Once again, another Google Algorithm update. The 4th of October saw Matt Cutts roll out the Penguin refresh; Penguin 2.1. After the recent Hummingbird update earlier this month, another algorithm update was completely unexpected, and from the initial search fluctuations, this looks to be one of the most drastic changes yet.
So what exactly is this update targeting?
As per usual, the SEO sphere has been flooded with contradictory information. No one truly knows what the reasons are for some sites dropping and others rising. The SERPs seems to be almost random.
There are reports of highly authoritative and old white hat sites being shunted out of the top 100, whilst sites ranking based purely on webspam continue to prosper. The reverse of this is also true, people are reporting newer sites dropping like flies, whilst older sites remain authorities on the front page of Google.
A quick browse of the numerous threads on SEO and Internet Marketing forums indicates no real clear pattern.
Potential Causes for Rank Drops
Based on gathered information, the list below is an idea of the potential causes from ranking drops.
- DoFollow / NoFollow link ratios: The ratio of DoFollow and NoFollow links to your site can play a part in how natural your site looks to Google. An extremely high ratio of DoFollow links indicates that links have been specifically built to rank a website. It looks unnatural to have a link profile primarily made of DoFollow, when a large proporation of natural links come from sources that give no SEO value.
- Mass Links: Essentially, any spikes of mass linking on low quality sites could trigger a slap from Google. For example, mass links from Xrumer or other automated software.
- Too focused anchor text: A high ratio of links with targeted anchor text is a red flag to Google. It is advised to balance one’s link profile with a variety of keywords / variations.
- Spun content Web 2.0s: Low quality Web 2.0s with spun, spammy content.
- Link velocity: Random spikes of mass linking again, look unnatural. It is recommended to consistently ‘drip-feed’ links to mimic
Many of these are fairly typical, and aren’t unique to slaps caused by this recent update – but they’re elements worth looking into again. Maybe Penguin 2.1 has put an extra emphasis on targeting these factors? Who knows.
Currently, the update has not fully completed. And as such, the SERPs are in a chaotic state of flux. SEO’s are advised to sit tight and not do anything too drastic, at least not for the next few weeks whilst the rest of the update rolls out.
Hopefully these confusing fluctuations settle into something more stable and logical.