There has recently been a significant shakeup in search results. Notably, there have been large drops in the rankings for Wikipedia and other major sites that would previously dominate the top of the list for a great many different search queries. In particular, the change seems to have hit pages of Wikipedia that were robot generated. When asked for comment, Google stated that they did not have a new update to announce, and that the ranking changes were the result of continued tweaks to the search algorithm.
Mid Jan churn. This is an interesting update that should a lot of variance across industries. We'll have more to share in the coming weeks as our models break down the ranking variables impacted by this update.
The most significant impact was seen on video rankings and microsites in niche industries. Many sites that were hit by previous penguin updates saw their rankings recover.
Google has announced that they are changing how future Penguin updates will roll out. Previously, the Penguin algorithm was run only periodically. This caused problems for many sites hit with a Penguin penalty: even if they corrected the problems which had caused them to receive the penalty, they would have to wait until the next update of the Penguin algorithm in order for their traffic to recover.
Penguin 3.0 is rolling out. More updates to come. The impact on your website will be available in GPC on November 2 at 2 am eastern.
Penguin 3.0 Update
On Friday, October 17, Google announced that it had released the long-awaited update to its Penguin algorithm.
What is Penguin?
Google announced an update to Panda which has been labeled as 4.1. Google stated that this update was intended to pull smaller websites up in the rankings that have good content and are relevant for particular searches. We have noticed that individuals infringing on certain trademarks have started to rank higher. It's possible that Google changed their brand recognition algorithms. We're running some tests now to get more details on this. We will have another more definitive update on Friday, October, 17th.
Google has been targeting sites that have been using PBNs and sending out manual action notifications to those sites with practices outside their Webmaster Guidelines.
Google confirmed today that they have ended the two-year 'experiment' of authorship bylines and have removed all author information from search results.
Google has rolled out a new version of their Pirate Update.
Google announced that they are starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. Secure sites which use SSL encryption to ensure the privacy and security of their visitors' information will see a ranking boost. Currently it is only affecting less than 1% of global queries and carries less weight than other ranking signals like high-quality content, but this could increase over time. Google wants to give webmasters time to update their sites, but notes that the results of including it as a ranking factor so far have been positive.
There was a significant update to the Google Local results.
The new algorithm, called Pigeon, is designed to give more useful local search results by applying more traditional web ranking signals. This means it strongly benefits large, directory-style websites such as Yelp, which tend to have more traditional SEO signals than small, local business websites. Large, well-established brands are likely to have an advantage over smaller, independent sites, though location and distance are still relevant factors.
Google announced that they are removing authorship profile pictures from search results. If you had strong authorship profiles you will see a reduced click through rate. This could impact your organic results over time.
Google Authorship is still in effect, but the snippet will no longer show a photo; only the author's name. Google stated that the reasons for the change were a desire for a cleaner visual design of search results, a better mobile experience, and a more consistent design across devices.
PayDay Loan update 3.0 specifically targets spammy queries.
While previous iterations of the algorithm targeted specific spammy sites, this version more generally affects the results of highly-spammed queries such as "payday loans".
This is a BIG Panda update impacting >7% of searches in the U.S. Data for your site will not show on the GPC dashboard until we have a strong statistical likelihood of an impact on your site be it positive or negative.
Google rolled out entities within search snippets. This is similar to a knowledge box but on a smaller scale. Wikipedia and DMOZ (serious google?) are two of the sources that have been displayed. This change was hinted at by Matt Cutts' in April, 2014.
Google has hit another guest blog network. They have taken action against PostJoint, the second major guest blog network to be penalized this year.
Matt Cutts announced that myblogguest.com was taken down. A popular guest-blogging network, myblogguest was notable for the fact that its policies did not allow for links to be nofollowed, when the common wisdom is that guest blog posts should be nofollowed. Matt Cutts, Google's head of web spam, had previously issued a warning that guest blogging was becoming "a more and more spammy practice" with sites churning out large quantities of low-quality guest blogs in order to get links.
Google announced they were handing out penalties for efamous, a German link network. efamous had been using paid links to pass PageRank, which is against Google's webmaster guidelines.
Google sent out a lot of "unnatural link" warning emails on March 7th. We are investigating to see what network or type of link prompted the email.
Here's a common list of backlinks we found for sites that received the link spam notices:
On Feb 11th, there were large changes in traffic which indicate a possible Panda refresh. Panda updates are rolling out over several days now. Fruition's algorithm is now floating to compensate.
The update was nicknamed the "Movie Update" because a flaw in the initial algorithm caused it to hit some prominent movie blogs, which were legitimate sites that should not have been penalized. Two days after the initial rollout, Google refined the algorithm and traffic returned to the erroneously penalized movie blogs.
Google updated their Page Layout Algorithm, also known at the Top Heavy Algorithm, which penalizes pages that have excessive ads "above the fold" (meaning that they're the first thing the a visitor sees, before scrolling down). The Feb 6th update by most accounts only impacted websites that relied on large format ads on the landing page after a search click. Websites that were impacted by this can adjust by moving the ads a click removed from the first page a visitor sees after clicking on a Google ad. This can be done programmatically e.g.
Google announced that they penalized a French link network, Buzzea. Though Buzzea issued a statement disputing being labeled a link network, claiming that they tried to be ethical about posting sponsored articles and creating links, they shut down in response to the penalty. We saw ~3% of the websites within the Penalty Checker impacted in one way or another. Even if you didn't sign up for the link network, if tens of thousands of websites are taken down it has a ripple effect -- especially in highly optimized industries, and even more so for French language sites.
Google rolled out a Panda update on Jan 11th. Though it was not announced by Google, it could be inferred from the large change in web traffic that many sites experience on that day. The update hit thin content and affiliate sites, particularly those which had suffered previous Panda penalties and had failed to correct the problems. Some websites which had received Panda penalties in the past but which had diligently worked to fix their issues saw their traffic increase, though not all the way back to the levels they'd had prior to the penalties.
Google rolled out an update on December 19th. Google said they "try" to minimize major updates during the Holidays but this is the second year in a row of a good sized update in the weeks leading up to the Holiday season.
Comparing specific websites that were impacted this appears to be more consistent and related to Panda (onsite) vs Penguin (offsite). Moz.com also reported that they saw a rise in some partial-match domains, but that the pattern was unclear.
November 14th, 2013 saw a pretty decent sized shift in rankings for many websites. At Fruition, we've seen larger e-commerce sites generally do better. Was this a pre-holiday adjustment favoring product searches? Was it a Hummingbird update? Was it a Panda or Penguin tweak? We're not sure yet but we'd love your input. Chat about it on our blog post about this update.
Websites whose rankings improved
As Google’s Penguin update continually evolves, businesses of all sizes are constantly on their toes to prevent getting a Google penalty from one of the Penguin updates. The Penguin 2.0 update, which was released on May 23, 2013, affected a lot of websites – roughly 2.3% of web queries, which was the biggest hit since the original Penguin release in April 2012. Penguin 2.1 hit impacted ~1% of websites according to Google. However, we have noticed a much larger impact than that at roughly 3.1%.
Hummingbird is a new search algorithm which was implemented by Google, so named because it is intended to be "precise and fast". It was reported by all of the major SEO blogs but there was no comment from Google until a month after the fact. Interestingly, the same day of the unreported update, Matt Cutts (a Google engineer) sent out a tweet asking for feedback on small websites that are not doing well in Google. Sure enough, we're seeing that small websites were impacted negatively.
Users often turn to Google to answer a quick question, but research suggests that up to 10% of users’ daily information needs involve learning about a broad topic. That’s why today Google introduced new search results to help users find in-depth articles.
These results are ranked algorithmically based on many signals that look for high-quality, in-depth content. Follow these best practices:
About 12% of websites in Fruition's penalty checker were impacted by this update.
Google said they wanted to "soften" Panda updates. Not exactly sure how you soften them. If you get hit you get hit. Maybe reducing the number of pages that get hit or the total % drop in traffic that you would receive after an update. Let you lose your traffic slowly instead of all at once.
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!
This update impacted spammy industries. "Pay day loans" is the example most frequently mentioned also porn, viagra, are discussed as well.
This update also impacted second tier linking building.
If you think your industry has really serious black hat SEO going on then you may have noticed a positive or negative impact to your website's rankings.
We will continue to update this post as we see the rankings shake out.
Google announced this update with little fan fare. Google said that it impacted roughly 1.2% of websites. However, we've seen big swings for nearly every website that signs up for Fruition's penalty checker.
The following questions appeared sometime ago when looking at Panda updates and are applicable to this update as well.
This Panda update was fairly significant but not reported by Google. Barry Schwartz, a well-respected SEO editor, blogged about it and noted a lot of chat on various SEO forums. This update primarily dinged sites with low quality, shallow or thin content. It boosted sites that continually publish lengthy, informative content from highly regarded authors. This is evidence that Authorship factors are growing in importance.
Need help executing a Google Friendly content strategy, or improving your Authorship?
Fruition can help
Google reported less than 1% of searches were impacted by this update.
This update saw a lot of poor quality traffic going to sites that were impacted. This means that the quantity of traffic to your site may not have fluctuated, but the quality may have changed significantly, resulting in fewer conversions.
The Panda update also showed an increase in search visibility for well known brands. Lesser known sites seemed to suffer.
Need help gaining more qualified traffic?
Need help growing your brand recognition?
Fruition can help
This is a pre-holiday Panda update. Google reported that it impacted 1.1% of all U.S. search traffic. That is a fairly high number for Google updates.
There was a lot of chatter about blogs being impacted more on this than others. Some blogs that had a lot of guest posters seemed to have been impacted more than others.
This update also dinged sites that Google deems to be 'low value' meaning the site is not very useful, or publishes content available on other websites.
This update improved the search results of sites publishing:
-Original, well written content
This update went after page layouts. If your site had a big ads right in the middle of the page you probably saw a drop in traffic. If your site does not offer pleasing graphic design or does not use images to illustrate your text, you may have seen a drop.
Need help sprucing up the layout of each page?
Fruition can help
Google seemed to light the SEO world on fire with threats of a massive earth shattering update but this particular change did not impact many sites. The Penguin updates are designed to to reduce the amount of Web Spam. The penguin update hurt many sites that had lots of low quality inbound links. These include links from bad neighborhoods, spammy sites, links from sites with low Domain Authority scores, and sites that are off topic or irrelevant to your website' content.
Need help cleaning up bad links?
Need help cultivating new, high quality links?
Fruition can help
This was one of the big listed updates that took on the name of 65-pack because Google gave us 65 updates with bug numbers.
These updates tend to be focused on functionality and not so much on big Panda or Penguin type changes in results.
Highlights that may have impacted your site:
-Improve resutls for sites with high quality content from trusted sources
-Changes in the way Google generates autocompleted search queries
-Improved search for certain industries including Finance, Sports, Travel and Movies. Devalued sites featuring adult content.
The Panda #20 Update covered a variety of topics. In short, sites that did not conform to the overall best practices got dinged.
ONSITE Best Practices
-Current and compliant HTML coding and site architecture
-High quality, informative content
-Easy to navigate menus
-Avoid ad heavy pages (or at least no ads above the fold)
-No pirating of copy from other websites
OFFSITE Best Practices
-High quality inbound links from relevant sites
-Links from social media sites
-Overall trustworthiness of the site
-Keyword stuffing in content
This updated officially ended the party for easy-to-rank Exact Match Domains (EMD). For a long time, it was easy to buy a domain name that exactly matched a high volume search term and voila, there you were at the top of Google. For example, if a site wanted to rank for the term "Colorado Ski Resorts" then buying the domain name www.ColoradoSkiResorts.com did the trick, without much content or many high quality links. For years, it was a loophole that savvy site owners used. As of this update, game over.
This update goes after sites that are scraping content and perhaps spinning it. This is a violation of Google' Quality Guidelines
Lots of Panda and algorithm updates and changing the way sites appear. It's interesting that Google listed the bug numbers with this update list.
uefa-euro1. [project codename “Answers”] Addition of a live result showing schedule and scores of the EURO 2012 games (European championship of national soccer teams).
#82293. [project codename “Answers”] Improved dictionary search feature by adding support for more natural language searches.
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May always seems to be a big month for Google updates. Perhaps Google engineers set may as a the end of a four month sprint then take the summer off?
Here’s the list for May:
<0.1% of English searches
Some more context on this update:
Another update with a nice but generic listed changes.
Google's knock down of webspam
Listed March updates http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2012/04/another-step-to-reward-high-qua...
Updated likely on freshness of content. Not much else is known about this one.
Updated data within Google's index.
Also, turned off a link signal which no really seemed to figure out what they meant.
Local Search Rankings were impacted utilizing core organic search results more than local results.
Improved site links and better detection of official pages e.g. band websites.
We had an adsense site get hit by this update. We left it up as an example denverolympics.com. The site had a lot of other issues but it ranked well for exact match. The day after this update the site dropped.
G+ enters the organic search world forever changing generic who gets served what results.
More comprehensive indexing: This change makes more long-tail documents available in our index, so they are more likely to rank for relevant queries.
New “parked domain” classifier: This is a new algorithm for automatically detecting parked domains. Parked domains are placeholder sites with little unique content for our users and are often filled only with ads. In most cases, we prefer not to show them.