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July 2007 Google SERP Changes

 11:38 pm on Jun 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

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

I am the owner of a large < specialized topic > news website. We have seen continuous good traffic from Google ever since we started, 5 years ago. However, on the 27th June 07 our Google referrals dropped suddenly to around 1/7 of what they had previously been. It has remained the same for each day since. We are still number one for < our main keyword phrase >, but all our article rankings seem to have vanished.

We have staff, who we pay each month with revenue earned from Adsense. Obviously, with the drop in traffic our Adsense revenue has gone through the floor. So now we are faced with the possibility of not being able to meet our costs in the coming months.

I guess it is possible, if this happened at the same time last year to other people, that Google may just be using the holiday season to make some alterations to their servers (taking them offline?) or something like that. It really makes no sense, so that is all that I can come up with.

It seems as if this has happened to a lot of other people. So, my question is, for those of you who have seen this before - do the rankings come back? If so, how long does it normally take?


A Worried Webmaster.

[edited by: tedster at 4:36 pm (utc) on July 1, 2007]
[edit reason] make specifics more general [/edit]



 6:09 pm on Jul 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hello - just wondering if anyone else spotted a shift around 6/29.

Our main keyword is pluralized (ie. blue widgets), and our on-page optimization as well as link building efforts have centered around the plural form. Due to that, we have always ranked well for the singular version of the keyword, riding the coattails of our optimization. On 6/29 we went from #8 to #136. The ranking page changed from the homepage to a seemingly random internal page.

The weird thing is that this same scenario happened to two competitors that I have been tracking, so it doesn't seem isolated to our site.

Anyone else notice this shift? Obviously, we haven't optimized for the singular, and I wouldn't have brought it up if I hadn't checked that the same thing happened to our competitors. Did we get too complacent with the similarity of rankings between plural and singular keywords?

[edited by: tedster at 9:17 pm (utc) on July 18, 2007]
[edit reason] moved from another location [/edit]

Robert Charlton

 6:40 pm on Jul 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

circuitspore - Welcome to WebmasterWorld. I can't comment specifically on 6/29... but single word volatility has been going on since about 5/24. Take a look at this thread...

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

The singular/plural issues that you mention are noted in that thread as well.

While single-word volatility has continued, it appeared to have settled down for a while until a few days ago... at least for the results that I monitor.


 11:40 pm on Jul 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

As of 7/18, my post that was dropped then re-added (#1 SERP) has now been dropped completely again.


 1:25 am on Jul 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

The two word searches seem to be "back" as far as i can tell there are very little changes overal. The one keyword SERPS are way off. It doesn't feel natural. If for example a user inputs a simple keyword like "forest" the first result is a weblog kind of site with no in formation about forests at all. The hotels, shops, info etc. websites are on 3 and lower. Big brands are listed on 1-2 if the keyword represents a brand. But if the keyword is directly in the domain like www.keyword.com (and exactly this way not www.hotelkeyword.com) the results are not good, sites weblogs that only have a randon keyword on the page or url are listed higher.

Also there are many websites that cannot be found anywhere in de SERPS anymore. Including big sites (above PR2). Mostly these pages have several listings of articles spanning serveral pages (the snippet of certain articles can be repeated). These indexes where listed high at certain keywords, users (i also) like those indexes, because it is easy to find al related articles on that certain website. Google is not indexing the site at all, and 1 month ago they where listing the indexes.

[edited by: Gerwin7 at 1:27 am (utc) on July 19, 2007]


 8:28 am on Jul 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

I've seen a huge drop, I can't even find where our site is now for 2 keywords that we are targeting. However our site is only 4 weeks old so its hard to know if this is part of the "sandbox" effect, if that even exists or the aging filter that some people refer to.

We started out at 3 place, then 6,7 and then wham gone. Don't even rank for the company name(same as domain name), where before we was top. I'm sure it will settle down soon....


 11:21 am on Jul 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

260 results for my site name and I'm on the last page with other 950'ed sites.


 11:25 am on Jul 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

Yeah, I've finally found our website, last place....



 11:47 am on Jul 19, 2007 (gmt 0)


I don't even think about G traffic at least until the site is 6/12 mths old. Anything a new site ranks for won't last I've got one new site sat at number one for a good keyword but I know within a few weeks it will vanish till G wants to rank it again

I wish G wouldn't do this and would much sooner not see the sites rank at all for 12 mths then rank and hold rather than this off & on all the time - least with M & Y once they rank they stay! - grow up G


 12:11 pm on Jul 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

Websites are like fine red wine, it takes time before they are ready to be consumed.


 12:16 pm on Jul 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

LOL true just a shame G likes to give us a taster first - much sooner wait till shes aged


 3:10 pm on Jul 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

My site still has not recovered since June 29th. My site pages are mostly dynamic. I wonder if that has had anything to do with the sudden drop. Has anyone else had their dynamic pages dropped or lowered drastically in keywords?


 8:39 pm on Jul 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

^^ Northstar:

My site dropped on 6/29 as well, but the site is 100% static. No recent changes made to content/coding/architecture of the site.


 9:03 pm on Jul 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

When you say drop, can you not be more specific? I mean drop could mean 1 place, 1 page or right to the bottom, come on help us out here.


 12:18 am on Jul 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

>>My site pages are mostly dynamic.

I really don't see how that makes a difference. MANY high quality websites today are database driven.


 11:32 am on Jul 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hi, first time poster so go easy!

Iíve read this thread with interest as we are currently experiencing a brutal downgrading in our SERPS and Iím at a loss as to a) why itís happening and b) what to do about it.

I thought if I could explain our circumstances then maybe the fine minds on here can help me find a solution.

Our Site: a classifieds type site with approx. 15,000 products across 600 hundred categories.

Our SEO focus: at a product level we look to index well for keyword phrases based on [manufacturer name] + [model name] e.g. ďHonda CBR400Ē. At a category level we look to index well for keyword phrases based on [category name] e.g. ďJapanese 400ccĒ. No black hat techniques, all our SEO has been based on on-page optimisation and getting relevant backlinks.

Previous Performance: we frequently ranked #1 - #3 at a product level. At a category level we have wider variance, from #1 to #20 but generally good results and generally improving.

Performance since 15/07: many product level phrases falling fast or disappearing altogether. Category level even worse, dropping dozens of places across the board e.g. a long term (2 year) two word phrase that has dropped from #7 to #120. Overall traffic down approx 60% and falling further each day.

Interestingly (if thatís the word), a lot of our pages have turned grey in the PR toolbar.

Possible Cause: A week ago I decided to add <h1> headlines to all the product level pages and some of the category level pages. At a category level, the lack of a headline seemed the only difference between our #7 ranking and our competitors in the position #1-#6 above us so I thought it as a no brainer to add the tag. The category level headlines are added manually. At a product level I thought it would consolidate our good ranking and having a heading would make the product page easier for the user. These headlines are added automatically when a new product is added and are resized using css to fit on with the look of our page.

So...this may be an obvious statement, have the changes I made caused us to have these massive changes in ranking? Everything I heard suggested <h1> was a good thing and that google liked pages that had a single headline but, as itís the only thing weíve done to our site recently, I can only presume this has been our downfall.

Having said that, pages that have had no changes are also suffering the same fate so maybe itís not just the <h1> change, maybe we are caught up in a general google run-around. The only other significant site change is that we added Adsense about 3 weeks ago.

If it is the <h1> changes that have caused the problem, should I sit tight and wait to be re-indexed (hopefully even better than before)? Or should I take off all the changes and revert to the previous format.

Sorry this post is long but hopefully it gives an idea of our problems. If there are any ideas or suggestions I would be incredibly grateful for the boardís input.




 12:02 pm on Jul 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hi Richard, I'm new here too... :)

Just thought'd I'd mention that our downfall occurred a few days after I changed our H1 title so that it matched the anchor text in links. This text was the same on quite a few websites linking to us, I think it was a step too far.

I've changed it back to what it was originally. I've also got the sitewide links removed with the anchor text. Not sure if this is something that can be recovered from, but if we recover I will post again here.

Didn't know this could happen until it happened.... The site is very new, only the second time I've really tried to get anywhere on google. First time was a great success, however it was for a much more popular subject.

Surely alot of people new to this will fall into the same trap trying to get links to their websites, it's quite an extreme reaction, to be at the end of 500,000 results? None of the links we have are paid links, we have 3 outbound links on the front page, and a few on the links section. 2 of the 3 on the front page are to government websites on the subject and another is to a link exchange, but that website now ranks in the top 10 for our keyword with a link to our site.... Its all rather strange. It's not like we are trying to make money from links.

Another posibility is that because we used the same text that is on the front page ( a brief blurb) as the description to all the websites we have submitted to, we are seen as copying. The paragraph is now all over the place, as they are older domains, google may think we are copying them.

There is also the problem of too many links, too fast.


 12:23 pm on Jul 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

Can anyone confirm that if I open a new site to a domain I registered one year ago but has not been indexed (no content or backlinks yet) I have a better chance of avoiding 950 penalties?

And if I start registering domains for sites I want to open next year should I have them indexed now or keep them out (by not linking to them) until the site is ready?


 12:37 pm on Jul 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

>>> When you say drop, can you not be more specific? I mean drop could mean 1 place, 1 page or right to the bottom, come on help us out here.

I meant most of my keywords are ether now buried 20+ pages in or can't even be found anymore. I only get about half the Google traffic I received before June 28th. I was replaced in one of my top keywords by a site that is a broken link and I'm seeing a lot of spam sites on other keyword spots I had.


 1:15 pm on Jul 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

And if I start registering domains for sites I want to open next year should I have them indexed now or keep them out (by not linking to them) until the site is ready?

I'll register a domain and get some content and links right away just to let google know it exists and hopefully bypass any sandbox effect when I am ready to really work on the site.

I did this last year with a blog and I immediately was ranking for terms.

I'm not sure if I would have the same success if I all of the sudden added 4000 pages to the site after 6 months.

I agree with tigger, don't even think about for 6-12 months. However just to play devils advocate I have seen some examples where the "sandbox" is not as severe as in the past.


 1:17 pm on Jul 20, 2007 (gmt 0)


My best guess is that you have changed and up-loaded many pages at once, and google may see this a bit unnatural. Changing it back may be even worse...


 1:27 pm on Jul 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have an old site that I believe received some kind of penalty for being a "thin" site. It was essentially a vertical portal/directory using dmoz data. I'll admit it was crappy by todays standards.

I revamped it into more of a mashup about 9 months ago and forgot about it. On June 23 my traffic rocketed to levels not seen since for many years and ws steady for 3 weeks.

On July 9th traffic has been on a steady decline. The graph looks like a perfect -30deg angle.

I enjoyed nice traffic for three weeks.

Does this match what others have seen? It almost feels like google rediscovered my site and gave it a an old fashioned "freshbot boost" as it crawled pages but now the magic dust is fading.


 1:38 pm on Jul 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

>>Just thought'd I'd mention that our downfall occurred a few days after I changed our H1 title so that it matched the anchor text in links. This text was the same on quite a few websites linking to us, I think it was a step too far. EnglishUK

Thanks EnglishUK, itís interesting you had the same H1 related issue although our H1 tags werenít designed to mirror anchor text on inbounds it was just to make on-page optimisation better. I hope you recover your positions

>>My best guess is that you have changed and up-loaded many pages at once, and google may see this a bit unnatural. Changing it back may be even worse...Alex70

Thanks Alex, Is there anything we can do to make google happier about it? Do you think weíll be re-indexed again fairly quickly or are we going to have to wait a long time?


 11:45 am on Jul 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

The only big change I notice is that 1 huge H1 tag seems to rock with Google right now.
The less content the better too, which is frustrating, all these craigslist ads and most digg posts have no value added very often.
I really don't think that less is better but GG apparently does.


 3:23 am on Jul 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

The SERPS are not back to normal. For at least the words i check. For some reasons the numer 1 and 2 sites have dropped 8-10 places. The websites that are ranking higher are not expected to be on that place. Blogs, news articles...

Furthermore i still see "hundreds" of websites still not reappearing after they disappeared since the SERPS shakeup. For some reason Google has banning those websites. Some kind of sensoring in place? (adwords, informational sites without ads higher?) Bad thing...

Anyone seeing the same trend?


 8:18 am on Jul 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

The websites that are ranking higher are not expected to be on that place

This is exactly what I am thinking for about 10 days or so.
I'm not sure what GG is testing right now.

There must be changes, however if some sites must be demoted then replacement should be of a higher quality. This is not the case in general. There are seriously "cheap" websites ranking on what I consider competitive keywords.

I can't find any reasons for some sites to receive such a boost, they do exactly what MC and crew suggest not to: cheap link popularity, cheap content (or almost no content except huge <h1>Keyword</h1>), cheap link buying from cheap networks, and the usual:
"at keyword company we offer keyword products and keywod service including but not limited to keyword, keyword, keyword, keyword and keyword...."
Hey Google...isn't there a pattern an algorithm can flag here?

As a user these past few days, and similarly to back a few months ago - can't remember when exactly - I find very difficult to get the info I need on a daily basis.
I am a heavy searcher, maybe 100-150 searches per day for work or anything, I probably waste 1 more hour per day recently because of low quality sites.
I even found answers on Yahoo for once, while GG was not answering my question :)

Should I consider that I am wrong and GG is correct? Am I typing stupid queries? Do people type different queries?

If this is a test, well ok, but please at Googleplex...remember that not everyone is on vacation, I need quality sites!

I also, and once again this contradicts totally what MC says Google does, find that link bying is the most successful SEO tool ever created unfortunately.
If the average webmaster joe that I am can retrieve huge link buyers and their network in minutes I find hard to beleive that Google can't.


 11:20 am on Jul 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

It's been a roller coaster for us for the last month or so sudden increase(2 x traffic) then drop back to 1x then increase to 2 x and now we are in a drop (1 x) 'phase' well I hope its a phase! Not sure what is happening but something is.


 10:06 am on Jul 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

Yeah its going crazy at the moment. My main site is in freefall, from 10>14>21>31 and now we are at 40

this has all happened in the last week.

Its falling daily.


 2:17 pm on Jul 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have noticed that most all of the sites that replaced mine in Google aren't very keyword dense. They have maybe one maybe two matching keywords on the entire page.


 6:43 pm on Jul 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

Has anyone seen any dramatic changes in the SERPS? 2 of my sites, dropped from #1 to #7+ and dropped almost 70% traffic. Has anyone else seen changes starting on the 29th of July

[edited by: tedster at 7:02 pm (utc) on July 30, 2007]
[edit reason] moved from another location [/edit]


 8:50 pm on Jul 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

Has anyone else seen changes starting on the 29th of July

Yes, my recently recovered from -950 site moved from #11 to 8 on the 29th.


 9:19 am on Jul 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

> It's falling daily.

My site is slipping weekly. About one SERP place per week for a top single keyword. Another single keyword, which is a euphemism, slipped a bit, too.

It must be the Summer Google Lab Project: "New Algo for Single Keywords."

(I wonder if they not only get their own special algo, but more frequent updates, too.)

Most of my two-word phrases are holding their own, or moving upwards rather nicely, after months of status quo.


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