Was Target hit by Penguin?
There is an inordinate amount of nofollow being used internally. If we were advising them on SEO, we would certainly want to evaluate why this has been implemented and help recommend some other strategies.Majestic SEO, we discovered some oddities around at least three anchor text matches: electronics, baby, and toys. Looking at the link distribution for these exact match anchors showed a pattern. Like other large brands and sites, there are many domains redirecting to Target.com. However, Majestic shows us that at some point in time (possibly several months or several years ago) Target had rich anchor text from these domains pointing at the landing pages for electronics, baby and toys (and possibly others). Looking at those URLs and anchors today show straight 301s to the home page. There are probably less than 100 of these redirects in place, at most, so it's nothing alarming. It may be that Target had many, many duplicate sites for non-SEO reasons - for example brand ownership of misspellings. Are these now hurting their SEO? I would be surprised, but this kind of thing is not unheard of in SEO. Another possibility is that these sites, as duplicates, linked to target.com for SEO purposes and were then mass redirected. However, that seems much less likely. Finally, an edge scenario we found were a few duplicate domains hanging out there with Target's content but links pointing to the canonical target.com homepage. It seems obvious enough that these are either spam sites or anomalies. One domain worth mentioning, however, is targetmobilestore.com which links to the target.com URLs in breadcrumbs, potentially creating confusing signals. Conclusions Other than the concerning search network click trends, there isn't an obvious reason to believe Target has been hit by Penguin. Admittedly this was only a 30 minute exercise and much more investigative work would need to be conducted. However, with PPC clicks as an indicator, one that has validated Panda penalties in the past, we can see no other clear explanation for Target's dramatic loss in traffic. MB Postscript: We have noticed a sharp increase in search network traffic from Google's googleadservices.com domain, but the timing and scale of that increase does not fit neatly with the traffic patterns we've seen from Target.com. The two may still be related though.