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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]



 8:02 pm on Feb 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

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


 8:04 pm on Feb 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

Well... many people believe that the old adage that there's nothing a competitor can do to harm your site is simply not true. But yeah, I think if having _inbound_ links from bad sites/neighborhoods actually caused a penalty as such, that would make for a really easy way to nuke your competition.

Furthermore, most people who rank for any common keywords are probably getting large numbers of inbound links from zombie-hosted scraper sites. I know I have lots of them, as do all of the top sites in my niche. If that caused a penalty, we'd all be hosed.


 10:43 pm on Feb 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

Interesting development for one of my newest US based and hosted sites over the last 24 to 48 hours... It's number 2 on Google.com (and has been for a couple of weeks) but it's not getting much traffic from Google.com over the last day or so. Google.other-country traffic is increasing though.


 10:58 pm on Feb 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

Mad - I have noticed the same odd behavior. I can rank highly for a boat load of key phrases, yet traffic is virtually zero. I suspect it's similar to the propagation delay you see when you register a new domain and set up new name servers. I believe the latest results are still matriculating through the DC's. I am noticing an uptick again in the past few hours. I just hope the pattern of that past two weeks is broken next week. Hang in there.


 11:15 pm on Feb 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

Hang in there.

Definitely & Thanks! ... I'm not going anywhere on this one.

It actually gets more word-of-mouth / direct traffic than anything, which is exactly where I want it to be ... SEs are a bonus for this one, and I'll take all the traffic I can get, but I've purposely moved most promotions offline.

No AdWords, No Banners

What did I do instead? Mini-billboards ... Yep, I got business cards that weren't exactly business cards printed. They're more like mini-billboards than anything else and I've been handing them out like candy. Oh, the crazy things TheMadScientist does ... lol


 12:51 am on Feb 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

"Oh, the crazy things TheMadScientist does" - perhaps you should say "Oh the common sense things..."
I'm starting to think maybe moving backwards (paper) might be a great idea. I also do a bit of offline advertising on a highway 41 (near Green Bay, WI) electronic billboard through the BBB. $250 per month. 8 second shot every 10 minutes. Not the best ROI, but man it's great to see your name in lights. I'll post a pic.


 1:05 am on Feb 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

"Oh the common sense things..."

LOL. Thanks!

I'm starting to think maybe moving backwards (paper) might be a great idea.

When I decided on the 'mini-billboard' idea I thought:
I get one click from a link ad.
I get to put the name in front of someone once with a ppc link or banner.

With a card people put it in their pocket... I can put the name in front of them more times for less money... $1 minimum per click... About .20 maximum for a full color card... With a card the name stays in front of people and I have the chance family members or others see it when someone has it... I don't get that out of a banner ad or link, do I?

Anyway, the preceding is what led to the decision to do 'mini-billboards' instead of 'normal' online marketing.


 5:50 am on Feb 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

Hi Backdraft7,

As with your bill board ad, we use cinema advertising to great effect and it's very successful and cost effective. Everyone expects a company to have a website, but I have an feeling that not everyone uses Google to find them anymore.

I think in the past search engine marketing was easy and cheap, but now it comes with the risk that the work that you invest in today may not be classed as a valid marketing method tomorrow and be flushed with the next update or tweak. At least I know that my cinema ads are seen by the general public ... and not just by a bunch of competitors ;-)


 6:33 am on Feb 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

Spec - we'll have to watch out - next Google will be doing business cards, billboards and cinema advertising, and screwing them up too! Lately, I could make more sales per day schlepping out hand bills in front of the local grocery store. So much for the information super highway.


 10:26 am on Feb 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

I told a friend of mine to get a car sticker made and display it on the back of her car.

She did, and got a lot more sales and visitors.


 1:52 pm on Feb 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

@LW - with the lost sales we are experiencing, pretty soon we'll all be standing at intersections with sandwich signs or a gorilla suit hold a sign. OK, that's all the off topic for now - Ya gotta try to have a sense of humor, but these offline strategies do make cents (sic). LOL!


 4:47 pm on Feb 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

What I just observed top in G Trends. I have changed relevant portions so the mods do not take down like my other posts.

When you enter any of the terms in search G trends picks it up. Of course the URL is nonsense when you go to it:

Military Cracks Down on Webmaster Widget Protest - The Daily Repentant Monkey
12 Feb 2011... Belgium, Bakalava, Benin, Bermuda, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegowina, Botswana, Bouvet Island, Brazil, British Indian Ocean Terr. ...
www.the-repentant-widget-monkey.com/cheat-sheet/item/imagine-some-url -


 6:45 pm on Feb 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

Traffic almost opened up this morning, but then shut back down. Plagiarizing competitor who usually gets a tenth of our sales is now getting ten times our sales. Nice job Google.


 1:35 am on Feb 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

So just an update from some research I am doing. I have a secondary site that I started up a while back (2 years after my main site that has dropped in rankings). It is mainly just a blog that I have posted some unique content (25%) and the rest PR for various industry news (duplicated). Funny thing is, it is doing quite well in rankings for the top keyword that used to bring in tons of traffic to my main site even though most of it is duplicate content.

It is sad that my main site that has mostly unique content has been dropped either completely or to 2nd and 3rd pages and the side site that actually has duplicate content has been bumped to within the top 5 ranks.


 3:51 pm on Feb 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'll assume that by the lack of posts here, that the serps are all back to fat, dumb & happy, right?


 10:50 am on Feb 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Backdraft, i've noticed similar weird rankings.

See top rankings up on the first page, then back down to 400's.

It's not personalized search, rankings have been verified and seen by others in different countries... but very little traffic. Very strange behavior. Comes and goes...


 11:07 am on Feb 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

i wld say that that the new normal - is "far from normal". I am almost now resigned to the fact that after 10 years of moderate success riding the google serps the time has come to look at other ways to ensure stable revenues. maybe. ffs I wish I knew what was going on. I think we are going through a period where we must be patient and hope that things will settle down so we can then strategise and strucutre accordingly. Perhaps google has succeeded in its objective to destabalise the SEO industry. I would say that it has worked.


 11:39 am on Feb 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

@theskunk - I am looking at other sources of revenue too. I have had enough of the stress of google. I'll obviously take what I can get from them but look to diversify the ways in which people find my site. I hope.

I do wish I knew where the traffic IS going!


 12:54 pm on Feb 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

I do wish I knew where the traffic IS going!

Wait, no that was over the holiday shopping season... They're penalized now. LOL


 4:50 pm on Feb 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Wait, no that was over the holiday shopping season... They're penalized now. LOL

But there are so many JCPennys out there.... :)
this JCPenny just happened to be a competitor for NYT editor's friend :)


 5:00 pm on Feb 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

AlyssaS: 3:08 pm on Feb 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

Something definitely happened yesterday. A competitor to one of my other sites disappeared.

He has a lot of copy/paste filler on his site, and disappeared when the scraper/duplicate update was first announced, but got restored to the SERPs a few days later. Now he's gone again. His site is over a year old.

Well that competitor's site is back in the SERPs - and I've just checked, they haven't removed the duplicate content. Which means G has done a roll-back.

I wonder how many iterations they will go through before this update is finally bedded in?


 5:32 pm on Feb 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Alyssa - I sure hope it's not a roll back, cause right now the Google Steam Roller has flatted my (and many other) businesses like a pancake. Once is enough thank you!


 8:44 am on Feb 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

No change since 7th Feb, if anything the SERPS seem to be getting worse. In my industry all the big players have come in and dominated the first page SERPS, up from 2nd and 3rd pages. Thanks Google.


 8:12 am on Feb 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

< moved from another location >

I'm seeing ehow, mahalo, answers, rising to the top 10 range in one search query I monitor (high traffic) where before they were bottom 10 + page 2 and so on. I don't see any significant shifts (up or down) for them in other queries I've been eyeballing but I have seen some "wannabes" falling to the wayside. I'm still suspicious that these changes are manufactured to favor the big vc farms and bump out their up & coming competition, but I hope I'm wrong.

I'm also seeing a few sites in my niche that are heavy on facebook & twitter promotions/giveaways, blog contests, link blog parties and blog cross-linking jumping nicely in the serps. Maybe social media links got bumped up? I wish we could get a definitive answer from google whether or not much of that is considered incentivized or not, I'd jump on that bandwagon in a heart beat because even if they're not helping/hurting their rankings, their facebook likes/twitter followers/etc. are skyrocketing!

Edit: oops, I meant to put this in the feb updates and changes thread.
Mod's note: Done!

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 9:15 am (utc) on Feb 15, 2011]


 1:45 pm on Feb 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

I am still seeing changes in some of the SERPS and have come to accept Google will not index one of my main information pages. The rankings are changing daily in some areas and for the most part most of my rankings have stayed pretty steady. The Google editors seem to be trying to tweak the system to reduce redundant content on all sites.

Based on what I think, they want me to emphasize another page to replace the one they no longer index. I have also noted they are adjusting my ranking in other areas. Mostly good, but it leaves me with a choice on how I want to address Google and still not effect my other engine rankings.

I have to say this has been the most massive adjustment Google has done for well over 8 years and it has me concerned but hopeful.


 9:25 pm on Feb 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

Something strange has happened as of last Saturday 02-12-11 that I thought may be of interest and merit mentioning here. My main key phrase is one that triggers massive geo filters in goog though I try very hard to reach nationally, I am west coast USA.

I check my 3 word phrase on my phone every morning because I get what seems to be a non geo filtered result and I can (or at least I feel that I can) get a better feel for how my site does on a broader base. Anyway, I grab my phone and connect to the web and my homepage shows up as google.co.ma and its in a foreign language. My home page has been g.com forever but this .co.ma is showing. I curser on the address bar, back space the .ma away and type m making it .com and hit enter, redirect to the foreign page… this goes on and on. I did not change it, I did not travel I did not do anything different.
After a short while I see the “see google in English” link at the bottom and when I go there I see what seems to be google but there are now .au sites in the SERPs so I know I am not at normal .com goog.

My laptops and PC’s are fine but the mobile is still doing this as I type. So I thought of this forum, specifically the reports that people are seeing their SERP position steady but no traffic or zombie traffic. I cannot be the only person having zombie search results which would make me turn into someone’s zombie traffic.. I think this weird google redirect is happening in other countries pointing toward .com and vice versus all over the world creating mayhem for users as well as webmaster. Users just move on to a myriad of options for them to find what they are seeking, both online and offline and webmasters just scratch their heads.


 8:28 am on Feb 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm seeing similar results for search terms that I monitor. I'm using Google.com and it displays co.uk links in the results that never were there before. To be absolutely sure I have used a US vpn and cleared all previous browsing information. Still the same results and those that are new are not really related to the search terms.


 2:02 pm on Feb 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

Same here. It is possible though that those co.uk domains have many US based links. Our site for example is for US visitors but our server is located in Canada (where I am). Still we get...should I say got....good rankings.


 2:33 pm on Feb 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think Google filters searches that it sees as proxy IP numbers. It then redirects to UK or other international locations. Not sure how or why.


 6:49 am on Feb 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Saw WAY different results today logged in v. logged out...

I don't login to G much any more, so maybe I've been missing this, but it seems like I keep reading people are seeing the same results (or about the same) logged in or out, but that definitely was not the case for me today ... sites were up to 8 positions different for the search I did. Didn't check any more than the one, but definitely noticed when one I clicked on was at the bottom of the page logged in and jumped to 2 as soon as I logged out.


 6:55 am on Feb 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

when one I clicked on was at the bottom of the page logged in and jumped to 2 as soon as I logged out.

Have you cleared the cookies? The logged out personalization would have taken over :)

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