Should The Google Penguin Update Hit Sites Like WPMU.org?

Site helped by Panda gets hurt by Penguin

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We recently told you about WPMU.org apparently getting hit by Google’s Penguin update. The site went from 8,580 visits (pretty standard for the site, having looked through the Analytics myself) to 1,527 a week later. It’s been hovering around similar numbers ever since, with a pretty clear dip right around Penguin time.

Do you think this site deserved to get hit by Penguin? Let us know in the comments.

Penguin drop

We spoke with James Farmer, Founder and CEO of Incsub, which runs the site. Farmer maintains that WPMU.org engages in no keyword stuffing, link schemes, and has no quality issues. In fact, the site has actually done well throughout Google’s series of Panda updates.

Farmer tells WebProNews, “We did great after Panda, it was like that update recognized we were decent folk… you can’t win them all huh?”

“Apart from not being able to guess what Google was going to do in April, 3 years ago, we haven’t done anything wrong,” he says.

Last week, Farmer received some second-hand info from Google’s Matt Cutts, who reportedly spoke with the Sydney Morning Herald about WPMU.org. According to Farmer, Cutts provided three problem links pointing to the site. These included a site pirating their software and two links from one spam blog using an old version of one of their WordPress themes with a link in the footer. Farmer reported that Cutts “said that we should consider the fact that we were possibly damaged by the removal of credit from links such as these.”

It’s pretty interesting that if such links were the problem that it could have such a tremendous impact. It’s no wonder there have been so many discussions about negative SEO (competitors attacking each other with these kinds of tactics) since Penguin launched.

The site has over 10,400+ Facebook likes, 15,600+ Twitter followers, 2,537 +1s and 4,276 FeedBurner subscribers, according to Farmer. Apparently not enough to outweigh some questionable links from third parties.

“How could a bunch of incredibly low quality, spammy, rubbish (I mean a .info site… please!) footer links have made that much of a difference to a site of our size, content and reputation, unless Google has been absolutely, utterly inept for the last 4 years (and I doubt that that’s the case),” Farmer wrote in his article on the matter.

When asked how many links he has out there just from footers for WordPress themes, he tells WebProNews, “Given that we stopped adding links years ago, actually not that many at all.”

“However, the challenge is that given that we provided themes to a lot of multisite installs, which have since become overrun with splogs, there’s an enormous amount of links from not that many actual root domains,” he adds. “I’d guesstimate 1-2K, 99% of clearly low quality sites.”

We asked if he’s heard from other WordPress theme creators, having similar issues.

“Actually no, although that doesn’t surprise me that much,” he says. “Not many folk are as open as us, and in this field they probably have good reason to be. WordPress terms are very, very competitive so I wouldn’t be surprised if 9/10 competitors had something to hide!”

Like many webmasters, Farmer just doesn’t know what to expect from Google, in terms of whether or not Google will consider the site to be one of the innocent casualties of Penguin.

“I have no idea, I would love it if they did. I guess the thing I’m begging for is some sort of qualitative mechanism (NOT the manual webspam web, faster approach) that allows quality operators, like us, to survive and carry on providing Google users exactly the kind of helpful content they need!”

Google does have a form users can submit to, if they think they’ve been wrongfully hit by the Penguin update.

Google’s Matt Cutts recently told Danny Sullivan that Google considers the Penguin update a success, despite the large number of complaints from those commenting on blogs and in forums. Of course, the Penguin update, much like the Panda update, should be periodically coming back around, giving sites a chance to make fixes and recover. That also means however, sites will also have more chances to get hit.

We asked Farmer if he thinks Penguin has helped or hurt search results in general, outside of his site’s issues.

“Especially in the WP field they have gone wild,” he emphasizes. “For example our flagship site WPMU DEV – if you go to search for that now a competitor writing something ridiculous about us and copyright appears above our massively popular Facebook page. It even looks like our YouTube channel has been demoted. Crazy stuff.”

We’ve certainly seen some other questionable search results following the update, and others have complained aplenty.

Do you think the search results have improved since Penguin? Should WPMU have been hit by Penguin? Share your thoughts.

Should The Google Penguin Update Hit Sites Like WPMU.org?
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  • http://www.ShoutMeLoud.com Harsh Agrawal

    Following up your post on Google+:
    It’s actually sad to see sites like Wpmu getting hit by Penguin and this shows the basic flaw in the Google anti Spam BL policies…!!
    Infact, this clearly shows the impact of Negative SEO where a site lost it’s search engine visibility because low quality links from Themes footer credit is pointing to one site..!!

    Well, in such cases a Webmaster can’t do anything and Google should give this much control in the hands of legit webmasters.


    Google can add a complete list of domain names from where BL is pointing to your site and Webmasters have control the davlue any links pointing to them……
    This will make sure that legit Webmaster can control their site SEO…..!! And there is no direct harm in giving such control to WebMasters…..

    • Sammy P

      - google is a parasitic scraper site trying to make some money with free content created by webmasters.

      – sites like wmpu.org getting hit for no reason should put up a banner saying google is no more trustworthy try: duckduckgo.com, ixquick.com, search.yahoo.com, blekko.com etc and see what happens.

      – What banksters are trying to do, create two large search engines.

      – What is good for the world: 5-6 search engines with 15-20% market share.

      – Webmasters put up banners promoting duckduckgo.com, ixquick.com, search.yahoo.com, blekko.com and let us do it!

  • Jhon MC

    There is something I agree with the article….”unless Google has been absolutely, utterly inept for the last 4 years”… that’s the only TRUTH, sad but it is just like that.

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/103154919553895310674/about Social Penguin Assassin

    Too bad Google has to match businesses up against each other. Oh wait that’s the best way to activate much o diner o in google addwords and that is why google is king.. but king of what? Scaring people into paying to be on the first page. Let the small business guy work his Rear-knee off and get to the first page… oh he has it all figured out, then Biz-nap “Another google update “… oh NO “what do we do”?? we dropped to the 2nd and 3rd page for some major keywords… hey Bruce just fill up the Add words account…

    • Renaldo

      Do you think anyone reads your stream-of-consciousness comments?

      • Boris

        I do…

  • http://blog.onlinecompetitions.org/ Mark

    I hope Google sort this penguin out soon

  • http://magemojo.com Joe

    Negative seo is now a major issue in any smaller, niche market. If a site has the budget or content to become a major authority site in its market, then it can survive negative seo. Any site that does not have major authority can easily be knocked down.

  • http://www.nowinnofeesolicitors.co.uk no win no solicitors

    This is sad to hear because 3 bad links mean goodbye rankings!! wow!!! Imagine I hate my competition, and blast 10,000 links for them…how will google know who’s doing what, I mean I could be their seo guy doing this because they asked me, or I could be bad competition!!! I honestly think the new update is much more bad than good. seems like google has just deleted everyone from page 1, and bought everyone from page 10 to page 1.

  • http://www.paulsidahohomes.com Boise Realtor

    I pride myself and teach to do it the right way, slow and easy and quality content and backlinks. I was hit with penguin the update shockingly, while Panda had actually improved my site. Flustered for sure. Lastly you always can’t control who may link to you so you shouldn’t get dinged so bad if there are a few out there that do.

  • Tony77

    You could always cancel yout Google Plus account and urge all of your customers to do the same.

  • http://www.web-development-blog.com/ Olaf Lederer

    Great I have the same picture in Google Analytics :(
    My blog has lost ~70% of the organic traffic while Panda nver harmed that site. My blog is listed on site like feeds.adobe.com and phpplanet.net, both site are providing their search results to Google which is bad. It seems like that these 100K of backlinks are maybe the reason for this penalty?
    I don’t get this footer credit problem? WordPress and a lot of other software product having those links…

    • Renaldo

      The problem is that Google uses links to ranks sites. But this strategy is only useful if the links are put in place by human editors who choose to link only to quality sites. Footer links are a link scheme. They are not put there by human editors, but by theme designers. Google doesn’t want those non-editorial links to affect the SERPs. So, they devalued those links in the Penguin update. They possibly also penalized sites that previously used those links to rise unnaturally in the SERPs. So that’s why footer links are a problem in Google’s eyes — they’re not put there by the website owner/editor, but by a 3rd party. The shouldn’t count as a ‘vote’ for a particular site because they are nothing more than a link scheme designed to artificially inflate the search engine rankings.

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/blog/ Nick Stamoulis

    I can’t believe a few bad links would have such an impact on such a trusted site. I can understand if the majority of your link portfolio was spammy and low quality, but a few low quality links shouldn’t be able to undo the rest of your SEO. It leaves site in a very vulnerable position and actually undermines the whole purpose of linking (which is what holds the web together). If you’re afraid one bad link can ruin your site you’re not going to let anyone link!

  • http://www.ryanmjones.com Ryan Jones

    Do you think it could have something to do with the massive amount of backlinks they lost right before the penguin update hit? That’s my guess:


    • http://www.aboutweb.eu Victor Roibu

      This graph is the same for many sites. In that period Google devalued links because of its update.

  • http://www.nichewebsitehelp.com denzil

    These guys are not playing be rules. Then when their site gets hit they start complaining.

    • Boris

      Agreed, I despise WPMU. Having said that I find it fascinating that a few “bad” links can kills the rankings so fast. I guess from now on SEO can become something of a “shoot-em-up-with-spammy-links” game for many. And why not? How long does it take to create a few thousands spammy automated links and how long it takes to create SEO-friendly original content?
      Whoever has decided to penalize sites for “spammy” links is out of their mind.

  • http://wwww.carolinarustica.com Richard Sexton

    We have a well-established 12-year old website that re-launched on Magento the day before Penguin. Wow, try sorting out what happened to your organic traffic with a simultaneous replatforming and algo update! Its a bit of a mess but we are sorting through it…backlinks not so much of an issue, though. It took us about 3 months to regain (then exceed) our lost Panda traffic, and I think the Penguin updates will do much the same. I agree with Nick, though…a few bad links should not totally unravel your long term organic efforts.

    • http://creditcreator.com Sharon Miles

      You mention:
      “It took us about 3 months to regain (then exceed) our lost Panda traffic”
      How did you recover from Panda and then exceed your former traffic numbers in 3 months?

  • Venk

    Lets Switch off Google, SEO, bla bla…this is a lesson to build business outside SEO !


  • Gordon

    i’ve pretty much quit using google for 3 years for doing any search

  • http://www.makebeats.org Paul

    I think that Bing is missing an opportunity to pick up market share because right now it results appear to be better than Google’s.

    More relevant with a lot less floatsam and jetsam gurgling around it the search results.

    I think Google was so intent on controlling who gets to the top of their search results that even if a site was 100% relevant and what people were looking for they knocked it off if it didn’t get their through their permission.


  • http://www.stevegillman.com Steve Gillman

    Results almost have to suffer if Google has decided to punish quality websites for off-site factors (links), and it seems clear that they are doing so. Apart from the existence of the negative SEO industry, there is this evidence: Google sends out warnings telling website owners to remove “unatural links” to their sites (I got one for one of our sites) and has a “reconsideration” request form that goes with this process; why would they do this if there was no harm that could come from those links?

  • Michael

    This is EXACTLY why I don’t buy the SEOmoz negative SEO test results. Cutts flippant comments about links from a pirating website and a couple of low quality links flies in the face of the snake oil BS they are trying to feed SMB’s with the SEOmoz study.

    Well there’s a REAL quick way to figure this out. Open ScrapeBox, scrape a list, use the Malware filter to detect which sites have malware on them, post competitor links to these sites, monitor their rankings.

    I’m not so unscrupulous to try the above, but I bet you anything Google is trying like mad to spread misinformation about the realities of the Penguin update to avoid a major fallout until they can develop and implement a “fix”. The SEOmoz test affirms this for me, but it’s just my opinion.

  • David Charles

    I’ve seen spammy casino, porn, and other sites trying to link to my sites like this for years now, however Google was smart enough before Penguin to not penalize a site for other sites linking to you. Just as we cannot control quality sites linking to us, we cannot control bad neighborhoods/spammy sites doing it either. I really can’t believe Google would be so naive about this to allow negative SEO to be a factor now. It’s like Google wen’t backward 10 years in their thinking here.

  • william

    “700,000 webmasters can not be wrong”

    I think WPMU.org is a great example happening to plenty of great sites – but hear is what it means

    1. Google is not an organic search engine – but now a hybrid as it is “penalizing sites”

    2. Google says it sent 700,000 webmasters email – so they are insinuating they have a way to determine bad seo.

    3. Google is sentencing webmasters “GUILTY” with no way to resolve in a timely manner

    ATTN: Amazon would not be able to pass the same critia Matt Cuts mentioned were the issues for WPMU.org

    Yet Amazon became the clear winner in this update as Tens of Thousands of ecom companies got displaced and Amazon ranked #1

    Even for sites that still exsist like http://www.jewelryboxes.com are now 3rd and Amazon 1.

    You can Google+ Facebook, have great links and do everything right – but even http://www.jewelryboxes.com is displace 30% do to Amazon


    If you were dropped – well your just lost forever

    Even if you make it back – you will lose 30-50% to Amazon, Overstock, Zappos – ect

    Another site LasVegasRealEstate .org

    reports getting the email and dropped and still has been unable to resolve filling out all forms ect.

    obviously they are legit for “las vegas real estate”
    over 30 great YouTube videos
    over 30 unique PRweb article

    here is no win in the PENGUIN update for small businesses

    Here is my take

    “700,000 webmasters can not be wrong”

  • http://artsweightloss.com Art

    I agree with Paul, why are we all using Google as our search provider. If a site like WPMU.org can be trashed so badly whats to say we are next.
    Bing is an excellent search engine and its growing quickly, great potential.

  • http://www.wssmedia.com Chris Weller

    Do I think that the SERP’s have improved since Penguin? No not in the slightest. Google’s ethos of “don’t be crawl” seems to have completely gone out of the window. Maybe the success of Facebook and other web platforms have been an influence in them making (I think) the worst algorithmic update for years. I think that any update that makes SEO more intelligent is a good move but anyone working in the business only needs to spend 10 minutes reading online to see that the update has lots of mistakes and has hit companies that have done nothing wrong (one being my clients site that has not cost me thousands in fees)

  • http://www.rush-it-uk.com sam

    Well, if you wanted to create panic that lead to people paying for ad-words etc. then you might do whatever you felt like and name it after another bird, knock back a load of high ranking sites for no real reason and give no definitive answers to anything.

    I bet if you look you might find a link in areas that very little paid advertising is happening and sites that have suffered, because after all why would you pay unless you needed to!

    I am not saying this is correct, just that it’s possible, after all they want money like any other large company.

  • http://www.super-solutions.com Ira Wolfe

    Like several others, I too have been clobbered by Penquin after being seemingly reward by Panda. I’ve been posting newsletter and articles to my site -weekly – since 1999. Recently I started posting to 2 blogs instead of creating individual web pages. I write original content for each post as I did for each article in the post. I thought Panda rewarded me for the amount and original content although I’ve been ripped off by other consultants and aggregators. But apparently the theory that one who posts first get the credit is somewhat b.s. Several articles were copied verbatim including meta and title – they rank top 3; I’m lucky to be in the top 100. For one of our products I dropped from top 3 to the 100s. One of the two competitors on the 1st page had several hundred keywords, a paragraph long sales pitch for a description, and mentioned the search word once on the entire page – but ranks #2. I’ve had my page reviewed by several people and other than a better call to action, they see no errors or black hat.

    Figuring this out is like spitting in the ocean and trying to create a wave.

  • Jason Gammon

    This is an easy fix everyone just STOP using Google remember they make their Billions from US! Change your search to BING, change your clients search to Bing, your families search to Bing, and guess what Google will suddenly “fix” the problem.

    It is up to us to “fix” this people. Google is acting like an out of control mall cop lets shut them down.

  • John Biggs

    “Google’s Matt Cutts recently told Danny Sullivan that Google considers the Penguin update a success”

    yeah, like he is going to publically admit what a screw up it was. For our sites we have seen ebay, walmart, overstock and amazon appear top of the list with pages that are dynamic search result pages that dont even contain a product that matches the keyword search. For example: lawn mower tires brings up a walmart page as position 6 that has no tires on it at all, not a single one. It also brings an amazon search at 7, and 2 ebay search results at 4 and 5.
    Don’t tell us Cutts that it is working, we can see what bull that is.

    • http://none penguinism

      I think they manipulated the search result in that way big company will be on top of search result. Google is really becoming a freddy krueger of our dreams

      • John Biggs

        I hate to cast aspersions but there are more than a few people that are wondering if money has been changing hands behind the scenes, and that impartiality has been thrown out the door.

  • http://thebingomaker.com Kety (Kathy)

    We got hit hard as well and we have a lot of original cobtent + good links. Now search terms like “bingo cards” give bad results for gambling sites and even a site named bulls**tbingo.com. These are bad results. I started using duckduckgo and bing more often because they give better results on many terms. Sorry but Google is no longer the king of search and I am not saying that because I got hit, I am saying that because the results are bad.

  • http://twitter.com/bryansiegel Bryan Siegel

    I’m waiting for the EU to slap an antitrust case against the big G. The last year of updates haven’t improved the search quality for me personally. Won’t be too far until the US gets involved as well. Google is just too big and their mistakes are putting business out of business because of their actions. They should devalue the links not penalize the websites, that’s just plain crazy.

  • http://www.xprocreative.com Brandon

    The results have definitely gotten worse and Google thinks they did a good job. Sounds like G.W. Bush congratulating the director of FEMA, Michael Brown, after Hurricane Katrina. You’re doing a heck of a job Greenie! I’ve switched to Bing and I’m switching my friends and family to Bing and they’re doing the same with their friends and family.

    Google is giving themselves a pat on the back when they should be getting a smack on the back of the head. Negative SEO is the last thing Google should be wanting to make popular. One of my legit sites got it. Maybe it has bad links but how do I find out where those are and remove them? I have no idea, nor do I want to spend my time tracking them down. It’s much easier and satisfying to get people to switch to Bing. Google doesn’t care who they hurt or if there is collateral damage.

    The only thing we can do as people is SWITCH. The people that use Google give Google it’s power. I will not use it, I will not buy adwords. I only use youtube when I have to and I use nothing Google that I don’t have to use. If I can use something else, I will.

  • Text Enhance

    Ok, these links are not the issue. WPMU.org is full of recycled, copied, and duplicate content with horrible articles, ones that are actually hateful towards other websites and businesses for no purpose.
    Of course they should be losing viewers, their rates show no sign of a collective audience.
    Stop complaining WPMU, just do things right.
    Google is not your enemy.

    • http://www.php-developer.org/ Codex Meridian

      Show some proof…

  • http://www.destinationgraphix.com gabrielle

    Google serves Google, period. Google hasn’t served real real organic results in years so I don’t know how anyone can truly be suprised.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/seo-experts-the-best-in-the-world SEO Experts

    I don’t think Google is inept, either – I think they’re just trying to get people on the internet better / more motivated at policing themselves and each other. Perhaps it’s just too hard to catch every new spammy technique that comes along, so the better way to prevent spam in the long run is to make every web develop super-paranoid about every link they’ve got going for them. I hope I’m wrong, since that makes thing a lot harder for all of us…

  • http://www.telcom-data.com Ricardo Trinidad

    I would call this a plan to get web site owners to belly up to the adword whole and start throwing money in it. Google does not now do anyone favors. It makes up the rules as it goes along and the rest of us slugs have to fall in line. We need a ground level campaign to upstage them with something better.

  • Brian

    Google search is currently irrelevant. I have switched to Bing and am very satisfied with the results I am getting.

  • Jade

    It’s pretty disheartening when you work like a dog to get good content on your site and try to play by Google’s ever changing rules, only to be hit by the Penguin update and lose half your traffic. Way to go Google. I worked night and day to keep my site clean and updated with fresh content and now it has dropped dramatically. When they say you get SLAPPED by Google, that is an understatement. Try doing a search for some topic on Google and have a look at the inane results. It makes no sense at all. I agree with everyone that mentioned turning everything over to Bing. I am sick and tired of Google and how they can manipulate people’s livelihood with the flick of a new algorithm. Shame on you Matt Cutts and the rest of Google’s minions.

  • http://ez93.com Penguin Recovery

    Well i don’t think many people read these comments, although maybe the guys at Google.. (The Google Gods) should take a breath.. just about every big company in the IT world that has appeared out of nowhere, gets lost. Some recover some don’t.. Hmm who remembers Webcrawler and Altiavisa when the web was newish?? Mainly these types of companies go through a phase where they think they must keep growing.. trying to do everything.. its a common failing with power hungry ridiculous people. Point of fact Google was good at search Microsft was not .. then came Facebook .. Google decides it must do the social thing.. mean while Microsoft is still chasing the search… I spend Alot of time looking watching and analyzing.. EVERYTHING to do with the 50 or so sites we run.. I will put it on the line and state FACT Bing has better results.. Google has completely forgotten that WE the webmasters content is Google.. Natural Search is Google.. This advertising model mashed piece of **** that Google has turned into will fade away.. Market forces will just take over.. 90% of all webmasters i talk to HATE Google.. Bing and or an new company will appear … this is just the way of market forces balancing the books.. Google’s results are atrocious.. because they keep manipulating the SERPS … the site WPMU is a prime example of how ridiculous Penguin is. I could post 20k links on sites that i know are bad areas to post.. like TCMGUIDE i could post 20k links to my competitors sites and i could do this on as many areas that i know will take links.. and bobs your uncle .. outside links have affected the target site.. Something that Google used to say could never happen.. So a sites content is not enough.. Surely if Google is that good.. LINKS SHOULD BE IRRELAVENT.. If The “Google Gods” say there new crawler can read the content and assess its reverence.. ie Panda.. then how could external links weight against it.. Its a Joke.. and Microsoft is all over them as far as SERPS are concerned.. Google’s original market took a year to grow exponentially.. I predict in a years time they are going to of lost significant market share.. Nobody wants to use an adverting based “Paid For Inclusion
    Search Engine” like the NEW GOOGLE…

  • http://www.easylocalsem.com James Steiner

    This is indeed tragic! In fact somewhat ironic as I have one of my client sites that exhibits nearly identical analytics reaction to the Penguin update on a lower overall visitor volume level. I have been spending considerable hours trying to sort out the why and why not’s along with the leave, remove and add to’s. Very difficult to discern overall to say the least. Being punished for certain things, for the most part out of your immediate control, is quite problematic in my opinion and furthermore the recent Google “search result quality” is also somewhat suspect in my humble opinion. I have LOTS to say about all of this and want nothing more than to get together with those people looking to PROPERLY fix the problem rather than prey on those that have been damaged. To add insult to injury I am referring to ALL the “magic cures” and “quick fixes” being sold via WSO’s and the like. Please let me know if you have an interest in forming a “group” that specifically deals with Panda/Penguin analysis and better still honest effective solutions to VERY real and serious issues. Thanks For Letting Me Yammer A Bit! Jim S.

  • Terry

    I’m sorry the website is complete rubbish no wonder google is knocking these type of web sites

  • Boycott Google

    Google is no longer relevant and Matt Cutts and his team are out of control.

    The FTC needs to investigate what this company (google) is doing to not only search results, but also their impact on the economy and businesses.

    Bing is now the most relevant search engine and hopefully will capitalize on this ridiculous update called Penguin.

    No longer can you find relevant search results on google no matter what you search for.

    Recently I searched for a few things, such as a new graphics card – my results? 2 year old articles on how to upgrade my computer. Huh?

    The websites that now occupy page 1 results are irrelevant and have information at best years old and outdated.

    And this is a good thing?

  • http://www.lanikee.com/ Lani

    I think Google is designing so many supposedly helpful tools to entrap all the information to monitor what is being processed online, by the dominant movers and shakers in monetizing online. I can understand the abusers who are trying to cheat their way to rank above most, but this post is a primary example that Google really is not looking out for the good guys.

    Making lame excuses, and ways to minimize the good guys. Mahalo for the informed information.

  • https://plus.google.com/113717307800788062035 Peter Watson

    I think the results are definitely worse! It’s obvious without further explaination.

    Also being based in Sydney, I could relate to this story. Our site Business-Trader.com.au also did extremely well through every single Panda update! We never practiced questionable techniques and maintained top rankings for 3 + years. Then on the 24th our traffic and ranking tanked and my analytics traffic chart looks exactly the same as WPMU.org.

    I’m looking forward to the next Penguin update as I am hoping for our sites rankings to return.

  • http://www.greyolltwit.com/ Grey Olltwit

    I notice that Cutts actually spoke about WPMU.org, presumably because of their popularity. I would therefore not be surprised if they get their ranking altered upwards in the not too distant future (Oh look it’s already happened).

    Unfortunately hundreds of thousands of smaller sites who have done nothing wrong but have been similarly demoted don’t have the luxury of catching Cutts’ attention.

  • http://www.ontarget-media.com Manoj

    Well, there have been a few articles I read recently that talk about links from WordPress themes being the issue and that being correlated to “negative SEO”. I doubt if such conspiracy theories are warranted.
    My view is that it is not the fact that links to a website were distributed via WordPress themes (or any such), but rather that Google has de-valued those links. Therefore, while previously those links may actually have contributed to greater weightage and consequently, better rankings and traffic for a website, when the weightage for those links was removed, rankings and traffic suffered. This shouldn’t be read as a penalty, rather as being caught in a tighter filter.

  • http://www.cnx-software.com cnxsoft

    The latest penguin update is rather questionable. I’ve been slightly hit, with at least 2 high traffic pages (for my site) that have been send much lower in the search results. I’ve been told it could be because I have to much content in title-attributes. I can see wpmu.org also have lots of title attributes.

    I’ve also surprised that a website with an Alexa rank around 4,000 only gets about 8,500 visits per day. Maybe the rank is inflated because it’s a webmaster site.

  • http://makemoneyadsenseonline.com TheGreenovator

    One might consider that perhaps Google has outgrown it’s overall objectivity as a search engine rather than the advertising giant it has become. Do we see another search engine in our future???

  • Ric

    Google search has gone commercial. Organic search transition is going in favor of the big adword commercial accounts. Think about it, is Google going to cater to the little guy who is trying to make a buck or two from organic search, or will they cater to multi million dollar clients? What would you do in their shoes?

  • http://www.jobsearchworld.com Sankaran Sivaramakrishnan

    The Google Search is more commercial …Adwords, sponsored results etc are minuses …google should start giving pure results.
    timesjobs.com Quickr.com Naukri.com are some of the sites that misuse key words in adwords……Google is helping them

  • http://www.idigitalhosting.com Guido E. Zecckine III

    Google isn’t the only SE out there! Facebook uses Bing for SERPS. I think Google is doing too much for themselves, and not enough for us. What about Google being more like DMOZ? That would cut into their profits having to hire more real people to do the validation, and not relying on automated algorithmic results. WPMUDEV and WPMU.org are great sites, and should NOT have been penalized. Google should have taken into consideration their stature, and contacted the site to let them know they had issues, and allow them to fix them, BEFORE whacking them. BAD GOOGLE!

  • http://Rocky-mountain-tour-guide.com Marcel

    Maybe everyone should start promoting Bing! Spread the word social sites like FB Twitter etc. 700,000 publishers and get it viral!

  • http://www.computerhowtoguide.com/2011/08/google-gravity-awesome-trick-for-your-browser.html google gravity

    Penguin a success Matt? You are either outta your mind or you are just trying to avoid admitting failure!

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