When Google revealed that it had specifically targeted payday loans search results it made absolute sense to go digging in to see what might have changed. Well we’ve done the digging, and it’s not pretty – the results we’ve seen for the most part are confusing and/or useless with some completely baffling results. Here’s a bit of a run down of what has been noted the day after this specific update was rolled out – please bear in mind that these results will be specific to the UK.
Search Term: payday loans
The New #1 – Money.co.uk
Money.co.uk is a premium site with a lot of useful content. However it’s still an affiliate site, and features lengthy keyword-dense and headed paragraphs below the fold. However, once you’ve read what the rest of the results are like, you’ll probably agree with us that this result is actually well placed at top spot.
Coming in at #2 is the never-before-seen monkeydosh.com; search result site-links and all!
We have a feeling that as one of the oldest payday loans sites it’s possible that it has earned some trust in Google. This would explain why, despite low domain authority and poor quality links, the site has come through to earn second place. It’s interesting that such a poor link profile can achieve this result in what is a highly competitive market. There are a couple of other examples of this on the front page as well; while Google has removed heavy spam sites, it has still failed to identify those that have gone down a less spammy (but still very spammy!) route – something that we see across a significant number of other markets.
Telegraph & Guardian
When Penguin 2.0 appeared late last month we noticed a Guardian article making the front page for the ‘payday loans’ search query. Interestingly, the article has now moved up several places and a piece from The Telegraph has also appeared even higher. The Telegraph article was just 2 days old at the time of writing and has also been ‘archived’ (no longer accessible); it was a piece on the risks of payday loans – very interesting that Google provided this result, and may even hint at manual selection.
As for the Guardian article, it’s simply a ‘payday loans’ news section and would be unlikely to cater to anyone’s intent for searching this term.
Interestingly, for the singular search query (‘payday loan’), this Telegraph article appeared in first position.
There are some very odd results appearing, we’re used to seeing strange hacked results but these sites seem to be legitimately ranking. There is a chance that they are the remnants of hacked sites and Google is being temporarily stumped; we’ll certainly keep an eye on these:
- American Bonsai Society – #8
“American Bonsai Society is the pioneering national bonsai organization that promotes knowledge of and interest in bonsai in Canada and United States.”
- iSports Connect – #10
“iSportConnect combines business networking, an in-depth look at the latest sports business news and the market data”
- United Brachial Plexus Network – #11
“United Brachial Plexus Network, Inc. strives to inform, support and unite families and those concerned with brachial plexus injuries world wide.”
Google’s only glimmer of success is that it has been able to remove the majority of pure spam sites from the front page; and there’s a lot to be said for that especially given the nature/legality of these sites. However the results are clearly still way off the mark in terms of relevance and usefulness, but then again, should Google really be promoting such a notorious market in the first place?!