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Fear Factor : Ranking the Updates

 3:13 am on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)


Worst update: Nov 2001?

3rd, 4th, ort 5th: Florida?

Other biggies:

Altavista: Too many urls Dec 1998 (?)
Altavista: Black Monday, August 1999
Excite: Density tweak (Dec 1997)?
Inktomi: Over submission update Spring 98 (?)

[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 7:25 pm (utc) on Dec. 2, 2003]



 7:02 am on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

this is the first night for me in florida, and surely it is very dark.

I long to see some light, I tried to do this with a touch but didnt work.

Any other source of light?



 9:00 am on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

The real difference between this one, and all previous purges, is that the others all left the SERPS in a better state for the user. They were all better targetted, and also resulted in higher quality, although not necessarily by a great deal.

This is the first one that has actually REDUCED the quality of the index. For countless searches the returns are now very poor in comparison. That is unique.

I suppose the other difference is that it has adversely hit so many of those who have followed the search engine's (Google's) guidance and advice to the letter in terms of approach. The betrayal factor is therefore new and significant, IMHO.


 9:14 am on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

December 2001 - The original PR 0 update [webmasterworld.com]


 11:00 am on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

Florida was the worst because it has greatly affected many honest sites for reasons unknown.


 11:34 am on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

With this particular update, I didn't notice much of a change in my two little sites or the words I search regularly. It's Google over the last year or two that frustrates me, as a user that is. Seems like I can't look up anything without getting a link to some stupid book on Amazon in the top three (If I had been looking for a book from Amazon, I would have gone to Amazon). Worse, I've done searches where more than half of the results on the first page come up as those affiliate stores populated by Amazon feeds where every pages is a carbon copy of the same reviews.

Earlier this evening, I did a search for that popular infomercial product Widget. The number one spot belonged to the Widget company (at least Google got that right), but the number two spot was a site that advertised itself as "the alternative to Widget" Widget was mentioned three or four times on their whole site, but because they had a lot of links, they apparently deserve to be number two on the Widget keyword. The third site was a broken link. The rest of the first page of results was populated by pages that were nothing more than lists of links.

I wonder if Google's popularity has less to do with quality and more to do with that the average user doesn't know where else to go anymore.


 11:53 am on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

Worst update?


May be this will change ecommerce for ever.
I think investors will think twice!

I am sure SEo's will beat this update.

What's next?


 11:54 am on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

The cross linking update at the end of 2001 was probably the worst one for us, quite a few sites were dropped and never fully recovered resulting in us having to register new domains in some cases.

Florida hit a few index pages of sites targeting very competitive phrases but all in all most of our sites are still doing OK. We have focused on obtaining rankings for a wide range of less competitive phrases in addition to the main ones, these are still doing as well as ever even if in some cases the main keywords are not.


 12:08 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

Florida and AV are pretty close. But I guess the honor belongs to Florida. :)


 12:13 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

> too many urls

Ya, that update by AV affected EVERYONE where florida and some of the other updates affected just a few. Florida has to go down to #2 at least and probably #3.

> realize that no search engine is your friend.

Anyone who sends me referrals in this day-and-age of the net is my friend.

> Google Nov 2001? (remember with the link farms?)

Right rmccollom! I get "update blind" after awhile. I'll update date that date above. Thanks.

> rationale behind deciding

Number of sites affected in relation to the number of sites listed.

Whereas Florida has affected a bunch of sites that are quite vocal, I honestly don't think percentage wise, Florida ranks up there - probably even in the top five.

Although there is alot to criticize with this update, I have some sympathy for Google on this one. They are getting piled on somewhat unjustly on this one (hence this thread to try to put it into perspective).

> Black Monday

That was different that "too many urls". If you surf back in the old AV forum to some of the early posts about altavista, you will find that much of WebmasterWorld was born on Black Monday.

That is a different update than "too many urls" filter and the ransom note submission page.

> 80-95% of the previous sites in the top 100 are gone

In alot of sectors (tech especially) you can't even tell there was an update. We pull from about 100k unique kw's a month here on WebmasterWorld, and most of those didn't budge an inch up or down. I literally would not have known there was an update if I didn't read it here on WebmasterWorld - average daily referrals right now, are up 5% over a month ago (but that is to be expected with normal growth).

> quickest deterioration of quality I have seen

It is soooo specific though - down to the keyword, that I have a hard time trying to apply that to all of Google. Where as the cross linking thing, nuked alot of sites. So did the big PR0 purges.


 12:13 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

Let's examine the alternatives.

Yahoo's majority of traffic is people using their email and the same can be said of MSN/Hotmail.

FLORIDA will be remembered as the beginning of the END.


 12:28 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

Whereas Florida has affected a bunch of sites that are quite vocal

Well, take a baby's candy away and it goes into kick and scream mode ;)

creative craig

 12:34 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

In alot of sectors (tech especially) you can't even tell there was an update.

I have to agree with you on this Brett, I have a couple of personal sites in the tech sector and have not seen any sign of an update, at work though in the travel industry 3 sites got hammered and replaced with sites that belong in the property market!

You live and learn :)



 12:58 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

Any other big updates that any one remembers?


 1:09 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

<It is soooo specific though - down to the keyword, that I have a hard time trying to apply that to all of Google. Where as the cross linking thing, nuked alot of sites. So did the big PR0 purges. >

Not really. Basically all commercial categories stink now.


 1:17 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)


What was the number of the old AV forum?

If I remember right, Black Monday was Oct 25th 1999, when AV did a much publicised redesign/relaunch.


 1:29 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

I watched most of the above updates come and go.
I'll admit that Florida hasn't hurt me to bad but the quality of the results are more then questionable unless your Amazon.
One search phrase that brought me a tiny bit of traffic is now turned into a big money maker. Looking at the results I see that our page at #2 is the only on topic result in the top 20.
For me the ranking of Florida puts it at the top, not because it hurt ME but it has destroyed what used to be the best search destination on the net.
Sorry Google, you blew it big time with this one:-(


 1:30 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)


I think there is nary a commercial category that is unaffected, and in those categories it is quite common for 80-95% of the sites from the top 100 to have been shunted.

On top of that, eCommerce is almost double what it was in the AV days and more than half again as large as in the Nov 2001 update.

So, if we are measuring economic impact, I think this has to rank as the biggest.

If we are ranking total impact on all searches, I would agree with your analysis.

As others have pointed out, it depends on the measuring stick.


P.S. I think there are two other factors working on the reason this update's critics have been so vocal. One is the feeling of betrayal, as many of the shunted sites seem to be 100% within Google's guidelines. The other is that Google is the only game in town right now. According to the stats of a very well-known individual around here, a certain not-to-be-named site that all of us love gets 96.75% of its search referrals from Google/Yahoo/AOL, all of which deliver these new results. No other search engine has ever been capable of having such a significant economic impact by its dominance combined with the ever-increasing size of the market it impacts.


 1:45 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

I'd say of the updates mentioned in Brett's original post, the Inktomi udate in spring 98 was most definitely the worst. Thousands of site were completely dropped with no hope of being resurrected. I was out of business within a week and so were many, many others.

This one is bad ... but doesn't hold a candle to that one!


 1:51 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

depends on which way you look at it we lost 000,s in the nov 2001, ecomm and infomation sites, most never came back,

This time they just took out our ecomm sites and left the infomation sites. at least while we rebuild this time we can redirect the infomation sites to the ecomm stuff, in some areas now cloaking is all there is left mixed in with newspapers and amazon sites.



 2:29 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

Florida has my vote.

Last night I was searching for a certain gift for my fiancee. I searched using the regular "keyword1 keyword2". Didnt find shiz so I searched for "keyword1 keyword2 -floridaupdateistheworst" and found exactly what I needed.


 2:42 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

Anyone who has been following the outpouring of disbelief on these and many other forums over Florida will quite happily rank this update as the worst due to the current HUGE market share of Google, the amount of commerce that flows through compared to the "old days" and the timing which is, quite frankly, awful. It's even worse than when I lost sites in 2001 from the cross-linking update!

Google has been great for me, both with results in the past and with Adsense. I continue to use Adwords (although, obviously, my costs have gone up since the update)

It's just a real shame that while this update has cleared some Spam, many small company listings have been kicked out as well.

With every search -showmetherealresults .....


 2:51 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

Truth of the matter is:

I just conducted a workshop yesterday with 20 or so marketing pro's for SE visibility and SEO while developing their content with their established content management tool.

Asked the question what SE hey prefer in their daily lives G came out 100%.

Asked if they had noticed any changes quite recently, answer 100% NO.

They represent 5 major industries (specialty chemicals), 20 sub industries (from beauty, health care and textiles to plastics, pigments, coatings and additives and beyond) - AND they are web content developers with main jobs in marketing, use the web all the time.

Guess who notices ANY impact of Florida out there:

1. Group Webmasters
2. Group Webmasters
Last Group Webmasters

Nobody gives hoots about it, this is the honest and shocking truth.

No games, just reality folks. G will not be harmed a bit for any of these updates and adjustments. Users are as happy as can be, go figure, adjust and live on.

Cheers, Jens


 2:57 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

OK, i have been following the florida update thread in all its many forms on webmasterworld. (yes, i got hit very bad as well)

Now for a dumb question (and yes i have gone back over the past threads) why was this update called 'Florida'? Is it because of some data center in florida, or is that just the name that was picked?

(I live in florida, hence my confusion. makes it feel like the 2000 elections all over again)


 3:04 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

Black Monday - from an SEO perspective - was October 25th 1999. The day AltaVista changed the rules, filtered and 'relaunched' all shiny and new and 'more relavent'.

<= Look at the date I joined WW - coincidence? I visited, I lurked - I joined - just like everyone else.

: )

Hey Brett - what was the date I joined the supporters forum?

October 25th is a 'reminder' date.

Who said "those who ignore the past, are destined to repeat it"?


 3:06 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

Because it launched on the day we launched our Florida conference. We needed a male name with F and Florida Fit. We'd had one in midsummer that was a False start that we named Fritz, but it never materialized - so we went with Florida.

...2 seos and a se tech getting off a bus...


 3:09 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

I don't think this is the worst - but it could become the worst in hindsight.
That is if Google really applies this filter across all searches and not just select keyword combos.
If this happens, then the impact will indeed outrank anything ever happened before.

The problem is that Google not only produced lots of collateral damage. The problem is they ditched tons of targeted seo'ed sites in favour of untargeted seo'ed sites. Or, to speak googlish, nuked targeted quality spam in favour of untargeted lowkey spam.


 3:09 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

I missed a florida conference?

I need to get more up to date on these things. Pthth.

Yes the florida update sucked, no im not worried about it because i know google is going to change it, and yes i think big companies didnt notice any change in their traffic because they are, well, BIG COMPANIES.

thats my piece.


 3:10 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

>missed a florida conference

no :-) (I swear to the reading public that this was _not_ a setup). smells like a tag team to me... lol



 3:18 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

ah ha! there it is. ONe in feb, eh? Well, im getting my boss to pay for this one.


 3:25 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

October 25th 1999 Altavista.

Here is some history:


I like the bit about the "proposed AltaVista IPO in 3 months"

And this roundup of the SEO industry and Oct 25 1999 announcements:



Am I the only one humming "do do de do do do de do"?


 3:29 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

I wasnt around for the inktomi big one, but as far as all the Google updates go.........this is a killer!

Im still getting dribs and drabs of traffic from the Google but the traffic I now get is rubbish and does not convert!

So my votes for Florida :(

This 152 message thread spans 6 pages: < < 152 ( 1 [2] 3 4 5 6 > >
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