December 29, 2017

Maccabees Google Update: My N=1 Case Study

This is Artem from LinksHero, a link building service for Ecommerce websites.

If you or your client got struck by Google’s Maccabees Update which occurred around 12th of December, 2017, then you might find this case study useful.

Personally, I got smacked by Google and after ~2 weeks I see no signs of a rebound. Here is what it looks like:

The website in question is

Time for a little background, right? 😎


A Little Background...

I first started SteakEat back in 2012 using SBI! (Solo Build It!; but I think they were called different back then).

The site is purely informational and shows people how to cook awesome steaks every single time.

Now, I hated building links at the time, so I didn’t actively build any, except for one. It means that I never bought any link packages, nor did I do any shady stuff with it.

SteakEat’s core consists of 8 steaks and about 6 cooking methods.

You are confused, right?

Good. Here is what I mean.

Round steak is one of those 8 I targeted at Steakeat.

People always google for “how to cook round steak”. In fact, this search term has ~2,900 US monthly searches, which is not too shabby.

However, they also search for all of these as well:

  • How to cook round steak on stove top
  • How to cook round steak in oven
  • How to broil round steak
  • How to cook round steak in a cast iron skillet

As I learned from SBI! ages ago, this was the ideal way to structure the content.

So you would have a “cornerstone article” titled “How to Cook Round Steak” (i.e. Tier 2) and then all those smaller pieces as Tier 3s (e.g. “How to Cook Round Steak on Stove Top” page would be accessible from the “How to Cook Round Steak” article).

Here is what it looks like in the screenshot:

Did this strategy work?


To be honest, I feel like people liked it as well and I could see that in Google’s rankings – this page ranked 8th for “round steak” keyword, which is fairly generic.

By the way, it ranked that high without any active link building from my side. 😉


29/12/17 Updates & What I Did

A few days I came across Barry Schwartz’s survey at SeoRoundtable where he was collecting sites for a short survey and I happily submitted SteakEat to help the community.

After that I saw him publish the results and, I must say, I didn’t expect to see THAT as a culprit.

Barry explained that he saw one common issue and that is…keyword permutations.

Fatjoe guys also briefly discussed it here.

The main takeaway is that if you use low quality landing pages in order to optimize for every single keyword permutation, you would get penalized.

Here is an example they use:

  • How to get rid of fleas
  • how to get rid of fleas in the house
  • how to get rid of fleas in your house fast
  • how to get rid of fleas in home
  • etc

Sounds familiar, right?

Yes, that’s exactly how SteakEat is structured!

Man, that’s annoying but it looks like I got hit because of this strategy which worked all the way until the 12th of December.


What I Did

I genuinely believe that SteakEat can recover without my intervention (after all even Tom Cruise and Kristen Stewart sites got a massive traffic drop):

Tom Cruise


Kristen Stewart

Paraphrasing Barry Schwarz, some sites that got hit didn’t deserve to get hit:

Of course, there may have been some collateral damage with this Google Maccabees Update but who knows.


With all this in mind, I am going to intervene and “do it all for science”!

What am going to do?

I am going to pull all the Tier 3s into the Tier 2.

In theory, this should also leverage the power of Google’s Humminbird.


So this is what The Page is going to look like:

Title: How to Cook Round Steak

Section 1: How to cook round steak on stove top

Section 2: How to cook round steak in oven

Section #3: How to broil round steak

Section #4: How to cook round steak in a cast iron skillet


If you want to stay tuned, bookmark this page or leave your email or simply come back in 14 days or so. 😉


Please leave your comments and feedback below – I am sure everyone would love to know your experience with Google’s Maccabees.


Artem the LinksHero

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