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This 319 message thread spans 11 pages: < < 319 ( 1 2 3 4 5 [6] 7 8 9 10 11 > >     
Google Updates and SERP Changes - Feb 2012

 7:50 am on Feb 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

Any help would be greatly appreciated, is it possible that this lastest update woull dump the SEO of my sites because I had link to them within the footer of one of my other sites? Also Google shown within its webmaster tools that there were some 2,000,000 + pages linked from the footer to my site.. is this a reason for google to penalize me? Any input wouldbe greatly appreciates..

I own all the sites involved...


[edited by: tedster at 5:41 pm (utc) on Feb 1, 2012]



 3:05 pm on Feb 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Saw a drop yesterday too 11-15%.

There must've been an adjustment yesterday.

Definitely not related to Valentines.


 3:33 pm on Feb 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

We saw a noticeable drop yesterday as well, which prompted a look into our detailed stats.

-21% from Google
+7% Yahoo
-14% Bing
-31% Ask (makes sense when looking at G and B)

Our main keyword losses were 1-3 word phrases (which we still rank #1-2 for) and we GAINED quite a few longtail referrals. For the longtail results that we seem to have lost, we still rank in top 1-3 places for many of them. (firefox, cookies to G blocked, verbatim)

Its been my best guess in the past that when we have seen results like this, its not due to a ranking flux, but the live-search and auto-complete results and the phrases that are populated into the search box as you type. (You know when you type, and the suggest and results just pop in auto-magically?)

It also explains why we sometimes get junk traffic from G... they are just getting the suggest part wrong for our site, or at least wrong in our definition.


 5:27 pm on Feb 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

I observed -10% too, but it is rather not any sort of update, may be just effect of currently running algo.


 7:27 pm on Feb 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Another rather strange find: the traffic has fallen for most of the broader 2 word keywords where we still hold the top ranks. This leads me to assume that Google has perhaps pushed a release that shows local and/or PPC results even more prominently than they were before?


 8:13 pm on Feb 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

In the last month I've noticed on every medical search I now find the big few sites, wiki, meds&ape, maybe the NIH. In every instance the independent specialty sites are gone. Up until recently I could search for a disease that comes from a tick and find a dozen independent sites including national organizations. Theyre all gone. Replaced by sites like the ones mentioned in some cases with identical information.

The same is happening on ecommerce. Google is crushing the smaller places. Domain authority is up on the big sites. All the storytelling on paid links is just that. Most of the big guys have thousands. Google was great when you could find the nugget. Now that's impossible as we are spoon fed the same garbage.

Big brother gives us what they want.

Ppc collapses yesterday too. It's either traffic down or a major overhaul. Google traffic continues to be the wrong kind.


 8:45 pm on Feb 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Definitely not related to Valentines.

I'm not sure.
I checked last year's stats and see a similar drop on February 14th. Thus, I guess it is Valentines related.


 10:03 pm on Feb 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Bit of a drop for most of my sites as well. You would expect less people to be surfing the net while spending time with their SO on Valentines.

Best to check the stats over the next couple of days before jumping to conclusions.


 10:23 pm on Feb 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

This leads me to assume that Google has perhaps pushed a release that shows local and/or PPC results even more prominently than they were before?

syed, I have to agree with you. When I change my location, my keywords show very local centric sites on page 1. One particular site came up on page 1 who used to be my local competitor and is now out of business. The site now is a placeholder Adsense/mfa page and Google is serving it on page 1. LOL.


 12:03 am on Feb 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Maybe it was a valentine's day hiccup. Things are back to normal on our site that took the 10% hit Monday-Tuesday.


 6:22 am on Feb 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm betting 19th Jan approx. 2nd week. A week to recover from NY hols , a week to talk about it and a week to pull the lever.

Feb will have a surprise update and everyone will stop talking of Panda with something far greater. [webmasterworld.com...]

The first bit came true, in the form of a data refresh, and a congested schedule of algorithmic alterations, now i wonder if the crystal ball is about to explode with a major Feb update. No idea really.

Tomorrow, US time will be 4 weeks since the start of the last data refresh of 19 to 26 Jan. Expect the switch to be flicked sometime in the next 1 to 14 days. With the exception of March 11 and December 11 something has happened each month and probably forms a calendar of events for each month for Google analysts. Who knows...

My guess is Google will want 2 switch movements and monitoring periods between now and Easter which falls on April 8, so sometime in the next 7 days looks more likely.

One year of Panda and i would have hoped for more success stories. It seems that less than half of those effected have seen improvements, and for some of those it may not have been entirely Panda. My guess is less than a third got out at best. A lot would have given up - so the failure rate may be higher.

Best of luck to all those who have persisted and let's see what the coming days bring. Onwards and upwards - keep the dream.


 7:14 am on Feb 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

From bad to worse here, one site hasn't had a single sale since Sunday. GA stats are all way UP still! Can't help but feel they did split A B testing prior to this as we were way up in January then bang, out of the blue we die. I guess our customers did like us even if Google no longer do. Oh well, looking like 10 years in the game are over :(


 7:43 am on Feb 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Definitely seeing some movement over the past 36 hours.

On Feb. 14 traffic basically completely fell around 8pm NY time, my searches couldn't find anything out of the ordinary (could have been Valentine's celebrations taking place, but I don't count on it. It was way too big of a drop off).

Within the past hour I have seen major changes within a few keywords.

Is something shaking at Google or is it my site specifically? I've made quite a few changes over the past couple of weeks so that wouldn't surprise me.

EDIT: I should add that I did see some change a day or two before Valentine's Day, but it was nothing too big or noticeable. This one seems to be quite a bit more noticeable on my end.

[edited by: garyr_h at 7:45 am (utc) on Feb 16, 2012]


 7:43 am on Feb 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

@ohno - just get some fresh eyes across your site and see who is capable and willing to help you out.


 3:24 pm on Feb 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Nobody has had a chance to answer my question on the other thread. Do you think the google above the fold update applies to regular ecommerce site without any ads?

ohno, just relax and go through google guidelines one by one. you can narrow down what the problem is and fix it. You can also post your problem at the google help forum. Now mind you, these guys can be very helpful, but also very harsh, depending on the mood, so you will have to have a thick skin.


 3:43 pm on Feb 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

I would guess the update does. Problem is many ecom sites use the header for adverts to their own products etc. BTW, we have ZERO ads on our sites. I have seen the Google help forum, trouble is there are a fair few on there with the same issues yet the general answer seems to be affiliates have been knocked for 6. They also have never seen the traffic anomalies we have either(traffic spike, conversion drop off, foreign traffic).


 3:57 pm on Feb 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

marycontrary (like your nick...)

The above-the-fold tweak is an interesting one.. I wonder if WebmasterWorld was hit by this? I look at Alexa and it seems to have run through it without a problem.

Being objective, I really don't see much information above the fold when I visit this site. It's a very well respected site, I know that... But you need to scroll down to see anything useful. I would think this is a prime candidate for a Google slapping.

I point this out to demonstrate the complexity of Google. We lost 10% of our Google traffic back on January 19th, we have nearly 400 words above the fold.

When I visit this thread, I see 76 (and it's repeated on each subsequent page).


 5:14 pm on Feb 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yes, I have asked this question at the google help forum as to whether this tweak applies to regular ecommerce sites. I will report what I find out.


 7:01 pm on Feb 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Okay they are saying the the above the fold algorithm is just for sites with ads only, and not for regular ecommerce sites.


 7:10 pm on Feb 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Interesting. Is that reply from a Google employee? If it is, please post a link - thanks.


 7:15 pm on Feb 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

They say they are volunteers, but there are ones that are high levels, like 10-15, that seem to have access to webmaster tool, analytics, etc.

[edited by: tedster at 8:58 pm (utc) on Feb 16, 2012]


 7:44 pm on Feb 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Do you guys use <title> on your links/images? I know it's off topic, but I saw a ranking drop after I tested it on an image. It bothers me that small tweaks can have such an impact on your site's ranking. We should certainly be able to change/tweak things on a regular basis without fear of filtering/penalty.

Nevertheless, I see A LOT of top ranking sites using <title> instead of <alt>, and I wonder if it's something I should be doing. My site is so old school, nested tables, dirty code, but gets 2,000 longtail visitors a day. I don't want to mess that up, but I need to get ranking up on the shorter phrases.

Also, I am seeing that the majority of top ranking sites have "TOS" or "How it Works" pages. Maybe Google likes to see these in addition to privacy? Or maybe it's just that the top sites are all owned by one or two people creating similar sites. I haven't figured that out yet.


 9:01 pm on Feb 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

@marycontrary - thanks for the report. I don't think we can consider the words of even high level posters on Google's forum as "official", but it's good to know that they feel that non-text content above the fold (such as video/flash etc) isn't a problem for this particular algorithm.

That also lines up with my experience on many sites I'm familiar with - only those that force ads into visitors face had a problem. Google apparently does differentiate here.


 9:14 pm on Feb 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

@crobb305 My site was the same as yours up until 3 days ago. Hadn't been updated in years, nested table's no H1 tags etc Errors all over the place and tiny text. But I was too scared to change anything as the rankings were good.

However, then Google started misplacing the home page periodically, and ranking the forum index and other inner pages instead. But not so well. Anyway I bit the bullet 3 days ago and uploaded new pages.

I kept the titles, urls and link's exactly as they were. However, the page code was clean/validated and I simply copied and pasted the existing written ( slightly changed here and there ) content over and added H1, 2 and 3 tags. Also pulled a few forum topics out to revolve 'live' on the static pages.

Fingers crossed, and mabye it's a 'honeymoon period' but am ranking better already for keywords, and the slightly changed better targeted snippets and phrases. But the important thing is that I didn't instantly tank afterwards like I feared I might. I'm still waiting with baited breath to see if things get shook up for a while. But, nothing yet but improvements so far.

I've been sitting on my hands for so long it's a relief to actually just have done it finally.

On topic while I mentioned perviously that a casual site of mine returned with a vengence on 8th Feb ( after disappearing from Google late Dec )... it entered oblivion-land once again on 14th Feb. Went from positions 3 or 4 first page, to average position 140 something, and about 3 Google referrals a day.. if I'm lucky.


 10:23 pm on Feb 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

@crobb305 regarding alt tags:

I wrote an original hands-on product review a couple of months ago. That review has about 15 images and all they have a part or the whole product name in their alt tags, as well as in images' title tags. I did not do that because of SE manipulation, but because on these images is the product, not something else.

Recently I did another review but forgot to put the product name in alt tags except in one image and that post is on the 1st SERP page.

It looks like I got penalized because of alt tag overoptimization in the first case.

Now I'll remove or change alt tags in the penalized post to see what happens.

BTW, the site in question is Pandalized in Feb last year.


 10:25 pm on Feb 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Sorry, forgot to write: the first review is not in the first 100 SERP results.


 11:16 pm on Feb 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

@danijelze, on a client site pandalyzed back in October I am seeing the same type of thing. I don't understand how they could penalize you for actually stating what the name of the product is for the image tags.


How many words is the title? Is the actual product name very popular/competitive online? How many "exact match" searches does the product name have under Google's Keyword tool?

I have several pages on this Pandalyzed site, some still rank fairly well for their targeted terms, but MANY of the pages that were "more accurately" optimized are NOWHERE.

I would rather not use Google's tools and data to make adjustments to my site, if they are going to turn around and claim I am over-optimizing and building my site for the search engines and not the users.

Do not give me "profitable" data and suggestions if you are going to punish me for it down the line. On some sites/projects, we have started wondering whether it would be better to just not use ANY Google tools whatsoever...


 11:24 pm on Feb 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Maybe I'm being a bit optimistic, but did something change in the serps today? Our pandalyzed website is now getting a lot more traffic today and the phones have been going crazy (in a good way of course)

Just wondering if something happened today with Google, because three of the phone calls today specifically told me they found us through Google. This was not something that I asked them btw.


 11:48 pm on Feb 16, 2012 (gmt 0)


The review title contains three words: manufacturer name + product model name + review.
The product has 8,100 global monthly searches and medium competition in the keyword tool.
It's interesting that any actual review of the product doesn't exist anywhere else except in a Youtube video (#1). Other 99 results in the first 100 are either fake reviews, product pages at online stores and comparison sites, just product specs, or unrelated pages. So, it looks like that OOP penalty is really a big factor, especially if combined with Panda.

The funny thing is that adding alt tags and image captions was one of things I did to improve the site and get out of Panda.


 12:10 am on Feb 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

@danijelzi, yep seeing the same type of stuff.

I am just left wondering, AGAIN, how all of this Panda and OOP stuff ultimately "encourages the best content for the users"?

How so exactly? By making webmasters so paranoid that they create 10 completely separate websites all based around their ONE niche, all designed differently with unique promotional methods and widgets, all trying every single type of SEO "technique" in the book, just to to try and replace the income they made from their ONE website that search engine users LOVED until some stated Panda iteration date?


 5:50 am on Feb 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

In the last month I've noticed on every medical search I now find the big few sites, wiki, meds&ape, maybe the NIH. In every instance the independent specialty sites are gone.

Exactly what I have seen in investment and finance. I have heavily lost ground to big, multi-topic sites (including wikipedia). One site that I did not even consider competition in my niche is now raking ahead of me for several keyword.


 7:31 am on Feb 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

My traffic is 10% down from a few days. Was Panda refresh or algo update?

This 319 message thread spans 11 pages: < < 319 ( 1 2 3 4 5 [6] 7 8 9 10 11 > >
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