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Google Updates and SERP Changes - June 2010

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Msg#: 4144824 posted 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]



WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Msg#: 4144824 posted 7:39 pm on Jun 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

Just an observation. There are sites/pages that I observed getting a penalty earlier. When the MayDay algo change happened either by coincidence or because the dullards at Google forgot to add back the human applied penalties these sites moved back up the rankings and have stayed where they were pre penalty.



WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Msg#: 4144824 posted 7:52 pm on Jun 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think we all need to remember that none of the search engines owe any of us anything.

The argumement that they would not exist without us is not true. The internet existed without most of us for many years between universities and goverment resources.

My point is, I tell my wife every month that we could lose it all at any time. It is the nature of the enormous market we all battle in. If I wanted more stability I would have kept my day job. :-)

This is why i have been preaching for years to diversify traffic. We still are not there, but I work every week to build up my newsletter subscribers, my FB fans, my followers, and i keep in touch with high profile inbound link sources.

It is a cut throat business being inline. Overnight a competitor can scrape you and launch the next day and you may never even know it until they are out ranking you a year later.

I for one will take whatever free traffic all search engines want to send me. No complaints. Free is free.


10+ Year Member

Msg#: 4144824 posted 8:06 pm on Jun 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

My organic traffic went from 25k visits/day to 4000 visits/day, terrible drop!

My site has many unique content and is more then 2 years succesfully active in google...

Now my site scores lower then concurrents who have less pages, less namebranding, less visitors... :(

What's happening?


Msg#: 4144824 posted 8:16 pm on Jun 6, 2010 (gmt 0)


Yeah the speed metrics in WMT seem to be way off for me. G claims we are 68% slower than all sites, yet I have done quite possibly everything I can to improve speed. A Pingdom test on our home page completes in 1-2 seconds on average. Inner pages average between 0.9-1.5 seconds. Quite good considering our site is image heavy and has about 6 JS scripts (all combined into one and minified).

Too bad I can't see how competitors are ranking on the speed front.


WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Msg#: 4144824 posted 8:19 pm on Jun 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

G claims we are 68% slower than all sites, yet I have done quite possibly everything I can to improve speed.

me too, but i'm just ignoring it. WMT has also suddenly started reporting a lot of 404s for pages which havent existed on my site for months and months, and they've never shown as errors before. so that pretty much proves that they are using old data from somewhere. maybe they are using old data on the speed tests too.


WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Msg#: 4144824 posted 8:21 pm on Jun 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

A ping will not give you browser load speed, but only server/network response time - and Google's metric is the time for the page to fully render in a user's browser.


Msg#: 4144824 posted 8:36 pm on Jun 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

A ping will not give you browser load speed, but only server/network response time - and Google's metric is the time for the page to fully render in a user's browser.

indeed, I realize this. I've used other services which calculate the render time in browser, including external factors such as iframes and third-party scripts. The total render time is only about 0.5 secs higher and that is mainly due to advertisements that load up in an iframe.

I think londrum's belief that WMT is reporting on old data may have merit. Over the past few days, our site has gone from 60% to 68% slower and no changes have been made during this time.


Msg#: 4144824 posted 9:00 pm on Jun 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

mikey85 - can you provide more specifics on the structure of your site?

Does it have lots of 'single-serving' pages?

Does it use variants of keywords to attract less-common search terms?

Anything different about what kinds of links are attracted?

Is it mostly an e-commerce or affiliate site?

What trends have you seen in GWT Search Queries as far as impressions and CTR?


10+ Year Member

Msg#: 4144824 posted 9:30 pm on Jun 6, 2010 (gmt 0)


It's a site with classified ads...

The structure of the site:

category pages: www.domain.ext/category
subcategory: www.domain.ext/category/subcategory/
classified ad page: www.domain.ext/title-of-the-classified-ad.html


Msg#: 4144824 posted 10:18 pm on Jun 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've been following these posts for about 45 days as I've watched our traffic fluctuate substantially. During the last two weeks while conducting my own personal searches for topics covering everything from the spill in the Gulf to medications I may have to take to people lookups it certainly appears as though G has lost its way. For the first time in probably close to 10 years I'm using the other two engines to find stuff.

I've read everything here down to the last word and none of it seemed conclusive. Some believe there's problems with particular sites, some believe it's filters or trust, others aren't sure what to make of it.

Today I conducted a routine search for a product using the manufacturers name followed by the product name. I know this product is online on probably 10k websites. Guess what? Exactly one shows a result in G, the other 9 results on the first page and for the next 20 pages have zero to do with the product. Let's say the product is Manufacturers Widget Larry. Beyond the one and only result that pertains to the product there are results for Larry where somewhere on the page widget is mentioned but in no relation to Larry, there are blog posts that talk about manufacturer (but a location on a map not the brand) with Larry in that area etc...but they have nothing to do with the specific product match I was requesting. There are no suggestions and no google adwords either which is really odd. It's as though this product had vanished from the face of G. Meanwhile yahoo and Bing show hundreds of pages for the same query from all different manufacturers as we would all expect.

This tells me there is a systemic problem at Google. Whether this is part of their reindexing or some data error I do not know, but I do know one of the most popular products in that industry is in the abyss on thousands of sites. It's almost impossible to believe what are probably 1500 sites carrying this product all had that one specific product deindexed in favor of spam sites, cultivator type sites etc. This is not a matter of long tail traffic being lost, of some sites being favored over others etc, this is 1 site out of 1500-10k that carry this product that had it showing in the results in December now no longer having any results returned for a specific product search.

What I cannot stand about this new Google as an end user is specific searches that would once yield exactly what I want yield nonsense. I just cannot believe this is what Google intended. Something is either in process or broken.


Msg#: 4144824 posted 11:30 pm on Jun 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

I wanted to elaborate a bit. In looking more closely Google is taking the term I'm actually searching for and changing it to what it thinks I may want. It's not asking me if this is what I want them to do, it's literally taking Brand Widget Red and instead returning Brand Widet Red and then asking me if I want to instead search for the original term Brand Widget Red!

So instead of showing me the results I asked for it's showing me the results I didn't ask for which have no relevance to what I want - they leave the original search term in the search box but show me a different set of results!? I can then click the text with the terms next to "Search instead for the original terms" and I can get what I was looking for?

If this is an improvement I'd like to go back to google 2009 which worked just fine for 99.9% of my searches and didn't take actual search terms I enter and change it to meaningless rubbish.


10+ Year Member

Msg#: 4144824 posted 11:34 pm on Jun 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

@ scottsonline
Great first post.
I've noticed this too, often even a search using quotation marks returns results that do not contain the quoted search term.


Msg#: 4144824 posted 12:07 am on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)


Thanks. I've spent 30-45 days just reading trying to make heads or tails of what's being written and applying it to what I see in my personal searches and also for the site I help run.

I know on the personal side all that we have read here in terms of junk/garbage/ad sites showing as top results I am finding here in New England. Last week I had a dent in my car and went to search for repair services in this area. I never got to some of the reputable auto body sites in the area but instead got to yellow pages type sites with tons of spam and advertising. The same has held true for searches of things as simple as personal health issues - instead of getting references like I once did that were based in fact I now get all sorts of garbage related to unproven treatments/magic pills/spam. In short it's like using yahoo up until very recently.

I understand Google is trying to apply some intelligence to searches. BUT, what about the tens of thousands of companies out there that targeted specific keyword combinations that may yield only 5-10 clicks per page every month or two but that were highly relevant, highly targeted traffic? Why are those now being explicitly replaced by all sorts of useless SERPs?

If I search for a major retail brand product by brand and product name that's the result I want. I don't want results that may mention geographical places that are contained within the name, or famous people/places that may be contained in the name. Worse the interface is untintentionally deceiving because it leaves the original user input in the text box but returns a different SERP and only at the bottom of the page does it show the "search instead for the original terms"!

I don't think any of us are blustering or crying over spilled milk. I really dislike the fact that for 4-5 years I could find exactly what I wanted usually within the first 5 results on Google 99.99% of the time. In the last 1-3 months it's dropped from 99% to probably a 1 in 3 shot what I type in is even remotely represented in the SERPs and I just don't understand what they are attempting to change. Meanwhile Yahoo and Bing seem to be going the other way and steadily bringing in better and better results and in fact both are starting to look like Google circa September 2009.

For the one in three searches I do on the personal or business side that yield traditional, excellent Google results great, but what about the other 2/3?

There's an old saying if it ain't broke don't fix it. It really seems like Google broke something what didn't need to be fixed in the first place. Worse as I demonstrated above in trying to apply whatever it is they are applying by modifying what I tried searching for they are short changing themselves as no adwords are served.


Msg#: 4144824 posted 12:09 am on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)


Should also mention I am seeing a lot of .edu sites that were clearly hacked. In multiple cases on the personal search side for information on regular medications (not the ones we see advertised during football games, antibiotics etc) I am getting blatant hacked sites in the top 5 that are immediate redirects to overseas stores. I'm not getting the major internet medical sites articles on the medications, side effects, uses etc. I'm getting hacked authority sites with redirects overseas. I've never seen this happen with Google to this extent and I just don't get it.


WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Msg#: 4144824 posted 1:10 am on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

I do think Google was broke and needed fixing, but it will take a considerable amount of time to make it right. Still way to many MFA's. I think much of this is response to all those "get rich on Google" e-books. that created a shoot load of bad sites. Now I wish G could identify scraper sites that steal content that was created well before it appears on the sites of thieves.


Msg#: 4144824 posted 1:18 am on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

@backdraft at least for the majority of my personal searches the MFA sites aren't the problem most of the time. I specifically recall searching for a sports related topic last fall and finding it easily with Google. I bookmarked it, changed computers and searched and found it multiple times over the early winter. This spring it's gone from Google, I can only find it through Bing. This is a highly reputable site, nationally known magazine etc. Replacing it are mostly irrelevant and only partially related pages that seem to contain the keywords but loosely throughout the text. This seems to be happening across the board to corporate sites as well.

I know we're not supposed to post specific examples so I won't. But the one I mention above staggers me. If a user is no longer given exactly and explicitly what they are searching for but instead are given a bunch of unrelated junk that requires the user to go to the bottom of the page and read and click on a text link that says "let us show you what you actually searched for" I have to wonder who thought this up?

I stopped counting at 1900 sites showing the product in Google when I go down to the bottom and click on "show me what I explicitly searched for". If a lot of you are wondering where your traffic went I'm guessing this is how some of the long tail has vanished. Instead of showing the 1900+ they are showing 1 and a bunch of junk. How many millions of search terms is this also happening for?

They built their success on returning results users wanted whether they were organic or PPC. What we have as of June 6, 2010 is a percentage of search terms returning no PPC ads and nonsensical results because somewhere along the line the algo thought it knew what we were actually searching for and the interface is so clumsy it doesn't make it clear to the user Google substituted what they thought you were looking for instead of showing you what you DID search for.


Msg#: 4144824 posted 7:38 am on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

Another day another lack of dollars!

I agree with everything said above and to add to it on 3 occasions the top result for searches I did over the past 3 weeks has either been a 'bandwidth exceeded' or a 500 error. Completely useless sites by any stretch of the imagination!

Back to WMT we now have a complete flatline in clicks and impressions since 2nd june. However traffic remains at the level of may - add this to the list of things which is broken!


Msg#: 4144824 posted 8:32 am on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

& so a new week begins, what will it bring?! Last week was average so i'm expecting a dead week. G has at last fixed the feedback in product search(no longer shows double feedback!) although our main site has still lost ALL of its feedback (I really think this impacts sales-excellent 5 star feedback must help click through). Some interesting comments above that basically echo what others have said. I tried to find some products over the weekend, what i used to be able to find in seconds now takes multiple searches (so much junk being returned).


Msg#: 4144824 posted 9:26 am on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

This may sound a bit off topic, but I noticed that at exactly the same time (May 5th) that our rankings disappeared from Google, at the same time the same happened with ask.com.

Do the 2 share any common ground with regards to results rankings...if I could find this out it might at least give me a clue regarding our own listings at least.


WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Msg#: 4144824 posted 10:35 am on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

This algo update just happens to coincide with a seasonal lull is sales for most sites. Add to that the struggling economy and you've got a perfect storm of conditions to make you sales even weaker. My rankings are still way up there and my traffic is nearly the same as last year this time. I just can't figure out why conversions just shut down on May 17th. The traffic I'm seeing seems to be what I call "Zombie" traffic. I see it almost every spring and I just can't explain it. Whatever it is, it is not targeted traffic. It's either search engines going gonzo, recently released school kids or something else entirely, but it surely is not buying customers. On top of all this, the algo update just makes matters worse, but at least it's not happening during the holiday season. As always, this too will pass. I hope!


WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Msg#: 4144824 posted 11:03 am on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

I just started seeing the "brands" link in my searches. So how does one get their "brand" registered with Google's database? I have a federally registered trademark for my product, but Google does not recognize that as my brand. From what I am finding it may go like this" "Your brand is what Google says it is, not what you say your brand is". Hmmmm, sounds like DMOZ.


Msg#: 4144824 posted 11:12 am on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

Re: Brand, i touched on this before, G is WRONGLY reporting brand in our product feeds for some items, we have put the correct one in(large manufacturer-multi national!)) but G has changed it completely!


5+ Year Member

Msg#: 4144824 posted 11:25 am on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

"Find other traffic sources and count the free traffic SEs send as a bonus"

Easier said than done for most small time webmasters.


Msg#: 4144824 posted 11:44 am on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

@ohno: One problem I have with the new interface is the prominence given to Google Base. As a sometimes participant in the program the lack of enforcement of their basic policies is troubling. It leaves a grossly unlevel playing field that is now being magnified.

@backdraft7: This is one of our busier times of the year. I firmly believe now a lot of our industry's problems relate specifically to what I stumbled across this weekend. Customers sometimes search for the brand and product and right now Google has decided that in some cases those searchers weren't looking for that term after all but something else totally unrelated. I bet this mostly explains the 30% drop a lot in our industry are seeing because customers cannot figure out why they're being taken to a travel site halfway around the world when they're looking for Brand A Widget. It'd at least be nice if Google notified users they changed what they searched for and returned a different result set but toggle here to see what you really meant and don't bury it 1000 pixels down on the screen.

@all: Another enormously frustrating aspect of this recent update is the fact that sites that are clearly mirrors - IE, Company A opens up a site and calls it website B, website c and website D but they're all using the same chat software, phone numbers and exact product descriptions with only a changed layout will now rank sometimes entirely in the top 5 when major national retailers fall further down the page. This stuff was all filtered prior to 2010 and yet right now it is paying huge dividends for some. Again hard to believe this was all by design.

I think one of the problems we are all seeing with "long tail" has more to do with not so much the length or depth of indexing but instead the lower frequency clicks. Google may have decided - mistakenly so, that a user searching for Specific Brand Item B wasn't really looking for that because there's only 10-20 searches a month for that in a geographic region when in reality those were highly targeted, highly converting searches.


5+ Year Member

Msg#: 4144824 posted 12:46 pm on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

Anybody else notice under GWT, search queries, the number of clicks seems to be buggy as of 2nd June? For one site, I had 800 click-throughs on 1st June, and only 50 something on 2nd June onwards, but GA and my own stats show nothing like this has happened (in fact, Google referrals are up, as is the number of unique search terms). The impression count seems correct, but a lot of search terms have disappeared, mostly long tail (but again, nothing like this on the actual site stats). Every site I have under GWT shows the same trend.


Msg#: 4144824 posted 1:01 pm on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

Anybody else notice under GWT, search queries, the number of clicks seems to be buggy as of 2nd June? For one site, I had 800 click-throughs on 1st June, and only 50 something on 2nd June onwards, but GA and my own stats show nothing like this has happened (in fact, Google referrals are up, as is the number of unique search terms). The impression count seems correct, but a lot of search terms have disappeared, mostly long tail (but again, nothing like this on the actual site stats). Every site I have under GWT shows the same trend.

See my post above, yes noticed exactly the same.


WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Msg#: 4144824 posted 4:03 pm on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

Not much chatter here today, has everything resolved itself? Traffic is still at a crawl here.


Msg#: 4144824 posted 4:05 pm on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think the update is still far from being over on Google.

If in May I had no problems whatsover (actually traffic increased with over 20% for me), June 2nd was the day where the traffic simply dropped for me from google with over 95%.

I have been working on a niche that I found decent, making money to live, not getting rich.. As said, the site focused on that niche compeltly dropped. It has been updated regularly, new relevant content all the time, good linking, it was ranking top 3 for the past year, now I on page 6 on Google.

What makes it more interesting is that the particular long tail I was ranking for brings in interesting top results. Quite many sites in top 10 are new (1 page sites), no back links, few content. One of the sites listed there is also mine - the .com domain of that particular tail - 1 page, with the phrase and also the "-coming soon-" text. Absolutely nothing else, no linkins built. I have never used that domain because it includes trade marks, and said it's not worth it ruining by relationship with the partner I have been working with for so long.

But this is a fact for past 5 days. Websites with few or no content, not offeing exactly what users were looking for, outrank me.

So back to what i said in the begining, I think the update is far from being over, cause if it is, than Google has a major problem delivering such results.


WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Msg#: 4144824 posted 4:22 pm on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

John: I totally agree with your observation. I am seeing new sites that are basically scraper sites that are giving away FREE stuff and optimized for Adsense profits only. No real product, just scraped content from mine and similar sites that now only dilute my service. My traffic levels appear normal, but it does not appear to be coming from my main pages. I'll need a few more days of data collection to make any effective analysis. Promoting thin content sites is not what MC seemed to indicate. I took it that the algo update was to improve relevancy and search quality to authority sites, which would be a good thing for my 10 year old site with over 40,000 paid members. As things are going, it's not working out that way....yet.


Msg#: 4144824 posted 4:23 pm on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

@John_C welcome to the what on earth has happened club!

Little chatter as little has changed, good bad or otherwise things are just stale with no-one really having any answers. The listings seem to be dropping more and more sites and noone seems to be able to find any reason why or any improvement for doing anything to their sites. I think we all continue to wait and trust in the fact that we have good websites with good content and surely (crossing fingers) with all googles wisdom they cant throw such good sites away... can they....


Msg#: 4144824 posted 4:26 pm on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

I am also seeing incredibly wild/random swings in GWT Search Queries and have no idea what to make of it... in part I don't know how to interpret since GWT Search Query only went live a month or so before the MayDay debacle, so I don't know if occasional wild fluctuations are part of it.

What I see is a steady drop in the baseline impressions and CTR over the past 5 weeks, with sharper drop on May 31. There are occasional wild oscillations where the Impressions counts goes up by 8x - from roughly 4k/day to 30k/day for one-two days, then down to 3-4k/day. On days where Impressions skyrocket, the Click count typically drops, though, ie CTR goes way down.

Prior to May, Impressions were roughly 8-9k/day and this was very steady, never varied by more than about 15% (from memory).

I can also confirm that the pages from my site alone which now rank are far less relevant, and the pages in the top 10 are from nearly-identical affiliate template sites which carry identical inventory. These sites build tons of links to parent pages, not individual deep pages. There's a severe usability drop in those pages since users must scan them to find the proper relevant page and click a few times to reach it.

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