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Google MAYDAY Update - SERP Changes May 2010
pontifex




msg:4125391
 12:53 pm on May 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

Now, as the dust settles from the last days and my panic is under control :->, I thought I share some ideas here.

Basic infos:

1. Nature of site: eCommerce

2. Type of link building: across the board
specialties: our sellers get subdomains, minimal link buying, majorly press, partners, etc.

3. Pages on domain: somewhere around 3 Mio. pages,
majorly product details and listing pages of products


History: Until Tuesday we ramped in around 200k Uniques a day - very strong long tail traffic, 65% of the landing pages are the product details.

What happened: First the site lost one PR point from 6 to 5 in the last update. Traffic went up, so I did not care at all, but maybe it completes the picture.

Tuesday, April 27th: solid and good traffic, but slightly lower than last week.

Wednesday, April 28th: first noticeable drop of around 10%

Thursday: 25% loss of traffic to Tuesday

Yesterday: 27% loss of traffic to Tuesday

Think this is the current status: Lost around 25% of power/traffic somehow.

--------------------------------------------

What happened?

Hard to say really, but here are some cents for the collective thought pool:

a) Keywords I monitor are still where they were, but these (around 20) keywords are not really LONG TAIL

b) Some merchants selling strong in the past weeks dropped out of the sky and vanished from our top sellers list: that could be the reason.

I looked here in this senseless long thread :-) and found the following quotes spark a clue:

I think the loss of long tail is more to do with Google's incredible improvements in Adwords relevance matching. - internetheaven


Well, my loss in traffic is majorly long tail - so that area fits at least.

Long tail traffic in most cases relies on internal link juice, this is how it works. - SEOPTI


There is so much insight in that one sentence, I love it!

And I can relate to it in my case:

The few top sellers vanishing from the list are providing thousands of niche products for very specific purposes. They lost the traffic and that whole picture falls in to place:

If this is the Caffeine update, IMHO the following happens while we type:

Deep content is gathered from domains not crawled so deep before. The amount of pages with long tail keywords doubles, tripples or just magnifolds and changes the game as a whole.

If internal link juice is now weaker or stronger: Link building has now a different meaning.

Link juice must be handled under a differen perspective.

Even if we can build up 1,000 named backlinks to a page, it looses its power on 3 Mio. children quite quickly.

If there are major authority sites unlocked by Caffeine with "before 100,000 pages" and after "10,000,000 deep pages" we have now

9,900,000 new enemies in the long tail....

That would explain a lot to me and I wonder what you think?

P!

< the active thread for this discussion is here: [webmasterworld.com...] >

[edited by: tedster at 7:44 pm (utc) on May 22, 2010]

 

dusky




msg:4129748
 3:50 pm on May 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

Though the current upheaval and chaos is expected from an update which IMV at least equals Florida, this time somehow it seems some things and some un-expected behaviors can't be attributed to just a normal large update and an infrastructure switch. During an update of this magnitude, one expects MC or other members of staff contributing to large forums such as here and elsewhere as they used to (and / or) keep people updated with any major changes.

Everyone by now knows there was a Mayday big bang, yet no word from MC et al about anything, this tells me there is a possibility of something major broken and not yet fixed in addition to the mayday update underway and infrastructure switch. MC was on holiday, but surely we are in the 2010s not the 1810s and coach and horses to wait to get back to post something.

pontifex




msg:4129807
 7:12 pm on May 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

not the 1810s and coach and horses


hehehe... dont be too hard on him, that company is by far not what it was when he started posting here (I guess a lot watchers remember :-) and it was actually the reason I subscribed to WebmasterWorld!

Now I am not 100% sure as you seem to be that G is broken. Maybe they want it that way to be, which would be sad. For years there have been complaints that the big bucks outrank the mom&pop SEOs just by pouring dollars into text+keywords+link building.

As I mentioned earlier: besides our traffic loss in the long tail, there are a lot of sites suddenly showing up. That could mean they tried to tweak their algo to match the caffeine update and let hidden jewels bubble up. Sad thing is:

a) there are a lot of non-jewels (aka spam) sites surfacing while the big dogs still rule the tough keys

b) maybe the web is not as deep as everybody seems to think

Especially (b):

1. Google already had most of the accessible web in its index

2. New, good sites are created at least search-engine friendly anyhow

Getting back on the current state and the silence from G: I second you on the thought that this ride might just begun and that the result might look quite differently, when they turn the knobs again...

P!

cangoou




msg:4129810
 7:16 pm on May 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm not sure, too, that G is broken. I made the observation that for "widgét" (which is a misspelling for "widget") I get the "good old SERPs" and found sites where they "should" be. Why should G be broken for existing keywords but not for misspellings? Seems to me like a bunch of new filters beeing applied depending on the keyword, but got no idea so far what it could be.

steveb




msg:4129856
 8:39 pm on May 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

It makes sense that Google would roll out a new layout during a state of relative calm in the results, but eventually they are going to have to update the redirect backlog, and like with Bing last year, when they do that it should lead to the biggest update we've seen in quite a while, and it should be a positive one since they will be getting their data up to date while purging months of obsolete data.

Unfortunately I suspect the new layout means that any update will be put off even longer since they want to gauge the effects of the new layout.

(Here is the result Google... people click these cluttered organic results less... now will you update please?)

garyl2k




msg:4129892
 10:54 pm on May 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

Pontifex,

I know most people here have big sites and feel G is only affecting them but I don't believe that is the case. My site is not a big site, its a small niche site and is small fry compared to most sites.

I thought maybe today I'd see better results, but sadly no...

mcdarwin




msg:4129898
 11:12 pm on May 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

It sure would be great to be able to take a look at all the sites that has been affected and lost traffic - to see if a pattern could be identified.

My site is similar to a business directory within af particular vertical, and I know of at least one other business directory that has lost traffic.

I have some customers with webshops, and none of them have lost traffic.

Anyone with a webshop lost traffic?

What are your sites?

cien




msg:4129899
 11:16 pm on May 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

I have a huge vbulletin forum with Vbseo. Google apparently doesn't like it anymore. Used to get thousands of visitors per day up to the beginning of March. The traffic disappeared overnight. I think I'm gonna have to apply for a job and a job and I are like cat and water. I'm gonna need some counseling as I am terrified after so many years seating on my tail... :-)

kd454




msg:4129939
 2:48 am on May 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

I am seeing Caffeine live in all places now, never seen this before. I am in s/w and always had to go to different ip's to view. Interesting.

walkman




msg:4129944
 3:06 am on May 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

KD, compare them to these : [209.85.225.103...]

What do you see? If I remember correctly the 209.85.225.103 was /is the original caffeine

209.85.225.105
209.85.225.104
Also have caff but it's different from what I see on Google.com

Andylew




msg:4130030
 8:27 am on May 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Some good news at last!

Traffic seems to be increasing! This is coinciding with a site: search showing LESS pages as listed.

This goes back to what I said at the start of the month where WMT went down to 0 pages in the sitemap listed before building up again over 24 hours to where I would expect and I has been there ever since. The site: search seems to be folloing this trend and is dropping around 20k pages every couple of hours, fingers crossed if will then build back up to the total shown in WMT! Whoop Whoop! Perhaps swaping across the systems?

pontifex




msg:4130081
 12:31 pm on May 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

For me the development since 28th stays flat and even after pumping some new press releases out and adding more content, G takes its time. Longer than before to digest new pages.

I have an anonymized picture of the traffic development on flickr that shows the hit and its impact:

[flickr.com...]

There are no movements up or down after that ... wonder when we will hear something from G's side about it!

P!

< Admin note - the Google Forum Charter [webmasterworld.com] does not
allow links to screen captures. However, we will make an exception in this case
- the screenshot is anonymized and it does illustrate the point under discussion. >

[edited by: tedster at 6:10 pm (utc) on May 10, 2010]

carfac




msg:4130109
 1:09 pm on May 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Same as everyone else- April 28th, I statred feeling the pain. Deep site 1MM+ pages... always got a lot of long tail search. Down 1/3 in total traffic, almost 1/2 from Google gone. Mine is an info only site... an "expert" site if you will. VERY Broad in coverage. My referals are still holding pretty steady, and so are my natrural links.

I have noticed a few days where Analytics have been way off for the previous day. Friday, I think, showed my traffic was down 1/2 from ythe previous day (which was 25% off normal). The next day, data was corrected, and it showed just the 25% off.

Sunday is showing a big down in Analytics... my logs do NOT show it. But I do not show a rise, either.

I have been rolling out a new section of my site in the middle of all this... I am wondering if I picked a REALLY poor time to do this. I put up an XML sitemap of about 400K new pages... Google shows 1 indexed. ONE! ANd it has been up 4-5 days now. I see them crawling the new pages.... but not adding anything. Crawl rates doubled, number of pages crawls shows a srong, steady ibcrease since min-March. So poor timing on my part... or do you think this will all appear in the SERPS when this is all... uh, over?

Also, since we are all losng traffic (and lots of it), who is getting it? I see no posts regarding that, or "I have LOTS of new visitors" posts.... Is it all going to that web-suck called Wikipedia?

john1975




msg:4130117
 1:26 pm on May 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

carfac! if you read all posts you will notice that they were webmasters who had increase, decrease and no change in traffic. People who got an increase in traffic will obviously not moan.

mslina2002




msg:4130148
 2:18 pm on May 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Anyone seeing WEEKEND SERPs versus WEEKDAY SERPs?

Two weeks now during the week I am in #3 on frontpage but on the weekends it reverts back to the old established sites in the top spots and older results and where I sit in #7 spot. So as result traffic is way up during the week and business days, traffic down on weekends.

It is true, people usually come to these boards to complain and when things are well, we are out and about enjoying the nice weather.
dusky's post about g* re-indexing site is certainly an interesting one.

Shaddows




msg:4130160
 2:44 pm on May 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Reading other threads, I just had a thought on the longtail traffic loss.

Everyone is assuming it must go SOMEWHERE, right?

Not so.

What if the search volume is down? What if the 3-column view PLUS Wonder Wheel PLUS PSERP* views is meaning a substantial number of people are no longer typing their search refinements?

Obviously this is not the explanation where ranking has suffered, but could be for those who's primary metric is traffic volume

*Pseudo-Search Engine Result Page

[edit spelling & style codes]

[edited by: Shaddows at 3:07 pm (utc) on May 10, 2010]

supafresh




msg:4130167
 2:57 pm on May 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

@Shaddows

i was thinking the very same thing, With the new layout the traffic is going the loss in traffic is probably going to the tool belt, froogle, ppc adword or product ads..

carfac




msg:4130169
 3:07 pm on May 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

>>> the new layout the traffic is going the loss in traffic is probably going to the tool belt, froogle, ppc adword or product ads..

This is assuming a commercial site, correct? My site is info, no sales. So Froogle does not play into my loss of traffic. Natural searches for my terms in the new layout do not look significately different than the old results- some adwords but those have always been there.

Bing and Yahoo hits are not up.

So 10K+ hits a day are just somewhere else for me. And a lot of other people on here. They are NOT going to Froogle, and I see no reason for that many to suddenly turn to Adwords (no layout changes that would give that many more diversions from the search results). And somehow I do not think that total searched to Google just went down by 1/3 starting April 28th.

The simplest explination is often the correct one. Google is reshuffling their results, and the filters are not yet in.

I can only think they are going to Spammy sites. The sort of webmasters who do not much frequent this site.

c41lum




msg:4130175
 3:16 pm on May 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

In the UK I am seeing lots of sites that have 100's of duplicate pages back at the top of the serps that I watch.. It seems that Google is ignoring the duplicate content... because the dup content sites have been pushed up everyone with clean non dup pages have been pushed down.

Has anyone else spotted this?

Shaddows




msg:4130178
 3:24 pm on May 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

OK, your traffic is not going to Froogle. What about the other options?

I'm not saying Google searches went down by a third. I'm saying that

[LONGTAIL searches] x [SERP CTR] = down by between 10-50%

And I'm further saying that longtail reduced because of a specific reason. Namely, that historically people refined their searches, resulting in longtail. Now they stay on Google property, using Google innovations for refinement, rather than adding or changing keywords.

CTR would be reduced for the same reason- people "keep clicking" on refinements, rather than critically evaluating the PSERP and deciding it's returning the "right answer". In other words, instead of checking "is this what I wanted" by inspecting results, users are checking "is there any better suggestions on left-hand navigation" REGARDLESS of the 'fitness' of the results.

20% of people forgoing typed refinement + 10% of people continuing clicking would result in aprox 30% lost longtail traffic

pontifex




msg:4130207
 3:55 pm on May 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

@Shaddows:

saying that longtail reduced because of a specific reason. Namely, that historically people refined their searches, resulting in longtail. Now they stay on Google property, using Google innovations for refinement, rather than adding or changing keywords


that was my first thought, too - but that would mean that other big sites would see the SAME effect, which they do not. Just a subset of us see the drop, others just stay in their volume on the same level!

That would mean that your theory only fits for certain sites, right?

gouri




msg:4130208
 3:57 pm on May 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Are you guys seeing more accurate times for Page Speed in WMT?

cien




msg:4130221
 4:29 pm on May 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

I seriously doubt the new layout is to blame. This is been happening for a few months now.

Shaddows




msg:4130230
 4:33 pm on May 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

I seriously doubt the new layout is to blame. This is been happening for a few months now.


Here's me thinking the MayDay update was a clever reference to a big problem and also a date. Silly, silly me.

Hissingsid




msg:4130261
 4:48 pm on May 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hi Shaddows,

Very funny!

Should have been Mayday Mayday we're going down!

Cheers

Sid

pontifex




msg:4130272
 4:59 pm on May 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

shaddows: i really like your theory with the users NOT refining their long tail searches, but it does not fit 100% on what I see.

here is another one for you: I suddenly see MUCH more local results grained into the SERPs... wdyt about a geographic impact related to surfer origin?

P!

walkman




msg:4130278
 5:05 pm on May 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Long tails are back for me, at least for the past 2hours.

Very odd, but it shows that it's in a flux, very much so.

And I noticed that google.ca has caffeine, unlike Google.com where I searched.

gouri




msg:4130310
 5:29 pm on May 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

I am also seeing that google.ca has caffeine and google.com is not showing it since yesterday.

anand84




msg:4130326
 5:46 pm on May 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm not saying Google searches went down by a third. I'm saying that

[LONGTAIL searches] x [SERP CTR] = down by between 10-50%

And I'm further saying that longtail reduced because of a specific reason. Namely, that historically people refined their searches, resulting in longtail. Now they stay on Google property, using Google innovations for refinement, rather than adding or changing keywords.

CTR would be reduced for the same reason- people "keep clicking" on refinements, rather than critically evaluating the PSERP and deciding it's returning the "right answer". In other words, instead of checking "is this what I wanted" by inspecting results, users are checking "is there any better suggestions on left-hand navigation" REGARDLESS of the 'fitness' of the results.


Still doesn't explain why people lost traffic overnight and in batches (I belong to the batch of March 14).

It's nice to see some people seeing improvements. As for myself, I'm still seeing numbers decreasing by the day. :-(

tedster




msg:4130355
 6:15 pm on May 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Is anyone checking their Webmaster Tools "Top Queries" data - especially the section that only becomes visible after clicking on the "+" next to the query term? I'm seeing a lot of variation in search position being reported. Even keywords that rank #1 a good bit of the time are also showing impressions from 8 or 10 other positions, including page 2 or 3.

If Google is now mixing things up a lot more (as it seems) that could account for a lot of what we're seeing. It seems to me that CTR from the organic SERPs has become quite important - and now we can see the data.

pontifex




msg:4130361
 6:24 pm on May 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

tedster: great hint! That would imply a lot of title optimization ... argl!

Added: "Our system is currently busy. Please try again in a few minutes."

hehehe, good find!

mikeclover




msg:4130384
 6:51 pm on May 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Agree, I noticed that my CTR is 1%, I am typiaclly at position 8 and 9. Of course this is normal for being that low on the page. This is defenitely a good find Tedster.

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