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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]

 

blend27




msg:4126827
 5:35 pm on May 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

agreed

tedster




msg:4126834
 5:39 pm on May 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

So you are stating that google data may be corrupt Tedster? I though that was inpossible.


LOL! Some humor, I assume.

There have been several times where Google spokespeople have talked public;y about "incomplete data pushes" and "bugs". The position 6 mistake [webmasterworld.com] two years ago was a prominent one.

If you work with data even at a small scale, then you already know how difficult it can be to keep it clean. Then just imagine what that challenge looks like at Google's scale with one million plus servers and a brand new infrastructure rolling out.

Ther is almost ZERO chance that they don't have some data problems.

internetheaven




msg:4126845
 6:02 pm on May 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

To the point about much of the current flux having to do with pushing Adwords revenue increases--just an observation but conversions in our Adwords account rose by double digits last week...no changes to the account at all.


From the reverse side, the sites that we have adsense on have seen a dramatic increase in clickthroughs. We seem to be getting "related traffic" as opposed to our usual on-topic, targeted traffic. You know, we're about "green tickly widgets" but our keyword logs are showing traffic from "greenish wiggly widgets" which just happens to be the type of services we generally see listed in the Adsense ads on our page ...

gford




msg:4126863
 6:39 pm on May 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

has anyone heard from matt or the like for any type of G answer to what so many of us our experiencing?

gford




msg:4126865
 6:50 pm on May 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

I am sticking to my theory I posted in April.

1. URL+initial Title has more importance on kw, just try a longtail kw and see.
2. Internal link juice is greatly diminished.
3. "fresh" content sites on steroids - has gone overboard with adding link juice internally as can be seen by sites like ezine, associatecontent, squidoo, etc.. ranking absurdly on so many terms.
4. additional logic added to site structure to determine site classification (you selling something or reviewing it, better not try to both, get lost in the wash).

Just some small observations.

Andylew




msg:4126879
 7:19 pm on May 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think google has completely lost the plot, this cant be 'normal' or 'intentional' I run a uk only site (the one that has lost 90% of traffic) and I am getting more traffic from china and luxembourg so far this month, the uk barely registers!

internetheaven




msg:4126889
 7:49 pm on May 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

has anyone heard from matt or the like for any type of G answer to what so many of us our experiencing?


He's only holiday in the far east ... and he'd just given up Caffeine before going too ... I'm running out of tin foil ...

I run a uk only site (the one that has lost 90% of traffic) and I am getting more traffic from china and luxembourg so far this month


You are not alone. It's the middle east and germany for my UK site.

1. URL+initial Title has more importance on kw, just try a longtail kw and see.
2. Internal link juice is greatly diminished.
3. "fresh" content sites on steroids - has gone overboard with adding link juice internally as can be seen by sites like ezine, associatecontent, squidoo, etc.. ranking absurdly on so many terms.
4. additional logic added to site structure to determine site classification (you selling something or reviewing it, better not try to both, get lost in the wash).


If you come at that theory from the point of view that Google wants to rank "borderline relevant" pages with Adsense on them for phrases, it makes more sense to me. We're still getting good traffic numbers ... it is no longer relevant traffic and our Adsense clickthroughs have more than quadrupled in the past week.

Errioxa




msg:4126895
 7:59 pm on May 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

We weren't watching those keywords in our web sites, because they are not so important, they belong to our long tail cluster.

The index has been extended, so now probably there is an url with that anchor text, or there is a phrase like that in another site more likely

The important keywords are still there. I link to this url with those words in the anchors of the links

tedster




msg:4126896
 8:01 pm on May 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

It makes no sense to me that Google would sacrifice relevance for any secondary goal, not even short-term profits. That direction would be a suicidally stupid.

I'd say this current situation has got to be some kind of struggle in implementing new elements into the SERPs. And the new elements are probably not all related to Caffeine, either.

gford




msg:4126897
 8:05 pm on May 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

tedster - I hope you are right. Do you see this problem with websites of your own? If so I must have missed any specific posts on your problems (or you never posted them)..

tedster




msg:4126905
 8:13 pm on May 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

Not so much the geo-targeting problems, but I'm definitely seeing a drop of long-tail traffic on some sites. Nothing as dramatic as what some members are reporting, however.

mikeclover




msg:4126906
 8:16 pm on May 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

Ok,
so the quesiton "is Caffeine live yet?"

tedster




msg:4126915
 8:26 pm on May 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'd guess it's "mostly live but still not stable." But at this point, what practical difference would it make to have a certain answer on Caffeine?

ThatsBoBo




msg:4126916
 8:30 pm on May 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think it would be a good idea if Google changed their results around from day to day or even per search, showing different QUALITY sites at the top of the results. I get tired of seeing the same old mega-large; typically review sites and user created "submit an article" sites with little to no originality.

If Google never allows other quality sites, especially some of the smaller niche sites to take a top position in the serps, the results will eventually become stale and users will be forced to search on other search engines to find variety.

If potential webmasters feel that breaking into top search results is impossible, they may pass on creating a site which may add value to the web.

If you find a site you really like and you want to go there again, simply bookmark it.

seeingfurther




msg:4126921
 8:40 pm on May 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

Anyone notice Mahalo stats on Quantcast? Totally unaffected. It would seem like their long tail traffic would have been affected.

Theories?

mikeclover




msg:4126923
 8:45 pm on May 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

Tedster, all of us webmasters are see flucuations in rankings. If caffeine is live, then we know true results for Google SERPS and not some glitch because of the update. I dont really worry about it anymore, as I think the key to a successful site is good quality content....not just good copy... Something I have learned over the years is to find a top knotch writer and take care of that writer and who cares what Google does...

tedster




msg:4126928
 8:57 pm on May 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm convinced that most of current search traffic is coming from results generated by the Caffeine infrastructure. But there's turbulence in the ranking water, too - either some new algorithm features or some data instability in Caffeine, we can't really tell as of yet.

The bottom line for me? this is what Google rankings currently look like, and no one has officially announced that the Caffeine roll-out is complete. We may not hear that announcement for a long while It might relieve some uncertainty to hear that announcement, but I can't see a practical difference.

I'm making website enhancements based on what I see right now. I doubt that there will be some new formula that only becomes possible after the official Caffeine announcement.

Tallon




msg:4126950
 10:01 pm on May 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

Anyone notice Mahalo stats on Quantcast? Totally unaffected. It would seem like their long tail traffic would have been affected.

Theories?


I must be seeing different stats because I see dropping from March till now (with a dip up the past couple weeks but not reaching previous traffic levels that were trending upwards until the end of feb).

Something to note:

Consider the amount of new content mahalo has likely created over the past few months--shouldn't their traffic be much higher if things were steady/well with google?

Overall? I think mahalo's been pinched.

gouri




msg:4127002
 12:07 am on May 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

I am currently seeing the regular SERP format and the new three column SERP format that Google talked about last year on the Caffeine IP.

It looks good.

mrez74




msg:4127009
 12:15 am on May 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

Which IP are checking for Caffeine SERPs?

gouri




msg:4127018
 12:44 am on May 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

[209.85.225.103...]

mrez74




msg:4127022
 12:54 am on May 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

Funny that IP is not stable anymore as well. If you keep hitting the search button it will change up the SERPs between two different data sets as well.

SEOPTI




msg:4127082
 2:33 am on May 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

For the first time since mid January I'm seeing a deep crawl. This means they have more resources available.

Gorgwatcher




msg:4127116
 4:20 am on May 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

ok it seems that now spot 8,9,10 are changing on different data centers ( including the 209 ip and the normal google (new layout)...

mercury77




msg:4127124
 5:06 am on May 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

Seeing a deep crawl here too, first since january. Hopefully G now takes hold of the 301 headers, that are set 2 months ago!

tedster




msg:4127127
 5:16 am on May 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

spot 8,9,10 are changing on different data centers


That kind of shuffling (bottom of the page) has been popping up for a couple months - seems to be specific to certain vertical keyword areas. I think the Google statisticians have created a new toy.

john1975




msg:4127169
 7:23 am on May 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

Please be assured that google know what they are doing and whatever they do will not affect their adwords revenue. The supermarket example doesn't really make sense cos in a supermarket you would be looking for the same products every week. Don't tell me that you keep searching for the same term on google every week unless it is a specific website you're looking for - in that case you just type the name.

pawas




msg:4127178
 7:53 am on May 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

When there is an update, people will always complain how poor the results have become, because their sites get dropped in rankings (like above), but those who started ranking higher will not post.
Stop complaining and update your websites.

[edited by: tedster at 5:20 pm (utc) on May 6, 2010]

john1975




msg:4127187
 8:07 am on May 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

nicely said pawas! that is exactly what I was going to post I thought I would put it in a nicer way!

rocco




msg:4127191
 8:18 am on May 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

@john1975
The supermarket example doesn't really make sense cos in a supermarket you would be looking for the same products every week. Don't tell me that you keep searching for the same term on google every week unless it is a specific website you're looking for - in that case you just type the name.


I used to laugh at people searching "ebay.com" and the like. Now, I search exactly the same, I do not bookmark sites that I often use, just sites which I do not want to forget and check back somewhen.
So if I am searching for the Railroad schedule, I want to find the same site everytime .... why I use google for it, well, it saves time, because of typos like "rialroad" I will most like get DNS error from the address bar, but google will correct me. and using chrome gives the feeling of searching, even going to google.


** edit
An even better example:
I search almost everyday "webmaster tools" - without quotes. I expect the link to the page which redirects me to the GWT dashboard in my language. Mostly it works perfect. But days like today, google thinks, they should better place another result at the top - the "Remove Page". Might this be a hint?
Now, writing this, I searched for "webmaster tools" again, and the "remove" link is gone, the expected page is on top.

Google has to deal with such odd behavior - not the behavior of one person, but of million ones.

** 2nd edit
And to come back to the real topic:
My biggest Long Tail Looser usually counts 120k googlebot hits a day in GWT. I april, it started to get 350k. Today I am seeing over 750k hits on the graph. While traffic fell 35% googlebot increased 500%.

I expect similar observations by other WW-posters.

john1975




msg:4127198
 8:45 am on May 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

@rocco

for webmaster tools keyworld I am getting google webmaster tools and that has always been the case. Why not try google webmaster as a keyword? For me it is faster typing the address in the address bar and let google suggest the sites especially if I use them regularly.

On your 2nd post - lost of users have posted similar observations and it doesn't mean that you will not see any results at some from point the googlebot hits... you may or you may not! But that doesn't mean that google are returning bad results either.

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