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Google.com SERP Changes - July 2008

 4:22 pm on Jun 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

Has anyone recovered from June 4th catastrophe?

[edited by: tedster at 5:43 am (utc) on July 1, 2008]



 10:01 am on Jul 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think its incredible that a WHOLE site can wanish from the rankings all at once, not to be found anywhere, if they update they should be more carefull or atleast finish it in one day where it can happen that whole site is gone from the serps.

Martin Ice Web

 11:54 am on Jul 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

Maybe this is the generall problem:



Seems like google is on the fly to automate some spelling correction and "guess what the users searches for". If the building of the database is still in progress, and google still learns about the way poeple use their language, than this could be causing big problems?

[edited by: tedster at 7:21 pm (utc) on July 4, 2008]


 9:33 pm on Jul 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

Our site got hit again on June 20/21 by 75% traffic loss, and has not recovered since.

This really sucks because we had the same thing happen back on May 8, which we recovered from on May 15. ( this thread [webmasterworld.com...] )

Generally seeing same thing as last time ... rankings drops for some terms, some losing several spots, some losing several pages.


 8:09 pm on Jul 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

We lost our rankings on June 4, and I know here is a contingent of other webmasters who also lost their rankings on that date.
Has anyone recovered? When? Did you fix anything? Or did you leave your site as-is?

For us, we suffered a descrease in rankings. We had ben solid for a year. Soncurrently, our Content Anslysis in GWT showed a large number of duplicate meta descriptions and title tags. Around 35,000 in total.

We have not touched our tags in years. Suddenly, GWT provides content analysis, we discover we have thousands and thousands of duplicate tags and meta descriptions, and now, our rankings have tanked. We have been around for years, lots of #1 positions all over the place, and we have not touched our tags in a long, long time.

Has anyone else had this same experience? Rankings lost on June 4, and the concurrent discovery of a large number of content analysis issues? Could it be that we were fine for months as-is, then Google published this data, and along with it comes a new focus by google on penalizing sites with these types of problems?

Thank you for sharing - while we fix our tags, and wait for our rankings to return, not knowing if this was truly the cause, or our ranking loss has nothing to do with us, there is sometimes comfort in shared experiences. <grin>


 8:54 pm on Jul 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

We did a lot of changes, but have not recovered. Our sites always had uniqe titles and descriptions.

The general question is if there is a chance to recover from the unknown algo push, at the moment I don't think so. It is impossible to recover from June 4 drop. I think it is a permanent algorighmic ban at least for our sites.

I have created a new site based on the facts of competition sites which survived the June 4 drop. At the moment G is crawling, I don't know if it will survive, we will see, if it will not survive, it will be pushed at position


or whatever during the crawling process.

[edited by: SEOPTI at 9:02 pm (utc) on July 5, 2008]


 9:11 pm on Jul 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

SEOOPTI - How bad were your rankings affected? Mine did things like Page 1 / #1 down to Page 2 / #1; Page 1 #1 down to Page 3 / #1; Page 1 #1 down to Page 1 / #5.

Some survived and remain Page 1 / #1 & 2, etc.

I had no really bad decreases - just lower down 0-5 pages in the SERPs.

No real difference between long tail searches - or more general 2 word searches. Equally unpredicatable what was affected and what was left alone.

And all rankings weren't all affected on June 4 - just some. However, overall traffic is down to about 25% of what it was.


 9:25 pm on Jul 5, 2008 (gmt 0)


did you do something about it, the first time your website was hit ?
Or did the traffic just come back like it left ?

I think there were two waves
One on June 4, another one around June 26 (which is the case for me)
I also have had a lot of duplicate meta's and page title for years...

I'm not sure whether I should change that or just sit and wait: some of my best performing pages which don't have duplicate meta's and title are nowhere to be found in the serp's.

Another thing i noticed (and some people here have experienced the same weird thing:

If I look for some good performing keywords on google.com, I still rank well on the first page
Same search on local search (Google.be) and my pages are just nowhere ?
How can that be ? i have been in the top 3 results for local search with those specific keywords for 2 years and now i'm nowhere.
Again, this is the case for some pages which do not appear in the list of GWT duplicate meta's and title.

And by the way, I don't have one of those mega menu's either...


 10:11 pm on Jul 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hey! No mega menu for me either. I didn't notice anything different on June 28. Does your Content Analysis show all the duplicate tags / descriptions? If yes, when did you first notice it being reported?

I am fixing all of mine ASAP.

My theory is this: if Gogle deems it important enough to report to us, and encourage us to fix it, then it must mean something. Otherwise, what is the point of reporting it to us? It has it's own page in the GWT, for goodness sakes. ; ) "These issues won't prevent your site from appearing in Google search results"., OK..., but the helptopic does goon to say "We recommend that you review this report regularly to identify changes that potentially increase your rankings..." Well, that is good enough for me - a very clear hint, as far as I am conerned. No?

Like you, I have had dupes for years - I have such a big site, I just never bothered to fix them. Great rankings - didn't seem to bother anythign - so why rock the boat?

However, now, Google suddenly pops this report up in my GWT, and I have a lot of issues, 35,000 plus... And soon after, my rankings tank? It seems like a pretty clear case of cause and effect... This is my theory right now. I am too scared to just ignore it and sit on it, and hope I am wrong, and google has an internal problem and they will fix it. On most of the SERPs I monitor, my competition remains as-is. The SERPs are a bit wobbly right now, but it is still the same cast of characters in the top 10 / top 20, except I seem to have moved lower than them overall... So, fixing this stuff can't hurt, and by god, what if it IS required? If it is required, then every second counts - fix 'em ASAP!

I am curious to see if All / Lots of the people affected by June 4 ALSO have lots of duplicate tags / descriptions. If so, it supports this theory. I'd be interested in knowing if anyone hurt on June 4 has PERFECT meta descs, titles, because if so, then that would shoot this theory down. <grin>


 10:19 pm on Jul 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think adding your sites to GWT may hurt your rankings big time.

They may push all of your sites which have been added to GWT down. Don't let them know you own all of these sites, they are just looking for data like this.

You just need to be really picky with all the free tools they provide (analytics, GWT, site search) and all the stuff.

If you use some or all of these free (btw, nothing is fro free) tools you give your enemy (google) all the data which they need to hurt you. I treat them as enemies since they don't treat me as their friend, it's simple.

[edited by: SEOPTI at 10:24 pm (utc) on July 5, 2008]

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 10:43 pm (utc) on July 5, 2008]


 10:23 pm on Jul 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

"I'd be interested in knowing if anyone hurt on June 4 has PERFECT meta descs, titles, because if so, then that would shoot this theory down."

Less than 300 errors in 400,000 pages - so not perfect but pretty close - duplicates due to loss of product names on no longer available products from live feeds.

I have got about 65% traffic back but lost about 200,000 pages according to site: - like I have said before, Google suffered a major data loss and traffic loss is returning as pages become re-indexed and link relationship calculations go round the loop. 17 days to some recovery which matches my previous experiments on time stamped non supplemental pages of Google's indexing cycle.


 10:34 pm on Jul 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

SEOPTI - I hear your pain loud and clear. I wish I could snap my fingers and we were all fixed up. I hope you are wrong about adding sites to GWT.

- 300 / 400,000 (0.075% tag/desc errors) - well that almost shoots my theory down. I am at 35,000 / 1,200,000 (2.9% tag/desc errors)
- as far as pages indexed go, I remained constant since June 4 via the site: tool - Google has me pegged at 358,000.
- my traffic remains the same as June 4 - 0% recovery so far...

*** But the biggest point you raise is: Why do you believe Google lost data?!? You may be right, but what leads you to this conclusion?!? I wasn't aware of this... Has this happened in years past - if so, do you recall when (so I can correlate this to my own history of rankings lost over the years...)

If so, your recovery may simply be faster than mine due to crawling rate. (Sightly related: I recently set my GWT rate to Faster - is yours Normal or Faster?) I do agree with your 17 days estimate - I have always seemed to regain rankings after about 3 weeks, or 21 days... Again, maybe I need a bit longer than you.

Oh, and confuscius - did you fix anything? Or did you leave your site as is?


 1:33 am on Jul 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Something has happened with ours over the last 48 hours. Alot of lost traffic, and about 15% of pages missing from google.


 2:04 am on Jul 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Something is shifting in the serps, seeing a lot of wiki back at the top.


 2:46 am on Jul 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Yes, I am noticing some big changes right now too... I have this anecdotal impression that over the years, big fixes / changes come on the weekend, usually Saturday night. It seems so often in the past when I've been in this situation, that when I wake up Sunday morning, things have finally been fixed. And here it is Saturday night... I hope this is it... I'd love a nice, relaxed, stress-free Sunday tomorrow.


 5:20 am on Jul 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

we are dealing with a machine.
there IS something we can figure out.
we have one site that has feeds(that generate local pages containing the highly relevant feed) and it has videos on every page and properly tagged alts for images, it has not suffered, indeed it has risen.
we have another, a one page site basically. it absolutely tanked, period.
this is a moment of learning for us all


 7:16 am on Jul 6, 2008 (gmt 0)


I actually started to use GWT the day after my traffic loss, to check if I could find anything interesting in there.
You have a point when you say why would G bother telling us that there dupes but then why would'nt they say "this causes a penalty" ?

Besides, my dupes are the results of a [category]/[subcategory] directory which are displayed ten by ten.
I have no idea on how to fix this.
Not sure adding "results [1-10]" "results [11-20]" etc will help in anyway


 9:09 am on Jul 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

confuscius - i have perfect title and meta all page unique, but my problem all internal pages and index page is nowhere in the rankings, site is still listed.

I think its be cause of a update and the site will get back, I also hope so, but I think thats the only real explanation to this.


 9:55 am on Jul 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

@helpnow - I changed nothing on the site. I did make one change in WMT to geo target my .com at the UK but I do not believe this has had any effect.

I certainly suffered a data loss according to site:! As ranking is largely based on an internal support linking structure that I use on other smaller sites that did NOT suffer then a loss of data would lead to a loss of traffic. I also experienced a significantly increased crawl rate after 4 June on the affected site and a reduced rate on other sites - the number of pages reported by site: has started to increase as has my traffic and there is a broad correlation between the number of pages indexed and the number of daily visitors because my site targets long tail, Google is a machine (mainly!) and maths is maths!


 1:03 pm on Jul 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Sunday morning - SERPs the same - no June 4 recovery.

Kristos - I agree with you on machines - and cause and effect. What you put in effects what you get out. But I was hoping this was just a data loss. ; )

Gandalf - I also use pagination, and I did put in Results, and x of y, to start with - not terribly useful, but better than a dupe, AND, it does suggest multiple products on the page to the user when you view the end result listing. But, programmatically, I ALSO grabbed snippets from the first 3 listings on each page, and put that into the category page title and meta desc too. So now I have things like "11-20 of 48 - widget11, widget12, widget13 and more..." It looks a lot better, and the info on widgets invariably hits some good keywords anyway, so, actually it looks like this will really help. With a large site, it is tough to generalize a strategy that works across the board, but this seems to be OK. I left the "11-20 of 48" bit in there too, because if "widget11, widget12, widget13" is very similiar to "widget21, widget22, widget23" ; ), well, at least I have a slight difference going for me too in the "21-20 of 48". It isn't a dupe anymore, technically. But that's just on some cases - overall, "widget21, widget22, widget23" is widely different from "widget11, widget12, widget13", and quite nice and useful. Certainly better than just using the cat name, which is what I had before - Google was right.

zeus and confuscius - I hope you are right, this is just a google thing. ; ) But 31 days in - this is getting a little long in the tooth for that... ; )

and confuscius - is it posible that the .co.uk sites suffered a different problem from the rest of us. Perhaps concurrent to our tag woes which may be real and are not a data loss, there may also have been a problem with .co.uk, which you are right about, IS a data loss? I am a .com in Canada... My # of pages indexed has remained 100% constant.


 1:21 pm on Jul 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Vimes - On July 2, you said "there appears to be a tune up of the dupe filters on Meta's and titles." May I ask what caused you to say this? This remains my suspicion too...

tez899 - July 2 - "I went through webmaster tools, checked/fixed any dupes and now on some data centers results are starting to come back" - has your recovery continued? Did you have a lot of duplicates? Of your indexed pages (site:domain.com), what percentage of duplicate pages did Google report? And, in GWT, has the number of reported duplicates gone down? My experience has been that it takes 11 days to get changes reflected in GWT. When did you start your changes?


 3:37 pm on Jul 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

kcguitar <quote> My largest $$ site fully recovered on June 30 from a sudden 90% loss on June 4 (phew!)</quote>
our one page site that tanked totally is back.

@tedster re: long tail and short tail:
the 4 word term containing 'home' that disappeared until i removed that particular word is now back on top.

no use griping about g i guess, so i'll just take a month of lumps and press on from here


 4:19 pm on Jul 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

helpnow, I had the same Idea.
I implemented it on one of the dupes reported in GMT, not eveywhere, just to see if there is any corelation between the dupes and the ranking in the SERP's.

Now my titles look like category/subcategory/title of the first record displayed on that one page (which generally containe interesting keywords by the way). I didn't care for the numbers ([11-21] etc) since now all the pages have a fairly different title.

Now, let's see wether G likes it or not...


 10:12 pm on Jul 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Gandhalf - Just make sure the cat page now isn't a dupe of that first product page's tags. ; )


 10:25 pm on Jul 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

I have not recovered from the June 4th disaster. A website that ranked #1 for a very long time has literally vanished from the SERPS and has been replaced by a SEO company with a fake website on the subject to try and sell their services to people like me who have lost out in this algorithm screw up.

[edited by: Mark7144 at 10:25 pm (utc) on July 6, 2008]


 1:08 am on Jul 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

(isn't that a terrible thing to do?)
(turns out patience is a muscle and to be developed must be excersized )
this has been a great month for one of our sites which we have concentrated on enhancing user experience, (instructional video [no more than 3 min except you-tubes, alt tags designed for blind people so they hear "image of blue widget" or "picture of blue widget"] on every page)and lots of absolutely rock-on themed feeds on the page, giving the user lots of absolutely relevant information for their search.
our cms creates our own page with the feed info that g can find also on the major news services, that we are giving to the visitor as an enhancnement to his experience. MORE RELEVANT INFO.
this site has shined (although in this niche we have seen many old -defunct sites come back into the SERPS and this has been disturbing)

our site that tanked totally has begun slowly - a week ago - to come back- and as of this AM - is right back in the MIX, NOT WHERE WE PUT IT (seo term) but fighting for position in the top 10

this was (in my opinion) - at this point- NEVER ABOUT THE SITE - we have made no changes - IT WAS G DOING SOMETHING


 1:44 am on Jul 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

<qualifying statement added>
many blogs and sites who write about it now rank above it.
</qualifying statement>
just interesting


 3:51 pm on Jul 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Ive been following this thread and hadn't had a whole lot to offer, until now.

Two keywords I follow for a site that has been #1 for "red widgets" and #5 for "blue widgets" for a long time. Yesterday, July 6, the site vanished from the serps, only to come back later in the day at #78 for red widgets and is not listed all for blue widgets.

Today early the site was #130 for red widgets, and just a few minutes ago was up to #46 for red widgets. It still has not resurfaced for blue widgets. When you try to go to page 10 for blue widgets it drops down to only 5 pages total with the standard message In order to show you the most relevant results....

The thing I noticed about these two 2 word keyword phrases was that up until yesterday, at least that's when I noticed, red widgets only returned approx. 250,000 results and blue widgets only returned approx. 455,000 results. Yesterday and today they are returning 1,050,000 and 2,560,000 respectively. That's a 5X increase in results. Pretty dramatic if you ask me.

[edited by: StaceyJ at 3:54 pm (utc) on July 7, 2008]


 4:58 pm on Jul 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

StaceyJ - well thats my point I think they on a big update and many sites are just out of rankings for now, but will get back later in the update


 5:59 pm on Jul 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

I've got two clients whose sites haven't been cached since the beginning of June. Googlebot visits practically every day, but none of the changes I made back then are showing up; the cache dates are June 5 and June 9. This seems kind of odd. One of the sites suffered a problem when the host was sold to another company, and the site was displaying an "under construction" page for a day before we got it sorted out - now it seems to be stuck there, and the client is climbing the walls because he'd *just* moved significantly up the rankings.

All the rest of my sites and my clients' sites seem to be getting updated; heck updates to my own site show up within minutes.

Most frustrating.


 6:13 pm on Jul 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

netmeg - does your cient use Adwords or Adsense? I am entertaining a new theory that googlebot is currently NOT doing SERP updates - the Adwords and Adsense bots are - MediaPartners and Adsbot. My cache dates from June 18 and on are all from MediaPartners, not googlebot, and it is causing me huge problems. i.e. if your cleint is not using Adwords or Adsense, this may be the reason he isn't updating. I may be wrong...


 6:19 pm on Jul 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Neither uses AdSense; one used AdWords, but I think all his campaigns are paused. That's a good thought though - maybe if I unpause one just long enough it will kickstart googlebot.

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