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Google.com SERP Changes - November 2008 (part 2)
koded

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3780875 posted 12:01 am on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

That's the Ghost Dataset.
I don't see it as a bad thing those home pages went "missing". I see it as a good thing.

Hi Whitenight

Would you be kind enough to explain your rationale for this please.

Cheers

[edited by: tedster at 9:28 pm (utc) on Nov. 5, 2008]

 

Shaddows

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3780875 posted 12:03 am on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

Good for the flush/rebuild theory. Whitenight sees it as a necessary part of the mechanism he obseves.

I trust he's right, but I dont see it myself ;)

whitenight

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3780875 posted 12:13 am on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hi Whitenight

Would you be kind enough to explain your rationale for this please.

Hi Koded,
To make a long explanation and long theory, short:
I believe the homepages that went missing and then regained their rankings in the final "push" are viewed highly in the Goog algo.
There were some other things in that Ghost Dataset that held importance, but that's way too lengthy to explain.

potentialgeek

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3780875 posted 12:29 am on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

> I believe the homepages that went missing and then regained their rankings in the final "push" are viewed highly in the Goog algo.

Weren't home pages always viewed highly?

p/g

wheel

WebmasterWorld Senior Member wheel us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3780875 posted 2:11 am on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

wheel, I'm surprised we are suffering different fates. You post a lot in link-building, and your outlook on this area is not dissimilar to mine- and as I say, I've done no worse, and broadly better.

Lol. It sucks to be me, that's for sure :).

I've been lax - but I knew that already. I had the backlinks and site to beat my competitors, but not to absolutely forever guarantee my dominance. Getting shoved to page 5 for that term showed me that.

No big deal really. As I previously posted I'm working on a variety of things to dramatically increase my content as well as dramatically increase the number of large authority backlinks I have in my niche.

Google bug or not, and despite the impact on me, my interest in the cause is mostly incidental - like many of the things I test. All this has done is exposed a weakness that I was already aware I had. It hasn't changed my strategy of simply building enough content and backlinks that I can't be knocked off, no matter what.

Unfortunately opening a new office, learning sales myself, hiring and training new sales staff, trying to diversify my online presence through multiple sites and a million other things have kept me from focusing on shoring up the foundations of my main site.

wheel

WebmasterWorld Senior Member wheel us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3780875 posted 2:15 am on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

One other data point that may or may have something to do with this (though I think we've already been clearly told that this was a bug; I just don't know if I'm a symptom of the bug or something else); in my regional Google, if I searh on regional results only, I'm back at the top. if I 'search the web' I'm still in the hole. I'm normally on top for both. So there's a clear difference between either the data or the algo between the regional vs web results.

Perhaps it'll work itself out in another couple of days.

tedster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3780875 posted 2:19 am on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

Weren't home pages always viewed highly?

Not to put words into Whitenight's keyboard, but it seems to me he's pointing to specific home pages. Not every home page went missing, just those for certain domains.

CainIV

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3780875 posted 3:26 am on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

To be clear, there is still a large disparity in results. Whats very interesting is that some sectors are near perfect in my personal opinion.

Others are seriously littered with useless junk.

I like analogies. The events on the night of Oct. 31 reminded me of gourmet baking.

When you think of how you go about this, the logic might follow suit:

- Establish ingredients. (Set algorithm criteria, including seed websites)
Poor ingredients almost always leads to poor results!

- Measure out the amounts you need.(Establish levels of criteria to attain the best SERPs)

- Fold in ingredients with particular attention to order. Sift in further ingredients (Apply criteria to search index, sift in further items.)

-Mix, set and bake. (Rollout index and wait for insight and analysis from esteemed Webmasterworld members)

*Tips for making great gourmet cookies*

Start with quality ingredients.

When you mix too much of something into the bowl, sometimes it's simply easier to flush it and start again with great ingredients.

Take time between each step to make sure each step looks correct.

If something goes wrong, serve it, and see what your guests think. You might have found a new recipe:)

Always test the product yourself, but leave the final decision to the guests.

potentialgeek

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3780875 posted 5:37 am on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

Not to put words into Whitenight's keyboard, but it seems to me he's pointing to specific home pages. Not every home page went missing, just those for certain domains.

Meaning? There's something unusually strong about the home pages which were bumped? Beyond the fact they were strong enough to get sitelinks?

Is it possible the code in the algo which rewards very strong home pages was accidentally deleted? Could that explain it? Or must it be something more complicated (e.g., conflicting parts of the algo).

p/g

tedster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3780875 posted 6:04 am on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

Something like that - but it's also worth noting that not every strong domain lost its home page, just some of them.

CainIV

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3780875 posted 6:44 am on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

At one point in the sectors I watch, many (50%+) of the authority site index pages were gone, but the pillar pages in each site kept their rankings.

What was left was large content / network websites as the SERPs shifted back.

Next, inbound links were assessed and tons of junk floated to the top.

Finally, those authority sites were added back and their impact evaluated across the index, and the beast was let loose.

It was a sampling of websites that was removed.

Its interesting to not that not all of the authorities returned. At least two of the websites I thought should be in the sectors I watch are not there, which makes me wonder if this is not a slower process than most thought.

potentialgeek

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3780875 posted 8:04 am on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

Just had a thought. What if Google deliberately excluded homepages (the first big indication that something was up) and rebuilt from there--seeing how homepages reflected the ACTUAL content of the site and not what the owner was pushing.

Google could run part of its algo against W-H (W minus H) where "W" is the website in full and "H" is only the home page. It could set up a score for the entire site and then scrutinize the homepage more carefully.

Imagine if the code was set up to test the home page and due to a programming error, the home page failed the test. The algo then gave the home page only a lower score. (The rest of the site, including inner pages were unaffected.)

It doesn't fit in with my other line of thought, but I just can't get my head around that early disappearence of homepages with inner pages still there, plus the simultaneous disappearance of sitelinks. My only thought is a forced relevency check (hence ignoring the 'noisy' or heavily SEO'd front page). Anyone else got a theory on the missing homepage phase of the 'event'?

I think it was a sitelinks code error. Google was trying to do something to upgrade its sitelinks code in order to pick: a) the sites which should get sitelinks, and, b) the links on those sites which should get chosen for the sitelinks.

Instead of the code being used only for sitelinks, it was applied into the code for the ranking algo. We've seen strange things happen before but I don't recall sitelinks being knocked out. The programming of sitelinks is obviously set on the foundation of the homepage.

Remember, too, that besides authority sites and sitelinks getting knocked, site names also got hit--the very same names that would bring up the sitelinks when searched as an exact search string at google.com.

I see more things pointing to a sitelinks coding error than anything else. Go back to my first statement and that's basically a big part of the sitelinks "bot" (or equivalent). Most of my sitelinks come from links on my home page. Google scrutinized it before allocating the eight sitelinks.

p/g

sjgreatdeals

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3780875 posted 12:23 pm on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

For that being a bug i am seeing it on other datcenters again, i thought it was fixed, seeing it on this again

[64.233.179.104...]

gford

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3780875 posted 12:26 pm on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

Strange, I had thought Wiki was doing reasonably well - and others have thought so too (I refer to Wheel on Nov 1st back on page 5). I'm getting frustrated with declaring my lack of broad-spectrum data- I'm going to start monitoring SERPs that have no relevance to me, except for analysis.

gford, are you saying that in all the chaos, trends were not significantly dislocated (to use a stock market term)? Or just that plotting trends today compared to 30th October shows strong correlation?

The wiki I see had as many leave top 10 as enter top 10. So lots of churn with them is all I was saying, but that is to be expected considering how big wiki is.

And yes, in all the chaos, trends are statistically insignificant for the sets I can examine.

szykman

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3780875 posted 12:42 pm on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

I just don't know if I'm a symptom of the bug or something else); in my regional Google, if I searh on regional results only, I'm back at the top. if I 'search the web' I'm still in the hole. I'm normally on top for both. So there's a clear difference between either the data or the algo between the regional vs web results.

me too if google.com is bad my regional search is poor, if google.com gets better for my site then pure heaven,

have competitors with small websites having just a single DMOZ backlink performing #1 to #4 for many keywords, mine each day is getting worst, will wait a couple of days if nothing gets better i will delete my Sitemap.xml and see if it helps google (last time i got a good rank i had deleted my sitemap some hours before)

textex

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3780875 posted 12:47 pm on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

I had not seen much change in the financial sectors until this morning. The results I see kind of look like MSN a few months back...lots of .edu. I also see lots of article pages ranking and cheap directories as well as pages from forums that have been deleted.

restless

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3780875 posted 1:25 pm on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

my site had been 950'd for specific phrases that I ranked well for, an obvious phrase based penalty for high traffic terms, still ranked for other low traffic terms.

Yesterday I saw a G referal come through that showed someone clicked on one of the penalized phrases from the 1st page of the results, am I back? not sure because nobody has clicked through again today so fingers crossed, I believe I'm coming back after gaining a lot more links with more varied anchor text

That_Guy

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3780875 posted 2:12 pm on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

Is it possible the code in the algo which rewards very strong home pages was accidentally deleted? Could that explain it? Or must it be something more complicated (e.g., conflicting parts of the algo).

p/g


The 302 hijack bug could explain some of the pushdown for home pages and search for company name, site name, etc. I haven't seen a full site-killer in a long time, but some individual pages and symptoms of larger problems have been showing occasionally. Google has been better at straightening things out, but not preventing them.

Shaddows

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3780875 posted 2:45 pm on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

nah, this was far too widespread, affecting too 'authoritative' sites, in a short-lived but acute manner.

The sitelinks algo is a possible expanation, but I would imagine cause and effect to be the other way round- a re-evaluation of sitelinks within the context of the site. In order to do this, you would supress the homepage, analyse the site, then return the homepage to SERPS, with sitelinks.

The only thing is, it was a big event just to build sitelinks. It's worth noting MattC never said this was an accident, just that it wasnt a test- and specifically he NEVER SAID IT WAS A BUG, even when it would be easier to do so than play word-games. Re-read if you want, but summary is here (any and all emphasis mine):
I think this was a short-term issue and things should be back to normal pretty soon (if not already).

I don't consider those rankings indicative of anything coming in the future. Some data went into the index without all of our quality signals incorporated
(the above does not indicate intent or lack thereof- indeed, the rebuild theory would mean excluding signals, and adding the slowly as results became meaniningful over successive iterations)
"This isn't a "bug", it's a test."
Nope, it wasn't a test, whitenight.

Why not "It was a bug, not a test" or simply "you're wrong". But he specifically addressed the 'test' part.

Now, where's my tin hat?

No, on balance, Sitemaps and lack of homepage would appear to be a sympton of the same thing- I have a nagging thought about evaluating relevancy without undue influence of behemoth sites, but I cant quite grasp it

[edited by: Shaddows at 2:49 pm (utc) on Nov. 4, 2008]

internetheaven

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3780875 posted 2:54 pm on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

will wait a couple of days if nothing gets better i will delete my Sitemap.xml and see if it helps google (last time i got a good rank i had deleted my sitemap some hours before)

I shopped at Asda instead of Morrisons just hours before my rankings dropped .... I think I'd better go shopping! ;)

textex

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3780875 posted 3:00 pm on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hmm...not sure what to make of this but this morning we are in the 300s from the top ten for some kws. Is this the phenom people are talking about? Or maybe I am looking at my own penalty or something?

szykman

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3780875 posted 3:09 pm on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

>I shopped at Asda instead of Morrisons just hours before my rankings dropped .... I think I'd better go >shopping! ;)

ha, it sounds really funny :)

but after a month of pure guessing anything could be possible, the exact moment my site got down on last week's SERPS again, i was testing the awesome results in around 20 (one and two word) keywords

(it had a formmer bad SERP then i increased some new links and it got an excellent SERP until last tragic week)

whitenight

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3780875 posted 4:34 pm on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

Why not "It was a bug, not a test" or simply "you're wrong". But he specifically addressed the 'test' part.

Now, where's my tin hat?


lol, love you Shaddows! was waiting for someone to catch this!

Hey I TRIED to get MC to explain more ;). And he certainly phrased it that way for a reason.
Thanks anyways MC.

... sitelinks ...

Really think this an argument going in the wrong direction.
Look to Cain, gford, shaddows, tedster posts again.

bwnbwn

WebmasterWorld Senior Member bwnbwn us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3780875 posted 5:15 pm on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

I have read through the whole thread and right now it looks like nobody has any idea what may be the factors behind the change in serp positions.
It's a bug it's not a bug, it's a test it's not a test serps should be back to normal but they are not. Some have returned some haven't returned really a long read with nothing to look for as a possible factor.
Only read I can see is "wheel" indicated he has be lax on some areas due to time constraints other than that we have nothing to look for or at as a possible trip but then again this isn't suppose to be a filter.
I wonder how we can get some post on possible causes if there are any.

The sites I am in control of has not been effected but it sure is something I want understand possible indicators or factors that could be a possible factor in the serp changes.

Could this be a change based on human reviews as to why there are so many different factors effecting different verticals and sites.

[edited by: bwnbwn at 5:36 pm (utc) on Nov. 4, 2008]

CainIV

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3780875 posted 5:29 pm on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

Remember, too, that besides authority sites and sitelinks getting knocked, site names also got hit--the very same names that would bring up the sitelinks when searched as an exact search string at google.com.

I believe site links got knocked because those websites were being re-evaluated for trust.

Site links are created based on factors for the website, not the other way around.

Dominic_X

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3780875 posted 5:42 pm on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

@ Matt Cutts

You said this was a Google problem and that it would be fixed that day (now days ago).

Can you please update us as to Google's position on this change to the Google search results.

Google search results are still embarrassing for Google, this problem is enduring.

When will the ship be righted and do you know what the problem really is and when it will be fixed.

Let us know what is going on.

[edited by: tedster at 8:25 pm (utc) on Nov. 4, 2008]

Shaddows

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3780875 posted 5:43 pm on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

TBH, if it hadn't been for the chaos, this isn't too different from the June 4th update. Sudden movements, no apparent explanation.

Speaking for my own site, the pages that have done best are heavily re-written content (we sell 1000s of different products from scores of manufacturers), and many competitors simply cut&paste the MFR site. So content is being rewarded.

Products with buzz around them have been rewarded- so I think newness of links is being weighted more heavily than stale links.

OBLs to authority sites seem to be giving a boost too.

A few generic searches show info sites getting a boost to relegate shopping sites- which might be to encourage a flight to adwords.

triumph

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3780875 posted 6:19 pm on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

Looking at the datacenters for a few keywords I track, and I'm seeing big changes. However, Google.com is still showing the same results for those keywords. Can anyone tell me if the datacenters have been accurately foreshadowing these new serps, or are most of you guys seeing the changes live?

whitenight

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3780875 posted 8:28 pm on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

I have read through the whole thread and right now it looks like nobody has any idea what may be the factors behind the change in serp positions.

bwn,

Scientific method... Figure out what it is NOT first. Then narrow it down to what it IS.(or at least is most probable)

Even then, my (SERP)reality isn't going to be your (SERP)reality even if were looking at the same thing... but i digress. :)
(lol, if we want to get philosophical and literal at the same time. )

szykman

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3780875 posted 9:42 pm on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

>302 hijacks

i have a livehelp banner in my pages that is a javascript src targeting a page and in my logs it appears as 302 move permanently in all pages i have it might be time to eliminate this and let this livehelp banner just in a especific page to see if it helps, even then yo-yo and strange SERPS i am still getting

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