This Week In SEO 36
Google Core Algorithm Update, WordPress Security Update, and Site Speed


Google Core Ranking Algorithm Update!


Well! I hope you enjoyed your quiet and drama-free SEO beginning of the year, because that time is definitely past!

Recently, Algoroo, Mozcast, and other SERP-craziness measurements started recording the most significant movements in a very long time.

Is it Penguin? Is it PENGUIN???

Zineb Ait Bahajji (in French), Gary Illyes and John Mueller of Google have confirmed on Twitter that what webmasters were seeing over the weekend was not the Penguin update we are expecting, but rather a core ranking algorithm update.

Damn! Our money was on Penguin.

As far as what is ACTUALLY impacted by this non-penguin update… the details are still being analyzed. There’s a lot of speculation and not a lot of clear answers, like this observation from Yoast:

. Some of the biggest winners are category URLs on sites that have good optimization for their categories and good internal linking, like Mashable. So… This might be a good time to revisit your Category SEO tactics.

So… keep staying tuned. We will continue to monitor this algorithm update (as well as the still-impending Penguin update) and break it down for you here.

Current Winners and Losers from the Algorithm Update

This article will be a bit more interesting if you read the original “Winners and Losers” article by SearchMetrics, from which this article builds upon.


I love looking at the SearchMetrics data when a big update comes through, to see which sites benefitted and which sites were smacked down. Bartosz has done the legwork here in analyzing the winners and losers so far, and has some very interesting thoughts on the details of the algorithm update (which not everyone agrees with–it’s still early).

  • it definitely wasn’t Google Penguin 4.0 🙂
  • it wasn’t link oriented
  • it was keyword, not domain oriented, if your website got hit, it was
  • most probably not because of the issues with your domain
  • most of the keywords affected were brands
  • if your website lost ranking for a brand related query, most probably
    it was replaced with a better, broader fit

Some interesting thoughts here, I really recommend checking out this in-depth defense of his thesis, complete with research and search metrics data to back up his claims.

Update Your WordPress Site or Get Spammed

wp security

This is a public service announcement for you WordPress users: WordPress 4.4–the newest update, patches up some serious security issues and you should download it right away!

I’ve seen sites that have been hacked, and it’s not pretty. Not only do spammy pages get built onto your domain, but thousands and thousands of crap links are built to those pages and it takes a lot of effort to scrub your domain clean afterward.

Better to fix up your security in the first place!

This is a security release for all previous versions and we strongly encourage you to update your sites immediately.

WordPress versions 4.4 and earlier are affected by a cross-site scripting vulnerability that could allow a site to be compromised.


How to Speed Up Your Website Without Causing A Disaster


Site speed is something I highly recommend people pay attention to, mostly because it’s often overlooked and it really can impact a site.

This post is interesting because it’s not just a shallow “13 tricks for speeding up your website” kind of article, but is instead very thoughtful and dense. Not the kind of tips you’re used to seeing, but rather an in-depth discussion on not only the how but the WHY of paying attention to site speed.

Highly recommended.

Let’s take a look at some recommendations made by Ilya Grigorik, a Google Web Performance Engineer. He works on browsers and page speed tools and esoteric stuff most of us will never need to know about. You can read his ebook online for free and learn far more about TCP and HTTP than I can possibly tell you.

Mike King was impressed enough with Ilya’s suggested use of (preloading, prefetching, and prerendering directives that Web developers can add to the code for Web pages) to recommend this approach to everyone. Add one line of code to a Web page and you’ll speed up your site, right?


What the use of “pre-[anything]” does is anticipate potential future browser activity and it engages with Websites while users are not looking. To the user the browser experience seems fast, even smart. As a browser user I appreciate the apparent speed up in performance but this is an illusion. It’s a cheap trick and it comes with a cost.

Good stuff!

Search Intent, AMP Errors in Search Console, and Acquisition SEO
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Sean Markey

Sean Markey

Obsessive consumer of SEO news and strategies, writes the This Week in SEO column. Loves playing drums and writing fiction. Bets you he can throw a football over them mountains.
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