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Google.com SERP Changes - June 2009
caribguy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3924087 posted 12:35 am on May 31, 2009 (gmt 0)

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

I want to echo Outland88's comments on the previous page:

...Google is rotating results, changing the positioning daily, and showing sites on a day/night schedule with many keywords. You can’t tell what you’re going to get whenever you do a search. It can explain traffic drops. Google probably has the rankings tied to weather conditions and the price of oil to name a zillion things.

Just finished putting together a spreadsheet that draws from a sampling of ranking positions for eight keyword phrases (3 words) that normally drive substantial traffic for a specific site. The "normal position" for each phrase is between 1 and 15, and I've seen occasional jumps of as much as 10 positions in a single day.

Taking about 15 samples each month for the past year, averaging those results and putting it into a fancy graph, it seems that each phrase has generally kept a particular trend (up/down/equal) for a period of 3 months, followed by a "bump" and then either maintaining the previous trend or establishing a new one. The phrases consist of 2 sets of closely related, nearly interchangeable keywords.

I don't think anything can predicted from a single SERP drop unless the site itself has undergone considerable changes or the webmaster is engaging in aggressive and possibly greyhat marketing/SEO tactics.

If you worry too much about a sudden drop, maybe it's time to take a step back from it all...

[edited by: tedster at 5:47 pm (utc) on June 1, 2009]

 

JoeSinkwitz

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3924087 posted 3:24 am on May 31, 2009 (gmt 0)

Caribguy, in several industries that I watch intently I'm seeing more rapid swings of 15+ positions for multiple sites, and not in a yo-yo fashion. Vince has helped to lock certain sites out of the shuffle, but I have watched a site rank #7, fall to #17 for a while, fall to #30, and then rise back up over a few days, sometimes just to the teens, sometimes back to the first page.

Currently I'm attributing a lot of this to G still trying to tweak Vince in order to accurately peg what a brand is, since the other correlations from my data are weak (link acquisition/time, anchor distribution, where on the link graph the most recent inbounds occured, on-page variables, etc). My recommendation on this is similar to yours; don't read too much into it, just keep working on the business.

Praveen Kumar

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3924087 posted 1:55 pm on Jun 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

No change here either

dolcevita

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3924087 posted 2:34 pm on Jun 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

My site is recovered for 60% of terms and back to old positions. For 25% of terms is back but lower for +/- 10 or 15 positions. For 15% terms is still not back. And within 15% is one of most import keywords.

Hopefully everything will come back to old positions for all terms.
I see directly increasing in traffic. As always i have not changed anything.

maximus12

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3924087 posted 3:18 pm on Jun 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

Mine is still the same, still making changes and back stepping, might have to file for reconsideration this week. Although I have had bad experiences with reconsideration, have also heard it can make things worse.

pelizden

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3924087 posted 3:30 pm on Jun 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm probably worst hit, 7 of 10 pages...

caribguy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3924087 posted 5:03 pm on Jun 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

Joe: I see those rapid changes too and more clearly in results for which the "normal" position is between 7 and 15. And, I've also seen keywords jump 30+ positions in one or two days - without it affecting other very similar keywords for the same site. It doesn't make sense when you look at day-to-day changes...

I was unaware of Vince's -not an update but still worth MC talking about it for 3 minutes- and I don't think it's visible in the things I track. What I noticed was that in my situation the ranking delta for a particular phrase would accelerate for a period of about one month, then subside for about 3 and that the process would repeat. Not trying to explain or predict.

I'd be curious what would happen in your situation if you group all of these abrupt jumps together over a longer period and then compare the aggregate results between several keywords.

The trouble is -as MC pointed out- is that G makes 300-400 updates to its algos and all we see is a ranking change. It's been said here before that attempting to single out what caused any specific site to drop or gain when "nothing has changed" is pretty much like tilting at windmills...

You could also interpret "Stepping back from it all" as taking off your webmaster hat and looking at your site like Joe Sixpack, or whoever your intended audience is. G is pretty good at understanding what the median user wants, and will point them to results that satisfy *their* search ;) MFA, scraped content etc. is a different discussion, and something G is actively fighting...

/[insert apology] long rant

JoeSinkwitz

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3924087 posted 11:21 pm on Jun 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

It is possible to see the end points of those 300-400 updates more clearly if you grab enough data and build an emulating engine to try and reverse engineer changes...not simple, but doable. To shed light on the aggregate data, importance has increased in the same trend as it has been going the past several months: brand, domain strength, raw link equity, anchor usage...

Anyhow, it almost always comes down to solid content and acquiring more quality links; just about every modification made over the years can still be distilled down to that simple mantra. Even the faddish social media crap of supposedly golden user data that can be manipulated within 15 minutes...get the content to make your site sticky and get links some people can find the content (or script it out over a worldwide network of proxies). I think a lot of webmasters do get caught up in the daily fluctuations, but the fluidity of search will only increase, so I don't think it inconceivable in the future to see sites go from page 1 to 5 to 10 and back to 1 in the course of a day, all based on what G's relevancy algo says is the best choice for that specific point in time.

Finally, it is important to point out that it is now June; expect some interesting tests. :)

caribguy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3924087 posted 7:21 am on Jun 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

build an emulating engine
That takes quite a bit of commitment (and funding). I'd guess 95 out of 100 posters here do not have those kinds of resources.

You sound like you have, and I'd be thrilled to be able to look over your shoulder sometime. A friend of mine builds optimization software to solve logistics problems, you could convert those types of constraints to emulate G's rulesets.

Your mantra is mine too. But, I could ask 10 buddies at the bar to define social media and get 9 blank stares in return. Joe Sixpack doesn't know much about Digg (let alone being able to spell Technocrati or del.icio.us) and is more likely to click on his highschool hottie's pics on Facebook than any other link in his stream. He probably doesn't even know that he's living in the big money walled garden.

We can waste days discussing the consequences of a particular update, but maybe our time would be better spent trying to figure out what makes Joe feel satisfied...

You mentioned 4 factors:

brand - Yes, crap content from b&m brand sites in my niche is getting stronger for no good reason

domain strength - I'm competing for #1 position with a 7 page website that has been online since 1999 (my content is about 2,000 pages and a 2 year old site)

raw link equity - Underutilizing this and feeling the consequences. Older sites and brand names have an advantage there. It's just a lot harder now to get a nice link from quality sites with related content.

anchor usage - Knowing this is an advantage. One of the things that was designed well in my case.

I think the elephant in the room is the amount of time people spend browsing a site. Discarding my 50% bounce rate, I'm left with half of my visitors looking at 7+ pages for about 6-7 minutes. If there is any signal to G that a site is relevant to its audience, I believe this is it...

Didn't mean to get off on a tangent, but when it seems like the sky is falling every time G tweaks its algo, then maybe webmasters should consider whether their content matches what the user is looking for. It's not G's fault if it doesnt...

Martin Ice Web

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3924087 posted 8:30 am on Jun 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

Didn't mean to get off on a tangent, but when it seems like the sky is falling every time G tweaks its algo, then maybe webmasters should consider whether their content matches what the user is looking for. It's not G's fault if it doesnt...

This is incorrect. Your statement implies that google was not able to find the best site for a certain query before that algo change. But why did google send so much traffic to that "worse" sites, if their content didn´t match the users query? Was google a poorly search-engine?

Have a look at the results after the update! I can´t find good site on first page! INstead of good sites, google gives me technical manuals! for my query!Only because one word out of my query string was on that page!

sirkevon

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3924087 posted 6:12 pm on Jun 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

This week, starting Monday, rankings for a couple of keywords have been fluctuating in a day/night cycle it seems. On Monday, my two main keywords dropped from the first page to the 3rd and 4th page. On one of those keywords, a different page on my site is ranked above the page associated with that keyword. I thought it could not possibly be a Google penalty because I have done nothing to warrant that. That night, I checked again and my rankings came back. Tuesday morning, they dropped again to the same spot. Tuesday evening, after 6 p.m., the rankings went back. And now, Wednesday morning, they're back to the same dropped spot.

Is this a dance? Is it the Google data centers updating? When it's all said and done, I just hope my keywords won't stay in the dropped positions.

gouri

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3924087 posted 7:30 pm on Jun 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

On one of those keywords, a different page on my site is ranked above the page associated with that keyword. I thought it could not possibly be a Google penalty because I have done nothing to warrant that. That night, I checked again and my rankings came back.

I have also noticed that for one of my sites, for a keyword, the page that usually ranks for it is not ranking. Instead, it is another page and it is ranking lower than the page that is targeted to rank for the keyword.

I have not done anything recently so I don't think it is a penalty.

I think if it was a penalty if would be the page that ususally ranks for the keyword ranking lower than it usually does, not a different page ranking for the keyword and also being lower?

What do you guys think?

internetheaven

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3924087 posted 8:36 pm on Jun 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

My site is recovered for 60% of terms and back to old positions. For 25% of terms is back but lower for +/- 10 or 15 positions. For 15% terms is still not back. And within 15% is one of most import keywords.

Wow! Never seen a set of data return such pretty statistics. I've never had 60%, 25%, 15% and 15% all in one ranking check .... that must happen only ... 15% of the time ... or maybe 25% of the time .... no, no I'm going to go for 10% ...

I'm probably worst hit, 7 of 10 pages...

Mmmmm ... probably not ...

Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit

I see the oldies taking over. Ancient, trusted (i.e. buys paid links by the hundreds every month and has done for years without getting caught) websites are getting 2-4 results in the top 50 pushing out a lot of other quite good sites. Seems rather un-comprehensive of Google to show many pages from a handful of sites for a search?

I'm using Google.co.uk for UK searches

tedster

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



 
Msg#: 3924087 posted 3:07 am on Jun 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

It looks like a second round of -50 tags got handed out on May 28 and 29 - reports are just now trickling in. From what I've been able to see, it looks a lot like the first round did: an algoritmic attempt to stop link buying.

Interesting note, in two cases traffic flatlined to zero immediately, but then some traffic trickled back after a few days. I'm not yet sure if the renewed traffic is long-tail only or restored rankings on competitive terms, but jsut for a very short time period each day.

whitenight

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3924087 posted 3:28 am on Jun 4, 2009 (gmt 0)


It looks like a second round of -50 tags got handed out on May 28 and 29 - reports are just now trickling in. From what I've been able to see, it looks a lot like the first round did: an algoritmic attempt to stop link buying.

Ugg, are these sites all buying links from the same place?
Or just from obvious sites?!
I'm not seeing it.
(Hopefully, i'm trusted as knowledgeable on link buying)

2 sites still tells me this is NOT due to link buying NOR that it's "algorithmic".

As always, that tells me it's an anomaly of THOSE sites.

As illustrated by the below quote:
I see the oldies taking over. Ancient, trusted (i.e. buys paid links by the hundreds every month and has done for years without getting caught)

The beauty of FUD is that you can talk about "punishing link buyers" over 2 years ago and do nothing and the first sign of something amiss, and everyone crying "bloody-murder, the sky is falling".

That's what FUD is supposed to due. It's shock and awe.
We know Goog loves to use this type of psychology on webmasters.

I'm NOT seeing it!

dolcevita

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3924087 posted 6:01 am on Jun 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

Internetheaven:
Wow! Never seen a set of data return such pretty statistics. I've never had 60%, 25%, 15% and 15% all in one ranking check .... that must happen only ... 15% of the time ... or maybe 25% of the time .... no, no I'm going to go for 10% ...

Actually to make it easy for people who obviously understand very well statistics but have missed one or two lesson in school here is easy explanation:

My site is back for about =/- 25 keywords to old positions (+/- 60%),
for about 9-10 keywords is back to lower position. (+/- 25%)
For 5-7 very import keywords is still not back. (+/- 15%)

I hope that now is a little bit more easier to understand. :)

megri

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3924087 posted 6:34 am on Jun 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

I have not seen much changes in keyword rankings of our main websites....

tedster

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



 
Msg#: 3924087 posted 7:00 am on Jun 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

I used the word "algorithm" in a purely mathematical sense - not as a reference to Google's ranking/relevance algorithm.

What it looks like to me is a machine learning algorithm on its second pass. It looks for a certain footprint and automatically assigns a -50 tag on all the search results from that domain. There's even a -50 on the "example" part of "example.com", but no penalty on the "example.com" navigational search, which still even retains sitelinks.

In both these new cases from May 28, there has been no link buying for several years, pretty much from the beginning of Google's media blitz about paid links. So it's not that they are using the same agency or something, they are not buying any links, period.

But both have backlinks that are laid out in the page template in a way that certainly LOOKS like a "sponsored link" when you open the page. It seems some webmasters have an ad insertion functionality in their CMS and they used that to make a backlink "gift" to the site they liked. If there's a shared anomaly here, it's this type of backlink triggering a false positive - at least that's my current operating assumption.

----

I also see some junk sites being floated to the top. That change is Google's ranking algorithm at work. We've seen this happen several times in the past and the junk usually gets skimmed off in a short while. Several members have guessed that it's a kind of statistics-based machine learning. That idea sounds as good as any to me. As long as they get "skimmed off", it's not a long term problem.

crobb305

WebmasterWorld Senior Member crobb305 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3924087 posted 1:20 pm on Jun 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

Ted, are you observing any of the -30/-50 sites recovering after a short period of time? Or are they sticking there? Also, could on-site changes made a month ago suddenly trigger -30/-50 for certain terms within the past day or so? I am not sure what the time lag might be if the two are related.

maximus12

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3924087 posted 3:02 pm on Jun 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

Ted and Crob,

I am going on 5 weeks now and site is still the same. I do not think it is related with paid links because we have not bought many at all maybe 4 but very discreetly.

We did have an issue back in March where someone signed up for our forum and posted MP3 links all over the place redirecting to a MP3 site, when our webmaster caught this 14 hours later we deleted all the spammy links he added and blocked him, now we approve each new forum member manually and watch them carefully. We discovered that we were getting allot of errors in our Google Webmaster Central and when we checked them, this same guy who spammed our forum posted those links on over 30 other forums/blogs. We believe this could have been the cause of our penalty but are not 100% sure

I have been back-tracking and trying to find anything else bad that could have gone wrong, but still have found nothing. To us it happened April 30th 2009 and it still has not shown up. We are waiting another week and if nothing gives then we will file for reconsideration.

tedster

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



 
Msg#: 3924087 posted 8:57 pm on Jun 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

Out of eight recent cases I know of that recovered, only one came back without a reconsideration request and that was after three weeks. They did a lot of investigation and repair, however, it's not like they just sat on their hands.

maximus12

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3924087 posted 9:11 pm on Jun 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

So it might be time to submit one then, it has been 5 weeks for me. I have been trying to fix everything and have not been sitting on my hands but still no budge.

What if I submit the reconsideration request, google goes to the site but still finds that I have not found the reason they gave me the -50 in the first place? Do they tell you or just ignore you?

talismon

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3924087 posted 9:20 pm on Jun 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

They certainly won't tell you, it took us a few attempts to get it right. Our final request included specific information on inbound links we had removed and we believe this level of detail helped in getting our site back quickly. If you were penalized and don't have paid links, I would scrutinize links that may 'look paid' and provide an explanation of sorts too.

tedster

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



 
Msg#: 3924087 posted 9:37 pm on Jun 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

Note that if you have a LOT of information, it's best to put the fine details on a url and link to it in your reconsideration request - rather than sending a huge message through WMT alone.

I agree very much with talismon. The "good faith effort" that you communicate about making can be the difference.

maximus12

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3924087 posted 9:45 pm on Jun 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

Good point tedster. I have been keeping notes of all the changes I have made and will include them in a detailed report for google. I will do as suggested and post it on a url where google can see.

Talismon,

What kind of other links did you removed that were not paid? Can you give me a hint on this? Were they allot of links?

potentialgeek

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3924087 posted 11:48 pm on Jun 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

I see curious movements on one string of keywords since this latest update/whatever started to change SERPs dramatically.

Example:

Red Widgets for Soldiers

New positions:

a) Red Widgets for Soldiers: same

b) Red Widgets: -100

c) Widgets: +5 (#17)

d) Widgets for Soldiers: +1 (#1)

(I got a new backlink a while back for "Red Widgets for Soldiers" from an old, trusted site.)

I'm curious to know if any of the latest algo update has anything to do with longtail searches, i.e., if your site was showing up for too many of the popular ones.

I don't know why my site was hit for Red Widgets. It had been about #19 or #20 for several years before I got the new backlink from BOTW.

I don't know if the SERP changes affect my site much. I wasn't getting much traffic from Red Widgets before. But going from #2 to #1 on a related search may have helped somewhat. Total traffic for the site appears to be about the same.

Anyone who "bought" links from paid directories get hit lately? I only got a few and was going to get more, but now I'm not sure if I'll bother. It's kind of boring to find and apply for them, so I don't mind a new excuse not to find more.

p/g

Garya

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3924087 posted 3:23 am on Jun 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Pretty bad results showing up now, for my keywords
google left the first 4 sites along after dirching the #1site 2 weeks ago. Today
results for 5 thru 10 are banks, newspapers, government, cable company.
all never been there before and don't belong. looks like they gave the first 4 sites a free pass, and all the rest if they have to many backlinks with keywords they are dropped back to 3rd page.

[edited by: tedster at 3:33 am (utc) on June 5, 2009]

trinorthlighting

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3924087 posted 3:26 am on Jun 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

What ever changes they have made recently are not that great at all. I am seeing a ton of junk rise to the top making my own personal searches a bit difficult.

potentialgeek

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3924087 posted 4:31 am on Jun 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Another site I got a (discount) paid directory listing with at BOTW got hit for the main keyword search string. Currently knocked from #9 to #21. It had been stable for over a year.

Tedster or somebody else was saying they suspected Google is now targeting people who buy links instead of just those selling them.

Does this mean that Google is now penalizing paid link directories judging them as if they are like all other paid links which have no editorial discretion?

If the most respected one gets hit, to me that's a sign that there's been a policy shift.

When there was a change a few years ago with respect to those selling links, Matt Cutts said paid directories were not being targeted when there was editorial discretion involved.

What has he said about the current situation wrt buying links?

p/g

tedster

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



 
Msg#: 3924087 posted 5:02 am on Jun 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

There is no problem with directory submissions that charge for review and have a real editorial process that turns down bad sites.

This 210 message thread spans 7 pages: 210 ( [1] 2 3 4 5 6 7 > >
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