A few days back Google announced that it had modified its search algorithm to keep a check on web spam. A few companies have benefited from this change while others have fallen. According to Searchmetrics, winners include Poynter, Spotify and The Verge and the losers surprisingly comprise of Cult of Mac and Digg. However, the point to be noted here is that this analysis by Searchmetrics was already reported in an unconfirmed update by Panda Update and this article discusses exactly that, rather than the new algorithm change.
Matt Cutts, head of Google’s web spam team also commented that the Searchmetrics update was flawed as its list of 50 websites only included 2 or 3 sites that were affected by the algorithm change whereas others comprised of Panda related updates. Furthermore, on Twitter, he added that the Panda Update hit on April 19 and the latest Panda 3.4 of March 23 was publicized by Google.
The winners from this algorithm change include famous brands and news sites amongst which the most conspicuous are Spotify, The New York Observer, music site NME, Men’s Health, Poynter, The Verge, Stack Overflow and Marvel. The results were gathered from a preliminary study of 50,000 keywords from 5 million domains to verify the rankings of the sites to see which ones up and which spiraled downwards.
The losers included the likes of similarsites.com, doc-txt.com, cubestat.com, consumeraffairs.com, appbrain.com, etc. All these websites were found to have the following qualities in common: websites that accessed databases to gather information, press portals and aggregators and websites that had heavy templates which loaded slowly.
However, there were many surprising names on the list which were shocking like Digg, Gothamist, Techdirt, NewsBusters, PaidContent.org and Cult of Mac. In the case of Cult of Mac, even when the Panda Update first came out last year, the website reported that it was hit and came back. However, no one knows whether it was manually replaced but according to Google, there were other criterion due to which it was pushed down. What remains to be seen is whether the Cult of Mac will follow suit again this time.
This disclosure reveals that lists are not always fully correct as rankings may change due to many other reasons e.g. news stories that create interest may have been posted at a particular time which led to hits and therefore, a shift in rankings. Google also had a glitch in its parked domain classifier which affected rankings. Besides, a more reliable technique is to verify the search driven traffic instead of relying on these lists as this will clearly show whether you gained or lost from the change in the algorithm.