Well it would seem that +Matt Cutts
and his band of merry men (The Webspam Team) have have been busy in the workshop cooking up Penguin 2.1 (AKA Penguin 5) which started to roll out October the 4th with most people affected seeing the results today October 7th.
With the recent change to Googles algorithm core, Hummingbird, this could also be considered Penguin H1 as it is actually the first penguin update for the new core of Googles search ranking system.
Who am I?
I am part of a very large team of extremely ‘White-Hat’ SEOs who pretty much live and breathe the ethos of companies such as Moz, who purvey the message of ‘better marketing for a better web’.
I along with my team, look after many clients with the sole aim to make their sites as entertaining, informative and useful to as many users as we can attract to the site. We create some of the best content in the industry and make users who would be extremely interested in that content aware of it by pure ‘white-hat’ methods such as social sharing etc.
Strange SERPs Findings
Looking deeper into the effects of Googles latest and greatest small cute little animal (Gremlin?) I have started to see a very alarming pattern, one that nearly made me fall off my chair this morning and question my whole outlook on SEO.
After catching wind of the algo update I started to monitor the rankings of mine and my clients sites very carefully recording and tracking every SERP movement as well as their competitors and new entries.
That is when it hit me, even though I had not seen a great deal of movement in my clients sites I did notice that a whole plethora of new sites were ranking in the positions above certain keywords that I had been monitoring for a while, when I looked into these sites what I found made me almost cry!
Without giving too much information away there are certain keywords, that have a lot of competition, and of course being a throughly wholesome cornfed white-hat I was not “specifically” targeting but hoping that Google would see the content we were producing as highly relevant and worthy showing for these kind of search terms, and although we were showing on the first page for those results we were not at the top just yet.
Whilst investigating, I noticed that the sites above mine were suddenly all different post penguin 2.1 (1% affected rate you say! ha more like 20-30%) so when I delved much deeper into these new sites I had noticed that they were ALL! using some of the shadiest tactics that I had ever seen. One site in particular (when checked with +Moz
OpensiteExplorer) shown no backlinks historically but over 1000 new (Just Discovered) backlinks all created over a 3 day period, upon looking at these backlinks most of them were forum and comment spam!! Isn’t this the exact thing that Penguin is supposed to be preventing?
So the mission went on and check after check started to show me that suddenly back-hats were winning.
Being an SEO and being in this game for quite a while, I know my fair share of black-hat tactics but obviously choose to stay on the white-hat team, so trying to gather more information I headed over to a very popular black-hat forum site to see what they had to say and just as expected they were all congratulating each other with virtual pats-on-the-back for ranking number one using some very dirty tactics.
I am not going to give you my username but I have an account on this site, for recon purposes and to see what latest methods these guys are using ( so I know what Google are going to target next ;-) ) and got talking to one very excited spammer that felt happy to tell me what method he had just used to rank #1 post penguin 2.1. He showed me some very interesting stats and methodologies and I even verified his claims in the SERPS and using other tools checked his claimed backlinking strategy and they all checked out.
He had used nothing more than a widely available piece of software that quite frankly make me sick, it collects lists of blogs and forums and using a script to copy a random comment and spin it, it posts it as its own (with a backlink of course), and did nothing more than hit go for a month previous to Penguin 2.1, and when it hit BANG there he was at number one!! (not even he expected that though!!)
So what kind of message is this sending to all of us that try to do everything by the book? Those of us that truly believe that making our sites the best they can be and creating content that users love, share and enjoy and letting others know in a pure and natural way, is the best way to go?
I hope that Google notice this and very quickly there is a Penguin 2.2 update to fix the amount of spam that seems to have flooded the SERPs and also to reward those who have done everything they have asked for.
If you have noticed a jump in the amount of spam since Penguin 2.1, share your thoughts here, if you dont mind outing anyone list them here and lets see if we can get Matt Cutts and co to notice. ( I will be adding a few sites in the comments myself as I come across them )
Also feel free to take this content and publish it on your blog, just include a mention please :-) #penguinupdate #penguin2 #penguin5 #google