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Completely bummed out since Bourbon update
Traffic down 60-80%, AS revenue down by 75%+

 11:32 pm on Jul 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

I have submitted a sitemap, made some changes to my site, sent an email to the address GG gave, nothing changed. Basically, my faith in Google AdSense has pretty much been rewarded by ruining my site and my plans.

Sure, this sounds like sour grapes, but since May 21, traffic and revenue dropped off a cliff. It's no longer worthwhile to update my site. Just as an explanation, I took what was once a subscription-based service in password protected pages and converted to publicly available pages with adsense. It was good, increasing income every month until Bourbon devastated it.

I've tried what I reasonably could but am at a point now that I am seriously considering chucking the entire site as the revenue isn't even worth thining about at this point. Anybody who has any reasonable ideas, please post or sticky me.

Bummed out and depressed...



 1:55 am on Jul 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

[quote]This is what has made me suspect that many sites hit by bourbon had simply failed to correct errors.[quote]

Had an error of the sort you're referring too, dropped like a rock on the first of six (5?) bourbon algo tweaks. Fixed it and by the final update we came back perfectly. Not sure if that is it in entirety. But you have to act on these things.


 1:58 am on Jul 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

Yep, I agree it's complicated. I did some searches for some of my dynamic content and found the results between Y, MSN and Google to be somewhat scattershot, though MSN generally got it right.

My strategy, and I think it was and still is OK, was to generate additional traffic with news articles though the bulk of my adsense hits come from my price guide, which is in a separate directory, correctly linked (I think), and stable (no dynamic links).

So, I am more encouraged today than I have been in a few weeks and I just need to clean up my code and stick to my plan, not get too stressed over Google and forge ahead.

As opposed to many here, my site is not overly specific, except for the price guide. I have too many interests to stay in one niche for long, so I'll just stick with what's worked - for the most part - for me.

Many thanks to everybody for their help and support.


 2:01 am on Jul 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

I do a wide enough range of sites that usually these updates hit one site, or group of sites, pretty hard, thus giving me an idea of what I did wrong, but this one just didn't, which leads me to believe I for once did nothing wrong.

Usually I'm more interested in these update threads, but, again, since I didn't experience any significant changes, I didn't have much motivation to keep track of bourbon, or is it brandy [see, I really didn't keep up with it]... I do know that we were much more vigilant in avoiding errors during the last year than I had been before, especially in trying to catch things that weren't high on the radar but predictable as negative signs to detect for an algo. When a certain type of seo [you know the ones, they have 'formulas for success' and 'guaranteed placements'] recommends a certain thing, it's almost a dead certainty that is exactly the thing that will be hit hardest in the next update, follow the herd and you'll be in the slaughterhouse and all that.

Oh, I thought of another thing we never do: keyword counts, if I were google and I found a page optimized for any keyword, over 1 or 2%, which is the max that could be considered natural in any circumstance, I'd immediately flag it as spam and over seo'ed, this is my number one guess as to what will be hit next, if it wasn't already. Nothing is less natural than the percentages I see seo's quote all the time as acceptable, 5-7%, which is ridiculously high, that would never occur in any normal writing unless there's only like 20 words on the page. Even on pages I've aggressively optimized for a keyword, I rarely hit 2%, if that.

fearless, you have one big plus, if your site is an old domain that counts for a lot, so if you just clean up the code, do some basic onpage seo type stuff, while avoiding anything excessive, like obsessive key word counting or spammy internal linking etc, you should be fine.


 2:33 am on Jul 15, 2005 (gmt 0)


Most of the time what nails one is easy to figure out, however even after you get it fixed it will take time for G to pick up the changes.

It would be one thing if you could actually clean things up and not have the cleanup undone.

And yes, Virginia there is a better way to do some of this.

Meanwhile get your redirects installed, your mess cleaned up, and be prepare for a wait.

Meanwhile how is that PR update going?

I don't normally pay attention to that.


 2:42 am on Jul 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

at some point even the most faithful will realize that yes, in fact google is a business, with the standard boring requirements big businesses all have, you know, making money, paying dividends, trying to keep absurdly inflated stock prices as high as possible, all that boring stuff.

Yep, Google is a business. No one's disputing that. But not all of us believe that Google is a business run by idiots. :-)


 2:57 am on Jul 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

No, not idiots, that's for sure. But they do have to play by certain rules if they want to maintain their market position, and one of those rules is increasing cash flow. All businesses who want to compete at the levels google wants to have to have cash flow. And sometimes actions can result in satisfying more than one requirement, for example, dumping junk sites forces those junk sites to move to adwords, and also cleans out the serps, it's win win.


 3:34 am on Jul 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

if I were google and I found a page optimized for any keyword, over 1 or 2%, which is the max that could be considered natural in any circumstance, I'd immediately flag it as spam and over seo'ed

Sorry, but that's just silly. In the course of "normal" writing about a specific topic, you're likely to use the language of that topic much more than 1 or 2 times in every 100 words.

Let's say I write a little "how to" article about dog training, for example. I'm very likely to use the phrase 'dog training' more than 2% of the time, and if you count each instance of the individual words (dog, training), a helluva lot higher than 2%. And that's a pretty generic phrase. If my keyword was very specific, I'd bet my % would go higher, not lower. Some words just don't have many synonyms, so the exact word gets used many times in even a short page.


 3:38 am on Jul 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

>>dumping junk sites forces those junk sites to move to adwords, and also cleans out the serps, it's win win.

Before you start jumping to conclusion, please note that not all sites have the redirect problem and the other issues mentioned here. I get 1% (yes 1% left) of the traffic I am getting before. So are you saying that all these years google's result has been junk? Then suddenly all your sites rose to the top... quality results.

Everyone thinks their site is quality content but keep your fingers crossed as you may the next to be hitted on the list. And from the way I see it, it would be all of your sites being hitted since you say none of them are being affected now.

Even the one site of a regular poster here that google recommended as quality affiliate site has almost all their pages going into supplemental results.

I am getting more and more crap referrers from scrapers so they must be having a boom time. Some even have public stats to support it. In fact that may the next best thing to do, create tonnes of scrapers.


 3:50 am on Jul 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

Or a manure pile site, done correctly that would be like raising the lower reaches one corner at a time using cinder blocks.

Then you'd really hear some screaming.


 3:58 am on Jul 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

No, I'm not saying all the results have been junk, I'm saying with every major update google is trying to get rid of junk, that's why they do the updates, if there wasn't junk there wouldn't be much reason to do an update, and my sites didn't suddenly jump up, and I don't like google because our sites do well in it, I like it because it works for me when I do complicated searches, the type google has always done very well in, advanced technical stuff, or at least it works better than the other ones. I never do the 'normal' kinds of searches, the kinds that are heavily targetted by spammers, so I have no idea how google does with that type of search.

The thing that interests me is that we haven't seen any significant change at all, the sites rank almost exactly like they did pre bourbon, that update was remarkable only because we saw no changes of any significance on any of our sites. If my site had been massively affected this would be interesting to me to read, and I might try to figure out what the difference is between sites that weren't affected and sites that were, but that's just me.

"And from the way I see it, it would be all of your sites being hitted since you say none of them are being affected now."

That sounds a bit defensive, no? I can see why you ran into problems if this is how you approach things. The sites do in fact have pretty decent content, fairly high quality, some are considered hub or authority, many are linked to from some of the better sites on the web due to their content, sorry if that bums you out, that took a lot of work to achieve, brett's 26 steps are always by our side. And I try to keep up on avoiding errors that may cause problems in the future, in other words, anticipate, don't react.

I'm not saying this to brag, I'm saying it to point out that there might be certain things that triggered some of the problems that people had, and that those things might have been avoidable. We've been slaughtered before in updates, florida for example, but that's what made me start paying more attention to seo stuff, we deserved to be slaughtered, since we had junk spam stuff beyond belief, and it worked pre florida.

swebbie, you're probably right re keywords, but my guess is that if people follow rules and try to push things to the limit, that will be a trigger, either now or in the future, this type of thinking is how we avoided any issues this update, that's all I'm saying.

[edited by: 2by4 at 4:06 am (utc) on July 15, 2005]


 4:05 am on Jul 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

I learn one thing important too!

Avoid some pages 301 to just one page (like 404/old pages redirecting to /)

Anyone had trouble with this too?


 4:13 am on Jul 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

sorry if that bums you out

Well dude, I don't care if you bum me out (good for you, hope it stays) but I believe I am not the only one that finds your comment offensive.


 5:15 am on Jul 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

We were completely confused. Our traffic is down 66%, seems it took the big dive on March 9, 2005- is that a special date? Adsense down 66%, Traffic down a similar number.

Our site has been up 5 years and is a well recognized index for parents of young children.
We are finally looking into this,never really cared about search engines, felt if we built a good site, did a good job, all would be well. And our relevancy on Google and all engines was good. Perhaps this change in algo's and "direction" of G is the cause. Kind of in shock- Adsense was a big help, and Google was a big help with traffic- no more- kind of dazed at this point- reading.



 5:40 am on Jul 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

Offensive? whatever. Guess I'll stay away from the bourbon stuff.


 5:40 am on Jul 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hi 2by4

>... spammy internal linking etc....

Would you be kind to elaborate more on that.



 11:00 am on Jul 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

Vict2rGoodman, a quick summary...

Google did some extra penalty, it appears to be a page duplication penalty, it hits niche sites that mostly about a single subject. It even bumps Google itself down the rankings for a topic for which it is the authoritative site.

As the penalty is calculated and the new result sets uploaded, more and more sites are bumped down into neverland. March 9th was a mini update I guess.

Its gone on for a long time now, so its not likely to be fixed. Read the various Allegra/Bourbon threads to see each roll out of the new numbers as this penalty is calculated for more and more sites.

Check that you haven't accidently triggered the penalty, by having both www.domain.com and domain.com indexed in Google.

At February many Fortune 500 sites disappeared from the rankings for things they make, currently its only a few middle tier sites and lots of lower ranking sites missing, so they've turned down the penalty a bit.

We think they are trying to fix spam by adding in a spam valuation to the rankings, producing a safe but non authoritative result set. Whereas we believe they should rank sites by spam index in order to filter them by hand review to separate ham/spam and that the results they return should be sorted only by authority with spam sites removed.

Google also introduced sitemaps, I don't think that has any connection to the problem personally, but read the sitemap thread and try that too.

The above is just my opinion.


 2:48 pm on Jul 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

Obviously, it's too early to gauge results, but since I made sme changes - sitemap, 301 redirect in htaccess, some linking changes, and let's not forget threatening to pull all my adsense code (adsense responded and said they'd forward to google engineers) - yesterday was the second-highest traffic day of the month, third-highest revenue.

Today, the results are nothing short of astonishing. eCPM is 10X higher than normal and earnings have already surpassed all but one day of this month.

My initial conclusions run as follows: 1. OK, I know adsesne results can be skewed, but this is ridiculous; 2. If traffic and earnings continue at this pace, I'll be back to pre-Bourbon levels; 3. It will be good today, bad tomorrow; 4. I need to write more content, add more pages; 5. I'm taking the rest of the day off.

It's nice to have something good to report for a change, but I have to admit that steveb was right all along, making the change in .htaccess was the most important piece. Thanks to another member here who has not posted but provided the correct code, which is all I really needed all along.


 8:05 am on Jul 16, 2005 (gmt 0)


>It's nice to have something good to report for a change, but I have to admit that steveb was right all along, making the change in .htaccess was the most important piece.<

Iīm gonna call steveb in future Mr. 301 ;-)

He has been telling people about the importance of 301 redirect non-www to www.yoursite.com so many times on so many threads. GoogleGuy has also supported stevebīs argument. Facts and feedback of several members have also underlined the importance og making a 301 redirect. I have also included stevebīs recommendation in Google-Updates Survival Kit



 1:09 am on Jul 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

So many people have asked for this code, I thought it might be best to post it here.

It was supplied by another member.

Stick this in your .htaccess file:

Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteBase /
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^example\.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.example.com/$1 [L,R=301]
RewriteCond %{THE_REQUEST} ^[A-Z]{3,9}\ /index\.shtml\ HTTP/
RewriteRule ^index\.shtml$ http://www.example.com/ [R=301,L]

This will redirect all non-www traffic -> www. It will also redirect all /index.shtml -> /. This will consolidate all your index urls into one ... www.dtmagazine.com/. I would also change the link from your logo to www.dtmagazine.com/ ... again this will help consolidate your domain name.

Note that I was using shtml, while many of you are using html, so make that change where necessary.


 3:23 pm on Jul 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

is anyone that's affected by bourbon using a directory style method of reciprocal links?

I am wondering if mine, Arelis (hope I am allowed to post that here) is a cause of my problem. The two sites I was using this directory link structure on both tanked with bourbon. I am just hunting similarities between all of the affected sites.

Any chance of a show of hands from those who's SERPS haven't returned or are still getting a bit worse (I think mine have finally stopped falling with only 10 phrases left to track inside the top 200 out of about 50 - though I don't want to jinx myself and make them drop more!)


 4:12 pm on Jul 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

The problem is not google, it is the google Adsense code, more specifically, your incorrect placement of the code. As I told you in another thread, two minutes ago, the problem is you, not Google. I just sourced your page, and the problem was very obvious.

Your Adsense code is at the top of the page. Get it out of there, and at the bottom.

Google decides relevancy by hundreds of criteria, but one major piece of the puzzle is proximity to the top of the page. Most important things are placed high on the page, above the fold, and therefore the higher it is in your code, the higher the importance. This is one major reason the meta title tag is so heavily weighed. It is at the top.

When webmaster place code in the top part of their code, for any reason, it pushes the keywords of the page further down in the code, often below the crucial top 200 lines, sinking the ranking, and then they wonder why. When you place Google code, which has the word google in the code, many times, above all your own content, you just made Google a very important keyword on your page. How nice of you to do that. Google thanks you.

Writing them and threatening them? lol Too funny.


 4:31 pm on Jul 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

but since I made sme changes - sitemap, 301 redirect in htaccess

When did you make those changes?


 4:48 pm on Jul 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

Don't give up so fast. I see that you have a high number of URL-only pages listed by Google. I had the same problem and this is what I did to solve it.

My traffic is also down over 80% since Bourbon update. I noticed that I also have a high number of URL-only pages listed in G.

I have no dynamic urls, have submitted xml sitemap, have a sitemap linked to homepage and have over 26,000 pages listed at [google.com ]

Does anyone have any thoughts about how to get these url only pages indexed correctly?

[edited by: ciml at 2:55 pm (utc) on July 26, 2005]
[edit reason] Turned off notification. [/edit]


 4:57 pm on Jul 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

I have no dynamic urls

What are all those php pages if they are not dynamic?

They may not contain a Query String, but they certainly are dependent on server side parsing IOW dynamic.



 5:02 pm on Jul 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

Writing them and threatening them? lol Too funny.

Sorry, are you replying to me? If so, I have never mentioned writing to google much less threatening them! I do however have my adsense code at the top of the page. I suppose it could make a difference - I hadn't thought of it. Do you have anything to back this up? I have never heard any mention of this before.


 5:08 pm on Jul 18, 2005 (gmt 0)


Since you seem to know exactly what's wrong, how about explaining why traffic and revenue is off by 80% since Bourbon and the AD PLACEMENT WAS EXACTLY THE SAME FROM JANUARY THROUGH JUNE?

If my ad placement is wrong, it was wrong when my site ranked #1, and the home page ad placement was in place since September of 2004, so I don't think I was mercifully passed over for 9 months.

One would think that Google's algo is smart enough to filter AdSense out instead of including it within its ranking parameters. If not, that would be pretty stupid.

Also, MSN and Yahoo still rank my site #1 for many keywords, so once again, it's not me, it's Google, and their algo, specifically.

I understand your respect for multi-billion $$$ companies, but you certainly understand that if Google were a little more transparent, they'd be easier to work with.

BTW: Your site doesn't show up properly for me in Mozilla. So now what did YOU do? ;-) Lighten up.


 5:09 pm on Jul 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

Google code only needs to take up two lines, of code, JS is not documented as being parsed by any crawlers that I have heard of (If this is documented somewhere, please let me know).

Google Ads have been noted to drop in relevence if they are 'below the fold' EG past the half way point of a page. 200 lines of code? I don't think I have a page with more than 20 on most of my sites...

Not sure G code is the problem. Interesting idea though.



 5:28 pm on Jul 18, 2005 (gmt 0)


I think Janet was trying to respond to me. I suppose it would help if people would put the name of the person they're responding to somewhere in the message, especially if they're going to criticise or make suggestions to code.

oddsod, sitemap about a week ago, the rest about 4 days ago. Still not back to anywhere near where it was, but I'm making other changes, adding content, moving things around, and still complaining to Google (can't hurt, I suppose). Some day, maybe they'll let somebody in on a secret or two.

I am acutely aware that Google is playing pretty fast and loosse with the welfare of people's sites and that's just not right. I've said it before: "Google is the mother of all scraper sites."

Now, I'll add to that. They've used OUR resources, OUR sites, not to mention cannabalizing DMOZ to make their BILLIONS. As it says in the good book, "the love of money is the root of all evil." (often misquoted)

Hey, it's easy t have a clear conscience with a couple billion in the bank, I guess. You listening, Sergy?


 5:36 pm on Jul 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

Just thought I'd mention that my site is back to normal on the .com Google site, but still not on the .co.uk site. This is still a problem because all UK users are automatically redirected from the main site to the local one. The site is in fourth position for the main keyphrase, so things are looking good...


 6:01 pm on Jul 18, 2005 (gmt 0)


I hope I can give an example of why I responded...

The post I replied to said G code was the problem on a page, but made no mention of the excessive ,(comas) in the description (general rule less than 3) that make it look keyword stuffed.

Gave no hint that there was not an H1 on the page, let alone the proper use of heading tags through-out the page.

Made no reference to the fact that the main <p> style that is defined repetitively through out the page causing bloat when a comparison of code to viewable text is run and could be easily moved to a style sheet off page.

Had no indication that all secondary <p> styles that are also repeated through the page could also easily be moved to the same style sheet, and defined with keyword or topic specific tags.

Did not mention that the alt tags (3 for the entire page) could be adjusted to fit the main theme of the page better.

Forgot that the tables could be rearranged so the text appears at the top of the page and the two top tables containing links and the graphics could be (usually) arranged so even if they appear at the top they load last, getting the spiders to the page text sooner.

Missed that none of the links have title="" tags, which can be used not only as they were designed, but to help define the topic of the page.

They just jumped straight to a JS code that may not even be read by search engines and deemed this to be the entire problem... I think that a little more thought could go into helping someone out.



 6:14 pm on Jul 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

I just need to vent a bit here, so bear with me.

I want to make an analogy which I believe is appropriate.

Suppose you were a house builder and you are building a tract of homes in different styles, sizes, etc. The building inspector comes along while you are in the framing stage and tells you that you have to conform to building codes A, B, and C. You comply.

A few weeks later, you and your crews are doing outside finishing work and the building inspector comes along and says you have to comply with codes 1, 2 and 3. You comply.

Another week goes by and you're doing electrical and plumbing and you are in compliance with codes d,e and f. But here comes the building inspector and says that code A and B have been changed to A1 and NB. You stop your work on electric and plumbing and redo your framing. The inspector comes along and now says that code NB does not allow for codes 2 and 3....

You finally get the houses built and the inspector comes along and cites various code violations, many of which have changed in the 3-4 months during which you have been building. You begin making changes, but your cost overruns have taken the profit out of the selling price of your homes.

Isn't this exactly what Google is doing? Many of us have perfectly good, relevant sites ranking well on other search engines. Google keeps changing the rules and it's killing our bottom lines, not only because of lower traffic (affecting everything from AdSense to banner impressions to online sales), but making us spend time in redesign instead of creating new, valuable, relevant content.

I've made some mistakes, that's for sure, mostly in redesigning my site over the years. But the proof that I'm doing things mostly right is in the SERPs on Yahoo and MSN. IMO, Google is a major pain in the behind and needs to get THEIR act together.

I just did a search and found scrapers and garbage at the top of the SERPs in G. THEY ARE WRONG. NOT US.

Therefore, I'm going back to what worked for me: writing new articles, creating new pages, making my site BETTER, more USEFUL to visitors.

I don't think anyone has an absolute handle on how Google works and those who haven't been hit by rolling updates likely live in fear that they will be next. The ultimate solution - short of paid advertising - is branding, link building, site building.

Sorry to go so long, but this Google garbage has made me crazier than I already was.

Good luck to all.

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