Yesterday, we asked if Google was listening to its users, following the rollout of its latest algorithm update targeting "low quality" sites that hit some sites hard and helped others. In what is the closest Google has come to admitting some sites have been unfairly punished in the SERPs, Google has created a thread, "Think you're affected by the recent algorithm change? Post here." in Webmaster Central.
Google's Michael Wyszomierski posted:
"According to our metrics, this update improves overall search quality. However, we are interested in hearing feedback from site owners and the community as we continue to refine our algorithms. If you know of a high quality site that has been negatively affected by this change, please bring it to our attention in this thread. Note that as this is an algorithmic change we are unable to make manual exceptions, but in cases of high quality content we can pass the examples along to the engineers who will look at them as they work on future iterations and improvements to the algorithm. So even if you don't see us responding, know that we're doing a lot of listening."
After yesterday's news about Cult of Mac's rankings being reinstated, there was speculation that Google had done some sort of manual change. So Google is denying manual intervention here (Google's Amit Singhal also denied manually improving rankings to the Wall Street Journal), but that doesn't mean Google hasn't rolled out some sort of minor update to the larger algorithm change.
Another option if your site has vanished or is performing worse since the change is to fill out a reconsideration request.
More Winners Emerge
The WSJ article highlighted some sites that are happy with Google's latest change. Among them: Encyclopaedia Britannica, which saw a 40 percent lift in Google traffic, plus more number one and top three rankings. Buy.com also received an 11 percent traffic increase.
Searchmetrics also analyzed data from 55 million domains, specifically looking at "content farms" (even though Google has never used this term) and "content heavy sites" (e.g., Facebook, Huffington Post). Much like previous reports, Searchmetrics found that eHow has gained 14 percent visibility from the algorithm change. Also:
"With its nearly 80% increase, the biggest winner in terms of traffic and percentage change is wikihow.com. A remarkable increase considering that in contrast to Wikipedia, wikiwho.com appears to be a classic definition of a content farm. Similarly, Yahoo! Answers experienced an almost 30% increase, in contrast to answers.com and answerbag.com, a site that experienced an almost 60% loss. Statistics such as these are clear indicators that the update must indeed be algorithm-based, fully automated and not carried out manually."
Interesting that Wikihow is a winner. DuckDuckGo recently teamed with Wikihow, a site that relies on collaborative how-to editing rather than eHow's freelance system.
Searchmetrics said other winners included news portals, such as MSN, Mashable, ZDNet, and Wired.
More Losers Emerge
WSJ also highlighted another case where computer consultant Morris Rosenthal saw his sites drop in the search results in favor of a less detailed and "inaccurate" eHow article. He fears he may lose 50 percent of his income.
Before last week's Google change, a Web page from one of Mr. Rosenthal's sites, www.daileyint.com, ranked No. 1 when users typed the phrase "toshiba troubleshooting" in the search box. Today that page, which includes 2,200 words of instructions, images and a video, is ranked fifth, while a 200-word eHow article with no images or video is ranked first. The author of the Toshiba article has also written articles for eHow on "How to Take Crease Marks Out of Posters" and "How Do Genital Herpes Spread."
Consumer electronics shopping site Retrevo also accused Google of favoring bigger brands in the algorithm change, telling WebProNews that "The net effect has been marginally negative - single digit in percentage terms and with negligible business impact. In our assessment, the marginal drop in ranking for some pages is attributed to bigger brands (CNET, Amazon and CE brands) gaining over us where we used to be ahead of them."
As for SearchMetrics' report, many of the familiar names were there, with one addition: Blippr. This site saw a nearly 98 percent reduction in organic visibility.
Here's the rest of Searchmetrics' data on the losers:
Google's help thread is also filling up fast with posts from numerous other sites that have taken a hit. If you were one of them, go over and let your voice be heard.
We'll keep you updated on all the latest Google algorithm news as it becomes available.