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Google Updates and SERP Changes - Apr 2012

 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]



 3:41 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

competitive key term in the financial sector, ranking top 3, unrelated to the topic, ranks only because it links to a relevant site using invisible links in the footer. Spam is alive and well, Google simply pushed it to the top.

Here's so spam I made ahead of time ;)

It seems that every change to the algorithm finds previous failed spam experiments. These stand out like a sore whatsit so loads of folks pile into doing the same thing cos it works dunnit.

Google causes spam.

I really only need about 20 pages on my highly targeted niche site for my users the rest are for Google. And all of my satellite sites are for Google, and all of the other folk's sites that I help out in exchange for links are for Google, and all of the directory entries are for Google, all the email resquests I send out are for Google.


 3:58 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

crobb...you talking about idestroy#*$!x?


 4:03 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)


- Several years old.
- Old style link building, Niche directories, BOTW, DMOZ, asking Webmasters for links, link out to quality sites only. Linked in from manufacturers, niche professional associations, etc.
- Specific pages hit, not entire site, but the main pages, in the main menus were hit the hardest, which leads us to feel its an over optimization, anchor text thing.
- Business name (same as domain) still ranks #1, shows sitelinks, etc.

I'm seeing the same thing:

- several years old

- 3? years ago hired a couple of Indians for a few months to build links, never saw increase in rankings so stopped using them and started with more "white hat" methods.....guest blog posts etc.

- My business name still ranks

- specific internal pages were hit hard (they don't show up anywhere)


 4:15 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Lets keep in mind that the current Over-Optimization Update is still young and would be in progress for several days and its too early to issue a final judgement ;-)


 4:22 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Ummon - that updowner thing is just some big scrapy site pretending to be a tool, that sucks up all your pages; I have it listed with a huge number of backlinks on all my sites, and I'm positive that Google doesn't count them for good or for bad.


 4:26 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

current Over-Optimization Update

Looks to me like there's 2 main focuses'

1. Penalise sites with unnatural back link patterns.
2. promote sites that avoid keyword stuffing by heavy use of synonyms.

I'm seeing a couple of sites that are stuffed with semantically close and synonym words ranking well for the target term. They are, kind of, over optimised for synonyms.


 4:27 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

As a followup to the previous update that was reversed last week, which Matt Cutts stated was an error of the "Parking Classifier"... I had reported that one of my sons had a hobby site hit by that update. He is about as far away from an SEO as you'll find.

His hobby site returned 2-3 days later, after Matts statement about there being an error in the parking classifier.

The hobby site is gone again after this latest update on the 24th.

My opinion, is that the message about a "Parking Classifier", was really just the precursor for tuning this current update. IMO, If a few of the bigger site owners who complained heavily on the Google Webmaster Forums had not stepped up, this algo update released on the 24th, would have come a week sooner.


 4:43 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

crobb...you talking about idestroy#*$!x?

Tex, yes. lol. Amazing results huh?


 4:45 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

LOL, I've been doing this for 15 years, and I sure liked it better in the old days, when G didn't have a monopoly. I'm pretty sure they just did a whois for my name, and then just dumped all my sites...

All I see in front of me are big brands. Sure they should be there, but putting a review site or two in the mix would sure help the consumer make up their minds. (Oh, wait, that's what the "Shopping" button is for...)

I ended up calling the community college this morning for career placement testing. G took all the fun out of being a webmaster years ago, and it keeps going downhill. I liked helping the people who came to my sites, and I even sent them to competitors and links to stuff I didn't make any money on, if it was the best choice for them, but G's out to make money, just like the rest of us, and it pays to keep the big companies happy in my niches.


 4:55 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

It's almost as if Google is engineered to guarantee your failure. Follow their guidelines then they change 'em on the spot. Poof you're gone! Anyone building a site in the past 10 years who didn't engage in some sort of linking, back linking, keyword tweaking or hyperbole in their text to attract listings was never listed to begin with. Now it seems those sites are taking over? Good grief!

The moment we adapt to the "new standards" they'll change the rules again...better get used to the new "and improved" everflux.


 5:54 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Anyone building a site in the past 10 years who didn't engage in some sort of linking, back linking, keyword tweaking or hyperbole in their text to attract listings was never listed to begin with.

I'm sorry for your pain, but this is just flat out not true.


 6:09 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

After the quietest day since 2005, today our stats went through the roof. I now see the small index and positions don't look good, so this must be coming from the larger index.

My index now returns 500k on the search I'm watching (I've seen this at 3,000, 1 million and 2 million).

This is in the UK.

Just hope today's traffic is a sign of things to come and not a blip.


 6:13 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

What backdraft says is not universally true, but it certainly is for a large # of competitive niches, including one I work in a lot.

Page 1 of SERPs: Big Brands and Local Results.
Page 2: All pretty spammy sites. Including one I worked for.

Company A: 90% spammy paid links, Over-optimized on page text.
Compaby B: 90% spammy paid links, Over-optimized on page text.

Both decent Social Signals. Both around several years.

B is on page 45 of Google.
A is ranking #11 (page 2).

Total Nonsense.


 6:24 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)


I agree with you about unnatural backlink patterns...

but 2 sites in my niche (dating) rank top 10 for a very competitive kw and most of the links using this kw are from sites of other niches (travel, garden, electronics) and the other site use hidden kws in visitor tracker gif...


 7:22 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

So some people are appear to be saying that all their sites have been hit.
What is the consensus here?
Is G downgrading a Webmaster and all his work, or is it that all the sites of a particular webmaster have something in common.


 7:43 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have one site with several subdomains. Some of the subdmains were hit while others were unaffected by yesterday's change. The subdomains which were hit are lead generation topics but we have been actively working on the topics with professional writers to improve the quality. These are down roughly 45%. The other subdomains are a forum, q and a site where the answers are provided by licensed professionals and non lead generating subdomains (This contentnt has not been worked on for a few months). Looks like most of the loss of traffic came from long tail searches.


 7:47 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

I really only need about 20 pages on my highly targeted niche site for my users the rest are for Google. And all of my satellite sites are for Google, and all of the other folk's sites that I help out in exchange for links are for Google, and all of the directory entries are for Google, all the email resquests I send out are for Google.

Which really..despite what Matt says, is exactly how they want it to be..


 7:50 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

So some people are appear to be saying that all their sites have been hit.
What is the consensus here?
Is G downgrading a Webmaster and all his work, or is it that all the sites of a particular webmaster have something in common.

From my point of view....it's either one of two things:

Matt Cutts and his team are geniuses and have finally figured out a way to combat SPAM on the internet. This update had a ton of collateral damage and he will be fixing it in the coming weeks and/or months.


Matt Cutts and his team have over-engineered the Google algorithm and this cluster-f@*$ of an update will solve nothing. Thousands of honest webmasters who were only trying to follow the rules will get dinged......and yes, some spammers will, however the spammers will come right back with a new set of tricks, once they figure out how to take advantage of the new loopholes created by the algorithm.

Meanwhile, thousands of honest webmasters will still pay the price and never get their rankings back.....thereby creating a void in the search results that will be filled with even more spammy looking sites.

I think Cutts and Co. unfairly targeted sites with affiliate links and made "catch-all" filters for sites that do have affiliate links, regardless of whether they were spam or not.

Just my .02

Meanwhile, (and I'm not going to "out" anyone) but one website I know has continued to rank #1 for a medium competition (organic) keyword, despite all of Panda's best efforts.

"Build your site for your visitors" is a crock of #*$! for this particular query, as he is merely promoting an affiliate program. His entire backlink profile consists of paid links, multiple aged domains that he most likely purchased (totally non-relevant) and a few other tricks which I won't disseminate due to the fact I might have to follow suit.

This whole "build your site for your visitors" is a crock of b.s. We build our sites for the Google algorithm and whatever they seem to think is "right".

For you see, many many many honest webmasters got dinged by this update on April 24th 2012. They were "following the rules" and look where it got them.

This update has taught me a very valuable lesson: Don't listen to the propaganda coming out of Cutts mouth. Instead, pay attention to the sites who continually survive draconian algorithm update after update.....then copy what they are doing.

Here's your quality site, Cutts. Exactly as the algorithm you engineered wants it to look/feel like. Screw the visitor.


 8:18 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

@BaseballGuy I feel your pain. But this is not over yet. Let's wait a few days and see how this pans out.

@Hissingsid what exactly is deemed an unnatural backlink profile this week?


 8:26 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Very interesting lists!

Winners & Losers From Google's Webspam Update [searchengineland.com...]


 8:48 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

what exactly is deemed an unnatural backlink profile this week?

That's just my hypothesis on why a couple of sites I'm used to seeing have disappeared. If you analysed the backlink patterns for the top 10 before this mess started for a particular 2 word term in my niche. One site stands out. Far more links to it than anyone else, more of them from US sites even though the product is very specific UK only, 301s from sites that had backlinks that included wiki spam, blog comment spam etc.

The other 9 have far less backlinks with around 80% from UK on topic sites. If you were to graph them they would all fall around a line except that one that wouldn't fit on the graph paper.

Bizarrely one site that is ranking now is an exact keyword domain with links back from around 100 domians almost exclusively paid directory networks. You know the sort of thing, pay $99 and get into 34 directories, $199 for 100.

Robert Charlton

 10:07 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Mod's note: We don't allow posting of specific examples of search results. As explained in the Google Forum Charter [webmasterworld.com], there are good reasons for this provision, including protecting each and every member here from being outed by others. If you haven't read the Charter, I suggest you do before posting.

Earlier in this thread, we did discuss a specific example of Google Bombing an empty blogspot site, but that was a very special case... it's a widely known demo site up there to tweak the Google spam team.

I'm sure at any time, given all the sites on the web, any of us can find specific bad search results. It's not the purpose of this thread, or of this forum, to discuss the specific sites.

This thread is to discuss general trends. Observations about the nature of the sites that rise or fall and thoughts about why are helpful. It's not helpful simply to complain, though I can understand why some might want to.


 11:11 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Anyone notice many of the prweb pages are gone? Massive deindexing there. Friend told me and sure enough I can't find many of their main pages in google. Just the scraper sites!


 11:20 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Robert Charlton thanks.

My keyword stats don't make much sense. Through the IPs I check, I only see 2 different databases (one new and one old). One ranks my site higher than the other (top 10 on one DB and page 3 for the other).

Yet, I only get hits through that keyword every few hours. Last time I was in the top 10 for this keyword, it would get 1000+ visits a day, even at rank 9/10. Today, it's less than 50.

I haven't noticed much bouncing around either within the DB except within the top 10 (sometimes ranked 5, sometimes ranked 10).

Traffic is still about the same as it has been since April 20, but I'm ranking much better in the new DB for a few keywords.

It seems that certain IP addresses are tied to those databases as well.

So does that mean the new DB is only showing to a very small set of people?

Are you guys that are being hit so badly local sites?


 11:35 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

I was taking the word of someone else just checked. The site I gave also seems to be having issues in bing as of 4/22.

Looking through our keywords there seems to be an issue with relevance. In an attempt to fix a problem they've created new ones. Mainly they seem to be returning very loosely related terms.


 11:54 pm on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

@menntarra34 @Sand

As of yesterday in WMT my pages crawled have DOUBLED, my kilobytes downloaded per day have shot up from around 50,000 to 585,000 but the time spent downloading a page has stayed the same. This is probably due to the spam algorithm change going live yesterday. I'm really hoping to see an increase in rankings now.

A bit of history of my issues.

About a week ago my site disappeared from results overnight for top keywords. After about 3 days they returned 6 pages back and now they continue to show and disappear in results (still 5-6 pages back).

I've also noticed more international traffic (I'm based in Australia and run a .com.au ecommerce site).

It's almost like Google is still incorrectly seeing my site as a parked domain :\


 1:42 am on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

Whatever type of 'spam' G is going after, it doesn't appear to be the counterfeit merchandise kind.

Checked a common term, on first page, the #2 through #10 spots are pure on page spam, promoted using off page spam. Along with a half dozen or so DMCA notices...lol.


 2:37 am on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm sorry for your pain, but this is just flat out not true.

@netmeg - First off, I'm not in any pain. My serps still look fine (but traffic quality stinks). Second, so you're telling me that successful sites don't tweak keywords and build links and back links and haven't stretched their content to include keywords - ALL based on what GOOGLE's algo's (used to) expect to see? Oh the webmaster's who didn't may have been listed alright, on page 30.
You mind jumping off my back again, my statement is most definitely true.


 3:05 am on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yea, I'm saying that all webmasters didn't engage in such, and all the ones who didn't, didn't end up on page 30.

Matt Cutts confirmed there was another Panda refresh on April 19.



 3:29 am on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

@backdraft7 - At one point for about 18 months out of the 10 years we did minor tweaks - meta tags, H1 tag optimizations, and a little bit of kw alignment. It was slight because our writing process is difficult with lots of input from professionals. More resource was given to building it correctly right out of the gates. We've never built or solicited links. We successfully built great content that users and engines like. The content organically morphed into a few hundred thousand links. We are a top player in our category with near zero optimizations.

I'm not saying that we were not strategic. We’re very good at generating new content and newsletters -- this activity makes us money. The content ranks well and continues to do so. I’m with @nutmeg on this one. I think that she’s trying to say that some sites don’t optimize content or build links. I consider our sites in this category. We do cull over our content every 12-24 months to make sure that it is still relevant and up to date. And we take down content that does not provide value or becomes dated. Some of us just follow best practices and set our “north star” to doing what is right for the user. We’ve spent millions in an attempt to do it right and above board. There are far too many folks out there playing games.

Google is not my friend. They’re totally screwing with my livelihood. So far, so good - but we’re not out of the woods yet. Sales today rebounded to within normal for a Wednesday. Still, sales are lower than I want them to be – probably the economy… SEO sessions for the 11pm EST time of day are on the high side of my trend-line (by ~1k). Today is my highest bot activity day in history. This concerns me a bit because high bot visits typically precede times of sales instability. Conversions, time on site and bounce rate are with the normal range. I’m not seeing any movement with the big players in my industry. I feel like Google’s throttling us. They’re spreading the traffic in some grand democratic way to limit wealth. Communist #*$!s – they are… probably because Google is full of academic types. We’re in a period of digital Darwinism. Survival isn’t easy.


 3:48 am on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

I never solicited links either, In fact, I've got less than 10 outbound links from my site, but unless you've been living on the far side of Pluto for the last 10 years, Google has been ENCOURAGING keyword usage and it's been common knowledge that making sure your key phrases in your title, description, keywords and content were all tied neatly together. This has long been a well known and NON blackhat way to rise higher in the serps. Look at a optimization report in software like IBP, if offers white hat suggestions to this end.
My point being, in case it flew past the hairdo, is that now Google appears to also be frowning on the common "normal" optimization techniques we've ALL used for years. (if you disagree with ALL, show me your high ranking page that does not use meta tags)

Yeah, I know all well that their target is the "over optimizers" their announcement letter of the latest update contained a few ridiculous examples), but again, unless you've been living in deep space, you should know all about Google's slash & burn approach and false positives.

As we build according to the rules, they seem to keep changing them, hence engineered for failure.

@DD - I agree with you on the apparent traffic quality issues, you and just about (apparently not all) everyone else have been experiencing. I've lost a lot of love for Google since the May Day update. I'm not a hater, I just call 'em like I see 'em.

[edited by: backdraft7 at 4:00 am (utc) on Apr 26, 2012]

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