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This 120 message thread spans 4 pages: < < 120 ( 1 2 [3] 4 > >     
Dec 2006 Google Changes - Data Refresh or Penalty? (part 2)

 1:13 am on Dec 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

< continued from [webmasterworld.com...] >

Perhaps, based on Matts recent post [mattcutts.com] where he says:

....expect those (roughly monthly) updates to become more of a daily thing. That data refresh became more frequent (roughly daily instead of every 3-4 weeks or so)....

it is time to coin a new term, EVERFRESH. Google, it's full of Everfreshness. :)


Seriously though, let's take Matt at his word (if you find that difficult then for a moment at least) when he says:
I know for a fact that there haven&#8217;t been any major algorithm updates to our scoring in the last few days, and I believe the only data refreshes have been normal (index updates).

Instead of saying Google is broke why don't we ask ourselves what could be the causes that produce SERP fluctuations or the reports thereof?

For example:

  1. SERP results for queries that produce smaller result sets are more subject to large changes because those queries enjoy less competition, documents are more likely to not be optimized, and changes to documents (or the addition or deletion of documents) may have a deeper impact on the SERPS.[/li]

  2. SERP results for deeply contested search queries are more likely to change because active optimization is widespread. That means there are lots of link changes, content changes, and content additions afoot, changes that will change the SERP results.[/li]

  3. People on these forums are actively optimizing documents hence they are more likely to be a part of group 2.[/li]

  4. People who are unhappy with the SERP results or who are affected negatively by SERP changes are more likely to post such on SEO forums than those who are perfectly happy with how the universe is treating them.[/li]

Now that we are in the EverFresh era with daily updates I expect that SERP changes have become more obvious for the exact opposite reason that movement in film becomes more pronounced when you slow down the rate at which frames advance. We have been watching the length of time between SERP changes shorten with each Google upgrade. We have also witnessed, over the years, communication between the data centers improve and accelerate. Now, these have combined and moved so close to real time (when compared to the Google Dance days) that data center watching has become virtually meaningless over the last six months. (The Google Dance has become a GoogleRave.)

I&#8217;m not saying that Google never sticks a hot iron poker into their works (and I definitely think they have made some silly choices like, ahem, their no-follow policy). It&#8217;s just that there are far more, a near infinite percentage more, changes happening to the content and population of the documents on the Internet. I expect to see lots of change to the SERP results.

So, assuming that Matt is as honest as he is nice, what do you see as non-Google causes that can be responsible for noticeable SERP fluctuations?

[edited by: tedster at 3:23 pm (utc) on Dec. 25, 2006]



 12:58 pm on Dec 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thank you for all this informations.

but Iíll pre-ask people to step into Googlersí shoes and realize that supplemental results by themselves donít indicate badness/penalties/problems.

Yes, I'm completly agree with this : Having supplementals results doesn't mean that the website have a penalty.

But, what I said is that all websites I find where SP are before non-SP results on the listing are websites which have lost their ranking.

Have you see website with SP before non-SP on listing which haven't lost their ranking?

Maybe I'm wrong :/


 1:04 pm on Dec 27, 2006 (gmt 0)



Interesting that the given example from Graywolf now is in best shape and order without supplemental results. ;-)

Yes. I have noticed ;-)


 4:57 pm on Dec 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Bit more analysis...

If I do a site:domain.co.uk I get "3,210 results" with 10 pages showing as links at the bottom of the page. However, on page 3 the results stop at 121 with "repeat the search with the omitted results included." If I click this I get results with &Filter=0 appended to the url. Within these results appear the pages that are not ranking well.

The same is true for a keyword search. Only when I click the "repeat the search with the omitted results included." do I find my pages at position 950+ (thanks steveb for the heads up).

So, many of my pages are now deemed "In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 121 already displayed."

I suppose the question is, why are these pages now deemed not relevant? They are appearing as 'not relevant' for both a keyword search and a site:search, so logic dictates that the pages are being rejected prior to a specific keyword search. In otherwords, they are being ignored because of other pages within the site appearing more 'relevant' or they have had a specific flag applied against them. I suspect the content of the page is tripping a filter and although the spider will continue to deeper pages, there is no longer any 'manna' passing from these pages so others linked from them also suffer.

What could trip a filter?....

1) Duplication.... a minefield of possibilities, ranging from duplication within the site or from content scrapers. I have been taking chunks of text and searching within or without quotes. I can see no pattern with pages sometimes appearing and other times not. However, other sites seem to rank without quotes for nearly all phrases. This could be a symptom rather than a cause of the problem.
2) Lack of pr..... unlikely.
3) Too much word frequency.... possible. Maybe some words are being filtered or entire pages are being flagged as not trustworthy for any search.
4) Meta descriptions.... Very similar across the site but again, no pattern.
5) Recipricol links.... very few recipricol links with most pages having none.

I'm now running out of ideas. The site:search supplemental issue still makes me think a bad datapush may have occured, but due to steveb's comments, maybe we are experiencing something that has occured to others over many years.... sigh.


 5:14 pm on Dec 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'll say that the order the pages are listed for the [site:] command is still a bit screwy. True the supplemental results aren't first, but the pages listed in the top 10 aren't pages that get the most traffic or have the most inbound links. If you are super curious the 'top posts' section gives you a much better idea of what's linked to and getting the most traffic. I do plan to do a little testing on the "short url" factor.


 5:17 pm on Dec 27, 2006 (gmt 0)


Thanks for feedback. Pls keep us posted about your testing on the "short url" factor.. and more ;-)


 6:04 pm on Dec 27, 2006 (gmt 0)


I seem to be in the same exact boat as you. Nothing I do warrants exclusion, to the best of my knowledge.

I have 9 website, which are all in subdirectories off my main domain, which has been existence for over 10 years. I have ranked well for many years, on various keyword terms. Saw some decline in rank starting at beginning of December, and then on the infamous December 20th (for some of us), I was obliterated.

I moved to a new hosting service 2 months ago, but all seems well there. Given my website architecture (see above), I had a jump page to my 9 sites at my root directory, which was indexed. I read some posts on "doorway pages", and decided to eliminate this page, for fear that it may be construed as a "doorway page".

I'm not very encouraged at this point, but am refraining from making any large (or even small) changes at this point.

The one thing that I did on December 18th, was to make a small weeping change to all of the pages on 4 of my sites (I added a copyright statement at the bottom of the page). My sitemap was updated accordingly, and 2 days later I was history. Not sure if this precipitated the issue or not, or is just coincidental with December 20th, when a bunch of us got hit.

Whereas Google used to be a major supplier of traffic for me, I now am receiving next to nothing traffic-wise. A couple of my more obscure pages still rank well, which I find odd. But, my major pages are no where to be found. They are in the Google index, not banned or supplementary even for that matter, but my ranking is atrocious.

Hopefully, better days ahead for all of us. Not sure what else to do at this point.


 6:28 pm on Dec 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Well, I noticed that Google is indexing, at least my main page, more often than it was, and the last two times it did, I dropped even lower in the search results, with no changes being made to the page itself. I went from number two for certain keywords down to number 10, now at number 11. Most of my main pages that used to show up very nicely, are nowwhere still to be found in search results.

Any one hear anything new on this?


 7:11 pm on Dec 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think this latest "Xmas massacre" is related to the Google vs. splogs collateral damage problem:


My clean site that collapsed in October bounced up from Dec 21-25, when so many others here were hit, but now it's back in the wilderness again. (It has no seasonal content, and I expected Dec 21-25 to have almost no traffic. In fact, it was almost like pre-October levels.)

Has this "Xmas massacre" turned around in the last two days for anyone?


 7:19 pm on Dec 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

It's getting worse for me instead of better.

Hopefully someone is showing some improvements?


 7:24 pm on Dec 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Anax, yes it did. One of my high-earning websites with thousands of pages and excellent rankings started to go down little by little in October for no apparent reason. It never lost all the rankings but lost at least half of them (some totally disappeared while others went to page 2 or lower) so I did not notice any change on 12/7 or 12/20 as others did.

Today almost all rankings are back and most better than ever. I did not do anything in the meantime except usual updates. During this time, the site: command gave idiotic results and I would see a page that I did not think was the best choice for a keyword and all kinds of other stupid results (like a page going supplemental despite having dozens of links and high PR or a geocities or .info spam page being ranked higher than authority websites).

I can't tell you guys to just relax and wait but this strategy has always worked for me, though, with a lot of sleepless nights and months of lower income.

Right Reading

 7:29 pm on Dec 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

FWIW, I saw a big drop in traffic Dec 20 or 21, but it came back Dec. 26.

[edited by: Right_Reading at 7:29 pm (utc) on Dec. 27, 2006]


 7:33 pm on Dec 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

My traffic is almost next to nothing from Google now. I had one page show up that had disappeared, but that's all I could find.

Since some of you are showing improvements, maybe there is hope for the rest of us!


 7:57 pm on Dec 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Relating to the issue at hand: in https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/webcrawlerrors, what does the "Last Calculated" column mean? I can't find an answer in Google's Help Center.

If you know, please tell me. This could be important.


 10:33 pm on Dec 27, 2006 (gmt 0)


I sent you a sticky mail in response to yours. If you didn't get it (I didn't see it in my Outbox folder), then please let me know.




 12:04 am on Dec 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

After hearing about this change last week I've been religiously checking site: results to see if anything was happening.

One of the sites I manage is a pretty big one, with lots of user-generated pages which share a lot of similar code. This site is a PR8 as of the last export, so it usually weathers these "storms" fairly well. I never saw supplemental results rise above the root URL during this time.

Up until now, the only change I've seen is a slight preference to show third-level domains under the root (ex. forums.mysite.tld) before showing individual pages, but the root is always first.

As of today, the site: results have made a dramatic shift. Still no supplementals, but I have noticed that the pages displayed directly under the root URL are all pages relevant to 2007.

So, the first page of results is all pages with (for example) "Model Year 2007 Widget" as opposed to previously, when the oldest and most popular widget pages would be displayed.

The results count has stayed the same, so it isn't that only newer pages are indexed.

This could be sector specific, but there definitely seems to be some sort of "time-semantics" or "freshness" scoring system being turned up on these site: results.

Anyone else noticing odd things besides supplementals in their sector?


 12:14 am on Dec 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

"I'm now running out of ideas. The site:search supplemental issue still makes me think a bad datapush may have occured, but due to steveb's comments, maybe we are experiencing something that has occured to others over many years.... sigh."

It may not help anyone, but this is a year and a half old (at least) phenomenon. I got carpal tunnel from checking the last results listed (for domains under 1000 pages) to see which pages are pinned to the bottom, effected by this penalty. (I think penalty is the right word as the pages still rank at 950, they aren't filtered out.)

It's not good news, but the pages can be brought back by any data refresh. Every time some pages are penalized, some are unpenalized. I got three penalized on the 20th, and one unpenalized. I got one penalized for 15 of the past 16 months, but it was upenalized for three weeks two different times.


 12:18 am on Dec 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

I wish we could extend that theory to bans too... Something like "every time some sites are banned, some are unbanned". Doesn't it look cute?


 12:39 am on Dec 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

steveb - Do you think it could be related to the freshness of a page. If many other pages in a sector keep having new content and yours stays the same, then eventually the page gets demoted or 'penalised'.


 8:19 am on Dec 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

Freshness helps in general that's for sure, but I don't think that is involved here, as absolutely parallel pages (same linking, same update frequency) aren't effected the same way.

Also, it seems common that everything under a page that is lost in a directory structure gets penalized too... so obviously if a main page gets hit that kills everything, but if example.com/dir1/ gets hit, then so does example.com/dir1/xyz/ even if example.com/dir2/ is unaffected.

If you are looking for a broad reason, what some people call overoptimization seems to be the most general territory, although again it is far too random to really pin anything down.


 9:34 am on Dec 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

... so obviously if a main page gets hit that kills everything, but if example.com/dir1/ gets hit, then so does example.com/dir1/xyz/ even if example.com/dir2/ is unaffected.

That is typical for canonical issues.


 12:28 pm on Dec 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

Do you know if the penalty only impact a subdomain or the entire domain?

Exemple :

If www.example.com have a penalty since the 20 Dec 2006, are the others subdomains take the same penalty?

I have juste the www subdomain on my website, but if the penalty doesn't impact all the subdomains maybe i'll think to cut my website on 30 subdomains (one per section).

If you have more than one subdomain and if you website take this penalty please tell me if all of them take the same penalty.



 1:14 pm on Dec 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

Do you know if the penalty only impact a subdomain or the entire domain?
Exemple :

From June 27th to August 17th, most subdomains with penalty, a few not. Some changes on July 27th.

But since Augsut 17th, all subdomains and main domain are at the same time with or without penalty.


 1:20 pm on Dec 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks for your answer.

So, maybe it's a better idea to have more little websites with differents domains and not have one big website on a single domain.


 2:17 pm on Dec 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

All I can say is that I have 9 websites under a single domain, in a subdirectory structure:


I ranked well for many years, the domain has been around for 10 years, and the I am on Page 2 if I put my main search terms (the ones that formerly ranked well) in quotes only. Otherwise, I'm no where to be found. Have been out of commission since 12/20. Most of my pages are still in the index (non-supplementary), although a few of my major pages are not in the index currently (where did they go?). I'm being spidered in dribbles every day, which is normal for my site. And, I still rank high for just a few of my lesser (financially) keyword terms.

My only changes this month have been:

1) New hosting service 2 months ago. Reputable and always up.

2) Change to about 50-60 pages (over 4 subdirectory websites) that
included a miniscule change on each page. My Sitemap was
updated to reflect that accordingly. Done on 12/18; 2 days
before the massacre. Googlebot hardly grabbed any of these
prior to 12/20.

3) On 12/26, I disabled my home page links:


which was a jump page for my subdirectory sites. I've read
posts that say that this can be construed as a Doorway Page
by Google, but I've had this around forever, even though I
hadn't modified it since October.

4) Several other content changes.

Rankings started to drift lower as of beginning of December, culminating in the 12/20 obliteration.

I've been in communicado with several other forum members, who have had the same pattern of symptoms as I, but none of us can put a finger on commonality that may have caused penalty.

Bad data push? Perhaps. I question whether Google does a rollback on their transactions, if some fail, given the amount of data (and timeframes) that they are talking about. But, no one really understands truly what they do anyway.

At this point, I am really loathe to make any changes for fear of disrupting my highly ranking sites, should the problem be a bad data push. If it isn't a bad data push, then we are most definitely talking about a algo/filtering tweak. But, of course, Matt Cutts didn't fess up to that one...........


 2:24 pm on Dec 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm definitely of the opinion that bad data has been and still is churning around in the system. My site has been hit by this since the 28th November.

I'm hopeful that the monthly data refresh that seems to happen will purge the bad data somewhat but it is just a hope.


 2:54 pm on Dec 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'll be the thorn here....

My search results have never looked better. I only see two in the top ten that are questionable for the primary term, but very excusable.

I'm still not in the top ten, but at least I don't see junk in my way now.


 7:28 pm on Dec 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

I just saw my one of my site's supplemental pages problem(coming up on top) has been fixed itself and return to normal order, if I type in Google: site:domain.com

However the ranking of those main keywords(used to be top 3) still no where in search results. Not sure these two are related now. Any one seeing the same? My another site is still getting wrong at supplemental pages(order).

Nostalgic Dave

 7:51 pm on Dec 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

I've been following this thread since it started, and considered myself blessed that my 9 year old site had not been effected. Well, Christmas day it got hit. EVERY page went supplimental and the main page went into the penalty box at the end of the site: search. Rankings for my main keywords was effected, but not super bad, I was still in the top 30.... which is bad when you used to be top 3. Anyway, today (28th) the site: search is back to normal and my position is now a little better than it was before. Cross fingers! I took the advice of others on this forum and just didn't panic.


 8:19 pm on Dec 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

Just a note, maybe a bit OT, but there's a lot of talk of supplemental pages here so....

Supplementals may not always be supplemental, it can depend on the search query.

A site:www.example.com can show pages as supplemental that show as non-supplemental for a normal keyword query.

At least that's my experience. To see if that was still the case I just did a site: search for my domain and sure enough there were a few supplemenatl pages at the end of the list.

I then picked one of those supplemental pages and did a keyword query for the topic of the page.

Using the keyword query the page showed as non-supplemental in the serps and appeared at #2 of 1,130,000.

That may not be the case for every supplemental page, but it's worth noting.


 10:56 pm on Dec 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

One of my websites which dropped from #3 on google to page 3 to as low as page 8 yesterday, has completely been restored to #3 today. Also another website I had mysteriously drop which is THE source in a certain industry and is keyword.com has recovered to #2 and #3 behind wikipedia (before it was #1, sometimes also #2). I had another website which dropped from #3 to no where found, which has intermittantly been popping in and out (90% of the time out) of the first page, I have seen alot of google referals today so maybe that one is coming back too!

Hopefully this was just a Holiday Filter / Shake-up!


 12:09 am on Dec 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

I was hit on Dec 20 like most here, and have seen all the same problems. I did a site: command, and the cache date for all pages listed is between Dec 14 to 19 with a couple at Dec 23. However, google WM tools shows a cache date for all pages of Dec 23 to Dec 26.

Googlebot is working over time but SERPs for my sector seems to be from a differant planet at this point. search terms w/or w/o quotes give far less relevant results than before Dec 20. Also, the "short" URL issue seems to be a factor. Listings start w/a short URL and then get longer as I work thru the results. (I never paid any attention to it before, but it seems to be a factor now).

As far as I can tell google has changed something (whether they know it or not), and it's not anything on our end of the WWW.

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