Jump to content
JasPets

My Experience with Google Penguin Update

Recommended Posts

I'm not a full time SEO. Have dabbled in it for years. I have several sites that I've used a variety of link building techniques on. This is purely my experience with the recent Google change. And by the way, I've never gotten a letter from Google about unnatural links.

A - Two sites that I do little with. Last year I had built some links with some purchases from companies that do profiles. And used a drip service that drips profiles and blog comments. Not a lot of link diversity. Not much quality inbound links. Only track a few low competition keyword phrases and they were ranking OK. They tanked with Penguin update.

B - Two sites with much better diversity of links. Mostly built myself through article sites (good ones like eZineArticles), press release sites and some forum sigs. One of them used a private blog network that has NOT been de-indexed. Also ran the drip service on these for profiles and blog comments for a little while (but these make up much smaller % of link portolio). These two sites escaped relatively unscathed. One has actually seen some improvements in the SERPs (the one WITH the private blog links).

C - My main site. Relatively new -- about a year old. Have been MUCH more active in building links to this site. A little link building on my own. Mostly through other services: blog networks (not the big ones), social bookmarking, press release sites, Wiki pages, etc. Out of the three blog networks I had used, two have been de-indexed. One was taken down. One is still live with my links intact. Virtually EVERY keyword phrases I've been tracking tanked. And all these pages were receiving links from the de-indexed LIVE blog network.

My initial thoughts are this:

1 - This update is almost COMPLETELY about inbound links. Matt Cutts said as much. Not on page content. Though this might be a smaller piece of the update. I don't trust anything said by Google at this point.

2 - Crappy profiles and blog comments are now probably passing greater negative juice, but not a ton. My two sites with high % of these tanked. Didn't affect sites with greater link diversity.

3 - My second thought is that having live links from de-indexed sites is REALLY REALLY bad. I didn't have a ton of links from this network, but had some links to ALL of my product categories. And all of my SERPS for these product categories tanked on this site.

One last comment: My guess is that this was really a two part campaign by Google. First, they manually identified and de-indexed a bunch of the blog networks. Then rolled out the algorithm change, and pass significantly greater negative juice from links coming from de-indexed sites. Blog networks that have not been de-indexed are still passing positive juice. But that doesn't mean the Google is done identifying and de-indexing these services.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Moral of the story? Be careful putting links somewhere you can't control. I've been urging the blog network that's been de-indexed to take down their blogs. They don't believe in negative link juice getting passed by de-indexed sites. They are planning to take them down "in the next week or two".

Sheesh!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Moral of the story? Be careful putting links somewhere you can't control. I've been urging the blog network that's been de-indexed to take down their blogs. They don't believe in negative link juice getting passed by de-indexed sites. They are planning to take them down "in the next week or two".

Sheesh!

Though I understand where you are coming from, and we ALL learned some valuable lessons in this last debacle. The network owners - I can assure you never at any moment contemplated - nor did many [ some still dont ] people in seo think off page seo could so radically affect your sites.

Your sites are YOUR sites and you are the sole responsible protector of their well being. It is up to you to take measures to link them in ways that enhance and protect their success. There are methods you could deploy to have protected the sites against the advent of the links on those blog nets from hurting you. Give link service providers URLS you can control the juice and re direct it if needed. Use urls you can direct ... when the juice is helpful point at your $$$ site [ or at a parasite hosted surrogate ] , if/when the links will do negative - point them at competition.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

3 - My second thought is that having live links from de-indexed sites is REALLY REALLY bad. I didn't have a ton of links from this network, but had some links to ALL of my product categories. And all of my SERPS for these product categories tanked on this site.

Not sure about this - have a site that has 6 pages and over 500 BMR links still live. I have built a few newer links with another network and this site improved substantially right after penguin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought that BMR took them down?

Maybe you have enough other links to over ride the neg juice?

I guess we're all left guessing.

Edited by JasPets

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Only BIG brands with huge diversity in inbound links.

Personally I'm hoping that after google makes this point, they'll back off the negative juice passed from what they deem to be "bad" links. If they stay with this current algorithm and penalties, negative seo will become rampant and easy to do for small companies against other small companies.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@JasPets Question for you about your sites. Can you give an estimate on how many indexed pages your sites have? I'm interested to know how that compares between sites that were hit and sites that weren't.

Of all my clients, the only 2 that were hit had this in common: < 10 pages and most of the links (> 80%) were pointed at the home page.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@JasPets Question for you about your sites. Can you give an estimate on how many indexed pages your sites have? I'm interested to know how that compares between sites that were hit and sites that weren't.

Of all my clients, the only 2 that were hit had this in common: < 10 pages and most of the links (> 80%) were pointed at the home page.

My site that wasn't affected at all has less than 10 pages and 98% of the links point to the home page

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@JasPets Question for you about your sites. Can you give an estimate on how many indexed pages your sites have? I'm interested to know how that compares between sites that were hit and sites that weren't.

Of all my clients, the only 2 that were hit had this in common: < 10 pages and most of the links (> 80%) were pointed at the home page.

Good question.

The first two sites are big catalog sites that I get from my trade associations with thousands of products and pages. I don't attempt to push much traffic to them because I have little control over the content and I don't like them very much. I was only working on a few low competition keywords to the home pages for each. Haven't built a single link to them in months. Plus anybody in my association can do these sites, which means there's a lot of duplicate content out there compared to my sites. The few phrases I had been tracking all tanked. (For instance 4 keywords to one site were all ranking in google between 12-25, and now all are out of the top 50.)

The second two sites are ones I've built in WordPress. One is our company site (approx 5 pages plus a blog with maybe one hundred blog posts). A couple keywords dropped a couple spots, but mostly unscathed. I've not been actively building links to this one.

The other is a product oriented site with 6 pages. This is the one I've still been building some backlinks to through ONE private blog network, and my rankings got better on this one.

My money site (at least the one that's supposed to become my money site) is the only full blown e-commerce site with about 600 products. Magento based. Well constructed. Nice site. Well optimized with original content with the products. Google was really starting to give me some decent rankings on this site and starting to generate some sales and traffic. Now my traffic has dropped in half. Still pulling in very long tail keywords. And all keywords that I'd been building anchor text around, and the pages they were linked to, tanked.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Plus anybody in my association can do these sites, which means there's a lot of duplicate content out there compared to my sites. The few phrases I had been tracking all tanked. (For instance 4 keywords to one site were all ranking in google between 12-25, and now all are out of the top 50.)

My money site (at least the one that's supposed to become my money site) is the only full blown e-commerce site with about 600 products. Magento based. Well constructed. Nice site. Well optimized with original content with the products. Google was really starting to give me some decent rankings on this site and starting to generate some sales and traffic. Now my traffic has dropped in half. Still pulling in very long tail keywords. And all keywords that I'd been building anchor text around, and the pages they were linked to, tanked.

So much dup content will kill you. You state the second site has original content but still tanked like the first...but how unique is it all from page to page? Do you have a lot of dup template style carryover in the product descriptions or other areas? Ecommerce tend to scream dup content problems in general.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So much dup content will kill you. You state the second site has original content but still tanked like the first...but how unique is it all from page to page? Do you have a lot of dup template style carryover in the product descriptions or other areas? Ecommerce tend to scream dup content problems in general.

Another good question. For us, we want to drive traffic to our "category" pages, not individual product pages (which obviously does have similar content from page to page). And there's a LOT of unique content on our category pages of our "money" site. Only real dup content is nav and footer. And that's to be expected. It's these category pages we were building links to and starting to get good SERPs until Penguin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another good question. For us, we want to drive traffic to our "category" pages, not individual product pages (which obviously does have similar content from page to page). And there's a LOT of unique content on our category pages of our "money" site. Only real dup content is nav and footer. And that's to be expected. It's these category pages we were building links to and starting to get good SERPs until Penguin.

ok but is it duplicating between full category and specific product pages? or is there a lot of boiler template dup code?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you look at all the crappy SERPs (e.g. search PayPal France, viagra etc), domain authority seems to be dialled up. All those hacked .edu domains now rank on the strength of their domain authority (in my opinion). I think sometimes we give Google TOO MUCH credit when we talk about LSI and other more technical aspects. If Google were really smart, they'd never need to punish sites - they'd just reward sites, and domain authority wouldn't be dialled up as I believe it is now. When they increase domain authority, it's like Google waving a white flag - domain authority is a really rough metric as it can mean irrelevant listings rise to the top just based on the domain the content's hosted on.

Edited by colourofspring

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ok but is it duplicating between full category and specific product pages? or is there a lot of boiler template dup code?

I'm not sure I'm completely understanding your question. I'll send you a PM with a link to the site I'm talking about.

It's built with Magento. We have five primary categories of products, then dozens of sub-categories within them. Not a very deep tree -- mostly just 2-3 layers deep. Every single category page has unique content i.e. list of products AND copy. There are a few sub-categories I haven't gotten around to writing content for, but those are pages we haven't been attempting to get SERPs for yet.

One thing I like about Magento is that products can be assigned to any category or sub-category, but when you get to the product URL, it's back to just one layer off the home page i.e. domain / product.html

(Side point: The last e-commerce site I had (sold it) actually made duplicate product pages at the END of each category it was assigned, so I truly ended up with a lot of exact duplicate content. Though this site is still ranking well. Doesn't seem to hurt it in the least.)

Everything around it is boilerplate but that's basically just header, nav and footer. What you would expect on any e-commerce site.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One more note: Since Penguin I decided to shorten / tighten up my title tags -- less spammy looking. And I removed some spammy copy UNDER my footers on some pages. I doubt this was cause of my lost rankings, but it's something I'd been looking at doing anyway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Only BIG brands with huge diversity in inbound links.

Personally I'm hoping that after google makes this point, they'll back off the negative juice passed from what they deem to be "bad" links. If they stay with this current algorithm and penalties, negative seo will become rampant and easy to do for small companies against other small companies.

I (and likely anyone else!) are finding ourselves in the absurd situation that we know MUCH MORE about what not to do...as opposed to "what to do".

Seriously, it's almost a logical consequence starting to think about negative SEO. In the past, we link builders and SEOs knew what to do to fricking RANK a site, now we know that almost all those things we did in the past wont help ranking anymore, but instead cause sites to drop and to get penalized.

The irony, all it needs to do this is some $50 tool like scrapebox or whatever, disregard any rule you obeyed before..and just start blasting happily...Google makes it easy, SERP movement can be achieved as easy as never before. Just in the opposite direction. For me this is total idiocy...but that's how it is right now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

JasPets, you don't need to worry about duplicate content if you use rel=canonical.

I understand the use of re=canonical

It's the site I sold where this would have been useful, though we never had any rankings issues, and they still seem to be ranking great without it. Personally I have always suspected the dup content issues were overblown. But that's food for another thread.

Don't have dup content on new money site.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The irony, all it needs to do this is some $50 tool like scrapebox or whatever, disregard any rule you obeyed before..and just start blasting happily...Google makes it easy, SERP movement can be achieved as easy as never before. Just in the opposite direction. For me this is total idiocy...but that's how it is right now.

I do hope that ultimately google understands this, and will eventually prevent this by not passing negative juice. Well, let me rephrase. They do understand that it's possible, and that it's being done. It's probably not rampant. Yet. Most business people and SEOs will never do it. Plenty will. Some may never admit that's what they're doing -- businesses may buy SEO never knowing the firms are engaging in both pos seo for them, and neg seo against their competitors. Some businesses will engage in it without ever knowing about it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do hope that ultimately google understands this, and will eventually prevent this by not passing negative juice. Well, let me rephrase. They do understand that it's possible, and that it's being done. It's probably not rampant. Yet. Most business people and SEOs will never do it. Plenty will. Some may never admit that's what they're doing -- businesses may buy SEO never knowing the firms are engaging in both pos seo for them, and neg seo against their competitors. Some businesses will engage in it without ever knowing about it.

I think they know this. It will be a tricky situation for the google bots though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

×