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A real Google conundrum
Established site losing all its Google traffic
diamondgrl

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 1:07 am on Mar 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

I have a well-established site that over the past few days has lost almost all its Google referals. I think I know what's wrong but have no idea how to fix it.

First some background. The site is a well-established, deep-information site with many, many thousands of pages and a PR 6 on the home page. While we have attempted to get some links to us, most of the hundreds of links to us are spontaneous from a variety of professionals who find our content useful. Therefore, we're not at all dependent on the "latest" SEO tricks - totally white hat.

Up until this week, we got >15000 Google referals a day. We are not dependent on ranking for "blue widgets" or any other identifiable term - our referals come from thousands of different keywords a day which reflects the diversity of our content. Therefore, only a massive drop in the SERPs across the board can cause a >90% drop in referals, as we are seeing.

We still are in the index with the same number of pages and our backlinks don't seem changed. We still have the same PR showing throughout the site (for whatever that's worth since if there are changes, they probably wouldn't show immediately anyway).

Here's the kicker: Another site we own, let's call it widgetville.com, is showing up ahead of our real site, widgetville.org, in the SERPs when you search Google for "Widgetville". The higher widgetville.com site is shown without title or description. Widgetville.com has been 301 redirected to widgetville.org. Widgetville.com does have a backlink or two out in the world, but not the hundreds that the real site, widgetville.org, has so I don't understand the higher ranking.

If you search for "a bunch of widget words that you find on the front page", three other web sites who quote our mission statement appear on the page and our page doesn't. However, if you click on the link to show "omitted" results, we are listed as the omitted page.

In a way, it seems almost like our home page has been hijacked by our own non-functioning site. And it also seems to be like the whole canonical root problem that trips up some site owners except in our case it is between two domains, not a problem of Google getting confused between widgetville.com and widgetville.com/index.html.

We've had this problem before - a year ago - and I queried Google about the problem. I was told that it was a problem on their end, not mine, and they would fix it. The widgetworld.com listing was removed and within weeks, my traffic grew from a trickle to where I started hiring people to deal with the blossoming new customer base. Now all of that is threatened.

So, anyone want to take a crack at explaining this or giving advice on how to handle it?

I have taken one step to see what happens. I've removed the 301 redirect from widgetville.com and put a simple sentence on the page that says to click on the link to widgetville.org. I did this to disassociate widgetville.com from widgetville.org in case Google was somehow seeing duplicate content from the 301. Not sure how that would happen exactly since that is the prefered method of dealing with pages that are no longer valid, but this whole thing throws me for a loop.

 

max_mm

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 7:17 am on May 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

I just discovered the reason why one of my oldest sites (6 years old with approx 2500 G referrals per day, up to about two months ago) was loosing its G referrals steadily ever since.

A search for my “my_site.com” on G revelled 25,000 web sites linking to me.

The site is an old niche industry trading site. It always had good incoming links but never to that figure. I just discovered that there are 1000's of unrelated sites linking to it (kind of copying the G serps) to their link pages. With my site name and description in there. They all come up when i do a search for my domain name.

Is this the freaking hijack problem i was reading so much about here and thought will never happen to me.

Question asked. what should i do. Am i suppose to visit G now and delist every site that links to my site using the removal tool?. That's like 25,000 darn crappy sites!

Any advice would be much appreciated.

mblair

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 7:26 am on May 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

Actually, you cannot delist them because you would need access to the robots.txt file for their domain. As a safeguard to delist addresses they must be prohibited by robots.txt first.

reseller

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 7:38 am on May 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

max_mm

What do you see when run:

site:www.yoursite.com

Any 302 redirects?

Any only url listings?

max_mm

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 7:48 am on May 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

reseller,

When i do "site:www.mysite.com" i get 11,500 pages. All mine with full titles, description and correct url displaying.

When i do a plain search for "my_site.com" i get 25,000 other web sites. With two of my pages appearing at positions 1 and 2. Deep pages with PR2, my index or other high PR ranked pages (PR 5 an 6) are nowhere to be seen, and the rest are just plenty of crappy sites copying my domain name and pages description.

How can i get rid of this crap?

arubicus

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 8:01 am on May 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

"Majority of sites on the web have ads spots on them of some kind or are promoting or selling a product or service and there is nothing wrong in that at all. There is a house rent to be paid ..you know :-)"

I was merely pointing out that there is such a thing as ethical and unethical forms advertising. Each one is used to accomplish the same thing, to pay the rent. Even though the intent is merely the same doesn't mean the vehicle they choose would be considered "right". Keep in mind that it depends on what an advertiser and their audience considers ethical and unethical.

"But do you really consider a site with 2 pop ups and 4 pop unders to be unethical?"

I didn't say they were unethical but it may be considered unethical from google's point of view. If massive pop ups and unders are burdensome to google's users. Google very well may be saying "nope not in our index".

"Isn´t it the right of the publisher (site owner) to add as many pop ups/unders and AdSense spots to his/her site?"

Sure it is their right. I was talking about right/wrong not "right" as in "civil liberties". But it is google's right not to include such sites in their index. I am sorry but if you want to be in their index you got to play by their rules.

[edited by: arubicus at 8:03 am (utc) on May 23, 2005]

reseller

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 8:01 am on May 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

max_mm

>How can i get rid of this crap?<

My friend!

You are asking about something like mission impossible. If it was only few sites, then one can write the owners and ultimately their ISP. But with 25.000 (:(

arubicus

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 8:04 am on May 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

"My friend!

You are asking about something like mission impossible. If it was only few sites, then one can write the owners and ultimately their ISP. But with 25.000 (:( "

LOL. I wouldn't want that mission!

reseller

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 8:08 am on May 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

arubicus

Then we are in agreement :-)

We all understand and support Google cleaning the index. But hoestly none of us understand or know exactly why Google is killing good contents sites like that of EFV for example.

arubicus

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 8:37 am on May 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

"But hoestly none of us understand or know exactly why Google is killing good contents sites like that of EFV for example"

I know what you mean. If they are trying to clean up the results they are causing ALOT of collateral damage along the way. What is happening to clean authority sites such as EFV is leaning on the ridiculous if you ask me. Pretty sure EFV feels the same way!

europeforvisitors



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 3:19 pm on May 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the kind words, but I've got to hand it to Google--how did they ever find out that my site is really a money-laundering operation for a Viagra smuggling ring? :-)

joeduck

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 4:02 pm on May 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

EFV -

I notice that site:yoursite.com lists both http:// and [www...] pages - have you considered forcing the server to send only one of those as GG suggested some time ago? We made that change and it's had no effect yet so I'm more interested in your opinion about this rather than recommending it.

Joe

joeduck

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 4:14 pm on May 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

Of those recently killed by Google do any still use 302 redirection to count outbound affiliate clicks?
(We do.)

How many still have http:// and [www?...]
(We don't)

It would be nice to have a laundry list of things "killed sites" have in common.

europeforvisitors



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 4:48 pm on May 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

I notice that site:yoursite.com lists both http:// and [www...] pages - have you considered forcing the server to send only one of those as GG suggested some time ago? We made that change and it's had no effect yet so I'm more interested in your opinion about this rather than recommending it.

I implemented a 301 redirect from www to non-www at the end of March (after a couple of Supporters Forum members alerted me to the problem), but so far it hasn't had any effect. The number of spurious www listings for my site has jumped around a bit since mid-April but has been steady at 1,130 since May 15.

MissusC

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 5:03 pm on May 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

Google is making me nuts!

joeduck

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 5:07 pm on May 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

EFV -

Similar to our experience. in Early April we used 301's to force [www...] rather than http:// and we made all internal links absolute and we sent many notes about "canonical pages" as GG had suggested.

Google indicates it can take 8 weeks but my gut says the 301s were not our problem. It all plays like a penalty on our main domain but they have specifically told me in an email it's not. We did add a lot of new pages in late 2004 and now I'm wondering if they may have ranked well at first but then been deranked for some reason.

Musicarl

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 8:32 pm on May 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

Traffic came back for us this weekend. I agree with Diamondgirl that our 301 redirects and absolute links may have had nothing to do with it - Google may have changed a setting and put everything back to normal.

I noticed that most of this traffic is related to obscure keyword phrases related to our topic. We stopped showing up in those searches a few months ago, but now they're back.

I would love to know what caused this so there will be something we can do if it happens again.

joeduck

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 8:46 pm on May 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

Good news Music - please remember to post here if you figure things out. It seems more and more peole are reporting 301 changes preceeding their comeback though I have a site that just came back after a month of ranking troubles without 301 changes.

We have a very large site and I'm hoping that it simply takes many months for the 301/canonical changes to shake through the system.

derekwong28

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 2:21 am on May 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

A lot of established websites were hit by the Allegra update. At that time, some webmasters were gloating about it, alledging that these sites were involved in black-hat SEO. Now It looks like that even more established websites are decimated by the Bourbon update that the Allegra update. The way things are going, every established website is going to be affected, whether it is white-hat, black-hat or no SEO at all.

I have a forum with more than 30,000 members with no SEO that saw its traffic halved in this update. The only thing I can think of is that Google is determined to go after scraper sites and sites built by automatic content generators. Basically its duplicate content filters have gone awry. In doing so, a lot of large websites are being hit indiscriminately.

My theory is that it is mainly large established websites that are mainly affected. Because they may look like having been built automatically by scripts and other software by Google.

max_mm

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 3:18 am on May 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

My theory is that it is mainly large established websites that are mainly affected. Because they may look like having been built automatically by scripts and other software by Google.

My theory is somewhat different although very close to yours.

I think that many established sites with lots of content (which normally used to appear at top positions on G SERPs pre Allegra) are now linked from thousands of auto generated pages (pages containing copy of the G serps and used as doorpages).

I think that the above greatly affects established sites as their backlink count suddenly jumps exponentially and trigger some filter. If your site continue to sink on the serps try doing a search for "your_domain.com" and you'll notice the major increase in baclinks due to them crappy sites's door pages linking to you from the dark side of the net.

From G's point of view, your site suddenly have an immense (Abnormal – spam suspected) jump in the amount of baclinks. Your site is suddenly linked from them "vi6ra", "bad credit loans" "Casino" and other crap........without you having any control over it, these site are pulling your ranking down (buy giving you lots of "BAD" vots, google wise). For google filters, you site is now a major suspect of spam, link buying and part of a very bad nigberhood.

I am now pretty sure that this is the problem as i noticed this same exact problem on 4 old established sites I have which lost ALL their google traffic after the two recent updates. What they all have in common? they are all suddenly linked from thousands upon thousands of crappy backdoor computer generated pages on thousands of black-hat sites which are copying the G serps.

What to do? not much really. You have absolutely no control over sites linking to you (in my case one of my sites went from 320 quality industry related natural links to 25,000 links recently - the site is 6 years old and an authority site in it's industry niche. 24,700 links Out of them 25,000 incoming links Google is now reporting are unwanted and not asked for links. they are auto genrated links from crappy web sites copying G serps and creating (using some software) door pages or keyword stuffed pages with my url and pages description in there.

So much for google mentra of "there is almost absoulotly noting another site can do to affect your ranking". I BEG TO DIFFER.

This crap is trigerring the google filters which cuases your site to disapper and all them door pages to appear when somone doe's a search for your name.

The google algo of relaying on incoming links to determine quality is busted and rideled with bugs and this slowly turns the web into a big gurbage bin.

And one last thing.
Be very warry if your site enjoye's top SERPS position on G nowdays. Your site has a good chance of starting to appear and be linked from them crappy door pages. And there is not much you can do about it except for maybe purchase a new domain name and start it all from scratch. OR massivly start to promot MSN and Yahoo engines becouse thier enginers are smart enough to know how to avoid this
problem.

eyezshine

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 4:09 am on May 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

Max_MM

I think you are right. Every one of my sites that have been hit were ranking way up at the top for big money terms and got alot of traffic 2 months before they were dropped into the abyss of nothingness in the SERP's

Every one of my sites were ranking good just before they got some kind of penalty. The age of the site didn't make a difference. So I try to keep my newer sites from ranking good too fast. I try to let them ease their way up the SERP's so that the scraper sites don't cause a mass back link problem.

That is the only theory I can think would cause a high ranking site to just drop off the face of the serp's? But I think there are more scrapers using Yahoo's results then there are using google's results.

I did notice that even though my sites didn't rank very high in google, they were getting first page rankings in Yahoo which I think caused the site to be linked by thousands of scraper sites who were using Yahoo's results which caused my new sites to get a penalty in google before they ever had a chance to do good in google which caused the sites to appear to be sandboxed.

When my site got a penalty from the mass of scraper links, google penalized it and lowered the page rank which caused it to become sandboxed and hijacked etc...

The only fix for this would be if google quit penalizing for sudden increases in link popularity. And you know they are trying this and have been for a long time because I have been watching this happen to websites for over a year. And plus, it's in their patent that I read.

Smooth move Google....

max_mm

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 4:46 am on May 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

I did notice that even though my sites didn't rank very high in google, they were getting first page rankings in Yahoo which I think caused the site to be linked by thousands of scraper sites who were using Yahoo's results which caused my new sites to get a penalty in google before they ever had a chance to do good in google which caused the sites to appear to be sandboxed.

Yes makes alot of sense to me now.

Yahoo just recently released their developer program were they let webmasters query their servers and return yahoo search results to be used on their pages. I HAVE NO DOUBT that many black hat webmaster started to use the yahoo search feeds and create door pages or adsense scraper sites.

This program (yahoo's program) was released approx 3-4 months ago which is about the time many webmasters with quality content started to experience instability and wiled rank fluctuations on Google.

As i said before. Google's formula of detecting quality is busted now due to those issues. Unless somehow they work closely with yahoo and request yahoo to embed a special token in their search results which will enable google to quickly determine if the link that the googlebot is following is a scrapper oriented link or a natural one.

Otherwise, googl's reliance on links to determine quality is no longer valid and doe's the exact opposite. Rewording bad quality scrappers and other junk.

What’s our options:
1. Buy a new domain name and start from scratch. Hope you'll never get to the top of the serps too soon or your site will end up linked from thousands of vi6ra scarper sites.

OR

2. if you can't beat them then join them. Start creating your own network of scrappers, doorpages and other junk and massively spam the web. BECAUSE everyone needs to eat. Google wont listen and we are left with no other options.

I Can not believe that this is what the web is turning into. A junk yard full of scrappers displaying adsense ads.

Google needs an urgent reality check.. Someone there is fast a sleep on the wheel.

MikeNoLastName

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 6:12 am on May 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

Unfortunately, the problem is, it is not affecting ALL sites equally. I know of at least 2 sites in my niche which are owned by major corporations, are relative latecomers to the net, in the last few years, and yet have been consistantly in the 1 and 2 spots for at least 3 years now with little to no effort, no matter how much they screw with their home pages, make them totally flash, graphics, etc.! They have NEVER been booted out yet. There just is NO justice!

max_mm

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 6:22 am on May 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

MikeNoLastName,

Do they have top positions on Yahoo serps for competitive keywords?. If they do then it is only a matter of time before thousands of bad incoming links start to appear on scrappers. Google then simply responds by penalizing the site in question.

Top positions on yahoo have great affect on your google rank due to the problem i described above (too many incoming links from scrapper sites that use the yahoo feeds).

It will eventually affect every site (unless G will do somthing about it). The problem probably appear when the number of junk incoming links outweigh the number of quality incoming links, which then (probably) triggers the G spam filters and nuke your site.

[edited by: max_mm at 6:32 am (utc) on May 24, 2005]

claus

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 6:30 am on May 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

>> I think that many established sites with lots of content (which
>> normally used to appear at top positions on G SERPs pre Allegra)
>> are now linked from thousands of auto generated pages

max_mm your theory is interesting, and i have personally thought about the same thing.

Perhaps a competitor can do very little to harm your ranking, but thousands of competitors (serp scrapers and site copiers) may make it appear as if your site is part of a bad neighborhood even though you're not. They may also add a lot of duplicate content.

Plus: A lot of scrapers do increase the competition a lot.

>> top positions on Yahoo

Again, this sounds very reasonable / probable to me.

MikeNoLastName

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 6:41 am on May 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

Actually they are #2 and #3 on Yahoo. The #1 site on Y is the official .gov site on the topic which is ranked #10 on G. NOW whose SERPs sound more correct?

max_mm

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 6:46 am on May 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

What made me suspicions that this might very well be the cause is the fact that many webmasters who reported major loss of google traffic here also said that they are doing great on yahoo serps and enjoy top positions for their keywords.

I guess it came with a very expensive price tag, disappearing from google serps, (my sites included).

max_mm

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 6:51 am on May 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

Actually they are #2 and #3 on Yahoo. The #1 site on Y is the official .gov site on the topic which is ranked #10 on G.

Give it more time. It will catch up with them on next updates unless g do something about their crippled algo.

BTW, do you have access to server logs for the sites you mention? i bet you'll notice a gradual definitive decline in G referrals. Give it some more time.

Mauricio



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 6:58 am on May 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

The Yahoo's search for websites theory seems to be pretty reasonable. Maybe not the only but one of them.

I have a PR7 site, 4 years old, 18.000 pages, updated daily with content articles and news.

Here is a graph of my Yahoo's links history from Marketleap.com; There is a big rise four months ago: [auroraluque.com...]

max_mm

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 7:17 am on May 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

Mauricio,

And how is your site doing now on google's serps. Was it affected by the recent update(s)?

Mauricio



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 7:19 am on May 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

Obviously, I lost all my Google's traffic.

max_mm

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 28756 posted 7:56 am on May 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

I get a 45 degrees upward graph when i check my most affected site for link popularity over yahoo (over market leap - thanks for posting that site BTW)

Graph is starting to sky rocket around the beginning of April and goes from 150 to 20,000 links by mid May.

I checked other affected sites and i get a very similar picture. Exponential growth in incoming links over a very short period of time.

Scary!

This 233 message thread spans 8 pages: < < 233 ( 1 2 3 4 5 [6] 7 8 > >
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