The Woolly Google Update
The latest update from Google is out. You can check to see if your website was impacted using Fruition’s Google Penalty Checker Tool. We’re calling this update Woolly because it had a broad impact a lot of websites (Woolly’s are generally thought of as big) and many of the sites that were impacted had stale content and or designs. “Woolly” is actually the biggest change in website’s rankings since the December 2012 update. This means that it is bigger than the headline grabbing Penguin 2 update in May!
Google Update Observations
What we know is that there has been a change in what Google considers exact match and partial match domain names. An exact match domain name is a domain which has the same name as the query used to search for it; for instance, www.buy-flowers-online.com for the search “buy flowers online”. Likewise, a partial match is a domain name which has some but not all of the words. Having an exact or partial match domain name has long been known to provide a significant ranking boost. With the Woolly update, Google seems to have combined slang and abbreviations to be more in line with an exact match words/domains. For example, “getting high” is more synonymous with “marijuana” in the eyes of Google’s domain matching algorithm. This means that a larger number of websites could potentially benefit from having “exact match” domain names.
We are also seeing a big impact on websites that had older and widely used WordPress themes. However, correlation does not necessarily imply causation; with this update we have not yet isolated if Google actually targeted specific WordPress themes or if the websites that had a negative impact were simply stale and happened to be built with WordPress. It would be premature to jump to conclusions based on the current evidence.
Bear in mind that Google did state that Panda updates would be rolled out over several days or weeks. This means that the final update, which occurred on June 22nd, may have just been the culmination of that process.
Also, be aware that the “Spam Query” update was released a few days before. Referred to by Google as the “Payday Loan Algorithm”, it affects search results for queries which tend to be spammy in nature, such as pay day loans. The changes introduced by Woolly are quite different from the Payday Loan update, and changes to a site’s ranking resulting from it are likely to be for quite different reasons, so make sure you differentiate these two updates.
A new Panda update was rolled out in late July 2013. This will be available in GPC around August 8th, 2013.
Discuss what you’re seeing with your own website below. Provide as much detail as you can e.g. country that you’re targeting, did your traffic increase or decrease, have you been impacted by Panda or Penguin before, etc.