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Google Updates and SERP Changes - August 2010
anand84




msg:4180282
 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]

 

tedster




msg:4180293
 6:55 pm on Aug 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

We will have monthly threads for as long as people want to discuss changes in the Google SERPs, anand.

I'm interested in the question Shaddows asked in July:
Has anyone seen a -950 OOP recently? I haven't, and none seem to be reported any more.

My answer was that I haven't seen or heard of it recently. I think it's been replaced by yo-yo rankings - dayparting results that change during different parts of the day.

------

I'm also quite intrigued by the number of people who are reporting:
1. Rankings go up but traffic goes down
2. Traffic cycles between poorly-targeted and well-targeted, even though the total stays level
3. Rankings are lost after a template change, even though textual content and URLs do not change
4. Traffic fluctuates wildly during the day, or from day to day

Anyone have insights into any of that?

TheMadScientist




msg:4180311
 8:43 pm on Aug 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think 'bounce anything' is pretty noisy personally...

Search
Click Site One
See Answer Immediately Because the Site is Well Made and the Answer is Apparent
Click Back
Click Site Two for Verification
See Answer Immediately
Click Back
Search for 'Related Topic' You Also Want Info On

Both sites have the right answer and the question was answered quickly...
The results are correct with a high, fast bounce / click back rate.

Search
Click Site One
Read Product Info
Click Back
Check Sites 2 and 4 to See if One Appears 'More Trustworthy' and Check Prices...
Don't Read Info You Already Did, Click Back Almost Immediately
Finally Buy From Site 5 With No Info Because of Price, Guarantee and Site Security.

How do you know which is the right answer from the information you have?
You needed Site 1 for Site 5 to 'be the right answer'...

tedster




msg:4180323
 9:37 pm on Aug 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

Agreed - and the Google folks have been saying for a long time that bounces are too noisy for them to use. Meaning they did think about it, and they tested it, and then they ruled it out. But it's another one of those myths that doesn't want to die.

Lapizuli




msg:4180345
 11:11 pm on Aug 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

@TheMadScientist,

Great scenarios. That's exactly how it happens.


@tedster,

1. Rankings go up but traffic goes down

Isn't that an artifact of personalized SERPs? I.e., you're not really ranking as highly as you thought you were? Otherwise, the only thing I can think of is if an algo change put a different spin on a keyword and showed it to a different demographic, and they don't like what they're seeing. In which case, the high ranking should go down after a bit.

2. Traffic cycles between poorly-targeted and well-targeted, even though the total stays level

My total traffic has been pretty level, and yes, it has minor fluctuations. I don't know how to tell when my traffic is targeted or not. I'm at the mercy of conversions, and those are at the mercy of reporting indiosyncrasies and other "fluctuatables." Is there a way?


4. Traffic fluctuates wildly during the day, or from day to day

In recent months, my traffic doesn't seem to fluctuate wildly during the day, or from day to day. Today, August 1, it's normal for a Sunday. Note that I don't make major changes to my pages, as I mostly publish on sites I don't own.

3. Rankings are lost after a template change, even though textual content and URLs do not change

I think it would be easy to lose rankings after a template change. With Wordpress, some of the templates are so fiddly, and so are the plugins. For non-experts (e.g., me), one template's SEO features might result in double meta tags, for example. (And one might have to spend long hours figuring out what's going on and fixing it and thanking one's stars one noticed it before it became a problem for one.)

Back to bounces...

So Google knows it can't discern the meaning of a bounce and so doesn't try to use it to rank a site?

Interesting definition of bounce. It's slightly different from what I thought it was.

[google.com...]

Bounce is a single pageview in a visit session.

Where a visit is defined as either closing the browser window or a session timeout of 30mins (inactivity on the site).

So if I arrive on your homepage and then leave and don't come back for 30mins or more that is a bounce.


So it's not counted as a bounce if you visit site - leave site - visit site again within 30 minutes. Surely they picked that 30-minute window of time because that's a meaningful way to distinguish types of bounces.

Though they seem to take a pretty unilateral view of bounce rate here:
[google.com...]

Use this metric to measure visit quality - a high bounce rate generally indicates that site entrance pages aren't relevant to your visitors.

I'm just not sure I trust that. Surely they must already use relational data, or whatever, like returning visitor + bounce = good thing.

And they seem to say they do lots of usability testing with experimental search rats, whom they can ask, "So what were you doing when you bounced just now?"

And they love algorithms, and trying to read minds.

Maybe I'm being too Miss Marple, but I think maybe bounce rate isn't as noisy as perhaps it once was.

I have some pages with a highish bounce rate that rank well. I have others with a highish bounce rate that rank poorly. Either they don't take into account bounce rate very much, if at all, or they interpret it deeply.

errorsamac




msg:4180363
 12:10 am on Aug 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

Has anyone seen a -950 OOP recently? I haven't, and none seem to be reported any more.


Regarding the -950 penalty, I am still seeing it with one domain that I own. It's definitely an OOP because when I removed a few references of the particular phrase (which is also the domain name) in mid-June, the site returned to the SERPs. However, I checked last week and I now find the domain at -950 again. Also, this domain does not have many backlinks, so I'm sure that plays a part of it too.

tedster




msg:4180367
 12:39 am on Aug 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

this domain does not have many backlinks, so I'm sure that plays a part of it too

Yes, I have definitely see one healthy backlink pop a site right out of the -950. It seems to be applied against a site whose rankings seem artificially bumped up, so this makes some sense.

I am surprised to hear that the -950 is still around, so thanks for the report.

1. Rankings go up but traffic goes down

Isn't that an artifact of personalized SERPs?

It can be, but the reports we're seeing here have been pretty definite that they aren't looking at personalized results - other people's computers, search history is turned off, etc.

----

Bounce rate is a tricky discussion because two very different meanings of the phrase keep getting crossed. One is the Google Analytics meaning, and it would apply to any entry to the URL by any means. The problem with using that kind of "bounce rate" is that Google does not have that kind of data for every website. Toolbar data could also work in some cases, but not nearly all. So there is no "apples to apples" comparison to be had from an Analytics-based bounce rate.

The other kind of bounce rate is "bouncing back to the SERPs to make another choice." And I believe that's the one that many people suspect is in use. But that metric also quite noisy for many reasons, some of which were already mentioned in this discussion.

If Google uses "back to the SERPs" bounce rates for anything at all, IMO, it would be as a sign of the health of the entire SERP - the way the algo worked out for that query term - rather than as an indicator for any one URL.

epmaniac




msg:4180452
 6:54 am on Aug 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

my site had around 2 million site: operator results till 1 week back, my site had seen steady rise in site: operator results for last few months, although we did suffer from May Day..... but for the last 1 week, we are witnessing a steady decline in site:domain results,... as of now site:domain shows only 541,000 results..... my competitors site: declined for few days but now it is stronger than ever.... one of my competition site had only 585,000 pages only a back, now it is showing around 850,000

the other competitive sites are also not showing any sign of decline in site:domain results....

although our site:domain pages declined, we have not witnessed any drastic fall in traffic? could it be the reason that they were all supplementary pages and are now not part of google index?....

is anyone of you also witnessing similar drastic decline in site: operator result?


furthermore,

site:domain with filter for 24 hours is showing around ONLY 25-30 pages being indexed every day although we are a PR6 site and among world's top 60,000 site.

walkman




msg:4180571
 1:30 pm on Aug 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

my site: are way down but then googlebot did grab them all in the last two days.

indias next no1




msg:4180584
 1:59 pm on Aug 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

my link: numbers declined step by step and now just showing 1.
site: operators declined for the last 2 weeks, and the traffic is also getting worse day by day.

most of my keywords are down to 3rd page.

can't able to understand what is happening.

Bewenched




msg:4180632
 3:28 pm on Aug 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

4. Traffic fluctuates wildly during the day, or from day to day

Yea ... ALOT. We've made no changes to our very old site that can be attributed to the swings.

tedster




msg:4180639
 3:38 pm on Aug 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

Bewenched, can you track ranking swings that match up with your traffic swings?

BaseballGuy




msg:4180680
 4:49 pm on Aug 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

It seems as if every month on the 1st, Google rolls out some new tweek to the algo.

Few of my sites lost indented rankings on the 1st.

bwnbwn




msg:4180703
 5:43 pm on Aug 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

Do you really think a 900 is necessary as a 30 or 50 is a site killer and I am seeing these being applied.
Then again been so long since we have discussed these type of issues that a good number of the posters really don't know this exist and just say they have dropped in the serps.

steerpikegg




msg:4181049
 9:37 am on Aug 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Anyone seeing a change in UK serps this morning?

Our traffic has been steadily increasing, getting closer to pre-mayday levels every day for the last month or so, but today at pretty much 9.00am our site has disappeared for many keywords in the UK (both short and long tail)

Some are still there, but the majority are nowhere to be seen.

Anybody else noticed anything like this ?

[edited by: tedster at 12:18 pm (utc) on Aug 3, 2010]
[edit reason] moved from another location [/edit]

tedster




msg:4181601
 4:32 am on Aug 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

From the reports here, there seem to be more webmasters having trouble ranking when someone else "republishes" their content on a stronger site. They say they are getting filtered and the copycat ranks.

This was always a sometimes problem - attributing original authorship on the web is a challenging problem. But if there is more of a problem now, as it seems, it started around Mayday - and that alog change was designed to emphasize "sites" that make good destinations for Google Search users, more than just ranking pages. Ar least that's what some Google spokespeople seemed to be saying.

Anything to this idea from what you folks are seeing?

aristotle




msg:4181715
 10:57 am on Aug 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

This was always a sometimes problem - attributing original authorship on the web is a challenging problem. But if there is more of a problem now, as it seems, it started around Mayday - and that alog change was designed to emphasize "sites" that make good destinations for Google Search users, more than just ranking pages. Ar least that's what some Google spokespeople seemed to be saying.



Tedster - The implementation of Caffeine was supposed to enable deeper and more frequent crawling, and it seems to me that this would improve Google's ability to identify the original source.

Or are you suggesting that Google is intentionally promoting more established trusted sites even when they know that another less-established site was the original source?

munkiestyle




msg:4181738
 11:52 am on Aug 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hi everyone. I've been watching long enough, I thought I'd better join in!

As regards to the matter of Google identifying the original source. One thing I've noticed recently is that newer pages from other sites which steal my content (or other peoples) almost word for word are ranking irritatingly highly in the SERPS now.

I'm not talking about recent pages either. I might have written a page 4 or 5 years ago and it'll rank pretty well for its keywords. Then a spam.blogspot or wordpress site comes along and steals that page and within a few weeks it's sitting in the results near my site! It's not like the two pages were created around the same time or there is anything new to add to the page.

I wonder if Google's desire to return the latest news and results - although in theory a good idea - has favored young spammy pages over older original content?

I have no problem in loosing in the SERPS to a quality competitor. But I'm sick of getting shot down by spam sites which are a few months old and reproducing my content in poor English.


PS. Although my site was affected by Mayday it wasn't a drastic drop, and for the last 30 days I've seen a slow but steady return in traffic. I get about 10k uniques a day so have a reasonable understanding about traffic trends.

tedster




msg:4181749
 12:23 pm on Aug 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

are you suggesting that Google is intentionally promoting more established trusted sites even when they know that another less-established site was the original source

Something like that - at least the boost to well-established sites is intentional. The fact that original authors get squeezed out would be an unintentional side effect.

Victor1




msg:4181816
 2:31 pm on Aug 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

I am still seeing the minus 950 penalty on many small sites.

Also have noticed content scrpped or re-worked from sites I run does better then the original.

tedster




msg:4182231
 3:24 am on Aug 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

I am still seeing the minus 950 penalty on many small sites.

Are these all sites that used to rank on the first page for that keyword?

errorsamac




msg:4182331
 9:32 am on Aug 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yes, I have definitely see one healthy backlink pop a site right out of the -950. It seems to be applied against a site whose rankings seem artificially bumped up, so this makes some sense.

I am surprised to hear that the -950 is still around, so thanks for the report.


After posting a few days ago that the site was still at -950, I went and de-optimized the site. I just checked now and the domain is back at the top of page 3 in the SERPs (which is where it was before the OOP and probably where it belongs).

The site is a 9-page website that was launched back in April of this year and it has around 130 backlinks (good quality).

Victor1




msg:4182426
 1:07 pm on Aug 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

Tedster: those sites used to rank on page one with good traffic.

I went and de-optimized the site.


Errorsamac: What specifically did you do to de-optamize? It would be nice to know how far you went...

errorsamac




msg:4182551
 3:56 pm on Aug 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

The site I was working had "Example's Widget" as the main keyword. However, the page also had "Examples Widget" as a technically mis-spelled keyword. The "Examples Widget" keyword is what people typically type in when they are searching for this term which is why it was included in the page. Also, the domain name is "blueswidget.com" so my initially thinking was that it was safer to put the keyword a little more often than usual. Anyway, here is roughly what I did to fix it:

1) Changed "Examples Widget" to "Example's Widget" everywhere. This affected the title and page content. This change was made on the title/content of the main page and the title only for all sub-pages.

2) The main page of the site had 3 versions of "Example's Widget" in the meta keywords tag (Example's Widget, Blue Example's Widget, etc). I trimmed it down to just one "Example's Widget" keyword.

3) Across every other page on the site, I trimmed meta keywords down to just a single keyword.

4) In the actual page content (including image alt tags), the main page of the site had the keyword and typo'd version sprinkled in around 7-9 times (roughly, I am going off of memory on this). The site now has the keyword appear 4 times.

5) I did not "decrease" any h1, h2, bold, etc. tags on the site. What I mean by that is I did not change an h1 tag to an h2, or an h2 tag to a bold tag, etc.

6) Site navigation/layout did not change at all. It was strictly decreasing the number of times the keyword appeared on the page.

Victor1




msg:4182571
 4:49 pm on Aug 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

Trimming the meta keywords down on the rest of the site to a single keyword across the other pages is not something i have tried. I just did it to test.

tedster




msg:4182577
 4:55 pm on Aug 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

Note that you can completely forget about the meta keywords element - Google has not used it as a ranking factor for a very long time.

Q: Why doesn't Google use the keywords meta tag?
A: About a decade ago, search engines judged pages only on the content of web pages, not any so-called "off-page" factors such as the links pointing to a web page. In those days, keyword meta tags quickly became an area where someone could stuff often-irrelevant keywords without typical visitors ever seeing those keywords. Because the keywords meta tag was so often abused, many years ago Google began disregarding the keywords meta tag.

[googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com...]


If anyone's test shows something different, that would be BIG news.

Victor1




msg:4182638
 5:58 pm on Aug 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

Tedster:

of the 70 plus sites I run about 1/2 of which were hit with the june 3 update, on 3 i changed only the meta keywords on the home page - and sure enough all were measurably boosted in rankings. No other changes took place except the ping after the keyword update. So from my tests at least, it seems to fit into the new agorithm. Unless of course it was just that the site appeared "updated".

tedster




msg:4182666
 6:28 pm on Aug 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

That is correlation, yes - but it doesn't establish causation. In fact, with Google's complex algorithm, establishing causation can be almost impossible in a lot of cases.

So it would help a lot if we get other such reports about the keyword meta tag, and at least build up a higher number of anecdotes. Even if Google is experimenting with using the meta keywords tag again, I think it's unlikely that it would be the cause of any penalties.

Have you looked at a cross-sample of meta keyword tags? What a swamp that is! Google has much better ways to determine relevance.

TheMadScientist




msg:4182685
 6:57 pm on Aug 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

Uh, it should be fairly easy to put a completely unique string in a keyword tag and search for it after spidering shouldn't it?

And, I would think there's a better chance if it's used it could be a minus rather than a 'plus', so if there is 'cause' and 'effect' from it, maybe it looked spammy or stuffed before? IDK

errorsamac




msg:4182686
 7:00 pm on Aug 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

Because the keywords meta tag was so often abused, many years ago Google began disregarding the keywords meta tag.


Do you think they look at them when assessing a -950 OOP penalty on the site? Spamming meta keywords is just another form of over-optimization, even if your attempted "optimization" method is from 1998.

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