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Google Updates and SERP Changes - November 2010

 5:50 am on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

Here is alexa's take on the the oct 21-22 debacle..they do see a significant shift...


but wait, there seems to be one more tweak that happened this friday, oct 29. This could either be a reversal or yet another tweak...google is enjoying the tweak game and one thing for sure, they are trying to achieve something for themselves via the tweaks...

[edited by: tedster at 2:18 pm (utc) on Nov 1, 2010]



 4:34 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

@tedster - that may well be true but we're talking about one of the biggest companies in the world with massive resources. They built their brand around search. You'd think that something as key as the domain name they'd have a clear idea by now about how it affects rankings. Am I asking too much? These guys should be experts on every aspect of what they're doing. It's, dare i say it, GLOBALLY important. If not then we're just wasting our time trying to work out how to rank better for a search engine that the creators themselves no longer understand.

I just hope that the above is a mis-quote of some kind...


 4:49 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

I don't think there's any misquote involved here - it's been pretty widely reported.

This is the inherent nature of large information systems, or even large systems of any kind. It's not a unique situation just to Google. It's why Google hires so many PhDs in statistics, because that's the most effective tool for the job.

It is very important for us as individual webmasters and SEOs to have a somewhat realistic mental model of how Google is put together. Many people think in terms of a small database and some kind of scoring or weighting system, but this model starts to break down at such a gargantuan scale.

This exact-match domain situation is far from the first time that end users saw something happening in the rankings that Google had not intended. The so-called "sandbox effect" years ago was such a thing. Googlers needed to research what was going on AFTER respected webmasters and SEOs began to talk about it widely.


 5:16 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Googlers needed to research what was going on AFTER respected webmasters and SEOs began to talk about it widely.

That's equally worrying. So if all the webmaster forums shut down, Google would be "blind" to the effects of it's own work?

I'm sure most of us here realise that it's a very complex system, but I still maintain that they should know how key elements of a page, given certain fixed parameters, can affect ranking. How can they give us webmaster guidelines otherwise? Is it the almost-blind leading the blind?


 5:18 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Lol roodle. It's scary that they don't know why keyword rich domains do well. Also destroys the idea that using name.com/keyword/URL won't help. If they don't know how keyword domains do well how do they know keyword directories don't?

Has mc or anyone else explained why so many pages from authority sites like webmasterworld are vanishing from the index? If it's a zero sum game what authority site is replacing it?


 5:43 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Well with a forum and being very social. What may be popular one day may not be the next. If a post has existed for x amount of time and the interest levels of users is not there, the traffic is not there.

This can go for older post that people may not be searching for. Even in my own niche, not so popular product pages enter and leave the index each day due to user interest. This can even be applied to a % of all sites related to you. When my traffic is up, most competitors traffic is up (industry specific and opened pages that were not indexed back in again). The industry I'm in may also be applied to a % of other sites similar to mine to disperse traffic appropriately.

Sorry, sometimes I draw myself into other conversations while focusing on specific topic. :)


 5:55 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google would be "blind" to the effects of it's own work?

Absolutely. Every business I've ever worked with - even some one man businesses - have some degree of this blindness.

With regard to Google, if they were somehow omniscient then there would be no loopholes for spammers to drive through, but we know there always have been. This effect has sometimes been called the "Law of Unintended Consequences". If it hasn't yet shown up in your life somehow, it will - so be ready for it. It can be embarrassing the first few times!


 8:44 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)


I'm certain Matt Cutt's knows the why and how of keyword domain rankings but you have to remember that how the algorithm works is the secret sauce of Google. He's their unspoken PR person so he tends to use his words wisely and with double meaning.

Maybe what he means is not that he needs to learn for the first time why or how exact matches rank but that he's saying they will re-investigate the logic that dictates that an exact match domain is the best result for an exact query.

I was hoping to get people's insight on this topic in the specific threat for exact matches...


 9:06 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Regarding rankings and traffic. I think we need to recognize there is instability in the economy and that plays a role. Today our ppc ad impressions are down 35% via three mediums over last Thursday. If we didn't have that data the 20% drop in google would set off alarms.

Bing has continued to make strong gains and for the first time ever hit 20% of organic traffic today. Yahoo was up sharply so I'm guessing they've updated something but that's another topic.

There are three major issues I see today. Keyword domains so fresh they aren't rated by site advisor yet are showing up first, geographic problems like the one I pointed out previously, and the silliness surrounding either multiple urls from the same domain or multiple urls from different domains owned by the same company in the top ten.

By geographic problems I mean long island ice tea searched for in England returning places that sell tea on long island. If I sold a Miami widget that was popular since mayday and moreso now searching for it will return listings for the city, not the product because they no longer weight exact matches as they should


 10:19 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

As of yesterday, one of my sites was down 70% in traffic. Something has changed with googles algorithm. On one of the keywords that I ranked #1, a cheesy adsense affiliate site is now #1. I am now on the second page. They have the keyword in their domain name. I can't believe that these changes will hold. I remember a year ago, my site dropped down in rankings, but then returned a couple of weeks later. One strange thing is that one of the keywords still ranks #1 as it did before this change. So these changes may be selective to competitive keywords.


 12:15 am on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

Vphoner I hope youre right. Google can't seem to go a day without a change and it's obvious they're not too worried about how many people it hurts.

The best thing for the web world would be high level fresh recruits that have run their own businesses and have had to deal with google. Maybe the phd's flicking the switches would then realize the daily changes are pushing many to the brink of survival.

Then again if my deposit box was full of google shares I would probably not care about the little guys either.

The top result on one search I did that is a competitive product search is one image, 17 words, and a link to a homepage. There are no other links. Quality in action.


 2:28 am on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google can't seem to go a day without a change

Yep, over 400 last year - by their own count. And I'll be that with Caffeine more are likely this year, but it a rather segmented fashion that will be difficult for them to even count precisely.


 2:30 am on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

From my experience keyword domains were devalued with the June 4 update - Since then they have never been the same.


 3:10 am on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

@tedster I think google's algorithm is self aware :)

I'm seeing the 3-4 listings per domain again tonight. Ugh. Why not bust those out as mini links. I'm also seeing a lot of sites appearing 1-3 that are XML imports. There's zero unique content at all. Those with good unique content are below the fold.


 5:14 am on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

has everyone see this [blog.searchenginewatch.com...] move by Google allowing 4 - though we know in some cases there are 6 plus


 5:27 am on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yes indeed. But the six is usually for one of those integrated Google Place pages - and now I'm even seeing four for some "straight" organic searches.

I guess Google is saying that for some searches they really can't find ten decent results. Their "intention engine" is running amok!


 6:42 am on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

I guess Google is saying that for some searches they really can't find ten decent results.

yeah, you think they would have plenty considering my site supplies some of the best information for it's niche and has been moved back to page 5... Now searchers get 4 pages of scraped content that doesn't even make legible sense in my place...


 9:18 am on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

Complex systems are inherently unpredictable.

Take planet Earth. If <----pls note the "IF" its macro-climate increases 2-3 degrees, does one particular country get hotter? Colder? Wetter? Drought? Do hurricanes get more frequent, or prehaps stronger, or possibly move away?

Predicting the local effect of increasing the macro-variable "climate" is in fact non-trivial. Turning the "make things hotter" dial may make some counrties colder. There will certianly be unequal distribution of precipitation and drought.
If not then we're just wasting our time trying to work out how to rank better for a search engine that the creators themselves no longer understand

I prefer to think of it seeking to exploit local conditions while someone else is worrying about a gigantic system.

A bit like salmon and tuna are have successful lifecyles by exploiting seasonal surges without understanding either fluid dynamics or the system of global currents


 1:33 pm on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

A bit like salmon and tuna are have successful lifecyles by exploiting seasonal surges without understanding either fluid dynamics or the system of global currents

So SEO now comes down to instinct? That's a very pretty analogy but the world's macro-climate doesn't go up 2-3 degrees overnight, or over 1 month, or even 1 year. I reckon a lot of wildlife, and human beings, would probably die if that happened.

We're talking about a bunch of nerds, Phds, whatever, "turning dials" while sipping their macchiatos.


 1:58 pm on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

Roodle I think they're good, normal people trying to do the right thing BUT how many have come from situations in which they were responsible for the livelihood of others? That's why they don't understand when webmasters get angry that the worst spam can get reported and be ignored, or when a dial flip to show 3 results from the same business really hurts two other businesses.

IMO they have no concept beyond their algorithms at how much they can hurt people for no other reason than a whoops.

We just started the morning off by tracing a call on Monday. It was a high five figure order. The person needed to get the req form and would email it. Never heard from Wednesday as planned. They went back yesterday to search and we were gone from 1 to Xanadu. All of the results are replaced by shopping engines? Spam filters had been tripping on both sides, alternate emails were used and the order was booked but he was semi ticked at us asking why we took the page down. We gave him an education in googlology and explained that google believes sears was the best match for this industrial component. We are still first at blekko bing and yahoo.

This is what the phds don't get. I'm sure it's great to tell the bosses they made 500 tweaks this year but does anyone here think the results today are as good as 2009? I know I don't. The spam is worse than ever. How hard is it to figure out a .edu selling Viagra is a hacked site that shouldn't be in the SERPS? Or that when I search for a lawnmower in Brooklyn I don't want to import one from Alibaba but want a site or store that sells them today?

This whole premise that it's a big site it must be good....amazon and others aren't authorities on a topic because some guy uploaded a feed of boilerplate text.

A searched type in product xyz blue .......that doesn't mean they want ten competitive search sites like shop zilla.

What will google do if ie9 automatically deletes cookies or time Warner resets everyones ip in a merger when we go to ip 4? Is chaos going to ensue as google thinks peter is Paul and Jill is Jane?


 2:29 pm on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)


Is someone having link information incorrect in GWT ? They are showing link information very old, they show me some links that I deleted them a month ago...


 3:00 pm on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

Ok, one of my best keywords that I was #1 in, I got pushed to the top of page 2. That was yesterday. Today I am back to the first page in the #4 slot. So its reversed some, but the cheesy one page (domain name as keyword) site is still in the #1 slot. Anyone else seeing a reverse of some of this damage done by google's recent update?


 4:15 pm on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

He's their unspoken PR person so he tends to use his words wisely and with double meaning.

I was actually thinking about the years of listening to Matt last night. Yes, he chooses and uses his words wisely, but not with double meaning. That's when a lot of folks get into trouble, they "listen" to him and try to find a hidden meaning behind what he actually said. He occassionally does give hints to more information for those inclined to delve into it. Most folks though are lazy and tend to go with the misinterpreted sound bites that make the rounds of the boards.


 5:54 pm on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yes, I've noticed the results have been bouncing back and forth between old and new results too the past two weeks.


 6:41 pm on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm not seeing the bounce but clearly there is some as one day sales are constant the next they are not.

I hope google begins to consider that changes aren't nameless or faceless. Their mistakes or changes that they probably don't worry about because they know they'll phase in over 3-7 days...a week of lost sales in this economy is lost jobs.

They may not know why keyword domains are first but it keeps happening and a lot of the sites are just doorways. Didn't they fix this in 2006? Do they use a sufficient number of diverse public testers? My guess is no.


 6:57 pm on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm noticing because in the newer results mine are coming up better.


 7:43 pm on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

For five years my site was on page one for just about everything I wanted, and I was in the #1 to #4 spot for I can't count how many phrases.

Now the best I can do is #5, because the first four spots are for the manufacturer. I've had an untold number of my phrases--not all, but many--bumped. Some have gone from page one to page three.

In addition to being bumped three spots because of the additional manufacturer results, I'm also being outranked for an important search phrase by an expired domain. The resulting page is one of those ubiquitous directories that some company puts on expired domains.

In most cases I can see the logic behind the new results. Most sites that are beating me are more popular in terms of traffic. Not in terms of links necessarily, but in traffic. And then there's the sites that are outranking me for reasons I could never figure out, nor could the average searcher. And, of course, there are the crummy sites with low traffic and nothing else to recommend them except the keyword-stuffed domain name.

I've noticed that it's taking me a lot longer to find what I want on Google, and I have to keep changing my search phrases to find what often should be easy to find.


 9:57 pm on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

the first four spots are for the manufacturer

Probably from multiple sales outlets mentioning the manufacturer name along with their products, even if it's not linked.


 4:04 am on Nov 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

Mrhard thats what it is. If a manufacturer has the phrase " I hate all of you" as their product description on every page but have 3000 different resellers that link back to them they will rank first. They're the authority. It's and odd approach that they will figure out doesn't work in some niches over time.

Many businesses will suffer in the meantime.


 4:15 am on Nov 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Heard from the new WM about two hours ago we took a 25% shave this weekend, all google. If it continues Monday and for days down the road, oh well.

Some tweak rolled out.

Dick baker do you mean sites that just list a ton of pages for adsense? I see these pages outranking everyone at times and I think the spammers figured out google thinks it's relevant because 30 top sites are on the page. The scrapers are summit because what was a little problem last week took over some general product category searches. I just don't see what their motivation is on the back end.


 9:21 am on Nov 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

I have seen a return to much more normal sales over this weekend. It's the closest to normal (three days)since the beginning of September. Has anyone else noticed an upturn or is this just another blast only to die off again today?


 12:54 pm on Nov 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

@Jez - traffic and sales have been OK...knock on wood...for that past dozen days. Still seeing occasionally lulls and off days. Last years was a smooth line, this year it's been a lot of ups & downs.

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