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Google Updates and SERP Changes - August 2010

 6:36 pm on Aug 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

One more month gone..Do we have to create one more thread for August or just assume this is going to be the scheme of things for future?

[edited by: tedster at 6:56 pm (utc) on Aug 1, 2010]



 9:12 pm on Aug 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

I just saw something in my Webmaster Tools account that I have not seen before and I don't know what to do.

I have two versions of a domain.




For example.tld I am getting the message that Verifcation failed. Your verification file has the wrong content.

I have had this site in Webmaster Tools for over a year and this is the first time that I am seeing this.

It says that Verification was attempted 1 day ago and 29 days ago and at numberous times throughout the year before that and those were successful. The method was HTML file.

I also added a page of new content to the site today, I don't know if this is somehow related to receiving this notice and if is, I don't really know how?

My preferred domain is www.example.tld

Since adding the new page, I have not submitted the sitemap throught Webmaster Tools. Is it possible that submitting it might help?

Can someone please help me by telling me why I am receiving this message and what I can do about it?

Can this have an affect on rankings?


 11:19 pm on Aug 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've been there, gouri. Get yourself a new verification file and upload it - you'll be back in business.

No, verfication has absolutely nothing to do with rankiings.


 12:52 am on Aug 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks, Ted.

Do you think submitting a sitemap may help with this? Or is this a matter of uploading a new verification file?


 1:12 am on Aug 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

It's just verifying the site - that's all.


It's interesting that no one has posted in this thread for five days, and yet at other times this thread is flying.

There is some interesting news about the SERPs today, as reported by SearchEngineLand [searchengineland.com]

Google has made a significant change in the search results for many recognized brand names. They are allowing one domain to dominate the results. For example, SEL has a screenshot of the SERP for [apple ipod] and 7 of the results are from apple.com. It almost looks like a site search result, except for the Google Local onebox.

I've been playing around with brand searches and I found one search where the brand's site gets 8 out of 10 results for their flagship site, one result for a halo site they own, and #10 is a detractor size - brandnamesucks.com


 11:56 am on Aug 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

Interesting find Tedster! One of my sites focuses on big brand names. We've had a slight drop in traffic each week all this month of August, and then a big drop (10%) starting on the 19th... the day this change was confirmed by Google.

Definitely explains what we've been seeing on our site. Thanks for posting this!


 2:12 pm on Aug 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

I saw this the other day when I ran a competitors name Tedster. Pretty crazy stuff.


 2:20 pm on Aug 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

Lovely here we go again, I was waiting for the first person to post something about this! I Saw a big drop on another of my sites which wasnt mayday affected but relies on brand names starting 19th - down 80% overnight. Whoopie!


 3:34 pm on Aug 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

Tedster we're seeing this played out with Amazon. What's happening is they are dominating results for specific product searches. IE "brandzee metal widgetmoto cup" will return that actual exactly brand product result in spots 3 4 5+ but 1 and 2 will be amazon results from "looks like metal cup" and "plastic widgetmoto shoe" but not the exact result. Meaningless results in the top spots because obviously Amazon is now being given a huge boost by Google.

Each day I am progressively more dumbfounded by what they are doing. The results are pretty clear, they've stopped growing and are now beginning to lose market share. It will be slowly at first because the average person will take months to notice the change and give another engine a shot but once it happens....

I spent 15 minutes this morning trying to figure out how to do something in an application by searching Google. Couldn't find it, searched Bing and found it right away. It isn't just specific products etc, the Google results are just going the wrong way. There was a period up until a day or two ago where things seemed to be getting more normal and yesterdays tweak was a disaster.

I totally agree with the idea of alternating good results. Give everyone a shot when all other things are equal. What I dont get is alternating terrible results.

If I search for something specifically show me what I search for not what some ding-a-ling algorithm thinks I may have been looking for.

I just cannot believe this is part of a master plan. Microsoft couldn't have done a Mission Impossible to sabotage Google and been in anyway as effect as their own engineers in 2010.


 4:31 pm on Aug 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

Lovely here we go again, I was waiting for the first person to post something about this! I Saw a big drop on another of my sites which wasnt mayday affected but relies on brand names starting 19th - down 80% overnight. Whoopie!

I got this, but on August 3rd - 80% gone.


 2:11 pm on Aug 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

Since Mayday, a lot of changes are geared towards brand searches..A while back, a lot of us complained (and still do) about how our thick e-Commerce websites are replaced by thin affiliate sites with brands being given special importance.

Looking at this change now, I believe all this is part of a grander plan. For a while, the front page results appeared to be spammy with all the thin affiliate sites. But now with this new algo change, most of these "spammy" thin sites (that still carried brand names) would have moved to the second or third pages.

I wonder what's next in store. I somehow feel Google will next be attempting to make page numbers irrelevant by showing a Twitter-like more results.


 2:40 pm on Aug 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

this seems to be a ridiculous change...what is happening to google? showing results from the same domain so many times is a big disaster for searchers...is google digging its own grave by experimenting way beyond needed?


 3:01 pm on Aug 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

@indyrank - you are commenting about this SERP change I assume: Google Now Shows Many Results from One Single Subdomain [webmasterworld.com]. It's good to mention it in this thread, too - and the topic is so important for some query terms that it does deserve its own thread.

Something we will need to sort out over the next days and weeks is what kinds of queries get this treatment, where Google suspends the host crowding filter that we've come to expect. It's not just for brand names, at any rate.

Google, as we know, collects a lot of user data and then bases SERP changes on that data. If any change is really a disaster for the average user (and not just power users) we'd probably see it change again quickly. Problem for me is I think I've forgotten how to think like the average user ;)


 5:42 am on Aug 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Tedster - probably all part of testing of a search engine that continues to recognize and give heavy credit to brand.

I have noticed a heavy increase previously at Mayday for brand ranking for their specific product or service type. It is clear that Google placed a clear distinction that popular brands should, by default, rank high for the products and or services that they represent.


 4:22 pm on Aug 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

As a side note about brand power, I recently saw some data about Zappos. It came from one of the big data crunching businesses, I don't remember which one.

At the time of the report, Zappos ranked #7 for the search [shoes] - and they now rank #8. While at #7 Zappos received almost the same number of SERP clicks as the #1 site, shoes.com, something just over 16%. So click share for #1 was really cannibalized but the #7 contender.

Of course the entire SERP for [shoes] is filled with brand names, but Zappos clearly has achieved outrageous mindshare and popular appeal. And yet their very high click-through rate for position #7 did not boost their ranking. In fact they just fell by 1. And their brand strength also was no help - indicating to me that there's more to this "brand" thing at Google than we've understood so far.


 4:26 pm on Aug 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

@Tedster - Very interesting data about Zappos' clickthru not helping the ranking - thanks for sharing. Definately not what I would expect to happen.


 10:34 pm on Aug 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

not what I would expect to happen

Nor me. When it comes to keeping up with Google we need to appreciate that they have head start on us by a couple of thousand light years. Any "black box" model we construct in our mind is bound to be a rough approximation. So staying in present time, monitoring our search traffic and testing our assumptions regularly are all essential.

And woe be to the SEO who still believes in keyword density - or whatever the current equivalent may be.


 11:20 pm on Aug 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Well the Zappos case is one example, but one example doesn't prove that the Google ranking process disregards CTR in general. I've seen some cases that seemed to indicate that CTR does affect rankings.


 12:53 am on Aug 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

I agree with you, aristotle. It's just that the Zappo's case shows how other factors can swamp CTR, even when the CTR signal is mega-strong.


 11:53 am on Aug 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

On uk serps I am noticing some very strange looking sites rank quite highly on phrases when they appear to not be optimised for them or have many links... very strange.

Is anyone else seeing this happen?

This has started occurring over the last couple of days.

Could just be the "mix it up" algo with some new sites again!


 5:54 pm on Aug 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

i am noticing a design change... the results are now centered on the page, instead of being aligned to the left.


 1:09 pm on Aug 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

Something big is brewing on our largest and oldest site again, 20% reduction in longtail. Our 12 year history on this site shows the opposite 20% increase in traffic this time of year.

Since Mayday Google has now chopped 60% of our traffic and all of our competitors look the exact same way. What's crazy is some of these competitors are even stronger then us with backlinks, design and offerings and we are pretty damn strong.

None of our small sites are getting hit, same as last time. Just our biggy.

So I guess the message is just shotgun out sites with little unique content, loads of mashup and just a couple ibl's and fire and forget? Is this the message they are trying to send because that's the freakin message Im getting?

You are really loosing the plot here Google, you are destroying what made me focus on you when you began. After all these years I can finally see why whitehats turn grey and then go black.

Nothing like waking up to see pages you built by hand over years with constant updates, hundreds of organic links each from some of the biggest sites in the world and all unique content get replaced with a page full of retweeted spam and useless mashup information.

The party is over and I think I can hear the fat lady singing.


 2:03 am on Aug 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

traffic down 50% on one site since August 24th. the site ranks for a lot of brand names.


 9:43 am on Aug 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

traffic down since August 28th - anyone else noticed a change? This has happened over a few sites of mine

< continued here: [webmasterworld.com...] >

[edited by: tedster at 3:25 pm (utc) on Sep 1, 2010]

This 83 message thread spans 3 pages: < < 83 ( 1 2 [3]
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