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Update Dewey: April 2008 Google SERP Changes

 10:32 pm on Mar 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

So what's up with the Google? Something big is going on?

It would appear we are in for an old style Google shake up. From what I've seen listed on a variety of blogs a number of long standing sites listed on the first page have been delisted or dumped way back.

I've had one site online since 1997 that had a lock on the top spot for my keywords on and off for four years on Google just go "poof", all that's left of it is two obscure pages I haven't changed since about 2001 ;~)

So far I've received nothing in the way of messages on webmaster tools, and my site went missing in action after March 16TH. I'm just going to wait it out to see if the old girl gets relisted. I've gone over the whole thing and there's nothing on the site that breaks any Google guidelines unless there is something new in the algo.

Anyone else going to sit it out before going off the deep end to once agin ask " what does Google Want?"

[edited by: tedster at 8:36 pm (utc) on April 1, 2008]



 2:21 am on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

Page 5 for our unique company name...new day..same as the old day

Our penalty will never be cleared I am almost certain now.



 3:15 am on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

While I still hold the #1 SERP where I think it's important, I'm seeing lots of movement on the other top 10 results. Right now #2 is just a page full of mindless links. I really wonder how that got there. Also it seems wikipedia got moved up a few places towards the top.


 5:03 am on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

Without a doubt, something radical going on. I'm unable to tell which changes in my serps are due to these chages, and which are due to a substantial server downtime I suffered recently. What I can tell you is that at least one of my main pages has been delisted, just one directory deep. Everything is dancing all over the place... so take my advice, go sit on the balcony, put your feet up and have a beer.

[edited by: Asia_Expat at 5:04 am (utc) on April 1, 2008]


 7:22 am on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

The strangest thing we are experiencing is that Google has picked up our US website and has pushed this into the UK search results.

One of the ways we are indicating our sites location is through the sub-domain e.g. us.domain.com so this could mean that alot of the weight given to the word used in the sub-domain is now reduced.


 7:58 am on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

I should have added that my site jumps very predictably.

First #8, then #16. Back to #8, and back to #16 a quick trip up to 4th, slammed to 32nd and the #8 to #16 dance starts again.

4 - 8 - 16 - 32 ... am I supposed to ignore the pattern? hmm, yes, the site is SEO'd to the gills and is light on inbound links and content (compared to those around it) and it's only 18 months old vs 5 years old or older competition.



 8:08 am on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

Wow, JS - all positions are powers of two? That's really odd!

Pass the Dutchie

 8:41 am on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

Crazy swings. Interpret at will - 'Fool's' update.


 11:00 am on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

Google should work harder to ensure that the most relevant content will come first.

This funny Google dance is a disgrace for the whole company with so much junk and irrelevant stuff on top positions.


 11:45 am on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

Whatever they are doing with the Canada serps still needs some TLC.

For our sector, .co.uk and .au sites still dominate the results - despite the fact that users can't do anything with the sites - you can't order from UK or AU for our products - making these sites completely useless.

They aren't there in the US - and the serps make sense - good results. But here...not sure why Google would bring these sites back as it makes no sense.


 12:53 pm on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

Weirdness for sure.

Terms that I have been #1 or #2 for several years, suddenly 4 or 5. Big traffic 2 word term that I have been #1 for as recenly as a couple weeks ago, now way down to 9th place. I have not been that low for 6 or 7 years.

I dont like it at all. Makes me think I have done something wrong.


 1:15 pm on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

I dont like it at all. Makes me think I have done something wrong.

I'm seeing this right now with my UK site. Darn thing has been completely knocked out. I run a search out to 999 places and not one single instance of my site. Still indexed, still PR'd just GONE. I wasn't doing anything that the other people around me (pos 1-4) weren't doing. Sigh...


 1:27 pm on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

I am with you SEOMike, I run a pretty clean operation compared to some of my main competitors. Yet they are beating me this morn. Plus, like was mentioned, .co.uk sites are dominating the google.ca SERPS for some odd reason. I thought Google was heading towards more geo-targeting. But this is the exact opposite.


 1:41 pm on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

What? You guys/gals didn't see the latest announcement from Google?

Beginning 2008-04-01, Google will now utilize its new randomization algorithm (RANDAL). The purpose of this change is to allow websites in the top 100 results to be randomized so that those in positions 20-100 have an opportunity to be seen.


 1:43 pm on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

Experiencing the same thing here. At first I was thinking that my site caught a penalty or something. I was about to start tweaking the site some before I read this post. I dropped from #2 to #8 for my main KW and my site traffic is down quite a bit. It makes me a little upset to see a spammy site like business.com ranking higher than me now.

I guess I will just wait and see until this all settles down some.

Pass the Dutchie

 1:43 pm on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

seeing allot of site's links pages go grey/white bar. Not all but many! Similar thing happened aprox 4 years back. Everyone who had a links page panicked and renamed them, moved them or deleted them. Those that changed nothing road out the storm. Many who panicked say thier links pages fail to pass PR for 6 months or so. I wonder if this is along the same lines.

Batten down the hatches!


 1:43 pm on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

Assuming that whats happening is an algo update simillar to what we know of previous updates.
It might take up to 5-6 weeks before things settle down. I would say at the end of April.

BillyS usually describe such situation as:

Sit back and watch the grass grow :-)

[edited by: reseller at 1:46 pm (utc) on April 1, 2008]


 1:46 pm on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

Lovejoy the same thing happens to my site. It disappears from the first 1000 results for about 3 weeks then now it's in 12th position.

Pass the Dutchie

 1:51 pm on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

Beginning 2008-04-01, Google will now utilize its new randomization algorithm (RANDAL). The purpose of this change is to allow websites in the top 100 results to be randomized so that those in positions 20-100 have an opportunity to be seen.

Nice try ; )


 2:01 pm on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

In a two word key phrase I monitor, the home page of my site has sat in position 8-10 for more than a year. Over the past few weeks I've seen the product page of my site that corresponds to that two word phrase rank anywhere from position 2-6. I still get the old standard 8-10 rankings most of the time but I noticed today in Google Webmaster that my Top Search Queries report is now showing a ranking of 5 for that key phrase. Maybe that's an indication that these updates will at some point become permanent?

What's interesting about this sub page (which hasn't changed btw) is over the past year it has sometimes been a supplemental result under the 8-10 home page rankings…other times it ranks on it's own anywhere from 15-35. The sub page is certainly more relevant then the main page of my site so I wonder if this potential update may favor relevant sub pages on a site more so then in the past.


 3:19 pm on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

Google has been crazy on a large site I track since the middle of February. Other than that I really haven't been following the goings on in the Google world.

BTW, happy April Fool's day. Beware of commenting critters ;) .


 4:50 pm on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

Anything’s possible I guess, but I just don’t see a public company with a market cap of 144 billion doing anything radical like a Florida update or something like that. These are different times and ever since they went public it’s all been a series of tweaks, quirks, and strange penalties; but overall pretty much steady as she goes and I think that’s what your going to continue to see.


 4:52 pm on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

It might take up to 5-6 weeks before things settle down.

That's why I miss the good old fashioned Google Dance. We would know the results in just a few days.


 5:31 pm on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

I would just wait and see ;-)

That's good advice.

Ive been dealing with (& optimizing for) Google since before they were even a corporation.

And I haven't seen a "shakeup" like this since the infamous Florida Dance, years ago.

Moreover, watching many, many datacenters tells me it's not quite finito, either..

One thing I do notice, and seems to be here to stay -- documents that are rich in text,
and accordant word-stemming, are absolutely doing much better than other doc's
with lighter text content:

Even if the main site isn't specifically centered on the search phrase (or stems) in question.



 5:47 pm on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

Wow, my most valued single keyword is showing at #5 on most data centers now. It's back to it's rightful place! :)

I hate to get my hopes up too much, the emotional roller coaster is sure reminiscent of the old dances.

I like the rest of the top 10 too. Seems like good quality stuff.


 6:10 pm on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm seeing lots of random google refers to - may of them just coming up as ip's vs something.host.google.com or whatever they usually are. Appears they're shuffling a lot.


 6:34 pm on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

howdy Y'all.

I'm in the UK, concentrating on a fairly competitive term.

Been No.15 on Google(UK) for ages, slowly rising.

Recently, keep popping up to no.5 on both UK and .com, then jumps back again next refresh.


Seems to be no sense or reason.

I can guarantee my No.5 placing if I search for [keyword] + [another keyword], get results, then erase the second keyword in google search window and re-search.

If I then just press 'refresh' on major keyword showing at No.5 it then falls back to No.15.

Been dancing this way for 2 weeks.



 7:10 pm on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

For a few days I'm seeing a 24-hour dance--in my regular #7 position for a single competitive word--and then gone completely--then back to #7. Non-competitive phrases seem to be unaffected.

I don't see any method in the madness.

Previous dancing has been foreshadowing. Bouncing down for a brief time... stuck at the lower position.

Any Cutts comments yet?



 8:18 pm on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

If I keep clicking "search" I see a wiki page fighting for #2 for a really popular search phrase. It swaps places with the #2 result and then back to #3. Very interesting! No discernible pattern to the changes. Here's the number of clicks I recorded until the two swap: 9,2,1,5,2,4,1,1,1,1,1,2,4,3,1,1,3,8 And that's where I gave up.

Didn't notice any movement in my sites over the past two weeks until the number of pages reported in a site: search changed this Monday. Interesting.

[edited by: SEOMike at 8:21 pm (utc) on April 1, 2008]


 8:25 pm on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

I keep seeing this pattern for one of my phrases: 3,1,4,1,5,9,2,6,5,3,5,8. Do you think it means anything?


 8:34 pm on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

LOL, rdrysdale. That's a nice reminder of today's date - thanks!


 8:38 pm on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

Update: Now every other click or so is moving around pages in positions 2-8. Some are dropping completely off page one and some are just swapping between two spots, like #2 & #3.

Interesting. I think I'll quit watching for a while before I get an ulcer :)

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