The impact of Google's latest search ranking algorithm update is starting to show. While Mahalo is getting a bunch of the press, the ezine article aggregators seem to be the ones most heavily hit -- along with some of the business directory sites.
And apparently, eHow is a high-quality site in Google's eyes. For now, anyway. Early data suggests Demand Media's much maligned eHow property has benefited the most.
Here's a look at the biggest losers and winners, and some early thoughts on what it all means.
Google Algorithm Change Losers
Johannes Beus of Sistrix reports:
"The first conclusion is quite straightforward: the number of keywords these domains are ranking for dropped dramatically. Looking at mahalo.com as an example, it went from 33,875 keywords before the update to just 9,740 keywords after the update went public - a decrease of more than 70%. These were keywords like "zealand air" (3), "digg" (8) or "tax check" (4) where the domain fell out of the top 100 results. The second outcome deals with the remaining keywords," Beus said.
Sistrix also provided a visual showing how mahalo.com was impacted:
However, it must be noted that the comparison is based on 1 million keywords comparing two different days of the same week. It seems as though Thursday was compared against Friday -- and Thursday is usually a higher-traffic day for many sites. This sort of comparison isn't conclusive, but nonetheless interesting.
The ezine article sites appear to have been hit bad -- this had been a white hat method of SEO so the shakeout has yet to be fully seen. The Alexa numbers for the top aggregators ezinearticles.com and associatedcontent.com are below, how this continues once other sites get that share of searches lost should shake a lot of web activity.
Both have had serious losses in rank, search percentage and pageviews, much harsher than Mahalo.
Dan Abbamont also reported seeing Mahalo and EzineArticles taking damage. Also taking hits: hubpages.com; squidoo.com; articlesbase.com; buzzle.com; associatedcontent.com; suite101.com. However, the comparison methodology here is a bit questionable, as the writer compared Google.com results vs. Google.ca results.
SEOClarity also put together a report listing the top 10 sites that suffered the worst losses, based on ~60,000 keywords, comparing Feb. 22 to Feb. 24 (Tuesday vs. Thursday):
Google Algorithm Change Winners
Here's a look at eHow's rankings before and after Google's algorithm update, via Sistrix:
Sistrix reports that it doesn't appear Google tried to downrank ehow.com at all.
SEOClarity also looked at the top 10 domains that saw greatest gains of top 10 rankings:
Aaron Wall at SEO Book.com also put together a list of competing eHow sites that saw traffic gains (noted in green), via SEMRush stats.
Sites in red took major hits. Yellow sites are Demand Media sites that were impacted.
The change announcement by Matt Cutts and Amit Singhal included "Many of the changes we make are so subtle that very few people notice them. But in the last day or so we launched a pretty big algorithmic improvement to our ranking--a change that noticeably impacts 11.8% of our queries--and we wanted to let people know what's going on. This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites--sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites--sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on".
And as Aaron Wall notes Mahalo is not that bad. What happens to AllTops and sites of that ilk?
While the "write an article" niche seems to be hit, no doubt the value of being a guest blogger has gone up considerably. Sadly, the white hat SEO list of legitimate link building processes has gone. How quickly this drop in link values and keyword authority should launch a huge reorganization of the SERPs soon. Meanwhile, I am thinking a lot of sites have yet to be touched by the impact of this.
What happens when a link to me is downplayed because a link to it had been given lift from the dropped content and no longer passes this along -- well on record and filtered through all the Google data centers.
Business.com and allbusiness.com are both in the top 25 -- one has to wonder how the new buyers of business.com are feeling about their investment right now. Possibly not as bad as others, but not happy.
UK SEO David Naylor noted the changes have yet to reach the UK, but is expecting them and waves of changes in the general metrics he monitors.
The short term impact is being seen right now -- a month from now the SERPs will be very different in many, many cases.
Danny Goodwin also contributed to this post.