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Google Updates and SERP Changes - February 2011

 11:19 pm on Feb 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

< continued from: [webmasterworld.com...] >
< active thread: [webmasterworld.com...] >

Related AdSense Farm Update < continued from [webmasterworld.com...] >

It's a new month and our regular SERP watching thread has been neglected a bit lately. Most of the posting right now is on dedicated threads focused on specific changes - especially the Scraping algo change [webmasterworld.com] and the promised (but not yet active) campaign against Content Farms [webmasterworld.com].

But Google's perpetual update machine keeps on turning. I'm particularly wondering about sites that publish a lot of legitimately syndicated content rather than a lot of original content. Did your rankings and traffic wobble with the "dupe content update"? If they dropped, did they rebound?

I'm watching one such website and though they are mostly republished content, nothing seemed to change.

[edited by: tedster at 6:00 pm (utc) on Feb 4, 2011]

[edited by: tedster at 8:38 pm (utc) on Feb 26, 2011]



 10:38 pm on Feb 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

But what can Google really do about it? It is beyond their control. They are up against some very smart seo folks.

Google is a 200 billion dollar company their main business is Search. If they can't control copycats, I think it is better for them to get out of this business.


 10:49 pm on Feb 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

While I still some of the legit sites at the top of the list, I see an incredibly huge emphasis on the use of the keyword in the URL, even when the site is inferior in content and does not have strong backlinks. In other words, if you have the exact or close-to-exact URL you are likely psyched right now.


 10:53 pm on Feb 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

I noticed one more thing. When I type my site name, the first result is my Twitter account. If Google continue this algo, I think they will be like altavista next year.


 11:05 pm on Feb 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

WOW this is HUGE! The megabyte counter on the gmail login page slowed down and is now going backward! lol ... Not really, but the way this thread exploded and some of the stuff going on in the last week makes me think it's going to be a while before this one settles.

I'd wait a bit before complaining too much, because I doubt if what we're seeing now is what we'll be seeing in a day or three.


 11:24 pm on Feb 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

The chaos continues, 60% traffic drop overnight. I'm curious if I will reach 80% within the next few hours. Time to have a drink.

I own two long tail sites where I have removed all adsense ads a few weeks ago and these site do not show a drop.

[edited by: SEOPTI at 11:32 pm (utc) on Feb 24, 2011]


 11:28 pm on Feb 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

Same here SEOPTI


 11:32 pm on Feb 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

In my field, all the websites with $20 million+ capital behind them, and keyword domains have taken over the top 20.

Everyone else is going to be looking for a new job tomorrow.


 11:51 pm on Feb 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

In my niche, it seems that all the number 1 spots in the SERPs are taken by a single website. incredible! My google traffic has also dropped by 20-30%, but that's not the point, since i see all of you got the same flavor icecream.

It looks exactly like the wall street journal story. every major search term in my niche is completely dominated by this website. most of those terms are extremely competitive... I can't imagine how these could be proper search results.

at this point, if you search for almost anything in my niche (which is quite wide), you get the same and only website. I don't know if i'm allowed to post the url here, but i would really want to. it's preposterous!


 11:53 pm on Feb 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

It's been nice knowing ya page 1.

Hello page 2 - 5.

sigh........ boy do I hope this is temporary!


 11:57 pm on Feb 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

Wow I thought Google did not like keyword stuffed articles? The keyword stuffed articles site has overtaken mine.

This site is nothing but a bunch highly keyword stuffed articles that make little sense.

It has been ranking on the first page of a high volume term for a couple years now, guess Google thinks this is what it searchers want.

My traffic is down by 40% on all my sites... not a good day.


 11:59 pm on Feb 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

I lost 50% of traffic today and haven't changed a thing in years. Not good at all.


 12:07 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

the website i mentioned earlier, is now on the first position for 'company name' and the result is a crapy article.

the company name's actual website is on the second place. i have to mention that 'company name' is quite a large... company.

this can't be right. i bet this will be fixed within the next days


 12:14 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

Now that Bing is returning better results, I cannot imagine G would want to lose its reputation as the best and most consistent search engine for many years standing. Or perhaps we are entering a new era when the large companies, the on-demand media, the specialized sites without authority backlinks will rise to the forefront. Of course,there are many, many factors, but I expected the social media impact to be the most telling and not what I currently see.


 12:20 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

@zerillios i have a page that was ranking first page for my company name + coupon code for the last year then today it is on the 8th search result page and the landing page is a content page with nothing to do with that keyword at all... I cant imagine that is helpful to users...


 12:43 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

This is a bloodbath for legitimate sites at least the ones I monitor. The difference this time is that I'm seeing search results completely tank.

Again, if part of this change was to cut down on duplication I'm not seeing that this is having any effect. Just did a search term where sites that subscribe to a news service (all exact word for word content including the title) and the first 6 results for that term are all sites that posted the exact same article with the same title.

If this is the intended outcome I guess G did a good job with this one.


 12:44 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

Here's the irony: I have a few yellow page like, thin sites. Two of them to be exact. Hardly a contribution to the world but their traffic increased today but on my other 'good' site it actually went drastically down.


 12:52 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

name suggestion: The March Madness Update

While it's starting in late Feb, it's definitely going to cause a lot of anger in March.


 1:00 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think we should call it: 'Rinse & Repeat if Necessary'


 1:02 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

the one I'm talking about is not just 'a company'...
it's like searching for 'macdonalds' and getting the first result an aritcle talking about junk food
or searching 'apple' and getting the first result some blog post on some obscure website about the latest iphone app

i bet these kind of results could also raise some legal problems for G too...


 1:06 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

what i'm most worried about is that this will never get fixed.
back in october a lot of publishers started having some serious issues with adsense and droping eCPMs and other stuff like that (just check out the AdSense forum). we all thought it will get rsolved. it actually didn't. in fact, it's getting worse every week.

i hope the search results won't have the same faith...


 1:09 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

I own two long tail sites where I have removed all adsense ads a few weeks ago and these site do not show a drop.

There is a big clue in the quote above from SEOPTI

The only pages where I have seen a drop have had links from Ezine articles - the drops on those are about 20 points, I am assuming that the ezines lost value which caused my pages to drop.

People, I think this is the infamous "content farm" algo change that we've been expecting, where large sites with a varied articles on many subjects, monetised with Adsense, are being devalued. And if those sites link to you, you experience a hit as the link is devalued.


 1:10 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

Index of /

Icon Name Last modified Size Description

Apache/N.N.NN (Unix) mod_ssl/N.N.NN OpenSSL/N.N.NN-WWWW-WWWNN mod_auth_passthrough/N.N mod_bwlimited/N.N FrontPage/N.N.N.NNNN Server at www.example.com Port 80

Quit your moanin about the top result for some company name, at least it'a got text ... This was #1 for the 2 word phrase I just searched for ... I obscured it so WebmasterWorld doesn't outrank the original!

NOTE: They didn't change the Bleeping title on it either!
It's the Bleeping Site Name!

I'm actually confident they'll clean things up ... But the results are a bit funny right now

[edited by: TheMadScientist at 1:19 am (utc) on Feb 25, 2011]


 1:14 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

from what I can see, google is punishing a lot of sites with questionable links. A lot of sites got hit today in the markets I watch daily. Several of my sites got hit and I have no problem with it because they are low quality/neglected sites.

I think this will not get reversed. I know everyone thinks there site is perfect and can do no wrong, but try to look at your site and your marketing efforts from an unbiased view. SEO has finally caught up to the standards I have set out for myself. I have always been cautious about every link to my sites and now that day has come where it has paid off. Pretty much every site I see as spam, google has finally caught up with and dealt with appropriately. From what I can see, this was a good update, even if it hurts some of my sites, this will be better for everyone in the long run.

Some legit sites will probably get hit as well but I guess its for the greater good.


 1:29 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

brinked Are you saying this update has penalized sites with bad links?

So what happens if I link spam amazon.com or sears.com ?

I can understand devaluing links, but a penalty for a bunch of bad links would be easily gamed.


 1:38 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

Interesting idea Brinked about the inbound links. We reported to G a few months ago when we found someone was linking hundreds of sex related domains at our site. Tons of junk domains with garbage content. We sent it to G's spam division worried we were going to get penalized for it. Maybe that is why we took a hit today?

The one positive to all this, when there is no where to go but up, we are now free to make all those tweeks we wanted to make but were afraid to rock the boat before. =)


 1:46 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

Completely agree with Supercyberbob. I don't think Google is this foolish. Anybody can add 1000s of links for the competitor.


 2:03 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

What I've seen is that the link buyers have been replaced with key word/phrase stuffers. I've lost about 30% of google organic. On muy biggest phrase, for which I was position 6 and earned me around 100 google visitors I am now on page 2 position 2. The top 3 - the cleanest and oldest were untouched. The guys who were in 4 and 5 and big link buyers are on page 2 and 3 below me. What is funny is the replacements in the top 10 all have all or some of the folowing
1) Hidden text - so badly done that it is almost laughable.
2) alt and title tag abuse
3) Super high concentrations of the same key phrase.
I even saw one with meta tags content=<i>key phrase</i>, author=<i>key phrase</i>,


 2:04 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

If brinked is right, than the single spammiest and lowest content value website in my field is the only one with proper info on every little subject in my niche:)). I mean its results are put in front of magazines that have been around since the very concept of my industry first appeard, and this happened before the internet...

From another point of view... again, if brinked is right, let's all link G from wherever possible and see what happens then :)...

At least in my field, these results are definitely wrong. I don't have the best content, but i know who does, and they are nowhere to be found anymore in the SERPs... they never do any kind of linking on their own, but they do get linked hugely every day, and from alexa top 1000 sites.i also link them, sometimes more than once a day. if brinked is right, these are the results i should see. Unfortunately, it's the other way arround...


 2:07 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

I was just thinking the same thing


 2:10 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

I am seeing sites that spend a LOT of money on paid links are standing strong and not moving a bit.

The keyword stuffed article site I have been following for the last couple years now is #1 and has site links, yeah !


 2:18 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

It does look like a punishment toward in bound link situation. Whether it was too many, too fast, or bad quality, or good quality, this algo update is about links - one way or the other.

But now, I can work as a spam link hitman, taking out websites like a contract killer.

Nothing personal, it's just business.

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