Tracking Failed Content Projects, with Real-Time SEO Data

Did the Core Update affect my domain? How’s my domain move working? Did I get a manual penalty on my AI content site? Having a live, up-to-date view of rankings, rather than a synthetic traffic prediction, helps identify success and failure. Here are some examples of content ‘projects’ that have failed recently, and how we find and track them with real-time data.

The domain is the best example we’ve seen for a while, and we see a lot of examples. This ex-government-project domain was picked up at auction, with a really good link profile, for $2950. Rather than build on the previous content – low-emission cars – the domain was used for an automated content project across many topics. We saw the domain as a winner in our Q3 IndexWatch analysis and the content is clearly low-cost, possibly AI-automated, affiliate link content:

The visibility grew over 3 months to a strong Visibility Index of 17.1 on the back of tens of thousands of keyword rankings leading to an estimated traffic value, just in the UK, of over half a million clicks per month.

Organic traffic value is based on the calculated Google Ads costs.

Real-time rankings (not out-of-date traffic predictions)

On the 17th October, the domain was hit with a penalty resulting in all rankings being removed – a manual penalty. It’s clear to see it in the daily calculation of the Visibility Index, where all ranking keywords are re-evaluated every single day.

The domain has zero rankings today. Following this manual penalty the website was moved to another server but has subsequently been removed from the DNS.

Meanwhile, over in other SEO tools the domain is, apparently, still getting organic traffic. This is because the performance figures here are based on traffic predictions for keywords that have not been updated for over a month.

The same is true at another SEO tool where month-old keyword rankings are still being used to synthesise a traffic prediction.

To track domain rankings in Google, the Visibility Index is more accurate and more up-to-date than synthesised traffic figures.

Other Content-stuffing and hack fails

There are other cases of ‘spikes’ which we pick up with the daily Visibility Index and these include made-for-Google content and hacked websites. Here are some examples we’ve seen recently: ranked for 10 days across the US, UK and DE for thousands of keywords across thousands of URLs. For example:


We suspect it was a site hack. The site is currently offline but the short-term visibility is easy to see with the daily Visibility Index analysis.

The domain is a suspected made-for-google content project that probably got removed with a manual penalty. The domain has never ranked in the past but for a short while in September it generated significant traffic with adult-content keywords. The website site is still running, but the content appears to have gone now.

Maybe there are 99 other versions of this domain but was spotted looking like another made-for-Google content project. Here’s the short-lived project getting rankings in the USA last month:

The next one is still live so please don’t go there using anything more than a burner-device because it’s stuffed with dangerous redirects. It looks like a hacked German business website based on the historical rankings.
Dangerous re-directs on this website hack.

The list goes on. Here are some links to data in SISTRIX, for those interested in doing more research.

Again, these domains may contain unsafe and unsuitable content.

Set alerts on domains

To help SEO teams and website owners get notifications, either by Slack, or email, on major changes in domain visibility, use the SISTRIX alerts feature. Here are alerts I received in Slack yesterday. Thankfully none of them are to do with content hacks or manual penalties. One, however, is a big eCommerce site that’s just gone into receivership.

Use the movers and shakers feature

For prospecting and educational research, the movers and shakers tool is invaluable. Find out which domains gained or lost absolute or percentage Visibility Index and filter the results to find domains that interest you. The feature is available for 40 different countries and is updated using daily data. Here’s a sample of what’s been happening in Google Ireland this week:

We analyse this data in our quarterly IndexWatch series where you’ll find some very interesting analyses.


The SISTRIX daily Visibility Index is a complete recalculation of a carefully chosen set of one million keywords that can, within 24 hours (or less, using the live data feature), show the true effects of a core update, manual penalty, website hack, technical issue or SEO success, on any domain.

Basing ranking success on a synthesised traffic figures, where multi-million keyword updates can lag by up to a month, leads to incorrect assumptions.

SISTRIX separates the Visibility Index from its extended keyword ranking databases. You can read more detail about the Visibility Index, along with the numbers of mobile keywords in our databases across all of the countries that we monitor.

There are currently a total of 51 million keywords being tracked in the UK, for both mobile and desktop rankings, to position 100.

Related posts