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Google Updates and SERP Changes - March 2010
drall




msg:4089364
 5:27 pm on Mar 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

I have been watching all of my competitors which pretty much live off of large amounts of longtail traffic loose overall traffic the past 4-6 weeks and that includes us.

I dont know whats going on but for big sites in my section of the web site page count has been dropping at a constant decay and new content is coming in very very slowly and not nearly enough to counter the drops.

Overall traffic seems down about 8-10% for all of us and those drops are graphing perfectly to the drops in page counts since mid January.

At the same time the crawl graph in WMT and my local stats package show a flatline since mid Jan with no deep crawls and about a tenth of usual crawl activity.

All of this for us and our competitors started mid January
1. dropoff of the googlebot deepcrawl with a flatline stable crawl at a much lower rate.
2. daily reductions in pagecount across a dozen sites by exact same percentages
3. similar gradual traffic declines matching page count falls
4. uber slow new page caching and ranking

When I see this happening to not only us but many pr6-8 sites in my sector it gives me comfort to see that it isnt only us but also concern because it isnt only us.

Just going to keep chugging along, not much you can do but sit back and watch this stuff unfold.

[edited by: tedster at 5:49 pm (utc) on Mar 1, 2010]
[edit reason] split from earlier thread [/edit]

 

internetheaven




msg:4103194
 5:37 pm on Mar 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Trouble is: no one ever searches for one or two keywords anymore!


Think you've got this backwards. Sure, no-one really uses one word searches these days but natural link building tends to use one word links (mostly "here"!).

I would imagine that reducing the power of 3+ text links might be a tool to combat un-natural link building e.g. if a website has only 3+ word phrases linking to them then chances are all links are either bought or otherwise obtained.

It does seem sort of tin foil hat territory though and probably very unreliable as a ranking tool ...

brinked




msg:4103216
 5:59 pm on Mar 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Trouble is: no one ever searches for one or two keywords anymore!


I have to strongly disagree with the above quote as well. People do search for 1 and 2 keyword phrases. A 1 word search is usually a search when someone is looking for the definition of something, and this also usually does not convert well since it is not that specific.

2 word searches are big money. I consider myself a very advanced googler, my family literally calls me when they need to find information on something. And just a few minutes ago I did a search for "baby clothes" because my wife is pregnant and I wanted to check out the different popular online baby boutiques and see what the latest brands are. Now of course I use much more specific searches as well, the average searcher who is not that advanced will usually type in a 2 word search phrase most of the time, these people can convert pretty well and for websites who depend on display media for their revenue, the 1 and 2 word keywords can make of most of their revenue.

maximillianos




msg:4103217
 6:01 pm on Mar 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think Caffeine is the ultimate April Fools joke. On April 1st google will announce it was all smoke and mirrors.

Though I think a better April Fools prank would be to redirect to Bing for a day. ;-)

brinked




msg:4103228
 6:18 pm on Mar 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

max...you know I was going to say the same thing. Another member posted they think it will be released April 1.

Wouldnt it be funny if April first comes and they change the google theme to a caffeine/coffee type deal and it turns out caffeine was just a big hoax?

1script




msg:4103237
 6:30 pm on Mar 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

I would imagine that reducing the power of 3+ text links might be a tool to combat un-natural link building e.g. if a website has only 3+ word phrases linking to them then chances are all links are either bought or otherwise obtained.

Well, if that's the case, then we are looking at a tool that can spec-tac-u-lar-ly backfire. I'm struggling to come up with an example that would not violate TOS of this respectable forum, but some of the most valuable properties on the Web are called and, naturally, linked to as "The something something forums" or "the something something online community" and so on. Many governmental sites also have extremely long proper names (although those guys play by their own rules of course). So, with a tool like that you are going to catch something like 50% of all the sites based on the fact that most natural links are anchored either by the site's name or it's URL.

In fact, I would not look at 1-word links as natural at all. These are (except for "here", as in "click here" ) mostly sprinkled-in SEO links. If you are reading a blog and in a middle of a paragraph you see only one word linked, you just know someone is trying to boost their ranking for that word.

trakkerguy




msg:4103272
 7:28 pm on Mar 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Regarding one word anchor text, and if they are "natural".

One niche I work in has more than 50% of the searches are for the single word. Links with that kw for anchor text are very natural also.

But it is not natural to have 90% or so of your inbound links having that single keyword (IMO). Yet sites (or more commonly, pages on article sites) with just that kw for anchor text are ranking much better in caffeine.

My site has huge variety of anchor text kw, and is hit badly in caffeine for the single and several 2 word searches, but ranks better for many long tail searches, so can't really notice any overall hit to traffic yet.

internetheaven




msg:4103331
 9:21 pm on Mar 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think Caffeine is the ultimate April Fools joke.


That would certainly wind everyone up. But, even though I haven't invested any time in comparing results across datacenters (I must admit, I think anyone that tries to obtain ranking data during a rollout is a bit nuts), I still don't think I would find that one funny ...

... however, I can see the word-play i.e. the multitude of people that seem to be up at 3am checking all datacenters to see if they're showing different results.

I have wondered, considering Google's constant cagey-ness and secretiveness in the past, why they would give us a name ("Caffeine"). I'm not sure the name is likely to be indicative of what the final product actually is. It's probably an internal joke about how this roll out is having them up at all hours monitoring.

SEOPTI




msg:4103492
 3:56 am on Mar 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

If a URL has a cache date back from January the whole URL is now ignored in most cases, if a second URL has the same phrase in the body with a cache date from March the second URL from the same site will appear in the SERPS (even without having the phrase in the title) but not the URL with the January cache date (which has the phrase in the title). And my sites are NOT news sites.

I think the freshness factor (cache date) is one of the most important parts to get ranked now. Freshness now is a stronger factor then the title.

internetheaven




msg:4103830
 4:02 pm on Mar 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

Freshness now is a stronger factor then the title.


A bold statement from the evidence you've given. I would not be so quick to announce that such is the case in all circumstances. Pages without the terms in the title outranking pages of the same website that have the terms in the title has been going on for a while and is often due to page strength rather than freshness ...

SEOPTI




msg:4104215
 4:44 am on Mar 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

They don't have the strength because the last crawl was 2-3 months ago for these URLs.

I don't understand what the heck is the problem with URLs which have been indexed three months ago, why do they have those URLs in their index but don't show them in SERPs.

First they crawl the stuff and after a certain time passes they don't allow all the valid URLs to appear in a query ... pure nonsense.

Probably they think older URLs are junk?

drall




msg:4104374
 12:45 pm on Mar 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

For our area of the web SEOPTI has it right. Deep crawl disappeared for all sites Jan 12. These are different sites with different whois and different servers across the US.

Pages cache date goes stale then poofta gone. Monitoring my comp on this and they ALL are having the same thing happen. Im talking bazillions of pages being shed from the index.

Full refreshes of documents with at least a 20% content change have been bringing these documents back into the index for us but when your a site with 200,000 plus REAL pages built over 10 years its next to impossible to refresh this.

Just going to sit back and focus on Bing, they make sense at least.

Oh wait...

When was the last time I felt this way?

Oh my goodness thats right! When Google came out and I was focused on AltaVista.

helpnow




msg:4104410
 1:32 pm on Mar 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Our deep crawl was reduced by about Jan 20 to around 50% of "normal" (2009 levels). (We noticed a sharp drop around Jan 12, but it came back over the following week, then dropped Jan 20 to set a new baseline...)

Feb was the same pattern, around 40% - 50% of "normal" crawling. Some days hit the highs of January.

March has been worse, 20-40% of "normal", and this past week has been shocking - down to about 10%, with a minor uptick over the past 48 hours. Most days can't even hit the lows (# of pages crawled) of Feb.

As for pages in the index, curiously, we have been upticking over the past 2 weeks. For YTOD, we are down about 50%, but have been up about 10% over the past 2 weeks.

This sucks. The only honey is that it sounds like we are all in the same situation - the opposite of "rising waters lifts all boats"...

curioustoddler




msg:4104461
 2:52 pm on Mar 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

the opposite of "rising waters lifts all boats"...


Well said, helpnow. And now we are all desparately waiting for the water level to go up.

cangoou




msg:4104613
 6:34 pm on Mar 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

How long have we been waiting for Caffeine to come and work properly now? Oh, hey, I see the first birthday coming...

brinked




msg:4104617
 6:38 pm on Mar 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

wow...has it been a year already?

I just wish they would make something final already, having a percentage of my SERP's be caffeinated is really screwing with my stats

Seattle_SEM




msg:4104706
 8:28 pm on Mar 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yeah a site:mysite.com search for me is yielding *very* different results over the past three days. The total number of pages is going up as expected, but the number of viewable results is down to just a few hundred (from thousands in the index).

BillyS




msg:4104719
 8:41 pm on Mar 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think Caffeine is the ultimate April Fools joke.


It's my understanding that Caffeine's purpose was twofold:

1 - Distract webmasters engaged in SEO
2 - Analyze the search patterns of these SEO experts and penalize their websites

Reliable sources say that Caffeine is the publicly-leaked code name for what insiders call the minus 700 penalty.

helpnow




msg:4104722
 8:46 pm on Mar 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

site:mysite. ohmigod. Don't get me going. THAT tool has been FUD for months now. Since October of last year I have been getting insane results with it. Like, for one folder, a reported 254 one day, then 55,900 the next, where 90,000 is more like it. Same with WMT sitemaps: I have a test sitemap of 100 URLs which are all deleted from the index, but to this day, WMT happily reports that 98 of the 100 URLs are indexed. FUD. This has been like this for months, at least back to October. When I check site:mysite.com, I get around 10,000 results. When I check site:mysite.com/foldera, I get 65,000 results. When I check all my "folders" in this manner, the sum total is around 800,000 indexed pages for my site, which is close to right, but good ol' site:mysite.com reports 10,000, or less. Been like this for months now. Misleading at best. Junk. FUD at worst. -lol-

helpnow




msg:4104723
 8:47 pm on Mar 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

BillyS - really? Is this just your pre-April Fool's joke? ; )

internetheaven




msg:4104766
 9:34 pm on Mar 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Reliable sources say that Caffeine is the publicly-leaked code name for what insiders call the minus 700 penalty.


I thought I had reliable sources telling me things ... then I realised there was just a tear in my tin foil. Bit of duck tape and everything is alright again.

I agree, I get the feeling the name Caffeine is an internal joke. Not descriptive of the actual programming, just it's effect.

As the importance and effect of the traditional Webmaster or SEO disintegrates (or "evolves", depends on if you're an optimist) I think Google are going to feel far more free to screw with us -- either deliberately or as a side effect.

mirrornl




msg:4104866
 11:38 pm on Mar 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

i do not post often
neither think i'm an expert
in "google" since 1998 though

and i must say i am convinced cafe´ne is stable here in Europe now for almost a week

(how i know? well i checked the dc's wich were mentioned over the last 4 months showing caf,
and found my benchmark)

cheers :)

louieramos




msg:4104869
 11:41 pm on Mar 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

mirrornl, can you please give us the Google EU IPs you are seeing the caff results. I want to check it for my EU clients. Thanks

Shaddows




msg:4105037
 8:39 am on Mar 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

It's my understanding that Caffeine's purpose was twofold:

1 - Distract webmasters engaged in SEO
2 - Analyze the search patterns of these SEO experts and penalize their websites


Possibly 1, not 2. Google wants to return good content regardless of SEO effort. Why on earth would they good content, just because there has been SEO work done.

Anyway, the biggest RoI for SEO (semi-independant of content) is site stucture, navigation, correct markup, correct titles etc. Are you telling me that Google wants to supress sites that does these properly?

mirrornl




msg:4105085
 10:23 am on Mar 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

@ louieramos
74.125.155.99

internetheaven




msg:4105131
 12:37 pm on Mar 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

just because there has been SEO work done.


I think it should be mentioned that Google IS out to penalise SEO'd sites ... bad SEO'd sites that is. Keyword stuffing, repetitive title tags, stuffed alt tags, hidden text etc.

the biggest RoI for SEO (semi-independant of content) is site stucture, navigation, correct markup, correct titles etc.


But that's good SEO. Google likes that. SEO is a general term, unfortunately, for adjusting a website with search engines in mind.

Google most likely sees SEO in the same way Government's view cigarettes. Quite happy to make money off of them when the legal processes are followed but get very angry when scammers try to game the system with fakes.

solidradicle




msg:4105155
 1:19 pm on Mar 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google undoubtedly loves original content. Be it in any forms; text, videos, images.. you name it. If one feels that they are capable of producing original content on a daily basis for the website. then go for it. Yes, rest is taken care of by ethical SEO. If SEO is not followed the way it has to, then one has to suffer drops in traffic and ranking even having original content.

wneennsdjj33




msg:4105267
 4:06 pm on Mar 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hi!

I suffered changes to my SERP too... IT was on the 22th of March.
I just wanted to ask if someone could tell me if i made a mistake or not:
On one of my page, where it shows inner links of my homepage, i changed link title tags to be randomly changed... so basicly example:
my link is: tourist.html, and i have two title tags of that link which changes on every page load : title a = "Best places of the world"
title b = "Ancient places that worth visiting"

My question is: Does this change affects my SERPS in a good or in a bad way, and please tell me why?
Cause i thought, it will make google connect that part of my page connected two those 2 title tags, so it will be better ranked...

curioustoddler




msg:4105313
 5:22 pm on Mar 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

I do not think i searched too much on the IPs mentioned for caffeine but it started showing me that sorry message" your computer is sending automated queries".
When i switched to google.com i find different paramenters in browser. For example when i searched home, it shows like [google.com...] What does it mean?

aristotle




msg:4105352
 6:17 pm on Mar 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

Recently my two main sites have gotten an unexplained increase in traffic from google.co.uk. Both sites are .net domains hosted in the U.S. and geotargeted for the U.S. in GWT, and both still get about 80-85% of their Google traffic from google.com.

But about ten days ago both sites began getting about a 30% increase in traffic from google.co.uk. During that same period their traffic from google.com increased about 5%.

I've never monitored these sites' rankings in google.co.uk, so I don't know how they've changed, except that they must have improved. Actually I mainly care about U.S. traffic, which has remained stable or even slightly increased, and is still more than 80% of the total. But I'm curious about what could have caused this increase from google.co.uk.

wneennsdjj33




msg:4105648
 10:12 am on Mar 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hi!

I suffered changes to my SERP too... IT was on the 22th of March.
I just wanted to ask if someone could tell me if i made a mistake or not:
On one of my page, where it shows inner links of my homepage, i changed link title tags to be randomly changed... so basicly example:
my link is: tourist.html, and i have two title tags of that link which changes on every page load : title a = "Best places of the world"
title b = "Ancient places that worth visiting"

My question is: Does this change affects my SERPS in a good or in a bad way, and please tell me why?
Cause i thought, it will make google connect that part of my page connected two those 2 title tags, so it will be better ranked...

tedster




msg:4105722
 3:02 pm on Mar 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

@wneennsdjj33 - yes, that could cause a problem. Links and anchor text are very sensitive areas for Google, and repeated changes can look like attempts to reverse engineer the algorithm or otherwise manipulate your rankings. Titles can also be sensitive to frequent changes - members here have reported ranking losses after making several changes in a row.

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