones from huffington post and co ... also from sites like majesticseo i can't find anything suspicious in terms of anchor text.
- avergage thus far this year is 1.5 Million uniques a month mainly from social media, returning readers and other channels.

Everybody has been showing us love except google. Not that we need google as the site performs amazing without it just trying to understand whats going on. On none of my other site have I seen this behavior in SE visibility, thats why I don't thing its a panility, more google testing or some type of sandbox for getting large to fast or so.

Oliver
12:32 pm on Aug 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Have you logged in WMT to see if there are any messages from Google?

What percentage of your pages have been indexed by Google?

How often is googlebot visiting your pages?
1:02 am on Aug 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Have done that of course no messages from google. No penalty, no message for increase or decries in visibility which I usually get if such a big change occurs on other sites.

Crawls look totally normal and all pages are indexed.

I can find nothing else that can explain whats going on here.
1:36 pm on Aug 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Your chart looks to me like charts from sites that get traffic for a limited time whilst the content is fresh and related to some news, and then dies away as the news gets older or picked up by other sites.

Have you tried to analyse these spikes closer? You already said it does not affect all your keywords, but are the ones affected driving traffic way above the others?

Also, can you isolate landing pages that suddenly got much more traffic (or was the traffic increase spread equally across the site?)

If you can find the pattern of some pages being main landing pages for the traffic spike, try to see what happened to the page beforehand - was it new, was it updated, was it linked to more, etc.
2:05 pm on Aug 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Hey there aakk9999,

I was thinking about that to but,

- the pages affected are both old a new, can't find a logic here
- it always seems to happen, when a google update is in the air
- older pages have not been updated, and i haven't seen any out of the ordinary increase in links or other activity e.g. social shares
- was spread quite equally across all our popular articles, its mainly articles that had a lot of shares from social media (therefore also links) in the past.

I will be looking deeper into this theory. But I also think its not this what is happening cause we are no news, our content is always relevant.