At places as diverse as Traffic Planet, Webmaster World and Search Engine Land there’s a hell of a lot of chatter about Google’s most recent update – almost all of it despairing cries of woe from webmasters who’ve seen their sites trashed overnight in the SERPs.
As ever, there’s a lot of rune-reading going on, and the guys who are doing well out of the update will be quietly chortling to themselves rather than transmitting their woes on forums.
None of this is new – you can search back in time to find similar threads that followed pretty much every significant Google update ever.
That being said, I still follow some rankings in some verticals in which I used to work (no current commercial interest to me) and I can see what they’re saying – with some major slaps being handed out to what are/were legitimate sites. On the other hand, sites that were de-indexed/banned a fortnight ago are suddenly sitting pretty at the number 2 slot for their money term.
I’ve followed ‘viagra’ results for a long time as a marker for what Google is rewarding, this being a notoriously rich hunting ground for short term spammers). It has to be said that the UK SERP for ‘viagra’ for example, suddenly looks terrible – with any number of horrible, dated, non-authority sites making up much of the top 10. That suggests a big follow on from the link/blog network clear up from a couple of weeks ago and the Webmaster Tools warnings that came shortly afterwards.
Google misstep? Perhaps. They closely monitor user interaction with the SERPs and if results have got ‘worse’ for users they can pretty quickly be rolled back. Anyone who’s followed SEO for long enough will know that this happens.
My feeling is (given the nature of the SERPs I’ve been looking at and Google’s own statement that this will affect 3% of all searches) is that this is a vertical-specific slap – and probably targeted at affiliates in those markets.
More thoughts tomorrow when the dust has started to settle.