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



 12:48 pm on Jun 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

Sorry for not being clear. No, this is not normal activity (even for the depressed state we have been in since April). Expected 10 to 15 orders in that time frame.


 12:59 pm on Jun 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks, this week is exactly what I feared to be honest, dead after the best week in months! We have never seen patterns like this & just goes to show what a mess things seem to be in. How on earth we get back to consistency I do not know.


 3:38 pm on Jun 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

What an appalling day, one sale, the worse traffic since mid May too. Can't say I'm surprised after last week.


 4:06 pm on Jun 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

The latest or future algorithms could put a lot more emphasis on the "user reactions" to any given site than on its backlink profile that can be "manipulated".

Exactly, and that's why it's more important than ever to develop content with end users in mind (rather than SERP per se). P1R coined the term "visitor engagement optimization" [webmasterworld.com] a long time ago, I think he nailed it.

Food for thought indeed!

Edit: corrected term + added link


 4:31 pm on Jun 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

A week or so since I last posted and another new theory! I predicted a massive increase in traffic around 3-5 of June which didnt arrive. However I belive my logic was sound, my timing was just a month early.

There is a double effect going on which is making things impossible to pin down, caffine and the mayday algo. We know the algo was changed 1st may and we know caffine was launched the first week of June. Although independant of each other it would be hard for one not to have an effect on another with such a massive update.

What I belive has happened - start of May 90% of our pages were dropped - Im not fully convinced this was all to do with the algo update - I think this could have been 10% algo 90% caffine roll out effect so the May dance resulted in a massive shift. I would have expected the june dance to add the pages back into the index under the new algo (increased or decreased positions) however nothing happened - Dance cancelled due to impending caffine completion? Start of June caffine launched based on May 1st dance info. I.E. crawled data from April and may 1st reduced pages dance (this corresponds exactly with what we are seeing in the serps with cached pages etc)

Now you are all going to jump on me and say caffine is instant indexing - however I belive Matts comments are very revealing in the smx interview where he says caffine has the ability to assess and index in real time - ie if it deams the page important enough it gets added to the serps instantly otherwise it gets added.... in the monthly dance? which I now belive will be the start of July and this will be the first Caffine Dance. This also corresponds with what we are seeing with 5-10 of our pages being added to the 'last 24 hours' filter. These pages must be being seen as important. The other 30k which are crawled per day must be being added to the July dance queue.

This also makes sense of why some sites are coming (or have come) back faster (wikipedia) because caffine thinks their pages are important they are being added instantly (nearly 200k updated every 24 hours) .edu sites again being assessed as important so being added instantly. The rest of us I belive will have to wait on the montly dance schedule for normality to return - we arent important enough!

So with that in mind I think the future will see an increase in traffic at the start of the month then a decline through the month as positions get pushed back in favour of 'more important' instantly indexed pages.

It looks like the future is to get a site onto the 'instant indexing' list.


 5:26 pm on Jun 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

When I just typed some of the domains that I am working on in Google, for a couple of days in June I was seeing a lot more pages returned than I am currently seeing and traffic is down now. I am also seeing less pages returned at the Caffeine IP than I was for a couple of days earlier this month.


 6:12 pm on Jun 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

Is there anything special with the former Caffeine IP these days? I think it's just back in the main pool for Google now.


 6:19 pm on Jun 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

I notice that the rankings on there for keywords that I track are different than what I see on Google.com.


 6:33 pm on Jun 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

More observations

How socially sticky pages are seems to be playing a role in new rankings, at least for longtail. If the site has RSS, how many subscribers is important. If the site has comments, how many on average is important. If the site is a forum, how many different posts by DIFFERENT authors is important.

Basically anything that can be used as a measuring stick had better show something besides non-use. If you never get comments DO something to get some or REMOVE the feature (including code footprint). Same with RSS features and other social interaction. If it's not used, improve upon that or remove it, you might be downranked because of non-use and it would be better to send no data than negative data anyway.

I base this partly on a forum I found that games Google search. It places 3 to 7 "similar threads" links with snippets at the bottom of each thread but has them appearing to be forum posters complete with different names, account age and they don't all show up at once... if you refresh the page another link/snippet shows up and another and another. The fake posts show up as real in Google search and the site's rankings have jumped recently, by a lot.

edit: I'm positive Google will catch onto this, I'm not advocating you do this (quite the opposite) but the behavior and its results are worth mention. It implies site USE is important. If there is a great article in the forest and nobody is around to read it... why talk about it?

A GREAT feature I've seen recently is with blog and forum comments allowing an extra field for visitors to post their twitter ID prominently. Every comment had one on this site, it made the site interaction more real and encouraged use a great deal (not to mention getting the pages re-tweeted like crazy).

[edited by: Sgt_Kickaxe at 6:41 pm (utc) on Jun 21, 2010]


 6:39 pm on Jun 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

I notice that the rankings on there for keywords that I track are different than what I see on Google.com.

Sounds like it continues to be one of their test bed IP addresses. They probably use those results at a low volume, to gather data. So we're unlikely to see it on google.com most of the time


 6:54 pm on Jun 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

What an appalling day, one sale, the worse traffic since mid May too. Can't say I'm surprised after last week.

Now would be a good time to send out an email!

We had some pullback on some of our key phrases, but fortunately our business is not based only on those terms, and our software is a recognized name that receives the most traffic (always more than the keywords).

I have found it quite strange some of the reports I'm seeing here. Big changes like this do affect people's livelihoods sometimes, and I sure hope this isn't "beta".

There needs to be some sense of rules that webmasters can live by. They may not be able to succeed in every aspect, but it also shouldn't be a shell game. If a site is doing something wrong, even unwittingly, there should be some clear ways of determining the problem.

Right now, I feel there are some soft penalties being handed out for unknown reasons, except small hints like you might want to look at how long visitors are staying on your site, and at the content. I was doing that before now, though definitely going to be working harder on these areas now.


 8:20 pm on Jun 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hyphenated domains are seeing an increase; this appears to be more of a relaxed filter than an increase of domain KW appearance since exact match domains aren't showing the same amount of uptick. There's a reason why that filter exists...they might want to consider tightening it back up.


 12:27 am on Jun 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've also notice a few more Hyphenated keyword domains doing well but i think they might just be getting lucky with the way they did their seo and the way it is ranked now.

I have been studying the in-the-url domain names and although most took a big hit - i think it is partially in the seo mayday change so the url keyword name meams the sites are easy to over optamize.

That combo has killed many small sites based on the domain name being the url.


 3:42 am on Jun 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hyphenated domains

I've seen that across all three of the big SE's lately. Three word hyphenated domains with "perfectly" placed AdSense ads and maybe five to ten category pages linked to below their logo. On each page within a category, they are linking to every single page in said category. Quite often, there are more than a hundred links in the sidebar. Is this similar to what you're seeing?

(These are informational sites, not ecommerce ones that I'm seeing rank very high in the results. They are sites that I would never have the urge to link to or use them for reliable information and most of their inbound links are from article sites. I haven't explored the ecommerce side of things.)


 4:22 am on Jun 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

I have not followed all the discussion here, so excuse me if this has been posted. Bruce Clay had an interesting take on this. He said Caffeine is such a big change that they turned off some of the 200 factors until they debug it. And we may be seeing different results as certain factors get turned back on. Full Video on webpro news "How Caffeine Is Already Changing the Search Landscape"
Its a great video. Full of insight.


 4:45 am on Jun 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yes, it is a good video - here's a link: How Caffeine Is Already Changing the Search Landscape [videos.webpronews.com]


 5:06 am on Jun 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

I love Google's new green color (#17784a) in search results (URL). It's a limited test. I don't see if for all SERPs.

I don't know who came up with the blue-and-green combination. It's always awful. Blue is a cool color; their standard green is a warm color. The new green is a cool green.

They should have changed it 10 years ago.

[edited by: potentialgeek at 5:11 am (utc) on Jun 22, 2010]


 5:11 am on Jun 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yesterday at around 11AM GMT, I noticed a sudden spike in traffic. The high traffic existed for an hour or two before it got back to the routine sad state. However, I have noticed since then that

1. Googlebot is again crawling my site like crazy
2. The site: operator now shows a lot more pages - still a long way from showing the whole lot though
3. One of the keyword that used to get my site routinely at number 1 and was relegated to somewhere down since Mayday is once again on top - even though the traffic spike has subsided since then.


 6:26 am on Jun 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Pages caches for all top sites in my niche are outdated (1-6 Jun 2010), but google bot activity is normal.

Martin Ice Web

 7:13 am on Jun 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

I had a quiet good week. Traffic is still low ( 75%-50% ) but it seems like the results are better targeted.
I gained back somes of mine #1 results. It seems like those stupid adsense-blogs are gone. But google mixes the results with silly news pages completely out of reference to the query. Second page is completely nonsense.

On monday at around 16 PM MET i noticed a sudden drop in traffic, witch lasted up till to today.


 8:38 am on Jun 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm getting LOTS of foreign visitors now.

Mike McKnight

 8:54 am on Jun 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Tedster - thanks for the great Bruce Clay interview video link

now I have to learn about silos? back to the farm I guess,

From his remarks, the new first page is only the top 3 results, after that so sorry. also towards the end of the clip he talked about searchers doing like 3 searches to finally get to what they really want, so instead of typing in hammer, folks presumably type in equipment, then tools, then hammer, in order to find site selling hammers? (wt*) he then proceeded to explian how the Adwords ads would target the keyword hammer better ? how is that better? I don't know anyone that really searches like that, if you want a new hammer why not give site that sell hammers, not MC Hammer's website, this is way nutsoid, crazy.
The idea is that Google would get a created long tail term because folks would type in equipment, then not finding what they wanted would type in tools, still not finding what they wanted , they finally type in hammer, and collect data then come up with the new long tail result equipment tools hammer - again I ask who searches like that?
Clay talks about how G thinks that this is somehow faster and better, I think the PHD's at Mountain View have way to much time on their hands and or haven't lived among the rest of us non-PHD's nearly long enough to get any street smarts, just that Ivy Towers mental logic and no common sense. The video is about 19 minutes and addresses just about all of this and previous threads about MayDay and Caffeine, well worth your time IMHO, - mike mc


 12:47 pm on Jun 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Same thing here Tobyha, really old cache or broken cache links.


 2:52 pm on Jun 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

WMT has started reporting 404-like content today! (from a swf file). Is this anything to be concerned about? The site has been like this for years so why it had decided to flag this today i do not know.


 3:08 pm on Jun 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've been seeing those soft 404 reports for swf files too. Not sure what triggers them, but I wouldn't suggest any action until it is clear why they are in the report. I'm guessing it's a false positive, but not 100% sure.


 3:11 pm on Jun 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks Ted, just made me panick that they have appeared when things have gone dead again. Just had a very strange 15 mins, sale after sale & people adding items to the cart too-all very niche products. Dead all day then bam! I did read G's guide on soft 404 but i feel drowsy after hayfever tablets and it went in one ear & out the other!


 3:19 pm on Jun 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think Google is becoming more like a government, where employees think up nonsensical new projects to keep themselves from becoming obsolete.

Now WMT shows
http://www.example.com/a-page-that-may-come-back - Redirecting to error page (a 302 redirect followed by a 200)
http://www.example.com/robots.txt - 404-like content (huh, WT* got a nice status 200)


 3:33 pm on Jun 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Well slowly it's becoming clear that the way to get ahead in Google is to violate the WMGL.

We confirmed this morning the largest competitor in our niche is up 40% with VendorA. They've done this because Google remove all the penalties they once had on all their duplicate sites. As a result:

with the .com ommitted:

competitora, vendorastore.com, vendoraproductstore.com, cheapvendoraproducts.com, buyvendoraproducts.com etc etc etc all are ranking highly when a year ago they did not. It's blatant, the chat software ties back to the original site, the same address and phone number is used. Yet they will rank 1 2 3 on highly competitive terms.

We knew it was happening but being able to confirm the massive uptick...they win and we all lose as does the customer that thinks they're getting a choice when they're just getting mirrors.

Quality results?


 3:53 pm on Jun 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Well slowly it's becoming clear that the way to get ahead in Google is to violate the WMGL.

I'm assuming that is a "tongue in cheek" comment, but I do see many sites in my niche fully abusing the WMGL's and thriving.

@ohno - we are still mirroring exactly what you are seeing, on and off traffic. However, yesterday my dedicated server went down for and hour which didn't help - the cause? they say it was a bad network cable which sounds fishy.

I think most of my traffic is coming from a russian search engine spider.

The really odd thing is that when we do make sales, over the past month is is nearly the same number of sales every day. The natural variation seems to be gone. Google AI perhaps? The older sites seem to be suffering the most, probably because they have more historical data to work with. Who knows - it's just a big black box secret.


 4:16 pm on Jun 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Ok, could be total coincidence but cast back in the thread & you will see i switched off share data with G after some other users had seen things. The day after our sales were not as good, they died off on Sunday with Monday being DEAD(usually busy). This morning i switched share data back on, dead until around 3.30pm when things picked up, i've just had 3 sales in the last 15 mins! (i love that kerching noise!). Like i say, may be total coincidence but at the moment share data is left on(& this is the opposite to what someone else found).

[edited by: ohno at 4:25 pm (utc) on Jun 22, 2010]


 4:21 pm on Jun 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Backdraft7, I know Google is aware of this one site in particular. They list some 3k products - identical products on over 15 sites and rank for all of them. No action has ever been taken. In fact they're being rewarded more each day as I watch the number of indexed pages grow.

This is what drives me nuts. I think it's all been one big scare tactic by google. They willfully let people slam their WMGL and we can now verify some are knocking it out of the park with mirrors/spam/duplicates in Mayday/Caffeine.

If I'm a single company selling the same product on 15 different sites with different keyword combinations isn't that a violation of the WMGL? It may well be but it's a very rewarding tactic right now.

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