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Google.com SERP Changes - May 2009
Pass the Dutchie

 8:05 am on Apr 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

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

Something is up. We monitor google.de very closely and the SERP's have remained very static for a couple of weeks now. No jumping around of sites as we have seen over the past months with the exception of a few sites that should not be ranked as highly as they are. Last time I saw this there was a big shake up. Lets hope for the best results ; )

[edited by: tedster at 5:39 am (utc) on May 1, 2009]



 1:17 am on May 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hey Swanson,

I posted an explanation of what's going on with my sites, yesterday, you can find a page or two back. Anyway, what about sites that didn't get a -50 but moved let's say from #2 to #12, #6 to #25, and showing interior content pages outranking my homepage more? This doesn't fit the -50 but it's happened to a couple of my sites starting May 11th. ....I am still seeing a lot of fluctuation. I would like to hear your thoughts, let me know if you need more details. Thanks!

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 1:57 am (utc) on May 21, 2009]
[edit reason] removed specifics [/edit]


 1:37 am on May 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Swanson, you're basically saying we should go on and keep doing whatever we were doing with our sites so far... pretend like penalty isn't there... Keep ading content and get links, as before (althought I was more adding content than building links in last year)..... Because that way we would show G that we are not spammers, but people who develop quality sites and are here long term.

Makes sense. Let's see how it all goes.


 2:45 am on May 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

interior content pages outranking my homepage

At least a few sites are reporting this pattern too right now - apparently a separate issue from the p4-6 penalty.


 3:17 am on May 21, 2009 (gmt 0)


I like this theory but it doesn't make sense that the -50 is a 'safeguard'. If legitimate businesses were affected, and losing big money, these sites would likely start damage control and cleaning up their link profiles. This would, according to your theory, signal Google that these were 'spammy' sites and the vicious circle continues.

If Google expected collateral damage and conceded this when the penalties began, it's their responsibility and should compensate the legitimate sites that were penalized, like that would ever happen :)

But the reality is this is costing e-commerce sites big bucks and the 'silence' concerning this penalty is very disturbing. As Tedster said, the SERP's look like relatively low churn so this could be an experiment and possibly a way to publicly call attention to unnatural link building.


 3:27 am on May 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Carpediem, anyone can submit a request to reconsider a site.

Sites can and do comeback, Google is very lenient, unlike Y!. I had one site come back now after 2 years by doing nothing.

Yahoo is the worst, I have my most whitewhat site banned for something I did before 2000 and no amount of emails help!

interior content pages outranking my homepage

Classical sign of a penalty. Once upon a time we thought it was a google bug over site.com?links but it's by design, they remove all the "juice" from your index page

But the reality is this is costing e-commerce sites big bucks and the 'silence' concerning this penalty is very disturbing.

For every site that is hurting, there is one celebrating.


 8:13 am on May 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Quick question for those reporting fluctuations.

Have you considered the possibility that it's a "read these similar articles" type of automatic internal linking that may be causing some of the fluctuation? It's possible that as you write more articles the links on each page keep changing.

Praveen Kumar

 12:23 pm on May 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Now we are observed fluctuation in Google PageRank, i am using google tool bar as well as search status addon in firefox both page rank are showing different, I try to closed all tabs and clear the private data and cookies to observe the page rank due to of any cookies still it is showing different page rank.

May be it is sign for Google Updates / penalty..


 7:24 am on May 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

All right, the authority site that I have been monitoring has returned to its normal rankings, if not stronger.

The sites that were providing mediocre content are still on page 5.

I think that Google was cleaning out spam sites and there was some short-lived collateral damage. I'd expect any other authority sites to return soon.


 10:22 am on May 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

walkman yes yahoo they are just no Pros, they ban whole IP blogs. About google search now Im slowly getting a little worried about this "frontpage missing in search results" it can not be a ban, be cause there is nothing to ban.


 11:06 am on May 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

just that your posts in the Monthly thread are mostly confined to the major events

Indeed. ;)
Nice observation, but I'm still not sure yet.
What do you think Shaddows?
Is this major or not?
If you say "not", then i can go enjoy the extended weekend. :)

The current moment is seeing a select slice of penalties - some were handed out to big budget sites, definitely, but it's not a major flood by any means. Overall, the SERPs are still remarkable free of churn.

- Are these Big budget sites selling or buying?
- What else do they have in common?
- Would they fall under my "ghost dataset"
(trademark still pending =p) definition in terms of authority and/or seeding relevance?

Did I mention there's a US holiday coming up? (hint, hint)


Just for the record, for those who want to speculate with more data.

My competitor that's currently experiencing "anomalies" is
- big budget link buyer
- beyond historically authoritative (ie household brand)
- gets preferential "hand-picked" treatment for hypercompetitive keywords.


 4:07 pm on May 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

As for more May changes Google has planted rotating blog pages with rotating headlines in the second position under some keywords in my areas. Most of the blogs are multi topic. The result pages now have Google Adwords captioned in yellow at the top, non-yellow on the side. One Google book result, the rotating blogs with Adsense, and two ezines with Google Adsense. Nine of the top ten sites utilize Adsense on these particular keywords. Branded non-Adsense sites were forced down. Apparently Google wants more money from the long-tail traffic even though these keywords are somewhat competitive.


 5:40 pm on May 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

- Are these Big budget sites selling or buying?
- What else do they have in common?
- Would they fall under my "ghost dataset"

1. Buying, and definitely not selling, dofollow links -- or in some cases, they are only "apparently" buying.

2. No easy answers on other common factors, they are all very different markets. Some are services, others are hardgoods. Some are B2B and others B2C. Some are big Adwords clients (as high as 8 figures annually) but not others. Some use Adsense, not others. Some are online sales, others are lead generation. Some spend millions in offline marketing, too. However, all are in online markets where link buying at some level has seemed to be a survival need.

3. The domains have historically seemed to be whitelisted for trust. Most were a long time at #1 for many generic query terms, even single words. Right now, for the search [example.com] they are still showing at number one, but down to page 4-6 for the [example] search without the TLD. The domain names also show as a navigational link in Google Suggest.

In most cases these businesses are one of, if not THE top brand in their market. You can be sure these ranking demotions are costing them a lot of money.


 6:05 pm on May 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

I have noticed from a few of my sites and there keywords I follow, that
Google has devalue blog links also they have also bumped up old sites with less backlinks that are in yahoo directory. On a first page I follow.


 9:11 am on May 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the info Tedster.

However, all are in online markets where link buying at some level has seemed to be a survival need.

This is what leads to me to believe this is a bug/test/fluke (lol hopefully we avoid the usual semantics argument when I use words like these)

Since our data seems to line up, let's look at some obvious corporate "no-no's" that would imply intentionality.

1. Trusted name-brands

Google likes when their customers can find those trusted names at the top of the SERPs

2. In markets that are already known for link-buying as survival-based actions.

Again, G knows these markets very well and it also knows it could put the first 15-20 results into "penalty-land" as they all buy links to some degree.

3. Major adwords buyers.

As you mentioned, spending 10s of millions of $$$ a year supporting G's only profit-making venture usually gets G to look the other way, or at least, reconsider their latest engineer's "test algo".

4. Traditional SERP #1's or at least top 5.

Similar to above points. Why intentionally pick on these sites? Especially where in the past, G went out of their way to promote said sites.
Seems odd, doesn't it?

5. Addedum to 3. It may take a minute, but as these companies contact their personal Adwords "account managers", the word will spread UP to "central command" and then back DOWN to the "other half" of G that doesn't give "preferential treatment"... also known as the Algo team.

IF this continues past 7 days, then I can tell you exactly what's happening and why it STILL is not a reason to panic. (for most people, that is)

Although i can assure you that all the "gurus" will have blogged about why you "should panic" by then...(or, sigh, moved those threads to their "hot topics" discussions)


 10:11 am on May 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

I have the following problem:

Google shows different results for my keyword in the Internet Explorer and Firefox!

For example, on google.de on the Internet Explorer I'm on first page rank five but on Firefox my page shows up on sixth page rank five. Crazy

The rank also often changes between the first and second search.


 3:41 pm on May 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

There is definitely somethign going on. Either an update or database merging or something...

I have some of my site product sub-pages that were #1 completely disappear from the SERPS. I can find them by doing a search for page URL, but can't find them using the keyphrase - not in the top 600 anyway. Also, doing a search for a portion of a unique text fromt he page returns nothing.

And other similar pages from the same website are doing just fine, like they used to.

Also, doing a search for the keywphrases in google.de still shows these page right where they belong.

So don't panic, i think some major index shuffle is going on.


 4:13 pm on May 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

-600 is the -950 penalty.


 4:42 pm on May 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

the page appears if I do an url search for it

but searching for a unique portion of text from it returns nothing.

and the ranks are still about the same in google.de

also, people on other SE forums report the same thing - sites/pages started disappearing about a week ago and they are slowly getting back in now.

i think it's just some kind of algorithm screw up

[edited by: Jessica at 4:44 pm (utc) on May 23, 2009]


 7:25 pm on May 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

Two of the brands I'm watching are no longer in the penalty box for either their "trophy" generic keyword or for their brand search. One, however, is still penalized for queries that include location terms - and this penalty is seen on other Google ccTLDs, not just on .com.


 10:05 pm on May 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

I really hope this is some temporary Google glitch or what because one of my authoritative sites that has been NO.1 for more than 1 year is now somewhere around No.50, and the same happened with 5 other my sites while others remain intact. It really pains me to see some crappy sites at No.1 with almost no useful content. Hopefully everything will soon be back to normal.


 10:33 pm on May 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

Yeah I feel the same way.... there are some mediocre sites on pages 1-2 and my site was put down to pages 5, 6, 7+ for whatever reason.....

If this goes on, do you think a reconsideration request would only make things worse or not?


 10:41 pm on May 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

hopefully this will resolve soon, I'm not to thrilled in contacting Google because their reply could take ages.
I just hope this isn't one of those Google penalties that are lasting 6 months or more, if anything doesn't change very soon there are really very few available alternatives so I hope this is only one week thing or so.

Damn it really hurts when big G isn't sending visitors to your site...


 10:52 pm on May 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

forgot to mention couple of things though:
-serp drop happened two days ago
-yahoo and msn no change still No.1
-Google stopped visiting some of my sites four days ago, but lost position on Google two days ago
-Sites still indexed by google, except the newest content (from last 4 days)

My conclusion either glitch or penalty, though I do not see what could have I done to earn penalty


 1:24 am on May 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

Unfortunately the -50 is not a glitch, I was hit last year by this nonsense and it was real for sure. Not a single -50 domain returned back.

[edited by: SEOPTI at 1:25 am (utc) on May 24, 2009]


 8:06 am on May 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

What is happening this month also happened in the month of May last year.


 12:57 pm on May 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

I beleive that this is some kind of new penalty for new sites and it got some old sites as well.... And it would only be a matter of time till those old sites regain their rankings.

I mean it would be impossible for all of these people (on this board who reported problems) to make same mistakes with their websites (in different niches) and get this penalty .... all at the same time. It has to be something else.


 10:22 pm on May 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

What is happening this month also happened in the month of May last year.

Interesting observation. I noted above that Google admits that in summer time they make more radical changes, as more people are at the beach, outdoors etc. Less traffic for them.

Unfortunately the -50 is not a glitch, I was hit last year by this nonsense and it was real for sure. Not a single -50 domain returned back.

One of my names was hit with that probably 2-3 years ago and came back. Same content, nothing on my part. Oh, I actually blocked Google from everything but my index. I forgot it, and it's quite possible that it came back before this month. In my case, I deserved the penalty 100% and I didn't even complain.


 12:19 am on May 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

Walkman - Did any of the things that you did initially remain in place when the penalty lifted ? If so, did those things maintain the intended outcome [ ie improved SERP's ].

[edited by: Whitey at 12:22 am (utc) on May 25, 2009]


 12:54 am on May 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

-50 penalty is the easiest to get back from if only because it so often a shorterm penalty.

Praveen Kumar

 7:19 am on May 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

day by day the rankings are going worse..

i think waiting is not a solution to stop downstream trend for rankings.

Now Google.com rankings also changing to my website.


 7:29 am on May 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

Can it be possible that Google has identified some link pattern, like most of the big companies (or even small) might be taking Link building from similar service providers and Google might have started to keep a record (read it as started to take action) of them by giving -50 to all sites that have common linking sites. This might be tracking the services that sell 10's of 1000's of directories and link building at one go in few months time...

This 219 message thread spans 8 pages: < < 219 ( 1 2 3 4 [5] 6 7 8 > >
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