Recently, in-between two Google "Panda" updates (19th April and 27th April) Google decided to make a major
change in their algorithm for ranking pages. Backlinks can now outright hurt your rankings in various ways (the details are still being discussed) possibly opening up for negative SEO in a big way.
Two things appear to be the culprit of penalized websites:
- Backlink anchor text not being diversified. While that may seem problematic for domains/brands spelled out as a key phrase, it seems to non-the-less be the truth. This also means many EMD (exact match domains) with just a little SEO'ed link building (either by yourself, hired company or at worst, by a competitor doing negative SEO) were hit hard. You might want to check your website logs if you haven't already :)
- Backlinks from pages/sites not containing on-topic content. If a link contains anchor text "blue widgets" the surrounding page and maybe even the whole site has to fit that topic as well.
Here's an article about in-depth backlink analysis of penalized domains which was available here http://www.micrositemasters.com/blog/penguin-analysis-seo-isnt-dead-but-you-need-to-act-smarter-and-5-easy-ways-to-do-so/
and one about how a no-content site with a suspicious backlink profile
is now able to rank #1 in Google.
Our support forum
(I will still use relevant anchor text, Google or no Google, thank you very much, just call me a rebel) has some active threads running about this topic, among others this
where I will also be posting future analysis if I ever make heads and tails out of this mess :)
Suffice to say, I think the change is here to stay. Maybe some sites will make a small recovery, but I personally feel one has to accept what has happened and look into possible solutions. One thing you will always hear iterated over and over: You should always get more streams of income
. While not depending on organic Google search results for relevant traffic may be harder done than said, it is probably the only long-term strategy forward from here.
In the future, it is very likely that the importance of paid traffic will rise. Already now, Google AdWords combined with other Google advertising solutions have begun taking an increasing amount of real estate
on selected search queries. This means that unless you have absolute number #1 top rankings, you will have to plan for this trend to continue and look into creating more avenues of traffic and income. Google, after all, has stock holders who want to earn money on their investment, so it is not unreasonable of them to maximize their income through their paid advertising offers.