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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]



 8:54 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

When the Emperor rules with a sword the people become devious.

Ancient Chinese saying, anyway goes something like that.


 8:59 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebGuerrilla, (msg 6)

I think if we were to collect GGuy's posts we would find that he never inferred that if we SEO'ers followed the G guidelines we would be OK. :)


 9:02 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

that if we SEO'ers followed the G guidelines we would be OK.

Even if he did say it, it doesn't mean it is true. SEOs need to stop believing that Google, and therefore GoogleGuy, is out to help....and that they like SEOs.


How easy is that? Tell SEOs to abide by your "guidelines" or "rules", they change their sites according to them, and then you can easily nail them all.


 9:17 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

Ahhh...sweet memories of the 2001 PR0 for me...
>> The GoogleGods have smiled upon me, may they
do the same for all of you!
my post from that original thread, thanks to lazerzub for pointing it out

>> I don't think this (florida) is the worst - but it could become the worst in hindsight.
heini, I agree. I fear (as a SEO) that this is only the beginning.

>> This one is dramatic though. Behavior modification.
Toolman, this one hits home. When GoogleGuy posts this...

>> Personally, I think a user who just types in cheeseburger might want information on how many calories are in a Burger King cheeseburger, or a Wendy's cheeseburger, etc. Or they're having a BBQ and would like to cook the perfect cheeseburger and would like a recipe.

And then I look at the this update, that's what I see. I believe this is the beginning of a major shift. Regular SERPS focusing on information and AdWords/Froogle focused on e-commerce.

If this turns out to be true, than Florida takes the prize. from an SEO point of view only

[edited by: mona at 9:21 pm (utc) on Dec. 2, 2003]


 9:28 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

Anyway, back to the thread topic: what are some of the other big updates that people feel had impact?


 9:38 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hmm, well from the perspective of sittign around WebmasterWorld, dominic caused a LOT of discussion, I htink more then Florida. Just check the visitor graph on Alexa for WebmasterWorld and you can spot the updates and hte stop thereof.

Not a baddie for SEOs, just a busy one on WebmasterWorld...



 9:42 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

Worst update: Nov 2001?

As a webmaster personally, yep. Main site banned for a year and a half after that one. Barely survived (thanks to MSN, though after it dropped Direct Hit last year took another kick in the shorts). After being reinstated on G sometime around Dominic, site just keeps getting stronger through Esmeralda and now Florida (and all the mini-tweaks in between), and so far so good through stemming implementation (give me another week and I might be crying a different story).

Site wasn't around for Excite in '97 but did okay through the AV and Ink updates in '98 & '99.

Definitely November 2001.

Learning Curve

 11:09 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

#1 = Florida

When WebGuerilla gets agitated, you know it's the real deal.


 11:25 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

>When WebGuerilla gets agitated, you know it's the real deal.

Of course, he ain't exactly the sort of folk that Google likes seeing content. ;)


 11:25 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

Dominic May 2003 hit several of my sites REALLY hard, because I had just relaunced them, and the rollback was to prelaunch pages. Got heaps of 404s and little else for a while.

I remember many people back then saying stuff like "Google is broken" "They are stuffed" etc etc. Seems like, in this industry built on change, every time actual change happens, people panic. I think you would be hard pressed to find any Google update recently that didn't engender this sort of response, and perspective is not something that is likely to come easy to most people here.

BTW, can I ask why Florida isn't included on this list [webmasterworld.com]?


 11:51 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

From a search point of view I'd say Florida's been the worst. I don't ever remember being totally unable to find anything relevant on a Google search before. I've been looking for two things just recently. One is a short holiday break in a particular region. On Google the first 30ish results are directory pages - "region page on whateverdirectory" type of thing. Now this would be Ok and you could call it relevant if there was any information on these pages, but after going through every one of them I found they were all blank (apart from advertising). Now how is that of any use to a searcher?

The other search is for some equipment we're trying to find info on before we buy. I tried every variation I could think of on Google, but didn't get a single useful result back. All I got were other companies who provide a service which uses this equipment, but no mention on the pages of the equipment itself.

I tried out AV 'coz I'd read here that it was hugely improved and I was really surprised by the difference in the results. Every single result was spot on with what I was looking for... I was actually quite shocked by that :) So the pages I wanted are out there but Google doesn't seem to know that.

So far as our own sites go I'd say Nov 2001 was the scariest as two sites went completely from the index and I thought they were gone for good - luckily though they came back in the next update. So far Florida and Dominic have been identical (freakily so) for our sites with the same sites moving a little up or a little down and two (not the two we lost in 2001) falling to around 800. These two both clawed their way back up after Dominic so I'm living in hope they'll do it again....

So - for searches unrelated to our own sites: Florida = worst,
for our own sites... maybe Nov 2001? I'll see how it goes...


 1:20 am on Dec 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

Is it just me? I just got home and started reading about this string. In 3 1/2 years, I haven't had but two bad updates. Both times was because I wanted to see if this worked or if that worked.

I don't have the years everyone else has at doing this. What am I doing that is so right?



 1:31 am on Dec 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

Appreciate the input from everyone.

Any other nominations for "big updates". Any we have overlooked?


 2:00 am on Dec 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

I remember several updates that caused some big threads in webmaster forums around on the net. However, you have always been able to find a reason, which usually have been the fight against SE spamming.
To me that's ok... I have tried to stay clear. When a new NoNo have popped up, I have checked our sites for it and if it was there I have cleared it. I have tried to go right to the line without passing it. I guess that's what true SEO is about.

This update is so different. I have no clue why we have been dumped. If we did something wrong, hey Google, include it in your "what not to do" list and we wont!

I'm looking in my referrer logs and see Google searchers visiting my site just to find that they wasted their time (and my bandwidth).

I used to be found for majorkeywords + any_secondary_keyword1 + any_secondary_keyword2 etc....

Now my majorkeyword listings is almost gone and I am basically found on the secondary words and phrases, which is totally misleading without being in connection with one of my major keyword.

Florida is the worst ever. As far as I see it, nothing has even been close to this disaster!


 3:31 am on Dec 3, 2003 (gmt 0)


Do "Changes in technology" count as updates? ::)

Most WebmasterWorld'ers weren't around before Google started it's climb to the top.. But you and I can remember many tech changes in crawling/indexing patterns over the years.

Infoseek eliminating the 10 minute index.
AV implementing "rotated" results (After everyone figured out how to beat the "site popularity" algo)

Though I still feel AOL completely changing indexes from Excite to Ink (In my mind it was an update... :)), was the biggest hit we ever took.......

Inktomi eliminating deep crawling in '99 was another technology change that took a big adjustment to overcome.

Those are some of the big technology changes in the engines I remember over the last 6 years.. (Have we really been doing this that long? :)

If we are voting on just updates of existing indexes (same SERP's provider), then the AV - 2001 update would be my vote...


 3:35 am on Dec 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

Well, it seems everyone still wants to comment on the last update alone. We are trying to put this all in perspective, that it is just another in a long history of se updates that have left webmasters wanting

If we are talking from the seo point of view it depends on what kind of site you are talking about. I don't see any real difference in how information sites are doing at least in topics that aren't very commercial. So the damage has been done mostly to small commercial sites.

From the point of view of the searcher I see no difference when I am simply looking for information but looking for something I want to buy or find out more before I buy has been an exercise in frustration over the last few days. This could hurt Google's reputation. But then where else would people turn?

I'd say AV was a far bigger disaster. Florida will turn out to just be another "the sky is falling" episode like others we've been through. This is not to minimize how devastating it is for many small businesses

PS - Florida is a boy's name? What a terrible thing to do to a kid!


 4:41 am on Dec 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

Florida is definitely up there for me. My sites were in that 85-95% of sites that got dropped so far down they are almost impossible to find. I believe my sites are within Googles guidelines, as I've always focused on making a useful site, and let the site sink or swim on its own merits.

It seems the intent was to eliminate a lot of spammy datafeed results, but the outcome has been a definite loss of relevancy. They threw the baby out with the bath water, and unwittingly (?) made it appear to be a $$ grab via increased Adwords revenue.

I've actually been using Alltheweb since the update. Their results are actually more relevant than google's for the searches I've been doing.


 7:12 am on Dec 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

<<What makes Florida worse than all the others is the fact that Google spent so much time preaching to the Webmaster community that they would be rewarded for staying withing Google's published guidelines.>>

Regardless if this statement is true or false, the perception is valid.

<<Hopefully, everyone will wake up and realize that no search engine is your friend. If you have spent any time even thinking about how you might rank higher without paying money to the search engine, you are the enemy and you will be irradicated.>>

and i thought u guys were censored in what u could say ;)

<<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...>>

brett for non commercial(searches) side of the update "florida" is such an apt name, however for the commercial side wouldnt "Daisey Cutter" been better as that is what they dropped.

<<Or, to speak googlish, nuked targeted quality spam in favour of untargeted lowkey spam.>>
Nicely put.


 9:27 am on Dec 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

Well, I've been watching the search landscape for over 7 years, and the last year has been the most volatile (and potentially damaging) by far.

It started with black October 2002 when Yahoo dumped its directory results from its SERPs, giving Google even more power. Okay relevancy was improved but many paying customers saw their traffic decimated overnight. Then more recently, MSN introduced their geo-targeting which has affected some much worse than others, but for us in the UK, we've taken a 10 - 20% hit from the loss of MSN.com traffic on most websites. And now we have Florida which has caused such an uproar, the likes of which I have never seen. While Brett is correct about the relative impact on rankings being less than previous updates, the total impact of Florida has been far far greater than anything previously, simply becuase of Google's huge market share now, and the way the Web is now.

So it's Florida by a country mile, IMO.

ecommerce man

 2:04 pm on Dec 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

I was hoping that this update would of sorted itself out by now. It hasn't, and I have a feeling it will not.

Florida is by far the worst update for all commercial sites I'm invloved with.

I agree with those who say that Google have applied the "money making" filter to searches. How long until Google start showing sponsored results?


 5:47 pm on Dec 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

Yes, Florida without a doubt. All the others had some impact, but nothing to compare with this. It defies the imagination how Google can be claiming an overall improvement in quality, when that is manifestly not the case in so many areas.


 8:13 pm on Dec 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>>It defies the imagination how Google can be claiming an overall improvement in quality

It most likely can be measured in increased dollars/per user through adwords revenue.

<added/>The best strategy for the future may very well be forgetting everything you know about ranking and looking as stupid as you can.


 8:47 pm on Dec 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

Altavista: Black Monday, August 1999. Worst ever catastrophy.

Lesson learned (egg's in one basket lecture, too many and too bad doorways lecture, etc.)

Florida was not that bad for me, some pages vanished others gained position, all in all not that bad.


 9:32 pm on Dec 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

Florida, by far the worst update. Not because we are impacted by this but the deterioration of SERPs. A breast cancer site showing up for Cable Modem search or a weather site showing up for real estate searches making the SERPs irrelevant.

I pray that Google wakes up before this update becomes the beginning of demise ...


 9:55 pm on Dec 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

Worst update in history I had to fire the 27
illegal Irish students we had imported and
send them back on the potatoe boat to Durbin.

Infoseek (sorry date illudes me) when they
stopped the "automatic instantaneous submission
and immediated results" proceedure... and of
course... the Altivista "keep clicking" the damn
URL you own until your fingers bleed dry trick...

Oh gosh.. am I dating myself?

Guacomole' if it's green it's still good.


 10:21 pm on Dec 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

(not responding to my own message)

But just a thought...

If, indeed, this is the G=oogle to force
more Adwords...

I sort of remember something in the "sales" business..
and I think it was called "Bait and Switch."

Maybe this is the other side of the coin of
the pay to have your site crawled and mysteriously
get better placement scheme....



 11:07 pm on Dec 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

A "person" in Sticky just called me a racist
for my comments about the good Irish people.

So others can be spared the trouble of insulting me
this was my responce to "it."

(edited out leading sarcasm)
I live in an area that is beautiful but, as far as how
"society" treats their underprivileged... it is third world.

Luckily the brothers and I have raised ourselves out of poverty
by hard work and not welfare so common in the big city
where jobs are plentiful, but people are too lazy and the welfare
check is an easy grab at the liberal ticket on the voting booth.

When we raised ourselves out of poverty..... the local society
had to find "slave" labor somewhere else...
They found Ireland. We had lots of hard working, honest, and
decent Irish folk grace our land... only to be exploited as we were.
Except they couldn't walk, take the bus, or SWIM home to get
out of their indentured service. Working two, three, and sometimes
four jobs, living 5 and 6 to a room.... and at the end of their service,
going back to Ireland broke after being mislead of "prosperty" in
America. After 4 years the word finally got back to Ireland
they were getting a raw deal, and thank GOD, the Irish economy
has improved greatly they no longer "needed" to come to America
to get screwed. This is all during the 1990's.
Now we are screwing over the impoverished, (Poland, Chec, Boz)
block.... Oh yeah... it ain't me screwin' over the brothers, Irish, third world,
or otherwise. I can guarantee you that.

AND yes I know this isn't a place for this... but don't ever call
ME a racist.


 11:14 pm on Dec 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

I sort of remember something in the "sales" business..
and I think it was called "Bait and Switch."
I remember it from college. First they offer you a taste, knowing that once you had a line you would have to buy some.

At least that's what my friends told me;)


 12:21 am on Dec 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

Strange results how up there for Florida. And I see some other things as well. I don't know if it's general or for Florida. That's related to adwords so I will post in there.


 12:27 am on Dec 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

Just to the adwords...

We had one maybe two before...now there are
10- or so...
Success for G=oogle!
Bait and Switch... pure and simple.
Of course the fist 8 or 9 are totally meaningless.

and... I was sort of wondering... just recently
the engines had to disclose that some listing are ads...

How about.... we changed our algorithm so that according
to our original disclosure on how to play the game we
weren't generating any revenue.... So now you must
pay to play on the first or second or third page...
Hmmmm.... sure sounds like bait and switch.

And sort of wondering again....
Has anybody tossed around the "monopoly" "oligopoly" word
lately? If Ya and AV.... and Goo were all looking
the same.. and yah-dah-yah-da... Y=ahoo has piece of Goo..
and Ya was just like Gooo... and AV ... are all looking the
same... maybe there is something else about
the search engine train we are watching...
(hey... just trying to use all that 'scoolin and cypherin from colledge.'

Actually... what I see plain and simple is a push of "information sites"
over "commercial sites"... so as to squeeze "commercial sites" into
paying for placement. Number 10 adwords is a major commercial site that has bounced into oblivion...
So.. will the Goo move to this hierarchy go to Ya and AV etc...
Follow, lead, or get in with pay.

Of couse the Dewey Decimal system will never come to the search engine..
but... before the net... and most of everybody... it was called a Phone Book,
rather the yell=ow pages... commercially. Would there be logic in the comparison of placing ads in a phone book... and how to generate ads in the search engine... I know I've turned a lot of pages in the phone book to find the right guy to flush the toilet.

Have a nice day!

[edited by: Chalupee at 1:34 am (utc) on Dec. 4, 2003]


 12:53 am on Dec 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

Florida devestated me as well. Lost 45 #1 spots and 90 % of my pages have fallen off the face of the earth! I will get back over time, but having a speech by President Bush rate higher than my home page is pretty demoralizing.

Is it over? I think not. Will Google achieve what they want with this? I really think not!

We will see what happens over the next couple of weeks, and maybe by then the chaos will cease.

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