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This 571 message thread spans 20 pages: < < 571 ( 1 2 3 [4] 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 ... 20 > >     
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]



 2:20 pm on Feb 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

Thanks I'm still looking the job market is bleak in the USA still.

Google is failing to follow and enforce their own rules. How can a company run five sites using a different scheme on each one offering the same product to the penny but not get filtered?
It's keyword spam and they don't care.


 2:30 pm on Feb 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

Scottsonline>"I thought searches in January were good. February is junk again"

Interesting you mention that, as we also noticed that the serps were significantly better quality mid January, great improvement for a week or so, then they appeared to roll back?


 4:11 pm on Feb 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

This is a little off topic from the conversation, but has anyone noticed any strange loss of Analytics data. We've been noticing for about 4 days now that for about 20-30 minutes at a time between 2-3 times a day, Analytics is not reporting an data. Its curious to us as we haven't seen anyone mention it... As well, we are missing some data from WMT. Beginning 2 days ago, we noticed that the 'Links To Your Site tab says 'No Data Available'.

Just curious if it's just us as we cant pin down why, it has been happening randomly and not in concurrence with our developers making any changes to the site... It's a mystery...

Other than that, google traffic is looking better today for us on competitive keywords than it has been for the past few weeks. Respectively went from a 1 out of 10 to a 2 out of 10.. Better than nothing. Funny thing is, when I search for the keywords we were found through, I cant see our site in the serps for any of them. Watching and waiting to see how it will play out.


 5:56 pm on Feb 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google is failing to follow and enforce their own rules. How can a company run five sites using a different scheme on each one offering the same product to the penny but not get filtered?
It's keyword spam and they don't care.

I've also seen similar cases, but not with five sites. My own competitor runs two sites, with identical niche products. He even goes so far as to use the exact same adsense publisher id on each site. Now you'd think Google would spot that and drill down to find the dupes. No such luck. You can give these blackhats enough rope to hang themselves, but even then, Google just won't whip the horse.


 6:30 pm on Feb 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

In my areas Iím seeing bushels of grammatically sound junk that literally says nothing. The vast majority of the sites would bore you to tears. Reprints and reworded articles can be found everywhere. Google is punishing to many worthy commerce sites while promoting meaningless sites that pass its spam filters.


 6:39 pm on Feb 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

@outland88 - is that a change that you're seeing recently, or just the continuing saga of the content farm problem?

[edited by: tedster at 9:06 pm (utc) on Feb 10, 2011]


 7:53 pm on Feb 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

Hey sorry posted this up on SEO round table but I'd like to add it here also.

Essentially in the update it seems that trust/ authority is more noticeable once again in ranking in the long tail keywords - meaning that the big 'brand' sites will do a little better in the long tail as opposed to the penalities occured last year.

The reason they'll do a bit better is this change/tweak seems to be penalising (finally) the crap quality sites/ link farms/ content scrapers.

just to highlight what I saw - Keyword variance going up and traffic going up from the last couple of days but only in North America and in Google.



[edited by: tedster at 9:10 pm (utc) on Feb 10, 2011]


 7:56 pm on Feb 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

@tedster - just my two cents, again...this is a repeat of last weeks upset. Many other are seeing this shake up. To me, this is looking more and more like Google is just flat broken. Still ranking highly across the board but seeing a lot of movement. I'm seeing my site holding spots in up to 4 position on a page, yet sales are zip. It seems like things are propagating and re-propagating so people are not all seeing the same results. It's a real mess out there! The big sites are probably not seeing this.

Last week's pattern was progressively less traffic each day, then BAM! back to normal. This week the pattern continues. It's not just my site either.

[edited by: backdraft7 at 8:08 pm (utc) on Feb 10, 2011]


 8:02 pm on Feb 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

It's keyword spam and they don't care.

Did you file a Google spam report? I would start there. It takes 5 minutes of your time.


 8:23 pm on Feb 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

outland88> "Google is punishing too many worthy commerce sites while promoting meaningless sites that pass its spam filters."

I second that ;(


 8:23 pm on Feb 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

It takes 5 minutes of your time.

5 minutes that could be better spent watching paint dry. I've files many of these reports, but have yet to see any action taken.


 8:53 pm on Feb 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

I would say it continues to worsen in my areas at a considerable pace. Google seems to have squashed one type of spam and it was replaced, that quickly, with what you mentioned in that patent regarding targeting keywords. Reno described it to a degree, a month ago, as to what the site of the future would be.

I've looked at over 100 of these sites, in depth, and they're just info sites ranking from a grammatical standpoint with no real substance. There would be no good reason to revisit the sites. To me this is the new spam showing the flaws in the filters. It definitely pushes small commerce down because the only thing that could beat these keyword targeted sites out is a boatload of links. How do you compete against sites that are written specifically just to comply with a filter but have no real quality except as determined by an automated algo?


 9:03 pm on Feb 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

The worst of it all is people like Demand Media and their content farms that google won't block because of the volume of cash invested in both adsense and adwords that they do. To ban them would cost Google alot of money, but the smaller guys its fine to ban or devalue them because that's very different of course.

It just shows how intelligent Google wants us to think it is but the reality is so far from the truth


 11:33 pm on Feb 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

Some of the stuff that's bubbling to the surface now in my sector is hardly believable. Much of it is in poor quality English, and the backlinks are all from wordpress blogs that are obviously not intended for human visitors. A couple of months ago I thought that generally speaking Google results were good, relevant and targeted but now they are back to where they were three or four years ago.

Surely an algorythm can tell the difference between links on a quality site edited by people who actually speak English, and those from spam "blogs" that are just full of articles with no meaning, dreadful punctuation and grammar, but lots of links for prime keywords? I noticed these coming in a couple of years or so ago but now there is an avalanche of them and they are seriously messing up these SERPs in my humble opinion.

I'm sure Google will get round it eventually, the challenge is to design a system can tell the difference between quality content and gibberish.


 2:29 am on Feb 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

@superclown - I agree. Today is looking extremely dismal. I was hopeful that once things settled with this new update that there would be some improvement. And interestingly enough the sites which copy entire articles word for word are still going strong. Guess there is no rhyme nor reason for this latest update.


 3:00 am on Feb 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

I am finding that all my google spam reports have been approved. Either its a huge coincidence that google has finally made a right adjustment to hit all the spammy/low quality websites, or they have finally read my spam reports from a few months ago. Kudos Google, I am liking the updates


 5:12 am on Feb 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

Another dead day. Using the preview tool, I am seeing my site listed in the top of the serps, in some cases occupying an incredible THREE or FOUR positions, from the first position on down consecutively.
Even with that, low to no converting sales. This sure is a funny little game Google is playing. It's as if we appear in the serps, yet have a transparent penalty applied blocking traffic.
I can throw a dart at my list of 10,000 key phrases and nearly all show the site in a position above the fold. I'd feel worse if we were all alone on this, but many other are seeing the same yo-yo patterns.

On an odd side note - I have a hosting reseller site that has been online for bout 6 years, used only for my own personal referrals. It's pretty much a first draft keyword loaded mess. I NEVER get any sales off the web on that site, but now, when my other site traffic is down, I have started getting orders on the dead, never maintained site. Go figure.


 9:53 am on Feb 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

THREE or FOUR positions

Joke ! and no disrespect to you as I have some of my sites showing 4 pages but how is this offering anything good to a surfer - but its even worse if your looking at a section that attracts a lot of spam in some cases the top 10 is over 3 sites ! joke

Thankfully Bing isn't following this stupid trend


 10:20 am on Feb 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

Backdraft7, my SERPS have all slipped at least one or 2 places since the update (or whatever it is)my main KW has slipped from #3 to #7. If anything conversions and enquiries have been better since they slipped. Traffic has remained exactly the same so far. Takes some figuring. What you see is not what you get with google these days I fear


 3:26 pm on Feb 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

Does anyone know the exact date when the scraping algo change went live? We saw a slight drop (5%) in traffic on Jan. 27th.

We've been scraped heavily over the years. I'm wondering if the scrapers are now ranking better for some of those stolen pages than our original source since the scrapers did it many years before this new policy by Google.

I know 5% is not much, could be anything. But just curious if anyone had put an actual date on the rollout of Google's algorithm change.



 3:35 pm on Feb 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

It was that week that the scraping algo first went live. Our first reports here were for Jan 26. It seems that some kind of follow-up tweaking has continued since then.


 3:38 pm on Feb 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

< moved from another locations >

Hi everyone,

I seem to be having an issue with Google lately. My homepage ranked well for two high traffic keywords for the past year but all of a sudden it has dropped in rankings. I went from #1 & #3 to #7 and #14. They are slowly dropping every couple days.

My second top web page has been completely removed from the index. Doesn't come up at all.

The content has not changed, aside from links to latest blog posts - just blog title and a link. The second top web page has not changed at all. Links are still the same and there are no issues with nofollows or robots.txt.

I'm at a loss on this. Can anyone provide some guidance on what I can do to get myself back?


[edited by: tedster at 3:42 pm (utc) on Feb 11, 2011]


 3:47 pm on Feb 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

hey wfernley - check out your link profile and see where most of your links are coming from - if your content is completely unique and not any kind of mashup then those sites linking to you might have got banned which would effect your ranking (although I'm not sure it would immediately noticeable). Also if you're republished alot of your content elsewhere that may not have helped.


 3:56 pm on Feb 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

I seem to be having an issue with Google lately.

Join the club.
Just to clarify what seems to be happening, Google's algo change was NOT targeting content farms after all. It's targeting "low quality content scraper sites" this is from the horses mouth itself, Matt Cutts: [bit.ly ]

Step back, take a hard look at your site. If you're scraping and/or spinning your content from somewhere else and/or keyword loading and doing other blackhat, then that might explain your drop. If not, then see if you can squeeze into the "false positives" boat with many other webmasters here and ride the storm out. I suspect many are experiencing the typical post algo "shake & bake". These algo changes are certainly not without their bumps, especially to smaller Mom & Pop sites.


 4:56 pm on Feb 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

Here's what we saw happen from Feb. 2 forward:

Brief background on the website:
This was for a travel/hotel website that's a little over 2 months old and uses API and XML-fed content. The site had approx. 700 backlinks and growing -- all organic and natural looking. The site as of now has about 58,000 pages recognized in Google from a "site:" search.

The drop:
On Feb 2nd I noticed the Google referring traffic was down about 35%. On the 3rd, 4th, and till now (the 11th), the traffic has dropped around 90%+ for all XML supplied content pages. The only pages receiving traffic are our unique articles added to the guide section -- which is only around 30-40 so far. These pages are holding steady with traffic but all other pages are practically dead.

My 2 cents:
Websites with re-used XML or API-based content, especially mass amounts of it, are likely going to be hit in some way with this algo. update from Google. I have spoken two 3 other SEO guys since the 5th and all have reported this from one or more sites in their network of client or personal sites being managed. The exact same trend that our website experienced. Their websites had from 10,000 to 200,000 XML-fed pages but some other unique sections and content on certain parts of the website.

Since Blekko has already announced an out-right ban on websites like Buzzillions.com, Shopwiki.com, eHow.com, and others, many people are seeing this as a strong-arm PR move as a precursor to Google doing similar banning or demotions - although I would never expect Google will list the sites banned as they hardly ever call websites out in the same manner as Blekko did.

Our only silver lining - if you want to call it that - is that we only spent around 2 months on this hotel site versus it being 6 mos. or 12 mos.


 5:11 pm on Feb 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

@true - I'll second your hypothesis...a few years ago I thought it would be a good idea to "enhance" our blog content with store feeds from SAS, CJ and LS. There is a datafeed plugin out there that dripped XML datafeeds in posts at about 2 per day. That ran for 2 years, but affiliate sales were minimal. All in all we had about 3000 pages of this trash, many pointed to out of stock items and most posts receiving no more than 40 to 50 hits each. After the Jan 26th drop, I dumped all those pages, generated a new sitemap and now we wait. I'll admit it, to me that would constitute a type of thin duplicate content, but it was on my blog, not my main site. No mater, my new policy is "no data feeds whatsoever". That's kinda sad, because they were good , related products. If it was paying, that would be another story, but it doesn't.


 6:05 pm on Feb 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

Thanks for your replies. Our site is an ecommerce website and we do have some descriptions that are copied from manufacturer websites. I would say only 10% of our 300 product catalog. The rest of the content is unique. The pages taking the biggest drop are the unique pages.


 6:49 pm on Feb 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think the bigger picture in all of this is that there are literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of websites that are quite popular that use XML feeds. Some are huge shopping websites.

In my opinion, and if this plays out as I see it, where is the fair treatment in letting Shopping.com slide without penalties when tens of thousands of smaller, startup XML-based sites are left with nothing?

Shopping.com and the mass loads of XML product websites had to have a starting point to eventually grow into a popular destination for visitors. So, where is the justice in stomping out startup websites using the same XML feeds and data as the big sites. Seems like they all started out on roughly the same playing field in the beginning.

I would think a lot of companies and Webmasters would be highly upset at this biased stance from Google it it does indeed take effect. From what I'm hearing, seeing, and testing, this is already happening.

In the end just another Google dictatorship move to capture market share.


 7:49 pm on Feb 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

...those sites linking to you might have got banned which would effect your ranking ...

So Google will penalise my site if a site linking to me gets banned? That's worrying... is that confirmed?


 7:58 pm on Feb 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

Simsi, it doesn't have to take the form of a penalty to your site. If a site linking to you receives an "unable to pass link juice" penalty of some kind, obviously your link juice will drop which may cause a loss of rankings.

Lower rankings is not the same as a penalty.


 8:02 pm on Feb 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

Gotcha. Thanks freejung. Would kind've been like a free bar for blackhatters otherwise eh :)

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