Yesterday, Google rolled out a new search algorithm it says should better prevent webspam from polluting its search results. That’s already produced changes. Who won and who lost? Searchmetrics has done a quick analysis. Winners include names like Poynter, Spotify and The Verge. Losers have some surprises like Cult Of Mac and Digg. But those “losers” might really not be losers, as I’ll explain more.
Among the winners are big brands and news sites. Spotify, The New York Observer, music site NME, Men’s Health, Poynter, The Verge, Stack Overflow and Marvel are just some of the easily recognizable names that jumped out at me.
Here’s the full list of who was judged to have gained visibility in an initial study of 50,000 keywords, for 5 million domains, to see who went up or down in the first 100 results compared to last week:
Who was hit hardest? First the list:
Searchmetrics, going through the list, summarized the losers as mainly this way:
- Sites using databases to aggregate information
- Press portals and aggregators
- Heavily-templated web sites
Were News Sites Really Hit Or Something Else To Blame?
I didn’t recognize many of the names on the list but some I did and was surprised to see. Digg? OK, I supposed it’s well past its glory days. But Gothamist? Techdirt? NewsBusters? PaidContent.org?
And Cult Of Mac? After the Panda update, that site complained it was hit, then came back, sparking confusion about whether it was manually restored (Google said no, that it dropped for other reasons). I wonder if we’ll have another round of “we were hurt, they put us back in” after this.
Only Losers Really Know If They Lost
Really, however, this is a good reminder that lists like this aren’t perfect. This update was aimed at webspam. Some of the sites I’ve named above almost certainly were not doing any type of spamming. They may have had drops for other reasons; less visibility this week because last week they were visible for different news stories, for example. Or the update might have changes beyond spam that made them drop in overall visibility.
It’s also worth remembering that this is a sample of search terms. The only way to really know if the latest update hurt or helped you is to look at your search-driven traffic from Google, rather than particular rankings or lists like this, which have become popular after Google updates. If you’ve seen a significant increase, you’ve probably been rewarded by it. A big decrease? Then you were probably hit.
- Google Launches Update Targeting Webspam In Search Results
- Infographic: The Google Panda Update, One Year Later
- Pages With Too Many Ads “Above The Fold” Now Penalized By Google’s “Page Layout” Algorithm
- Google Sending Warnings About “Artificial” Or “Unnatural” Links
- Dropped In Rankings? Google’s Mistake Over Parked Domains Might Be To Blame
- What Is SEO / Search Engine Optimization?
- The Periodic Table Of SEO Ranking Factors