25 November  2014 - Issue #657
Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

Google released a new version of the Penguin algorithm about a month ago. Websites that were penalized by a previous Penguin update should have recoverd with the new update if they removed spammy links in the meantime.

In the news: Google says that you shouldn't use PageRank as a metric anymore, HTTPS is not a strong ranking signal, the latest search engine statistics, it can take up to 9 months before Google processes a disavow file, and more.

Table of contents:

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Best regards,
Andre Voget, Johannes Selbach, Axandra CEO

1. Google: why your website did not recover from the Penguin update

Google released a new version of the Penguin algorithm about a month ago. Websites that were penalized by a previous Penguin update should have recovered with the new update if they removed spammy links in the meantime.

This did not happen for all websites. What's the reason for that and what can you do to make sure that your own website will recover?

Googgle Penguin update

What is Google's Penguin update?

Google Penguin is a filter in Google’s ranking algorithm that targets websites that use spam methods to get backlinks. For example, Google does not like paid backlinks, automatically created backlinks from forums, blogs, etc.

If you used these low quality links to promote your website, chances are that Google penalized your website with one of the Penguin updates.
Why should websites have recovered?
According to Google, websites that cleaned the bad backlinks should recover with the Penguin update. In an online discussion, a webmaster said that this did not work for him:

"After disavowing and removing A LOT of domains and putting right our previous problems, although our traffic is marginally up from this latest penguin data refresh, we're not back to previous traffic numbers AND have earned some great links in the mean time, pushing out great content daily.

Is penguin still unhappy with our site, or do we lack good/natural/high quality links pointing to our site and this is due to our ranking issues?

We didn't disavow all scraped content as Google is supposedly good at detecting and ignoring this, but this may have contributed to our link profile. Our disavow file is updated weekly and has been since Oct 2013."

What does Google say about this?

Google's John Mueller answered this webmaster in the online discussion:

"I think sharing the disavow file (as well as its history) would make it a lot easier for folks here to notice some of the things that may be worth mentioning.

For example, sometimes it shows that changes were made recently, perhaps after the most recent refresh. These kinds of changes can take time to be reprocessed (recrawling the URLs alone can take several months, and then it would require an update of the algorithm's data), and you wouldn't expect to see changes based on those submissions to be visible until the next refresh takes place.

Especially because these things take so much time to be recrawled & reprocessed, I think it really helps to have as many critical eyes on those submissions as possible. Maybe you have everything covered already, or maybe there are still some issues that you didn't realize, which others could help you resolve as early as possible.

The people active here in the forums are not out to get you for things done in the past, they want to give pointers based on things they've seen over the years, so while I can't guarantee that they'll be able to flag 'that one thing that's holding your site back' (usually it's not just one thing anyway), they usually have a really good eye for things that are commonly forgotten (purposely or not)."

What does this mean exactly?

Unfortunately, the answer isn't very clear and John Mueller does not go into detail. The following can be the reason why the website hasn't recovered:

  • the webmaster missed important bad links in the disavow links file
  • the webmaster submitted the disavow links file after the new Penguin algorithm was released
  • Google hasn't processed the disavow file yet

If your website was hit by Google's Penguin update, you have to remove the bad backlinks that point to your site. The link disinfection tool in SEOprofiler can help you to do that.

If you haven't done it yet, create your SEOprofiler account now to use the link disinfection tool and all other website promotion tools in SEOprofiler:

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2. Search engine news and articles of the week
Google: forget Google PageRank
"In an online discussion, Google’s John Mueller said that you shouldn’t use Google PageRank as a quality metric anymore:

'I wouldn’t use PageRank or links as a metric. We’ve last updated PageRank more than a year ago (as far as I recall) and have no plans to do further updates. Think about what you want users to do on your site, and consider an appropriate metric for that.'"


GoogleLarge disavow file? Google can take 3-9 months to process completely

"So this is something where depending on the URL sometimes we crawl them daily, sometimes we crawl them every couple of months. So if you submit a large disavow file or a disavow file that includes a lot of domain entries or just generally includes a lot of different URLs, then that is something that’s going to take quite a bit of time to kind of recrawl all of those URLs naturally and reprocess all of that information.

So I wouldn’t be surprised if you are looking at a time frame of maybe 3 to 6 to 9 months even for disavow files to be completely taken into account."


October 2014 U.S. desktop search engine rankings

"Google Sites led the U.S. explicit core search market in October with 67 percent market share, followed by Microsoft Sites with 19.5 percent (up 0.1 percentage points) and Yahoo Sites with 10.3 percent (up 0.3 percentage points). Ask Network accounted for 1.9 percent of explicit core searches, followed by AOL, Inc. with 1.2 percent."


GoogleHow strong is HTTPS as a ranking factor?

"The numbers are in, and they tell us to not rush off to convert your site to HTTPS as part of your plan for world SEO domination. It’s a tiny factor at best. [...]

Security issues are a big deal, and HTTPS is one step you can take to keep control over your own content."

How Google can screw publishers less with Google Answers
"For almost a year now, Google has been 'borrowing' content from publishers, like you and me, and showing them in long form on the search results page. Sometimes Google shows credit and sometimes not. But either way the swiss army knife analogy is not making publishers feel better. 55% fear these answers and it can be both scary and insulting for publishers."

Related: Google Answer box mobile feature


Search engine newslets

  • Yahoo to become default search engine in Firefox in the U.S.
  • Google took action on a large link network in Poland.
  • Google: better do not use 403 error codes.
  • Apple Maps is not intended to be a general business directory.
  • The Bing homepage goes HD.
  • How Bing and your mobile device became friends.
  • Google launches Contributor, a crowdfunding tool for publishers.
  • Apple Maps Vs. Google Maps – ThrowDown in Buffalo.
  • Google Advanced Search brings back the black bar.
  • Google News now has a "Suggested for you" section with stories likely to match your interests.
  • Social icons appear on Google's Knowledge Graph.
3. Recommended resources

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4. Previous articles
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