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This 185 message thread spans 7 pages: < < 185 ( 1 2 [3] 4 5 6 7 > >     
Google Updates and SERP Changes - July 2009

 11:24 am on Jul 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

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

I received a communication last night that discussed a buzz going around that Google is going to shake up how it deals with backlinks. Specifically that Google is going to give less weight to less relevant linkage. This source also heard from another direction that a big change was coming in the next few days.

Anyone know anything?



 6:21 am on Jul 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

"And yes, in my industry, Bing returns more relevant results thant Google. Actually Bing returns results similar to Google's back a few months to a year ago"

I'm seeing the same thing in my industry.


 3:05 pm on Jul 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

Witch hunts are never a good idea for anything. Remember what happened in Salem?

Sounds likes to me, the spam you're seeing is (Search Positions Above Mine).

If they are thin adsense sites, any SEO worth their salt will be able to outrank them.

I have several Keyword domain sites that are spot on target, all have unique content and DO NOT have adsense or any other ads on them. I've put in the time to make them good sites.

To just say all keyword domains are not good is a backwards way of going about it.

If the sites are thin arbritage sites, then the great Google should be able to pick that up already.


 5:12 pm on Jul 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

I just noticed a major divergence between .com and .co.uk in the drop down suggestions that appear when you start to type. Has this been there for a while or is it new?




 7:37 pm on Jul 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

Google may be testing something. I see an abundance of hi-jacked .edu domains all over first page results. This usually happens before Google changes something in the algo, I guess dropping the guard for a few days while implementing...

No offence, but isn't that chaos happening since the begin of June? So it seems a pretty long way doing a test.


 7:43 pm on Jul 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

Google may be testing something. I see an abundance of hi-jacked .edu domains all over first page results. This usually happens before Google changes something in the algo, I guess dropping the guard for a few days while implementing...

No offence, but isn't that chaos happening since the begin of June? So it seems a pretty long way doing a test.

Much longer than that:


As soon as "trust" became a major Google ranking factor all trustworthy sites got hijacked .... you know, like when keyword meta tags got you good rankings so people stuffed them ...

I mean "duh!" Goog ... 1000 PHDs in a building and not one ex-black-hat? At least microsoft has the sense to hire hackers ... and now their search engine is doing well. Hmmm ... might type "rope", "enough", "themselves" and "hang" into Bing and Google and see what comes up!


 2:43 am on Jul 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Amazed to say it, i hate msn, but bing is now for the first time ever, on the money, it is currently far far more relevent that G, i would agree Bing is like Gs results a year ago.

G have over cooked the algo - fixing / adjusting something that didnt need fixing! the constant tinkering for whatever reason has weakened their product, its a shame - i cant believe G are doing this, they are giving G users a reson to change - amazing


 2:57 am on Jul 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

arizonadude - Several times, over the years, some of Google's updates have appeared to be not much different than what happened in Salem. Sorry, if I inferred that all keyword domains including the ones you own are unworthy of ranking. I meant that when I started seeing sites ranking high this month with no privacy policy or a even a company name - just keyword domains with a dash in between many keywords, something seemed a bit off. Not sure what to make of your comment about "Search Positions Above Mine" along with the comment about SEO. It's possible we're thinking about decent serps from very different points of view. Off topic: What keeps you from displaying AdSense on these original sites since there has been so much effort into making them worthwhile sites?

Best, M

[edited by: tedster at 3:32 am (utc) on July 5, 2009]


 5:00 am on Jul 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Off topic: What keeps you from displaying AdSense on these original sites since there has been so much effort into making them worthwhile sites?

I don't want the sites cluttered up with adsense, and to be honest, adsense does not pay like it used to. I can make more money putting very specific items and get affiliate commissions. This way, the sites are extremly targeted, and going by Googles guidelines if you removed the affiliate items, the sites would easily stand by themselves. However, I'm not of the open source crowd and will not create free stuff just for people to read. I want to get paid for my efforts.

I'm actually in full Google boycott mode these days so I don't want to do anything to promote Google.

After 10 years of being a faithful follower, I feel like they just threw me to the wolves and now that there is at least another engine that returns good results, I don't need Google any more to conduct my searching and I make sure I let clients know about how bad Google as become.

I actually removed my Google toolbar and to be honest it's liberating not caring about or not looking at PR. PR is so over rated anyway.

Google has to many cooks in the kitchen and they all have PHDs so it's a mix that is going to produce some very bad tasting dishes as we are all seeing. In my book, they have become what they so despised in the beginning.


 7:07 am on Jul 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

I like fish and chips, but sadly I've found that most chippers nowadays don't provide fish as fresh as they used to. I tried searching for fish and chips on Google and my website did not show up! Ridiculous. I was eating fish and chips when I built the site - what is wrong with Google these days! Also, it's my birthday soon - do you think www.its[myname]birthday.info will rank better than www.[myname][dob].cn? .... I've been such a good boy ... Google, why won't you hug me?


 7:57 am on Jul 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Okay, well... It would be helpfull discussing what we can do about it, to make our sites rank good again. I still have a lot of sites - optimized and not optimized - which have been kicked off the Top10 to +400 and I still don't have the faintest clue what to do about it, because other sites (optimized and not optimized as well) are still ranking very well.

I was hoping in June that this was only a big-data-mess-we-are-just-testing-something from google, but now this lasts 4 weeks and I want to do something about it.


 8:30 am on Jul 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm actually in full Google boycott mode these days so I don't want to do anything to promote Google.

arizonadude, the day you never read or contribute to a thread or forum to do with google, you'll be truly liberated and genuinely "in full Google boycott mode". I get you, I get you, you're here to watch it suffer like it watched you suffer and never heard your cries or felt your pain!

To all, as to relevant results, put yourselves to the test, the day you see one of your largest sites which was ranking high and bringing in 30-50-100k uniques daily (BUT you knew it actually did not deserve its high ranking for whatever reason) suddenly find its genuine resting place right down in the SERPs with less than 5K uniques AND you say, well done google that's what I call relevant results, then, and only then, we'll call that Relevant Results!

Bias and partiality play the biggest part in our assessment of what should be good or bad results!

One of the sites I own and manage was in that category, estimated value of $0.6m+ in 2005, after Florida it got what it deserved in total fairness, it was painful, it had no blackhat, no paid links, nothing fishy at all and certainly nothing against the google TOS whatsoever. the simple answer was google improved and got better and more relevant. That did not mean most visitors came and found it was the wrong site suggested at number one or two for highly competitive keywords, no, it was other sites who I knew where far more deserving of that traffic were at the bottom or the next page to the point where visitors came to my site instead, well good it was for me, I deserved it more than the sites that were inferior, but I certainly did not deserve that more than those sites who were spot-on-relevant!

The truth hurts, and it did hurt me, however, the positive note for me was google got better and more relevant. So far, Bing is on an even keel in terms of relevancy, they seem to have watched someone else do the trial and error first before getting it right.

As we say here in the UK, every dog has its day!


 9:40 am on Jul 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

"the positive note for me was google got better and more relevant"

And nowadays Google is going the opposite direction ...
I used to be a big Google supporter, but recently they made such a mess of things that I'm more and more believing that 2009/2010 will be the beginning of the end of Google. Alta Vista used to be my favorite search engine many years ago and at that time I didn't believe there would ever be an alternative for them ...
When looking at and using Bing I get the same feeling I had when I switched from Alta Vista to Google and I'm sure I'm not the only one.


 2:24 pm on Jul 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

good post dusky.

OK im back to #1 for my target phrase on .com AND .co.uk AND been like that all day.

is this update finally over? anyone else back to normal?


 2:37 pm on Jul 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Still messed up here - did you do something special, or just sit&wait? What was the lowest ranking you got?


 3:00 pm on Jul 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

No offence, but isn't that chaos happening since the begin of June? So it seems a pretty long way doing a test.

Ture, but for the past year or so those .edu domains were kept far away from the top 10 results.


 5:40 pm on Jul 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

cangoou - I did nothing particular just all round general improvements.

made some mysql statements faster (quite a bit), removed couple of poor quality backlinks, tried to give my site a USP by adding a useful tool.

I dont think any of that was what got the site back, but this google update has reminded me how important it is to keep improving your site.

the site has now been steady for about 18 hours. before it was #1 for an hour, then absolutely nowhere at all for the rest of the day. then the same thing next day and so on.


 7:20 pm on Jul 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

lethal0r - same situation for me. Back up to my rankings and traffic volumes pre this google fiddle, and have been all day. Fingers crossed this will be the end of it.

Pass the Dutchie

 8:26 pm on Jul 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

nothing major to report over the weekend.


 2:03 am on Jul 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

All the signs are pointing to google trying to lure back previous advertisers and recruit new ones to the adwords program, nothing wrong with this policy and any business minded analysts would hail it as good micro-economic planning. The process will go on until the end of the holiday season, end of September should be the cutting and stability point, not the beginning of September!

Here are some of the signs I observed:

- Deliberate shuffling and re-shuffling of the SERPs to cause panic and force decision makers and webmasters to consider the alternative* solution. Most effected sites are in North America, Europe and Australia and sites based outside those countries but have their hosted IPs and languages matching the latter countries.

- Ecommerce and large corporate sites, high value products and services sites, media and highly sought after information sites and sites in direct competition for its new services are all amongst the sites that google is deliberately targeting. While doing that, org. edu, gov, good personal/blogs sites and non-profit sites are lightly effected, hence rank higher.

- Rolling over 4-5 year old indexes of pages that are deleted years ago from those sites to fill the balance of inul: gap, even googlebot gets mixed up trying to visit and re-index them

- Deliberately giving social networking sites the occasional improved high rank to tip the rank balance

- Sparing large authority sites which are bringing in value to google, be it large share of adsense revenue, synergy or partnership with google or are themselves a good medium attracting adwords accounts

The list goes on and this is not a spare of the moment thought, I have been observing this with statistical analysis for nearly three years now, it tends to repeat itself around the holidays twice per year, year in year out. This policy got even more aggressive than previous years beginning May 2009. As if those site affected did not get the hint, google did the following:

- Increased the reshuffle starting June 28th like never before

- Many people worldwide received snail-mail letters requesting them to try adwords, even account holders who have their campaigns on hold for some time

- Recent adwords email blasts from google to millions about it

* Yahoo did the same three years ago, many of its directory and PPC paid accounts got hammered that way when they ceased to invest thinking they reached a point of good rank and stability, this however backfired, instead, many sites just went and bought into adwords and other PPC providers instead!


 2:33 am on Jul 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

Very interesting discussion here, as always on these forums.

What I find quite distressing as well as upsetting is that my main sites, 4 of them have all gone to Page 5 of SERPS, the first going over 4 weeks ago and the other 3 following suite about 2 weeks later. AND all these sites were on Page 1 of SERPS for several main keywords for several months. This is affecting home pages of these sites only, which is where all the main traffic came from.

Since this happened all these sites, are jumping between Page 4-7 almost on a daily basis and after doing exhaustive research I cannot figure why.

What is distressing is the fact the consistency between them in rank, this Page 5-7 issue.

I do do a lot of article marketing, mainly for traffic assistance and that is the only thing these sites have in common, 2 recip links on 2 of the sites, white hat overall, fresh, original content. 3 are static sites, the other a blog.

Can anyone give any feedback on this? I know this is probably maybe related to the topic of this thread, I just find the coincidence of the Page 5-7 across 4 different sites curious.



 3:38 am on Jul 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

Interesting post dusky. This has been a concept that has been discussed at WebmasterWorld previously, and it seems as though there is a mixed bag in terms of believers versus non believers. The threshold, naturally, changes when webmasters get thrashed by rankings (and then believe that Google is intentionally forcing business and site owners to adsense :)

What is very interesting is that I was contacted out of the blue last week from Google via email for a website that I run about joining the program. Tough to say if it it fits the model you are referring to.

The issue I have specifically with this theory is that there are many websites who do not fit the profiles that you have outlined that were not touched by the update. These websites were not large corporate websites, we competing for top searches, and likely did not attract a large number of users to the Google adwords program.


 4:28 am on Jul 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

Well CainIV, there always going to be a margin of error, and yes I found some 10-15% margin of error in my theory which I have to nail down sooner or later. Those websites who do not fit the profile hold the the secret key, rather than using them to dismiss my claim (I said this to myself many times). Sometimes I thought it was a deliberate throwing of a "spanner in the wheel" from google for me and others to give up on what I and they are closing on, but instead, the policy has clear patterns, times, volumes and events for three years now and I am not giving up. I rarely post on forums, but when I do is when I have a high degree of confidence, higher than 60% at least.

Among other data I gathered, I have also observed a pre-Florida pattern resurfacing since early may 2009 and that is also related, deliberate not coincidental. Most likely stirring waters to induce and reproduce a "Post-Florida" harvest later on, aiming at what I would call "google's best year" when millions felt the pinch and adwords accounts rose like crazy not long after the Florida update.


 1:14 pm on Jul 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

Like others, we decided to wait out the holiday weekend and hope things improved. Unfortunately, nothing has changed (site hit mid-May, went from ranking #1 to 50+). We will be submitting our reinclusion request today.. it focuses on some suspicious backlinks we found.
As far as the Adwords concept, we are already an Adwords customer. We are also not a large corporate website, so I'm not sure about that theory, although it is interesting.


 1:50 pm on Jul 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

G have over cooked the algo - fixing / adjusting something that didnt need fixing!

Burnt it to a crisp is more like it. The quality of the results is not even close to what it was a few years ago.

If it aint broke, don't fix it.


 2:10 pm on Jul 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

Quick question to anybody who's taken a knock the last few weeks.

For how long have you been building links to the domains which have taken a knock?

Also, is it that you've taken a big knock or that other sites have moved up as well, pushing you down even further.

I'm not directing these questions at anybody who has a suspected penalty, just the "not ranking as well as before" bunch.

I'm just collating some research here which I'll share with you all once I think it's worthy.


 2:29 pm on Jul 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

The quality of the results is not even close to what it was a few years ago.

Ah yes, but then the 'quality' and certainly the quantity of the spammers has increased, possibly exponentially. Keeping quality at the same aproximate level is an acheivement in itself.

We've been whacked on a few major (mostly 'vanity'*) phrases, but left top 3 for a few more. Our strong mid- to long- tail is similarly affected. Our most historically rock-solid keyphrase sets are fine, whereas the more variable sets, or non-grouped phrases have been randomly distributed.

I missed all the fun as it rolled out. Just got back from a 2-week 100% offline holiday.

*'Vanity' here is high volume search, converting VERY poorly. Good for Brand Recognition, but not sales generation.


 4:18 pm on Jul 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

my theory so far is this...

google is starting to look at backlinks a little differently. Google is looking at backlink profile as such that sitewide links are getting flagged as paid. If you ranked top ten for "free widgets" and the majority of your backlinks whave the anchor "free widgets" then google will probably discredit all of these sitewide links with the phrase "free widgets" in it, therefore leaving your site with dropped rankings.

This is what I have concluded from some of my own sites after analyzing my backlinks.

Anyone have any other theories based on what they have seen?


 4:46 pm on Jul 6, 2009 (gmt 0)


There's plenty of sites in the spaces I watch which have a mix of what you say, but still rank.

What market are you targeting uk or world?

The sites of yours which have dropped, how long have you been building links to them, 1 year, 2 etc etc


 5:46 pm on Jul 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

brinked, there may be something in what you say but I think that there is more to it than that. There's one page in the SERPS of a term that I watch that has simply bought sitewide links in a few blogs. In some it is in the blog roll, in others there is a paragraph of text in the left or RH column with links to the site. In each case they use the exact 2 word term.

From analysis of my own results and others that I compete with I think that there are certain page area hot spots where what you say about sitewide links applies. In particular footers. The sites/pages that have benefited from the change that also have sitewides do not have them in footers. My own site has many backlinks in footers (slowly fixing this) on other sites that I control or have an input into.

I also am fairly confident that there is something going on with categorisation of the semantics of commonly used "terms" in particular commercial terms.




 6:17 pm on Jul 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

Uk Web Guy, hissingsid,

There is always more to it than we all think when it comes to google. My site in 5 years old but has been in its niche for about 2 years.

I am not saying that all sites with sitewide links for an anchor term will drop for that anchor term. But if lets say 90% of your backlinks for "free widgets" are from sitewide blogroll links then google will probably disregard all of those sitewide blogroll links therefore eliminating 90% of your backlinks for this term and resulting in sending your rankings for this keyword down the drain along with related keywords such as "widgets free" and "free widget"


 9:58 am on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

For people that have been hit by the penality. When you check rankings using allinanchor does your site still appear where it was before the penality?

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