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Major shift in one word search results
has anyone else seen this?

 3:06 pm on May 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

In my topic there has been a sudden reshuffling of results for one word searches. It appears to me any search using a two or more word phrase is still about the same. But single words seem to be ranked by a totally different method.

It appears to me that inbound and internal anchor text has been greatly devalued. I'm not sure what the new criteria is.


Robert Charlton

 10:06 pm on May 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

annej - Yes, I did notice a shift for a one-word search I monitor. I was surprised to see it change this morning, because it's been stable for quite a while.


 10:11 pm on May 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

Yes, I've seen the same thing. Quite dramatic as far as I can tell.


 11:12 pm on May 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

Is this related to the new "universal search"?


 11:33 pm on May 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

I did see big changes this morning for my main keyword -- very bad indeed for my site -- but they're back to normal now, i.e they're merely bad and not very bad.


 11:34 pm on May 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

For a sector I used to work in for the last 4 years or so .. (and I come by periodically to look for certain dynamics because this sector reveals some core algo changes... ;-)

I am seeing for one of this sectors primary singular terms (top 10):

=> A wiki article
=> Amazon.com (not part of G's universal..but new)
=> A G news listing

This is all new and part of G's Universal Search now...
.. very interesting changes here..

[edited by: decaff at 11:35 pm (utc) on May 24, 2007]


 11:34 pm on May 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

What do you think the change is? My word, "widgeting" has ranked between 4th and 7th for the past 3 or 4 years now it's bouncing around between 20 and 30. Several of the other results that had been in the top few are gone as well. could it be an old site thing?

There are a lot of good, unsolicited, links to my page that have developed over the years. Most people link to my larger site's homepage with a phrase that includes the search word. People tend to use the name of the site for the link and I wonder if inbound anchor text is the problem. My internal links use the same word. Maybe a change is needed.

My other thought may be more way out. Could it be a phrase based thing? Could the page be lacking some crucial phrase that is necessary to get it up there in the serps?

I'm really not very concerned about this as my real traffic comes from 2 or more word search phrases but I am curious about it.

[edited by: annej at 11:48 pm (utc) on May 24, 2007]


 11:39 pm on May 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

Based that this is G's new Universal initiative..
...there certainly has to be more weight on the dynamics of how a site is linked (structurally) across the web...then you combine this with how the semantics are distributed across that linked structure...

It's a no brainer for G to drop in some of their own links (afterall .. they know their own algos and set up for this..or simply program in their web properties..as in the new "news" links)..

This will certainly upset whatever balance was established in these type of sectors (for single and 2 - word phrases for sure...)


 11:44 pm on May 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

Mentioned this in the other thread, largest changes I've seen since July 1st last year.

Yesterday keyword.net rocketed to its highest placement ever. Today keyword.com goes to #1.

Besides that a lot of extremely trivial sites have made the top forty for the one word search, one with random text that is a hysterical joke.

Multiple word searches changed too, but probably within normal ranges.

(And why on Earth Google hasn't given a death penalty to answers.com is beyond me. They might as well call themselves duplicate.com...)


 11:54 pm on May 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hmmm, in the top 10 results the word "free" is found in four of the titles and two others have it in the meta description. Maybe I need to integrate the word "free" into my no longer ranking so well page. ;)


 12:51 am on May 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

I see no change for a word I follow closely in the Plural, but a huge change for the same work singular


 1:05 am on May 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

I see no changes either except more sites slipping to the -30 and -950 penalties.

kamikaze Optimizer

 2:18 am on May 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hi Anne:

I see no movement for my keywords, however, looking at your KW using a data center comparison site, I see lots of different results across the various data centers. Mine are static.

I also see several *.co.uk sites in there, is that normal?

Additionally, the rank pulse meter is showing a huge movement today, the biggest in 6 months and I believe that your KW is one that they track.

I hope this helps.

[edited by: kamikaze_Optimizer at 2:19 am (utc) on May 25, 2007]


 3:01 am on May 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

see no changes worth noting either. for the two one word phrases I watch


 5:31 am on May 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

The major change isn't across all data centers yet though most have some shifting. It will be interesting to see where it settles.


 6:56 am on May 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

My website also goes to 11th page of Google SEPRs for the keyword I was ranked at # 3 since last 6 months.

For the plural of the same keywords, I am still at 1st page. Also the traffic of my website is decreasing gradually since last 2 week. I have loosed up to 50% of my traffic from Google. What you guys think is it temporary or not?

Interent Yogi

 7:33 am on May 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

Yeah I site I have that has been stable on a single word search between 4 and 7 for the last 4 years has dropped to 14 and an internal page has shot to 13


 7:10 am on Jun 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

I noticed a major shift on results for one word searches on May 24. [webmasterworld.com...] Not many people commented on it so it's interesting to see it is starting to be noticed here.

When I look at a datacenter watch tool it appears that most data centers listed there still have the old results but as far as I can tell the new results of a week or so are what are being used by Google.

I don't understand why it is one word searches that have been impacted so much. Any ideas?


 4:06 pm on Jun 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have a feeling it has to do with the season and what people search for. This is what I have noticed for the past year.

September throught December- Eccomerce gets a bump in serps for Holiday Shopping

Janauary through May- We see a lot of wiki or reference material get a boost for students

June through August- We see a lot more events (Concerts, outdoor activities, theme parks) and outdoor information sites get a boost.

Google does adjust somewhat to the season to cater to searchers.


 5:02 pm on Jun 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

The single word terms that I have been watching have stayed pretty stable, with just minor shuffles, for the last couple of years. They were what I would call deep sites with extensive information on the topic.

Your idea that Google is ranking based on what people are looking for is interesting though. The new rankings seem to emphasize the home page of sites that include the word "free" in some way. Perhaps Google has found a pattern of a great number of people searching for the topic along with the word free in the search phrase so there is an assumption that people who are searching using the one word search terms I am following would want a page that includes free stuff.

The other thing that seems to be favored in the new results are directories on the topic. Not spammy directories but hand selected ones which is good. One is the yahoo directory in the topic. Another is an old established directory on the topic. One is a directory on free widgeting patterns. Of course the Wikipedia page is way up there as well.


 6:02 pm on Jun 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

A lot of the one word searches that I've seen shifting in a major way are those words that generate "related searches" or "refine results" in the footer. Does this line up with other people's observations?


 6:22 pm on Jun 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

"related searches" or "refine results" in the footer

Yes, but this isn't consistant. When I looked just now I didn't see it.

When it did show it included my best 2 word phrase in the related list.


 7:56 pm on Jun 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

I wonder if Google will start overreacting to SEO based on its footer links to related searches.


Robert Charlton

 8:23 pm on Jun 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

..."related searches" or "refine results" in the footer...

None of the searches I monitor show these links at the bottom of the serps page. Two of these searches are ambiguous enough that they ought to have "refine results" links, and they don't.

Today keyword.com goes to #1.

In areas I'm watching, this is surprisingly often not the case. Granted, keyword.com domains have a huge advantage in Google, but they're not as completely dominant as I'd expect, and I haven't noticed them jump up in the searches I monitor.

...no change for a word I follow closely in the Plural, but a huge change for the same word singular.

I'm seeing singular/plural issues too, and at first I thought stemming might be a factor... but in one case I'm seeing a boost towards more stemming (if stemming were the only factor changing), and in another I'm seeing a boost away from stemming.

Similarly, with onpage/offpage... in one case toward more onpage weight... in another case away from onpage weight.

I'm beginning to think several of the singular/plural changes I'm seeing might have to do with a combination of onpage factors and how Google is correlating variations of inbound anchor text that include the single words. (This thought about correlation is conjecture, and there are so many other factors that might be at play that it's hard to isolate... but Google has actively been exploring correlation in identifying image content, and it's not unlikely that they would be using it in evaluating links.)

The singular/plural issue might also be simply a stemming threshold, where, once a certain onpage threshold is reached, the stemming factor jumps way up. It's likely that a lot of the stuff we're seeing in Google is non-linear, and that we therefore might be seeing it on some searches on some pages, and not in others.

Other shifts I'm seeing on these single word searches...

- Several examples that indicate a relaxation or rethinking of dupe filtering, at least in some cases.

- The drop in rankings of a prominent page on a well-known site which had ranked for over a year after it had lost the publication rights to an article that had brought in lots of inbound links, possibly suggesting that Google might be looking at historical linking data in relation to content (this latter is conjecture, and I could argue against the logic of this, but it's an area worth tossing out there).


 8:30 pm on Jun 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

in one case I'm seeing a boost towards more stemming (if stemming were the only factor changing), and in another I'm seeing a boost away from stemming

Maybe that's a sign of more co-occurrence factors being used in the ranking and less of the traditional stemming, done in a pure dictionary style?


 11:11 pm on Jun 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

Interesting, the original one word results seem to be back today on both Comcast Search and Google in my topic. The more recent jumbled up results are still on some data centers though.


 12:56 am on Jun 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

Comcast has been holding solid with the older (call 'em may 1st results).

Google.com on the other hand is still awash with the new, weirder stuff. I never knew about.com had so many redundant subdomains....


 9:40 am on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Not content to rank Wikipedia and answers.com articles in the same top 15 for a one word search, Google goes a step further and ranks duplicate pages on topix.com and topix.net two slots away from each other.

Gee, maybe they could figure that duplicate content out sometime this decade.


 11:29 am on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Google.com on the other hand is still awash with the new, weirder stuff. I never knew about.com had so many redundant subdomains....

Apparently they like to misspell words too.


 5:20 pm on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Of the two one word searches I watch closely, there has been a big shakeup in one today - pretty much like a google dance of old.

The site I am responsible for has been the top ranking commercial site for the search for a couple of years. About a month ago it started wobbling. Today it is shifting between page 4/5. None of the sites now ranking above us have come from nowhere - they have all been around for years.

So why is it?

Not quantity or quality of links. Hard to measure but ours are if anything better.

Its not anything wrong with the site either because for other searches (all two/three words - some more competitive than the one word search) we are doing as well or better.

One big difference is the number of times the search word is mentioned on the page being linked to. All the others have the word loads of times. We have it just four times. So maybe it is something to do with getting a better match between link text and on page content.

Another difference is that our site used to focus solely on this search. Now we have three main areas of interest. The sites beating us are all completely focused on the search topic.

My instincts at the moment tell me its the first thing though. It would make sense for google to shift their algorithm more towards on-page content.

I'ld be happy to hear other ideas though.

Incidentally, the top three sites for the search now are ... (removed specific sites)... and wikipedia. Of the others on the front page, two are university pages and one is an established government site, none that interesting, but all ancient and and well linked to from everybody's links pages!

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 6:13 pm (utc) on June 6, 2007]
[edit reason] Removed specifics [/edit]

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