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Google Updates and SERP Changes - February 2011
tedster




msg:4261946
 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]

 

pontifex




msg:4272645
 11:56 pm on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

SEO was always a game of countermeasures. It is too early for me to come up with some, but after careful investigation, I now see a drop by really 12% in traffic on our site. That correlates to the statement they issued. It also means around $1,000 daily less income to our company. Not funny and not yet clear how to react on that. Let the weekend past and analyze is my plan.

Again, like on MayDay, where does that traffic go? Some came up on MayDay and said: good, I went up by XY%... where are these webmasters now. I would rather hear the positive stories and the reasons to rank than what to NOT to do...

P!

TheMadScientist




msg:4272648
 11:58 pm on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

We should band together and keep a tally on how much the new google update has cost our businesses... a daily tally... then send it to our congress people. Additionally we should also keep a tally of how many employees and contractors we have/had to terminate as it relates to this craziness.

Then add up all the money the page(s) in the top 10 now made and I'll bet it balances out ... Once again, Google did not eliminate the top 10 results ... They eliminated your page(s) from them ... Your rankings aren't an entitlement because you've been there or done something ... If they were, then the sites that were there 1st would have never moved for you to be there in the 1st place ... You took someone's spot away ... Someone took yours ... It's up to you to get it back, not an obligation for Google to give it to you.

Lenny2




msg:4272649
 12:00 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

There is a theory floating around that the cause of this massacre is too many pages with not enough link juice to support each page. Whereas before the massacre old websites with great content were getting pretty good rankings because of the old "trust" factor, today's market is more closely tied to how many links do you have versus how many pages you have. Based on my site's performance I we fit this model.

The problem I have with this theory is that it fundamentally contradicts what Matt Cutts said on video a couple years ago. Matt said, when asked (and I'm paraphrasing here) "how many pages can/should I update at one time in google to avoid a penalty..." Matt responded, "it does not matter how many pages you upload at one time... upload them all at once because the google bot will get through them and index them accordingly."

Based on this new theory, if it is correct (and this new theory matches my site perfectly), then it does matter how quickly you upload content to the web because if you upload too fast and your users don't link to you as fast you will see a reduction in your rankings.

TheMadScientist




msg:4272654
 12:02 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

Any change to Google's algorithm is a zero-sum game. Some websites win, some lose.


There's some REASON in this article from CNN:
[money.cnn.com...]

Lenny2




msg:4272664
 12:13 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

Then add up all the money the page(s) in the top 10 now made and I'll bet it balances out ... Once again, Google did not eliminate the top 10 results ... They eliminated your page(s) from them ... Your rankings aren't an entitlement because you've been there or done something ... If they were, then the sites that were there 1st would have never moved for you to be there in the 1st place ... You took someone's spot away ... Someone took yours ... It's up to you to get it back, not an obligation for Google to give it to you.


That is obvious... my argument... my frustration... my problem is that the sites that are ranking in the top spots are not producing quality content. In fact, 2 positions in the top 10 for a key term we used to be ranking for are from sites that scraped content from our site. One of the sites even has a link pointing to our original content straight from the page!

My point is that the extra money for those two adsense sites is going to Google. (And I know it is a conspiracy theory... and I'm sure that they are not directly sending adsense sites to the top results...) I'm just stating that the argument that the top guys are replaced by a new crop of sites who in turn make money/jobs etc. is not a rock solid argument. It's especially clear when the content that is being promoted is stolen off of other sites...

Put another way, it is not sustainable. People have a desire to see new, fresh, good content. The scraper sites can only survive by either A. Creating cheap content B. stealing the content from other sites. Their adsense dollars only pay out so much. In our case we are actively creating deep, positive content and carefully matching it to our products so that the users and the search engines have a good experience. The process takes time and money. Sure Scraper sites are on top today... but, that certainly does not mean they are generating as much interest/income for the economy than my site was.

walkman




msg:4272665
 12:14 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

"There is a theory floating around that the cause of this massacre is too many pages with not enough link juice to support each page."


That's absolutely false in my case. If I were a betting man, I'd say that short descriptions and sparsely populated pages are to blame for many sites. That has been an ongoing debate for years and those pages fit google's "not that useful" criteria.

Pages like "What's cancer" or "How old was xx when he played xx movie" that may have only a few sentences.

pontifex




msg:4272676
 12:20 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

Just out of interest, guys - if you run AdSense on your site, do you have the conversion numbers at hand for:

Thu, 10th of Feb: 0.62% (peak of traffic this month for me)

Yesterday: 0.84% (after a 12% traffic loss)

I based that on a 6-digit unique visitors number daily. Fluctuations of 0.20% on AdSense clicks on our mainly eCommerce site means a significant shift in traffic nature.... either kind of traffic OR amount.

Joshmc




msg:4272678
 12:22 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

"There is a theory floating around that the cause of this massacre is too many pages with not enough link juice to support each page."

@walkman I agree that is totally false as well, you can see with medium ecommerce sites in the niches I look at with hundreds of thousands of pages and hanrdly any links to justify there rank to page ratio.

Lenny2




msg:4272680
 12:31 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

"There is a theory floating around that the cause of this massacre is too many pages with not enough link juice to support each page"

Yeah, it's especially clear that that is not the case since at least one scraper site that is ranking better today is actually linking back to the original content on our site... obviously linking isn't affecting the changes too much.

brinked




msg:4272681
 12:31 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

judging by the many new members posting in this thread, and the activity I am realizing how big this update was, probably even bigger than the October 22nd update.

Matt Cutts did go on the record to say google is going to change how they look at links, and I 100% absolutely believe this to be the cause of this latest algo update.

Someone reached out to me this morning, while I was sleeping, my phone was ringing off the hook until I answered, a client of mine gave him my number, he didnt know what to do his voice was shaking and he told me his site lost all of its traffic which was generating a nice amount daily, and he is going to have to lay off all of his 12 employees. It's hard to tell someone like that to not worry but I do not know what to tell him right now.

The good web marketers will use this update to their advantage, I have been preparing for this day for a very long time. Google is taking hard action against paid links, that is what this is mostly about. What is a paid link? well if you go to buy a paid link they usually come in the form of a sitewide link, homepage link, blogpost review with 3 links etc, it is not very hard to catch on to a paid link profile. If most or all of your links look paid, you are probably suffering right now.

I think googles rationalization is this...PR3+ links are costly, many competitors will not spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on backlinks to sabotage a competitor, so if a website has a suspicious amount of pr3+ sitewide/blogroll/homepage etc links with repetitive/similar anchors, it will knock that site back.

I have about 22 websites that I run, some are really old, the older neglected ones were all hit, and all have paid looking backlink profiles, all my regular sites are thriving and did not take 1 hit at all. Not all of them even have unique content or are frequently updated, but I stick with natural backlinking methods so these sites all saw a small boost from when some of the competitors ranking ahead took a nose dive.

Also a small note, I reported 4 websites that all have poor quality content and backlink profiles (mainly hidden links) and all 4 of them are now off the first page! Maybe google finally got around to my spam reports, or maybe they finally got things right.

jgold454




msg:4272682
 12:32 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

It's apparent that the media has its eyes on this update and on this webmasterworld thread for gauging its impact. Shouldn't we try to give more specific examples of "update gone bad" and/or "update gone good" if we can do it in a way that doesn't violate this forums TOS? This could give journalists real examples of which they can maybe help us and google fine tune this thing..

netmeg




msg:4272686
 12:38 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

I wouldn't advise it. We've used up our quota for that this month already.

honestman




msg:4272690
 12:53 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

I have never received an answer on this. I have "nofollow"s on the site for paid advertisers, as Google suggests. Can these nofollows, on a very huge site, be a negative trigger? In other words, if people wish to advertise on our many sites, can that be held against us--in this iteration, for example? I know that all is speculation, but some rich pages have inexplicably fallen in ranking while they are full of editorial content and links out. And is it possible that linking out too much is now being penalized in general even when balanced by links in.

TheMadScientist




msg:4272693
 12:56 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

It's apparent that the media has its eyes on this update and on this webmasterworld thread for gauging its impact. Shouldn't we try to give more specific examples of "update gone bad" and/or "update gone good" if we can do it in a way that doesn't violate this forums TOS? This could give journalists real examples of which they can maybe help us and google fine tune this thing..

How many times have they turned off the filters and floated the junk to the top right after an update since you've joined?

How many times have they made adjustments for days or weeks after a new version of the algo rolls out? Your join date is earlier than my first one ... You KNOW how things work.

This thing just rolled out ... They will keep adjusting if ANY of the previous named updates I can remember reading about are an indication of the way things work when they roll out a big change.

krikomoush




msg:4272718
 1:47 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

Can we start setting up some type of screenshots comparison of the old(64.233.179.104) and new results?

netmeg




msg:4272724
 2:03 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think we're wary of specifics here.

jgold454




msg:4272729
 2:05 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

I hear you "TheMadScientist" and I agree. It just seems that this time there are a lot of media eyeballs on this one and I wanted to throw it out there...

Kelowna




msg:4272731
 2:08 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

I have not seen any changes to my websites at all and never knew there was an update at all until I dropped in here to see whats new.

Anyways, after reading through this thread could it be part of the problem is like google discounting low quality scraper and article sites, and some of those sites linked to you in those articles and scraped content so now your backlinks dropped?

walkman




msg:4272733
 2:09 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

I guess we all have to wait for Google to get some feedback and then re-tweak. This never fails and it will probably be going on for many months with sites coming back on op, disappearing totally, reappearing, and then settling somewhere. It's heartbreaking for those on the losing side, especially those with employees to pay but not much we can do.

Lenny2




msg:4272748
 2:42 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

I don't want to make a mockery of this... and nobody feels the pain of these events worse than I do at this point... but, this link: [www2.choralnet.org ] reminds me too much of google right now... on it's little pedestal, conducting the rest of us... and then rolling on the ground laughing while we are broadsided wondering...what the heck happened.

But mostly, this kid is GREAT and this is a great video!

tedster




msg:4272751
 2:49 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

Yes, for quite a while now it's been common for a significant algo change to be followed by days of churn. My own take is that there is some kind of statistics based machine learning and self correction going on.

While something about backlinks may be in this mix - probably more of a footprint thing rather than a weighted count - I doubt that this is the core of it. In fact, I'm thinking right now that it's a relatively new algo factor that's been under development for a while.

And my best guess about that factor is that it is some kind of enhanced semantic analysis, maybe one with its roots in the phrase-based indexing technology [webmasterworld.com]. That stuff generates raw data with more uses than a swiss army knife (just look at the patents!) and its author, Anna Lynn Paterson, did go back to Google after her Cuill project failed.

I know that some UGC sites, such as forums, have taken the 40% traffic hit that others here are reporting - and we all know that UGC is going to be semantically quite different than carefully written content and marketing copy.

SEOPTI




msg:4272752
 2:55 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

Not again this patent LOL, this is a monster, it took me two years to fight the -950 re-ranking stuff.

I see a similar pattern, it is site-wide, it is algorithmic demotion which probably uses a score. But of course if they want to analyze co-occurrence of phrases this is the best patent they can use.

dickbaker




msg:4272762
 3:11 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

Pardon my ignorance, but what is UGC?

browsee




msg:4272764
 3:11 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

Hi Tedster, we all know what happened to 35mil + Cuil Website. My prediction is that Demand Media and other websites will form a group against Google and start their own advertising and create traffic alternatives.

tedster




msg:4272765
 3:13 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

UGC = User Generated Content. Often applied to blog comments and forum posts.

peego




msg:4272776
 3:41 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

how about all of us webmasters get together and make an open source search engine. =)

CainIV




msg:4272785
 3:53 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

Its early in the game and difficult thus far to establish any true pattern to work here, but perhaps we can dispel a few common items that arise during these types of updates.

I watch a considerable number of sites and genres as do many of us so I have some observations to report.

Feel free to share your info in terms of how it possibly matches up / conflicts with mine. Again, not trying to make heads or tails here, just dispel some potentials early.

1. Each genre or vertical is different. Some verticals are barely touched at all by this update. In one vertical I watch, only one competitor in the top 20 has changed

2. G Analytics is installed on sites that have dropped, and sites that have remained.

3. Adsense is present both on some websites that have dropped and on some that have remained, while no Adsense is present on some websites that have dropped, and some that have remained.

4. Websites that have active SEO have both retained rankings and have lost rankings

5. Websites that have had 0 links built in a significant period of time (1 year plus) have both lost and retained rankings

6. Some websites that have never had a link building campaign in the history of the website have lost rankings, while others have retained rankings.

7. I see a bias in my data in terms of the number of larger websites losing positioning versus smaller websites with larger websites on average losing more positions on average per page.

8. There does seem to be patterns in the amount of traffic lost, with some websites at 12.%, some at 25%, some at 40% and one at 50%.

9. Most of the websites that lost traffic lost traffic across most of the pages in the websites as opposed to for just one or two key terms

Based on the data that I see links are not necessarily a major factor here.

Thoughts?

walkman




msg:4272798
 4:31 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

There is hope, "Sites are Coming back " [webmasterworld.com...]
thread was opened on December, 2-3 weeks after the Florida Update

limoshawn




msg:4272801
 4:37 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

Seems like most people are looking for a magic bullet, it must be this or it must be that, I don't think so, this is an algo, it's taking into account ALL of the magic bullets. crap links, thin pages, tons of pages with no ibl, adsense, paid links, ALL OF IT, heres the magic bullet, if you have all of that crap 100% chance you got hit.

I've got a pet project site, lots of original content(+), tons of crap links(-), no adsense(+), no paid links(+), exact keyword in domain name(++): has not tripped the algo (yet) but I bet i could trip it, maybe add some adsense, might be enough, maybe buy some links from a bad neighborhood to, that would probably do it.

bottom line is that I think its a combo of things, no magic bullet. Could a site have enough of one bad indicator to get slapped, maybe but it's more likely a combo of things, including an on site indicator or 2 that will do it.

SEOPTI




msg:4272802
 4:39 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

walkman - nice reference, and in 1991 with the first cern web browser I loved the scrollbar on the left, is there hope the scrollbar will be on the left again? ;)

zerillos




msg:4272804
 4:56 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

I see that some key phrases in my top twenty have recovered - while others that were untouched yesterday have been knobled


it looks like it's learning...

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