Google Penguin Top Losers via @Searchmetrics


While everyone is busy checking stats and making theories today..

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Here are top Penguin 4 (I like Danny more) losers as of today: Searchmetrics uncovered whose SEO Visibility was seriously impacted, with sites like, and the

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Any scary stories so far?


watching keyword drops

I've been watching keyword drops across sites but I feel that gauging site wide impact is a little hard before tomorrow, when a full day of stats in analytics become available...

MY Blog was beating out Search Engine Land and Seroundtable on some "interesting" keywords for the 3 weeks leading up to Penguin 2.0. A situation that really shouldn't have happened. Now SER and SEL have taken back their positions. Which is how it should be. I think my blog has a total of 5 backlinks or something and all no follow.

Other than that my clients seem unaffected and my personal sites that I actually care about and check have been unaffected..

Anyone else got tales of joy or woe?

interesting thing has happened

I am seeing a pretty big change in the keyword "seo" after this latest penguin.

Searchengineland has owned position 1 for as long as I can remember and has now surrendered that to Wikipedia and comes in third after a Google support page? (signs of brands taking a more prominent position in the index?)

but the big shock is seomoz has exited stage left! It is no where to be seen. It's usual position of 4 has been taken by a wordpress plugin tag?

Things might be still jostling so this may not be the end result.

SEMOZ is back but...

Seomoz has turned back up in the index for the keyword SEO. But it is a video link! Haven't seen that before.

A bit underwhelming...

With all the drumrolls, I expected to see more out of Penguin 4 than I have. Some minor fluctuations in a few niches, but that's normal with any update. Seems to me that they may have made this one a little more stealthy.

Does Penguin 2.0 see my guest blogs as advertorials?

How does Google define advertorials in relation to Penguin 2.0?

If I pay a company to write and post guest blogs on my behalf to blogs such as Forbes, HuffPost, Business Insider, etc. and the link in that post that points back to my site is a dofollow link and there is no disclosure on the post that this is an ‘advertisement’ or that it is ‘sponsored’ will that guest post be viewed as an advertorial?

The stuff I have read online from Matt Cutts leads me to believe that the answer would be yes but I wanted to open this discussion up for additional comments and opinions.  

According to Matt Cutts from Google, any link that is acquired as a result of money changing hands is not viewed as legitimate in Google’s eyes. It doesn’t matter that money was not changed hands between the company that wrote/posted the articles and the site where the post was published (Forbes, HuffPost, etc).

What does matter is that money exchanged hands somewhere in order for the posts to have been posted (i.e. money changed hands between me and the company that wrote and posted my guest blogs). It basically means that someone gave some money to someone else and that’s the reason the post got published (rather than Forbes, HuffPost, etc. or Heather writing about you naturally because they thought it was interesting or because they wanted to).

Had it not been for the money that particular post would not have been published. These words come directly from Matt Cutts from Google.

The way I understand it is that I should make sure that if links are paid (especially in regard to guest blogs/advertorials) – that is if money changed hands (anyone’s hands) in order for a link to be placed on a website – that it should not flow PageRank.

From what I have read … Advertorials are considered “guaranteed” placement because they have been paid for. The money is what guarantees their placement. In contrast, true journalistic editorials are never “guaranteed”. For example, you might write up a blog post and then submit that post to a blog such as Forbes, Huffpost, etc. and then at that point the blog has the choice of whether or not to publish it or not. Sometimes they might and other times they might not. Does this mean that Google could consider my guest posts advertorials because I paid money to a company to write and post these articles to those blogs? (even though money didn’t change hands between the writer/poster of the articles and the blog itself)? Is that still considered paid advertisements?

I think that Google can easily figure out that a paid-for company (which is in business and gets gets paid to do this) has posted my blog posts on sites like Forbes, Huffpost, etc. on my behalf. If you visit the company site (the ones who wrote and posted my articles) you can see that they do not offer their services for free. They charge money for the “guarantee” or service that your blog post will be published. This, in Google’s eyes, is not a true editorial. It is a post that has been paid for in one way or the other.


Google says, "True journalistic editorials are usually written by the editors of the blog, not by a company. When a company writes a blog post it will almost universally be biased and slanted towards the favor of the company writing the post. True editorials can be like that too but they are written by the editors of the blog and not by the company seeking to publish it’s blog post."

I believe I have been hit by Penguin 2.0. The traffic started decreasing on May 22 or 23, 2013 - the same time that the new algorithm came out.

Matt Cutts says, “Just because it is a high-quality article on a high quality site does not mean that it's not an advertorial.”

Advertorials – This is paid content that is made to look like genuine, organic content. Matt says it shouldn’t flow pagerank to the target site. If it does flow pagerank then you could have gotten hit for that as well.

A lot of people guest post or guest blog to try and increase their personal brand, gain new readers, and one would think improve the performance of their website in search engines. This is not a bad thing in and of itself as long as it’s done the right way according to Google from what I am reading.

Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts, posted a new video today on YouTube clarifying Google’s stance on Advertorials and “native advertising.”

Matt Cutts says, “Now there’s nothing wrong inherently with advertorials or native advertising, but they should not flow PageRank and there should be clear and conspicuous disclosure so that users realize that something is paid, not organic or editorial.”

Google doesn’t care about advertorials or outside advertising per say. The only time they care about it is when they think it might be manipulating their ranking algorithm.

Google’s Cutts wanted to make it clear that it is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines for webmasters and advertisers to use advertorials or native advertising as a means of passing PageRank to your webpages.

Matt explained that Google treats links as editorial votes and editorial votes helps sites rank higher because of the way that the algorithm is written. When links are embedded into advertorials or paid stories, if they are not disclosed, that is against Google’s guidelines because they see it as trying to manipulate their ranking algorithm.

Matt Cutts posted a slide showing their guidelines for both user advertorial disclosure and search engine advertorial disclosure. Here's what the slide said:



Disclosure to search engines

         Paid links should not flow PageRank

Ex: rel=”nofollow”


Disclosure to readers

         Clear and conspicuous

Ex: “Advertisement” or “Sponsored”


In summary, the Google guidelines for Advertorials are:


(1) Search Engines: If links are paid for, i.e., money changes hands, then links should not pass PageRank. You should nofollow links in Advertorials.

(2) Users & Readers: It should be clear to your readers that this is a paid story by labeling it advertisement or sponsored story.


For a supporting reference, this is a video from a Webmaster Central Hangout from February:


When someone in the video says they submit articles to the Huffington Post, and asks if they should nofollow the links to their site, Google’s John Mueller says, “Generally speaking, if you’re submitting articles for your website, or your clients’ websites and you’re including links to those websites there, then that’s probably something I’d nofollow because those aren’t essentially natural links from that website.”


Here’s another supporting reference in another February Webmaster Central hangout:


In that one, when a webmaster asks if it’s okay to get links to his site through guest postings, Mueller says, “Think about whether or not this is a link that would be on that site if it weren’t for your actions there. Especially when it comes to guest blogging, that’s something where you are essentially placing links on other people’s sites together with this content, so that’s something I kind of shy away from purely from a linkbuilding point of view. I think sometimes it can make sense to guest blog on other peoples’ sites and drive some traffic to your site because people really liked what you are writing and they are interested in the topic and they click through that link to come to your website but those are probably the cases where you’d want to use something like a rel=nofollow on those links.”


Editorial is unpaid according to Google.


It’s difficult to define but editorial is generally considered to be content that appears in a newspaper, news channel, magazine or website that is considered timely, relevant news. Editorial cannot be paid for and you cannot demand that it be run nor anything about the story or how it’s covered. Companies do not control the final content.


I know many bloggers receive releases from brands and companies. They are hoping that if you find their pitch interesting enough you will write about it. Some will. Some won’t. It’s the same as a newspaper or a magazine. And yes, writers for those publications get paid. But they get paid BY THE PUBLICATION, not by the company.


“Editorials” technically refer to opinion articles in newspapers. Since a vast majority of blogging falls into the “opinion” category, “editorial blog content” has come to mean posts that the blogger has posted out of genuine interest, and unpaid. If you see an awesome pair of shoes and want to share it with your readers by posting on your blog or social media, that is editorial content. If you want to talk about your experience going shopping for the first time, again editorial content.


If you get tipped off that your favorite designer is having a 80% off sale and you want to share that with your readers, that is editorial content.


An advertorial is paid according to Google.


It’s been said that obviously if you are paying for it, you are guaranteed inclusion in the news outlet. Of course, then there is the argument that the “article” now loses credibility as it is biased and contains outright company messaging. But the message is out there and that is important to many brands. Sponsored posts are advertorial too according to Google.


Advertising content is content that you have been paid to produce (i.e you paying Heather). This is usually negotiated in advance. The brand will have certain parameters and goals with it’s post and it will probably have negotiated a package with services:


    Writing a post with specific links (sometimes tracked links)

    Publishing the post on a specified date

    Using specified language from the brand in your post

    Giving the brand final approval for post publishing


The list goes on. If a brand has specific branding to be included in the post, then that is indeed advertising content according to Google.


The bottom line is, Google wants links that are freely given (or at least appear to be freely given) and anything else (to them) smacks of attempted manipulation.


Although Google has no way of finding out whether a link or post was truly paid for or not their new algorithm update has been created to weed out paid for content that masquerades as ‘real’ content such as advertorials, sponsored content, etc. Google doesn’t know what your intent is. They have no way of knowing that you’re simply submitting guest posts for branding (not to gain ranking power via links). It is easy to misconstrue as an advertorial.


I know that’s a lot of information but based on what I’ve told you do you think it’s possible that Google could be viewing my “guest blogs” as advertorials?

Bottom line here: We need to

Bottom line here: We need to focus on quality, be selective and stop going crazy about SEO's rumor!

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