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Google Updates and SERP Changes - June 2010

 9:45 am on Jun 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

I've been trying to work out what happened on May 17th and May Day. I seem to spend a lot of time analysing on-page factors and back link profiles for my own ranking pages and those of competitors but have fallen into the trap of focusing on a few big traffic volume terms.

Recently I've been looking at some second tier terms and this has been much more enlightening. This has also made sense of what is happening for the big volume terms.

In site linking seems to be out ranking external back links if done in a particular way.

The pattern I'm seeing is this, when all other factors are roughly the same, pages on sites where the site is organised in such a way that there are a large number of back links containing the keywords in anchor text within the site. ie Sites with many pages each page focusing onto one page with the same anchor text and very few back links from external sites are out ranking those that have a better external back link pattern.

So sites that have Javascript or CSS drop down navigation systems with the same links on every single page seem to be doing very well.

The other thing I'm noticing and this may confirm what I'm saying above. I'm seeing SERPS loaded with home pages.

Anyone else noticed similar patterns?



[edited by: tedster at 11:32 am (utc) on Jun 1, 2010]



 9:48 am on Jun 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Just a general point. Google seems to think everyone else is the problem when in fact the problem is Google.

Content farms are just someone taking the opportunity created by Google. Change Google and Google opens up new opportunities.
Meanwhile the smaller business owner suffers.


 10:28 am on Jun 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

@ top_hat

I doubt it. This happened last June as well when Google pushed Amazon resellers ahead of raw content. What's probably happening is your amazon pages are now outranking your regular homesite pages.


 10:45 am on Jun 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

on 5th of June there was definitely an algorithm change regarding the weight of the keyword in the domain name.


 10:49 am on Jun 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Which way? Less importance? That would figure as our domain name is exactly what we do in a VERY niche area(no one else does it!).


 11:32 am on Jun 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

We are starting to see some upward movement, unfortunately our data is no longer clean as there has been considerable changes to our site over the past 6 weeks which could have caused this movement.

The new thing we have noticed (this has always reported 0 pages since may 1st) is that a site: search filtered to 'last 24 hours' is now starting to report pages.

Not trying to be an enemy but if this update is to filter out the autogenerated massive sites then I think it is a good thing. We are calling it their 'too good to be true' filter.

One hint I would give is that from their point of view they will have to be 100% sure that the site triggers this filter if they cant be 100% sure they are better off not filtering it (amazon etc) - think creatively people this should be easy to 'fool'. Programatically it would be very easy to add coding errors or page variations based on a very simple AI - start coding!

Otherwise the best advise is start adding original content!


 11:52 am on Jun 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Not trying to be an enemy but if this update is to filter out the autogenerated massive sites then I think it is a good thing. We are calling it their 'too good to be true' filter.

Matt Cutts has said the algo targets "content farms". And as far as I can see, the biggest casualty here should be eHow from Demand Studios. Interestingly, their Alexa shows no signs of traffic being affected.


 1:28 pm on Jun 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Not to get off topic, but those content farms do a lot of damage to legitimate , original content sites.
"how to" and "ezine" type sites come to our site aggregate our content, then slap up a vapor thin keyword loaded article and meta tags in order to drag the user in, then slam them with Adsense ads. This is a result of all those "get rich quick on Google" ebooks and it's a terrible user experience. If Google's algo could filter those bums, then it would be a great day indeed. Part of Caffeine should be more categories and the opt


 2:01 pm on Jun 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

@ Andylew That's good news. And about Google making certain that sites are guilty first. That gave me a little chuckle because Google thinks we are guilty as charged until proven innocent.

@backdraft7 I think that is wishful thinking because Google adores Ezines/eHow because they have

1 - Editorial Review

2- They watch closely over their outgoing links (e.g. not directed at obvious affiliate spam sites)

They make Google's job a lot easier.


 2:06 pm on Jun 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

OK aspdesigner, I'll try a few more experiments along those lines and hopefully have some observations to post.

re ohno & 22 - Yes, I'm thinking that adding bogus descriptions, backgrounds, reviews, might be the next thing to try. I really hate doing this as I know my users already have all the background info they need if they are doing this type of search. They just want to find what they seek with minimum clicks,be convinced that they've done enough comparisons, and buy.

Yet google has this long-standing idea of 'quality' centering around 'information rich' 'unique' content, which often means pages jammed with tons of fluff text, and lots of clicking needed to find what you want.

Again, if google were just one of many competing traffic sources, their notions about quality and links wouldn't be trashing the web.. but as it is, we are forced to comform.


 4:56 pm on Jun 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

RE, the video...

"I'm more confused than ever..."

@mantucket: You are not the only one. That is the purpose of FUD.

"I never believed a word from MC's mouth. He is a BSer. He just uses scare tactics to keep the sheep at bay. He is been proven wrong many times."

@cien: I am running into more & more SEO's that feel that same way. I had a guy the other day, saw he was doing PageRank Sculpting on his site, told him about Matt finally fessing-up last summer about changing NOFOLLOW. He said he knew that, but that he had become so distrusting of Matt, that he had decided that because Matt advised that, he was going to do the OPPOSITE! LOL

I know "intentionally deceptive" has crossed my mind on more than one occasion. And after reviewing all those posts from Florida, I think I may have to shift my opinion even further.

"I found those comments to be the most helpful "official" remarks so far."

An observation by a member on another interesting thread seems to express my opinion on that position best...

"lol, my goodness, tedster, you spin Gorg's recent dismal incompetence way better than any of their employees do."


My impression of the new video?

Misdirecting FUD, FUD, and more FUD!

First off, while the SERPs (and many businesses) are going-up in flames, and he's joking and laughing?!

That probably angered more than anything else!

Just like the last video (and I believe also with Florida), he keeps repeating that same FUD about "quality sites".

But that seemed to be invalidated by one of my first tests, which I described in the other thread. How can the same site be LOW QUALITY when the search matches a relevant title tag, but HIGH QUALITY when it DOESN'T!

And poor relevancy is just ONE of the MANY problems being reported by SEOs.

Rome is burning, masses of legit sites kicked to the curb, the SERPs are a nightmare, and Matt is laughing and claiming that Google is better than ever!

Now THAT's spin!

But he adds more FUD to the mix, and now says it's "Auto Generated Content". Well, guess what. NONE of our current SEO clients have any auto-generated content. And neither do their legit competitors, whose sites also got vaporized. In fact, the ONLY competitor that has anything close to what Matt describes (bunch of duplicate pages and sites, with only the keywords changed) is now coming-up Top 10! In fact, for one highly competitive SERP which they are NOT targeting, this spammer is now coming-up #1, because he has only a partial title match!

Not quite paradise, indeed!

And I can just imagine the guys at Google laughing about their latest video...

"Yea, let's trick them into writing detailed descriptions for 500,000 product pages - THAT will keep 'em busy and off our backs for a while!"

He also kept saying how they're not manually targeting sites, it's all done by the ALGO - like people will believe that if the computer is doing it, then it must not be evil.

But some of us SEOs are also programmers, and we know that you can make the algo target anything you want. Like legit small business sites. Or degraded / skewed relevancy. Florida taught us that.

Waiting for a major "fix"? Just like Florida, you've got a long wait...Google likes things just the way they are! -

"...we don't intend to roll-back...we think that it is better..."

In fact, they were in complete denial that there's any problem with the SERPs, no admission of any current problems at all! Just like with FLORIDA! Turns out its YOUR problem!

His advice if your site got hit since Mayday? Sit tight and wait for the fixes? NOPE. Contact us at this E-MAIL addy? (hey, at least they tried to give the appearance of accepting feedback with Florida - unlike now!) NOPE.

If your site got hit, Matt now says it's because your site's too low-quality!

Fix your site, you spamming slackers!

So if you got hit by "payday", now we know why - Google says your sites SUCK!

(But I'm betting not badly enough that they won't sell you AdWords! ;) )

And apparently, all of your legit competitors that got hit, I guess all their sites must suck too?

Cause Google would never lie to us, right?

But before all you spamming slackers go slink-off to make your cheezy sites as "high-quality" as the ones showing-up in the Top-10 NOW, perhaps a different perspective may be useful?

"Google seems to think everyone else is the problem when in fact the problem is Google."

@Hissingsid: There you go!

Or some perspective from members here the last time Google tried to pull one over on us may also be of benefit -

"many of us white hats are scratching our heads wondering why your liked us for the last couple of years and today you hate us."

"It's very worrying when so many webmaster feel there is a problem here and GG doesn't think there is anything out of the ordinary!"

"GoogleGuy seems to be making out that what's happening right now is just a normal update with improvements to the algo. But it isn't."

"I'm sorry GoogleGuy, but there's nothing normal about it."

"But as Googlguy always says this time we have it right and those who complain are Black Hats"

But his laughing, joking attitude, when people's livelihoods and businesses are at stake, is what has me so mad right now I can't see straight!

I am also wondering if the reason for all the laughter and joviality, is that Matt got word on the AdWords sales figures for May?


 5:07 pm on Jun 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Top_Hat (on page 27 of this thread) -

I was wondering if anyone would mention 1st June (I have it as 2nd June). I'm also a co.uk, but I'm not primarily a shop - I'm more an information site, and I can't see many pages duplicating my content so don't think it is that.

Haven't got around to analysing anything yet (will do next week). Like you I've been in the game for 10 years and have never been hit by an update before.

As others have mentioned I have noticed my site showing number 1 on Google for terms it doesn't even mention. I wouldn't click and I can't see anyone else clicking. I hope Google aren't measuring clickthrough rates and assuming the site is rubbish just because nobody is clicking.


 5:56 pm on Jun 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Traffic levels still holding the same as last year if not higher. Sales slowly picking up again, and I'm trying to go with the flow and remain positive. Bashing Google won't do anything. FIX YOUR SITE, don't take it personally and adjust your attitude towards your SEO. I think over aggressive uber-optimizers are not playing fair. Get a real product or service, something original, and build on it. Those who scrape sites for content or are merely aggregator's need to go to the back of the line. Making big lists of sites or grabbing a topic and covering it only enough to get Adsense to notice it are useless. If you sell products directly, have a service that has a value or run a brick & mortar with online presence you're probably not in these forums complaining. The web has been no different than the Wild West, and I hope someday that changes to keep the outlaws at bay.

Sure this algo update is going to shake things up, but when life hands you lemons...well, you know what to do.


 6:13 pm on Jun 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

backdraft7, dare i say positive signs today here too, more people adding to the cart and more checking out, can it continue? We've been here before in the last4/6 weeks.......


 8:28 pm on Jun 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thoughts on quality and a possible reason why longtail sites have been excluded:

1) From a google viewpoint a click to a longtail page is nothing more then a user trying to find a result
2) If this user comes back to google and find another result they know the time he has spend on that first result
3) Since all longtail pages have plenty of one page visits it becomes a measure of quality. The longer a user
spends time on a page the better the quality - they presume - how else they would measure "quality" ?
4) Compare this to other pages and they know how to rank.
5) Add to this the domain age (well established pages have a lot of longtail content) and they might have thought
that "The older the page, the more longtail content - less attractive for users" - kick them out and replace it with
daily fresh junk content.
6) See how it works out and then let Matt Cutts tell them: There are only a few hit by this algo change.
7) I suspected that they reconfirmed their thoughts with data from analytics - Tedster said that would be a lie of them
if they would have done so. I think they took a statistic sample and then made their decision based on that.

So, you end up with a few angry webmasters and a few small business owners go out of business - BUT:
The more daily fresh junk content - and the normal user still thinks he get the latest, freshest on google - the more
people with quality and long term content will start to advertise their offers. That could be a revenue increase of
30 or 40% for them. Lets see the next quarterly report. I think they are scared to death about apple and microsoft.
And when someone is scared he starts saving saving saving. Always before and after a war.

This are my humble thoughts. Forgive my english - im not a native speaker.


 9:07 pm on Jun 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

@ohno and @backdraft:

We noticed a change Wednesday morning. The traffic seems to be more qualified for our site and there are orders coming through again like a switch was flipped this week.

I think for us the problems reside with the synonyms and other matching /intuitive data going too far. There are many instances when customers were looking for exactly what they typed. I love the "did you mean" feature but please don't assume I typed in the wrong thing and change it first!


 11:02 pm on Jun 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

I am seeing the Caffeine IP giving a different number of competitive sites for some keywords that I was looking up than what I see in Google.com. The number was higher.

Could this mean that they are still testing something?


 11:08 pm on Jun 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Could this mean that they are still testing something?

They always test. The don't do over 400 tweaks a year to the algo buy not constantly testing.


 11:48 pm on Jun 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

What's the known "caffeine" IP again?


 12:46 am on Jun 11, 2010 (gmt 0)



 8:55 am on Jun 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

Supposedly caff is live but I see different results in [] (old, original Caff IP)


 1:06 pm on Jun 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

We are delighted with the fact that G appears to have de-indexed millions of link pages and directories.
We have two internet search term, competing with webmasters rather than their cients, firstly No.1 out of 12 million, previously 40 million, and secondly No.1 out of 100 million, previously 400 million.
If only webmasters could abandon their creativity and follow the G guidelines !


 1:26 pm on Jun 11, 2010 (gmt 0)


First time poster long time reader. Great coverage in here and hopefully I can add something to the discussion.


on 5th of June there was definitely an algorithm change regarding the weight of the keyword in the domain name.

Totally agree and its exactly what I am seeing. URLs shooting up the SERPs that have the keyword term (or one of the terms) within the URL. I've been storing the data and have an interesting chart, which backs up the dates you mention.

All backlinks are forum comments with the keyword within the anchor text and only that keyword. Tons and tons of them. I've had a quick look through the others and its a similar story. Really poor authority, new websites in a very competitive market. All of these websites are illegal as well might I add. Good job Cutts, good job.

Anyone else noticing this type of movement? All of those lines represent URLs that have the term within the URL and have many, many comments from forums (and they are all proper spam 'Wow great post thanks for contributing' type).

But not to worry, the big G is working on some beautiful artwork for your homepage....oh wait!

[edited by: tedster at 10:03 pm (utc) on Jun 14, 2010]


 4:57 pm on Jun 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

re: site that dropped badly in serps on June 2nd has now returned to where it was previously.

I only made 1 change a couple of days ago and that was removing internal links pointing from my pages to the homepage.

First it was MayDay with my other site, then June 2nd update with this. Everything sorted itself out.

I heart Google.


 5:52 pm on Jun 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

All backlinks are forum comments with the keyword within the anchor text and only that keyword

@Seoering - Yes, that is exactly the 2 sites (same owner) that moved to #2 and 4 (behind wiki) for the main kw in my niche. Nothing but 40k forum and comment backlinks, most from foreign sites.

But they are making progress in my niche. Just this morning, that #2 spam site has been dropped. And some mid to longtail keywords I watch have seen hacked subdomains and other crap also being dropped.


 10:54 pm on Jun 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

Sean22, what kind of internal links where that? I only link in the main nav twice (from logo and home link) to my main page. Any help would be appreciated as I'm still experiencing the traffic drop.

Oh, and congrats that you solved the problem.


 11:06 pm on Jun 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

are you following the caffeine thread where it was said

Example: Search for "Black Duck Beauty In The Winds". ( A famous Chinese musical group that has a CD called Beauty In The Winds". The results on page one are 90% about anything to have the name Black Duck and ignores the Beauty In The Winds. This example is across the boards. Its as if the SERPS have been nuked.

and WebmasterWorld thread is #2.

OMG, maybe I shouldnt crosspost very similar but it was too damn funny.


 11:09 pm on Jun 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

(Had been up 2 days straight, finally got some well-needed sleep! Will likely have less time to spend on this than before, due to business concerns caused by all of this)


@backdraft7: Why? - There is nothing wrong with them! We are still doing better than most, despite the carnage. And we are also dominating the #1 listings in Yahoo!

"Get a real product or service, something original, and build on it. Those who scrape sites for content or are merely aggregator's need to go to the back of the line. Making big lists of sites or grabbing a topic and covering it only enough to get Adsense to notice it are useless. If you sell products directly, have a service that has a value or run a brick & mortar with online presence you're probably not in these forums complaining."

We do not engage in any of the practices you reference. As you seem to be making some significant public mis-assumptions about our SEO efforts, let me take a brief moment to enlighten you.

First of all, take a close look at my Joined date (I actually joined before then, but the system lost the account & I had to re-register). I have been doing SEO since before Google existed. I was here in 2003 during Florida, I was part of that struggle. I witnessed the devastation it caused to the 2003 holiday shopping season first-hand.

Nor am I some kid worried about the latest algo tweek dinging his personal, spammy, scraped AdSense site, as you appear to suggest. We don't even use AdSense ads! Contrary to your assertion, nearly all of our clients are, in fact, local brick-and-mortar businesses, many of whom were adversely affected by this!

I am not here because of the SERPs for any one site, but because I recognized in the SERPs a repeat of the absolute horror that was Florida, and came here to give everyone a "heads-up".

If you had a good day, then I am happy for you. As ohno has indicated, many have had that happen, only to come back the next day and say it had vaporized. But please don't tell the rest of us to ignore a very serious problem with Google, simply because you got an uptick in business on your own site.

"I think for us the problems reside with the synonyms and other matching /intuitive data going too far."

@scottsonline: An observation from last time this occurred that appears may shed some light on the latest changes in June -

"Think here that while totally irrelevant commercial SERPs might turn away people, the optimal profit level for Google may be that commercial SERPs be just marginally relevant."

It seems they may have initially "over-shot" the mark, and are adjusting the dials, to make the results a bit more palatable.

But the underlying problem still remains.

I had some tests I ran a few days ago, specifically looking at the not-quite-synonym issue.

One test looked like this (Top 10) -

6 entries = synonym in Title instead of search term
1 entry = synonym AND search term in title
1 entry = actual search term in title
(rest had neither)

That was for a competitive commercial search.

This afternoon, that same SERP now looks like this -

8 entries = synonym in Title instead of search term
synonym and search term in title = NONE
actual search term in title = NONE

So if anything, the underlying problem appears to have gotten worse!

I wouldn't mind if these were actual synonyms, but Google is using words with slightly different meanings, skewing the relevancy of the results.

"but please don't assume I typed in the wrong thing and change it first!"

If Google thought that "X" was a better search word than "Y", that's one thing. But when you search for "Y", and it gives you "X", and when you then search for "X", it gives you "Y" instead, that's not trying to be helpful, that's evading giving you the right answer!

Lately, searching on Google seems a lot like trying to ask a politician a question - no matter what you ask, they always manage to avoid giving you a straight answer! LOL


 11:32 pm on Jun 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

@gford: That is TOO funny!

And with a 0% match in the title, coming-up near the top out of 136K sites!

BTW all, that is an EXCELLENT example of partial keyword match!

The next 4 in the Top-10 are about Blackduck, Minnesota, then 2 just about Ducks, then the #10 listing...

OMG, only matches the word "The" in the title!


@mantucket: I came across another example for you while working on a client site last night.

For Target Search Phrase -

{city} {qualifier} {business (2 words)}

Where {qualifier} is a specific niche market.

Doing a search for that phrase, #1 is a known spammer - who was not even targeting that niche!

They are coming-up because of a PARTIAL keyword match in the title -

{city} {business}

With the second search word nowhere in the title.

But then when I tried this search -

{city} {qualifier} {1/2 business}

(Where the last part is only one of the two words)

A known, relevant site that was a full match on the original phrase (and which was nowhere to be found on the complete search) now came up!

But we were also rather surprised to see an incomplete site (only a handful of half-completed pages, PR 0, no incoming links at ALL) we were working-on for that niche, came up in the Top 10 as well!

Even stranger, given it's incomplete condition, judged on the merits it would rank fairly low on the "quality" scale. But it was actually out-ranking the other site!

Worse part was, when you only used one of the two words for that business type, it could mean anything (like wanting ice cream, and just asking for ice, or wanting peanut butter, and asking for butter), as a result, much of the SERP was filling with unrelated sites.

That is the problem with de-valuing full matches - you get the SERPs filled with a lot of non-relevant JUNK!

Both this, and the keyword-changing that scottsonline mentioned, both have the same result - decreasing the relevancy of the organic SERPs.

These were also the same things we were witnessing in 2003 with Florida.


 2:49 am on Jun 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've been frustrated in my searches with google and find myself using tighter and tigher parameters, or using a metasearch engine or bing.

I'm not trying to jump on the me too train, but when doing searches, the pages that show up set me back a bit as it never seems to be what I am looking for.


 2:56 am on Jun 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

Sean22, what kind of internal links where that? I only link in the main nav twice (from logo and home link) to my main page. Any help would be appreciated as I'm still experiencing the traffic drop.

Oh, and congrats that you solved the problem.

Thanks, they were singular and plural forms of my trophy KW that were generated by an SEO Plugin. I really don't know if that was the problem, but felt compelled because it was over-optimization, and a blatantly obvious SEO tactic. All my internal linking will now be done manually with some careful thought.

I do however suspect that it was an indexing thing because G is giving far to much weight to my homepage. It is returning the homepage for the SERP ranking for many KWs, rather than the actual individual page. The pages are still indexed, I think G is still sorting itself out.


 3:36 am on Jun 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

walkman, is that 'old caffeine' testing IP - i.e. has caffeine but not MayDay alg? If so that would be really useful for testing, can anyone confirm?

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