Google Penguin 3.0 Impact On eCommerce Sites - picture
Posted by Alexandra

There is a lot to be said about being the first to write about something on the internet, it can go a long way. However, I prefer to sit back and analyse and really have something insightful to bring to the table before I get blogging. I have therefore been carefully watching the impact of the latest Google Penguin refresh on our clients and have some interesting insights to share.

Penguin is back
Image Source Tara Dulake

The Google Penguin 3.0 Refresh

The Penguin element of the Google algorithm looks at link and keyword quality and relevance. You can find out more in Shirin’s post. When it was first rolled out in April 2012 it had a pretty damaging effect on a lot of websites who had what Google considered to be an unnatural link profile.

eCommerce Sites Consequences

See No SEO Evil
Image Source clarita

We track the rankings of 1,371 keywords across 20 eCommerce websites. Our analysis of the rankings when comparing 26th October 2014 to the 27th September is:


  • 37% of client keywords tracked moved up in the Google search results
  • 4% of client keywords tracked moved up onto Page 1 of the search results
  • 16% of client keywords tracked moved up 1 – 3 places
  • 21% of client keywords tracked moved up more than 3 places


  • 23% of client keywords tracked moved down in the Google search results
  • Only 1.5% of client keywords tracked moved off of Page 1 of the search results
  • 12% of client keywords tracked moved down 1 – 3 places
  • 11% of client keywords tracked moved down more than 3 places

As far as we have seen the impact appears to have been largely positive or at worst has not caused ranking movements, bear in mind that 42% of the eCommerce keywords we track did not experience ranking movement.

If Your Traffic Has Dropped Then You Should…

The Penguin Update is all about Google weeding out the websites that manipulate their rankings in the search results by building a high volume of backlinks. Google decides whether your backlink profile is natural or not by looking at the relevance of the domains linking to your site and the number of links that you have from a particular domain.

Backlink Analysis

  1. Log in to your Google Webmaster Tools account and check your messages and the Manual Actions section (under Search Traffic)
    • If you have a manual action then you still need to follow the remaining steps but this will be of even greater importance and is likely to take some time to be resolved
  2. Go to the Links to your site section and look at Who links the most:
    • What proportion of your total links comes from the highest linking domain?
  3. Now look at Your most linked content:
    • What proportion of your total links go to the most highly linked-to page?

If a high proportion of your total links are from one or two domains, or are directed at one or two pages then your backlink profile may look unnatural to Google. This could be why you have seen a drop in rankings and traffic.

Onsite Content

Trying to recover your rankings by building more links to the current content may give you a short-term win but will not help you next time Google refreshes Penguin. You need to look at a strong onsite content strategy that gives your website the credibility to rank highly for relevant keywords with the links re-affirming that.

In the ThoughtShift offices we are feeling a little bit smug at the moment. It is very gratifying to see our clients’ websites come out on top after Google Updates as a result of our ethical approach to eCommerce SEO. If you would like to find out how we can help you to be on the winning end of future Google Updates get in touch.

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