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Google MAYDAY Update - SERP Changes May 2010

 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?


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

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



 3:16 pm on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

Talk of strong caffeine straight out of its percolator (infrastructure) without filters, you'll sure get cloudy end result.

I for one is from the "trustranks are temporarily off" CAMP rather than "filters are temporarily off". As I said before in this thread, it's too dangerous for them to drop the filters, some sites are absolutely virus and spyware laden, they can't afford to take that chance, it'll cause an eternal bad image and branding issue. Stripping sites from their gained trustrank and discounting backlinks values etc while re-spidering them from scratch is a plausible reason, hence you get low quality sites and content ranking just as equal if not outranking large sites until the update is complete. I've seen this happen in both Florida and Bigdaddy updates, and said it before (on other forums then). I remember thinking I definitely been waked for the few weeks those updates lasted, but some sites recovered and ranked even better and some were demoted after the update is complete NOT during. During them, it was just like this, here today gone tomorrow, back in 3-4 weeks higher then lower, dance dance dance...


 3:44 pm on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

@pontifex, mp3 search on the lines you suggest gave me remarkably good results. Who needs Pirate Bay? Just Google it.


 4:02 pm on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

hi graeme_p, not sure about the band you selected - for "lady gaga" i get 3 sites with a WOT red dot (spyware warning), amazon and 3 sites MFA and the rest are illegal downloads :->


 4:08 pm on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

Illegal? But, Your Honour, I found it on the first page of Google. That MUST be legit?

Of course, it wouldn't wash for us- we're too savvy. But I can see quite a few "average" surfers having a "reasonable expectation" for [MP3 <KW1><KW2> Download] to return something they could, well, download


 4:10 pm on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

Looks like all results are Google gaga at the moment. Bring back Florida!


 5:29 pm on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

I got similar sites. They were all offering pirated stuff - but the download I tried worked, so you could argue people were getting what they wanted. I think anyone searching for an mp3 probably wants a pirated copy.

I do not think it is illegal to download pirated mp3s - unlike p2p you are not uploading anything.


 5:34 pm on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

@pontifex, tried lady gaga, yes lots of crap, but working downloads. I tried eric clapton.


 5:37 pm on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

discounting backlinks values etc while re-spidering them from scratch

This seems to be a popular theory. But I wonder what is really NEW here. I mean, Matt C has talked about how the caffeine infrastructure allows them to do more.

So what is new about throwing out the link index and recrawling?

How about if the re-indexing is "different"? Like maybe not counting links that don't bring any traffic, or more weight to those that bring real traffic?

Or some other tweak to the juice passed by a backlink that wasn't possible with the old infrastructure.


 7:03 pm on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

This seems to be a popular theory. But I wonder what is really NEW here. I mean, Matt C has talked about how the caffeine infrastructure allows them to do more.

To do more also means to shuffle and assess more and to have the choice of spring cleaning while at it, they probably have to adjust and improve the algo. While this meant as moving data to a more efficient infrastructure, querying this new structure and storage system has to be different and therefore judging who should be brought first or last requires a much improved / changed algo. Because now many variables and attributes can be assessed about websites due to a larger storing capacity, there is definitely an algo tweak if not a complete overhaul of most of the algo at play here.

There are certainly strong indications this theory is gaining credibility from the symptoms many sites are experiencing when otherwise (in normal stable SERPs) they shouldn't.

There are too many legitimate white hat sites being whacked to believe it's a penalty. Many well established gov and edu sites, large commercial and corporate sites, well known news and media sites that seen a change for the worst so far for the last three months at least and starting MayDay in particular. G* sites themselves are affected as noted above and somewhere else, how many more days or weeks this is going to take is probably everyone's question, at least the people who join my "total re-index" camp anyway, or shall I call it total-recall. We used to think they lost some or most of the data when this happened, and that's why the crawl rate and the re-indexing, but it turned out it was due to infrastructure and algo updates, Florida and BigDaddy are best examples.

Why do total re-index which may take weeks and months for some sites, it's probably the only way to work out their exact algo by counting the real quantity and quality of "web Inter-neted" sites and their relation to each other in terms of votes (PR and trustrank). Consequently, as I reiterated earlier, all trustrank and real PR is dropped temporarily, hence chaos, two pager sites with a photo album are on page 2 with pages belonging to a PR8/9 multimillion $ site etc. They limit the damage in most cases by keeping rank and trustrank intact for keywords of main homepages, dominkeyword without the tld, copyright and corporate names keywords, but most of other thinner pages are in the mix.

As I noted few pages before amongst other tale tales are:

Sitelinks (where applicable) are still there;

Main corporate keyword / name is there ranking as usual, BUT if the keywords are generic and are in the domain, some sites sliding to page 2/3/4/5+ and back and forward;

No problems on WMT;

Backlinks decreasing on WMT;

Long tail taking a hammering;

PR still the same;

site: command way low and decreasing by the day;

Gbot at it like crazy;

More of product / ecommerce own products sites affected, maybe because most have large count of pages and takes longer to spider;

Even more if products are a feed from Amazon / ebay's shopping etc....well, larger number of pages I guess (if not a thin aff site);

More of large 100k+ pages sites are in this category


OK we can see the new layout may have a small impact, certainly for product / ecommerce based sites, but in my view they are re-indexing all those sites from scratch, some will be back stronger, some weaker.

Here are the two interesting analogies why some sites are (temporarily) rising while others are falling. One is, another site has to take the fallers place, the other which I think is my belief, data is moved and re-idexed in chunks / batches and they will have their turn.


 7:41 pm on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

I came across a good one today, searching for 'weed identification' in the past it would present various sites on how to identify common garden weeds. This time I am presented with everything I could ever want to know about the drug!


 8:15 pm on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

I came across a good one today, searching for 'weed identification' in the past it would present various sites on how to identify common garden weeds. This time I am presented with everything I could ever want to know about the drug!

Aha! You solved it! Google.nl is now the default.


 9:13 pm on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

Aha! You solved it! Google.nl is now the default.
that's a cracker, they also moved the gplex to the suburbs of Amsterdam, and here is me thinking they are on caffeine!

Seriously, on one large site, I have people (two figure) coming from G* search results page 23, page 14 etc for keywords they normally land on the first page, yet they still insist on visiting the loyal site they always knew offered what they wanted by flicking the pages until they found it. Why can't they just paste the domain on the address bar and search onsite...

What this means is the results are mostly literally bottoms up for now!

You know what, why can't there be coalition of SEs, is competition has to be the only way. Cooperation could also work, when G* is doing its update, 301 redirect all to Bing and vice versa and share the revenue, at this moment in time when there is a HUNG SERPs, it's ideal!


 9:16 pm on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

What annoys me and scares me a tad is that none of my competitors seem to be having any issues and are all still on the first page for my chosen keywords...

One site has a description of around 6 words and ranks on first page!

The tad scared part in me is a little voice saying "It's not Google... It's your site!" which for the life of me I can't seem to find what is wrong or what needs changing. I like many have made minor changes to see what improves ranking, well thats an IF and if it does then move more in that direction.

Though the sad part is, no matter what I change or do I see no change in rankings be then better or worse, kinder no movement at all.

I did get my description sorted, I had to manually add it into my WordPress theme, though I now need to check if these is adding the exact same description for all my posts since it will call the header.php for all pages...

God give me strength lol


 9:17 pm on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

So what does MC have to say about all this Caffeine mess?


 9:27 pm on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

From this and other threads it seems as though it must be one (or a very small number) of factors affecting rankings. Has anyone seen the drop in traffic/rankings across a large number of sites you control? If so do all of those sites have anything in common they may be over or under weighted for in the algo? We also saw a spike in Googlebot activity in late April and may have had a small drop in traffic around May 4 and 5 but the rankings on our head terms actually improved and we are driving traffic from more keywords than previously, not less. I've seen some threads saying that WordPress sites are more affected than others but our WordPress blogs seem unaffected. I'm either really happy that we seem to be doing a lot right and that's why our traffic hasn't changed, or nervous that the other shoe is about to drop...not sure which at this point. To those of you who have dropped< are you confident that your architecture is sounds, your link profiles are robust and varied, and that you have lots of fresh content?Do you have dedicated hosting or shared?


 9:51 pm on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google is no longer following my robots.txt file. It has indexed hundreds of pages that I have disallowed.


 10:04 pm on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

I no longer believe this is only about moving data to new infrastructure, it's also about a major algo change and improvement / deterioration whichever way you think. from the G* blog [googleblog.blogspot.com...]
Understanding the web to find short answers and "something different"
is a further solid proof as one of the algo changes and additions, long tail is a last option if "short answers" are the first option. The bit at the end
improved answers feature should finish rolling out by the end of the week
is an understanding that whatever is happening now, is a work in progress. Other features are probably in the same boat.

 10:14 pm on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

garyl2k, if you did nothing blackhat and have good content / resources to offer, just sit tight and don't embark on major structural changes, such as titles or worse still homepage title. Generally it's best to make any changes when SERPs are stable, never within an update due to panic!

< the discussion continues here: [webmasterworld.com...] >

[edited by: tedster at 7:41 pm (utc) on May 13, 2010]

This 378 message thread spans 13 pages: < < 378 ( 1 ... 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 [13]
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