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5 sites dropped 80% on August 19 - all are Alexa 15k

 7:17 pm on Aug 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

Several alexa 15k sites dropped 80% same day August 19th morning time

# These sites are from same adsense account,
# same market (e.g travel or education),
# each 8-10 years old site (and domain), authority sites,
# thousands of natural backlinks, pr 6-7
# no sites sell links or whatever not good and not inter-linked b/w sites
# updated daily, very stable for last 8-10 years, earning total five figure income from adsense/vibrantmedia.. for last 4 years, ad companies use some sites as reference,
# each site hosted on separate dedicated server on different dc of usa.

Now we donot see these sites in google search for even domain keywords but appearing on 4th/5th pages for some keywords and domain keywords.

We have other similar sites where adsense not used and those sites not affected. We know friends, partners many similar sites with adsense and they not affected. So its not likely an search algo change. Only sites from our adsense account and total 5 out of 6 affected. The 6th site is also similar site. We have also few less traffic sites from different industry and they not affected.

We donot use any webmaster account for sites, today we have added/verified 2 sites to see any google error/message but nothing such.



 8:32 pm on Aug 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

Must be some common theme if you think hard enough. Them all dropping at the same time would be too weird without something connecting them.


 9:54 pm on Aug 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

Looks like your late invitation to the June 4 club has arrived.


 10:23 pm on Aug 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

Oh, he's already a member of that club.

Are these dirfferent sites from the two ALexa 15k sites that got hit by June 4th thing?


 10:40 pm on Aug 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

martinibuster - yes these are different sites. One has recovered itself fully from that june 4th. We see traffic up/down sometimes, but not so many sites at once without global algo change.

I said above "updated daily, very stable for last 8-10 years"...
No use for giving false info, nobody can solve, just discussion and experience sharing.


 11:12 pm on Aug 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

Longevity is not a measure of how clean a site is. A site can rank well for many years on a poor foundation.

How original is the content?
Of sites I've inspected that have ranked well for years then were suddenly slammed, a fair amount have had content originality issues. Mostly this involved aggregation of content from various sources, like YouTube, Wikipedia, iMDB, etc.

Links, buying, selling, acquiring from partners
This is always a sensitive issue. How were the links acquired? You say there's no interlinking, and that's good. That the sites are related in theme may be less good. It certainly makes it difficult to acquire unique inbounds for each of the related sites so as to not have their link relationships overlap.

I'm not saying you engage in risky link schemes, just pointing out a common pitfall. A common webmaster quirk is the inability to see the difference between optimization and well, spamming. So a webmaster who really wants to get to the bottom of what's going on, has to be brutally honest with themself of about edgy link building and content issues. No making excuses like pointing at others who do the same and are still ranking.

Is it possible this is a hand check or is it algorithmic? Could the June thing have been the point where your network came under scrutiny?


 11:36 pm on Aug 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

Google did seem to do something in the past few days that seemed to re-implement some of the penalties Cutts said were removed in July. On the other hand it could be a new array of penalties which some people feel is kicking them down to 5-6th page. Time will tell.


 3:56 am on Aug 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

I love how people reference Alexa rank like it actually means something.


 12:55 pm on Aug 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

I have found alexa ranks under 20,000 to usually be a quick and fairly accurate way to determine site traffic, but I usually look at thousands of sites a day for 10 years so what do I know;)


 4:04 pm on Aug 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hi Guys,

1 of our website lost the gained ranking and other 2 gained their lost rankings.

Anyone see any changes?



 9:39 pm on Aug 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

I don't have a clue what happened, but if I had to guess it would be some new filter by google to look at duplicate "unrelated" sites as duplicate content. If in same sector or industry perhaps it is now considered duplicate content. They have a trillion pages in the index and weed out things all the time I imagine.

I remember reading they use things such as domain registration to gauge site credibility so this may not be far off that they look at Adsense accounts or anything else to check for networks. I have to say I looked up a local search for my area a few days ago and it came up with domains registered just for that purpose with obviously canned content. So the travel sector has some serious competition as if that wasn't already known. To register thousands of domains to do these things muct be an immense project only capable of by deep pockets and serious players. The little guy is slowly getting crushed out of the internet I think as the money has arrived and it is wiping us out.

[edited by: TerrCan123 at 9:40 pm (utc) on Aug. 22, 2008]


 7:57 am on Aug 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

I am also in this club since August 20. One of my sites in Alexa top 100K, lost about 50-60% of its traffic. We are still on page 1 in google for our main terms, but obviously some other terms lost their rankings. BTW, we also have sitelinks, so our site is considered an authority one...


 8:33 am on Aug 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

...we... have sitelinks, so our site is considered an authority one...

Are you sure sitelinks are a sign of authority [webmasterworld.com]?

< Let's keep the Sitelinks discussion in that thread
so this thread can keep its focus on Aug 19-20 changes. >

[edited by: tedster at 4:55 pm (utc) on Aug. 23, 2008]


 5:06 pm on Aug 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

Whatever happened on August 19-20, it does seem to have been a major change or else we'd be hearing from a lot more site owners about it, I think. But we do have at least threee reports in this thread so something rolled out. Without a lot of data we may not be able to pin down the details.

ziajunu's openng post in interesting to me because five sites under common ownership were affected, but not every site they own was affected. And since these sites have been strong for 8-10 years, it seems quite unusual.

I agree with Crush - it seems like there must be some common theme.


 8:05 pm on Aug 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

Tedster, I donot get well what you mean "common theme". If this is about site design then - these sites have completely different design, different urls/meta tags, databases. 2 sites are pure static html pages (without mod rewrite) and 3 are dynamic sites with static urls by mod rewrite.

They are on same market - like dnforum, sitepoint, digital point are in same market.

What I think, it couldbe a manual review of our 5 years old adsense account and they tuned the sites. Otherwise it is impossible to hit 5 sites same time (like switch on).

They very strong sites with authority/sitelinks.
Say one our domain name "newabc"
and if I search for "newabd", google corrects spelling
Did you mean: newabc
and show result newabd . com (that is newabd domain exist and still corrects spelling)

and when click on corrected spelling
"Did you mean: newabc"
our site not showing rather some alexa, spyfu, aboutus result.

How we got links - they are very old sites, people link to these sites from relevant sites, no paid links.

Contents - are different, not shared among sites, because each site has different mysql db which running for many years.


 10:06 pm on Aug 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

I donot get well what you mean "common theme"

Maybe I should use the phrase "common factor" - something about these five sites that is similar, but not present for the sites that were not penalized. It could be a technical similarity, backlinks profile, recent global changes to these sites, or many other things.

It's just that you have five examples of this problem showing up at one time, but other sites that do not show the problem. So the obvious question, I think, is what do they have in common that might cause a problem? There good qualities are not the cause of the ranking problems, you know?


 11:38 pm on Aug 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

There is no common similarity except what said same market, same account. If this is auto penalty due to buggy filter implementation then I am sure they will return soon, max within months. If this is manual penalty then nothing to do, these sites made million dollars since adsense released and still can run their staffs, servers and we will adapt. We are grateful to adsense, google, internet, computer.


 12:02 am on Aug 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

>>>There is no common similarity except what said same market, same account.<<<

No, no, and no. And I will tell you why I say no. :) The fact that five of your sites were caught in the same net, makes it absolutely clear that your sites share a common miscalculation. The problem therefore is that you may not have a clear distinction of what constitutes shaky optimization strategy, or are overlooking the cause. Because something worked for five or more years doesn't mean it's not shaky, even if your competitors or other sites are still doing well with it.

If you built and promoted five websites within the same niche, then there is going to be overlap between them in the way they were promoted, in links, in the kinds of links, in the content, in the kind of content.

I'm willing to bet you aren't looking hard enough and that it is right in front of your nose. ;)


 12:26 am on Aug 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

My main authority site which was hammared on June 4, popped back into play on about Aug 20. It's getting up to nearly where it was before the fall. Unfortunately it was out of google action during the height of the season it normally covers.

About a month ago I made a few changes on the index.html page that didn't seem nearly big enough to cause the kind of drop we experienced. Mainly taking out a keyword in a couple links. The only other thing I found was apparently someone had hacked the site at some point, because when I checked links going out there were two links to shopping sites from inner pages. Those two shopping sites that we were linking out to were PR5 sites, so it isn't like they were real scummy. I'm still trying to figure out how someone got in to change two of my inner pages. Probably someone hacked the shared server, I imagine. Could this possibly have caused the drop? I'm thinking it probably couldn't. So, the mystery continues...


 12:41 am on Aug 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

apparently someone had hacked the site at some point

Unfortunatley, that's a very real possibility these days. And if Google sees signs of a hack - especially parasite hosting of either links or malware - then rankings drops follow.

It's always good to follow a mysterious crash in rankings with a solid look at all your outgoing links - use a tool like Xenu LinkSleuth rather than your eyes.


 12:52 am on Aug 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

Yes, I used Xenu. With thousands of pages on that site, there is no way to catch an internal link that has been snuck in.


 7:45 am on Aug 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

Our site (PR8) was also hit badly with June update.

I think the reason is in duplicated content filter. Google have chosen some certain sites in certain niches and they now show up in all searches for most of main keywords. Other sites have lost their ratings and, thus, traffic.
Those who lost traffic write here at WW, those who gain - are few lucky ones :)

This started with google news search. Google has selected what he thinks are authority sites, the rest show up only in supplemental search.


 4:18 pm on Aug 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

I watched as one of our competitors got slaughtered on August 19th, they were PR 8 and now are a PR 4.

I have long stood by and watched them abuse obvious link selling on the homepage and watched them try to hide common domain ownership by having seperate servers under different whois data for different sites and using obvious link anchor text manipulation.

To me it looks like a manual review and smackdown on or around the 19th.

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