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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]

 

steerpikegg




msg:4128907
 5:55 pm on May 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

Just a quickie - how far back have people lost traffic?

My troubles started back mid February. Anyone similar or before this?

I'm in the UK btw.

gford




msg:4128916
 6:12 pm on May 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

I have been also tracking WMT IBLs and noticed a huge spike on refresh of links today that before this was last updated for home page links April 21st. Now showing thousands of links from may 5th on back.

The # of reported links is climbing as well. If you don't download the list of links daily for you site, I recommend you do and do some trend analysis on this and also look for bad 'hoods.

imbckagn




msg:4128921
 6:24 pm on May 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

Anyone else notice the huge spike of Gbot visits in their webmaster tools "crawl stats" is now gone? I had a huge spike showing in webmaster tools for about 7 days now that spike has been removed for some reason.

dusky




msg:4128929
 6:33 pm on May 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

pontifex
dusky: well laid out! thx... i also noticed that keyword in url is currently very strong for ranking, do you see that, too?


(Slightly off topic, but related to problems that can be caused by the practice and "Google SEO News and Discussion" parent forum).

I don't have enough data to comment on that yet. While we are at that, there are two camps, one for and one against the practice, many reported over the years a healthy advantage on SERPs, but many also reported problems and I am one of the later camp. It seems as I see it (and I had a large site built that way for three years), unless you find an absolute good way of eradicating duplicate content and its possibility, ranking will in time deteriorate. One of the problems I faced was implementing rewrite rules and somehow leaving holes for either competitors, spammers and even SE bots to fill in yoursite.com/[any-keyword-or-phrase-here-]$theright-id.html what's inside the brackets providing the ID is correct and the URL will still resolve as a 200 header found, and that is duplicate content.

Incidentally, when I replied to Brett_Tabke here [webmasterworld.com...] GBot was hammering one of our large sites which had keyword-in-the-url-12345.html structure but reverted to /product-1234.html, gbot was testing for bogus URLs and whether or not a 404 error is returned when trying to fetch a non-existent URL, of course it found one (even when we reverted to the simple structure) which I spotted just in time and corrected, otherwise. millions of phantom URLs would've been served as 200 header found.

Problems like that are usually associated with dynamic CMS / forum software... URLs, as most want to shorten them or add keyword advantage and readability and end up inadvertently causing duplicate content and /or ddos attacks. Note that this problem is only present in certain CMSes and open source as well as commercial software mainly URLs pulled from the database.

I know I probably opened a can of worms for many, but a rewrite rule usually fixes the problem using a 301 redirect to the only one intended URL. If you are using rewrite rules to shorten or make URLs as static HTML pages, there are pitfalls you may not know about, I didn't before, especially using certain CMSes and OS / commercial forum software.

To see if you have that problem, try and append something like ?q=something to one of your URLs like this: yoursite.com/your-keyword-widget-2345.html?q=something or yoursite.com/widgets-2345.html?q=something, the URL resolves to the same page, i.e you are going to the same page instead of 404 error, imagine someone sending a bot to hit yoursite.com/widgets-2345.html?q=dictionary-word and that's why Gbot was testing, caught it red handed, but in a way, it helped me spot the problem, thanks again G*....to put it in a different perspective, if your URL can be dynamically changed to another URL which does not reflect the actual keyword you programmed for your URL and still resolves as a 200 header found, you've got a problem.

steerpikegg
My troubles started back mid February. Anyone similar or before this?


For the majority it seems started on or after mid February, read the posts way back and you'll see more drops like this since that date. The question or answer here may mislead people, G* seems to be moving data in chunks, hence some sites suffered drops on or after Feb as they were part of that particular chunk, sites that are un-affected I believe are going to suffer the same fate, FOR THE BEST I believe mostly if they are white hat and have good content.

[edited by: tedster at 7:00 pm (utc) on May 7, 2010]

Andylew




msg:4128938
 7:10 pm on May 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

@imbckagn

yes checked and verifed the peak has gone! not just leveled at the new peak but all traces of that peak removed from wmt! How curious!

imbckagn




msg:4129013
 9:33 pm on May 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

@Andylew I have noticed some other very peculiar things as well. I'm seeing a lot of shuffling around in my niche today, this is far from over IMO.

gford




msg:4129016
 9:42 pm on May 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

tedster - I noted in April and May posts I saw a very strong presence of keywords in the URL/domain. For the area I am monitoring for top 10 results they all have the keyword in one or the other (but never both) and its split about 50/50 for domain only or url only. top 5 results its: url, url, domain, url, url -- but of those top 5 spots 2-5 have the major contributing word of a 3 word phrase in the domain name as well.

this is just one example but seems to reflect consistently over many keyword phrases I look at from 1 word to 4 word phrases.

Claude5670




msg:4129066
 11:27 pm on May 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

First time posting here so, if there's any additional information that I need to post please let me know.

I came across this forum looking to try and figure out what happened to my blogs

I read through the entire thread, I kind of have a unique situation

I have 3 affiliate blogs, pushing traffic to eBay on the 28th of April all hell broke loose on one of them.

All 3 blogs are sitting in #2 spot for their keywords all built exactly the same way. Except maybe different teams.

The one is completely gone,(that is in ranking)it had been sitting in the number two spot on Google for a year, two months it was on page 1 for a lease 20 other keywords it's a unique content PR3 site.

The other one is bouncing all over the place can follow it.

My third one built on exactly the same foundation as the other two roughly the same size I used the exact same promotional techniques as the other two and is still rocksolid at number two for its keyword.

The only thing I could find is that one Wordpress theme loads slower than the other.
I've now made many changes to the one that has drop off to speed up its load time.

although I don't think it could be that trivial?

if there is any other information needed please let me know.

after all, they are 3 near identical blogs competition just about the same and size of the site. It's like they just decided to destroy one.
mess with the other,and leave the other one alone.

The sites now replacing my blog,in my opinion suck but I could be partial. :o)

garyl2k




msg:4129069
 11:33 pm on May 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hi Claude5670,

Seems like the same situation as what I am getting too, my sites are UK bound and all run on WordPress, only one of the wordpress blogs have been affected.

Sadly its the old'est of the blogs almost 3 years old, run identical mods and SEO tactics.

My traffic graph looks like a roller coaster at the moment, up and down...

Though the fact that before May my traffic came back for a few days hints to me that Google is pretty much broken and is being fixed.

I hope that is the case!

I will keep you all posted if traffic comes back and rankings return.

tedster




msg:4129317
 2:54 pm on May 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

I split the backlinks discussion into a new thread:

Spam words in a query string - do these backlinks hurt rankings? [webmasterworld.com]

[edited by: tedster at 3:30 pm (utc) on May 8, 2010]

suratmedia




msg:4129325
 3:12 pm on May 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

@imbckagn - Yes I observed.

maximillianos




msg:4129354
 4:24 pm on May 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

Not to beat a dead horse. But I just realized something interesting. We lost about 10-15% of our organic traffic around April 1st. However our total unique visitors is actually steady or increasing. It appears we lost mostly repeat visitors.

This seems to lend itself to the theories around G shuffling results for each unique person?

anand84




msg:4129369
 5:40 pm on May 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

Just posted the following in a related discussion on a friend's blog. I thought I might as well post it here as a means of encapsulation (and to underscore my understanding of the whole episode)


Massive sites with thousands of pages, years of authority and thousands of IBLs have lost out which is ideally not a good thing. Because they have lost out, sites which are still building their authority (but are nevertheless well optimized and possibly micro niche sites) have taken their place.

As one forum member put it, this is probably a transition period where the new updates are being implemented which means the “trust factor” for authority sites have been temporarily turned off. So naturally the long tail pages lose their place to smaller micro-niche websites during this period since the latter is better optimized for the related keywords. So once the update is complete and trust factor is turned back on, these sites will (hopefully) get back to their original position.

internetheaven




msg:4129372
 5:49 pm on May 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

Just a quickie - how far back have people lost traffic?


I think many people are experiencing traffic outages at different times as various datacenters and various filters are bouncing around. I've had one site go dark from 1st April to 14th April then suddenly go back to normal ... I've had another that hasn't changed at all expect for last Monday when traffic jumped 50%!

The whole thing is weird. I don't think this is like the old updates where there is a specific roll out point and you either got hit or not. Results are still bouncing around like mad for me.

rocco




msg:4129441
 9:21 pm on May 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

For what I can see, it is not only Micro vs. Massive Sites - it is deeplinks or direct links to the optimized page.

tedster




msg:4129456
 9:41 pm on May 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

I work with one site that has historically received a lot of off-theme long tail traffic - pretty much an accidental match based on high PR. That traffic never really wanted our page and most of the visits were bounces. That traffic has now vanished.

true_INFP




msg:4129484
 10:20 pm on May 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

FWIW, we have an established PR7 site and haven't seen any change in long-tail traffic (or any other traffic that Google sends us) in the last several months.

(Not saying nothing has changed at Google. Just my 2 cents.)

aristotle




msg:4129550
 11:57 pm on May 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

I work with one site that has historically received a lot of off-theme long tail traffic - pretty much an accidental match based on high PR. That traffic never really wanted our page and most of the visits were bounces. That traffic has now vanished.


This suggests that in the Google algorithm the weighting of relevance has increased whereas PR now has less weight. Of course this is just one case, so doesn't lead to a general conclusion. But it's interesting nevertheless..

dusky




msg:4129557
 12:19 am on May 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

FWIW, we have an established PR7 site and haven't seen any change in long-tail traffic (or any other traffic that Google sends us) in the last several months.


Every dog has its day, or shall I say, don't speak too soon, G* is moving data in batches / chunks, most large sites are going to see some change, be it for the best or the worst, they will see a change, just hope is for the best I guess. Don't take this as a scaring statement!

Because many large sites are seeing a change, that will have a snowball effect, and repercussions will be got as a domino effect on almost all sites on the Internet in G*'s index, mainly due to the power of backlinks G* attaches as a major ranking factor in its algo. Maybe your sites is spared but if other important sites that link to you see a negative / positive change, so will you!

One of my sites was PR8, now it's PR5, that's because few large sites had natural backlinks to it, some removed them (old news), and some sites themselves were demoted...
When I mention PR I mean the traffic volume that is interesting, when it was PR8, it had millions of unique monthly users, now PR5 and is less than a million monthly uniques.

Dave_Hybrid




msg:4129575
 1:26 am on May 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google is broken. For example; I'm planning some travel soon so off comes the webmaster hat and on goes the regular user hat.

Pretty much every search Ive done tonight is bringing up scrapers, hub spam, social networking spam, etc. Complete junk, thin articles, first posts ripped from forums into wordpress outranking the the forum it was ripped from, content ripped from Yahoo answers outranking Yahoo answers. This has been going on a while but i've never seen it this bad.

All of the junk on the first page too. I've lost count how many times this has happened, so many different searches. I never need to go past page 1, now I'm on 4-5-6. This is the worst Ive seen Google, and no this is not from a biased webmaster view, this isnt my niche, this is purely from a normal searchers view. I've spent hours genuinely researching travel tips, destinations and so on and I'm finding utter junk time after time.

Some filters must be missing, my bet is it's the junk sites getting the traffic loss, hopefully this will be sorted soon. I genuinely had the worse user experience I have ever had using a search engine today, in 15 years of using the Internet. I'm well aware of some great sites in this niche, and not one of them showed up today, it's like they all lost authority and the crap has risen up past them.

*edit

It's also worth noting this was long tail searches that i was doing, 4 or 5 word stuff. It's bad from where I'm sitting, spammy and also very irrelevant serps. I'm searching for pretty clear stuff and getting results on totally irrelevant topics.

I'm not even clicking on lots of searches as I can see from the titles and snippets it's not anywhere close to what I'm searching for. I'd hedge my bets lots or traffic is also going nowhere, except getting bored and turning on the TV.

dusky




msg:4129604
 2:48 am on May 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

G* may have adopted the Bing look, sadly that doesn't make it Bing the way this update is going!

It's not the filters that are missing, it's many site's rank has been discounted until they are re-spidered and indexed from scratch, hence the gbot activity most of those sites are seeing. This happened in the last two updates, Florida and Biddaddy.

GerBot




msg:4129646
 7:16 am on May 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

Well Well Well.
I've been away from WebmasterWorld for so long. this was always THE place to discuss Google updates.
Finally I get a good Google algo update and where do i find myself...back at WebmasterWorld ;)

I'm keen to share some anonymous site data from a few of the members here who feel they have been hit by the same Google algo change.

What is the purpose of this?
I want to make sure:
everyone is talking about the same type of sites?
everyone is talking about the same Google change?
we can find a few common variables which will help us understand what is going on

Please can you answer the following?
I'll start:

* Age of site: 6 years
* Daily visitor count before hit: 120,000
* Y! linkdomain:domain.com -site:domain.com: 1.6mil
* Y! link:http://www.domain.com/ -site:domain.com: 3.0 mil
* PR: 7
* April unique keyword count: 747,000
* Current drop in traffic % Month-month: 20%
* Date traffic first started to drop: 1st April
* Secondary date is there is/was one? 17th April
* Do you use no-follow in your site? yes


If you have more tests to add please add extra bullet points in your reply with you answers to the above

cien




msg:4129650
 7:23 am on May 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

At this point I don't have anything to lose anymore. Google has only 8K pages from 120K 2 months ago and traffic is down to 100 UV/day. So I read the post above about reindexing from scratch. How can I do that? How to remove all the pages from G's index and have them reindex the site?

curioustoddler




msg:4129671
 10:19 am on May 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

"How to remove all the pages from G's index and have them reindex the site?"

You dont have to do it. Google is already doing it.

BillyS




msg:4129687
 12:06 pm on May 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

How to remove all the pages from G's index and have them reindex the site?
cien - You can do that in Google's Webmaster Tools, but it will take months to come back. This is what Google says, but I've no experience with an entire site. I wouldn't do it if I were you. I'd wait for Google to fix it through their "normal" process.
Content removed with this tool will be excluded from the Google index for a minimum of 90 days. You can use the URL removal request tool to reinclude your content at any time during the 90-day period.

Hissingsid




msg:4129702
 1:20 pm on May 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

Just a hunch but this has the feel of a changeover that went wrong. I guess folks at Googleplex are desperately searching for the bugs they have caused and are trying to fix them one by one.

Cheers

Sid

mcdarwin




msg:4129711
 1:52 pm on May 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

I see an increase of reported pages when I do site:mydomain.xx in Google today.

For several months this number has only been going one way - slowly down.

The number is now about 60% of the pages I know have on the website.

member22




msg:4129719
 2:27 pm on May 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

Sleeepppppy..... googleboot... when are you going to get to work ;) it would be time to start crawling and doing a nice little update, you got a cool new google jazz design but we would need a little more from you... I know it is warm in California but think about all those entrepreneur working hard and waiting, waiting, waiting...

BillyS




msg:4129729
 3:04 pm on May 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

Just a hunch but this has the feel of a changeover that went wrong. I guess folks at Googleplex are desperately searching for the bugs they have caused and are trying to fix them one by one.


I agree with one small change...

Just a hunch but this has the feel of cutover that went according to plan. I guess folks at Googleplex are desperately searching for the bugs they have caused and are trying to fix them one by one.

A change of this type would be extremely complex, there is no realistic way to get all the bugs out. You're really just hoping to minimize the damage. Clean up on a large scale IT project can take anywhere from three months to a year.

dusky




msg:4129739
 3:30 pm on May 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

Concerning the thread
Google Referrals Way Down Since the Change?
that Brett_Tabke started here [webmasterworld.com...] which I am hoping we'll discuss it here, Brett raises an interesting point which a lot of us myself included failed to raise.

Brett,
The last week was the biggest single change in our referral profile graph since florida 2004.


Well, since mayday, one major site of mine has seen a sharp drop in the G* referrals, that was incremental, but aggressive, lower and lower as days go by. One major thing stands out though is the sharp rise at the same time of the Gbot activity while that was / still is happening. I second what Brett thinKS, I have not seen this since Florida either.

This mayday update is IMO equal if not of higher importance and significance than Florida, where true BOOMS and BUSTS will truly be seen again. For Florida, we seen a lot more Busts than Booms, the media attributed it to all sorts of macro-economical variables, attributes, causes and effects, but forgot G* was behind most of it, many massive entrepreneurial ideas and sites just vanished then or reduced to a grain of their former mass!

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.

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