Google Penguin Update: SEO And Marketing Services Feel The Effects

    May 16, 2012
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

There’s been a great deal of talk about the Google Penguin update since it launched last month, and a lot of webmasters are still trying to sift through the rubble and determine if their sites were even impacted by Penguin or some other Google algorithm change. In addition to Penguin, there were two Panda refreshes last month, and over 50 other changes, which Google finally listed on Friday.

SEOmoz CEO Rand Fishkin tells WebProNews, “It’s done a nice job of waking up a lot of folks who never thought Google would take this type of aggressive, anti-manipulative action, but I think the execution’s actually somewhat less high quality than what Google usually rolls out (lots of search results that look very strange or clearly got worse, and plenty of sites that probably shouldn’t have been hit).”

SEOmoz, by the way, has launched an interesting project aimed at tackling Webpsam on its own.

Fishkin actually posted a new video discussing the Penguin update today, which is worth the watch, particularly if you’ve been affected. There are six main points he discusses, but one in particular that I found interesting is that there are a lot of sites in the marketing industry that appear to have been hit.

Fishkin says, “There appears to be a very disproportionate level of sites in the marketing/services field affected by this. What I mean is, we have seen more people write in about keywords like, ‘seo services,’ ‘seo company, you know, some particular city name’, or ‘web design services, some particular city name’. Those types of results seem to be hit heavily.”

“Now, I’m gonna throw out to things I think may be to blame here,” he continues. “One is: a lot of people who operate in these marketing services fields are also likely to have a lot of correlation with the people who are potentially getting the kinds of link spam to their web pages that Google hit in this update. So, it’s not necessarily [that] Google focused on these. It could be the types of spam they focused on and the types of links that these people had just happened to be correlated and connected. The other things is, this could merely a leading indicator…we’re obviously in the marketing and SEO field, and so it could be that we’re just getting a disproportionate number of those types of folks talking about it in Q&A, emailing, tweeting at us…all those kinds of things.”

“That’s also possible, though usually we see more balance across the board, typically,” he notes.

Beyond the obviously spam-heavy topics, like making money online and pharmaceuticals, we’d be interested to hear more about what kinds of sites have been impacted most by Penguin. Do you believe you were hit by Penguin? What industry is your site part of?

  • http://www.vanitytableshop.com Tony

    We got hit big time.
    We lost 65% of our site traffic on April 24th. Before that date it was steady traffic.

  • joseph

    google literally killed a few of my sites with this update… they are in retail sectors selling consumer products… nice job of waking up folks. what is Rand talking about? i would never have done any seo at all if google hadn’t been rewarding sites who were… to turn 180 and then go the other way is ridiculous… there are ridiculous sites ranking in my site’s place now that have no link profiles at all….should i launch fresh sites with no backlink history so that i can rank on top now? is SEO dead? no, this whole thing is absurd, what google did is reshuffle the rankings and not combat webspam.

  • joseph

    well, i jumped before reading the rest of Rand’s quote… he said nice job of waking…but finished by saying it is a lower quality update… Amen to that, google’s crappiest update yet…

    it’s amazing, sending webmasters bickering is so minor to them… if they don’t fix this update, i will run around telling every tom dick and harriet that google is truly evil…

  • Bill

    I really wonder about Google sometimes. I’m really beginning to think that they truly lack holistic brain power. The new search results are TERRIBLE, especially when searching for services and products. I keep getting these out-dated blogs and forum articles.

    It’s almost like they were so determined to punish SEO people that they were willing to sacrifice the quality of their own product. Besides, do you think people would spend thousands of dollars optimizing a site if it wasn’t relevant or of quality?

  • François

    My site got hit as well: around 70% decrease. My site is in the entertainment niche and for many years it was nearly number one for keywords such as “funny pictures” or “funny images”. I do think that my web users were happy with the site as they were browsing 27 pages in average and I had only 15% bounce back. Now some websites showing on the first page are empty blogs with few sentences or outdated sites.

    Sure I have some links from “spammy” websites but 95% of them are from normal ones. I still wonder what has affected my site. I lost big incomes with Google Adsense. I hope Google will update their algorithm…

  • http://alleoindong.com The Cyber Traveler

    This changes of algorithm affects so many sites and SEO consultant as they have to think of new way of getting their site into the first page of google search and improve their rankings and traffics. I wonder what they are going to do. I think it’s time for bing to be acknowledge.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Brick-Marketing-SEO-and-SEM-Firm/14204584980 Nick Stamoulis

    My site has survived, but one of my client’s secondary sites definitely got whacked with Penguin. I’m going to have to take a deeper look, but they recently purchased the domain off someone else so I’m willing to bet that former owner’s SEO actions are partially to blame.

  • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

    Not to come across as harsh, but people need to stop complaining about it, stop looking for a vulnerability to exploit in order to get to page one with as little effort as possible and start making yourself more and more valuable and you will naturally rise. It’s much more difficult to do it this way but things are only going to get worse moving forward if your strategy is to look for the easy way out like buying links, keyword stuffing, etc. Start now and position yourself as an expert and then next time there is an update like this (which there will be) you will be able to skate right through it! http://www.marcensign.com/bulletproof-strategy-to-benefit-from-the-google-penguin-update/

    • http://www.asifnkhan.com/about Asif Khan

      It’s not about complaining, people are just letting Google know that they shouldn’t have been hit by this update. Nobody would be happy to see blogspot blogs working on Twitter concept by providing 2-3 lines with a link to actual site or product and amazon links when they search for a product review.

      Maybe, you were not affected by this update that’s why you’re telling people what to do and what not to do by promoting your blog’s post here.

  • http://www.marketing-lists-direct.com Kevin

    We are in the direct marketing field specializing in mailing lists. Try googling mailing lists or mailing list and look at all the nonsense that comes up. It is horrible! There are a small amount of companies that actually supply mailing lists or information about mailing lists. The majority of the results are about websites internal mailing list, which typically they are talking about their emailing lists. It is obvious Google is only doing this to increase pay per click revenue, but are painting the picture we care about people’s search results. NO THEY DO NOT! For people defending this update, they have no idea what they are talking about. There is no relevancy in the results at all now. If you business is relevent to SEO, for example, of course all the anchor links should be SEO or SEO something. Even naturally, that makes sense!

  • Svetlana

    My site was badly hit. It’s an entertainment/travel guide related to a particular city.

    My website now ranks No 8 for an EXACT keyword search from my homepage – 7 websites that stole my content rank at sports 1 to 7. how can this be a good algorithm?

    I have been researching everywhere – Does anyone know the answer? – Does Google realize/admit that they made a bad mistake? Or are they happy with the results?

    I have done some research – I searched for a particular city – Pangkor, and the site that comes up first is a rip off (or a mirror) of another website. This No 1 site has only 1 page indexed in Google, and this page is an exact duplicate of the other website that does not rank well. Yet it ranks No 1 for a website with stolen content.

    This can’t be right. So much for punishing spam and rewarding quality.

  • Jason Gomez

    We were badly hit, we’re in the office space industry which is very competitive. We were ranking #1 for our main keyword and it went down to position 10. With other keywords there’s mediocre sites who even have hidden text (same color as background). We don’t really understand what content Google values.

  • anonymous

    Our philosophy since the launch of our website has always been “quality, quality, quality”. We hire only in-house writers with relevant degrees and experienceto write our content in order to ensure value to readers and high quality. We lost 50% of our non paid search traffic on April 24th. Our conclusion is that Penguin hit us not because of our content, but because our external links were mostly exact match. Now, other sites with lower quality content who were not doing much linkbuilding have moved up the rankings, resulting in lower quality content sites moving up the rankings. We understand Google wants to punish “aggressive SEO”, but it comes at the sacrifice of better search results.

    This leaves us to believe that high quality content sites such as ours are only experiencing a temporary penalty as explained by Matt Cutts here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ES01L4xjSXE

    Google Penguin certainly made us change our linkbuilding tactics, focusing on more organic links with more of a natural human element. However, only time will tell whether the “aggressive SEO” penalty is temporary or permanent.

    Matt Cutts, can you please comment on this?

  • anon

    Just searched both google and yahoo for how much to list on otcbb and google has no results related to this, while yahoo has 5 out of 10 good matches. Why is google playing around, peoples businesses and lives are at stake.

  • http://www.theatretickets-london.co.uk Boyd Kemble

    My website has practically been wiped out by this update and I don’t understand why as most of my competitors seem to have come through it unscathed. I don’t believe that I have done anything wrong at all. I don’t use link farms, I have original content, I do everything ‘in house’ and don’t use SEO firms, the site is relevant to nothing else except what I’m selling and I don’t have any affiliate banners. I’m totally baffled by this and would welcome any ideas on how to turn this around and get back on track. I have also had no notifications or correspondence from Google giving me any explanation or telling me how I have violated any of their guidelines so how can I know what I’ve done wrong???

  • http://topseowebdesign.multiply.com/journal sidpeter

    I thoroughly enjoyed your post. It was like an eye-opener for me as I did not know some of the basic fact you unveiled thanks. Apart from this I would like to ask if you provide more articles.

  • http://www.aquaswimsuits.com Chhavi Dublish

    We have disappeared from search engine results. I wouldn’t have minded being bumped onto 2nd or 3rd page. I don’t even know what SEO to use, if at all.

  • http://www.ifuturevision.com/sem.php SEM Services UK

    Our website traffic is increased after Google panda and penguin update because we are providing better user experience by unique content on website and blog. We are using media rich pages in order to reduce bounce rate of website

  • http://europeforvisitors.com Durant Imboden

    Our editorial travel-planning site has enjoyed a daily increase of 10-15% in Google referrals since the Penguin and Panda 3.6 updates. (That’s a nice change from February and April of 2011, when our Google referrals took a hit in the first two Panda updates.)

  • http://www.assignmenthelpsite.com.au Aeron

    My site was also affected big time. I dont even do spamming or linking. Just write fresh content and share it on directory and social bookmarking websites. I dont know whats wrong I did?

  • tom

    We’ve been on page 1 forever. Now we are on page 4. I run a small home-based business and now we have less than $100 a day in sales. An 75% drop. I am now out of business and only have a few months before I’m homeless. My sales drop EVERY time google plays with their algorithms.

    I checked and found no keyword stuffing, no hidden text, no doorway pages, and only maybe 15 pages out of 7,000 that had some un-natural text (lists). We do have a link-exchange with other similar or related businesses but don’t buy links and don’t pay for articles or any of that other crap.

    We did find a sub-domain that was part of a test done when we changed servers, that was never taken down and ended up in the google index somehow. We filed for a reconsideration request but google says that there was no manual spam penalty on our site.

    So I’ve gone from #3 to #35 with no explanation. I can’t fix what I don’t know is broken.

    And I’ve noticed that I was replaced in the top 3 by google’s big-box advertising partners (amazon, ebay, sears, etc). Even sites with the same products I have but who have no incoming links and no on page text are coming up 25 rows ahead of me.

    • richard

      Hey Tom,

      I am in the same boat, 80% decrease in traffic, I run a directory and know all our clients are coming off

    • http://james.com James

      Try building ORGANIC links and stop trying to manipulate the system. Google should, and can, move the goalposts to stop people taking advantage of a system by over-optimising!

  • http://mobila-comanda-bucuresti.blogspot.com/ Mobila C.

    Penalizing sites for questionable paid links is ridiculous, especially as article says directory submissions were actually encouraged previously.

  • http://blogs.health24.com/vitaminpete V Pete

    I’ve been so busy of late I haven’t even been looking at traffic stats. Sales have remained about constant, so if we were hit, it appears it would have been the terms that don’t generate sales anyway that we lost ground on.

  • http://www.drupalindia.com business development consulting services

    Thanks for share informative post here. Personally, I think all those times we reported on Penguin updates – I think those were live tests of what we see now. I think Google was testing this and some webmasters picked up that their sites either recovered or newly hit.

  • http://muhammadkhojaye.blogspot.com sameer sharma

    I really don’t understand why they update. Even now Blogspot has been updated with different domain for each country and it is effecting my blog with both google analystic and third part code.
    a href=”http://muhammadkhojaye.blogspot.com” title=”Aly”>