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Google Updates and SERP Changes - November 2010

WebmasterWorld Senior Member

Msg#: 4224860 posted 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]



WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Msg#: 4224860 posted 1:21 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

re "conspiracy theory":

here is my take...

1. G does know very well what they are doing

2. that does only apply to a core team of around 10-15 people

3. G has had and still has the goal to achieve the maximum with as little effort as possible (coding, hardware, etc.)

4. Calculating a relevancy set of URLs out of billions of pages with 100+ factors is just Mathematics, not rocket science!

5. 10 people tweaking a formula for the rank of billions of URLs and then 10 more people trying to combat SPAM with more formulas after that (I still believe more than ever: there are many calculation rounds - first rank, then filter, iterate!) creates the ocean of the SERPs. And that is in constant change...

As I understand companies, I really do think we are in the hands of around 20 core people behind the core product of Google. The rest are maps, mail, admin, sales, network engineers (poor guys just plug boxes into racks and configure routes) and so on.

There is no uncontrollable anonymous Google, they are just damn good to keep these 20 people out of the line!

So: there are only 15-20 geeks tweaking a set of formulas... each with an organizing mind on top of the these 2 core groups. That's all, the rest are urban legends and a bunch of underpaid guys driving through the world with cameras on top of their cars!

2 pennies


Msg#: 4224860 posted 1:40 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

I disagree with you pontifex. As I pointed out in an earlier thread, few people have an understanding of the scope of the Google index. Its not one program. Its impossible to be one. Its a group of programs controlled by a core. Just like an operating system. Its the only way they could serve billions of people. Think about this for a minute. In the US alone there are 300 mil people. If 1 out of 3 did a search tonight, that would be a hundred million searches. Several will do more than one. The scale of that software is beyond what people can grasp.
They need teams of people just to monitor the core and the index. The change control group must be very large. If there is a problem in the index(and I believe there is), its extremely difficult to troubleshoot live software.



Msg#: 4224860 posted 1:45 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Then maybe it would be better if they downed the lot & sorted it out once & for all.....hold on....maybe that is what they ARE doing :p

Seriously, when you get spurts of normality what exactly can you do to try & achieve that all of the time? I honestly believe it's in a pickle, imagine how much tax revenue must be being lost!


5+ Year Member

Msg#: 4224860 posted 1:49 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think that I learned not to waste any sleep on the why's and wherefore's of Google's strategic direction a long time ago. The question from any seo / sem marketers perspective should be is Google's profit value worth the effort ? I would say that it has continually diminshed over the past 5-6 years, now to the point where it's time to focus on other opportunities.


Msg#: 4224860 posted 1:52 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hmm, up to 2 weeks ago we were making from Google traffic, before May Day this had been steady, you could predict the next weeks figures with great accuracy. These days I could come in to 100 orders or I could watch a clock all day. We started in 2002 so not new to this game.


WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Msg#: 4224860 posted 1:55 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

With all this talk about traffic and sales - we're not talking about Google Updates and SERP changes any more, and that's why this thread is here. Has anyone tracked there bad days or good days back to changes in ranking, or changes for specific keywords?


Msg#: 4224860 posted 1:59 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

That seems to be the problem though Tedster, whenever I have tried it has been impossible, different browsers giving different results minutes apart.


WebmasterWorld Senior Member

Msg#: 4224860 posted 2:09 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

We are in the same situation as OHNO and others. I could predict sales out for an entire year based on 10 years of traffic and sales history. The post May day drop in traffic and sales is directly related to the SERP changes (or perhaps more appropriately the ALGO and system changes) at Google. I personally find this thread very useful in tracking these SERP changes by observing the direct impact on our sales and comparing our experience to that of other sites. How else can you quantify SERP changes than by observing shifting traffic levels and wild variations in sales conversions?

As an update: I had more sales in the middle of the night last night than all day yesterday. That is very odd indeed. It's as if the switch is shut off during the day, then turns on at night, yet our traffic levels remain stable or increasing. Spot checking hundreds of key phrases shows us still at the #1 and #2 positions (using trained spotters around the globe) . Again, I believe it's buying human visits vs. non buying machine visits.


Msg#: 4224860 posted 2:17 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)


I am new to this forum. Over the last 2 weeks i have eagerly read all your comments. Guess what... we are in the same boat. I thought i would provide some information as to what has been going on my end.

In total, our google traffic is down 40%. There has been slight ups and downs but nothing significant. Things i have spotted:
1. SERP's have shown really old page titles we have not used for years
2. In webmaster tools, sites pointing/linking to us has gone completely bonkers....
3. We have found some odd domains pointing to our site.....we are a uk business and there is some Italian government site pointing to us. our site also comes up when you type some of there keywords.
4. We have had some duplicate issues (meta tags) in webmaster tools for the last 6 months and google just has not got its head round it.

I have to say, i feel really sorry for small business's who have lost 80% traffic...come on google sort it out.

We can cope as we have several streams of revenue from other online marketing sources. However, dont get me wrong..... this has probably cost us a fair packet so far. This ultimately will result in several members of staff lossing there job.

Something is amiss - this does not feel like an algo change.


Msg#: 4224860 posted 2:40 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

conspiracy theory

Hacked by Chinese, Western world goes into turmoil as tax revenue plummets. Instability...crash.


G has become self aware and judgement day is around the corner, where's Arnie?!

Still, it would be easier than this pain eh?


Msg#: 4224860 posted 3:07 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

I have dipped about 12.5% in traffic so far this month comparing to the beginning of last month. I have noticed are more of my top terms being knocked down by the originating brand as we are a reseller.

In addition, if you search brand + equipment, there are localized results now that were not there last week. In our industry, there are so many sites that appear as legit, but will sell counterfeit equipment. Just because it's local to you, doesn't always mean its your best option. I'm not trying to be biased to other competitors, but have been doing SEO specifically in this market to understand legit sites vs. "I'm selling out of my home" where no trust can be established.

I have to say since the 21st of October, results are completely messy. I don't even want to click anything anymore on Google lol.


WebmasterWorld Senior Member

Msg#: 4224860 posted 3:35 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm still concerned about the huge increase of links in the webmaster tools area "Your site on the web" > "Links to your site" which now shows 167,063 total links to our site! These links appear to be from some kind of automated aggregation script that may be hammering our site with garbage traffic. I'd be interested to see if other affected sites have similarly high numbers of links and suggest you go check out those links (if you have a few years worth of spare time). This may be why we are seeing higher traffic, but it's coming in from all these garbage sites, hence the low sales conversions. Just some food for thought.

@tedster - is there a topic for this garbage linking subject?


Msg#: 4224860 posted 4:07 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Backdraft so you believe there are machine visits that show as google keyword searches?

Traffic is just bizarre. Not converting or good traffic at all. I think I see some of the problem the duplicate sites are all back in the SERPS including blatant trademark violators.


Msg#: 4224860 posted 4:15 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm seeing cached pages from over a year ago.........


Msg#: 4224860 posted 4:16 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

One thing we have just found in our logs which has explained a lot - have you all heard of the mj12bot?

Just found this is spidering all of our nofollow links which explains our strange increases in traffic at random times of the day without the correlating sales increase.(traffic monitored through the nofollow which we always considered to be real people)

The bot has been blacklisted to try and get some clean figures.


Msg#: 4224860 posted 4:33 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Webmaster is showing close to 300,000 links pointing to our site.....hmmmm

We too are getting terrible traffic. Our conversion rate on organic is down around 25-35% (excluding brand words)


WebmasterWorld Senior Member

Msg#: 4224860 posted 4:55 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

@andy - I went to the Majestic-12 website (majesticseo.com) and entered our domain. It reports a huge spike in backlinks starting about September 1st, which coincidentally is when our troubles restarted (post Mayday). I wonder if Google is interpreting these same numbers as paid links. Now I'm REALLY scratching my head! and WORRIED!

BTW, we are on to another really bad sales day. Not sure how many of these drops we can endure before we have to resort to food stamps & welfare (since there are no jobs available anywhere).


Msg#: 4224860 posted 5:02 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

At one point our forums came under attack from spammers. Those spammers then applied link building to pages on our forums where they spammed. The end result was them sending us links from sites they hacked linking to hundreds of domains per page.

Now, all I can do on my end is delete all pages where I had spam on my site and hope for the best. Does it change my back link profile? Of course, but not at my fault. I can not imagine Google penalizing a site for something out of our control.


WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Msg#: 4224860 posted 6:24 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

have you all heard of the mj12bot? Just found this is spidering all of our nofollow links which explains our strange increases in traffic at random times of the day

I'm glad you figured that out - but it's far from the only bot out there. In fact, there are alao a lot of human traffic sources that have nothing to do with Google.

If you are trying to understand your site's relationship to Google Search, then you need to isolate only that traffic in at least one report. When I say it that way, it sounds plain obvious, right?


Msg#: 4224860 posted 6:39 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

One algorithm change I have noticed as it makes sense being close to the Holidays is the increase in rankings for shopping.com type sites. I have seen this in my industry, however, I doubt anyone would want a network gbic for Christmas.



WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Msg#: 4224860 posted 6:47 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

You know those pesky rankings where the keyword is one you want to rank for, but the URL Google chooses is a high level one, rather than the "best" page? I'm noticing that several of those have been turned around now.

Again - that might be holiday specific, taking search traffic right to the transaction page for a product. But I hope it's a stable shift, forever and ever ;)


Msg#: 4224860 posted 6:54 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Right, you would think a high-trusted established brand when a user searches a specific part number would return a part number page and not a category page. I see this all so often. I believe the result stems from the popularity of the keyword given compared to stats compared to where it is linked from internally.

Even so with my site, the intent remains the same. We want a user to sell to us, request a quote, email or chat live (As the same goal can be achieved on a product or category page). In our industry, people already know what they need without all the clutter of information for support and reviews.


Msg#: 4224860 posted 7:20 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

@network yes. All you have to do is submit an amazon or buy feed and you'll rank in the top 3. I won't buy a 4k router from amazon, but all I'd had to do to disrupt you is list a bunch of those items online through them and it disrupts the entire page of SERPS. Add this to the top 3 being from the same domain and it's bad news.

And also the category pages being returned instead of product pages has gone on since mayday.

One change each year at this time, all the keyword domains are back. The ones where a company sets up 10 sites selling the same item but with different keywords. Those are all ranking again. Sometimes the same company will be 5 of the top ten results on the first page, all of the products are the same x 5000.

I know that's supposed to be a penalty which as of today is defined as more traffic?


Msg#: 4224860 posted 8:38 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

One change each year at this time, all the keyword domains are back. The ones where a company sets up 10 sites selling the same item but with different keywords. Those are all ranking again. Sometimes the same company will be 5 of the top ten results on the first page, all of the products are the same x 5000.

I do this with one other domain. However, it was legitimate as our company acquired another company. Therefore, for customers and brand recognition, it's important to ensure the same type of products and quality is delivered to both domains (audiences respectively).


Msg#: 4224860 posted 10:26 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yeah these aren't legitimate unless you consider opening brandkeyword dot com another cheapbrand dot xom

Same products and part numbers different keywords to get SERPS.


Msg#: 4224860 posted 11:59 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

If they are having trouble with the WMTools and the Analytics, what makes us think everything else is working good?
These are not just tools for us. I am sure they also use them or at least a subset of them. What I mean is, I doubt they developed tools just for us. I suspect WMT is just extracted from their tools. They already have a large database on the website, why not share some of the information with the webmaster.

Based on the comments that the CEO has made, the information that has become public in the "Street view" program, Buzz and others, its very difficult for me to believe they do not monitor the analytics.



Msg#: 4224860 posted 12:34 am on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

Tedster, in order to research this more accurately, it might be helpful to narrow the variables. Just an idea, maybe isolate things a little.


Msg#: 4224860 posted 4:12 am on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

Here's an interesting bit:

Google traffic same. Bounce rate down 10% calls carts through the roof. It really is that 10-15 percent of traffic that they're tweaking that's critical.

Some SERPS were better today but is this the rollout or rollup?

When it gets right down to it the cream rises to the top. Problem for google is the cream has gone missing and the next best thing is junk. Some
Product searches return one store when last Christmas same
Item it was page after page. The one store is a category page. That's what I don't get...why did so many pages get gone.


Msg#: 4224860 posted 4:44 am on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

the new google since oct 22 is ALL JUNK...... what are the odds of this being only a temporary test and google reverting back to prior oct 22 state?


5+ Year Member

Msg#: 4224860 posted 7:19 am on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

A lot of weird stuff is happening in the SERP's I monitor. Google is ranking pages of a website instead of the actual domain. For example if www.widgets.com was ranking for widgets, google is replacing that SERP with www.widgets.com/widgets

But then it will remove it...like it is doing some testing.

What is weird recently is I am seeing the most authority site in this niche now rank with the URL widgets.com/?PHPSESSIONID=asdasda34324

Now this is really alarming, why would google rank a site like this with a session id attached? This tells me that there is something wrong on googles side and I really hope they fix it soon.


Msg#: 4224860 posted 10:24 am on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

We are basically seeing a lot more traffic to our index page (however this traffic is worse than normal). Both the category and product pages have taken a real bashing. Goodbye long tail keywords...

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