For nearly 8 years I used a strategy to get little sites ranked and profiting in as little as a week or two. The strategy still worked after the big “Panda” update and even after the “Penguin” update. So I write a report, release it, and a few days later half of the sites I created using that method (but not just them) are gone from the top 10 of Google.
Am I so powerful that a billion dollar company changed because of my 33 page report? Not likely But the fact is they have changed. It was definitely something that they’ve had in the works for a while and decided to “release” last weekend.
Their latest update supposedly targets “low quality” sites, but seems to be very inconsistent. Take a look at the spreadsheet that I put together if you like:
This spreadsheet contains a handful of my sites. All of these sites were in the top 10 of google just last week. Half of them still are and half of them are nowhere to be found.
Matt Cutts tweeted that the update was targeting EMD’s (Exact Match Domain’s) but I believe it’s more than that.
My Germany Tourism site, which I’ve mentioned many times before, enjoyed top 10 rankings for much of it’s 8 years of existence and it too was hit by this update. From 8 years at the top of google to nowhere to be found. It’s full of high quality content, much of it I write personally after having lived in Germany for 5 years and having a German wife. The site has DMOZ and organic Yahoo Directory links (which I didn’t pay for… they were natural) along with many other very solid, natural links.
And then there are my Rapid Niche Profits sites, which are all exact match domains. But the odd thing is that only about 40%-50% of them were hit. The spreadsheet above shows a handful of them. The green ones are still ranking in the top 10, while the red ones are gone, but were ranking last week.
My data shows that it was not JUST EMD’s that were targeted. Obviously, more of my EMD’s are still ranking than are not ranking. That spreadsheet does not show all of them, but it’s about 40%-50% that were hit. If Google just adjusted that one thing … “EMD’s now have ‘this’ much less authority” then they would have all been hit because I didn’t do anything drastically different with any of them and the strength of competition for all of them, while obviously not exactly the same, are consistently similar.
Another theory I’ve heard is that they targeted EMD’s in high CPC niches. But I don’t see that trend (see spreadsheet.)
It doesn’t seem to be that the sites are “thin” because I have sites with as little as 4 pages that continue to hold top rankings.
It doesn’t seem to be that anchor text saturation because I have sites that have 100% anchor text saturation for their primary keyword that continue to hold strong in the top ten (yeah, I know, I need to follow my own advice.)
It doesn’t seem to be a certain type of backlink strategy, as I have sites that continue to rank with minimal backlinking and the backlinks they do have are manual, cheap backlinks and I have some that have been hit that had very solid, natural links.
It doesn’t seem to be too many ads on the sites or above the fold because most of my niche sites have the same structure with the same ad placement and some continue to rank while some were hit.
It doesn’t seem to be site age because some older sites were hit and some newer sites continue to rank well.
What I’m starting to lean toward is that this update was a modification to multiple ranking factors, which combined caused many sites (not just EMD’s) to either go from top 10 to nowhere or to drop a few spots in the SERPS, which many of my sites that continue to rank experienced.
I’ll continue to look into this and monitor what others are saying about it as well and update you the second I learn of something set in stone. What about you? Have you been affected? If so, what are your theories?