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Google Updates and SERP Changes - Dec 2011

 10:14 am on Nov 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

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

I've noticed a website that got pandalized in July and came back right after the last 3.1 update to prior (if not better) positions. No changes made on site, they only acquired a new domain and 301 the pandalized one to it.

Have you ever noticed something similar happening? Souds like a really short term solution but it's at least something new.

[edited by: tedster at 5:49 pm (utc) on Dec 1, 2011]



 5:45 pm on Dec 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

I've heard couple of reports like that around several of the more recent Panda iterations. It does seem like they're working to improve the algorithm to avoid some edge cases that were getting a false positive earlier.


 6:59 pm on Dec 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

G forums are crying about a Panda Update on 11/29. Did anyone else notice anything? I didn't.


 7:21 pm on Dec 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google confirmed a minor Panda tweak on Nov 19, but so far no webmaster reports or Google confirmations for this past Tuesday. There have been a few lost rankings reports around the web, but no reason I can see to say it was a Panda iteration. Every algo tweak isn't Panda, after all ;)

I assume you're talking about this thread [google.com]. I noticed with some interest a post that says "Word on the streets is also that Google News did a sweep of sites that aren't really news sites. They completely removed the sites from their news."


 7:36 pm on Dec 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Did anyone else notice anything?

The only changes we've noticed this week seem to revolve around timing of referrals. Similar to other threads about Google throttling traffic, we feel that since just after Thanksgiving in the US, we are roughly 6-7 hours off timing. Almost like someone changed our hours of operation, which they didn't.

Site - Consumer informational type site. Fully supported with live phone support, office staff, etc. Normal EST business hours. Caters to US traffic.

Before 11/25-ish, we were steady busy from 8am-8pm. Then somewhat dead from 9pm-7am.

After 11/25-ish, we are busy from 2pm-2am... then dead during the other 12 hours.

Very odd throttling... although total traffic is up 15-20% month over month, its just at weird hours now.


 9:12 pm on Dec 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

I noticed a change over the weekend - big drop in referrals Sunday - Monday was down as well but appear to be levelled off by Wednesday - still down slightly over last Wednesday but not much.


 9:55 pm on Dec 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

I've noticed that 3 of our sites that lost ~50% of traffic on Nov 19th have come back with a vengeance on Tuesday/Wednesday (29th and 30th).

I thought it was just holiday traffic getting my hopes up but after further examination, it's not. It's a massive recovery.

Something interesting to note. All sites that made the recovery now have rich snippets appearing in the SERPS.

Another interesting think to note is that not all pages in each site have the rich snippets, only pages with over 10 retweets, over 5 +1s, and over 50 FB shares.

Not sure which factor it is or a combination just yet.


 1:31 am on Dec 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google is definitely doing something. Sites that have been putting in the hard yards over the past 6 months are really starting to come through. Nice, bout time. ;)


 1:42 am on Dec 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

Interesting you mention rich snippets, they appeared in one of our sites over the weekend too. Shame though because we've just noindexed about 90% of the pages on that site to see if we can break out of Panda.

azn romeo 4u

 4:16 pm on Dec 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

Starting right at midnight December I noticed a change in traffic from international visitors. From the hours of midnight - 3am (I have all my stats recorded daily/hourly) I lost 50% @ midnight, but then gained 100% at around 2am. This was never the case. It was the opposite. Usually at around midnight I see 100% more traffic than @ 2am.

This was like this for months, but now the last two days are the exact opposite.

And yea IMO Google throttles traffic. I have a year's worth of traffic recorded hourly/daily and you can see it's almost the same every hour. I don't believe that with 1 billion internet users or whatever online per day, that some visit my site at the exact same times everyday.


 5:01 pm on Dec 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

We're seeing traffic throttling vary according to the time of day too; massive reduction in organic traffic from Google overnight and during the mornings; and a modest increase during the day and evening.

We've been in the industry 10 years and this isn't natural behaviour, peoples search patterns just don't shift like that.

With regard to throttling traffic in general, Google certainly does this - we have countless examples where organic traffic has increased due to news or other events and then almost exactly the same amount of traffic "been lost" later in the day as if to compensate. Clearly there is a limit to how often a non-Google owned property can "be the best result for users" per day ;-)


 10:20 pm on Dec 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

Haven't been in here for several months, simply because things were chugging along at pretty much normal levels. Yesterday the bottom fell out similarly to this time last year. Not sure if everyone is exhausted from Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but whatever happened it's like we don't even exist again. Site doorbells have fallen silent and only a trickle of sales.
I'd have to agree with mhansen...I have some sales coming through from foreign customers after midnight, but during the day it's deadsville. It's like someone reversed their interpretation of our hours of operation (which is really 24/7).

I will predict a spike on December 26th continuing through March 30th.


 3:26 am on Dec 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

It is hard to tell what is going on if you are only going by traffic. Perhaps one site does good during the holiday season and another does not. Maybe there was a world event and all of a sudden no one is interested in your site. There are a lot of reasons why one site will fall for a week or two.

I usually do a quick check in Analytics and see how many pages were seen. And then I compare it to similar days (like Fridays to other Fridays etc). Was it just a bad Friday or Tuesday?

If there is a trend, then I check my SERPS and make sure they are still showing up in the same spot they were before. If the SERPS are showing up, then it was just a bad day or week.

It is difficult to see what is happening if we just look at traffic. Why was the traffic lower? What happened to the SSRPS? Was there other reasons outside our control?


 3:29 am on Dec 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

To backdraft7:

Haven't been in here for several months, simply because things were chugging along at pretty much normal levels. Yesterday the bottom fell out similarly to this time last year.

I saw a decline too. We are still looking into it and think there might be external reasons like Panda. But Tuesday we had a great day with a large number of pages viewed.

Like others, when I see a decline, I check here first or second to see if there was a new updaate.


 1:54 pm on Dec 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

Saw a massive spike in crawler activity in the last few days, biggest spike I've seen in months - could mean that something is brewing.


 3:21 pm on Dec 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

I have a site which just recovered from panda in this last update (panda'd in July - down to 15% of previous traffic). I would love to give a list of things I did to the site to aid the recovery, but this was the one site I didn't do anything to as I couldn't really find anything wrong with it. It's more up to date than most of our competitors and we just kept updating as normal and tried to forget that the big g didn't love us anymore.

We did get a massive spike in gbot activity just before the recovery and although back to previous traffic levels, the keywords we're ranking for has slightly 'shifted'.

The only thing I could attribute the recovery to would be that we've become much more pro active in getting scraped content taken down (we were copied and spun ALOT).


 6:01 pm on Dec 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

Welcome to the forums, Savandry. I know several other Panda "victims" who have had a similar result from aggressively going after their scrapers (even legitimate syndication and value-added mash up sites.)

One of the emerging clarities about Panda seems to be that you've got to been seen as the original author of your own content to avoid demotion.


 8:43 pm on Dec 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

aggressively going after their scraper
been doing some more tonight - some easy to deal with but others more of a mashup of ours and others content, so it's difficult to have legal proof. Then there is our content in an official pdf guide to a military base :)

 2:08 pm on Dec 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

Throttling of traffic seems like a fair way to allow newer sites into the mix of results.

Perhaps Google is randomizing sites shown a bit more to allow other sites to share in Google's bounty of organic traffic.

As a user (and newer web site who gets less organic traffic) I am growing tired of seeing the same results...I would like to see other site options.


 6:24 am on Dec 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

No changes made on site, they only acquired a new domain and 301 the pandalized one to it.

So they moved their entire site to a totally new domain, I wouldn't consider that coming out of the penalty, but honestly we have considered doing that ourselves since our 14 year old ecommerce site has been horribly affected by virtually all the panda iterations.


 8:26 am on Dec 5, 2011 (gmt 0)


It is I believe a really short term solution. There's no way they can get out of Panda by just moving their domain. I will follow up on their rankings and keep you posted.


 11:09 am on Dec 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Hi, my first time posting, tho' I'm not new to SEO. I work for an eCommerce website in the gifts niche, and over the past 2-3 weeks I've been seeing some really low quality results gaining significant ground in the SERPs. Is anyone else seeing recent examples like these?

A search this morning for <snip> finds a site suddenly ranking in position 1 that is 100% AdSense above the fold, and reports an OSE domain and page authority of just 1 out of 100. It has an exact match domain (appended with '2011' - an effect of the greater freshness being targeted?). This is the worst example I've seen in recent weeks, but by no means the only one.

Near exact match domains seem to be the common characteristic, as well as the fact they've ranked nowhere near the first page until recently, when they've jumped to a top 3 spot.

I'm also seeing a couple of sites getting into dominant positions with backlink profiles that are full of recent forum comment spam.

I'm happy that the link building we're doing is more robust and less grey-hat (guest blogging etc), but these low quality tactics are clearly working for these sites at the point it matters most. Very frustrating.

[edited by: goodroi at 7:47 pm (utc) on Dec 5, 2011]
[edit reason] Please no specifics [/edit]


 1:04 pm on Dec 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

It has an exact match domain (appended with '2011' - an effect of the greater freshness being targeted?). This is the worst example I've seen in recent weeks, but by no means the only one.

It's not the only one there are lots of examples but a search engine algorithm will try to match the domain name with the domain content and expect this to rank very high. What you pay is what you get, it was always beyond me, why renting domains is so undervalued. It's becoming a buck for a dozen. I don't see why Google is the right authority to rectify this though.

See also my comments in this thread.

Maybe they wait for IPV6 to revalue domains, it needs to happen at some point.


 2:24 pm on Dec 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google funding itself... promoting a result full of the highest paying ads, front and center. If Google wants to fight spam, they need look no further than their adsense program and placements like this, which THEY have been recommending for a long time.

Maybe it's time for Matt to give the adsense teams a talk about promoting search quality, instead of harping on Webmasters to quit trying to game their system. A limit of one adsense block [period] per #*$!x words would be a good start.

Funny - one of the ads I see is "Top... Gifts 2010" LOL


 2:49 pm on Dec 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

surely its not that easy to game google?

Playing around with the domain keywords and page content long enough you can fool it. And you can rent 100s of domains and repeat the process with minimal cost.

Have to pay instead $1000 a year to rent a .com domain you will rethink before messing with it. And a manual intervention to take a spam domain down then will worth it.


 4:57 pm on Dec 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

What's sad is that our site doesnt pay for that type of garbage, yet there are all sorts of blogs and crap sites that link to us.

Honestly I think some of those sites just do a mash-up of google results and respost them on their pages.


 5:32 pm on Dec 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

One of the emerging clarities about Panda seems to be that you've got to been seen as the original author of your own content to avoid demotion.

So how would Google go about doing that?
I confronted my biggest scraper competitor regarding sales copy he stole and several other copied aspects of my site and I used the Alexa Wayback Machine as my evidence. The next day the scraper blocked Alexa's Archiver robot, erasing all that past data that was quite damning to his case.

Does Google store the same data? and if so, when did they start?

almighty monkey

 5:44 pm on Dec 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

have a search for their actual domain name in google. they've got loads of dodgy backlinks. its all blog posts about totally random subjects and social media signals.
surely its not that easy to game google?

Yeah it is, at least in the short term. If that sites still there by Christmas I'll be surprised though.

It's the whole age old argument with Blackhat. It does work, but your putting yourself in a position where Google are trying to ban you. Is that a risk your willing to take? It's a call every marketer must make.

If your just trying to make a quick buck over Christmas like this dude, then psamming is probably the smartest strategy - It'd take maybe years to rank for that phrase otherwise. If, like most Webmasters, your trying to build a proper site with a stable long term traffic stream from Google, putting yourself in a position where they're actively trying to ban you is just dumb.


 5:53 pm on Dec 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Seeing some of these domain-keyword combo's hitting local sites here in our world today as well. A search for "cityname product-type" results in a repeated MFA with similar setup to above. Two 336x280 ad blocks above all content, and much of the actual content not even related to the query.

Domain name > very keyword related.
Aged content > mostly related to query
<6 Month old content > not even closely related to the topic.

I often notice useless results when algo testing is going on, so maybe Goog is testing small changes in line with Matt saying they would be tuning the system for sites obstructing the content with ads.


 10:38 pm on Dec 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

We have quite a bit of niche specific, industry expert buying guides that are being pushed from #1, to #11 in SERP position. Replacing us are 10 "answers" type listings (Yahoo answers, eHow answers, Ask answers, etc)

I checked several of our pages that typically ranked in the top 5 for phrases beginning with: how, why, will, etc, and seeing several with similar trends.

I assume this is related to the "weather report [webmasterworld.com]" offering more longtail relevance.

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