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This 242 message thread spans 9 pages: < < 242 ( 1 2 3 4 5 [6] 7 8 9 > >     
Major Ranking Losses on 2008 June 4 - 5

 12:34 pm on Jun 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

I can now join the catastrophic loss club! UK site, PR6, rock solid rankings, 400k pages indexed, fast loading - 90% loss of traffic since 2 days ago. Last time the site went AWOL was early February for a couple of days.

Looking up what I used to rank for approx 20,00 medium to long phrases then all top listing just disappeared BUT results can now only be described as awful - in fact on one query results 11-20 contained sites from Poland, Germany, Czech, .info and not a single .com or .co.uk - when will Google admit that they really screwed up big time this time?

As my site is a .com hosted on uk servers then it seems that I have now moved to the index for Mars. Time to move to the dark side methinks rather than stay in the Google lottery.

[edited by: tedster at 7:08 pm (utc) on June 6, 2008]
[edit reason] moved from [webmasterworld.com...] [/edit]



 7:03 am on Jun 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

So far I have seen no improvement. As i said in a previous post, my new pages are indexed very fast, but no return of traffic. I also gained 4 good links, PR5 links, however I dont think this will help very much.


 7:04 am on Jun 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

My small .net site is hosted in Italy but target is international.
My US traffic is fluctuating as well as my ranking in the US but not terribly. (within 1st page)
Site is PR3, 4 years old, and I add new content very frequently.
I have a huge drop of traffic from UK and AU where my site is down to page 3 to 6, and results in my niche for those countries are bizarre.
Funny how I rank 1st on Y! UK for my top-3 two terms keywords but nowhere to be found in Y! USA. Almost the exact contrary of G.


 7:51 am on Jun 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

Please, let's stay focused on this thread's exact topic - otherwise there can be no understanding.

We're talking about MAJOR ranking losses at a specific point in time. Something significant did change at Google around June 4 - and the result was not just ordinary churn in the rankings but exactly what was reported in the beginning of this thread -- sites losing 50% to 90% of their traffic often after years of good rankings.

Those first page rankings were sent down at least one full page, often more, and at least a few seemed to ride a rankings roller coaster for a while after that.

The question is what in the Google algorithm that triggered this - what might these sites have in common? I think we may be looking at something relatively new here, rather than Google just tuning up on some already clear factors that we commonly discuss.

Here's what I'm wondering - is there some new "user experience" factor now being rolled out in a bigger way? server response times (how well tuned is that database of 300,000 products?) or page load speeds? maybe total page weight, including the size of scripts and images in addition to the html itself?

Whether those are new algo factors or not, I cannot say. But they are factors that have always mattered to our visitors. We can really help ourselves by focusing on those basics. We can watch metrics such as page views per unique and conversion percentages from organic traffic. We can check our server response times during peak loads. We can refactor our code to achieve improvements on a regular basis - responding to any problematic metrics we notice. We can stop assuming that the entire web is on broadband. This is especially true with all the weak wi-fi connections that people may be using.

No, I don't have some inside scoop that this is "THE" new factor. But I have been putting my client's sites on the strictest regimen of this kind for a good while, and they are all doing better this month. So it's a thought I wanted to share, especially since we're not finding any theories here that seem to hold up.

Google says we should be building our websites primarily for our visitors. Maybe they've decided to make that an algorithm factor.


 8:41 am on Jun 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

Well, I checked some stats in the past and found out similar fluctuations. Here is the retrospective. First one similar to this one happened almost a year ago. On June 29th the GGL traffic dropped for about 50% and by July, 1st 2007 this lost increased to 80%. It last for 2 months and then it started slightly to improve on September 1st, and actually all the traffic we lost restored again on October 1st and since then the traffic from GGL doubled by March 2nd 2008. Then we experienced similar drop with 4/5 of traffic got lost over night. However, 10 days after (on March 12th ), we turned back to normal. Everything was pretty normal until the June 4th following with June 5th we lost 80% our GGL traffic. Today is June 14th and the status is unchanged.

I would appreciate if anyone from you guys could check the stats and confirm these fluctuations?

The website I’m talking about is a kind of tech community (10 years old domain) with mainly user generated content, with a lot of active members daily. We run similar websites on one and the same server using the same CMS. I do not agree that we have a SEO issue here, nor a server/software performance issue. Also, I don’t see any reason for penalty here. Probably, Google is testing some algorithms which obviously do not perform quite well, or it’s just some kind of annual re-indexing, which would get back to normal in a month or two. However, this “fluctuation” affected a lot of quality (old domain) websites, and the real reason is still unknown. I think the guys from Google should react fast and explain what’s going on here ...


 8:42 am on Jun 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

As I said before, the effect for me has been mainly hit visitors using Google UK. And yes it is a database driven system and is in reality little different from an ecommerce site save for the destination of the 'Info / Buy' buttons being affiliate links which are blocked in robots file and Google treats them correctly. My content is made unique by the method of mash up, layout, addition of unique content and targeting lesser known products. BUT most importantly apart from a 2 day similar effect at the start of February then the site has returned incredibly predictable and consistent figures over time with a gradual slow increase in traffic. The effect was not a fading light bulb but a blown bulb. Instant near darkness.

The ONE factor in this that I would single out is that at the precise same time one of my smaller site's traffic increased fourfold and when I looked at the individual visits then they for longer tail terms where I would have expected to see some of the major UK comparison portals ranking but there were relatively less of them than I would expect and more smaller sites visible and the smaller sites were NOT scraper type sites. SO my smaller site had interceded, along with some others into areas to in effect demote some larger sites. Not much evidence I know BUT guess what happened yesterday? Another one of my smaller sites (less indexed but basically the same structure and methodology as my main site) saw a 6 fold increase in traffic from about 50 visitors per day to 300 and it is continuing so far today at the same rate. So somewhere in internet land another of my little sites has infiltrated on 250 occasions some new long tail areas on the net to demote other sites. If this is happening on mass at repeated points in time then the effect would be as I have witnessed. Yes we have reports of other larger sites losing 50-90% traffic but what has replaced them - my view, smaller sites seeing 4-6 times more traffic and lots of them - well, that is what it 'looks' like to me.

Also, looking around the boards there have been reports of 'effects' of what appears to be a change in Google image search safe mode settings and these seem to have kicked in at around the same point in time - I reference this because some of my site has some more adult content - Lingerie and google filters the word 'Lingerie' when you change search settings and a change to such a high level filter definition would have dramatic and far reaching effects. Starting to scrape the barrel for ideas, to be honest.


 10:12 am on Jun 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

I see the same here.
A very large 8 year old US-based full-on ecommerce site with a ton of PR6 pages, unique content, authority backlinks, original content. no Adsense, etc.
well over 100k pages indexed and googlebot traffic is constant. No change in PR.
for years we held #1-3 on Google for all major keywords.
around June 4th, etc lost a lot major 1-2 word keyphrases in serps on Google US en.
Let's say we sell widgets.
The search for "widgets" now returns not our main PR6 Product Type page for "widgets" that used to rank #2 for years, but a second related page from our site in that category.
That main Product Type page is spidered and indexed by Google, but it is completely removed from the SERPs for that phrase. Interesting that for a singular version of that phrase "widget" that same main Product Type page still ranks #2.
I have a few examples of such phrases. For others, both, singular and plural versions dont return the previlosly well ranked pages in the SERPs.
The thing is that we have other very similar by search volume/"value" Product Type pages that continue to rank as nothing happened or may be see a 1-2 position drop and it tells me that it is not a site wide penalty, but some algo change that is applied to a combination of a specific phrase + page. The pages are cached/indexed very fast. Sad...


 12:38 pm on Jun 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

sites are hosted in Europe but target US market

It's happened to me too, but the site is hosted in Dallas and the site is for the US market.

Static pages [approx 7k]

site over 4 years old.


 2:34 pm on Jun 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

Thanks for this info Lame_Wolf.


 2:47 pm on Jun 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

our 1 site that was hit is also hosted in US, small site (2 pages) for US market


 3:00 pm on Jun 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

Google is forcing Adwords spending once again. It's fun to see how ignorant they are and don't even take one minute to communicate with webmasters.

Ignorance obviously means more Adwords money and this is all that counts for Google.


 3:09 pm on Jun 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

Certainly some sites who lose rankings will start or increase Adwords campaigns, but that doesn't mean that this result was Google's intention.

In fact, I'm very sure that's not what is happening, and that Google reps are telling us the truth when they say that Adwords and organic are separate.


 4:14 pm on Jun 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

Google is forcing Adwords spending once again

That might make sense if the only sites hit were ecomm, but Google has made it very clear that sites that make the bulk of their money from adsense (informational sites) should steer clear of adwords. So driving those people to adwords would be shooting the golden goose.


 6:00 pm on Jun 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

nps SEOPTI, I hope it helps someone solve the puzzle.

I have also noticed a large drop in images on my site too. Okay with filter off, but almost zero images with filter on.
Dunno if this could also have a bearing on things.


 6:54 pm on Jun 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

Solving this one may take some sharp observation and insight from those who are affected. A couple new questions have occurred to me.

1. Since we've been talking about losses on short competitive queries, was the affected url your domain root? Or have some high performing internal urls also been hit hard?

2. For those whose competitors who did not fall, can you spot any key differences between your site and the ones that stayed?


 7:04 pm on Jun 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

Google reps are telling us the truth when they say that Adwords and organic are separate.

When the exact same bot that crawls me for Google search is the same as for Adwords it does make one think. It wasn't always that way.


 7:21 pm on Jun 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

Webmasters are like honeybees;

Our worldwide community of sites is the hive;

The beekeeper's brilliant but slightly bent son is named "Goog", and every now & then this little rascal likes to shake the hive just to see how the bees will behave. Sometimes Goog shakes it a lot, sometimes just a gentle nudge.

On this occasion it seems that Goog shook it like a whirling dervish, and many of the bees may never be the same.

Moral of the story: No matter how hard you work to make honey, there's always some one out there who can kick your hive.



 7:29 pm on Jun 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm wondering if these "old" and established sites with millions of outdated pages are falling victim to this:

From the Official Google Blog:
Recently, we improved our algorithms to process new information faster, and the result is quite tangible -- you should now see fresher suggestions for queries on current topics of interest.


 9:00 pm on Jun 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm very skeptical about the "spend more on adwords conspiricy". At the top of many organic listings are sites that rely on adsense as their primary business model.

Google doesn't want their adwords money and doesn't see their business as suitable for adwords advertising. What it does need is their adsense loyalty and for them to recieve plenty of traffic - so disrupting the search status quo is an unexpected development at this time.


 10:59 pm on Jun 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

Here's what I'm wondering - is there some new "user experience" factor now being rolled out in a bigger way? server response times (how well tuned is that database of 300,000 products?) or page load speeds? maybe total page weight, including the size of scripts and images in addition to the html itself?

Most of my site (all the affected pages) are not dynamically generated, and are very basic html. There are two small banner ads per page, and no other images. The load time on my site is fast because there are only a couple of small scripts running.

Since we've been talking about losses on short competitive queries, was the affected url your domain root? Or have some high performing internal urls also been hit hard?

Only one of my key terms affected my home page. Thousands more are internal urls--including the highest performing one.

For those whose competitors who did not fall, can you spot any key differences between your site and the ones that stayed?

My main competitors have very similar (although not identical) content. Some of them are blogs. Most if not all have reprinted content. I just clicked on the first two and am now laughing to myself. The first url has been one of my major competitors for years and when I went to the site the site is no longer there...just a bunch of search results. The second url has one of my articles posted at the top of their home page...pretty funny.

Wikipedia is listed at #7, and not even for the actual term...it is a variation of the same word but not the same word.

When looking at other sites I am looking at their keyword placement on the page. I do use a lot of key words on my pages (related to the article on that page), but when looking at my competitors, some have less key words on the page, and some have the same or more as mine, so that doesn't seem to be a good indicator. I did get hit by the -950 penalty last spring, but it only lasted 3 months and traffic has been better than normal since then.

From what I can see, my reprinted articles have been hit harder than my original content. In the past my reprinted articles have received a lot of traffic from Google.


 11:51 pm on Jun 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

Our page loading time is the fastest possible on a high end server, so this can't be the reason.


 3:57 am on Jun 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

We were over 50% down on traffic now about 15-20% down. Google now accounts for 80% of our results whereas it fell to 40 ish %.


 8:46 am on Jun 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

Anyone here affected that does NOT have Google Analytics on their sites ?

I am thinking of removing the code off the site to see if that will make a difference. But if some has been affected and doesn't have the code on their site makes it a pointless task.


 9:08 am on Jun 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

Well, today our site is back to its notrmal serp positions and performing well, hss anyone else seen any improvements yet?

UK site, UK targeted, hosted in the UK.


 9:10 am on Jun 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

I don't have the google analytics code on our affected site, but the site has ccome back today.


 11:12 am on Jun 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

I have seen some increase today BUT upon further investigation the visitors are not real visitors. Pages being checked by User agent Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1;1813) from multiple IPs - which I think is something to do with the Grisoft AVG post.

So, no change here yet but ever hopeful! Traffic from one of my smaller sites has disappeared today after a 2 day flurry - so it looks like there is still movement going on.


 11:15 am on Jun 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

Bad data push anyone? it's been said before.

Pass the Dutchie

 12:22 pm on Jun 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

Small SERP changes but nothing like the situation prior to June 5th.

Facts about the site:

- .de domain registered and site launched in 2002
- brochure type static html site
- no adsense
- small but competitive niche
- 95% of site content has not changed much for past 5 years
- 154 pages
- Google Analytics
- Google sitemap
- Html sitemap
- Original content
- Commercial
- Travel related
- Highest PR7 in 2005
- Current PR5 since mid 2007


- Between 2004-2007 the site SERP position for 'widgets' was 8 (+/-1)
- Start 2008 site began bouncing around the SERPS for 'widgets'. Some days as high as position 3 others as low a pos. 12. Gut feeling told me this was some sort of test.
- An external link from the home page linking to sister related site moved the site to top of the SERPS for the first time for 'Blue Widgets'. Odd because we only sold 'Green Widgets'.
- Since 2008 bounce rate increased by 10% for 'Widgets'
- Since June 5th many other KWds have been affected. We no longer perform for General KWd's and may of our very related KWds have also seen our site slip 10+ places in the SERPS. Few KWd's remain unchanged.

The site has never been used to spam the index and over time I had the impression this stood well with G. Many of the current competition were not around when we started. Since our start we were outperforming the competition for KW's that were specifically related to our site. However we were also performing for keywords that although related were very general. For example if you typed a country name our site would be on first page. Yes the site is travel related but still this seems to be a little off the mark. Or a very competitive KW that was not 100% related but placed us at the top of the serps.

I assumed that it had been given the status of an established, authoritative and trusted site.

Since June 5th this no longer seems to be the case.

Speculation - Possible reasons for this dramatic change:

- Due to the age of the site it may not be fresh enough
- Not enough content regularly added
- html needs a spring clean
- Linking to our sister site from the home page with the affected KW 'widgets' may have raised a flag (since removed)
- last month our new web master persuaded 6 related sites to link to an internal page over a 2 week period all with similar anchor text (since amended and now most point to home page).
- Our parent English site (founded in 1997) was redeveloped in May and the link pointing to our site was accidentally removed - replaced last week.)

Possible solution/s

- Do nothing and wait!

failing that.....

- Redevelop the site, new images, update content etc.
- clean up the html
- Add a blog
- Add client feed-back / comments page
- Start a tightly controlled and targeted link campaign

Let me know your thoughts.


 12:41 pm on Jun 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

Bad data push. Maybe. One section of my site which I add about 10 pages of unique content a week has completely dried up in Google serps. What is odd is when I enter a url from one of the content pages from this section into Google, I get nill results. But when i enter site:domain.com "file-name.htm" the url appears.

The site is a US based professional services directory. The section I am speaking to is targeting news related and niche events. I am also leaning towards a low text/link ratio issue.


 4:56 pm on Jun 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

i need ot check more, but we seem to be back for hte phrases that we lost.... could be a bug that they fixed since they saw all these posts...


 5:49 pm on Jun 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think Google dropping sites because they are hosted in the UK vs. US is a weak chase. I doubt Google cares where you are hosted; content is Google’s main course. My site meets much of the configurations reporting a drop - high traffic, high pr, niche and I have not experienced any discernable change in traffic or referrals.

I feel for all whom have traffics loses, however I wish this forum was more revealing with regards to content and website specifics when these events occur...


 8:11 pm on Jun 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think it will stay this way.

Their ignorance is still awful. A multi billion dollar company is not able to communicate a few minutes with the people who provide all the content.

Where would they be without our content? What the heck, what's wrong with these people? Do they also treat their shareholders the same way?

Whoever likes ignorant people, I don't.

[edited by: SEOPTI at 8:16 pm (utc) on June 15, 2008]

This 242 message thread spans 9 pages: < < 242 ( 1 2 3 4 5 [6] 7 8 9 > >
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