For months, search marketers and SEOs have wondered when the next big Google update will hit. Early reports in the search world seem to point to a brand new Google update being released over the weekend. Webmasters from various industries are reporting a significant drop in traffic and keyword rankings starting as early as late Friday.
Those of us who noticed the drops late Friday started analyzing various data points as well as looking at competitive data in an attempt to identify what has changed. After comparing results from our independent research and looking for common factors, we feel that Google has in fact introduced several new penalties.
Based on the data and sites analyzed, here are the (assumed) newest penalties introduced in Google’s latest update:
Link Disavow Usage Penalty
It appears that if you actually used Google’s link disavow tool, you’ve been penalized. Although intended to help webmasters devalue questionable links pointing back to their site, it now appears that Google’s intent was to trick webmasters into reporting themselves as blackhat link builders.
.gov Links Penalty
Previously considered one of the better websites to get a link from, it now appears that Google is penalizing site that have backlinks from .gov websites. The assumption is that Google is just fed up with the FTC butting into all of their business and this is a form of retaliation.
Bing Webmaster Tools Penalty
Although Matt Cutts (head of Google’s Webspam team) and Duane Forrester (Senior Manager of Bing Webmaster Tools) seem friendly and often share the same stage at search marketing conferences, it now seems as if it’s all been a façade. It now appears that sites that have the BWT code are actually being devalued in Google’s index and actually blocked from ranking on the first page in Google.
Justin Bieber Keyword Mention Penalty
Keyword stuffing/over-optimization has been one of Google’s DON’Ts for quite some time. But now it appears they’ve taken things one step further and are now penalizing sites for using a specific phrase. Early reports show that the specific phrase being penalized is “Justin Bieber.” Websites having even one reference to this phrase seem to have been penalized. Research also shows that common derivatives of the phrase “Justin Bieber” are being penalized, including “The Bieb”, “Bieber Fever” and “Bieberlicious.”
Harlem Shake Video Penalty
Although a huge hit on Youtube (a property owned by Google), it seems that Google has had enough of the Harlem Shake sensation. Initial research shows that companies that created and posted a Harlem Shake video to Youtube are actually getting their websites deindexed in Google.
Google has yet to confirm this update and the expectation is that they never will. So, until confirmation is received, this update is being referred to as the “Horseshit” update.
Happy April Fools!
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