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

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 (

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

Domain SEO Visibility Difference in % 128186 -128679 -50,10 4515 -72248 -94,12 143032 -66286 -31,67 65264 -63770 -49,42 100782 -53439 -34,65 16868 -43554 -72,08 30366 -42772 -58,48 124821 -40846 -24,66 39654 -39966 -50,20 31323 -38387 -55,07 40883 -37542 -47,87 8933 -33676 -79,03 50384 -32243 -39,02 1192 -31367 -96,34 2015 -29850 -93,68 9514 -29339 -75,51 47759 -29281 -38,01 33558 -28644 -46,05 49104 -28268 -36,54 49484 -28153 -36,26 29783 -28085 -48,53 38952 -27989 -41,81 48318 -27985 -36,68 22037 -27534 -55,54 1595 -27269 -94,47 42109 -26965 -39,04 92320 -26162 -22,08 76685 -23355 -23,35 17787 -22175 -55,49 48542 -21948 -31,14 15619 -21672 -58,12 4284 -21096 -83,12 214 -21025 -98,99 27654 -20584 -42,67 74737 -20497 -21,52 13481 -20119 -59,88 41682 -19956 -32,38 6050 -19357 -76,19 1489 -19288 -92,83 68914 -19126 -21,72 44423 -19082 -30,05 25694 -18719 -42,15 5585 -18522 -76,83 15993 -18204 -53,23 6652 -18079 -73,10 8813 -17670 -66,72 13794 -17229 -55,54 54829 -17127 -23,80 827 -17023 -95,37 22190 -16951 -43,31 14936 -16759 -52,88 40126 -16733 -29,43 19251 -16450 -46,08 23960 -16152 -40,27 62290 -15872 -20,31 11762 -15859 -57,42 23640 -15717 -39,93 15151 -15526 -50,61 5606 -15389 -73,30 3207 -15246 -82,62 2564 -14442 -84,92 3732 -14035 -78,99 12157 -13954 -53,44 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,, or fall into this pattern. It makes sense that these sites will lose visibility.

Press portals and feed aggregators such as, and 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 –, and 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, and

First Preview of SEO visibility winners

Domain Win of SEO Visibility in % > 30% > 30% > 30% > 30% > 30% > 30% > 30% > 30% > 20% > 20% > 20% > 20% > 20% > 20% > 20% > 20% > 20% > 20% > 20% > 20% > 20% > 20% > 20% > 20% > 20% > 20% > 20% > 20% > 20% > 20% > 20% > 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, 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.

Marcus Tober

Marcus Tober

My name is Marcus Tober and I’m the founder of Searchmetrics. Because we really love to analyze all kinds 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.

115 thoughts on “Update: Google “Bad” SEO Update – Now named Penguin Update

  • Government Websites 2012/04/30 at 10:44 am

    I don’t know exactly what Google doing with Penguin update. But Google made it clear that it’s about targeting those violating its quality guidelines.

  • Торты на заказ 2012/04/30 at 11:07 am

    Yes, it`s a real hard work, but to bee better…

  • Panda, Penguin does not effect these duplicate sites from same person, strange! (alexa 400)

  • Many of these arguments about Panda/Penguin rank are completely ridiculous.

    Two weeks ago, if you were ranked on page one, the Googleites over in the Google Panda thread would tell you how great your site is and use you as a shining example on the hill for all to see.

    Today if you got dropped, with the same exact content, you are doing something evil.

    If Panda dropped you it was because you were spam. If Penguin reinstated you with the same content, are you still spam or a shining example?

    The focus is always on what the webmaster is doing wrong. Last I checked, Google runs a search engine that lists sites on the web, they don’t run the Internet. Stop kowtowing to Google and move on to mobile, facebook and other search engines. Google is socialing themselves out of existince and another major player like Facebook is going to step in and blow this deteriorating search engine out of the water.

    Billions of man hours wasted every year chasing Google.

    We need an equitable search engine that shows all matches from the internet in rotation. With a concentration on filtering keyword spammers and objectionable content and leaving everyone else be.

    This filtered view of the world thru Google’s academic eyes is getting pretty myopic. Showing us 10 entries out of millions isn’t representative.

  • michelle hawkins 2012/05/02 at 10:09 am

    when will facebook release there search engine? i wish they will make one to stop this google monopoly!

  • Over optimization penalty. I think this is crazy. So the new black hat will be buy cheap back links for your competitors that are ranking higher than you with the perfect Anchor text.

    I think google should just stick to the websites that have bad links.. Those links do not have any credibility towards their ranking. Low SEO Juice. I do not know. Seems more of a back stabbing kind of community now.

    I know this has been a strategy but this used to be a manual process. Now it is not manual. It is in the algo. So now google will be dropping people rankings without even personally looking at it.

  • Hope following Search engine guidelines could be avoided search engine penalization. My keywords are dropped on SERP and 45 % traffic dropped from April 28th.

  • How panda, penguin have no effect on these duplicate sites from same person, strange!
    website.informer. com (alexa 400 site)
    who.pho. to
    informe. com

  • Periodically the page relating to my website ( which was decimated by penguin) appears where my site used to be in the SERPs

    Perhaps these sort of sites are responsible for the mess this update has made of googles results.

  • Thanks for sharing good update

  • الدعم العربى 2012/05/06 at 11:13 am

    OMG .. I’m checking to see if there’s any effectes on my websites 🙁

    Thnx dude,

  • 2012/05/06 at 8:38 pm

    It would be nice if Google (or other Major Search Engines) could provide a section that features websites or pages that were not ranked on page #1 or 2 yet, either randomly or maybe feature selected pages from search results from page #5 onwards in a little box on the front page.

    I know we could buy ad spaces to let our website appear Before search #1 result, but if All of us get an equal chance to be featured, it would encourage us to write more (for human readers), rather than spending time optimizing keywords to fight for page #1 ranking..

  • Thanks for keeping us up to date. Few of our sites got hit and we’re implementing measures to save them. Problem is, we don’t know where to start. Our links are naturally grown, no blasting or unethical link promotions whatsoever. I think quality content is important more than ever.

  • Hope I am not affected by those changes… I checked my website’s keywords and some of them are not shown yet… Yesterday were … Hope it will take time to re-adjust… Let’s see in a few days…

  • This is great news and I appreciate Google’s efforts to eliminate webspam. I wonder what the metric is of ‘SEO Experts’ that use spam SEO methods to ‘rank’ the sites they work on? I’d say it’s up there in the 90+ percent.

  • I am always happy when I find really good quality research and data gathered for others to share 🙂 It’s what I then curate to share with others having then researched the research myself…

    It is a slightly shocking algo but then actually … not. It’s what they said they’d do, its just suprising some of the algorithmic judgements that have gone sooo wrong – eg empty sites devoid of all content featured on page one!

    Thanks for this anyways, great content keeps Google happy and me doing less ‘legwork!’

  • The worst algorithm update so far, I hope they fix it really soon 🙂

  • iphone unlocking service 2012/05/23 at 10:58 pm

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  • Social Media Guru 2012/05/25 at 2:19 pm

    I have found your blog while touring in the blog world. I would like to appreciate your effort for sharing this article with the readers. I have gone through most of your articles and will make sure to visit back again. Nice blog with some amazing write ups. Keep it up. I have tweeted this article to my followers and I hope they will like it too. 🙂

  • keylogger for iphone 2012/05/25 at 9:45 pm

    Google is now supporting paid links or reciprocal links or private blogs. Now SEO is completely depending if you are investing money on buying links and managing own blogs. There are bundle of examples available while searching in Google.

    Sorry to say but as per new studies, most of the people are going to use Bing instead of Google.

    Even my competitor of keylogger for iphone keywords is number 1 position due to paid links but google is not taking any action after reminders as well as phone calls to Matt Cutts directly

  • Interesting…because either they want relative content or they don’t. Or is it that you will have to have all of your own “relative content?”

    I find it quite odd that many people haven’t mentioned website “curation” or “blog curation” yet, because some believe that’s the way of the future delivering relative content.

    Then again in a way that contradicts with the direction of panda/penguin. (Do you think the comment about buying ads is perhaps true?)

    I want to know specifically then, is blog curation good or bad? Are sites like Huffington Post and CNN good or bad?

    Further, responsible SEO webmasters shouldn’t be punished for trying and vying to deliver to the serps quality optimization. SERPS should respond properly and reward their hard work in return.

    Quality SEO and quality content should be regarded and rewarded as such.

  • Logo Design from Logo Doctor 2012/07/18 at 5:42 pm

    Interesting post, seems Google is upsetting a lot of customers so when will the other search engines step up.

  • This is really great post by your Marcus. After the panda and penguin update we know that google is working hard to reduce spam links and spam content. Thanks for sharing this informative post with us.

  • Thanks for the article was helpful

  • This penguin update has really killed sites that were not using white hat techniques.

  • zomerjassen kid 2012/07/31 at 9:07 am

    I prefer to read this kind of stuff.Thanks for the post.

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