Google officially announced yesterday “Another Step to Reward High-Quality Sites” on the Official Google Webmaster blog. This announcement is also being referred to as the “over optimization penalty”. Matt Cutts discussed about a month ago at a conference that this penalty would be coming out. So, its not totally unexpected. However, I have been hearing from LOTS of people that they have seen major movements in their search engine rankings over the past day or so.
First, I want to briefly discuss what this penalty is and then how my own sites are doing. First, Matt Cutts says in the announcement that they are essentially targeting sites that they feel are gaming the system through link schemes and keyword stuffing. Overall, this is effecting about 3.1% of queries in English. So, it effecting quite a few sites. In addition, this recent announcement essentially follows up with the previous Panda updates that are trying to help higher quality sites rank better, and lower quality sites to rank worse.
However, from the discussion I am seeing all over the place, it appears that more than 3% of sites were affected. Did Google go overboard?
How My Sites Are Performing
Unfortunately, Google of course won't reveal exactly what might be triggering penalties, but here is what I am seeing across my sites. Overall, I have definitely seen some movement down with the rankings of some of my sites. Not all of my sites, but definitely a significant movement with some of them. At this point its still too early to tell with some of my larger sites how the actual traffic to my sites will be effected. My analytics appear to be pretty consistent with the number of visitors to my larger sites over the past few days. So, I may need some more time to assess the full effect.
However, I am actually noticing a couple of my sites are getting more traffic. So, some of my sites have moved down and some have moved up.
This gives me a good comparison of what might be causing some of the movement. From a quick look at my stats, it appears that sites that I did NOT really build very many links to are performing best. Those sites that perhaps I built more links to, and used similar anchor text to, appear to be the sites that are most effected.
Overall, without using Adsense anymore, its hard for me to see right away how all my sites are earning. If I could just log in and see my Adsense stats I would have a MUCH better feel overall how my sites are performing! As it is, I am trying look at the analytics for some of my bigger sites and this is what I'm seeing.
Some of the Techniques Google is Targeting
I think a very relevant and educational video recently done my Rand Fishkin over at SEOmoz.org is right here:
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Rand essentially discusses some reasons that Google could be penalizing sites for being over-optimized. Items such as spammy titles, keyword stuffing, unnatural link building, overuse of keyword anchor text, and more. I think Rand nailed it with this video.
Overall, this penalty and the fact that I no longer have an Adsense account continue to encourage me to shift my niche site business away from lots of small niche sites to the prospect of building just one or two larger sites. I have lots of sites and will continue to make the winners better sites, but may also eventually move more towards only holding a smaller portfolio of sites down the road.
How are Your Sites Doing?
Now that you have heard about my sites, I want to hear about yours? Have you seen movement up or down your rankings in the past day or so? This appears to be a pretty big deal for many peole…lets discuss it!