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Google Updates and SERP Changes - May 2011

 5:17 pm on May 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

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

I am still seeing VERY wild fluctuations in my WMT data. Despite a 70% traffic recovery, I am still seeing pages drop 300 to 400 positions, then rise. In the past 72 hours, another page just fell about 400. Clearly there is significant instability right now. There is no guarantee that my ranking improvement will stick, although the trend continues upward. This continuous cycle of pages drop 400 then rise 400 is ridiculous.

[edited by: tedster at 8:06 pm (utc) on May 1, 2011]



 6:53 pm on May 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

I used to try to figure out what Google was doing and I was reading all I could about it and what to do, but I have given up (kinda') because there are so many unknowns and since I am not a PhD I don't think I ave a chance to figure anything out anymore.
We are all trying to second guess Google and maybe we can get it right once in a while, but for most part Google is light years ahead of us so I am trying to go with the flow which isn't going really well right now. I did bounce back a little bit from yesterday, but who know if that's going to last. The only thing I have done so far, is to fix the links that were broke in some parts. I updated the server and latest software and it seemed to have broke some links.
If you have site selling widgets, then there is not much you can do to make a page "thicker" and since I am using database driven pages, there is not much to look for in terms of pages with the most damage I am afraid.
Also, with the new possibility to block sites, who know what that is going to do to you, slow loading pages so you'll get a big bounce rate? It seems like a lot of sites that is above me now are sites that doesn't seems to have any type of SEO, so maybe SEO less sites is the way to go now? <shrug> not sure....


 7:32 pm on May 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Anyone else seeing results showing on multiple pages as if Google's having cache issues? I about had a heart attack on one listing until I realized the last two listings I jumped were showing on page 1 and 2...as if Google was pulling data from a week ago for page two data.


 7:37 pm on May 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Grrr it is caching. Page one shows "about 76,600" results and then page two shows "page 2 of about 112,000 results"


 7:40 pm on May 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google's having cache issues?
One blogspot blog with scraped content got on the first SERP page today or yesterday and that blog was removed from blogspot like 15 days ago after a spam report. The cache date for that page is April 1st. I really don't know if its normal to see high in SERPs a page cached a month ago.

 8:03 pm on May 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

It's not exactly "normal" but it certainly isn't rare. The cached documents that Google links ffrom the SERPs are not necessarily the same as the version used for generating the rankings. I've often seen rankings that were based on a fresher version than the displayed cached date.

And now from the above report, it sounds like the issue of version control is even more complicated and crossed-up than ever.

danijelzi - does that URL (removed 15 days ago) respond with a real 404 or 410 status? Or is the http status really 200 OK with just a 404 text message displayed on the page?


 8:59 pm on May 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Tedster, the http status is 200 and the page shows:

"Page not found
Sorry, the page you were looking for..."

Its interesting that the page wasn't on the 1st SERP page until today or yesterday. It looks like Google SERPs for some queries (like this 2-word query, a name of a product) are in a mess, but I think it's really weird that this lasts more than 2 months now and that results don't get better.

The post-Panda changes in SERPs don't look like some sites and pages just lost their rankings due to low quality, but they rather look like a total mess.

I don't really know what to do now with my pandalized sites, since site improvements and removal of low quality content doesn't work. Now, should I just wait or put page not found instead of content to regain my positions?


 9:07 pm on May 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

the http status is 200

And that very common error for a removed page is exactly why Google rankings are all tangled up. interesting that it's a blogspot URL that return an incorrect status code. Google's own property - but clearly not under the search team's control.


 9:41 pm on May 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

The cache has no relevance to the actual latest page that Google is using for ranking.

You guys will only think that if you are using blog based content or other "fresh" based site structure.

I have only ever seen the current date in the description snippets (because I use the date in my description tags) and then click on the cache link and it is 2-3 days older.

This is a different datacentre issue.


 3:43 am on May 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

Anyone seeing crazy SERPS going on currently? Totally ridiculous results?

[edited by: tedster at 4:25 am (utc) on May 2, 2011]
[edit reason] moved from another location [/edit]


 5:29 am on May 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

I've been seeing a lot of 'bare' html links in the serps lately for long-tail searches of 2 or more words.

No title, no description, just the link. Sometimes 3 or 4 on the first page alone. Maybe this is related to the cache issues too?


 7:14 am on May 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

Anyone seeing crazy SERPS going on currently? Totally ridiculous results?

Probably Google is celebrating Mayday anniversary with its wicked humour..


 8:17 am on May 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

I've been seeing a lot of 'bare' html links in the serps lately for long-tail searches of 2 or more words.

I'm also seeing this a lot over the past few days.


 9:51 am on May 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

Yes I also see strange things.

Here is an example, I have a page with title "Blue widgets for individuals". The meta-tags and url are setup, content is relevant etc.

So I search for: Blue Widgets without quotes; page comes up on page-2 of google search results, ok I am thinking not too bad.

Then I search for: Blue widgets for individuals without quotes again. The page is nowhere to be found. You would expect an exact title match would bring the page higher on search results.


 10:38 am on May 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

enigma1 -- I have noticed the same thing. I think it's some kind of over optimisation filter.

If you remember that with Panda google was effectively targeting 'written for search' content (ie content that was really produced simply to harvest search traffic). And, writers/ publishers of this content became increasingly in SEO savvy. The result: they wrote and optimised for search terms.

With Panda, I think that google must be comparing the search term to the page and saying "nah, that match is uncannily good (over optimised) and the page meets these other indicative criteria (eg length, lack of rich media, formatting, etc) for content spam, so it's filtered out. Add some search phrase modifiers (or take the exact match specificity away) and this filter is avoided.

I definitely think that google is using content criteria to determine likely spam (ref points on graph quote from Amit?). Unfortunately, this seems to back fire on google when pages have little or no content, hence why we see abysmal pages top of SERPs in competitive niches. Basically, the competitive businesses have optimised themselves out of the race!


 10:50 am on May 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

I noticed a few guys redirecting old domains to a newer domain and have escaped panda...these are the most ridiculous gamers and they seem to know every trick to dodge everything...


 2:25 pm on May 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

Something is in the works... Since Friday/Saturday at some point, the SERP's are pure junk on my end. Top spots (in the markets I play in) are dominated by adsense driven rewritten "shallow" content sites, with link profiles that would make Matt Cutts cringe.

Almost seems like we're in the middle of a full index rebuild or something. A lot of flux going on.

Oddly, when I access google in my mobile browser, the serps are MUCH BETTER at Google.com and when searching behind a proxy in the mobile browser.

I've also noticed that many times when I see a scraper or shallow content site leading the serp's, the hyperlink shows a tracking URL in the status bar, where others show the actual domain/page linked to.



 2:50 pm on May 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

Friday one of my sites suffered drops site wide, all pages, all kws....here are some examples.
#16 to #45
#7 to #68
#5 to #44
#6 to #59

All of my other sites are fine. One thing I noticed in wbmstr tools was my site performance page speed dropped to 4.9 seconds from 3.x previously, and was updated 4/30 (saturday).

-affecting entire domain negatively, but no 'set' ranking drop (ex. minus 950, minus 30) that might be indicative of a penalty
-other sites I own with the same newly added back links not affected (could be a matter of time)
-other sites I own with same monetization model (affiliate) not affected (could be a matter of time)
-#16 to #45 is a lesser drop, comparatively, to the others, but the most competitive kw phrase. Could this ranking be 'propped up' because we have more positive seo factors where as the other terms may be affected more severely by a single factor, such as, slow page load time?

Has anyone experienced anything similar? Any ideas or things I should be looking at?



 2:59 pm on May 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

Seeing plenty of weirdness today - mostly on one site. Sitewide Google search traffic drop of 25% on the dot, but spread unevenly across pieces of the site - directories with more deep links are doing better. Watching it closely.


 3:31 pm on May 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

Couple other things...
-seems like a ton of pages are indexed
-not ranking for 'sitedomainname' ex. [sitedomainname.com...]
-currently ranking #67 for allinanchor, #45 normal search (was #16 last week).


 4:50 pm on May 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

Is there still flux going on? My site: seems to have settled with about 10% of the pages not indexed for some reason.

Traffic sucks. Barely more than Bing alone (without Yahoo) sends


 6:14 pm on May 2, 2011 (gmt 0)


When you search for your domain name, where do you find it listed? It really sounds like the "minus" penalty. I have experienced it before, and while I called it -50, I found a variance among individual phrases such that some were approximately -30 while others were approximately -60. It also seemed to fluctuate from week to week. For simplicity, I would approach it as if it were a -50 (you'll find previous discussions about it here on WebmasterWorld). Many who have observed the penalty (including myself) have said it lasted 3 months (probably a time-imposed penalty that ends up being a function of your improvements during that time).


 6:41 pm on May 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

"domain name search" homepage #58 followed by 5 other internal pages.

Is this indicative of a -50 type penalty? I will research 'minus 50' in the forum. Any tips would be greatly appreciated - I want to make sure I identify the issue correctly.



 6:42 pm on May 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm seeing an 80% drop on short and long tail traffic since Thursday. As if I have been penalized. That's after a 30% drop on April 12 after the 2nd Panda round.
I didn't do anything radical to cause this. I don't buy or sell links, I never farmed any content and always only do white hat SEO. All my content is original and is written slowly and carefully and I pay a decent amount of money to produce it.
I have many relevant inbound links from very reputable sources including the New York Times, Time, newspapers etc.
Many of my keywords are related to the word cheap which makes me thing that maybe they devalued certain keywords. on the other hand other keywords suffered to so maybe it's not the case.
I am still indexed for all my pages. Some of my keywords appear on page one of the SERP on one browser and are completely missing on other browsers and for other users.
I don't see any rhyme or reason to any of this.


 6:48 pm on May 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

a search for domainname.com shows the site at #1. Does that mean it isn't penalized? i used that query based on tedster's minus 30 post from '06.


 7:01 pm on May 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

Is this Panda 3.0?


 7:08 pm on May 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm seeing an 80% drop on short and long tail traffic since Thursday.

Seeing a similar thing, and checked with a close friend, they too are experiencing a similar trend. 80-90% drop of Goog referred traffic since Friday.

Many of my keywords are related to the word cheap which makes me think that maybe they devalued certain keywords.

The words "price", "cost", and "prices", are among the predominant losses to both of our sites as well.


 7:41 pm on May 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

The words "price", "cost", and "prices", are among the predominant losses to both of our sites as well.

I've wondered if other words could be getting signaled like "articles" for example.


 8:26 pm on May 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

My phrases contain 'quote' 'compare' and a lot of brands as well.


 8:43 pm on May 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

I noticed from 27 april that i was loosing visits, so now I have lost about 50%, I was not really affected by Panda but now im hurting, no clue why.

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