Google's Parked Domain Classifier Fails

Katherine Stott    By under SEO.

Parked Domain Classifier Vs Over-Optimization Penalty

seo bugs
Google referred to it as a bug, some have called it a blunder, SEO gurus across the world thought it was something to do with the much rumored "over-optimization penalty". What's the truth behind the parked domain classifier incident of Tuesday, April 17, 2012? In case you haven't heard the details, numerous sites experienced a massive drop in rankings last Tuesday; an event that has caused huge losses in revenue and traffic for the aforementioned sites.

What was initially presumed to be the start of sites being penalized for spam, keyword stuffing and overall dodgy SEO techniques, actually turned out to be an error on Google's part; or so they say.

Google's Matt Cutts responded to queries with a simple justification: "The short explanation is that it turns out that our classifier for parked domains was reading from a couple files which mistakenly were empty. As a result, we classified some sites as parked when they weren't. I apologize for this; it looks like the issue is fixed now, and we'll look into how to prevent this from happening again."

Though Cutts has assured the digital world that they (Google) would do everything possible to prevent it from happening again, the truth be told; it has happened before and could very well happen again. According to SEO Roundtable , in June 2010, a similar incident was reported, although what was experienced last week was certainly on a larger scale in terms of the sites that were affected.

Is There More To It?

Could there be more to it? Was Google testing the "over-optimization penalty" at the time of this change in rankings? One can only venture a guess, but there's a lot of discussion around this point on Google+ and forums relating to the incident. There are many high profile SEO professionals who are convinced that this was the case and are waiting with baited breath for news of this penalty to go public. Whether it was a bug or a test; we're pretty much at Google's mercy and can only wait to see what evolves from here. Intriguing, don't you think?

Image credit: RedOrbit.