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February 2007 Google SERP Changes - part 2
MetroWebDev




msg:3260874
 10:59 pm on Feb 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

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

trinorth,

You definitely bring up a good point. Up until very recently our site was a bit of mess navigation wise and it was hard for users to find a lot of the information. That has been corrected as of last week, so it will be a few weeks before I can see how the traffic patterns change, but yes, right now the percentage of our more than 1200 pages that are visited regularly is very small. As a long term strategy, we've always gone with 'build quality content' so we continue to add pages with valuable information pertaining to our industry.

Even though most visitors stay confined to a small portion of the site, shouldn't the other unique content be left as is? It fills smaller niches that pertain to more focused user groups. Our industry is very divided by state so pretty much every informational section we add, has to have state by state breakdowns so it's hard to combine this info into fewer pages.

Also, other than immediate backout rates, can Google track user's paths and time spent on a site if the user doesn't have the Google Toolbar installed? Doesn't this bias rankings towards the behavior of users that have the toolbar installed?

Thanks for giving me something else to consider, it is much appreciated.

[edited by: tedster at 5:31 pm (utc) on Feb. 23, 2007]

 

outland88




msg:3261875
 7:11 pm on Feb 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think Martin is "cracking the safe". Google is not really a search engine anymore but a marketing scheme. Google new from the get go they couldn't have millions of Adsense sites dominating the top rankings. Why, because the public at large would see through them. I mean really how many people don't figure out with time than an informational site with supposedly unbiased information isn't promoting a certain product. In other words the rankings must be manipulated more than most people imagine to disguise that Google itself is engaged in the scheme.

The problem though is evolution. Google can no longer control their own scheme even if they wanted to or cared to.

Undead Hunter




msg:3261949
 8:02 pm on Feb 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Outland:

What are you saying? That AdSense sites at the top of their SERPS will have to be banned eventually or hit most often?

Easy answer there would be to adopt Yahoo or other methods of monetization.

Maybe I haven't read every thread, but I don't think running AdSense is the only thing we all have in common?

Sweet Cognac




msg:3262255
 1:34 am on Feb 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

So we sized down the site and added the content from the pages we ditched to the ones we were keeping. Google and the visitors loved that, now we bumped to number 1 again.

trinorthlighting, I did the same thing, and I am seeing recovery. Not number one, but at least the pages are starting to appear in the serps again.

trinorthlighting




msg:3262260
 1:43 am on Feb 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

Listening to Matt Cutts and Adam lately they have been tossing around the saying: "Is your site useful for your visitors" saying. Analytics is a great tool in seeing how traffic flows. Look at those pages that are not being viewed and get the information to the pages that are being viewed. Your audience will love it.

AlexK




msg:3262287
 2:37 am on Feb 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

RichTC:
AlexK,
Personally, I've come to think of the 'Plex as an asylum. "Hey, look what happens when I twist *this* knob".

That has to be the best quote on this thread by a mile!

Well, certainly my site is currently suffering [webmasterworld.com] Bi-Polar disorder:
  • Mon 15 Jan: down
  • Sun 28 Jan: up
  • Sat 10 Feb: down

Overnight falls, followed 2 weeks later by overnight rises, followed after a fortnight by overnight falls, is an insane environment to conduct business within, under anybody's measure.

Some months back, just for a few hours, my site suddenly ranked for a major keyword. Literally thousands of referrals flooded in from Google. 24 hours later, the knob had been turned back and everything was back to 'normal'.

Now, seriously: is that the way that a major-league player conducts business?

Well, is it?

I received a sticky from someone claiming to be a former "Google algo beta tester":
it's a fresh hack from one day to the next constantly trying to resolve a new problem they've created.

What's scary about that is that that is exactly what it looks like. And, as all marketing people know, it's perception that counts.

RichTC:
Thanks for your kind comment. I tend to get SAD [sada.org.uk] at this time of year which, exacerbated by these wild algo swings, has not helped my work rate. Your remark--plus the lengthening days--helped to lift my mood, and I thank you for that.

mvander




msg:3262305
 3:07 am on Feb 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

Mvander:

How "optimized" are your pages? For us, I have the keyword phrase in the Title tag, page name: keyword-phrase.html, and in a brief summary on the side. Article site primarily, the articles themselves don't force it at all. 1 or 2 mentions maybe. Meta-tag descrip. will have it, too. Incoming links are all natural, from all over.

I'd say my pages fit similar structure. key phrase title tag, page name, etc... mostly common practices. It's not key word stuffed or anything. All pages have unique titles/description tags etc. I do feel I have good internal linking as well.

It's clearly a penalty though. This time if I search for the exact title of the article with quotes - "keyword phrase here" - it comes up. If I add our domain name to the search - keyword phrase ourdomain - that also brings it up. But otherwise we're buried.

Exactly. I used to rank well across the board for many phrases, now I am totally buried. It is very disheartening to be outranked by one-page spam sites and parked pages. Really takes the wind out of your sails... You work and work and then it feels like Google just takes the rug right from under your feet.

followgreg




msg:3262433
 6:55 am on Feb 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

Since last Sept. (last time I saw close to clean SERP's I think) there's been some really weird rankings across the board.

But since they turned own this anti-bombing thing back a few weeks ago, I challenge anyone to proove that SERP's are better or even close anything that could be called quality/relevency.

It appears like some big names in the SEO industry start talking about it too (like the SEObook guy).

It's not even about the rankings rollercoaster, it's just that spam suddenly becomes an seo best practice on Google. I can't believe they did it at the plex :)

I start thinking that the assylum idea must be close to reality- Google makes billions anyway whatever happens, at least for now.
I would like to believe that this is a huge TEST, but it looks like it isn't, what is the point of pulling up real obvious spam or cr.ppy content, demoting trusted sources?
Please shoot me in the head if I ever conduct my business like this some day!

...

Fox_Mulder




msg:3262678
 3:33 pm on Feb 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

Maybe someone have seen the IP 193.120.148.177 in his logs 6h-48h before the traffic was gone?

I saw it with two different UAs:
193.120.148.177 HTTP/1.1 googlebot/2.1+(+http://www.google.com/bot.html)
193.120.148.177 HTTP/1.1 Mozilla/5.0+(Windows;+U;+Windows+NT+5.1;+en-US;+rv:1.8.1.1)+Gecko/20061204+Firefox/2.0.0.1

I think it was a Google quality Rater.

[edited by: Fox_Mulder at 3:36 pm (utc) on Feb. 24, 2007]

dataguy




msg:3262686
 3:48 pm on Feb 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

I do not understand why so few of you dare to criticize Google openly.

I know for myself, it has been out of fear of retribution. Sure the chances are slim and it sounds paranoid, but that one guy with his finger on the knob controls thousands of dollars that may or may not make it into my bank account. ..and yes, sometimes it does come down to one guy.

My site was initially hit in August and except for a few days here and there, has never come back.

Now it looks even worse, with revenue projecting to be 1/10th of normal.

1/10th here as well.

This morning, it's back down to like 1/10th. If that.

Funny that 1/10th is mentioned. My site is a very large site so it's impossible to discribe it as a 950 penalty since I can't track the rankings of every page. Truth is I've never tracked the rankings of any pages, I've never thought it was important.

Traffic isn't down proportionally on every page, but overall it is at almost exactly 10% of what the traffic has been historically. I vote for the use of the term "90% penalty".

I think Martin is "cracking the safe". Google is not really a search engine anymore but a marketing scheme.

Yes, and instead of "organizing the World's information" they are "organizing the World's advertisers". Good, relevent, usable information has little to do with it anymore.

My problems started when G started bragging about being able to determine which links were bought to manipulate search results. Come now, the company which can't determine which websites are MFA thinks they can determine intent of a link?

Have you looked at the average blog on blogger or the pages on Google Base? Reminds me of tripod and geocities with slightly better formatting and color schemes. At least the ads on Blogger are consistent (all adsense) Who's the spammer now?

Have you visited the dog naming service that Google holds up as an example to follow? Do you really want your web site to look like that? Whatever happened to "unique compelling content"?

Exactly. I used to rank well across the board for many phrases, now I am totally buried. It is very disheartening to be outranked by one-page spam sites and parked pages. Really takes the wind out of your sails... You work and work and then it feels like Google just takes the rug right from under your feet.

Since last Sept. (last time I saw close to clean SERP's I think) there's been some really weird rankings across the board.

I start thinking that the assylum idea must be close to reality- Google makes billions anyway whatever happens, at least for now.
I would like to believe that this is a huge TEST, but it looks like it isn't, what is the point of pulling up real obvious spam or cr.ppy content, demoting trusted sources?

Agreed on all points. Let's hope this is a test, but I'm afraid it's not.

I thought that if I kept "good user experience" as my top priority when my competition is only worried about getting the most money out of their ad placement and has a whole SEO team working on link buying, I would be rewarded by the search engine which preaches "good user experience". I guess that was naive.

Anyway, rant over.

I had 12 hours of good traffic in February. Hoping for at least 24 in March.

Martin40




msg:3262975
 11:01 pm on Feb 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think Martin is "cracking the safe".

Thanks, but actually I'm only clutching at straws. The only things that seem clear is that buying and exchanging links pay off, but why perfectly good sites drop to #800 remains a mystery. My Adsense theory was borne out of utter confusion.
Things are fluxing like mad at the moment.

[edited by: Martin40 at 11:03 pm (utc) on Feb. 24, 2007]

followgreg




msg:3263012
 12:57 am on Feb 25, 2007 (gmt 0)


I don't believe that Google would penalize anyone for critics.
Critics are good when you want to get even better.

If things are not right, I am pretty sure they are aware of it, in case they are not we should say it openly.
It's for the good of everyone.

I also think that they should communicate what's going on soon with their algo, it doesn't look like an improvement whatsoever.

northweb




msg:3263033
 1:37 am on Feb 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

"I also think that they should communicate what's going on soon with their algo, it doesn't look like an improvement whatsoever".

For sure it's not an improvement as far googles cutomers are concerned. It's all about sucking as much money as possible from webmasters and advertisers.

Since the re-organizing of the serps to make their money sucking machine work better my clicks have gone in 1 week from .10 to .50

what a joke....shareholders must be happy huh google.

lets go live.com

trinorthlighting




msg:3263043
 2:05 am on Feb 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

Fox,

That was not a quality rater, that ip resolves to ripe. Its someone spoofing the refferer and probally scraping or hacking your site.

followgreg




msg:3263070
 3:12 am on Feb 25, 2007 (gmt 0)


>> northweb

I agree with you concerning the CPC, we were playing in the $10 range a couple of month ago. Now that all is messed up we are in the $25 range (ouch!).

IF it is a financial strategy at Google I would like to let them know that our CPC is 3 to 4 times more than Yahoo AND since this even worst organic SERP we convert LESS.

Currently, and trust me I hate to have to say that, we make more money from Yahoo than from Google by far, click quality went way up in the past few weeks on Y!. First time it happens, never seen that ever before.

I think that the current organic SERP's on Google are not helping anyone, including Google.

outland88




msg:3263095
 4:57 am on Feb 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

Well somebody finally went and said it. This is one reorganization by Google that smells strictly of money nothing else. That becomes even clearer if you are an Adwords client. It looks like Google has been assembling many of the pieces since December to crank up that cash flow. I now know what “Big Daddy” meant to them.

followgreg




msg:3263187
 12:43 pm on Feb 25, 2007 (gmt 0)


I've been looking for some apparels related keywords this morning, I wasn't sure if I should laught or cry: wikipedia, youtube, PDF files about "keyword history", Amazon (but the wrong pages, not what I asked for), and a bunch of sites that I would not like to see there.
Not to mention the recently usual spam and textlink brokerage are doing well.

Please someone tell me this is a test...I still keep some hope about Google not being totally driven by finance.

I've never seen so bad SERP's so far, but in the past when things were that screwed there was a reason behind that was related to relevancy.

Or am I monitoring the wrong keywords? Is it me only who sees all screwed up? :)

Thaparian




msg:3263701
 1:56 am on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

Wow!

Finally.....

My site's google rankings are normal.

Traffic is more than what i used to get 10 days ago.

Others also see changes?

AlexK




msg:3263729
 2:28 am on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

Thaparian:
Finally.....
My site's google rankings are normal.
.
Others also see changes?

On gross hits for Sun 25, yes; I will have to wait another 2 hours for AWStats. G Analytics works USA West-Coast hours, so will take even longer.

If accurate, that makes:

  • January: down
  • Fortnight later: up
  • Fortnight later: down
  • Fortnight later: up
This is now "The Grand Old Duke of York" territory. What a way to run a business.
followgreg




msg:3263730
 2:30 am on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

Tharapian: >> Good for you, and from looking at your profile I see that you are using adsense and building around that model...that is just a part of the problems I described.

I currently also see people building their own pages on blogspot, linking back to their own main site...and that's it, and it works now?! Even for fairly competitive keywords.

I really think that this is some test, can't believe otherwise or it makes no sense to me.
It might have to do with filtering high profile spammers or something, they will deal with small spammers/low quality sites we currently see poping up everywhere soon.
In the meantime, it really looks weird.

>>What a way to do business:
In a manner of speaking, if a site is on page 1 yesterday and that today it is on page 90 (the usual for fair quality sites for weeks now), then my conclusions today are that yesterday I was totally wrong, correct? Should Google follow this train of thoughts?:)

AlexK




msg:3263823
 6:15 am on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

followgreg (this thread):
>>What a way to do business:
In a manner of speaking, if a site is on page 1 yesterday and that today it is on page 90 (the usual for fair quality sites for weeks now), then my conclusions today are that yesterday I was totally wrong, correct? Should Google follow this train of thoughts?:)

itloc this thread [webmasterworld.com] (Jan 15):
Yesterday there has been a big change in our traffic ... I came up with two possibilities:
.
2. It was planned for a reason ... if Google is provoking a complete shift of their results for a limited amount of time - they are able to identify pages that are affected by that. They get large scale data about the pages that rank under different circumstances. 1:1.
.
I say it was intentional, planned and they will use the collected data during the next few days or weeks.

vicyankees




msg:3263825
 6:18 am on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

I am noticing some big changes in ranking once again. This time things seem to be coming back in our favor. Anyone else seeing anything? The upward swing started Friday has continued since after losing considerable ranking across the board. I'm still not to where I was in December but things are looking better than they did last week.

outland88




msg:3263848
 6:47 am on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

What I'm noticing with a lot of sites in my sector is when their rankings go up the supplementals increase and when their rankings go down the supplementals decrease. So now when people say "I'm back" I take it with a grain of salt. What does that really mean anymore with regards to Google. Except for the seeded sites and areas of lower competition what is vaguely stable anymore.

ramachandra




msg:3263851
 6:56 am on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

Today noticing ranking from nowhere to 100+ for a site launched 6 months back to our targetted keywords.

vicyankees




msg:3263874
 7:34 am on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

My supplementals are staying around the same - i'm trying to get ~200k pages out of supplemental and get back the long tail searches i was seeing pre-supplemental in late november/early december.

Optimus




msg:3264144
 2:04 pm on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

Taking a sudden leap into the top 10 for a highly competitive keyword-keyword search in my travel sector, comes a site which is 6 months old, has five pages of useless content and the entire site is PR0. What it does have on the home page are two links to a large travel booking portal. Oh, and it runs adsense, of course.

Another newcomer in this same lucrative set of results is a link from a "vertical marketing directory", which redirects to the site that bought the listing.

Another site with its 948 instances of hidden text (which I have reported twice to google), remains in position six.

Keyword density checks on these top 10 sites show the benefit of keyword stuffing, with some having a density of 12 for this particular phrase.

And yep, my site - with a keyword density of 2 - continues to drop in ranking and on allin commands.

Today, I've been reading some of the techniques from black hat SEO sites, and I'm starting to think that I'm the village idiot for having thought that the good guys would win this battle.

We won't...and google cannot either. As long as its revenues grow from spammers and black hat sites, it will not have the inclination to root out this rot.

Biggus_D




msg:3264380
 5:24 pm on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

Well, I just checked again the last page of the results and my pals over there are sites like ABC News and LA Times.

What else does Google need to fix this?

surftrack




msg:3264536
 6:53 pm on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

THIS IS ALL ABOUT NOW BEING A PUBLICLY TRADED COMPANY.

Period.

Garya




msg:3264559
 7:06 pm on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

I checked my domain on most of the datacenters and it come in 27 for my key phrase on 95% of them and 35 on the rest.

But when I search on the main google default its no where to be found.

Its been like this for about a week, what gives?

Biggus_D




msg:3264566
 7:10 pm on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

If this a scheme to rise profits the Adsense publishers should see a much higher eCPM.

But wait, there's no way to know if Google is also ripping the publishers!

[edited by: Biggus_D at 7:12 pm (utc) on Feb. 26, 2007]

thedigitalauthor




msg:3264609
 7:45 pm on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

And the story continues with my sites as well.

Down in late December, Rebound in beginning of January, down 1/3rd in 2nd half of January, Up first few days of February, 25% down from early December, but holding. I only check my stats every few days for fear of what I may find, then, a few days ago my traffic was at its lowest point in months.

I spent a few days in January cleaning up whatever code and pages I thought Google did not like with no change. I have done nothing (except add additional original content and pages - including almost daily news pages) and I am still going down in Google Serps.

One of my pages that has continuously ranked well top 1-3, keeps on dropping out "950'd" or similar and keeps on returning. The page is completely original. In fact, I had a page up on this "widget" before Wikipedia and even had information for a while that Wiki did not have. Now the all powerful wiki is in the top 3 and my site is no where to be found. There are a number of good links coming in from other pages about that widget, and I do have a number of outbound links to related the widget on the page. The key phrase of two words for this widget is in the title and descrip tags. It is also in a H1 and two H2s. The phrase does come up a few times within the page within the textual discussion. Looking at the rest of the nine sites in the top ten Serp, I have a lot more good original content than they do. [This is just one example of a few hundred pages about various individual widgets]

I began this site a few years ago for "fun." I found out that I could make some money from my fun site and let it grow. It was part fun and part extra income. It is still fun, but I have become used to the extra stream of income [yes, Google, websites besides your own, like to make money]. I never tried to realistically do SEO for the site. I only came to webmasterworld or other similar forums for technical advice (e.g., how can I do XYZ with FrontPage) and never really came to the SEO forums -- that is until this past December, when my happy user friendly site began dissapearing from the Google serps. Now, Google has made me care about SEO. If my pages went down two or three, even five notches, I would never have really cared. The Internet and the content therein is continously changing, and one would expect change. However, dropping dozens or hundreds of positions sometimes overnight is not reasonable. I feel like I have done something wrong.

Someone above brings up a point about Google trying to mold the content on the web. In today's non-virtual world, it is hard for a mom and pop business to suceed, but there is a chance with a bit of hard work. In Google's online world, the mom and pop don't even have a chance. Even if a mom and pop site has the best content in the world, it may never be seen because it does not show up in the Google Serps.

Sorry to ramble on for so long, but I continue to add good content and keep on falling in the rankings. I have a few websites and for some strange reason, this Serp roller coaster has only affected the sites with over 1000 pages. I am currently creating another site about a topic I am passionate about. I have already begun to add content, but it will probably be another few months before I publish it live (there is still a lot more research I need to perform before I make it available) -- and at the rate the Google serps are changing, the only people that are going to be able to see it are those using other search engines. However, if Yahoo and MSN see that Google's business model is making money, the beginning of the end is upon any but the largest website that can afford to stay within the top 10 or 10 results (do you ever go beyond that?)

This is all just speculation on my part, but I am so frustrated!

Martin40




msg:3264635
 8:07 pm on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

The wholesale link buyers are passing me from all sides. I wouldn't be surprised if MC's "best practices" recommendations actually led to lower quality SERPs.

The lack of success of many of Google's services like Blogger, Google Video, etc, shows that they don't really know how the Net works. Google is not a webmaster's search engine, it's a programmer's gadgets-producing engine and that's why we're constantly at odds with them.

[edited by: Martin40 at 8:33 pm (utc) on Feb. 26, 2007]

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