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Google Updates and SERP Changes - Apr 2012
backdraft7




msg:4435783
 4:34 am on Apr 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

Going, going, GONE!
After over 10 years of consistently ranking between position #1 and #3 on page one for a single four letter word search term, the month of March (starting on the 10th) has resulted in falling to below the fold, then to page 2, then page 3 and today I have been completely removed for that term.

In place is nothing but garbage. Branding obviously has lost traction. I'm thinking whatever they have done is meant to stick. I checked to see if I had been over optimized for the term, but with a mere 4 occurrences on my page and my need to use that term to describe my product, I really don't know what they want from us anymore...

The effect of lost traffic has set off all the "Big Traffic change for URL" warnings and the anayltics charts have nose dived. Anyone else seeing this type of situation on their long established sites?

Lost income from March updates is just about $1000 / week.

I'd almost guess that Google is just removing older authority sites in favor of nothing but news articles and blogs.

[edited by: tedster at 4:54 am (utc) on Apr 1, 2012]

 

saxon




msg:4441203
 2:30 am on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

It would be one hell of a coincidence considering the timing and the thousands of ppl who got GWT warnings after using the blog network in question. Exactly what Matt said would happen - happened - to the very segment he warned. Who knows? Maybe another shoe will drop?

irishsolar




msg:4441263
 6:24 am on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think there is much more to the over-optimization penalty than just taking out a few blog networks.

Matt Cutts said they were levelling the playing field. From what I can see they have not done that but instead have came down heavy on SEOed sites and sent all the love to completely non-SEOed sites (as previously mentioned a 3 month old site with no backlinks ranks number 2 for a competitive search phrase.)

This is hardly levelling the playing field. It is a biased VERY much towards new sites and fresh content. There is nothing "level" about it!

I honestly think many times Google do the opposite of what they claim to do.

At the moment I am seeing lots of sites with adsense taking over the page ABOVE the fold. Now, I may be mistaken but wasn't this suppose to be taken care of way back at the beginning of Panda?

Looks like Google has pushed up their adsense revenue just ahead of their First Quarter April revenue report. What a lucky coincidence :P

oleah




msg:4441291
 7:19 am on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

I was also shocked in the middle of March by the SERPs. I actually did nothing to my site for months. However, SERPs went normal in a week.

irishsolar




msg:4441297
 7:30 am on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Is anyone else seeing the SERPs return to "normal"?

My main niche is still a mess!

Hissingsid




msg:4441317
 7:44 am on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

On Friday I put up a 5 page site with exact (2) keyword domain (no hyphen). I put links back to the site on a few sites I control, wrote nicely to a couple of forum owners to ask if I could give a mention with a link and was fortunate enough to put a listing on DMOZ.

I did no concious on page SEO, just did the pages by the book. Description, title, h1, h2 all contain the 2 word term.

This morning three of the five pages take the top 3 slots for that 2 word term in SERPS.

I've never in my n years (where n is a very large number) doing this kind of stuff seen such a quick and dramatic result.

I can almost here the crowd outside Googleplex chanting "you don't know what you're doing" as they do at soccer matches in the week before the manager gets sacked.

Shaddows




msg:4441336
 8:21 am on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Hissingsid

Sounds like you haven't invested too heavily in that site, and might be willing to let people try and knock it over with "dodgy links"?

irishsolar




msg:4441341
 8:29 am on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Hissingsid it's a complete shambles IMO.

There are sites ranking above me that are using graphics similar to the Comodore 64. There is one with NO content, just one 1980s type pixelated graphic. Its so ridiculous I actually laughed.

Hissingsid




msg:4441360
 8:50 am on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Shaddows
Sounds like you haven't invested too heavily in that site, and might be willing to let people try and knock it over with "dodgy links"?


I've got big plans for it. I'm adding a blog and forum today and going to a real World launch of the thing that is it's subject at lunch time.

But it would be interesting to do something similar and then bomb that.

I wonder if they have turned the DMOZ value up as part of turning up the value of new external links.

irishsolar




msg:4441379
 10:01 am on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Hissingsid how competitive is the 2 word term? Is it a money term?

irishsolar




msg:4441424
 12:21 pm on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Guys I am starting to think that there is no figuring out this update at all.

If freshness is the issue why is a news report from 1999 ranking along with an article about "current affairs" from 2006?

I don't know what is going on in other industries or what Google hopes to achieve from this update but returning a page with 1 pixelated image on a 5 page site which is ranking alongside outdated articles and 13 year old news feeds is not my idea of quality.

The only common denominator on most (not all) sites is adsense. Has anyone tried sticking some adsense on their landing pages above the fold?

petehall




msg:4441430
 12:40 pm on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

For me optimised terms are now doing really well... but anything outside of this range is all over the place.

For example, try a really precise set of long tail queries and get different sites coming up with each variation.

There seems to be no authority at all on these searches and it's just a free for all of random pages.

I think in my industry these unpredictable and varied long tail searches were very valuable and this is what has been lost. It's certainly not the positions I was aiming for - these are as strong if not stronger than before the 23rd.

SnowMan68




msg:4441478
 2:09 pm on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

@ petehall

What do you mean by optimized for? Creating targeted title tags and content? Or building links with exact anchor text?

petehall




msg:4441506
 3:04 pm on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

@SnowMan68 smaller, highly focused title tags, without exact matching text within the h1 tag. External links with varied text (including links to internal pages) and internal links without exact anchor text match.

What seemed to be the issue with my site was when everything matched too closely. Dare I say... a little over optimised.

My internal link text has always been the same so it's really quite basic alterations I've made to see an improvement in rankings. I have always varied external link text slightly as it depends where the link is going.

My only issue now seems to be picking up all the different variations of long tail searches.

We're really high on the 'optimised' (title tag) terms and not so great on others. It's like the sites reach is limited to very specific searches now.

I'm seeing this across other sites too - high rankings for some variations and nowhere for others. Previously these authority sites ranked highly for almost everything.

( Of course you always wonder if you'd changed nothing would the result have been the same :-) )

Hissingsid




msg:4441511
 3:19 pm on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

how competitive is the 2 word term? Is it a money term?


No it's not competitive but that's not the point I'm making. How can a new site for any two word term that has half a dozen new backlinks go straight in at #1 no matter if it's the least competitive term on earth.

In my main niche there is a site that has done the same trick for a very competitive 2 word term. Exact keyword domain with backlinks from just 100 domains, straight in at #2. I've never seen the site before and there it goes straight in at #2. Looking at the domains that link to it I can only see a couple that are worth anything the rest are just buyable. There must be some trigger but I can't see what it is, perhaps newness is a factor coupled with the speed of picking up backlinks but not too fast.

Universityzeus




msg:4441530
 3:50 pm on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Our site's whole niche is completely messed up as well. Did anyone read about Google apparently re-confirming that links cannot hurt you?

That's a complete lie.

It is the only questionable thing about our site. Well established, several years old. Good content and clean design. no bought links in over a year, but tons and tons from years ago.

There is nothing else that would have slammed us down from page 2 for our head two word term down to page 48!

ESPECIALLY a couple of weeks after a WMT link warning message.

"It's all a big nothing." - Livia Soprano, on Google.

mhansen




msg:4441532
 3:55 pm on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

I wonder if they have turned the DMOZ value up


I'm wondering how you got it listed in DMOZ over the course of a weekend! :) I've put 4 kids through college and still haven't had a few very high profile sites listed in DMOZ.

MH

jmccormac




msg:4441537
 4:08 pm on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

@IrishSolar
If freshness is the issue why is a news report from 1999 ranking along with an article about "current affairs" from 2006?

Because Google is using the date of the page generation (pointless with dynamically generated pages) as the reference instead of date cues in the content? After the mess it made with Panda and its 'Wikipedia with a shopping cart' blog post about what constitutes a "quality" site, I've come to the conclusion that Google is really screwed up. In the space of about a year, Google has managed to lose over a decade's worth of both user and webmaster good will. It is quickly on the way to losing the trust of users who now see almost half the SERPs results for some searches replaced with Google adverts. The sad thing is that the adverts are more on target than the SERPs.

Regards...jmcc

reseller




msg:4441554
 4:42 pm on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

The sad thing is that the adverts are more on target than the SERPs.


In fact that is a win-win situation. Satisfied advertisers win - Google win ;-)

irishsolar




msg:4441592
 6:00 pm on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

No it's not competitive but that's not the point I'm making. How can a new site for any two word term that has half a dozen new backlinks go straight in at #1 no matter if it's the least competitive term on earth.


It makes a HUGE difference what the search term is and HOW competitive it is. The mistake many webmasters make when trying to rank is that they think they need to beat Google. That is a completely wrong view.

You only need to beat your competitor! That is the way it has always been (up until now anyway - these latest updates turn everything on its head).

If you target a phrase that no-one else has optimized for then it is VERY easy to hit the number 1 spot on Google - sometimes within a few hours.

NORMALLY, you could do this with any useless term that has never been optimised but if you tried doing what you did with a competitive term you could bet you get completely different results (if any).

However I do take on-board that with these latest updates some very strange things are happening. New sites are ranking well in my niche also but we have seen things like this happen before.

In previous updates many times garbage sites rose to the top of the SERPs for a short while before things eventually settled down to a more "normal" state.



IMHO the difference with this update is:

1. The scale of the problem.

2. The outrageously bad results in the SERPs.

3. The length of time it is taking things to get back to normal is way beyond what we would normally expect.



I think things will have to settle down soon because if this is going to be permanent then Google is in serious trouble. In all honesty we have to assume that this is a huge shake up of the indexes and what we are seeing is sorting on a massive scale.

After all Google cannot allow such clearly visible junk sites to keep outranking sites that have something valuable to offer. For example, a 5 page site with no content and only pixelated images and sites with outdated news feeds is NOT what Google wants in its SERPs regardless of what direction its company goals are pointing it!

Google got to number 1 by beating its competitors and serving up the best results. They may now be more interested in advertising revenue and ensuring their algo keeps the money rolling in but they still want to give better results than Bing and Yahoo (which they aren't currently doing) to keep them with maximum market share.

So, this must pass....eventually.

Haven't some people, who were hit first in early March, already reported their niches and searches are returning to normal?

HuskyPup




msg:4441633
 7:57 pm on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Has anyone tried sticking some adsense on their landing pages above the fold?


Nah, nothing to do with AdSense above the fold. My standard template layout has a 728 x 90 banner above the fold but AdSense earnings are at 29.8% of a year ago, utterly abysmal.

scottsonline




msg:4441650
 9:03 pm on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

#1 site right now for a competitive two word term with 180k searches is an exact match domain. The domain has a footer that links to their network of 8 other exact match domains. They rank first on all their terms too.

Wouldn't that be aggressive seo that Mr Cutts said they were cracking down on now? Geez. I thought this ended five years ago.

randle




msg:4441656
 9:16 pm on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

I wonder if they have turned the DMOZ value up as part of turning up the value of new external links.


Last few churns have had a "back to the future" look about them for the neighborhoods we hang around in. Some aged sites that had slipped pretty far have surged back up, and some new kids on the block that were doing better than you might think they should got kicked down a bit.

Age seems to have made a bit of a comeback - wether its the links or the site itself who knows.

mhansen




msg:4441702
 10:40 pm on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

AdSense earnings are at 29.8% of a year ago, utterly abysmal.


I don't want to stray off topic, but we recently picked up two new tablets. After loading Firefox onto the units, we no longer saw adsense blocks on any websites.

We see the ads fine in the Chrome browser, but with no setting changes to default FF app, the ads are gone.

backdraft7




msg:4441709
 11:22 pm on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Terrible traffic quality today, and no, it's not due to tax time. I checked back to 2005 and never had any noticeable dips at or around 4/15.

I suggest stop making any crazy changes to your site other than normal housekeeping & updates.
If it was working fine prior to about March 10th, then it's just Google. Everything seems just FUBAR right now.
We have one excellent day, follow by a horrible day. It's not the site, it's traffic quality, and there is little you can do about that except to watch in horror.

All I'm doing now is throwing out occasional fresh meat, but just enough to give them a taste. This seems to help a little.

I was conversing with a UK based webmaster today about how long it took for May Day to settle out. For me it hit May 18th 2010, picked up a little July 4 2010, then came back to what I'd consider normal on October 3rd 2010. So I don't expect this to be over anytime soon.

.

gyppo




msg:4441751
 1:48 am on Apr 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm seeing good quality converting traffic for the last 48 hours or so, not seeing any change in traffic volumes. Some terms switching places & coming out of oblivion but nothing unusual.

serpsup




msg:4441752
 1:50 am on Apr 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

backdraft7 - interestingly I've had the same experience for bad and good days recently.

Saturday 14th - worst day ever for conversions
Sunday 15th - best day I've seen in quite some time
Monday 16th - started off very bad, but seems to be improving later in the day

I am also noticing a lot of shifting of keyword sets for my ecommerce affiliate site. Starting to get back some of the positions for the pre-Panda 1.0 rankings I had, but overall traffic numbers have been pretty much flat or a slight uptick for the past few weeks.

arikgub




msg:4441803
 6:23 am on Apr 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

On Friday I put up a 5 page site with exact (2) keyword domain ....


It makes a HUGE difference what the search term is and HOW competitive it is...


I have an e-commerce store on a 2-words EMD. It is a money term, high competition niche with heavy link buying from mid-size companies whose scope extend far beyond this specific keyword and whose annual revenue is somewhere in the 8 digits range.

I have been #1 for the past few years for the exact match keyword (plural) and its singular version, and it is actually in this update that the site went down a bit. It is #2 now for the plural, and #8 for the singular.

So there is more to it than just EMD love. However .. What's funny, is that for the singular term I am now overranked by a dodgy (and new) site on the exact match .us domain.

Now, I do not claim that my website is an authority site. It is an ok e-commerce site, no better and no worse than many other stores in this niche. But this .us site, and few others that are popping now, are just laughable. This niche looks like a total mess, still in the flux though, and I really hope it will settle down very far form where it is at this particular moment.

onepointone




msg:4441819
 7:13 am on Apr 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

How can a new site for any two word term that has half a dozen new backlinks go straight in at #1...


G is penalty happy.

My uneducated opinion is that G is so fixated on penalties and negative ranking factors now, that you see sites with few positives, but few negatives pop up in the SERPS. Also, other sites in line for penalties yet to be enforced are ranking.

Squeeze off one ranking factor, and the others becomes more important. Any ranking factor can be manipulated or faked, except true popularity. Thus the Amazons of the world will always be ranked up near the top. JMO

Martin Ice Web




msg:4441835
 7:45 am on Apr 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

@backdraft7
u hit the nail on the head.

Our niche has been heavy shaked up. Most of the upcoming ecom sites are low quality - > I think it has somthing to do with the "overoptimzed" and "level" efforts, cause this shops only have little ranges and will not hit the SEO overoptimized barrier.

I wonder why the "level filter" does not consider amazon? Cause now amazon sits on almost every query on spot 1,2 or 3. No good work, google.

garyr_h




msg:4441874
 9:46 am on Apr 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

Well the good thing is that pretty soon every single website and web page will be penalized.

irishsolar




msg:4441875
 9:59 am on Apr 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

I am now seeing competitor's who were buried from page 1 to the low 100s coming back into the SERPs and climbing fast - not all of them though. Only those ones who have now put adsense on their sites are regaining their rankings....coincidence?

Not only that but the ones that rank best have adsense above the fold...some of it is taking up almost all the page....the panda must be sleeping or too busy eating and s***ting bamboo shoots to notice!

I have tried a few tweaks to my site and added fresh content. I will see what that does to my rankings before I stick some adsense on to see what that does.

Anyone noticing the same thing or any other trends?

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