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Was a Google Dataset error responsible for ranking fluctuations?

Was a Google Dataset error responsible for ranking fluctuations?

Blog Google Algo Update

Last year (sounds strange writing that already) on the 20th December we blogged about a potential Google Penguin roll back. We had noticed some chatter on Twitter and the webmaster forums which Barry Schwartz highlighted from around the 15th December in the US.

Some site owners and SEO’s were reporting their organic rankings rolling back to as they were pre-penguin 4.0 roll out. 

Whenever we see this type of chatter we always keep and eye out for what it may bring in Google.co.uk result as the US usually sees this stuff just before we do.

Anyway in summary we suggested that this was probably a dataset issue and would resolve itself. The last time this happened which was around the 10th October saw very similar fluctuations

Was it a Penguin Roll Back?

As we suspected no it doesn’t look that way. Last week we started to notice results settling down, no additional link building, no on page changes they just fixed themselves.

So what is a dataset error and why does it cause my rankings to fluctuate so wildly?

Okay so first thing i’m going to say is this is purely my own personal thoughts and Google as far as I am aware have never said anything about dataset issues. But coming from a career originally in IT I am familiar with how databases and systems work especially when making updates to software.

So let my try and give you my understanding of Google dataset errors:

You have a server which has to communicate with many different workstations and devices on its network.

Quickly your server becomes overloaded so you need more servers, you upgrade from a single server to a cluster of servers also known as a datacenter. Your server is running great and your devices are able to GET all the data and information they need held on your servers (datacenter)

But one day you decide that your email software needs updating and there are some security patches that need to be installed, but before you can do this server #1 lets say fails, and the rest of the network is hit with a DDOS attack and your entire network goes down. All hard drives fail except one redundant NAS, data is corrupted from that day. Fortunately you’ve preempted this and have a cloud server backing everything up at 11:59pm the previous day. 

Now you have to rebuild your network and get them back online so your business can operate.

Servers (datacenter) back up and running but Billy in human resources can’t find his emails from 7pm onwards. What happened to the data from after the last backup happened?

Well fortunately the cloud has everything backed up and it’s just a case of downloading the backup and migrating throughout your server network. The servers feed the desktop and mobile devices but there’s a lot of them so it takes a day or two.

This is a dataset error. Data missing from the last know update/backup.

Another simplified way to think of it is your PC dies and you have to system restore, the last data you had was from 2 weeks ago. You have to use the cloud or external drive back ups to roll back the last known data, but again it takes time to update (due to the size of the data payload)

Okay making sense so far?

Now lets take the first example of 1 datacentre and 7 servers to thousands and thousands of servers globally. This now takes it from a few terabytes of data on a small network to what is believed to be 320PB of data to handle the current amount of data stored on Google’s network.

What is a PB or Petabyte?

86MB * 4 (for profiles) * 1,000,000,000 = 320PB

To store all this data YouTube needs to have as of today at least 320PB of storage. From that we can estimate that they have roughly around 400PB in storage currently allocated for storing YouTube videos.

A petabyte (PB) is 1015 bytes of data, 1,000 terabytes (TB) or 1,000,000 gigabytes (GB).

DAMN! That blows your mind doesn’t it?

So next time we see dataset errors in Google’s data it could be something as simple as Google changing a font or colour on its search facility that means last known backed up data is shown until the most latest search algorithm data is transferred across.

This also explains why most of the time these dataset glitches only last for 2-3 weeks.

Google Algo updates we know happened around 15th December 2016

Google Holocaust update

For anyone who missed this, apparently it was reported that there was a problem with data for results being pulled for anyone search ‘did the holocaust happen?’. The answer apparently was no and in fact Hitler didn’t do any of these things according to the organic search results.

Thankfully common sense at Google HQ prevailed and this was updated in the search data to show the truth and history we all know.

Google mobile first algo update being tested

https://www.thewebmaster.com/seo/2016/nov/15/google-mobile-first-indexing-update/

 

Google Penguin Roll Back?

Google Penguin Roll Back?

Blog

We missed the chatter on the 15th December which many webmasters and SEO’s were saying they were seeing roll back from the latest Google Penguin update.

Has Google Rolled Back Penguin?

Today in the UK we are seeing some fluctuation in SERPs, for some niches. It’s certainly not massively impacting many sites but the one thing we have noticed is the SERPs are pretty much the same results pre-penguin update.

Anchor text link spammers are ranking more favourably, and the results are like for like pre-penguin.

No consistency in SERPs

What’s really interesting is not all industries seem to being seeing these results. In the main most are un-affected that we’ve checked. A few ups and downs in the verticals.

From what we can tell it appears to be an old data set. Sites that were pushed down when Penguin had looked over their quality of links are back where they were before the big Penguin update.

But in some cases it is just a few of the search terms for that site. 

What if Google has rolled back penguin?

It’s very unlikely Google would roll back an update of this magnitude. Penguin after all is designed to improve the quality of search results and the majority of pre penguin sites that were link spamming are back, certainly for the industries and niches we are checking on.

On Search Engine Land there was a lot of chatter from users saying webmasters and SEOs were seeing roll backs but after a day or so they returned.

What do we know about Google Algorithm roll backs?

Well they seem to usually occur when Google is updating something which means an old data set is being used. Once this refreshes to the latest dataset things go back to normal.

Google has recently updated the local places pack to include more filters and on going AMP updates, so it’s probably likely if it is an old dataset that it’s due to one of all of these changes.

What if it’s more than a roll back what can be done to improve your rankings?

Well I hate spam but I am seeing spammers prevailing again. Out of all our  sites we’ve been monitoring, a percentage that have seen ups or downs are generally ranking like they did pre-penguin 4.0 update all have aggressive anchor text link spam. Some by as much as 50% of their anchor text are money terms. These are mainly competitor sites that were spamming.

I am a glass half full guy, and I can’t see why Google would try and award sites who spam to rank better than those who play it by the book (as we do).

I am not sure it’s an algo update however as it’s not across the board for every niche/industry/category.

You’d expect to see site wide and overall changes for everyone if it were.

But surely Google isn’t allowing aggressive anchor text spam again?

Are you seeing fluctuations in your rankings? Join the discussion and leave your comments below.

 

 

 

 

Isn’t it time we removed all the smoke and mirrors from SEO?

Isn’t it time we removed all the smoke and mirrors from SEO?

Blog

Something crossed my mind last week whilst speaking to a white label SEO client. He said something about how this industry is so filled with billy big balls claiming to rock the SEO world. Over-promising and under-delivering has become the industry standard.

And usually leaving a path of destruction in their wake…….

Fixing other SEO companies poor quality work

We get a lot of work cleaning up other SEO companies cock ups, it’s possibly our fastest growing area of business enquiries. Usually it involves a unsuspecting customer who’s been sold a stallion and been given a one legged donkey ready for the glue factory. This is how it usually goes:

I started working with this other SEO company about a year ago. They promised me the world in a few months, but 6 months past and the only people i hear from is the accounts department. When i do ask them for a report I do get a lot of information but it feels like christmas stocking fillers, nothing substantial. And what’s worse is my site is no where to be found, and the rankings are dropping daily.

Plagued by rats!

I feel sorry for anyone that has endured such an awful experience, because there are great SEO providers out there. It’s not all rat filled sewers it’s really not. But with any boom you will get rats jumping on board to try and take a bit of the cheese.

The first thing we usually tell someone in this position is let us audit your website, it costs nothing and even if you don’t work with us we can help you from being ripped off.

Sometimes you just need to step back and say WHOA this ain’t working for me

Once we’ve completed their free website audit, if it’s bad news we’ll tell them, stop what you’re doing cancel your SEO campaign before any more problems occur. The problems are usually from poor quality link building, even in the wake of Penguin and manual action penalties we are still seeing so-called major SEO agencies crushing sites with crap links.

I won’t name any on this blog but believe me, big agencies are still doing it.

One SEO company in particular we must get 5-10 enquiries a year from their frankly shockingly poor quality and rank killing SEO work.

So if in doubt get your SEO checked out and if there’s enough evidence to suggest it’s probably not good for your site then it might be time to jump ship.

Google Penguin Refresh in the UK

Google Penguin Refresh in the UK

Blog Google Algo Update Google Penguin News SEO SERPS

Tonight at 22:30 we are seeing huge movement in the Google UK SERPS. As we predicted we thought the Google Penguin update might take another couple of weeks to feel the full affects of it in the UK as Google had announced approx 2 weeks ago the roll out had finished.

On October 10th 2016 we report that we were seeing some big changes in the organic results and previously Penguin affected sites were showing signs of improvement. But tonight we are seeing way more than even compared to the 10th October.

My guess is the data is finally hitting UK data centres and over the next week or so you should be seeing solid positions.

I hope you’re seeing more ups than downs, but remember guys even if you do get hit by the Penguin, never give up you can always recover.

Google Penguin Dataset Fluctations – But Penguin Recoveries Are Happening Right Now!

Google Penguin Dataset Fluctations – But Penguin Recoveries Are Happening Right Now!

Blog Google Algo Update Google Penguin SEO

Hey everyone I decided to hold off posting anything about the latest Google Penguin 4.0 algorithm update until I had collated enough data to report properly, and not just another click bait post.

So what do we know about Google Penguin 4.0 update

Well officially according to Google it rolled out on the 23rd September 2016 but many including myself believe it may have rolled out even soon than that. We tracked ranking fluctuations weeks and week before this and later in this blog we will share with you dates throughout the year where we tracked massive but temporary ranking improvements.

This is what Google has to say about the Penguin 4.0 Real Time Update

  • Penguin is now real-time. Historically, the list of sites affected by Penguin was periodically refreshed at the same time. Once a webmaster considerably improved their site and its presence on the internet, many of Google’s algorithms would take that into consideration very fast, but others, like Penguin, needed to be refreshed. With this change, Penguin’s data is refreshed in real time, so changes will be visible much faster, typically taking effect shortly after we recrawl and reindex a page. It also means we’re not going to comment on future refreshes.
  • Penguin is now more granular. Penguin now devalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting ranking of the whole site.

Let’s break this down in more detail and what Penguin 4.0 means for SEO’s and webmasters right now.

‘Penguin is now real-time’

get out of penguin jailThis now means if you’re website gets caught out for manipulating it’s organic search rankings then it can be as quickly corrected. More importantly though it means those who were hit by a previous generation of the Penguin algorithm and were waiting on a refresh to clear any penalties against them, as long as they have cleaned up their link profile and haven’t continued to spam will finally be free!

Google makes a big point of mentioning it’s now granular rather than penalising an entire website.

I think this is one of the most interesting points about the latest Google Penguin update. Previously spammers would feel the full wrath of Google should you get caught out. But now they are quite clearly telling us all that if you spam or try and cheat with paid links etc then you shouldn’t expect your whole site rankings to get killed off.

How Google Penguin now looks and deals with link spam

This is the biggie without a doubt and I could write about this all day but I will keep it short and sweet.

Google tells us that now it won’t penalise you but in fact will ignore suspicious links to your site. Hang on a sec!

No more Google Penguin Penalties, ever?!?!?!?!

google penguin 4.0 devalues links rather than penalizes

Yep according to this post Gary Illyes at Google said that they now look at signals that suggest spamming or link manipulation and will just devalue the links rather than penalising for them.

Goodbye link spammers and negative SEO problems then?

Looks like Google sorted that issue out then. But it does also make you question is a rolling Penguin update even that important if it just ignores spam? There are two types of websites right now that this applies to.

1.) Sites that already have a penalty from previous Google Penguin updates

2.) Sites that are yet to spam and have no issues.

So for the first type of website which have had Penguin issues, once the update has fully rolled out and all data is refreshed they are free from the evil Penguin.

The second type, the good guy not doing anything wrong then this really has no affect on them. Because if Google Penguin now devalues spam then it with neither harm or positively affect your rankings anyway.

The ones that slipped through the net

So far so good then with the Google penguin 4.0 update it seems. But what about serial spammers the seem to have slipped through the net? I discussed this in my last blog post about certain websites we’d found to be link spamming and getting away with it.

Techniques such as using link networks (SAPE/PBN’s) but cleverly using no relevant business keyword anchor text. Thus being able to keep off the radar from Penguin and the manual spam action team at Google.

Will Penguin ever catch up with the no-good-ers?

I think Penguin will only continue to evolve and catch black hatters out but right now from what we have seen those who choose to link spam using a bit more grey matter are getting away with it and dominating search results.

So that’s what we know about Penguin 4.0 so far and what it means right now for SEO’s.

Evidence of Google Penguin Recoveries

This is the really good news and also some pretty strong evidence that contradicts what many believed a Penguin recovery to really be.

The U.S were reporting Penguin recoveries a little sooner than we were seeing here in the U.K – We started to see these on Monday 3rd October 2016. At first the results of obvious recoveries were hit and miss but over the next week we saw many sites recovering and showing huge ranking and traffic increase.

Don’t worry about ranking fluctuations Google has a lot of data to go through

If you’ve been seeing fluctuations in your organic rankings over the last 2 weeks then don’t worry as Gary Illyes once again has said this is normal and to be expected.

During parts of the week we reported as many as 8 fluctuations per day, with rankings moving up and back down to their last seen position, pre Penguin 4.0 roll out.

google penguin recoveries and ranking fluctuations

 

Strange results in Google search for your domain?

I thought i’d mention this incase anyone else had seen strange indexing issues with their website.

For one website we are tracking who’s site has seen a huge Penguin recovery in the last week with traffic increased by as much as 50% their home page was not listed in the results if you searched site:domain.com

This site has no manual actions and I wouldn’t expect it to either as it has a very organic and clean link profile. Plus it’s rankings for every other page have increased massively. Plus what’s even more interesting is when using a mobile browser or even mobile device tethered to a laptop the home page is indexed and has been reindexed twice since we noticed the error.

I think there must be others seeing pages missing, even their home page/root domain but if you do don’t panic as there are no penalties from Penguin anymore, we know that anyway and it looks as those there are just some holes still in Google’s dataset.

Biggest Google Penguin Recoveries We’ve Seen

One site we look after was hit with a manual action in 2012 and Penguin penalty in 2013. We began the long drawn out task of auditing all of their inbound and outbound back links. Once we were certain on the offending links we started to reach out to websites asking them to remove them, and where we couldn’t get them removed disavowed them. 2778+ referring domains removed in total.

Waiting patiently for Penguin to refresh, we expected huge improvements in their rankings, but sadly it never came.

Recovery without link building as the primary SEO focus

Without building links, just a few organic ones the site has now fully recovered. Even with very few back links, only good content the website has made a full recovery.

During the early part of this year the website traffic started to increase and peaked in July (this is a seasonally effected industry)

traffic increase

 

 

 

 

Their website traffic hit almost the same peak as it did when they were spamming, over 45,000 unique visitors in a month.

Then came Penguin 4.0 last week and everything changed

I must be clear nothing else has been done just added more good content and concentrated on getting the on page SEO in order.

Last week everything changed for this website (which I’m not going to publish). Suddenly where it had once ranked page 1 but not been seen for almost 3 years was now back. Plus more importantly with all the new content it was getting a lot more long tail keyword traffic, over 30,000 search terms in fact as apposed to 200+.

So this leads the question can you recover from a Penguin penalty without link building and still rank page 1?

YES, Yes you can! We’ve seen it in more than once too.

We’re seeing sites previously panned in search with no SEO since and no links whatsoever now ranking where they once did.

Don’t give up on your penalised website, you can recover fully and even higher than you did before.

I say this because i’ve read so many times where business owners have been told by SEO’s just give up and build a new site on a new domain. But if you’ve spent thousands on building your site and just as much if not even more getting it to rank well just throwing it away shouldn’t be your first decision.

We’ve now recovered more than 50 websites in the last 24 months and more in the last 2 weeks.

If you’re site isn’t doing as well as it once did or has taken a hit recently then talk to us and we’ll try and help.

Say hello on Twitter https://twitter.com/seotwentyone

 

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