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Google Update Bourbon Part 4

 12:02 am on Jun 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

Continued from part 3 here: [webmasterworld.com...]

I did the rounds to check on the state of various data updates. I'd estimate that the "0.5" (not algorithmic changes, but rather responses to various spam/porn complaints + processing reinclusion requests) should go out this weekend sometime or possibly Monday. There should be a binary push this week to improve a corner-case of CJK-related search, and that new binary should have the hooks to turn on the third set of data. Regarding finishing up the second piece of data, there's still two data centers with older data. Those data centers will probably be switched over by Monday. By Monday, 2.5 of the 3.5 things will probably be on.



 4:32 pm on Jun 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

>as i mention to another thread there are
>some fellow webmasters that there sites
>are back in preburbon update rankings ,due ,
>who knows to much crying or what ever,I
>just show that the member heleborine had
>her site back as well with europe for visitors
>page ,as far as i can see from previous
>postings ,do we have to keep posting here as
>long someone gets bord and bring our site back
>to preburbon rankings or what?

I really doubt it had anything to do with the quantity of crying and moaning. :-) Either it was something they fixed on their own sites (Helleborine getting rid of the hijacking link to her site seems a likely candidate), or else they just naturally resumed leading positions as Google folded more data in/fixed bugs in their algorithm (seems very likely for EFV since a few of his pages are still AWOL but others are ranking better than ever; so it's hard to believe that's a penalty or a manual intervention).


 4:56 pm on Jun 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Please help!
New User/First Post
I found this forum after my site stoped getting visitors from Google. After lurking for a while I thought I would ask for advice. My url is listed in my user profile. Someone please take a look and let me know if you see anything wrong with my site.
Site History:
The site is outdoor recreation related and went online in 1999. I use FrontPage to build it and had/have no real experience with web sites. I sometimes teach a photo class which people from out of town come in for the class. The site was started because I had so many people ask about things to do here in the mountains while they were here. What started out as a few pages in a small area is now over 19,000 pages covering 14 states.
Untill a few weeks ago the site recieved around 3,000 visitors per day. 18% of these visitors placed us in their favorites folder. Since Bourbon I get around 650-750 per day. I do not know if I have my pages optimised for google or any other search engines. By the way I still rank great in Yahoo, MSN ect. I'm not very up on SEO (ok, I will confess, I had to do a search on SEO to find out what it meant). I have read on this forum about the non-www, www. problem which I have not done anything about yet.
I do sell ads to local business and last May someone from Google called and invited me to add AdSense which I did. I have learned a few things about building web sites, but most of the things I learned to late for my site, for example when I added AdSense I had to do so one page at a time, if/when the day comes to remove them I will have to do one at a time again.
My site is broken down into States and then Counties with the recreation oprotunities listed for each county. The really strange thing about this update is the fact that although most of my site is burried so deep in Google that no one will ever see it. I have two states (main page of these states)which still rank in the top 10.
Anyway if some of you do not mind please take a look and let me know if you see something which may explain this sudden drop. Untill this update and finding this site I did not even know google did big updates, I have always gotten a lot of visitors from google (75%).
Please be gentle and remember I'm not very bright about some things, if I have done something stupid let me know.
Thanks for your help.


 4:56 pm on Jun 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Before invoking "manual intervention" for my ranking recovery, remember that the site that hijacked me was a "self-service" directory where one registers a login, and writes up their own listing. I was therefore able to remove the hijacking link myself, on that other site, without any help from the offending webmaster.

But on to something more important than my 2-bit website.

Folks - I really don't want to raise anyone's hopes up un-necessarily. I have to be really careful in phrasing this.

I've been hinting at it in my previous posts - I believe that my site's hijack is not unique. Perhaps something in the update process, not on purpose, triggers certain events that results in what we see. It might - just maybe - be the reason why so little commonality is observed between the sites that got hit. The factors are off-site.

When I learnt about my own hijack, I searched the web for information on 302 hijacks. I was led to believe, from reading this information, that a hijack could be detected by having my listing show up in the SERPs, but with someone else's URL. I didn't see that at all, and dismissed the possibility.

If hijacks were that obvious, we wouldn't be posting here endlessly scratching our heads about why sites are going down so drastically. Hijacks, unfortunately, are not obvious. But their effects are a tell-tale devastating downgrade in the SERPs. Bear in mind that I don't want to give the impression that all downgrades are the product of a hijack, there aren't enough facts to support this assertion.

A webpage has been prepared with some screenshots and a step-by-step, easy to understand explanation of how this exploit can be detected by none other than yourself. It's only one example so far, but different types of hijacks have different symptoms, and are detected differently. It's also a fun example, with a cute cat in it! More examples will be added later to cover these other types.

You can sticky me if you're interested and would like to see the 302 educational page, but I have to move away from the computer for a few hours. You might have to wait a little!


 5:03 pm on Jun 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

In doing a G search for link:my-domain.com I found a hit that is 302 hijacking my site SIX TIMES. Just ONE of the links on the bad page appear if you click the URL in an email for example. I MUST go to google.com and enter link:my-domain.com and it may take SEVERAL TRIES to see this specific hit show up! Clicking the G result goes to a page with G AdWords, and below it are 5 links such as this:

link my-domain.com in the Free Online Encyclopedia

Find the Best Sites For link my-domain.com With Starware

Look for link my-domain.com

Find link my-domain.com
Your relevant result is a click away!

Info.com - Find Info for link my-domain.com

Of course where you see "my-domain.com" above is my real domain name. Now notice how each one of those has "link" it in since that was part of the G search! It almost seems like they are hijacking the Google results! Each one of those URL's shortcuts to my site shows a header check of 302.

One of the links to me does remain on the page and it does not appear to be any of these possibly "dynamically generated" links. That link is always on the page even if you do click the URL of this bad page in an email. That link is ALSO a 302 (hijack?). So is this indeed a site that is hijacking my website?

What I find interesting is that I ran some other domains through with that link:mydomain line and this site that is "302'ing me" does NOT show up for any other domains! So, if these 5 links at the top portion of their page I mention are dynamically generated via the Google link: command, it would seem this "questionable" website would also be showing up in the results for these other websites. But, it's not, I'm apparently the only one, or at least the only one of many domains I checked. BTW, this website is NOT any of the "self-service" type sites, and they never had any permission to link to me.

[edited by: Clint at 5:04 pm (utc) on June 8, 2005]


 5:04 pm on Jun 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

A short comment.
There is a distinction between positive (constructive) and negative (destructive) critique.

Google with their spiders will in a moment know if something is written about the company. They are not a monopoly in the industry, but they are the market leader and most other companies follow. This


search engine relationship chart is interesting.

In addition there are a lot of metasearchengines that live on top of Google and Yahoo. AT & T were split. Antimononopoly laws may be more important in the internet search industry than other places. The Norwegian meta search engine "Twingine" was launched as an april fist joke that Google and Yhaoo should join. It is my hope that both will exist in the future, preferably as independent engines.

There are two types of people, people that pawe the way to the future and people walking behind. Of these there are three cathegories
- those who don't mind.
- those who profit by the leaders.
- those who critizise.

The day there is silence and no critique is dangerous.



 6:28 pm on Jun 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Clint - I am so glad that you have found the most likely culprit for your misfortune. Six hijacks! Criminy! No wonder.

On the other hand, I understand that if the offending webmaster won't cooperate and remove the links, nothing can be done to help you. And there is no real guarantee that removing the links will help.

Let's hope that the next update won't bring a new crop of hijack tragedies.


 7:18 pm on Jun 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

I've heard some talk of Google re alligning it's dependence away from DMOZ as a main method of supporting it's PR algo' .

The rumour is that their is a new reliance coming in on a more reliable "clustering" and "definition" of sites to create easier control over the results that are displayed

During the update there has been a big shift. There seems to have been several unsuccessful attempts at migrating this over and this latest one is the the last attempt.

There is an issue over large DBase page driven sites where the results have been severely weakened, which i've yet to hear back on - I'm not sure if this is somehow connected.

Does anyone have the inside lane on the above [ ie know anything to support the above? ]


 7:19 pm on Jun 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Now, here's the real question for those of us who have been 302 hijacked:

If this 302 issue is something that Google won't resolve, should we move our site over to a new domain? Is this the only way to get rid of the hijack?

confused ellie

 7:20 pm on Jun 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

I was lucky enough to have the one hijack pointed out to me and made a request to the website owner to remove the link. They responded rather quickly and said they deleted the link from their site.

Remember, when you request this, to go back and actually check the link. Sure enough, they deleted my site off their site but they did not in fact delete the link itself. I wrote again inquiring why I could still get to the link and thanked them for deleting my site from theirs but to please look into the link. He reponded and explained that since it was a community forum/site that people would get confused so this time he went and changed the link altogether. I went to check the link and this time, it's dead. *whew*

So if you contact them and request it be removed, check to make sure it's really been done!

I think in my case the hijack was likely innocent but who knows... They were rather quick to respond and very polite. Good luck Clint, I hope you can get rid of them.

Not sure I have seen any results yet from mine being deleted but it's hard to tell. Site is SO low on the SERP's that I can't tell what is movement at all.

Good luck!



 7:23 pm on Jun 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Following on what clint did I tried the same thing and found the strangest results. It appears that someone is fowarding their domain to my site.

It looks like they are framing my site and placing their banner as the footer.

here is the result when searching "mydomain.com"
there is just a title(which is the url of my homepage), no description and their URL


Is it posible that I am getting a duplicate penalty from this.


 7:34 pm on Jun 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Well I'm glad some of you have returned to your previous success.

I for one am still busted! Search results for all the terms I did well on are still no where near where I was.

I really don;t know at this point and am just going to sit it out until the next update, then I'll make my move!

Here's to being beaten up by a bully just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time!


 7:40 pm on Jun 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hi thebug151,

There are folks here far more qualified than I am to answer your question, but I did want to say, "Welcome to WebmasterWorld!"


 7:42 pm on Jun 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Either it was something they fixed on their own sites (Helleborine getting rid of the hijacking link to her site seems a likely candidate), or else they just naturally resumed leading positions as Google folded more data in/fixed bugs in their algorithm (seems very likely for EFV since a few of his pages are still AWOL but others are ranking better than ever; so it's hard to believe that's a penalty or a manual intervention).

Nice observations. It's also worth noting that a lot of other changes occurred in the SERPs at the same time.

When my previously high-ranked pages were down on page 2 or 3 or 5 or whatever, many of the SERPs were dominated by template-based "add your review" pages from massive travel sites that use a "broad but shallow" editorial model. For example:

My highly-ranked 50 or 60 pages of content on [coastal village] disappeared from view during Google's March 23 mini-update, while a Priceline page with two or three sentences of copy and a "Cruise to [coastal village]" headline jumped to #1. This was a big change from the previous results.

After Bourbon, my [coastal village] coverage moved back up to #4, but pages from other sites also jumped to the top 10, and the template-based megasite pages dropped to the second page of search results for "[coastal village]." So the improvement in my ranking for that term didn't occur in isolation; it clearly reflected a change in how search results were calculated (i.e., less weight given to massive numbers of pages in a site, greater Google skepticism about template-based pages with little content, and/or other factors).

Another factor that may have contributed at least slightly to the rankings improvement was the 301 redirect of www.example.com to my default example.com that I added to my .htaccess file in late March. This may have helped to consolidate PageRank for links to what Google previously considered to be two domains. (Interestingly, searches for link:example.com and link:www.example.com yielded identical numbers for my domain around the same time that I recovered in the SERPs.)

It's easy to blame manual intervention when things go wrong, and to credit manual intervention when things go right. But that's a bit like blaming an imaginary sun god when your crops wither in a drought or crediting the Virgin Mary when you're thrown from your car and conveniently land in the back of a marshmallow truck. Without evidence, claimng "manual intervention" is like primitive superstition: At best, it's an attempt to explain complex or unexplainable events in mythological terms that a simple person can understand.


 7:44 pm on Jun 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Google as a cargo cult. Cool...


 7:55 pm on Jun 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

PicoTrain, have you checked, maybe you were hijacked also. Seems like we're having a show of hands, with many of us having reason to believe that our sudden and vertiginous drops in ranking are due to hijacks.


 8:01 pm on Jun 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

All my sites have been scraped very deeply and some pages have been highjacked, including 2 or 3 I got rid of weeks/months ago with the removal tool and a couple I could not remove due to meta-refresh, etc.


 8:24 pm on Jun 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

maybe you were hijacked also

Yep, just found a 302 hijack with an inktomi url. Now what? Use the removal procedure I guess... (I'm still digging to see if there are more)

bleh. :(



 8:33 pm on Jun 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Seeing some changes on these datacenters


 8:44 pm on Jun 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

stupid question: How do you find a 302 hijack? I have tried to figure this out and it eludes me. :)



 8:51 pm on Jun 8, 2005 (gmt 0)


you are right...significant movement on those dc's


stupid question: How do you find a 302 hijack? I have tried to figure this out and it eludes me. :)

It used to be you could do a allinurl query and if some other website or pages showed up there besides yours, it could be a 302 hijack. Then run a header checker on the suspect url to see if a 302 is present. However, it seems that others in here identified a few that affected some members in here that did not show up in allinurl

I think japanese found one for helleborine that was not showing up in allinurl for her site.

I would like to know the answer to this question also...beyond the allinurl tool.


 8:54 pm on Jun 8, 2005 (gmt 0)


One method of finding 302 hijackings is to search Google for a unique phrase from your site in quotes. Look for listings in the SERPs that match your page title exactly. Then look at the cache. If the title and cache are exact duplicates of your content, but the URL belongs to somebody else, you found one.

Not all hijacks show up by this method; there may be other methods to find them with server header checks and whatnot, but we'll leave that for someone with a better command of the facts.


 9:10 pm on Jun 8, 2005 (gmt 0)


ann's question got me thinking about my own website. did an allinurl and found a suspious listing. Ran it through a header checker and found a 302.

This was the only one I found this way. It was a scrapper type directory.

With bourbon I have only dropped about 5 positions in ranking. I am in the top 15 now. Could this one be the culprit. If any of you experts in here could enlighten me...I would appreciate it.


 9:13 pm on Jun 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Well, I just gotta chime in again and say that we still see:

- Well optimzed sites with little else going for them (e.g., no backlinks of significance), doing extremely well in the SERP's when they haven't in ages (and shouldn't);

- Pages from auth/hub sites killing pages of higher quality just because the auth pages link to the better pages (old Florida/Austin/Allegra problem);

- Pages being filtered out for reasons that make little sense.

All of it leads me to believe that they either have not finished, or that this is the worst update in recent memory. I'm sticking with the former for now. G usually doesn't miss it by this much.


 9:15 pm on Jun 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

thanks all, will now go sluething



 9:22 pm on Jun 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Using the directions you gave to find 302 hijackings, I have found 2 hijacking my site. Thanks

Any susgestions on what to do now? Anyone.


 9:23 pm on Jun 8, 2005 (gmt 0)


>All of it leads me to believe that they either have not finished, or that this is the worst update in recent memory. I'm sticking with the former for now. G usually doesn't miss it by this much.<

I still see different sets of serps on DCs. But that is exactly what is expected at this time assuming that the last part of update is on schedule.

Billy Batson

 9:27 pm on Jun 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

I gotta say I'm still stumped. I'm being placed on page 20+ for pages that are:

Title: [Search Term] Review
Description: [Search Term] Review
H1: [Search Term]
Linked from the front page of my site that is PR6.

I must have received a penalty. I can't think of any other reason for it.

In Google's Directory in my category my site is ranked 3rd of about 100.

I've searched for hijacks, found none. I fixed non-www pages with a 301 redirect.

Any other ideas?


 9:30 pm on Jun 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

>>Seeing some changes on these datacenters

so am I, but will not get excited, since I've been disappointed so many times. My site shows first for "domain.com" instead of a cheesy link page. I have been sandboxed for a reason and even after removing all questionable inbound link and adding plenty of new content, no luck.


 9:32 pm on Jun 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Seeing some changes on these datacenters

Oh please, please, please, let it be true.


 9:33 pm on Jun 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

We need to be careful what we're calling hijacking, the traditional hijack is where another page redirects to yours, and appears in the serps with your header, your snippet, a copy of your page in the cache, but with the url of the page that is redirecting.

This page takes the position you previously occupied in the serps and your page could only be found if the &filter=0 parameter was added to the google search url.

Google had decided that the two pages were duplicates and that the one to list was the redirecting page. In all cases that I observed, Google was listing the page with the highest page rank.

Just because a page redirects to you doesn't mean that it has hijacked you. It's been going on for ages and I'm sure if you look at any top site there will be pages redirecting to it.

I'm not sure I followed what was happening to helleborine but she was not being replaced in the serps, just dropping in them. I think she was observing that when she did a link: command on a page that was redirecting to her site, she was seeing an identical list of links to those that were showing when she did the link: command for her page.

If we're going to identify whether there is a real, new problem with sites redirecting to ours then we need accurate, clear descriptions of what's happening so we can look to see if the same thing is happening to us.

Having said that, people probably don't understand what I've just written. Let me know if I need to explain better.


 9:35 pm on Jun 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Billy Batson

>Any other ideas?<

- Have you added big number of pages in a short time period?

- Have you recieved big number of backlinks in a short time period?

- Have you checked for duplicates within your site?

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