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2:Google Updates and SERP Changes - June 2010

 11:10 pm on Jun 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

I'm currently looking at an e-comm site where sales for the four complete weeks since May 16th are down 77% compared to the previous four weeks.

So far, I have no additional words of wisdom to add to this thread, and not much of a clue how to fix it.

Traffic levels haven't fallen by much, but instead it's as if Google is sending completely the wrong type of visitors.

Number of pages reported by site: search kept on falling, but in recent days have started to go up. Sales returned for two days, and then dried up again.

[edited by: tedster at 12:05 pm (utc) on Jun 15, 2010]



 7:39 pm on Jun 16, 2010 (gmt 0)


Could you elaborate on what exactly you mean by root word silos? I am a little confused on the technical definition of this. An example would be much appreciated.


 7:56 pm on Jun 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

@ scottsonline

@themadscientist....I can see the traffic as it comes in via keyword in chat. What's happened is google has stopped sending "custom widget a" traffic and instead sends us "widget a" traffic which might as well be "retail widget a" vs "wholesale widget a"

So, it's the same, only different and the small difference is totally changing the targeting in the results? Sounds like what I'm seeing a bit of, because the searches are not 'greatly different' in the terms used, but the person visiting seems to have something different about what they're doing, looking for, wanting to find on some days compared to others.


 10:05 pm on Jun 16, 2010 (gmt 0)


The traffic that ends up on our site is not looking for wholesale/bulk they're looking for retail. because Google deprecated the value of words in the long tail customers are ending up with an awful experience. The only orders we're getting now are Yahoo and Bing. We have not had a sale from a Google referral since Saturday. Whatever they tweaked happened between last Wed and Saturday.

It was at about that time that we enabled the benchmark tool in Google Analytics. Sales stopped from Google almost immediately. If I had to do it over I'd never have done it as it seems awfull ironic that the moment I shared our information "anonymously" with Google our traffic inbound is horrendous.

I'm of the belief it's the new algo and filters. Matt Cutts said they tested this via committee, I think too many are drinking the Google koolaid because this is awful.

My dad pulled his bicep muscle badly. Trying to search today for the specific ailment/muscle/tendon all I found was garbage sites trying to sell me steroids illegally. The top 3 sites were sites selling performance enhancing drugs of one type or another because of the exact same thing everyone else has noticed - authority sites that randomly mention words in a search now rank higher than the exact keywords in the exact order. If I went to yahoo I got good results, Bing surprisngly excellent results.

At the same time an hour ago I needed to replace a key for one of our new cars. Again Google - results are useless. Not one of the top 5 entries is newer than 2007. Most are dated from 2005 before they had keyless ignitions. Almost all are old forum posts. The 9th result is the largest parts store in the country for that make of car. Again for some reason google thinks I want to read about some guys 2002 model car getting a replacement key in 2007 because that site was deemed more relevant.

Try searching for just about any car + replacement key and you'll see the same thing. Remove the +. For the particular foreign model that just had a lot of headlines that has a little suv that ends with 4 yahoo gives a bunch of actual parts stores where I can buy the key. Google gives me absolute CRAP.

So it's not any one industry. Those that aren't suffering yet will get their boot eventually as the sales cycle closes and old customers stop coming back and new customers end up on a forum post from 2002 instead of the ecommerce site they were looking for.

In the early 2000's Google CREATED ecommerce, in the early 2010's they're destroying it and probably the economy as well.


 10:14 pm on Jun 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

My engineer who doesnt really keep track of things by the minute like me with search emailed me asking if I have seen search terms coming back with totally unrelated sites in google.

I laughed so hard I cried and sent him a few examples from our sites. Things we have no business ranking for. I dont want to give specifics to cause WebmasterWorld to rank for them but lets say I have a site about computers and we are result 2 for the single term food. It's something along that lines.


 10:24 pm on Jun 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

asp designer,

outland88, where did you see that? Is there any video or story available on-line?

I saw it on TV. As for looking for it Google and cable keep me busy enough. I had forgotten about his TV ads with Gates because I deemed them forgettable flops. His bits seemed out of place to me (but funny) so they might have been a dig at Google. I've always heard Seinfeld is one savvy businessman so third parties may protect his copyrights more than the usual. Then again I don't know and it could be just the opposite. Itís a really good question because many entertainers operate in a visual media (like TV). In other words they donít want to oppose the first amendment but at the same time they want to defend their income. Are there people who operate in the background to protect them? Do they prohibit people from taping at live concerts?

As for the "Related To" function here's Google's take on it in the longtail. I find it cute because they slide around their own TOS. I often ask myself ďWould people give Google a bye if they were caught in major illegalities?" and the answer is always a resounding yes. There are no rights and wrongs anymore. There are only the crys of it makes me more money and the justifications that follow.

When determining which ads to show on a Google search result page, the AdWords system evaluates some of the user's previous queries during their search session as well as the current search query. If the system detects a relationship, it will show ads ďrelated toĒ these other queries, too.

In other words they donít expose the lower payout ads but import higher payoff ads from other sections. It inflates prices for everyone. So if youíre thinking you can use Adwords as a bailout Google spotted you a mile off. Google plans to get rich during a recession. Does this have implications beyond Adwords in the natural longtail results?


 10:32 pm on Jun 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

I just wanted to really make this as clear as possible without extending the rules on specific search terms. Tedster/Robert I think I can do it without causing this site to rank.

Which major manufacturer from japan was all over the news for having problems with cars going out of control? Begins with a T ends with an A. Their little SUV begins with an R ends with a 4. Search for the model replacement key in both google and yahoo and look at the results. Yahoo gives me actual sites that can sell me the actual key. Google gives manure.

1 out of 10 sites is ecommerce. Some have zero to do with the actual topic but there appears to be comments on those posts that cause them to rise to the top. Bing ironically gives a few ecommerce sites but is only slightly less useless. I'm actually astounded at how much better yahoo is in many cases right now versus Google. To me that's a pretty simple english search. Yahoo returns the top 4 results all with ecommerce sites that sell the product. Bing zero, Google zero. Bing returns the first result at spot 5, Google 6.

Then I tried the terms replacement brand keys and added the word onxine at the end with no separation. Yahoo returns a bunch of sites, Google zip, Bing little.

How many times do I have to see yahoo answers or ehow as top results when I'm looking for something?

EDIT: Rerun the search term for the tumbler previously discussed. As of right now 3 of the top 10 sites are all mirrors. It's the same company running a myriad of websites with the same product. Google now thinks "that" is good results? People are being slammed for playing within the rules yet blatant abuse of the WMGL are rewarded? Can this really be what Google said is "better?"

[edited by: scottsonline at 10:38 pm (utc) on Jun 16, 2010]


 10:36 pm on Jun 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Bing surprisngly excellent results.

LOL... That's probably why I don't always see the Google garbage everyone is describing when searching for something personally. I switched about 6 months ago, so now I only 'check in' with Google's results because I have to.

As far as the rest of what you're seeing it seems like 'determining user intent' may not be all it's cracked up to be, or even worse for G, could be backfiring a bit (to say the least).

I think I'm seeing the same thing in traffic as backdraft7 for sure and probably some others, because on different days of the week (so to speak, figuratively, not always on a day by day basis, but sometimes) I see 3% to 5% conversion rate, and on others I see < 1%, but the searches are 'essentially the same', so much so I really haven't figured out what they're changing yet or if it's the stinking economy, because in some ways the dates of the 'switches' in user behavior seem to correlate with standard pay cycles, but in other ways they really don't, so I'm a bit hesitant to say what I'm seeing is all Google's fault, but that doesn't discount the poor results people are seeing.


 11:11 pm on Jun 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Wow scottsonline,

That last example just blows me away, the interesting thing Adwords are well matched results to the query, I was one of those who did not believe G would do this type of thing to increase adwords clicks and if Mat and others at G had not said otherwise I put current results down to tuning the Algo, but that search and those results may well prove I am very wrong if no more major changes or a roll back planned.

As a side note I was talking to someone who knows nothing about SE's and was using G yesterday and was putting in a very specific query ( Non Commercial something about armor used in Roman Empire ) no accounting for taste and whatever he did G changed his search to what they thought it should be not roman empire related and he was pissed because he could not get G to use his query to give results, he said this was the first time he has ever given up a search on G and he went to Y and got the information he wanted

Are these two types of problems in someway related or two completely separate issues ?



 12:10 am on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Steve40, run that same search but remove the brand that begins with L and ends with S. The #1 spot is a blogspot blog from Company A. The #2 spot is company A selling the product on their site. #3 is another blog post from company A. This is not the same company mentioned as running mirrors all over the full search for that term. So two different takes on the same search produce 4 of the top 10 as spam mirrors, or 3 of the top 10 as junk. 4 and 5 are a gas company store. This is for gas company employees not the general public yet google's new distorted algo thinks the rest of the non-gas company world may want to buy that tumbler with the gas company's logo (goes to show how distorted the new relevancy factors are...how big a gas company is has nothing to do with a tumbler available to any organization in the world). Results 6 7 8 are actual stores. Note the trend where correct ecommerce matches are way at the bottom? 9 and 10 are spam mashup sites.

There are so many anomalies with the new search. I was able to replicate the gas company store site showing up near the top a ton of times. So with the new google just being "big" in a totally unrelated industry may put you at the top for something that's mainly intra-company.


 2:47 am on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Isn't that funny how the Adwords are right on target, but the organic are close but no cigar?

My adword clicks and conversions have gone up since more people are clicking adwords to find what they want.

Looks like the Payday update is mission accomplished.


 2:57 am on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

(I posted this in another thread a few minutes ago, but I think it's more relevant here... I've skimmed the last four pages, and didn't see anyone else hit on this, which surprises me.


I'm betting Amazon is UP (Waaaay UP)....they're coming up in the top two spots in virtually everything in my niche, along with products in other areas I personally shop for (even if they don't actually sell that product).

The next (2 and sometimes 4, if they have more than one domain) is taken up by the manufacturer's website(s)...usually a waste of time for the end consumer, as they either don't sell directly, or sell at full retail price.

The best I'm seeing any normal merchant do is now the #5 to #7 spot.


 3:03 am on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Isn't that funny...

Very different algorithms and totally different Google teams. I'm keeping my tin hat in the drawer on that idea.


 3:06 am on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Isn't that funny how the Adwords are right on target, but the organic are close but no cigar?

Now that is something to think about...

I'm betting Amazon is UP (Waaaay UP).

Yes they are up everywhere, in places they should not be, with double listings on top of that. Does Google own Amazon yet?

This is the first time I have ever checked, but BING really does have better SERPs now.. wow


 3:54 am on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Very different algorithms and totally different Google teams. I'm keeping my tin hat in the drawer on that idea.

But they are under the same management. Engineers are the same everywhere - they want to build the best products. It's the business motives that kills.


 4:00 am on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

ROTF.... First time I observed, G's main domain updated first (for removing 404 pages) and caffeine took 4 days to grab data set from live site.

So, This is total reverse, main SERP pages get updated first and they pass updated data set to caffeine ( by 3-4 days! :D


 4:31 am on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

It's the business motives that kills.

Lots of people are thinking that way about Google. I'm not.

main SERP pages get updated first and they pass updated data set to caffeine

Sorry, but I don't follow your point. Caffeine is the infrastructure for Google's entire enterprise now. Caffeine is the infrastructure that stores the all data for the SERPs, it's not just one IP address or one data center any more..


 6:28 am on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

"It was at about that time that we enabled the benchmark tool in Google Analytics. Sales stopped from Google almost immediately."

Can you elaborate on that please? I can't see where that setting is.


 8:11 am on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Found it, ours was set to share, have opted out to see if it makes any difference.


 12:27 pm on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

@ohno on or about 6/12 we opted in to the benchmarking feature. We have not had a google sale referral since. Not one. Zero. Down from many a day. It's tough to get my head around but it's almost like once we shared our data with them they shut us off. This is the longest stretch in the history of the site without a google sale by x2.

I'm at the point of removing Google analytics. Sure they promise privacy, but we saw how that went with wifi recently too.

Tedster I probably agree with you that the disaster that is the new search was not intentional. It wasn't to drive adwords. The adwords aglo team has it right, the search team does not. It's General Motors syndrome, they were so big and successful they sit around agreeing with one another that all is well and what we have is the Pontiac Aztec of search engines now in Google Mayday. Like I said tremendous respect for what Matt Cutts and Google does, but to watch his video where he's telling us it passed committee and they're happy with it makes me want to vomit in my mouth when I do a simple search on a medical term and get served malware by this new "happy" engine.

Re Amazon, they pollute the top results for a lot of my product searches now too. They must be up a staggering amount in traffic thanks to Mayday.


 2:15 pm on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Lots of people are thinking that way about Google. I'm not.

I understand you want to believe the best about Google and I get it. I used to be like you.

But look at the facts. Their stock is rocking, they constantly post profits, all the profit Google makes comes from Adwords.

I'm sure the engineers start out with their own ideas, but when it's all said and done, the bean counters are the ones that are in charge and everything has to go through them i.e. Schmidt. Every major corporation answers to profits. Google is no different.

If they can tweak the serps to show results that are almost good enough, but the adwords are better and people click them instead, then why not. They are in a dominant position and if they lose a few searchers, it really wonít matter to them. Most people who use Google do not know the difference between a sponsored link and an organic link. The people on this board take things much more seriously than the average user who happens to be what drives Googleís profits, not the expert webmasters. Everything they have done lately is to keep people on Google longer thus giving them more chances to click an ad.

Sure, there will tweaks to the algo as their always is and has been because the engineers have to justify their pay, and Iím sure weíll see more big changes in the future.

Itís not pretty and not what it used to be, but itís the way it is and donít think itís going to be changing anytime soon.


 2:38 pm on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

/\ The only problem with that theory is the SERP's are,a lot of the time, junk & there are no Adword advertisers either.


 3:02 pm on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

It's been awhile since Matt Cutts has posted anything. I'd like to hear his take on some of what we're posting here. In all of these specific examples I'd like to know how this is an improvement.

I ordered the replacement key for the suv this morning. I got to talking to the owner of the site as I called at 8am technically before they were open. Long story short business for them went down hill in May and took another turn around June 8th. So even without him understanding the technical details of traffic his business is suffering and what he said that I thought was interesting is that the major manufacturer who's name I won't mention has seen orders to wholesale distributors slip in May. Is nobody now needing accessories and parts for their cars or are they all ending up on a 2005 blog post instead of sites where they can buy what they want?


 3:39 pm on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

I understand you want to believe the best about Google and I get it. I used to be like you.

I'm very willing to see either side of Google - I'm not exactly young and naive at this game or in business altogether. Google may make their money from Adwords, but without organic search traffic, generated by really strong organic listings that make Google a destination, they would not get the ad clicks either, and they know that.

So IMO they would not intentionally degrade organic search quality just to boost Adwords. They felt this algo change was important, but in its first iteration it was lower in quality quality than they planned.

Google has 10,000 or so manual quality reviewers for the SERPs, and their feedback will gradually seep in. There are also automated quality checks, and they are more statistical in nature. That kind of QA will also tend to correct the lousy results over time.

My point is this - Google absolutely NEEDS good SERPs to continue to be strong. This new algorithm factor will be with us, however - I'm not looking for a total "rollback", I'm working to understand it better.


 3:58 pm on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

So IMO they would not intentionally degrade organic search quality just to boost Adwords. They felt this algo change was important, but in its first iteration it was lower in quality than they planned.

Whether they would or not is up to debate.

But one thing is for sure, there will be other iterations and I can guarantee when there are, there will be a whole new set of webmasters complaining about them.

Somebody has to fall for others to rise and that's the way itís always been and will continue to be.

I think the target to shoot for is somewhere in the middle so youíre not as effected by the changes and depending on what you market, having a large number of sites serves as good buffer to such events because you can do things differently for each site and when a few fall, others will rise to take its place.

I feel for those that only work with one or two sites because once those fall, it can really spell doom for a company if they have based their existence on free Google referrals.


 4:01 pm on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

@tedster I agree with you. I feel the same way that there are aspects of the algo and caffeine that are well intentioned but not yet tweaked. I am dissapointed that the initial results are so bad. I was not around in this capacity during the Florida update. I do not ever remember a time though that Google was this useless for so many personal searches. When just typing this response I did a search on the 1990s favored search tool hot with bot history. Remove with and combine to make the real engine and do the search. The first two on Google are okay, the 3rd is from 2001!,4th result is legit, 5th another dated useless resource, 6 is about a mousepad with the logo of the SE, 7 is a link to a wikipedia png file of the logo?!, 9 is legit, 10 has no relation at all. Over at Yahoo, the top 3 are good then it falls off, Bing is probably best.

That's a darn simple term to search for and Google wants to keep injecting 10 year old articles for some reason. Remove that attempt and the results are okay.

Google was always so far ahead of the other two it wasn't even a discussion. I just don't understand why they've made this huge leap backwards.

I shut off benchmarking at 9am. We've had 3 orders come in since then through Google. Awfully ironic. Switch goes on business stops, switch goes off business is back? Might be a total coincidence but it's pretty astounding if it is.


 4:11 pm on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

"I shut off benchmarking at 9am. We've had 3 orders come in since then through Google. Awfully ironic. Switch goes on business stops, switch goes off business is back? Might be a total coincidence but it's pretty astounding if it is."

I think if you can test that for 7 days & find the same then i'm gob smacked! Ours was set to on yet this week has been fine, i switched it off after your post and sales came in but hours later, a pretty normal Thursday to be honest. This week, if tomorrow is OK, will be the first week where we hit our target in weeks! One of our product feeds was showing an internal error this morning so needed a manual upload, only two products were showing for some reason!


 4:47 pm on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

@ohno, we just got 4 more orders. Literally not one order for 5 days through Google and 9 in 3.5 hours since we flipped off benchmarking. It may be a total coincidence, perhaps something in the code was causing an error on our end I don't know...but wow!


 5:01 pm on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

The interview linked in the thread below has a really interesting quote about why they might think what they're doing is an improvement over what they had, even though the results don't match the queries... Quite a few things make more sense after seeing what they're thinking is the right way to go, and really, over time and when they get it right, it probably is...

Interview With Google's Amit Singhal and Udi Manber [webmasterworld.com]


 5:14 pm on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

As on observation, Iím seeing two distinct sets of results rolling through for the terms I watch. One day it will be one set, the next it will be another.

I can gauge this because I have a large portfolio of sites to work with and in one set, certain sites are not on the first page, but in the other they are. So, when I see which specific sites are showing up on the front page, I know it's a specific set of results.

One set produces more traffic than the other. Today, Iím seeing the set that is producing more traffic.


 5:29 pm on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google may make their money from Adwords, but without organic search traffic, generated by really strong organic listings that make Google a destination, they would not get the ad clicks either, and they know that.

I think that is a great point. It is the organic SERP that made Google what it is today and I think they would want to continue to provide strong organic SERP to continue to be the destination that people go to when they want to perform a search.


 5:33 pm on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yeah, ask Yahoo! and some of the other SEs what happens when they serve ads and don't have great results too... For people to think they're serving bad results on purpose with Bing blasting away at them is not very well thought through IMO. How many search engines that serve(d) ads failed to grow or retain market share because even though they served ads they didn't have the best results, and do you think Google wants to take the chance of following in their footsteps? Personally, I doubt it...

@ arizonadude
The two results sets make sense to me from what I'm seeing too.

This 215 message thread spans 8 pages: < < 215 ( 1 2 3 [4] 5 6 7 8 > >
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