Update: Google “Bad” SEO Update – Now named Penguin Update

April 25th, 2012 | Analysis 203 comments

Google, by way of Matt Cutts, announced some weeks ago that a special SEO over optimization update will come. Now it’s live with its first iteration. Yesterday evening Google also published the article “Another step to reward high-quality sites” with some more insights into the update. Interesting stuff that every SEO should read.  The official goal was “to take care” over-optimized websites, containing too many unnatural links, automated content (spinning), keyword stuffing etc. Google tries to kill webspam altogether. The impact on all keywords queries is about 3.1%, which compared to Panda (with around 12%) is much less. But Google said more short-head/visible keywords should be affected.

What’s definitely new and surprising for me was the day of the update. It’s unusual for Google to make a major update on a Tuesday or Wednesday.  Normally Google makes this kind of update on a Monday or Thursday. That’s why I presume that in the next few days we’ll see more updates and this update is just the beginning.

Update: I updated the data tonight so it is fresh and you’ll see more losers and much better correlations to the Google update. You can also click directly in the table to see more data in the Searchmetrics Essentials.

What happened?

I took nearly a huge set of keywords from short-head to medium and low search volume and looked at the current rankings from position 1 to 100 and compared the rankings to April 20th. In the data were also some glitches from the Panda 3.5 update which was going live from April 19th to 20th, Matt Cutts mentioned. But overall you see a trend of those domains which really lost visibility within the Google Penguin update.

In the data I saw some striking losers, which suggests to me there must have been another update today. There is a pattern in the winners and losers table and I’ll give you some insights below the table. Note I analyzed the visibility, not the overall traffic. The SEO visibility only includes calculation on organic rankings. Direct traffic, Social, PPC etc. is absolutely not included.

List of SEO visibility losers (google.com)

UPDATE: I updated the table (2012-04-26) with more keywords and fresher data.

Domain SEO Visibility Difference in %
songlyrics.com 128186 -128679 -50,10
great-quotes.com 4515 -72248 -94,12
comcast.com 143032 -66286 -31,67
dslreports.com 65264 -63770 -49,42
appbrain.com 100782 -53439 -34,65
hotels-rates.com 16868 -43554 -72,08
1-love-quotes.com 30366 -42772 -58,48
tvrage.com 124821 -40846 -24,66
shoplocal.com 39654 -39966 -50,20
vzw.com 31323 -38387 -55,07
free-games.net 40883 -37542 -47,87
hotelplanner.com 8933 -33676 -79,03
consumeraffairs.com 50384 -32243 -39,02
lottostrategies.co 1192 -31367 -96,34
edogo.com 2015 -29850 -93,68
2011blackfridayads.com 9514 -29339 -75,51
creditcards.com 47759 -29281 -38,01
download-free-games.com 33558 -28644 -46,05
htc.com 49104 -28268 -36,54
black-friday.net 49484 -28153 -36,26
freephonetracer.com 29783 -28085 -48,53
ghacks.net 38952 -27989 -41,81
customerservicenumbers.com 48318 -27985 -36,68
langenberg.com 22037 -27534 -55,54
karaoke-lyrics.net 1595 -27269 -94,47
dressupgirl.net 42109 -26965 -39,04
robtex.com 92320 -26162 -22,08
lotteryusa.com 76685 -23355 -23,35
bestsampleresume.com 17787 -22175 -55,49
resellerratings.com 48542 -21948 -31,14
dmv.com 15619 -21672 -58,12
songs-lyrics.net 4284 -21096 -83,12
unemployment-extension.org 214 -21025 -98,99
dictionary.com 27654 -20584 -42,67
thedomainfo.com 74737 -20497 -21,52
creditcardforum.com 13481 -20119 -59,88
thesmokinggun.com 41682 -19956 -32,38
ipaddresslocation.org 6050 -19357 -76,19
free-online-games-to-play.net 1489 -19288 -92,83
digg.com 68914 -19126 -21,72
mainkeys.com 44423 -19082 -30,05
lovepoemsandquotes.com 25694 -18719 -42,15
tjoob.com 5585 -18522 -76,83
promgirl.net 15993 -18204 -53,23
americanrhetoric.com 6652 -18079 -73,10
costumekingdom.com 8813 -17670 -66,72
doc-txt.com 13794 -17229 -55,54
education.com 54829 -17127 -23,80
freegames.net 827 -17023 -95,37
halloweencostumes.com 22190 -16951 -43,31
statscrop.com 14936 -16759 -52,88
latest-hairstyles.com 40126 -16733 -29,43
abovethelaw.com 19251 -16450 -46,08
celebjihad.com 23960 -16152 -40,27
aoltv.com 62290 -15872 -20,31
cardratings.com 11762 -15859 -57,42
watch-movies-tv.info 23640 -15717 -39,93
collegeview.com 15151 -15526 -50,61
interest.com 5606 -15389 -73,30
freecookinggames.net 3207 -15246 -82,62
scrabble-word-finder.com 2564 -14442 -84,92
americanheart.org 3732 -14035 -78,99
lotsofjokes.com 12157 -13954 -53,44
ticketcity.com 48204 -13954 -22,45

A lot of these losers are database-driven websites – they mainly aggregate information and use large database systems to create as many pages as possible. Sites such as songlyrics.com, great-quotes.com, cubestat.com or lotsofjokes.com fall into this pattern. It makes sense that these sites will lose visibility.

Press portals and feed aggregators such as pressabout.us, newsalloy.com and bloglines.com were also affected, which makes sense from a Google point of view since these are the website types that are very often created by very aggressive (possibly overly aggressive) SEOs and often contain similar content.

A couple of heavily template-based websites were also affected – ticketnetwork.com/ticketcity.com, hotelscombined.com and customerservicenumbers.com fit Google’s anti-SEO bill perfectly when it comes automatically (possibly also spun) content.

Furthermore, a lot of sites that copy or rehash other peoples’ content (or are used by their users to do that) were demoted – examples include mayor sites such as digg.com, folkd.com and pastebin.com.

First Preview of SEO visibility winners

Domain Win of SEO Visibility in %
spotify.com > 30%
yellowbook.com > 30%
observer.com > 30%
nme.com > 30%
menshealth.com > 30%
poynter.org > 30%
mysanantonio.com > 30%
slideshare.net > 30%
azstarnet.com > 20%
lasvegassun.com > 20%
stackoverflow.com > 20%
epinions.com > 20%
ebates.com > 20%
locatetv.com > 20%
ovguide.com > 20%
gq.com > 20%
newyorker.com > 20%
giantbomb.com > 20%
networkworld.com > 20%
morningstar.com > 20%
livescience.com > 20%
snopes.com > 20%
marvel.com > 20%
lyrics007.com > 20%
esnips.com > 20%
techspot.com > 20%
usnews.com > 20%
drupal.org > 20%
theverge.com > 20%
miamiherald.com > 20%
webs.com > 20%
thehollywoodgossip.com > 20%

 

On the winners side it’s not as easy as on the losers side to find a pattern. But a lot of brand sites won visibility, which makes sense to Google strategy. Sites like menshealth.com, gq.com or lots of other magazines fill perfectly the gap that the losers leave.

The day started exciting and it will end exciting and tomorrow will start again exciting because I have so much data to analyze. 🙂 I keep you updated.

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Who’s writing this stuff? My name is Marcus Tober and I’m the founder of Searchmetrics. Because we really love to analyze every kind of online data, we can give you more insights than any other company in SEO, SEM and Social Media. It’s not a job, it’s passion. You can find me also on Google+ .
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Comments (3)

Comments (203)

  1. 2016/04/07

    Great! Very helpful!

  2. 2016/04/22

    Google keeps changing their algorithms. But, the objective is simple : best results for user.

  3. 2017/08/12

    updates by google is giving tough compition to website to rank on top

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