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22-23 September Google traffic dropped dramatically
Google traffic
maxidrom11




msg:53552
 10:38 am on Sep 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

traffic dropped from 2000 to 350 on my website and I cannot find my pages showed up on Google for particular keywords. PR=5 the same as usual. Anybody has the same problem ... any comments why that happened to my website?

 

howiejs




msg:53642
 4:32 am on Sep 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

Man - I just read this thread from last page to first . .

everytime Google updates - all the scotch in my house seems to go :)

SEOPTI




msg:53643
 5:30 pm on Sep 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

So what is it? Algo change or PR update.

WebFusion




msg:53644
 10:59 pm on Sep 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think they tried to go after the page scrappers this time ...Those sites tend to be big and rely on rankings from thousands of relatively less competitve obscure multi keyword phrases ...
This sites used to rank for this obscure keywords with the power of title tag ,body text and internal anchor links and now they altered something in the algo mix many of these sites are not ranking anymore!

I don't think that's it either. I keep a good eye on our affiliates, and check out each sale to see the page it was generated from (to insure the affiliate isn't violating our no SE spamming rules). A couple of affiliates jumped up recently in both sales and traffic, and both were using some kind of page-scraping/doorway generating system (both have been suspended). Google may be catching some of these sites, but not all of them.

If more merchants would put anti-spamming rules into their affiliate agreements, this could be all but eliminated. Of course, I know we're in the minority, as most merchants with affiliate programs don't care how the sales is generated, as long as they maximize their profit.

Vec_One




msg:53645
 4:52 am on Sep 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have read about several problems lately.
1. New site sandboxed (indexed but not ranking well).
2. Mature site sandboxed (indexed but not ranking well).
3. Site removed from index.
4. Pages not ranking well for unknown or unspecified reasons.

I have some experience with Problem #2 and I'm fairly sure it's not a regular algo change. It affects a particular site completely, but doesn't touch other similar sites. It's not like they turned down the knob on titles or something. It's more like complete individual sites are singled out and sandboxed by either the algo or humans.

It would be a lot easer to determine what the cause of the problem is by observing what it isn't. Let's try to zero in on the probable reason(s) by eliminating possibilities.

Of the people who have had complete mature sites sandboxed:
Has anyone NOT added a lot of new pages over the last few months?
Does anyone NOT have a lot of similar content on a lot of pages?
Does anyone NOT have heavy internal linking?
Does anyone NOT have a lot of inbound and/or internal links with identical anchor text?
Does anyone NOT have some sort of affiliate links?
Does anyone NOT have more than 1,000 pages?

jcbereznay




msg:53646
 10:33 am on Sep 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

Eeek. I've never answered "I DO" so many times. Although I would say there's not much duplicate content, there is some just by the nature of the dynamic linking and database driven content. (i.e. same article could have 2 to 3 URLs depending on how the user calls it up).

Heavy internal linking should not be a penalty. It's just good navigation, you know?

sonic10




msg:53647
 11:05 am on Sep 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

Vec_One

I believe google is tweaking there algo for monetary reasons making the adwords campaign a must have especially if you are competing for big money making keywords for google.

As many folks here have theorized about the so called 'sandbox'. If a new site cannot get into the serps for months google knows more than likely you will line their pockets via adwords for a few weeks/months. Have you ever contacted google about the results. The last sentence in the reply will always tell you to try adwords for exposure/advertising.

It is quite possible they are trying a new algo to squeeze older sites and newer sites out randomly to force those folks to resort to adwords to keep their company/website alive.

After all, they have to make a good first impression on their new stockholders.

Just my opinion of course...

mikeD




msg:53648
 11:27 am on Sep 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

guess the one positive thing for the people hit is it looks like Google are making major changes. Hopefully things will improve then. I got hit 25th Aug, 90% loss of traffic. Got some back on 23 sept.

petehall




msg:53649
 11:50 am on Sep 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

Vec_One

Of the people who have had complete mature sites sandboxed:

One of our sites has been hit with this phenomena.

The only differences as far as I can see are;
1) The site has three times as many pages as our others, weighing in at around 950 pages
2) The site is a free directory, however traffic is recorded, so on each of the main sections there are multiple tracking links to listed sites

The site has a PageRank of 6, with internals stepping down to 5 and finally 4.

What we have done to see if we can recover the site is remove all the tracking URLs on the main sections.

Now, to visit a company you must go to the full page where only a single tracking link is present.

All we have to do now... is wait...

oldskool79




msg:53650
 2:06 pm on Sep 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have about 35 sites that use a datafeed for content. All of them appear to be sandboxed, with the exception of the last site I built.

Interstingly, this site is the only site on a .com.au domain. I'm not sure if this has anything to do with it or not.

petehall




msg:53651
 3:14 pm on Sep 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

Can anyone with a directory style site that was hit on the 23rd-25th of September please try the the site:www.domain.com command.

I'd be very interested to know if most of your results are "omitted" from the initial listings.

WebFusion




msg:53652
 5:35 pm on Sep 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have about 35 sites that use a datafeed for content. All of them appear to be sandboxed, with the exception of the last site I built.

Hopefully that means google is finally getting wise to purely datafeed-driven affiliate sites. Let's face it, if your only content coem straight from a merchant, you're adding exactly ZERO to the quest for relevant results.

caveman




msg:53653
 8:01 pm on Sep 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

FWIW, we've seen some minor new losses today - but not on homepages - only on many subpages.

The effect has been to drop quite a few of our homepages below some competitors who use more spammy tactics than we use, i.e., more kw repetition in anchor text, more linking between owned sites, more sitewide linking, etc.

It seems to be yet another tweak perhaps returning more importance to internal links or links between related sites. Another possibility might be less importance for some on page factors.

otahu




msg:53654
 9:16 pm on Sep 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have been hit with 40% or so drop ... but! when I do link:www.?.co.uk ... there are no results - except we are backlinked by over 200 sites, including some that are themselves highly ranked, one that is 8 ...

why is G (and Y) not showing any of the backlinking pages? has it 'lost' them?

going nuts

scallihan




msg:53655
 10:39 pm on Sep 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

Aug 5th saw an algo tweak and a sudden drop of traffic for many.
Aug 23-25 saw another algo tweak where sites that suffered on Aug 5th regained traffic but other sites lost 70%.
Sept 22-23 seems to me similar to Aug 5th algo tweak where sites that suffered on Aug 23 regained but sites that got hammered on aug 5 were hammered again.

Yeah, I got hammered starting on Aug 25th, with a 60% to 70% drop in traffic. A few of my pages held their positions, but most got buried in Google. Traffic (and Google positions) came back on Aug 23rd (actually started part way through Aug 22nd), when Google did a deep crawl of my site, even better than before, and has remained steadily strong since then.

robenochs




msg:53656
 11:44 pm on Sep 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

We should spend some time on this thread comparing notes and trying to understand what happened and what could be triggering our sites to nose dive.

I agree. well obviously I have experienced the same problems otherwise I wouldn't be here reading this... so here goes what I did to think the problem was ME and not google. However, I do belive that G has implimented something new to catch certain issues.

For example. On one of my sites, the home page of that site USED TO BE a 5/10PR and droped to PR0 along with most of my traffic. Now the weird part is that the other sub pages are still hanging around PR4-PR6.

SO.. the only thing I can think of is this: This website that I am talking about is PPC with your typical gazillion "Popular Searches" organized nicely on the home page...

What I am thinking is that G no longer wants to see all of these NON-Relative links... That's my guess. I have also done some other SEO stuff and reading this thread has got me wondering if possibly the other
things that I did were a factor, but no - because the subpages are still fine (knock on wood).

Some interesting stattements from this thread that got my attention were:

1. "spamming the same word phrase in multiple instances"
2. optimizing meta-tags / doing SEO stuff and G not liking that to give the "little guy a chance"?

SOLUTION: diversify! more than one website and dont marry G - promote to other well know SE's!

There have been times over the last year when I've thought G's behaviour was akin to shooting themselves in the foot, but lately it seems that they've taken aim directly at their head

A-MEN to that quote...

Rick_M




msg:53657
 12:04 am on Oct 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

Just as a longshot possibility, of those people hit on September 22-23, are there any other people who have the word "sponsors" or "sponsored" on their pages? On the two sites that got hit, the main pages all have a block with the words "sponsors" listing the affiliate pages underneath. I know that Google is trying to weed out sites that are selling links - just a longshot.

As for some specifics on my sites that were effected:

1. Very large sites (over 50k pages)
2. Many pages are created from datafeeds, the site that was hit worst uses amazon product feed to create the pages
3. What I consider normal navigation menu on most pages that also links to the main pages I've optimized for (about 5 links to somewhat unrelated affiliate pages as part of the main template)
4. Some interlinking between my own sites, but not a huge amount - each site has a significant amount of unique external links from quality sites (multiple PR6+ links pointing in - both to main page and internal relevant pages)

I've already blocked out all of my datafeed driven pages from Googlebot, and it'll kill me for the holidays. I'm still getting traffic to those pages, but only about 20% of what I used to. Losing that 20% won't be pleasant if this was just a glitch. I don't know if this drop is the same type of thing people reported on August 26th, as many people are reporting there sites came back on Sept 23rd without doing anything. I'm just not that patient of a person, and I'd consider myself very conservative with SEO / potential spam.

robenochs




msg:53658
 12:17 am on Oct 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm really curious if anyone who got hit on Sept 23rd does NOT use amazon product feed or other large datafeeds on their site.

I don't think that is it. I do not have amazon feeds on my main pages. Yes I have them on subpages in another directory, BUT The only page to take a real hit was my index page.

Now my home page/ index page, does have AP Wire RSS feeds for news, but I am using RSS feeds on other pages that still have their G PR (unlike my home page)

What I think happened to my index page was that G decided to get rid of it due to the number of and quality of non-relative links it had on it.

For Ex. there were/are 80+ links on the home page that forced G to crawl my PPC search results database. i.e. this is a typical PPC site with "popular searhes" listed on the home page. G should be coming back around any day now, and if this page does not improve I think I'll have to history those "popular search" links...

cabbie




msg:53659
 1:09 am on Oct 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

My advice to all webmasters who are attempting to find rhyme and reason for their sudden drop of traffic is don't panic.
We all have weaknesses on our sites and we have such a guilty complex that we keep thinking we have been found out and it must be all those site wide links, or data feeds, or too much affiliate codes, or directory sites, or google has strenghtened their duplicate filter, or we have added too many pages too quickly,or even its because we have the word "sponsors" on our site.
I say Relax and let it be.Let Google come back to us.Show some confidence in your own site and don't live and die by googles fluctuations.I know that Google needs my sites and my SEO ability.Otherwise all sites would seem the same to them and they would never find the best page for a query.
My site is spam but its one of the best spam out there.They need me.

SEOPTI




msg:53660
 11:01 am on Oct 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

Google, come to Butthead and bring my listings back ;)

petehall




msg:53661
 11:22 am on Oct 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

LOL

I don't want to appear premature, however I am starting to see a slight positive improvement from removing the tracking URL.

All of our pages are now dated the 29th with the changes in place and I see an increase in SERPs!

Now to visit a site you need to navigate:
Home Page > Category Page > Company Page > Visit Site

So rather than having 30+ tracking links on the Category Page you are now forced to click to the Company Page to visit the site.

Note I have not added any new pages, just made visiting sites a further step away than usual.

Now someone will tell me this increase can be seen across the board, and my amendments are not the reason for the improvement :-)

div01




msg:53662
 1:56 pm on Oct 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have a small (12 page) minisite, 2+ years old, without any datafeeds, all original content and a DMOZ listing disappear from Google last week. So its not just an AWS thing.

george123




msg:53663
 2:06 pm on Oct 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

{What I think happened to my index page was that G decided to get rid of it due to the number of and quality of non-relative links it had on it.}
Let me tell you i know a site that has 200 unrelated links on the index and is #1 for a very competitive(money) 2 KW term.

george123




msg:53664
 2:08 pm on Oct 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

plus all the unrelated liks are from PR++++++ sites all from the same factory

Kabby




msg:53665
 2:17 pm on Oct 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

Google is dancing here in the UK and some of my 23rd Sep clobbered pages are bouncing in and out of of the first page SERPS again - now you see them - now you don't. No traffic yet, but fingers crossed these results are coming & not going.

My site is around 30K pages, mostly datafeed driven, but no Amazon datafeed. All pages suffered, not just datafeed pages.

Interestingly, doing a search of keyword site:mydomain.com shows Google ranking my pages in a very strange order - with the most relevant near the bottom, and the pages linking to them at the top. Looks like some negative weighting has been applied to the most relevant pages.

Hopefully that means google is finally getting wise to purely datafeed-driven affiliate sites. Let's face it, if your only content coem straight from a merchant, you're adding exactly ZERO to the quest for relevant results.

My site adds price comparison and related product lists that helps the visitor find a better deal much quicker than visiting each merchant's site.

Since Sep 23rd Google has been including Ask search results pages in their SERPS roughly where mine were before - looks like Google have just given up on doing the job themselves!

petehall




msg:53666
 2:48 pm on Oct 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

Interestingly, doing a search of keyword site:mydomain.com shows Google ranking my pages in a very strange order - with the most relevant near the bottom, and the pages linking to them at the top. Looks like some negative weighting has been applied to the most relevant pages.

I'm from the UK too, and I am very interested to hear you suffer from the exact same site:www.domian.com problem as me.

Vec_One




msg:53667
 3:16 pm on Oct 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

Interestingly, doing a search of keyword site:mydomain.com shows Google ranking my pages in a very strange order

Kabby, nice catch. I did that with my site (which is a mature site that was sandboxed on Sept 23).

I tried searching for the titles of the pages that were at the top of the results. One of my pages appeared near the top of the SERPs. The strange thing is that it was the wrong site. It was my site, but not the one the page is actually on. Both sites have a lot of similarities. The page that appeared in the SERPs was similar to the one I searched for. (I searched for chicago widgets and got windsor widgets.)

Google's description indicated that the keywords I searched for were on the page, but they aren't. The Google cache, which was updated on Sept 29, did not include the keywords either.

I searched for some other titles and found some other odd results.

This makes me think that Google is having trouble keeping track of large numbers of similar pages. The way to avoid problems might be to mix up the structure of the pages.

Vec_One




msg:53668
 3:19 pm on Oct 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

Kabby and petehall, do your sites have .uk extensions, or .com?

Abigail




msg:53669
 3:21 pm on Oct 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

I can see more changes today (not good for a lot of us) I am seeing a lot of merchants in the first 30 results of some searches - then mainly content driven - then sites with affiliate links bringing up the rear. I am also noticing an increase in traffic on my Yahoo, MSN, and Ask, rooted sites. Could be the surfer is not to impressed with the results they are being fed on Google.

sean




msg:53670
 3:30 pm on Oct 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

keyword site:mydomain.com shows Google ranking my pages in a very strange order - with the most relevant near the bottom

Yeah, it makes the Google site search tool look like a joke.
Highlights the risk of using 3rd-party tool with no control.

jnmconsulting




msg:53671
 3:31 pm on Oct 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

My guess is the surfers are not impressed with G because from what I see the data is at leat a month old in sectors that I track, no movement, MSN and Y are very fresh.

Airportibo




msg:53672
 3:41 pm on Oct 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

We have a very large DB-driven website (500.000+ pages) spread over three (sub-)domains: www.widgets.fr, www.widgets.com and search.widgets.com The latter had just been created a view months ago and shows mainly keyword-/query-related pages. All three domains are connected to each other and were well established in Google until september 23rd. Then Google started to show some strange behavior:

- Traffic on widgets.fr increased a little (mainly browsing pages, nothing search related)

- www.widgets.com increased a LOT... But the traffic wasn't generated by current pages. Suddenly way old pages that don't even exist any more are delivering Google traffic. Google cache shows February 28th. So was this a backdate of the Google index?

- search.widgets.com got kind of a penalty. The pages are still present but rank really badly. Even if I search for the exact page title other domains show first, even if they don't contain all the keywords.

Anyone out there who has a clue?

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