Is it me or does it look like a significant update is going on at google. I am noticing a number of SERP changes for a few of my sites and they've been fluctuating for the past few days.
Anyone else noticing any major changes?
I have a preliminary theory about the new backlink phenomenon. To understand the genisis of this theory, you have to read this other thread [webmasterworld.com].
My theory is that Google has overhauled their backlink/anchor text index in an effort to purge spam. I don't know if it is a real-time purge, or if the entire backlink index was rearranged in "precomputed" fashion, like they used to calculate PageRank, or if what we're seeing is a combination of the two. The fact that the link command changed so drastically suggests that a good portion of it was precomputed.
Here's what it looks like to me:
1) Most people do not put three words into the search box. If you organize a purge of backlink anchor-text "juice" for links that contain at least three words, then most people will not notice any significant change in the results for their search terms.
2) Do a word frequency count for all anchor text in all backlinks.
3) Look at all anchor text that has three or more words, and multiply the frequencies for each word. Establish a threshold for further investigation.
4) Examine the the link targets for anchors that exceed the threshold. Determine how focused the targets are. In other words, how many total pages or sites do they link to? If the focus is narrow, then assume that this is a case of anchor-text over-optimization.
5) Zap these links. Don't take the pages out of the index, but deny those links on those pages the capacity to add ranking juice to their targets.
I don't have any proof, but in the thread mentioned above, the link command for Google's target page, using the old and new link command, shows how my Google bomb may have been destroyed. The old link command in Google showed 9 links from my sites with the anchor text "out-of-touch executives." The new link command shows 2 of my links. The reason I believe that three or more words are needed before this new anchor-text algo kicks in, is because my bomb behaves normally if I substitute a different word for the word "executives." The juice is still there, but not for my particular combination of keywords in my anchor text.
The whole phenomenon might even be a lot simpler than what I describe above. How about if you downgrade anchor-text linking juice for all links with more than two words of anchor text? Would this explain what we are seeing with the new link command results?
If this was an update, then I missed it.
I love updates where I don't notice any change.:)
That is an interesting thought. What I continue to be looking at is the command; allinurl:www.widgets.com I used to use this command to see how many pages were indexed in Google for a particular site. Now it shows every place in the web that url is on. Whether it be your pages, discussion boards, links pages, anything, anywhere.
Maybe a change in the way "anchor text" is being viewed.
>> If this was an update, then I missed it. <<
I have come to rely on WebmasterWorld to alert me to updates 'cus I never see any ranking change month in month out.
Sure, the number of backlinks goes up and down a bit, and the PR climbs slowly upwards (when I check it -- like about once every 6 months or so). Other than that I never see any other changes.
|I have come to rely on WebmasterWorld to alert me to updates 'cus I never see any ranking change month in month out. |
I see very slight changes for the keywords and keyphrases that I track, and lately some of the pages that I don't track seem to be creeping up in the SERPs (to judge by recent increases in Google referrals). The "organic" content and SEO approach has worked well for me, and it's certainly less stressful than wondering what surprises the next tweak of the algorithm will bring.
|If this was an update, then I missed it. |
I love updates where I don't notice any change.:)
Yep. If it hadn't been for this forum at WW, I wouldn't have been aware of it.
As far as I can see, nothing has changed except some wonky backlink stuff, which comes and goes. Using Firefox on .com I only get the bizzaro link:www.example.org occasionally, and then they'll go away if you click repeat the search with the omitted results included.
Call this update the bizzaro backlink update, because that's all it is.
>>If this was an update, then I missed it.
>>I love updates where I don't notice any change.
Same here. All I see that's different is what they're allowing webmasters & SEOs to see.
"Same here. All I see that's different is what they're allowing webmasters & SEOs to see."
Yes, same here, but what they are showing is pretty interesting.
"Most people do not put three words into the search box. If you organize a purge of backlink anchor-text "juice" for links that contain at least three words, then most people will not notice any significant change in the results for their search terms"
You sure about that? What about "personal injury attorney"? "travel discount deals"? "golf vacation packages"? "group tour rates"? "low price computers"? I see all kinds of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 word phrases in my web stats. And there have to be literally thousands of three word phrases that are used as anchor text simply because the phrase is fairly or even succintly descriptive of what a user might be looking for. "real estate agent" "high definition television" "portable dvd player". I seriously don't see google doing something that dumb.
Maybe it was four words. "Out of touch executives" is four words, but since Google says they throw out "of," I counted it as three.
I'm looking for evidence that the destruction of my Google bomb was associated with a general algorithm change. But if no one is noticing any significant change in the SERPs despite the change in the backlink reporting, then I must be barking up the wrong tree.
And if that's the case, it would suggest that Google went out of their way to nail my bomb specifically. Because something sure wiped it out. The destruction was total and sudden, after sailing on top of the SERPs for four months.
>> But if no one is noticing any significant change in the SERPs despite the change in the backlink reporting, then I must be barking up the wrong tree.
There is a change, but I cant seem to figure out what it is.
Only thing I can think of is some retroactive sandboxing of link value.
1) My number of pages in Google has not dropped
2) The number of backlinks being show is consistent with what I'd expect
3) My traffic has dropped to May levels
4) My day on day traffic dropped 40% on Monday with whatever tweak they implemented
I have a feeling this may be a tweak on dupe content filters thats causing it, or a slight degradation of PR.
Another theory that I have is that they're algorithmically catching similar links and using those as dup filters. i.e If 500 unrelated sites have links that are either inbound or outbound with the anchor "My Life by Bill Clinton" there may be some filter that trips to remove Amazon and other datafeed type affiliates.
Some people mentioned significant shakeups in their niches.
There was easily the biggest shakeup in months in my areas. The results are still basically good, but lots of sites moved around, with several clean-but-mediocre sites advancing while some equally clean but more authoritative ones dropping a bit. If I didn't know better, it would seem to be easily attributable to a devaluing of the much better linking of the more authoritative sites. The more lightweight sites show a gain in links from trivial sources like their own message boards, while the more solid sites don't show top of line links. An alternative idea would be that we had a knob turn back toward "a link is a link" from last year. I doubt the backlink display actually reveals anything useful, but it does appear that sites with well-crawled message boards benefited, which could mean raw number of links became more important while quality linking became less so.
Your niche mileage may vary.
Scarecrow, it sounds to me like what you're talking about relates in part to Inverse Document Frequency.
So this would be 'Update Seopatra', if it existed. Keep in mind WW has not attached an official name, which should say something. For my part, I saw nothing significant in the serps I follow. I haven't given any credence to the special searches (link:, allinurl, allintitle, allintext) since since back in July '03 when index pages dropped out and allinanchor rankings were apparently high for a lot of those pages. This was something brought to a head during Florida. These rankings (special searches) seem to have become different things for G to target and/or manipulate since then. The less I know about them the better.
|All I see that's different is what they're allowing webmasters & SEOs to see. |
I'm another vote for "half my backlinks disapeared but SERPs haven't budged so it doesn't really matter".
There was a lot of shuffling in my SERPs last week, but in the end everything settled exactly the way it had been before the shuffling began. Then this new backlink stuff.
Full of sound and fury signifying nothing this time around it seems from my perspective.
Maybe the Google bar showing wierd (or possibly useless) information is a plan to clean things up a bit. If not it may still have that side effect.
If we can't tell the PR of a site accurately or we don't know who links to what and who's linking to us maybe webmasters will just start linking to sites that they want to (or that are even relevant).
My site has had a significant number of pages dropped, and has not shown any increase/decrease in backlinks, although i have gotten several pr 7 and 8 links in the last few weeks.
A strange phenomenon im seeing is that for example, although my site ranks #1 for "widgets forums", the cached version of the page is from yesterday at 6 am, when usually it is around 12:45 am, however the description associated with the listing in on google page is from 3 weeks ago.
Any idea why this would be happening? seems to me lik the update is far from over.
A few people have noticed a change in backlink reporting, but my backlinks just went from 8 to 1030.
Is this the same for everyone?
I have more information on how Google bombed my Google bomb, based on experimentation. I think this is definitive, and puts the issue to rest.
The searches below are without quotation marks, and the number is the ranking of Google's corporate page for that search. I invite all of you to verify these searches, because it's a bigger embarrassment to Google than the initial Google bomb they were trying to fix. It would not surprise me if something changed rather rapidly.
touch executives google = 379
touch google executives = 1
google touch executives = 379
touch larry executives = 1
touch executives = not in top 1000
executives touch = not in top 1000
These experiments show that Google put the fix in so that all links to Google's page, if they contain anchor text that includes the word "touch" adjacent to the word "executives," are discounted in whatever formula is used to credit a page with anchor text from links.
It was a Googleplex bomb implemented to wipe out my specific Google bomb. Google did it to protect their page at www.google.com/corporate/execs.html from cheap shots by amused journalists. They probably put this fix in before the out-of-touch management issue came up in the New York Times on June 22, and that's why they neglected to include the collateral forms of the bomb in their fix. The NYT piece probably appeared too late for the current update cycle.
Using the old filter tool that some of you may remember from last November, the tool shows no evidence that this is done on the fly. Instead, I believe that this Googleplex fix was precomputed. That's why it kicked in about the same time that we're seeing all these backlink changes.
If asked by the press, I will say that Google is fully prepared to change their algorithmic results when it is done to protect their own pages, but they are on record as refusing to do the exact same thing to prevent an anti-Semitic page from appearing at the number one spot.
I'm confident that the results of the searches shown above mean that Google will have a hard time denying what they've done.
Oh man, that is funny. G is busted cold on this one.
I haven't completed the research on this, just a guess at this point.
I'm not sure if my new links are just sandboxed, and this is completely unrelated, but...
It looks like there may be a duplicate link filter and possibly combined with time. Sites with older links ( older than 4 months ) are showing many links with identical anchor text, but newer links are only showing unique ( text )links.
I was wondering if anyone is seeing anything like this too?
Those searches return null results now. That was quick
Scarecrow why does G still show up number one for out of touch management. Why would they go through the trouble of removeing those terms when they did not get rid of the real offending result.
Google figured out how to rid the world of Google bombers.
Means anchor text bombers are going to be having a tough time of it in the future.
I like it!
ogletree - Scarecrow was referring to "Out of touch executives" bomb that Google went about patching-up. If that was true, its quite weird that, Google settled with patching-up only one instance of bombing, keeping other bombs untouched.
|Scarecrow why does G still show up number one for out of touch management. Why would they go through the trouble of removing those terms when they did not get rid of the real offending result. |
I think it's a time-line situation.
"Out-of-touch executives" was installed in late February, and written up on The Register in late March.
"Out of touch management" was something I first heard about in the NYT on June 22. I did some research, and the week prior to the NYT piece there was one or two bloggers who had discovered that "out of touch management" worked, but other than that, there was no out-of-touch management bomb. The NYT was mistaken. The "management" worked because it was collateral damage to my original bomb. Out-of-touch Sergey and out-of-touch Larry worked as well. Management worked especially well because that word is in the title of Google's page and also in a headline. The NYT ran a correction on page 2 on June 25, admitting that the bomb they described as coming from disgruntled Google employees was actually from me, a person who runs a website critical of Google.
My hypothesis is that Google put the fix in and started the update cycle prior to the NYT piece. At the time the fix was put in, they were not aware that "management" was also an issue. Heck, I wasn't aware of this either! (It took between four and six weeks for my original bomb to become stable, so my assumption that the current update cycle started before June 22 is not unreasonable.)
Long story short: Google didn't put the fix in for "management" because they didn't know that "management" would be an issue. The only fix they installed was for the adjacent words "touch" and "executives." The juice is denied from my bomb only if these two words are adjacent in your search box. If they aren't adjacent, then the juice still works on each word individually.
My point is how can you say there is a patch when out of touch management is not filtered. Those other ones don't make since I think it is just a fluke of the algo. It only has validaty if "out of touch management" is gone. That is the GBomb not touch management or mangement touch.
|Google figured out how to rid the world of Google bombers. |
Well, yes, except for those bombs like mine where collateral damage is an issue. For example, the word "miserable" alone brings up that famous page at the White House, and so does "failure" alone. Now all I have to do is find a word on that page to go with "miserable." How about "miserable President"? Yep -- that works. So if Google's solution to rid the world of Google bombers is restricted to what they've demonstrated so far, it's not adequate. Google could wipe out "miserable failure" with their adjacent-word hack, but that wouldn't fix "miserable President."
"Craig Silverstein, Google's director for technology, says the company sees nothing wrong with the public using its search engine this way. No user is hurt, he said, because there is no clearly legitimate site for 'miserable failure' being pushed aside. Moreover, he said, Google's results were taking stock of the range of opinions that are expressed online. 'We just reflect the opinion on the Web,' he said, 'for better or worse.' " -- International Herald Tribune, 9 December 2003
"Google Inc., the leading Internet search engine, said Monday that it had no plans to alter its search results despite complaints that the first listing on a search for the word "Jew" directs people to an anti-Semitic Web site.
"The company, which is based in Mountain View, Calif., said it had no plans to remove the site from the search results list because it trusts its automated program to rank Web sites accurately. The search engine has been listing 'Jewwatch.com' as the first-ranked site for three years.
" 'We find this result offensive, but the objectivity of our ranking function prevents us from making any changes,' said David Krane, a spokesman for Google, adding that an exception is made only in cases where a site is illegal." -- New York Times, April 13, 2004
"Our corporate policy now reflects the belief that a common-sense approach to issues of quality, social ethics, and human decency is superior to any possible mathematical algorithm. We will be installing a full-time ethics committee to review problems brought to our attention. Issues within their purview will include spam, Google bombs, advertising policy with respect to gambling, drugs, alcohol, firearms and similar issues not clearly covered by consistent laws, indexing and ranking of hate sites, copyright and cache problems not clearly covered by consistent laws, and collection and retention of personally-identifiable information. A formal appeals process will allow the decisions of the committee to be reviewed and potentially reversed by an semi-independent ombudsman with a reputation for public integrity. We apologize for past statements suggesting that our algorithms were beyond reproach. Google has made a lot of money from support by the public, and we feel it is time to give something back." -- (Unfortunately this is not an actual quotation; I just made it up. This is my fantasy of what Google's position will be some day.)
Scarecrow you had me there for a minute. There is no way they could do that. The sheer magnatude of such a plan would be cost prhibative.
i agree with ezryder and europeforvisitors:
"The "organic" content and SEO approach has worked well for me, and it's certainly less stressful than wondering what surprises the next tweak of the algorithm will bring. "
i am riding this one out, just keep on making good content and linking out to reputable sites whenever it will be of benefit to my visitors.
This update is excellent as it has removed many automated link farming sites from results of relevent keywords, which I saw sending relevent web surfers over to second tier search engines, including but not limited to yahoo. I am glad google finally pulled out of its 6 month slump of spam results. I have lost alot of backward links myself, but my traffic is up 500%, which is confusing me. I spent alot of time during the last month or two building as many links as possible and expected to see a whole lot more backward links, but now there are less. However, my PR is still the same on all of my pages, but web hits are up. Confusing. Has there been a PR update that anyone has seen?