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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]



 9:33 pm on Apr 2, 2008 (gmt 0)


And that reminds us of when Matt asked for feedback about BigDaddy Update [mattcutts.com]. It was also Matt who chose the name BigDaddy ;-)

The best place to do that is to go to [google.com...] . In the "Additional details:" section, I would use the keyword "bigdaddy" in your report.

Do you think that he is telling us that what we see is just a software update (infrastructure update) ;-)

[edited by: reseller at 10:00 pm (utc) on April 2, 2008]


 9:38 pm on Apr 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

Yes, but what is deep underlying meaning behind "dewey"? Are we relating the update to a presidential race so close the newspapers reported that Dewey had won though it turned out to be Truman. Hmm, could that mean the update may not be what people think it is? Ahh, the mystery. ;)

>>added<< Just a minute, I think I've got it! Seems like the results are really bouncing around so I just searched "dewey bouncing" and learned that there is an old black and white film showing showing education's foremost philosopher, John Dewey, BOUNCING about on the sand with his children.


 10:00 pm on Apr 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

I still think "Ulysses" would be the most apt name, never have so many worthies been tested by the jealous gods of Google ;~)))))


 10:10 pm on Apr 2, 2008 (gmt 0)


Hmm, could that mean the update may not be what people think it is?

Possible. As I mentioned in my previous post, it could be just a software update (infrastructure update like BigDaddy).

I recall during BigDaddy, site: operator was showing high results estimates too... as its happening now on [] !


 11:59 pm on Apr 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

I still think "Ulysses" would be the most apt name,

Or maybe Sisyphus - who was condemned to roll a stone to the top of a hill only to watch it roll down to the bottom, where he had to start all over again ;)

I think reseller has the right take here. This is more like an infrastructure change. As far as I can remember, we've never seen these rapid oscillations in ranking on the same IP address. I also can;t believe that Google would settle for such instability over the long term.


 12:26 am on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

All the centers I'm monitoring are sitting pretty much where they've been for the last two days as far as my keywords and sites are concerned.#1 on Google.ca, #8 & 12 on the Stateside Googles.



 3:54 am on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

I also can;t believe that Google would settle for such instability over the long term.

Or is that we work at such a frenetic pace that a week or so, in reality, seems like an eternity to us?

To the GP they have probably not noticed one iota's worth of difference?



 4:24 am on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

We have not seen many changes at all, we are calling this one update "wishful thinking"


 8:33 am on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

Today I see at the moment big difference between the serps of the two (by now famous) data centers. For my testing phrase of 4 words, the site I watch is:

#5 on []


#16 on []

And that means, Update Dewey is stil on the move ;-)

Don't know whether such observation could be considered "the results are very different at one data center compared to other data centers," and as such worth reporting to GOOG, as per Matt's request:

So if you want to mention a search where you think the results are very different at one data center compared to other data centers, use the spam report form at [google.com...] and make sure to include the word "dewey" in the "Additional details" text area.


 9:21 am on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

Was just looking to make a url tiny... (okay, okay delete me if need be) and searched for the two word term, and found what I guess is a domain hijack as the first result.

Does this update have 302 redirect issues?


 11:07 am on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

Matt Cutts didn't confirm Algo changes during Update Dewey!

desphinned because the title says "Google Confirms Algorithm Change" and I didn't. Here's what I said over on the SERoundtable post:

"Just to be clear, the reason that I asked people to send in queries was because we *were not* seeing major differences between data centers. So this is more for seeing what people are talking about and less for collecting feedback on some big update."

Google Update Dewey - Google Confirms Algorithm Change [sphinn.com]

Therefore, I still believe that Update Dewey might be a software update (infrastructure update, like Update BigDaddy ) ;-)


 11:32 am on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

night707 said
We had this No.1 spot since years with loads of selfproduced, expensive, exclusive content that has earned tons of organic inbound links from odp, yahoo etc.

We are in the same situation on a 9 year old site but only for one term, all of our other target terms have maintained their positions. I've found it really difficult to understand why we have been dropped to #9 on .com and #3 on .co.uk so I've been trying to understand why the two sites that have moved in to the top 2 slots have achieved it.

One of the things I noticed for them both is that when I look at them using Yahoo site explorer they have loads of off theme inbounds that look either bought or exchanged from low quality sites. They both have no DMOZ listing and none from authority sites in our industry.

We have DMOZ, links from .gov.uk sites, links from authority sites, Google directory, Yahoo directory and many links from good quality sites that just decided to link to us with no prompting. We were so stuck at #1 that we hardly ever tried to encourage links to us.

For this particular term another factor seems to be outbound links to directly on theme pages. One site that ranks #1 on .co.uk has a home page with some copy and links using the term to individual pages each on a company that provides the thing in the term with an outbound affiliate link which is a simple link like this http://www.example.com?track1234. I guess that this makes it look like an authority site. Not really what I would have though Google would want because it is syphoning money away from the great Goog.

Best wishes



 12:23 pm on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)


the example site that has taken over the top spot has as little as 30 mediocre to useless inbounds, no original content and even world leading media brands with thousands of organic inbounds are now ranked lower.

Also our site has Google, Yahoo, DMOZ directory links, but obviously they do no longer seem to matter when seing the latest development.

Google seems to be reducing the value of inbound links. That`s my current impression when looking at kws that i have to monitor. For some of them the results are getting very dubious.


 1:25 pm on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)


It seems to me that they can't possibly mean that to be the situation. It must be an unfortunate side effect of some other change that they have made. In our case it only seems to apply to one term. That happens to be the biggest volume and therefore highest $ term by far in our market.

Anchor text seems to have something to do with it. When you have a site that has been #1 for many years you tend to pick up inbound links the anchor text of which you have no control over. Many just use your URL www.example.com so you rank really well for example. Others use anchor that you would not choose for yourself. The sites that are pushing us down have got a lot of recent links with the search term in anchor text, links from cr*p sites but with the right anchor seems to be the recipe for success.



PS I'm writing to some webmasters who currently link to us asking them to change the anchor text as part of our campaign to put this right.


 1:47 pm on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

I thought it was interesting how Matt was asking us to send examples of large differences between datacenters. They must be looking for DCs that are out of sync, or caching problems, or something like that. I have noticed plenty of changes in rankings though. It'll be interesting to see what's different when the dust settles.


 2:25 pm on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

I put in a report as requested, including Dewey.

Same day we stopped bouncing about, now stable having gone from 15th to 11th. Google peeps obviously know what the problem is/was.

Bit of a shame cos we bounced right up to 3rd at one point.


 2:27 pm on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)


Should you put a "pending" on Dewey or Update? I don't understand how it's classified as an update when the only Google rep to speak on this, Cutts, didn't confirm or even infer it's an Update, and his reference to dewey was for testing/feedback/other purposes?

It could be a glitch. Remember that recent "-5 penalty" for top dogs? It turned out, and he had input on this, too, it was an algo anomaly.

I only mention this not to be pedantic, but whenever I, and maybe others see "Update" with a new name in a thread title in these forums, it's virtually time to panic.

I know you called the 950 ahead of everyone, but on this one maybe it's too soon to call an Update/Penalty.



 3:16 pm on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

Other than the temporary glitch with my own site, which was back to normal within hours, I just haven't seen all this bouncing around, across around 135 sites (my own and my clients) I'm *looking* for it, but can't find it.


 3:41 pm on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)


Had any of those 135 sites you mentioned been affected during the previous "Update BigDaddy"?

Whats the size of the largest 4 sites of those 135 sites?



 3:44 pm on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

Just when I thought it was all settling, more fluxing!

One keyphrase I have been #1 for years has dropped to 15 for the singular and completely disappeared for the plural.

Another, my #1 keyphrase, has dropped to 5th and been replaced by a Coppermine gallery subdomain...oh why do I bother?


 3:45 pm on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)


Its true Matt didn't confirm an algo changes. However, Matt hasn't denied a software update on the move ;-)


Would you mind mentioning the IP of the google or the IP of data centers you are hitting. Thanks.


 5:10 pm on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

Oh well, I thought we were going to make it through this mess, but one of our larger sites didn't get hit till yesterday (late last night). A few #1 spots went to 9 or 10, and others that were in the top 5 are completely gone. Others have been rebounding up and down all day. Some where we were 5 or 6 are now 1 and 2... but traffic is down significantly.

SERPS are suffering as a result, IMO. Many sites now at the top may have keywords on the page, but are garbage compared to sites that were there.

Also, our 'site:' results at the two above-mentioned datacenters are off by thousands of pages. Is it even worth telling Matt now?

Spring clean up at G!

Tedster - I love your 'Sisyphus' label for this update! LOL! So true.


 5:27 pm on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm seeing trusted sites that buy lots of links still getting the juice passed for those links when less trusted sites buying links on the same site are not. It's obvious the juice is still being passed because if you research their inbound links, the ones that are being bought are the only ones with that anchor text and it's ranking them in the top 3.

Link buying is still heavily weighted in the results of this latest update.

In just some normal searching for stuff, I'm seeing a lot of garbage spam making it into the fold. These are sites that are either domain placeholders with search facilities or just plain spam pages with nothing but affialite links on them.


 6:00 pm on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)


the site that sits on 1 in our industry since a while now shows at [validator.w3.org...] :

This page is not Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict!
Result: Failed validation, 802 Errors

- No real meta tags, a size of over 160kb
- Only youtube, tons of adsense, banners, very little copied text
- Less than 30 weak inbound links, a PR of 4

This site beats most valuable content from top global media brands.

My fear is, that we have to forget anything about seo, links and quality because Google does not want to have those pages on top, that deserve these spots in terms of relevancy and depth.

Most of these media sites do not use adsense and it would create a massive reduction in traffic to Googles adsense publishers.

The less relevant the top 20 are, the more users click on big G`s own adsense blocks.

You know about the traffic differences when being on 1 or on 11, right! So imagine the losses if there would be a top 20 with great results and not a single adsense publisher.

If Google were smart, they would make a solid deal with the best publishers from an editorial point of view to secure quality and visibility. But now they disappoint users and regular publishers.

Anchor text from inbounds i would not rate that much important.

If your site had been good for that long, there should be nothing to worry about. This problem is G made, strictly.


[edited by: tedster at 6:15 pm (utc) on April 3, 2008]
[edit reason] fix formatting [/edit]


 6:21 pm on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

One comment I feel is important here. Validated source code is NOT a ranking factor - and it never has been. There's nothing in the current changes at Google that relates to that.

Something is going on, but it's still so unstable that we can't make much sense of it yet. However, even with all the jiggling and juggling, I still see plenty of good results on page one for most searches I watch.


 6:27 pm on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

I agree with Tedster that some results do show great results while others are sorely lacking.

An example is a strictly informational search on an illness, was rife with spam pages, viagra, etc.


 6:37 pm on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)


- Less than 30 weak inbound links, a PR of 4

How the heck does that work?

There must be much more that you can't see and I bet it all has the term in anchor text.




 7:15 pm on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

It might work that way if they bought a different strong domain and then used a 301 redirect to the domain that is ranking.


 7:34 pm on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

if they bought a different strong domain and then used a 301 redirect to the domain that is ranking.

Do You mean that 301 transfers the PR and linkjuice from inbounds to the new domain ?


 7:40 pm on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

Yes - exactly so. And it's not always easy to discover, either. Makes for very mysterious rankings at times!


 7:49 pm on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

I see the core websites being shifted around, with newer websites with less backlinks pushing them out. However, In sectors that I watch, I do see a slow move back to where we were previously, with previous websites regaining some ground.

Impossible to ever know what these large scale movements are.

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