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Google Updates and SERP Changes - March 2011
Whitey

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4274857 posted 4:53 am on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

< continued from [webmasterworld.com...] >

< related Panda Farm Update [webmasterworld.com] >


I keep dropping mentions of this , but no takeup , so i did some digging, for clues to my theory Chrome's passing back intelligence that could influence this new algo and future changes :

New Chrome extension: block sites from Google's web search results
Monday, February 14, 2011 | 12:00 PM

Today the Google web search team launched a new Chrome extension to block low-quality sites from appearing in Google’s web search results. Read more in the post below, cross-posted from the Official Google Blog. - Ed


[chrome.blogspot.com...]


Also - [webmasterworld.com...]

I think user behaviour data is being underestimated in this thread. Each website will have an depth profile building that feeds into a potential quality assessment by Google. What say you ?

[edited by: tedster at 8:15 pm (utc) on Mar 15, 2011]

 

krikomoush

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4274857 posted 4:58 am on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

universetoday, when I looked at quantcast, [quantcast.com...] is that not accurate as well, because it is hard to tell but it seems like the traffic dropped more than 10%?

dickbaker

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4274857 posted 5:02 am on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

IIRC, Google Chrome is about 7% of the browser market. Is that a large enough sample for Google to use?

universetoday

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4274857 posted 5:17 am on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

According to my stats, today should be higher traffic than last Monday, but it might take a day to be reflected in Quantcast. But I'm definitely not down 71%. Don't look at the Sistrix data and think that's the traffic hit that those sites took. If I wasn't aware of the algo update, my traffic over the last week would be well within my normal variations, and I wouldn't even think anything was wrong.

That's all I'm saying.

walkman



 
Msg#: 4274857 posted 5:22 am on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

universetoday,
ezinearticles with 71% decrease said that they will probably get half of their visitors next month, a 50% decrease in total visits.

scottsonline



 
Msg#: 4274857 posted 5:27 am on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm sorry I'm not keeping up like I once did. Today I took some time to look back at November searches. To my shock probably 50% of the top 10 have changed. Gone are the sites that used thousands of junk blogs. And more of a shock the duplicate sites are gone as are the parent sites. In one clean swoop they took out sometimes 80% of the top results in my old vertical. Sounds drastic until I tell you it was just one business selling the same product on a ton of different sites.

In their place are neat sites that offer what an end user may want. I'm hoping they continue to clean house on those that dilliute the web. It levels the field for everyone else that doesn't have the budgets of jc Penney and overstock.

Whitey

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4274857 posted 5:39 am on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

IIRC, Google Chrome is about 7% of the browser market. Is that a large enough sample for Google to use?

I would have thought so. Any takers , or am i on the wrong track ?

krikomoush

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4274857 posted 5:44 am on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Thanks universetoday, just wanted to get an idea of how off the quantcast data is.


On a side note are you Fraser Cane? I listen to your podcast ALL THE TIME!

krikomoush

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4274857 posted 5:45 am on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Oops Cain sorry :)

indyank

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



 
Msg#: 4274857 posted 5:46 am on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

universetoday and Tedster, Positions do alter traffic and to quite an extent.I do agree that positions alone may not be a good indicator but there is definitely a high correlation between them.

Also do keep in mind that the slip for the affected sites is across pages (for various keywords) and they slipped to page 2, 3 and beyond. It is not a slip by 2 or 3 positions.

universetoday, this has been rolled out only in U.S and not everywhere.Infact I do see a compensating traffic increase from other parts of the world.If you aren't seeing a big difference in overall traffic, it is because of this important fact.The real impact on traffic will be known only after it gets rolled out elsewhere.

I am also eager to see how this gets reflected in Bing.I am sure that Google would be tracking this really close.Remember that Amit, his engineers and Matt wouldn't have forgotten it so quickly.

indyank

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



 
Msg#: 4274857 posted 5:59 am on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

scottsonline, you too are getting it wrong.This update hasn't impacted the ecommerce sites much.The update is predominantly against "content based sites".

In you example, the competitor was probably polluting the ecommerce environment with their own content farms and that would explain their fall now.

Yes, content farms have been cleaned up by google but the collateral damage done is high with this update.There are a number of false positives.It might, might be a trap set for bing.

indyank

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



 
Msg#: 4274857 posted 6:09 am on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Considering what I said above, it would also be very interesting to see the metric that shows the dropped positions for results in page 2 and beyond vs page 1.

universetoday

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4274857 posted 6:14 am on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

@krikomoush - Yeah, I'm that Fraser. :-)

Spencer

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4274857 posted 6:55 am on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

One strange result of my little (no ads) art site getting bumped on Google is that both Bing and Yahoo have now thrust it into the limelight. I'm starting to wonder if there is a deliberate effort on the part of each engine to deliver results that are different to Google (i.e. a programmed bias against big listers).

vandread

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4274857 posted 9:05 am on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

So has anyone yet identified why some sites got hit, and others did not? I'm particularly interested why unique popular blogs have been bit by the algorithmic change. I know I'm not allowed to post urls, but I know of at least five tech blogs that have been hit that have published unique quality for years.

All of those blogs post multiple articles per day, from 2 to 15 I would say. All are heavily scraped, got user interaction and ads.

Why would a "quality" change affect those sites as well?

semseoanalyst



 
Msg#: 4274857 posted 9:15 am on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Just checked few websites which are absolutely hampered by so called "Farmer algorithm"...I checked through Alexa traffic details on random way..most of the site doing better than last week...any information?On that?

Spencer

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4274857 posted 9:29 am on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

The only thing that I can think could have had an effect on the way Google judged my site badly is that I had recently removed a long standing link from my index page. The site in question had drifted in contextual content and I thought (foolishly) that if I was linking to an out of range area I might get penalised ... who knows ?

Jez123

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4274857 posted 9:51 am on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Why would a "quality" change affect those sites as well?

Collateral damage?

I think it's way to early to say anything with conviction until the dust settles. We won't know who is REALLY affected for a couple of months, maybe more IMO.

Lots of the affected will bounce back and probably some of the unaffected will fall. This is how it usually happens in my experience.

ortelius

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4274857 posted 2:10 pm on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think user behaviour data is being underestimated in this thread. Each website will have an depth profile building that feeds into a potential quality assessment by Google. What say you ?


@whitey Your idea makes sense, but on my site, I have hundreds of FB "likes" spread over many pages, and I got hit. Competitors with no "likes" did not. So what about those signals?

Also, the Chrome extension to block sites makes me nervous. A well-organized campaign to hurt a competitor is a likely result, so I hope Google doesn't give too much weight to that extension.

TheMadScientist

WebmasterWorld Senior Member themadscientist us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4274857 posted 2:31 pm on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think this one is more about patterns than links.

This is my opinion from what I've read and seen only, but I think if you're looking at this link or that link or adding a link or removing a link as the reason for the drop you're looking in the wrong place.

Whoa

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4274857 posted 2:59 pm on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Yesterday, versus Monday prior, Google referrals were down 41.1118% (and my Adsense revenue was down 41.1158%).

I'm one of many who had too many eggs in a variety of Google baskets (i.e. relying on them for most of my traffic and revenues) and didn't see this coming.

Upon reflection and a little analysis, and my case may be different from yours, I think this new algo is simply a tweaking of factor weighting in a way that made my site go from Google-loved to Google-liked.

I see that many of my #1 rankings are now #4 to, say, #6. Those kind of drops will knock you down 40% in a hurry.

I think a few factors led me to drop:

1. The factors used to rank sites were readjusted, with the main aim of stopping sites like eFreedom from ranking #1 for StackOverflow content. Although duplicate content is not a huge issue for me, I think the reweighting of existing factors and introduction of new factors knocked me down in stature -- no penalty or anything, just a new perspective from Google, based on statistical models, that other sites were as good or better than mine on a variety of phrases and topics.

2. I think my site grew too fast without good enough external link support. I often write to be useful to searchers. I anticipate what they want to know and if I think I can answer the question well, and it's on topic with my domain (resources for entrepreneurs), we will cover it. We SEO the content with the usual white-hat techniques because we know that's the new language of this world that matters. How else does a web page tell the world "I'm here. This is what I'm about" ? Whereas that was very effective in the past, it's less effective now...for several reasons. I think we simply added too much content without having enough PageRank juice (deep links in particular) to keep things going.

3. I'll admit that, in some sections of my site, I have resorted to some thin content to attract visitors via SEO. I never felt bad about it because there were no better pages out there on the topics at hand, and in some cases I was making data available to the world that nobody else had. I drew the line at the right point I thought...nothing so thin as to be disappointing to a user, and I avoided partnerships with companies who will not be named who wanted to take my articles and turn them into massive geo-specific content farms (that seemed way too spammy to me). Plus, as further rationalization, I've always believed that "fake it until you make it" is a part of entrepreneurship -- the hope was that my web publishing revenues would create and sustain a revenue stream that would allow me to fatten up my thin content over time. That was a good and viable plan until last Thursday.

So now, for me, back to work. I've always had, and have been working, a long list of things I could do to make my site better. I just need to work those a little harder and up the quality and the end user experience to an even higher level. Unfortunately, I will be doing this with more financial angst that I'd like to...but, hey, the rest of the world is experiencing financial pain these days, so I guess it's just my time now.

I won't be posting on this thread again. Back to work on my web publishing and my bricks-and-mortar biz. I'll see some of you cats in Vegas for Pubcon, and in the meantime may the Google gods (and your other gods if you are wise enough to diversify) shine down upon you. Adios for now, amigos. And, thanks, Brett, for giving us this place to come to commiserate. We never seem to actually figure anything out, but misery loves company and it's therapeutic to vent. Mind you, I desperately wish I had missed this particular new-algo pity party but, alas, it wasn't to be.

TheMadScientist

WebmasterWorld Senior Member themadscientist us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4274857 posted 3:13 pm on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

... no penalty or anything, just a new perspective from Google ...

Well said! That's a fantastic summary of what this change is.

Great post Whoa, and best of luck on getting back to the top ... I read somewhere we create our own luck through our efforts, and it sounds like you're going to create some of the luck you've previously enjoyed ... Hope it works out that way.

And, thanks, Brett, for giving us this place to come to commiserate.
+1 x 10
krikomoush

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4274857 posted 3:28 pm on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Fraser big fan, happy to see you are also a webmaster!

One of our old sites, we basically gave up on in 2007 but since there is still some small adsense revenue coming we haven't closed the site, is up 30-40%

Another site we are affiliate with hasn't had any link building and minor page updates in easily 5-6 years is also up 30-40%

Both these sites were on the edge of being shut down, now they are dramatically up, this can not be a better index from my point of view.

dickbaker

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4274857 posted 3:43 pm on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

scottsonline, you too are getting it wrong.This update hasn't impacted the ecommerce sites much.The update is predominantly against "content based sites".


In the several dozen sites from several niches that I've been tracking for about twenty key phrases, there's been ecommerce sites that went from page one to page three, four, five, six, or either gone completely or are somewhere beyond #150.

To those who are saying that there's no penalty involved in this, I know I've asked this before, but I don't think I've heard a satisfactory answer. If there's nothing like a penalty or punishment involved, then why would a site that was first page for a phrase be dropped to #30, #40, #70, or even apparently removed from the index? If this is a re-adjustment for quality, wouldn't those sites be moved, say, to #15 or #20 or #25? What kind of "quality" filter would drop a widgets site to twenty places behind a news story about the Poo-bah of Googlstan which makes a passing reference to a widget?

I still don't think I've seen a good answer for that ("good guess" would actually be the more appropriate term to use now).

TheMadScientist

WebmasterWorld Senior Member themadscientist us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4274857 posted 3:59 pm on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think Whoa answers your question about how it's not a penalty best dickbaker:
... no penalty or anything, just a new perspective from Google ...

They re-scored everything.
That's totally different than 'penalizing' a site or page...

A penalty you could hope to get removed by:
Finding and removing the cause of it

OR

Possibly a reconsideration request.

The pages and sites that dropped, like tedster said in one of the threads, are not in the 'penalty box' so you can't just get out of the 'penalty box'. For this one it looks like you're going to need to bring up the score of the page(s) effected based on new criteria, rather than looking for the cause of a penalty.

IMO
Penalty = You did something wrong, fix it and get back to the top.

ReRanking = You're dealing with new criteria ... Think 'new search engine' that does things differently than Google did a week or two ago and to rank in the 'new search engine' you're going to have to find a way to fit the new criteria.

Think about the difference between Google and Bing.
They use different criteria to rank pages.

Ranking well in Google but not Bing does not mean you've been penalized by Bing. They use different scoring methods...

Google today is not using the same criteria as Google a week or so ago. It's like trying to rank in a different search engine now ... There is no penalty to be lifted; there are new criterion in place.

dataguy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4274857 posted 4:18 pm on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

A few more observations:

1. Content was King. It has now been overthrown along with other dictator/rulers. Actually, content still rules, but only if it uses perfect English and speaks more than 400 consecutive words at a time.

2. I find it odd that so many people are trying to explain this algo change with factors of the past. It brings to mind the saying, "If the only tool you have is a hammer, then everything starts to look like a nail." Link sculpting, duplicate content, nofollow tags, link buying, keyword density, meta tags, I don't see any discernible pattern with any of these.

This algo change is something new. Everything I see shows it has something to do with semantics, most likely the use of proper English. Cutts said this has only been rolled out in the U.S. Maybe this is because they can only use their new tools on English. According to Analytics, my traffic is down from the USA AND England (also English). I'd love to hear if others see the same thing in their Analytics accounts.

3. Regarding the completely bad search results right now. To me, this is indicative of Google using user-data to measure results. Think about it, if during normal times Google suppresses results which their tools say give bad a user experience, after a period of time those suppressed pages may have improved, but Google isn't sending them enough traffic to measure user experience, so they get caught in catch 22.

I think Google uses shakeups like this algo change to 'remove the filters' so that those crap results can be measured again for user experience. After a week or so they'll have the measurements completed, and they'll turn the filters back on. This happens with almost every big shakeup.

[edited by: dataguy at 4:25 pm (utc) on Mar 1, 2011]

falsepositive



 
Msg#: 4274857 posted 4:20 pm on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Okay, it is not a "penalty" issue, but there is a sitewide effect, as if the site is burdened and given a new score. My guess is that it's a way to knock off a site from where it stands, across the board.

For example, I've had a #1 keyword spot for a fairly non-competitive phrase. I use this phrase to check many against some google matters I do whenever I make changes to my site. I've never wavered on this term in years. I'm down to #3, below a foreign language site with the english keyword in its URL and a wikipedia entry using the term in another context. The phrase is short but not competitive. It's like that across many small keywords across the board for me.

Dataguy, so you are suggesting that G is using this time to study the results when filters are off? Could be.... They may have done this intentionally, or they may have not.

The question here is whether they HAVE indeed identified a certain profile that they are trying to hit, fully expecting collateral damage so they can distinguish the good from the bad. Could they have hit me on purpose to make sure they understood who my spammers are? Or did they lump me across the board with other spammers?

TheMadScientist

WebmasterWorld Senior Member themadscientist us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4274857 posted 4:38 pm on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

My guess is that it's a way to knock off a site from where it stands, across the board.

You're still thinking this is a 'minus only' situation = penalty.

It was a re-ranking of sites (pages) some were given a boost by the new scoring system. They didn't simply say 'page a fits pattern x so remove it' and cause the surrounding pages in the SERPs to move up like they would in a penalty type situation. They re-scored everything. Some pages were scored higher than they were by the old scoring system. Some pages were scored lower than they were by the old system.

I'm not posting this only for you falsepositive, so don't get offended or think I'm picking on you, because I'm not. I'm trying to help people look at the situation a bit differently.

I don't remember the tread or page to reference the boost, but it's from tedster who's, uh, highly reliable, and maybe he can chime in with a more exact reference.

Penalty changes:

ORIGINAL TOP RESULTS
Result 1 = Remove - Penalty
Result 2 = Stays
Result 3 = Remove - Penalty
Result 4 = Stays
Result 5 = Stays
Result 6 = Remove - Penalty
Result 7 = Stays
Result 8 = Stays
Result 9 = Stays
Result 10 = Stays
Result 11 = Remove - Penalty
Result 12 = Stays
Result 13 = Stays
Result 14 = Stays

NEW TOP 10
Result 2 = Stays
Result 4 = Stays
Result 5 = Stays
Result 7 = Stays
Result 8 = Stays
Result 9 = Stays
Result 10 = Stays
Result 12 = Stays
Result 13 = Stays
Result 14 = Stays

ReRanking Situation:

NEW SERPs
Result 2 = Moved Up
Result 47 = Moved Up
Result 3 = Stayed
Result 14 = Moved Up
Result 8 = Moved Up
Result 12 = Moved Up
Result 10 = Moved Up
Result 21 = Moved Up
Result 7 = Moved Down
Result 5 = Moved Down

There's a big difference between a penalty change and a re-ranking.

bobbonew

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4274857 posted 4:41 pm on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

My site does not get the traffic that the big sites get, I had about 25k visitors last month. I write all original content but I tend to receive long tail search traffic with no huge growth.

Now since the update my traffic is up 35-40% - I now have enough traction to hit consecutively on the first page for many more key-phrases since they cut out a lot of BS search results.

My reaction to this algorithm change? Thank you God[Google]. Best change ever.

Jane_Doe

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



 
Msg#: 4274857 posted 4:50 pm on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

To those who are saying that there's no penalty involved in this, I know I've asked this before, but I don't think I've heard a satisfactory answer. If there's nothing like a penalty or punishment involved, then why would a site that was first page for a phrase be dropped to #30, #40, #70, or even apparently removed from the index?


That has been exactly my point in some of the other threads.

This 366 message thread spans 13 pages: 366 ( [1] 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 ... 13 > >
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