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UK Google SERP Changes - July 2008

 5:58 pm on Jun 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

I decided to perform an experiment last weekend and constructed a brand new 35 page promotional brochure site on a 14 year old .co.uk. This .co.uk has been pointing at our .com for a couple of years now and both have been hosted in the U.K. from inception.

Googlebot came in mid-week and performing a site:example.co.uk returns only 6 results, the index page and five product pages! So I decided to check to see if I could find those pages in the SERPs using the three word keyphrases for the five product pages.

All the pages are authoratative with plenty of text, images and relevant information and all five, I'm pleased to say, are in the top 10 results, we'll see how long that lasts.

I find it strange that Googlebot has taken the entire site and only showing six pages at present, it's not as though it's a huge site.

Meanwhile I am still having yo-yoing problems with the 10 year old retail brochure site and really cannot see any point in attempting anything whilst there is such an extreme flux occurring.

Meanwhile G has moved a load of my .coms hosted on a US server back into the Google.co.za results...argh...what are they doing?

[edited by: tedster at 5:47 am (utc) on July 1, 2008]



 4:42 pm on Jun 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

I was reading the Q&A transcription of the JuneTune live chat
[groups.google.com...] and googlers gently refused to answer several questions about these fluctuations by pointing you at the same ole google help page "why my site is not listed anymore?"
Nothing really new in the chat, but you may spot something interesting.


 7:07 pm on Jun 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

*** I find it strange that Googlebot has taken the entire site and only showing six pages at present ***

For small sites:

You'll find Google is quickest to find a new site, but the number of indexed pages only goes up slowly.

Yahoo will take longer to find the site initially, and will get to 100% in just a few steps.

Live will take the longest to initially find the site, but once found, will get to 100% in only a couple of steps, in only a week or so.

That's been my experience with new sites in the last few months.

I also find, for Google, large variances in pages indexed in different datacentres. Additionally, if you have a "custom site search" that will be ahead of everything else.

See also: [webmasterworld.com...]


 7:04 am on Jul 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

Has anyone seen a shift in the UK geolocation issues? I'm wondering if UK sites are still disappearing inappropriately, or if the situation is improving for at least some websites.


 8:36 am on Jul 1, 2008 (gmt 0)


there has been a massive shift.
in the .co.uk index i am seeing sites on page one. for the same phrase on the .com are dropped to page two.

the .com index is about 95% .com sites which is a bit crazy.


 9:32 am on Jul 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hi Tedster it seems to have improved/stabilised in the niche I am in, but I won't hold my breath.


 12:34 pm on Jul 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

A couple of things about the yo-yoing 10 year-old brochure site.

1. Searching Google.com for the most important 3 keyword phrase and nothing can be found, Google.co.uk and it's now back in 6th position...for the moment.

2. I believe that Google has created and imposed its own duplicate penalty! This site has always been known as example-example.com with exampleexample.com parked on top since inception.

Recently several pages started appearing in the SERPs with exampleexample.com and doing site:exampleexample.com revealed many pages in the index.

I've now hardcoded all links as example-example.com so I'll await and see what happens however, interestingly, Yahoo! has the site #1 correctly with example-example.com yet Live has it #1 with exampleexample.com.

I am totally perplexed as to why, after 10 years, G & Live should suddenly "decide" that exampleexample.com is the correct site.

Any thoughts?


 1:17 pm on Jul 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

Still a massive difference for my UK .com site although a slight improvement over the last week - a few places which puts me at the top of page 2 for UK searches (still top 5 for US searches).

I have made no changes which might effect the geo-targeting for a couple of weeks - so it is either the .co.uk links starting to take effect, or google tweaking their G-UK algo.


 11:00 pm on Jul 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

*** parked on top ***

One domain should return 200 status, and the other should return a 301 redirect.


 1:59 am on Jul 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm a bit late in on these discussions, but for what it's worth our .uk site is ranking lower than for the same terms on .com .

The site appears to have a current minus penalty [ 40 / 50 / 60 ] which kicked in about one month ago. I mention it because it appears the .co.uk filter is more aggressive which surprises me.

The particular term which should rank No 1 are fluctuating from 41 to 55 on .com and 10/20 places deeper [ and fluctuating ] on google.co.uk

I'm not sure why this should be? Any ideas?

[edited by: Whitey at 2:21 am (utc) on July 2, 2008]


 7:36 am on Jul 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

I've also noticed the same penalization to be much harsher on Google UK results.. quite strange!


 6:59 pm on Jul 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

My bricks and mortar business supplies <specialist widgets>. therefore this evening I have been checking out other <specialist widget sites> and the .coms have taken an absolute beating with on average only a couple or three of them in the top 20 for several product areas.

I was with a <specialist widgets> client this afternoon and they have already taken the decision to construct a new .co.uk site since their formerly good-ranking .com has all but disappeared.

Needless to say this is not at all impressive since I am seeing some real spammy sites ranking at the top with almost unintelligible sentences stuffed full of keywords.

The average surfer doesn't bother reading all this, they go straight to the nitty gritty products and prices pages, grab the phone numbers and off they go...madness G.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 8:25 pm (utc) on July 2, 2008]
[edit reason] removed specifics [/edit]


 8:10 pm on Jul 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

In G.co.uk "web search" some generic terms don't show any UK results in the top ten, so anyone work out what the "trigger" for them might be?


 1:23 pm on Jul 3, 2008 (gmt 0)


I decided to perform an experiment last weekend and constructed a brand new 35 page promotional brochure site on a 14 year old .co.uk.

As of today half the site is now showing in the index and all but a couple of pages are in the top ten results, some have even deposed my 14 year old .com site! This has not come as a great surprise since the pages are very factual, informative and heavily laden with trade and retail pertinent information.

This is not a big-player Internet niche however the actual trade sector is huge globally and I was more than pleased to see some of the pages had actually made it onto Google.com.

I have used my standard template design and navigation structure however I have deliberately NOT included AdSense but have crosslinked to my UK stockists web sites plus my own .com/cn/in/mobi sites.

Fingers crossed:-)


 3:05 am on Jul 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

.... another ad-hoc observation .... weird.

On results from google.co.uk [ filtered with "sites in UK" ] we are showing both our .COM and .co.uk site in positions 45 and 46 for the same term.

Neither site is hosted in the UK or has any Whois information for the UK. The only relationship with the UK is the TLD of the 2nd one.

They also have different content.

Is there a Google UK glitch on at the moment ?


 9:07 am on Jul 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

How do site: and site:/ numbers compare for the two domains on 'the web' and 'sites in UK'? Is the complete .com visible in the UK part or just a single page?

I ckecked out a friend's sites that are identical to your set up and his .com is NOT visible in the UK 'sites in UK' search.

Lots of Google weirdy things in UK over last month.


 11:55 am on Jul 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

.com is NOT visible in the UK 'sites in UK' search

this happened last year to a load of .coms and .nets even where they were hosted in the UK. Google finally admitted it was a geo-targeting bug, but I never managed to identify what caused it. Sites with mainly US directory IBLs were fine, sites with nothing but UK hosted non-directory IBLs were hit.

I hope that doesn't start again, it lasted for months.


 2:17 am on Jul 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

How do site: and site:/ numbers compare for the two domains on 'the web' and 'sites in UK'? Is the complete .com visible in the UK part or just a single page

I've not heard of these various commands, only the site: command . Can you explain ?

On Google.co.uk [ uk filter on ]

site:www.outsite.co.uk 45900 results
site:/oursite.co.uk 5780 results
site:oursite.co.uk 46000 results
site:oursite.co.uk/* 5780 results

Unbelievable .... look at this for .COM in Google.co.uk [ uk filter on ]

site:/oursite.com 59 results
site:www.oursite.com 4590 results

Is Google having serious probs?

Chief suspects :
- handling of redirects
- geo targeting
- duplicate content filters

Anything else ?

google.com [ global search ]

site:/oursite.com 10 results
site:www.oursite.com 39500 results
site:www.outsite.com/* 3930 results

Why the big differences and surely this says something about google.co.uk being up the creek.

btw - i just repeat we have a recent -40 / 50 / 60 penalty on these sites which occurred early May - factors may no be compounding

[edited by: tedster at 2:58 am (utc) on July 5, 2008]
[edit reason] disable graphic smile faces [/edit]


 8:28 pm on Jul 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

What is the thinking behind the site:/oursite.com searches?

What do people think that it shows?


 8:55 pm on Jul 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

site:/ - is a little known construct but is used by some SEO analysists and programs. How do you find non supplemental pages these days? Answer, the same way as 3 years ago!

This construct was I believed mentioned a couple of times before on WebmasterWorld.

Try 'site:/example.com keyword' etc, etc.

Nice to see others seeing that google.co.uk is up the creek!


 1:18 am on Jul 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

This construct was I believed mentioned a couple of times before on WebmasterWorld.

Can i clarify if there is any difference between the results of "
site:/ "and the other commands. 2 of them show the same results - i just wanted to check in case i missed something.

How does one get an official answer out of Google on things like the UK problems ?


 2:21 am on Jul 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

All these special queries are not official Google offerings. They are essentially hacks that the webmaster community has found. What Google offers us officially is the vanilla version of the operator - site:example.com. From what I can see site:/example.com and site:example.com/* are both returning a list of urls that are in the regular or main index. That is, the urls reported are not in off in some lower level partition, such as the supplemental index. But that's only roughly true, and there's no guarantee that those queries will always return ALL such urls.

These hacks were found by experiment and experience, and it's up to us who use them to monitor the results and judge for ourselves what value they hold. We're poking around Google's edges, seeing what extra tidbits we can discover.

I have growing misgivings about "betting the farm" on anything shown in these unofficial queries. For instance, to decide on what urls Google is "fully inclduing" in the index, I often will check their partner sites, such as AOL. And when I do that, the results of a site: query are often slightly lower than doing site:/example.com on Google. Is Google is exporting a slighlty more limited set of data to their partners? That's what it looks like to me.

In terms of official Google comment on the UK search issues - I'd say if Goole hasn't commented by now through their official blogs or the Google Groups, then they're not likely to say anything. We certainly have no ability to get official answers from any company (including Google) about how their proprietary technology works. We can ask for, try for, and hope for increased transparency, but there will always be a limit. We may have just banged into one.


 2:39 am on Jul 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Is there a Google UK glitch on at the moment ?

I believe so - not 100% sure, but I think there may be some official comments over on Webmaster Groups about this issue.

UK index seems to have been beset with problems around geotargeting for quite some time now.


 4:34 am on Jul 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Do you have a reference link ?


 9:02 am on Jul 7, 2008 (gmt 0)


Some changes in my niches. Dodgy site given #1 and site links still #1 but no site links.

FWIW I hypothesise that the UK geo issue is caused by an interaction of UK English semantics differences to US English semantics and a change in how anchor text in different parts of pages is weighted (including backlinks and internal links).

Others have suggested that it is important to have links from UK sites but from my observations I'm starting to think that it is currently more important to have links from sites outside the US, ie the balance of the weight of your backlinks should be from non US sites judging by the sites I've looked at that are #1 in UK. I would be interested to hear if others see this pattern.

Also, I have not collected data on this but get the feeling that, as far as the UK filter goes, single links from many sites seems to be better than many links, run of site, from a few sites.




 10:01 pm on Jul 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

Is anyone seeing any improvements for their sites?

I just checked a couple of two word keyphrases and whilst my 14 year old UK hosted .com is high on the first page of Google.com, it can't be found on Google.co.uk!

I'm also seeing huge differences between Google results when using Opera or Firefox.


 11:47 pm on Jul 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

Not really, I'm still seeing wild fluctuations in our rankings between page 5 and 7 for our .uk site which is on a minus penalty.

.com listing on google.co.uk results is still sitting there


 11:56 pm on Jul 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

An observation on google.co.uk that would explain my particular lower level of traffic AFTER my recovery from the June 4 fiasco. It goes like this - I have run several queries that exhibit the same behaviour.

I run a search on google.co.uk selecting pages from the uk - note down the top 10 results THEN run the same query on pages from the web with the intention of finding where the no 1 result on uk is in the web search, repeat for 2 to 10. What I am finding is that MOST of the top 10 can also be found on the web search AND largely in the same order BUT the top 10 are spread over the first 30 to 40 web results. Now the observation is that they are more spread out than a couple of months ago so more 'foreign' sites have interceded to push down my rankings. As when you load google.co.uk the default is to search the web where there are less actual 'UK' focussed sites then although I have most of my UK rankings back my web rankings have gone down and hence my traffic. This theory would apply to every regional google search engine.

When I look at Google.com results then there are certainly less UK sites commanding top 10 positions. So it looks like uk results on co.uk got really messed up ( my view is still a data loss! )and then fixed but in the turmoil uk sites lost their effectiveness in web searches from the uk.

Why does google.co.uk have both a 'search the web' option button AND a link to Google.com? What is the difference supposed to be? (I can see that they are clearly different results sets, but why?)

[edited by: tedster at 12:26 am (utc) on July 17, 2008]
[edit reason] moved from another location [/edit]


 8:59 am on Jul 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

<Moved from another location>

a few months ago i had 100 backlinks in google when i searched link:domain.co.uk now i`m down to 9 and i seem to be loosing these, any ideas why?

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 4:54 pm (utc) on July 17, 2008]

Robert Charlton

 5:01 pm on Jul 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

stevelibby - The Google link: operator is a reporting function only, showing only a random sample of what Google sees, and it doesn't reflect your true backlinks. Nevertheless, it might be useful to see if others in the UK have observed this same reporting drop.

Take a look at the Hot Topics [webmasterworld.com] section, pinned to the top of the Google Search forum home page, for more information:

The link: Operator [webmasterworld.com] - it's not like other search engines!

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