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Update Dewey: April 2008 Google SERP Changes - part 2

 5:26 pm on Apr 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

Seems to be a lot of consensus that the shuffling is about links and link value. I am in a highly competitive industry and I definitely concur. I've spent the past three days doing in-depth backlink analysis on the competitor sites that jumped ahead of our site (pushing us to #11 from #6) and they exhibit obvious link building practices that Google supposedly frowns upon...mainly link purchases. I'm coming across a lot of run of sites. We have been steadily cleaning up our paid links, which seems to have been a mistake.

I've had this nagging thought in the back of my head that just gains more credence with each new Google update. I think Matt Cutts accomplishes through PR and dictum what Google is NOT able to accomplish algorithmically. You can only program a machine to do so much, evidence by the fact that we still don't have robot servants or cars that can drive themselves.

So how could the largest ad agency in the world (oops, I mean search engine) control the factors that they can't through algorithms? Why not create some sort of demi-god that respectable, white hat SEOs will flock to and follow without question? I think a lot of us have been duped and now the spammers and less-than-white hat SEOs are reaping the benefits.

Seeing as how many of us are seeing poor quality sites with poor quality backlinks beating out older, quality sites, is it too far-fetched to suggest that maybe Google had turned off a big portion of their algos that try to filter out paid links? Perhaps because after several months of launching a PR campaign against them, maybe they feel that enough sites have cleaned up those links? Or maybe because they only real filter they have the "Report Paid Links" database that they've been building?

PageRank isn't the biggest PR in SEO anymore, it's Press Relations and we all know what that's about...how to "spin" things.

[edited by: tedster at 6:37 pm (utc) on April 5, 2008]



 9:47 pm on Apr 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

In the other engines particularly live and msn are gaining ground like never before with regards to sending visitors.

Same here, this mucking around might be that final push to get people to stop using Google. The results are simply awful, nearly every search contains wiki, google news results, some daft page split with "suggested results" and a bunch of youtube clips.

Yahoo WAS looking good with their results compared to Google but their recent update looks to be damaging that. Looks like people will go to Google, not find anything, go to Yahoo, not find anything, go to Live ... and then just start hammering random web addresses into their browser bar ... ;)


 11:43 pm on Apr 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

System: The following message was spliced on to this thread from: http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/3626885.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 4:10 pm on April 14, 2008 (PST -8)

I have noticed over the last couple of weeks that rankings on a couple of my websites seem to be shuffled back and forth from page 3 or 4 to page 1 and then back again. On some days I seem to get top ranking in the morning (PST) and then they drop back later in the day. Any idea why?


 6:53 am on Apr 15, 2008 (gmt 0)


I'm seeing consistent results across most DCs I watch except these are different.

Our ranking for main target term is higher on those than I've seen since August. Cache dates are the same as other DCs though.



[edited by: tedster at 8:09 am (utc) on April 15, 2008]


 8:50 am on Apr 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hello everyone, I've been sitting tight for over a week now, but my site seems to be suffering from the recent changes. For example our primary keyword (name of a well known manufacturer) was ranking 2nd (after the manufacturers website only) in the UK for about 6 months and in the top 10 for over a year. Now however we're near the bottom of page 4!

This seems to be happening to an awful lot of our keyword results, and to be honest after spending ages working on improving our standing in the SERPs (without resorting to black hat methods) this feels like a real kick in the teeth.

Any advice on what to do other than sit tight some more? I just hate feeling so helpless :(


 10:08 am on Apr 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

Any advice on what to do other than sit tight some more? I just hate feeling so helpless :(

While you are sitting tight I'd head over to your Webmaster Tools Account to see if any dubious links have appeared. Also go to Yahoo site explorer and your favourite on page analysis tools and see what the top 2 or 3 sites are doing different to you. At least then if you eventually have to act you'll have a clue what you need to do.

Also if you spot any sabotage you can join the discussion on why Google allows others to sabotage perfectly good sites.




 1:21 pm on Apr 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

At least then if you eventually have to act you'll have a clue what you need to do.


this might work out fine in some cases, but with 67% marketshare Google makes and breaks websites as they want. Following that junky top site for an important kw would mean sending hundreds of links from a spammy domain to our site.

Or perhaps better. Create a new site filled with youtube videos and adsense and become No 1 as well.

It is a dubious situation.


 2:06 pm on Apr 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

This is driving me nuts - does anyone know why searching from canada showing 8 out of the 10 first results to be sites with .co.uk and .au extensions?

I use a proxy service based out of the US and they aren't there.

I've sent in 3 or 4 reports and they are still there - I gather the lack of response means Google thinks it makes sense to show sites that users can't use?


 3:29 pm on Apr 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

I gather the lack of response means Google thinks it makes sense to show sites that users can't use?

These recent changes do seem to be pushing for more clicks on the sponsored ads, yes.


 5:57 pm on Apr 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

Lack of response means very little - Google could be taking your report to heart and using it to formulate future changes in the algo. What is notat all likely is someone changing a speciifc search result by hand. The scale of Google's effort is much too large for that to happen except in extremely egregious cases of spam or legal issues.


 7:38 pm on Apr 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

Oooo! (too effeminate?) Big changes on Google.co.uk ... big, awful changes ... if you've got a bunch of paid links looks like their about to pay off. Top spots in lots of industries have been overtaken by paid link buyers, and not subtle paid link buying either! 2,000 backlinks from just 2 sites with a paid sponsored links section in the bottom right for example.

This is ridiculous. They ask us not to buy them and to use nofollows, I do that and they go and push all the people that ignored them to the top. Hmmmm ... my hat is changing colour ...


 10:02 pm on Apr 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

Keyword in URL

For what it's worth... in our niche... we are seeing the top 5 sites that have the KW in the URL... (one of them is Wiki-KW)

Seems like a way of either preventing spam or just finding more of it.


 11:13 pm on Apr 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

Sometimes in an update, all the junk floats to the top, and then a few days later it sinks without trace never to be seen again.


 1:38 am on Apr 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

I have noticed over the last couple of weeks that rankings on a couple of my websites seem to be shuffled back and forth from page 3 or 4 to page 1 and then back again. On some days I seem to get top ranking in the morning (PST) and then they drop back later in the day. Any idea why?

Google is being weird. There's no justification for different SERPs at different times of the day or shuffling every day. It's absolutely ridiculous. It's 2008 and Google is acting like a startup engine working out of a garage with redneck programmers who don't know what the hell they're doing!



 2:19 am on Apr 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

There's no justification for different SERPs at different times of the day or shuffling every day. It's absolutely ridiculous.

Yeah, I would have the heads of the fools who wrote this into a patent application:

4. The method of claim 1, wherein determining an extent to which a document is selected includes: determining a first rate at which the document is selected in a first time period, determining a second rate at which the document is selected in a second time period, and comparing the first rate and the second rate to determine whether there is an increase or a decrease in the rate at which the document is selected.

Document Scoring Based on Query Analysis [appft1.uspto.gov]

I'm not sure, but it looks like they are trying to compare two different times and the selection rate of a result during those times to see which one their visitors select more often, and then basing their rankings, to some extent, on the behavior of their visitors.

Give the visitors what they use most often?
Silly, just plain silly.


 4:15 am on Apr 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

From my less-than-scientific observations, it would seem that there's something to the idea of Google delivering different results at different times.

When I check the datacenters very late in the evening or very early in the morning (1 am, for example), my pages are generally in the top five to top ten results. During the day, though, I notice that those same pages are getting bumped down in the rankings by sites I've never seen before.

I have one phrase that I've been working to get ranked well for quite some time. I just checked the phrase and it's #4 on all of the datacenters. During the day, though, it's in the top ten results on some datacenters, and not even in the top fifty results on others.


 8:20 am on Apr 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

There's a significant change in the UK algo today. For our top target term the site that recently bought it's way to the top and was rewarded with a site link listing because it has links out to sites that pay it affiliate fees has dropped to #2 and of course lost it's site links. The new #1 has dropped in from nowhere but probably should really be at #1 if it had someone doing at least basic SEO.

Also on DCs I'm seeing the results on the DCs listed above spreading to more DCs today.



Edit to add that the dodgy site with site links has gone back to #1. It looks like the day shift knomes have sat at their desks.

[edited by: Hissingsid at 8:30 am (utc) on April 16, 2008]


 2:34 pm on Apr 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

Here's something odd. So far I am only seeing it on my own personal website (which is where I saw odd things before). My site has been coming up #1 for its name, plus for my actual name, for years and years and years - I've had the domain since 1994. Today, it's coming up *second* for every search. Searching on my name, my domain comes up second behind my Yahoo profile. Searching on my domain (without the TLD) and it comes up second behind my WebmasterWorld profile (which kinda gives away what it is, I guess) Searching on the full domain in quotes, it comes up second behind something else. No matter what I search for, that domain comes up #2.

Also I am noticing that when I click on the cached link today, for everything I've tried, it comes up not found. Every one. That's kinda weird.

But it's that #2 thing that I really find bizarre.


 6:02 pm on Apr 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

After reading through this thread I am not sure what happened to one of the sites I am working on is related to this update or not....

Here is some background. For the last few years the site was always on the first page of Google for:
noun verb[ing]
verb[ed] noun

(without the square brackets) where the verb is a service. An example would be:
widget cooking
cooked widget

Over the weekend of April 12-13 the site tanked from #7 to #40 for the verb[ed] noun version.

Now I know that the site was down for a few hours on Friday night. Other then that there were no major changes to the site over the past few months.

I am trying to wait at least a few more days before suggesting any actions, but seeing this drop is very concerning. I don't supposed anyone would have a way to tell if this drop was caused by the downtime or the update.


 10:27 pm on Apr 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

More observations.

For weeks my site has been ranking #1 for the term "Acme widgets," where Acme is a very popular manufacturer of sporting goods products. Acme's site doesn't even rank in the top twenty or thirty for their own name.

Last night I was ranking #4 for "SomeCompany widgets." During the day, though, I'm down to about #9. Above me are sites that have press releases about SomeCompany widgets.

Google's search results have become so poor that I'm actually using MSN or Yahoo to find what I'm looking for. And it's not as though I'm inexperienced at using search engines.


 3:06 am on Apr 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

There are 2 sites that we monitor very closely.

Site #1
We experienced the AM and PM differences for around 2 weeks. Going from #4 to #13 each day for the phrase of high value.

Site #2
Held strong at position #4-#6 during this Dewey update. Then 2 days ago they both dropped to around #13 where they used to appeared.

Maybe the GoogleMania is settling down as they have not moved for 2 days now at all.


 3:48 am on Apr 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

I still had a big shift between very late last night and this afternoon.

I don't understand the logic of varying results by time of day. Or is it just arbitrary shifting before things settle?


 6:10 am on Apr 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

Yet again, I had a drop with a term that ranks Sat-Mon at about position 4-5. Tues-Friday the term brings positions around 10-11.

I'm not generally a tin foil hat person, but I didn't experience those fluctuations prior to enabling Analytics, which was sometime in November. What's also interesting is my forum volume. It's not a huge traffic forum, but new post volume coincides very closely with the previously mentioned search term position. Log files show forum visitors use very different search terms rather than the search term mentioned.

I'm thinking it might be time to pull Analytics code from my forum and evaluate the results over the next month or so. While that transpires, I'll try to keep my hat over in the corner.

Robert Charlton

 7:12 am on Apr 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

This is going to be long....

Tonight, I've been seeing some of the most bizarre shifts I've ever seen on Google. I've been watching, over the past months, pages that have appeared and then disappeared in the serps. Invariably, they've returned when I've appended &filter=0 to the Google search url. Additionally, Copyscape has shown that the pages in question have been scraped to death. The pages have been coming and going on a two to three-week cycle... and I've begun to wonder whether in fact it might be Google playing with its dupe filter thresholds.

I've got to confess that I don't watch these daily, so I could have missed some changes. I should add too that there's no correspondence that I've seen between times various different pages disappear. They each seem to be on their own cycles... but this has been happening more regularly, and to more pages, during Dewey than at any other time I can remember.

Tonight, I did a search to check another phrase, fairly competitive, that I've been monitoring for other reasons not related to disappearing pages, for a phrase that I'll call [red widgets]. It is a scraper-favorite phrase, but I hadn't seen the pages I monitor disappear during Dewey.

For about an hour, before things got "fixed," I noticed huge shifts in the serps from what I saw last night. A page that's been holding #1 on [red widgets] for probably about six months, disappeared for a while (from the top 100, anyway) on Google.com and on the Ad Preview Tool. During this disappearance, some other pages from other sites that I follow on this search shifted back to roughly where they were, say in January... all except for the page that disappeared.

BUT, if I added &filter=0, the vanished page came back to #1, and the [red widget] results basically shifted to where they were last night.

An hour or so later, the vanished result that was #1 came back on regular searches, and the serps for [red widgets] also reverted to what they were last night.

During this time, I also saw another oddness I noticed by accident and is hard to describe and which may or may not have any algo significance. It is also a search box oddity I hadn't noticed before.

When you enter red widgets in the search box and hit the enter key, or click the Search button, you generally get a serps page for [red widgets], with a url in either this form...


or this form...

The results are the same whichever way you bring them up. Let's call these serps "Results A".

But, during the time that the [red widgets] results were apparently filtered, I noticed an exception to this. When I first entered a longer phrase, say big red widgets into the search box and hit Enter, I'd get a serps page for [big red widgets], with a url in this form...


If I then deleted "big" from the search box and hit "Enter" again, so I was then searching for [red widgets], I got a set of results for [red widgets], also with a url in this form....


...but the results were different. Let's call them "Results B."

I could do the same thing by clicking the Search button. I couldn't get "Results B" any other way except by deleting one of the words in the search box.

I can't make it happen now that the [red widgets] results are back to normal, and I didn't have time to test much further, but I did test this several times and print the results out. I don't know whether this was just a search box oddity. Offhand, it doesn't immediately tell me anything about what's going on, except that there might be some infrastructure issues involved.

Anyway, to bring this back to the question I was raising about dupe thresholds, can others who see pages suddenly vanish bring them back by adding &filter=0, and, if so, are these heavily scraped pages? Whatever else may be happening, there's definitely something going on with dupe filtering.


 7:24 am on Apr 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

Don't know if this has been mentioned elsewhere because I don't have time to read the whole thread... but I would like to report my findings...

I've been sitting tight during this update but it seems to have settled in and it's a disaster for my main site. I haven't actually seen any change in the amount of traffic i get... but sionce this update, my bounce rate went sky high and the 'average time on site' went down by 43 percent. I seem to get nothing but crap traffic looking for CP (I have a reportage expose article on underage prostitution in Bangkok) and teenage boys looking for Philippine sex scandal videos... from my angle, this update is a train wreck.


 8:08 am on Apr 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

Well we were in 7th yesterday for [manufacturer] on .co.uk, the same position we held this time last year, but this morning we're in 40th

Robert I tried adding the &filter=0 but it didn't return me to 4th place, or any nearer than without it.

Asia_Expat, my bounce rate has also gone up, however my time on site is much the same (?)

For those of you seeing changes in AM/PM searches does this happen at the same time on .com and .co.uk?

I'd foolishly hoped that the dust had started to settle yesterday *sigh* I'd better buckle back up for Googles wild ride once more

Hissingsid I can't see any signs of sabotage, or those in the top ten results having loads of spammy links.


 9:24 am on Apr 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

I just saw this appended to a query in the URL box after I pressed search on a query:



 9:49 am on Apr 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

> I still had a big shift between very late last night and this afternoon. I don't understand the logic of varying results by time of day. Or is it just arbitrary shifting before things settle?


Google Time Zone Update

I managed to hack into the Google Mainframe. I don't think Google will mind; I left everything as it was. Of course this wasn't malicious hacking; it's the original kind: hacking to figure out how things work. Who doesn't want to know how funky Google algos work? Especially when they continue and aren't explained...

This is what I discovered...

Google--as you already knew--uses local search as part of its ranking system. (You even see this now in Suggestions as you type in a search string--there are LOCAL suggestions mixed in.)

Okay, so why is there a difference based on time of day? Why good results at one time, not so good at another time on the same day?

It's because Google sets a time zone reference point for every website based on the location of best ranking. That's GROUND ZERO for your site.

So if you have your best local ranking in Australia, like I do, Google's new algo puts the weight on the time zone of the country of the best ranking.

So, for example, during regular business hours in Australia, my site does great, but then it slips during United States business hours.

Just kidding, of course, b/c I think Google Timeshifting is the dumbest thing I've ever seen in a search engine algo in the last ten years.

Of course it could just be a "double dance." Where you used to get a Google dance of maybe once a day, now it's twice or more.



 9:51 am on Apr 17, 2008 (gmt 0)


One thing to tell when posting information like this is if you are logged in to your Google Account or not when making these searches.


I surf mostly evenings, so showing the good results only during my daylight hours would be a waste.


 10:18 am on Apr 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

I surf mostly evenings, so showing the good results only during my daylight hours would be a waste.

I'm sure that you are very important to them but I doubt that they'll change the algo to suit you.




 11:45 am on Apr 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

Dupe Content Filter? - It's Possible

For the past year, a competitor of ours came out of no-where and took a position fairly high 4-5-6 on page 1 of the SERP for a 1KW term.

This update has vanished him.

2 Things that I noticed was:

The competitor had a really funky back-link profile. Looked like he had submitted to 1,000's of shady sites and directories with the same title & description.

The competitor had 2 domain names both pointing to the main site. G would pick up one or the other at different times but still kept him in the same positions.

Today... checking the DC'c... he is still where he was but a regular search eliminates him all together.



 12:25 pm on Apr 17, 2008 (gmt 0)


Adding &filter=0 does nothing to affect my pages when they take a dive. I have a lot of pages affected by this, some seem immune to it.

I suspect that they are doing this to collect data on user behavior but I wonder what the criteria is for determining the switch. For me, it seems like the more popular the search term is, the more likely it is to see shifting. Less popular terms are extremely stable for me.

It's like they have two very different implimentations of their algo and are switching between them, tweaking along the way (perhaps until the two are merged?).

In any case, I feel like I'm playing a Vegas money wheel. Every so often my number comes up but the wheel just keeps on spinning around.

BTW, I don't see any connection between time of day and shifting. It's like you said, they seem to be on their own cycle.

This 185 message thread spans 7 pages: < < 185 ( 1 2 3 4 [5] 6 7 > >
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