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How my site rebounded from the depths of ranking Hell
Too many people are still feeling the burn!
Liane

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23338 posted 2:56 pm on Apr 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

I am starting this thread in the hopes of helping those who were "seemingly" irretrievably damaged by the Google algo changes since the Florida update.

I have been lucky enough to rebound successfully since then simply by rewriting my site. In fact, the site is doing better than ever ... thanks mostly to stemming!

Keep in mind that I am not really a webmaster nor am I an SEO. I am just a mom & pop broker selling vacations in the Caribbean. My knowledge of everything technical is agonizingly limited. I can't code using java script or CSS, I have no clue how to cloak and my knowledge of html is limited to what I "need to know" in order to make new pages and change copy on existing pages.

It is my belief that this fundamental lack of knowledge has actually worked to my benefit since November. My site nose dived just like many of yours. I was on the brink of bankruptcy with nowhere to turn when I decided I would just simply rewrite my site from top to bottom in a last ditch effort to save my business.

I scrutinized every single page and did the following:

1) Removed any "extra" words in all anchor text. (Quite a few were cleaned up. I had gone to town on a few pages!)

2) Removed any "extra" words in all ALT tags. (There weren't many at all)

3) Re-examined all title tags and adjusted based on "gut instinct" as to what the acceptable number of keywords might be and which were appropriate for each page. (Not too many were changed and the changes made were pretty minor in most cases.)

4) Re-examined all "keyword", meta tags and again adjusted based on gut instinct. (Very few changes were made as I never used long strings of keywords)

5) Re-examined all "description, meta tags and adjusted based on gut instinct and making sure not to repeat keywords unless necessary and in order for a sentence to read properly.

6) Drastically reduced keyword density throughout.

7) Checked all outgoing links to be sure I wasn't linking to any penalized sites. Sadly, there were several. I removed a few. Some I won't remove because they are still excellent sources of information for my clients.

8) The most important change I made (I think) was to write as naturally as possible making sure that when I inserted a keyword, it actually belonged there and wasn't just gratuitous fodder for the search engines.

I truly feel it is due to my lack of webmasterly abilities that my site is doing well again.

I have kept track of several hundred keyword combinations on a regular basis to find out which changes worked for me and which worked against me.

I also checked what difference those changes made in other search engines. If some worked in Yahoo or MSN but not in Google, I left them alone but continue to monitor to see what happens.

I think that's about it. This may seem overly simplistic to many of you who know so much more about optimization than I ... but it has worked for me!

Many of you have helped me a great deal over the years, perhaps this is my chance to help someone else for a change! :)

 

Liane

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23338 posted 4:31 pm on Apr 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

Bump ... thought this got lost as the last time I checked, it had been 8 hours since submission and it still hadn't been posted.

elgrande

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23338 posted 5:05 pm on Apr 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

Liane,

Thank you very much your taking the time to share you experience with rising from the Google depths.

Your experience is similar to that of a couple of other people who have posted in the "Beating the Filter" thread, which appears to have been removed. There are people who will tell you that what you achieved is coincidental or a figment of your imagination, but your post is very valuable to other people who are experiencing the same problems.

The one exception, which is illuminating, is that you did not mention that you added outbound links on all of your pages, which I believe is a good sign. I like to link out naturally, but not on every page just because Google happens to like directories these days.

I will also try your approach and will report back here if I have any good results with it.

Thanks again for sharing!

BigDave

WebmasterWorld Senior Member bigdave us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23338 posted 5:53 pm on Apr 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

Liane,

That is a great list that everyone should follow whether or not they were bit by Florida-Brandy. Websites should first and foremost be designed for people. After that, adjustments should be made to make sure that it is search engine friendly.

In fact, I prefer to limit doing things for the SE to things that also make sense for the user. Redusing the depth of my links is one place where it helped both the user and the SE.

8) The most important change I made (I think) was to write as naturally as possible making sure that when I inserted a keyword, it actually belonged there and wasn't just gratuitous fodder for the search engines.

I would agree with you here. Even if it did not make the most difference in your ranking, it is what you really need to make sure and do. Remember, users first, SEs second.

There are some sites that I come across that remind me of Elizabeth Dole on the Tonight Show when her husband was running for President. She never referred to him as "Bob", "he", "us" or anything other than "Bob Dole". Sometimes she would say "Bob Dole" several times in a single sentence. What was even funnier was when Bob himself would do the same thing.

(interesting that they were using a name spamming technique, then he went on to sell Viagra.)

In addition to helping out your users, it also gives you a much wider variety of more obscure keyphrases that the searchers can find your site with. They may not be your main source of income while you are on top of the big money phrases, but they can save your butt from going into bankruptcy court on the months when you are not.

People search on all sorts of weird things. Last month, I had over 28000 SE referrals where they were the only referral from that particular search for the entire month. When I look at some of them, I realize that a lot of people are searching on google as if they were searching on AskJeeves. Having the real natural language text is what got me those hits.

dazzlindonna

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23338 posted 6:28 pm on Apr 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

Liane, it's always wonderful when someone shares their successes, and explains how they achieved them. Thank you!

Liane

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23338 posted 7:56 pm on Apr 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

elgrande,

There are people who will tell you that what you achieved is coincidental or a figment of your imagination ...

Fair enough, but I'm not so naive as to believe them! :)

I took a page which had been number one for nearly two years which was dead last after Brandy. Its back to number one again after a complete rewrite. All I did was what I outlined above. There's nothing magic about it but its no coincidence either.

you did not mention that you added outbound links on all of your pages ...

Nope. Although I know Brett recommends this practice, I haven't found the need. It is fine in some cases as it can help the reader if there is more in depth info available elswhere than I am willing to or capable of providing.

I like to offer as much of my own copy as possible. I am currently working on a large photo gallery with editorial "tour" information. Huge pain but I think in the end it will have been worth it.

I like continuity in writing styles. I will be adding links for some pages ... but not because it seems to be "the thing to do for SEO purposes" but rather because I am getting tired of writing and some topics don't inspire me.

People search on all sorts of weird things

Boy ... you got that right! I can't believe some of the searches in my logs! Its great and it helps me to look at my logs when writing. I'd say that a good 20% of the hits I've received since the end of March are pretty strange. Its amazing how the human mind works!

If Google changes their algo again ... I will just rewrite as and when required. It keeps me on my toes and keeps the site fresh. Plus it gives me something to do while the phones aren't ringing! :)

funandgames

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23338 posted 8:13 pm on Apr 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

Heck, our own sites and our customer's sites are top three and stay at top three in Google with as little as THREE instances of the keyword phrase in the text page wide. DRASTICALLY improved Yahoo! as well. MSN is unresponsive these days.

Hint: Use the keyword phrase three or four times. That's it! Trust me it works! Then variations and single words within the phrase throughout.

Using CSS and JS as separate files helped. Our HTML files are tiny. All text and little else.

Made all the differene in the world.

Tuesday, all 34 sites combined, we earned five figures on Adsense!

coosblues

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23338 posted 5:45 am on Apr 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

Nice post Liane. Fortunately I haven't been hit by the recent updates, and I think the reason for that is my site basically follows most everything you mentioned. It's really nice to see someone share a success story, and it's especially nice to see someone willing to share WHAT works. Good Job :)

GoogleGuy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member googleguy us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23338 posted 5:59 am on Apr 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

Excellent advice in that post, Liane. Especially with #8, just looking at making a site more "regular" and not gearing it so much towards search engines can really help.

Hissingsid

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23338 posted 9:42 am on Apr 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hi Liane,

Thanks for sharing your experiences.

If I was to choose three things from what you have set out, that I think have really helped your situation they would be.

1. "thanks mostly to stemming" I suspect that you have inadvertently (or deliberately) broadenned the context of your site and pages and therby fitted what the new algo is looking for.

2. Anchor text and title text. I bet you have made these more congruous. ie Anchor text pointing to a page that has a title which nearly matches the anchor text and because you have reduced keyword density on the "target" page but it is still on the same topic you have got a broad topic on the page which matches the title.

3."outgoing links" I bet that those have anchor text which matches the terms that you rank well for and again there is content on the target page which "fits" the anchor text on your page.

Good luck,

Sid

dirty_marra

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23338 posted 10:16 am on Apr 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thanks Liane,

I knew we'd have to write some proper content at some point This was something we were thinking about doing and you've just given us the nudge we needed.

On the plus side this will mean that our visitors don't have to read our keywords every 5th word and will improve their online experience.

I'll let you know how we get on.

Marra

Liane

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23338 posted 12:46 pm on Apr 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

I suspect that you have inadvertently (or deliberately) broadenned the context of your site and pages

I can't say the broadening of the context or content of my site was "inadvertant" exactly as I had been reading the stemming threads. :) I figured I had nothing to lose by using synonyms.

The problem which stemming creates is that there are degrees of accuracy to words which may "seem" like a synonym but which are, in fact, less accurate.

"Vacation" versus "holiday" is a good "for instance". Where I come from, "holiday" generally has a religious connotation such as Christmas holiday, Easter holiday, etc. and "vacation" is a break from work as in annual vacation. But hey, when you need to substitute a word, its close enough!

What I discovered is that the Brits like to use the word holiday in place of vacation. So there you go! Stemming has helped my site by forcing me to use a word which under normal circumstances, I never would have done.

"Charters" versus "rentals" is another one which kind of sticks in my craw. A charter (in the context of my industry) refers to a specified period of time lasting a week or more where a rental usually refers to daily hire. We don't offer "daily" rentals, and I hate to confuse people by using such terms on my site, but the number of people who use incorrect terminology to search is amazing, so that too is working for me.

There are many others very similar to the two above but you get the idea.

My English professor mother would have hated that I "sold out" and purposely used the less accurate words, but she's no longer with us so ....

Anchor text pointing to a page that has a title which nearly matches the anchor text and because you have reduced keyword density on the "target" page but it is still on the same topic you have got a broad topic on the page which matches the title.

Um ... more or less. I was actually more concerned about the URL than the title of the destination page.

All of my URL's have always been named something like: www.mysite.com/tea_sets.html. Often the page itself may have a title which is more descriptive than "tea sets", but due to my paranoia, I only used "tea sets" in the anchor text. I wanted to be sure that my pages would pass the "sniff" test.

"outgoing links" I bet that those have anchor text which matches the terms that you rank well for and again there is content on the target page which "fits" the anchor text on your page.

Not at all! I have never given a damn one way or the other what any search engine thinks of the sites I link to until recently. The only changes I made to outgoing links was to remove two dead links and 5 or 6 to sites which had good content (not great content) but which had also been white barred in the Google index.

A great number of sites I link to are about things like learning to tie knots, boating safety, marine museums, supplies, ... none of which I rank well for. They are there for my clients because they are good informational sites and that's it.

On the plus side this will mean that our visitors don't have to read our keywords every 5th word and will improve their online experience.

Yes. I used to get thoroughly disgusted with myself for writing copy which read like a sleazy "girls, girls, girls" magazine, but that is what I felt I had to do to rank well and keep up with my competition.

It is probably the only reason I really like what Google has done of late. Like many others, I detested their methodology, lack of warning, timing, etc. but that has been flogged to death and we all need to move on.

Hopefully, the other search engines will follow Google's lead in this very bold attempt to clean up the internet and adjust their keyword density algos too.

It was long past due IMHO. Not to give other SE's any "tips" or anything, but I believe it would behoove them to make a very big PR campaign around this subject and announce to the world that they are going to "clean up the web". (Its what Google's PR department should have done). The first engine to do it and make a big noise about it will come off the hero!

Joe public has no idea Google has already done it but they certainly know how the average (uncloaked) web page reads and would welcome such a move.

Excellent advice in that post, Liane. Especially with #8

I would have rather said this to you over a cup of coffee at PubCon Florida, but was unable to afford to go! ;)

In all seriousness ... I have been in marketing and sales for the better part of 30 years. At the risk of having my site permanently removed from Google, I honestly can't believe how badly your PR department continues to handle this situation.

It is not too late to reap the PR benefit of the algo changes. The keyword density issue is HUGE and very news worthy. People world wide would be in support of Google's initiative. With all due respect and humility, even I, a humble charter broker, could spin this so that a lot of the bad press surrounding Google would disappear overnight.

Tell the PR guys to come out of their collective comas and get to work before someone else does it!

metrostang

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23338 posted 3:09 pm on Apr 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

Liane

The only problem I see with your analysis is that in order to really know what changes worked, you would have needed to make the changes in incrememtal steps and monitor the results. Would the Brandy Algo update have brought your site back without any changes? Having completely rewritten the site, you obviously have the right combination of elements to rank well in your area, but that doesn't tell you which of those changes were critical.

My site that formerly ranked #1 to #3 for it's keywords was gone with Austin. I choose six pages to experiment with by making small changes and monitoring the results. By simply adding one more instance of one of the keywords to anchor text, those six pages came back pre Brandy to #4 to #10. Changed the heading from two lines to one and moved up another two spots.

Then came the Brandy update and the pages I had made no changes to came back to the first two pages of results, but not as high as before. The six pages I had changed remained in the top three. I then made the same mods to all pages and all are now again #1 to #3.

In the way the Algo looks at my site, small changes made a big difference. Recently added one more instance of plural of "widget" and am now at the top for "widgets". This worked for me, but I'm not sure that's true for other sectors or keywords.

I recently wrote a page of instructions on installing a particular modification and mentioned that now would be a good time to replace the "widget" with a link to the widget page. That page is now above one of the widget pages mentioned above for the keyword. That keyword is in text and one anchor and nowhere esle.

Bottom line is that I believe what works is dependent on the industry, competiveness of the keywords, SEO of other sites, and a host of other factors. My format may not work for other keywords. I don't think it's as simple as following a formula for writing pages. The Algo uses too many varialbles in determing rank for a formula to work consistently.

SyntheticUpper

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23338 posted 3:16 pm on Apr 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

Yeah,

Google is like a child - it has a limited vocabulary. The words: biscuit, cooky, biccy, yoghurt, probably mean the same to the *new improved* Google.

Trouble is, if you're a specialist Biccy site, and don't sell yoghurt - you're stuffed!

I still love them though

;)

Note for the ironically-challenged: I don't *really* love them :)

Liane

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23338 posted 7:48 pm on Apr 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

The only problem I see with your analysis is that in order to really know what changes worked, you would have needed to make the changes in incrememtal steps and monitor the results.

I assure you, I did.

I have kept track of several hundred keyword combinations on a regular basis to find out which changes worked for me and which worked against me.

But in the end and after having tested several things to see what worked and what didn't ... it was the complete rewrite which made the "big" difference.

Without getting into all the numerous theories I have, I will give away one which I firmly believe but cannot prove by citing a singular instance.

I believe that one page strongly affects another. (Which is what made the rewrite work) . This also explains why you will often see a singular reference in the top ranking result page. However, if you delve through the site, I'll bet you find an excellent page about that specific topic which just happens to have all the elements to rank well too ... but it is one level down from the root page Google is displaying as the relevant page. A sub directory so to speak.

Its just a theory and you can take it for what its worth. I happen to believe it.

The six pages I had changed remained in the top three. I then made the same mods to all pages and all are now again #1 to #3.

Exactly! A complete rewrite after finding what works for you! :)

I don't think it's as simple as following a formula for writing pages. The Algo uses too many varialbles in determing rank for a formula to work consistently.

I respectfully disagree. I think people give far too much credit to the "sophistication factor " of the algo. My point in this thread is exactly the opposite.

I believe it is the 'simplicity" of the algo which has had everyone so confused. Go back to basics, which is all I know how to do anyway! Write good, clean copy, don't keyword stuff anchor text, don't keyword stuff alt tags, don't keyword stuff titles ... don't keyword stuff!

I'm betting those that are still suffering from recent updates will see a big improvement if they just give it a try. Heck, it can't hurt!

metrostang

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23338 posted 2:18 am on Apr 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Sorry Liane, I didn't catch that you had tried other changes before the complete rewrite. Actually the mods I was referring to were adding one keyword to an anchor and changing a two line header to one.

I quess I wasn't very clear. I think the Algo can be as simple or as complex as needed to do it's job. For a noncompetitive, seldom serched keyword it doesn't take much to rank. A picture with keyword in a heading might do it.

However, in an money area with heavy SEO, the Algo by necessity must look at more factors to separate the results. Then small changes make a big difference.

Obviously, the way to rank in any area is to analyze the top sites and try to identify common factors. I just think those factors will vary.

Liane

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23338 posted 5:59 am on Apr 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Google is like a child - it has a limited vocabulary. The words: biscuit, cooky, biccy, yoghurt, probably mean the same to the *new improved* Google.

I feel very badly that you have been unable to find anything of value in this thread. My intention was to try to help those who might still be feeling the sting from the recent algo changes by sharing my personal experiences over the past few months.

Rhetoric and sarcasm offer nothing in this situation and only serve to deminish the value of the thread overall.

I am sure you have thoughts beyond "cookies and yogurt" and I for one would like to hear them when you feel the time is right! In your posts, you have made it a habit to be somewhat negative in many of your posts and have failed to provide much of value to other WebmasterWorld members/readers.

I am relatively certain that you posess a substantial intellect and it would behoove you to supply a thoughtful and positive addition to the topic at hand now and again if you expect to win the trust and respect of others who frequent WebmasterWorld.

I've read several of your posts and I know there is somebody of substance beyond that which you have most often provide. You've obviously been burned and are still feeling the financial pain of the recent algo changes. For God's sake, get over yourself! Rejoin the civilized world and seek the help which is openly offered at WebmasterWorld!

We are all here for the same reason! Sometimes we need answers and sometimes we can offer answers. Don't be a jackass about it ... just ask for help when you need it! Its really not a big deal!

There is no shame in asking questions! There is only shame in being so pig headed as to believe YOU have all the answers!

Amazingly, nobody knows everything ... not even you!

jeffers

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23338 posted 6:04 am on Apr 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hi Liane and thanks for the tips. As a fellow sufferer it is much appreciated. I have passed this thread onto my web guy today to see what I need to look at. One question if you don`t mind, do you have links coming to your site as well as links going to other sites from yours?

Liane

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23338 posted 6:43 am on Apr 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Obviously, the way to rank in any area is to analyze the top sites and try to identify common factors. I just think those factors will vary.

You can try to do that until the cows come home ... but IMHO you would be better off being exceptionally critical of your own page(s) and believing in your gut.

THE TOP RANKING PAGE IS NOT NECESSARILY THE ACTUAL TOP RANKING PAGE!

I believe that one page strongly affects another. (Which is what made the rewrite work) . This also explains why you will often see a singular reference in the top ranking result page. However, if you delve through the site, I'll bet you find an excellent page about that specific topic which just happens to have all the elements to rank well too ... but it is one level down from the root page Google is displaying as the relevant page. A sub directory so to speak.

I am trying to say that the "most relevant" page may not be the one shown in the serps but it is contained within one or two clicks of the page ranking first in the SERPS. (Its the reason why many directories are first in the SERPS and pointing you to the right site or page!

The algorithm really isn't complicated at all. It is telling us that the most relevant page is "still" misbehaving (to a slight degree) ... but its one or possibly two clicks from here if you are willing to look for it!

OK ... I know this sounds really complicated ... but it isn't. Try to follow me while I attempt to explain my theory.

If a directory comes up first in the SERPS, it is telling you that the most relevant page (as far as Google is concerned) is contained within that particular directory. In which case, read the snippet to see if you can figure out which site it is describing.

If an actual site (index page and not a directory) comes up first in the SERPS, Google is telling you that the most relevant page is either the index page or one contained within that site. (Again, read the snippet!)

If a subdirectory page from within a site comes up first in the SERPS ... Google is telling you that it might be the most relevant page ... or you may have to drill down one more level to find the "MOST RELAVANT" page. (Once again, read the snippet!)

If the actual {b]"most relevant[/b] page is found in the top position ... then you have struck gold! All on and off page qualities Google is looking for are there!

In the new algo, everything is relative. Keyword density on index pages is much more forgiving/tolerant than on the next level down ... and so on. The deeper you go into the site, the less tolerance for keyword density.

In this way, Google is able to determine by means of the index page and the navigation used throughout the site, which exact keywords are the MOST relavant to that site.

OK ... its only a theory, but it worked for me and I swear by it. Who am I? Just a lowly mom & pop charter broker and I make no claims that any of tis is true or that it will work for you!

If you are not able to follow me, I will understand. Its a complicated theory but a very simplistic one in practice ... [and it makes a lot of sense!

Perhaps someone else can better descibe what I am getting at. Its late and I'm going to bed! :)

[edited by: Liane at 7:00 am (utc) on April 17, 2004]

Liane

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23338 posted 6:45 am on Apr 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

do you have links coming to your site as well as links going to other sites from yours?

Yes!

skipfactor

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23338 posted 2:31 pm on Apr 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Glad you're back Liane!

It worked for a commercial site I run w/ these additions/exceptions to your list:
1) I even ditched anchor text for "more" or "click here" when a phrase(sitewide) or a page started to feel spammy.
2) Eliminated ALT text unless the user needs it (dated photo or image map) then 3-4 words max.
3) Tried to make titles a complete phrase or sentence that sells and only the first word or names, places, etc. are capitalized.
4) I removed all "keyword" meta tags sitewide.
5) I wrote every description like an anal DMOZ editor and used the site's DMOZ description as the index page's meta description.
6) "Drastically reduced keyword density throughout." --'Drastically' is the key word here!
7) Doubled outgoing links.
8) "The most important change I made (I think) was to write as naturally as possible making sure that when I inserted a keyword, it actually belonged there and wasn't just gratuitous fodder for the search engines." --Complete sentences w/ periods--just like your 4th grade grammar teacher used to say. I also wrote with an eye on using synonyms unless the copy absolutely demanded the keyword(s). Just like a term paper, you don't want to use the same words over and over--reads much better with synonyms.

I've also pondered something similar to your theory: Google seems to know the keyword density of an entire site on a given query, and then it pulls (sometimes) the most virgin page.

Just a theory but I have non-comm sites that I think are suffering because they are about a town or a lake; it's close to impossible to reduce the keyword/anchor density of a site that's all about Lake Widget.

Patrick Taylor

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23338 posted 3:13 pm on Apr 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

The keyword density issue is HUGE.

What keyword density issue, and why is it huge?

BigDave

WebmasterWorld Senior Member bigdave us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23338 posted 3:41 pm on Apr 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Google seems to know the keyword density of an entire site on a given query,

I always get a kick out of the "Google ranks pages, not sites" people. Just because PageRank is limited to pages, does not mean that al parts of the algo are limited to pages.

Why shouldn't google give your site some extra points for having what appears to be several pages worth of content on a specific subject, or to have deep links related to that subject going to many different pages.

Skier

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23338 posted 5:03 pm on Apr 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Liane - Thank you for starting this thread. It is refreshing to re-look at the issues in this way.

A month or so after update Florida I found that the Google News posts had lost much of their value/interest to me. Nice place to go to confirm that others were suffering too, and that I wasn't missing something obvious, but no longer the source of monthly quick tricks and fixes...

Like you, I began relying on my own instincts and observations. Came to similar conclusions, and got similar results to yours. Searched through my sites for "non-natural" language useage and "SEO tricks" learned here, and removed most of them.

Remarkable how Brett's 12 month strategy is still so valid and complete.

TheWhippinpost

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23338 posted 6:31 pm on Apr 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Always good to read honest results and appraisals like this, nice one.

I'm not sure I agree with your following, and related quote(s) though:

If an actual site (index page and not a directory) comes up first in the SERPS, Google is telling you that the most relevant page is either the index page or one contained within that site. (Again, read the snippet!)

I can't dismiss it out-of-hand without further study but it seems to go against the whole meaning of, Search Engine.

Notwithstanding that, G will usually return a relevant sub-page in the SERP's too anyway.

Widestrides

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23338 posted 8:01 pm on Apr 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Keyword density? The top site in my category is still 17%!

For every theory, there are plenty of exceptions right there in the SERPS.

Liane

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23338 posted 8:42 pm on Apr 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

The top site in my category is still 17%!

Yep ... I've seen some pages with pretty high density too. However, when was the last time that page was indexed? Is it fresh? Is it a competitive phrase or relatively remote? Is it standard for that industry? Are the results you check regional, national or international?

Also, everyone checks keyword density very differently. If you check "just" on page criteria and leave in all the stop words, what is the density? Is it still 17%?

Widestrides

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23338 posted 2:00 am on Apr 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

Yes, even counting all the stop words, the top sites in this VERY competitive commercial category have high kw density. 8%-17%.

But, I haven't noticed any improvement to my own site, which used to rank #6, if I increase my kw density.

So, I figure it must be something else. I've tried everything with no luck. I'm now trying some of the things mentioned in this thread. We'll see. I don't feel guilty or like I'm spamming. My site is as relevant for selling this product as all of the others in the top of the SERPS. Google should just rotate the SERPS among all the pages that meet a basic criteria and spread the wealth around!

I mean no offense, but is your site really a better site to learn about and book a cruise just because it now reads in a more "natural" way? Another site, not written as professionally may be just as useful and relevant to the searcher.

I manage competitive, commercial sites and pages, and also a non-commercial, info site. The SERPS of the non-commerical, info site have not changed at all through all the updates and the obvious topsy-turvy changes in the SERPS of the commercial pages. From my observations, this is clearly a commercial filter, with the hottest products experiencing the wildest changes.

metrostang

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23338 posted 2:17 am on Apr 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

I played with keyword density with two of the pages I had brought back after the Austin update. Density was already around 8%. I added 17 more instances of one keyword of a two keyword phrase. They were not pretty, but did fit due the page listing 17 models of the same product. All were in anchor text.

Both pages went to #1 from #4 and #5. However I brought another page back by reducing keywords, so what works depends, I just wish I knew on what.

I found a site that lists the keyword density of the top sites in several search engines. It's hard to see a relation except to see that Google probably values keyword density less than the others.

Hissingsid

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23338 posted 7:25 am on Apr 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

Remarkable how Brett's 12 month strategy is still so valid and complete.

<sarcasm>So nothing changed in November then!</sarcasm>

The Google Search algorithm is a mix and Brett's strategy has most of the ingredients but it certainly does not have all of them and it is still fairly easy to find examples of sites riding high that have a different set of ingredients. Brett's instructions are very broad and open to interpretation.

In fact it is clear that Google has changed its recipe and added a few new ingredients over the last six months. Stems, context and outbound links to sites on relevant topics are now more important.

Best wishes

Sid

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