If you’re anything like us, whilst talking to new or prospective clients, you check their site out using a few tools so you can get a quick overview of their current situation. This can help quickly qualify the customer and allow you to offer some immediate insight into what sort of services they may require.
We have developed a tool, in partnership with FE International, to help with this initial analysis – in particular, to help determine whether the website has been affected by Penguin or Panda updates.
The Website Penalty Indicator
The tool we developed is really straightforward, it simply takes the SEMrush traffic graphs and overlays the release dates for Panda and Penguin updates.
>>Try Out The Tool<<
All you need to do is enter the domain you are interested in, and choose the most relevant Google (regional) database. You can toggle the overlays on or off, and refine your date range using the slider beneath to really focus in on a specific event.
Use Case: Design Junction
Design Junction is a current client of ours, who came to us recently suspecting their site may have been hit by a penalty. Once we were able to check their organic traffic in Google Analytics, we confirmed that the Penguin updates had appeared to affect the site. By entering their domain, switching to the Australian database and turning off the Panda overlays, we can see this in effect:
The tool is great for SEOs as it offers a really useful ‘first glance’, and since so many websites have been affected by Panda and Penguin, penalisation is a constant concern. Since the graph is so simple to understand, it can also be used to show clients your initial findings and help secure work for a more thorough investigation.
The Website Penalty Indicator is also useful to website traders – anyone looking to buy a website will go to lengths to perform due diligence, and this tool can give them an early indicator about the prospects of investment.
The tool is completely free to use for as many domains as you wish, so give it a go.
Assumptions & Limitations
The tool uses SEMrush organic traffic data, which should only ever be taken as an indication of actual organic traffic. In our experience, SEMrush tends to report organic traffic around 40-50% less than the actual amount, however the big trends are very accurate. Whilst the tool may give an indication of a penalty, it certainly should not be taken as fact, and further investigation should be carried out – which, of course, we can help with.
Since the tool works with discrete data, mapping traffic to specific months, the date of each update is also assigned to the start of the month. So if an update happened on May 15th 2013, we have mapped it to May 1st 2013. In the few instances when Panda updated twice in one month, these also display as one update.
Finally, it would be remiss of me not to clarify that although we freely use the word ‘penalty’, this should not be confused with a manual penalty where Google has actively penalised your site. In actual fact, calling ranking drops from Panda and Penguin ‘penalties’ is a bit of a misnomer, as it is more a case that Google now assigns less trust to your site or links as a result of the algorithm’s findings, and adjusts your position accordingly.
That being said, ‘penalty’ is a much easier concept to understand, and since we are just looking to identify a causative event, it serves our needs perfectly well.