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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]

 

Shaddows




msg:4445889
 9:05 am on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

@tedster (where is he, anyway) said something years ago that stuck with me, to the effect
"There comes a point where it's easier to produce quality than to imitate it"

Irish, you seem to of the opinion that a polished turd should outrank an unpolished diamond, as long as the make-up man knows his craft.

I disagree, no matter what the niche.

For example, a "viral" video does not necessarily* have the production quality of its unsung couterparts, but does better because of its interaction with humanity. In the US election season, to paraphrase a classic slogan, "It's the connection, stupid"

*It might, of course. There's lots of money in producing "viral" videos.

Play_Bach




msg:4445892
 9:09 am on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

@irishsolar

Ok, let's pretend she has a recipe for chocolate cookies. The web is young, she makes a site. Her cookie turns out to be a hit and she starts getting lots of press. Fifteen years later, people still like her cookie. That's the scenario.

[edited by: Play_Bach at 9:16 am (utc) on Apr 26, 2012]

irishsolar




msg:4445893
 9:15 am on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Shaddows why are you associating off-page SEO with low quality?

It is possible, and highly advantageous, to attract off-page links by producing extremely high quality content.

Where did I ever indicate that I was talking about ranking a polished turd? I think you need to re-read my post.

Proper SEO is ALL about quality. Even Matt Cutts has spoken about good SEO being beneficial.

Is the site with a lot of broken outbound links and that has coding that "is a mess" the quality you are referring to? Do you think that should outrank a properly SEO-ed site that is relevant just because it has done no SEO work?

Shaddows




msg:4445898
 9:39 am on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

No, I think content should be king. I certainly agree that polishing a diamond (cleaning crappy code) would improve the value. But if it is the best content in the niche, it should rank #1, regardless of the non-optimum platform that serves it.

As it goes, that is NOT what happens in general. Usually poorly executed sites suffer. Allowing content to shine was and is a legitimate SEO goal. But it is not what you were talking about earlier:
What should also be taken into account is that off-page SEO is designed to mimic what occurs naturally i.e. building backlinks deliberately in a way that would normally happen naturally in an ideal world.


As I say, its slipperly language usage to say Type-2 SEO (Active optimisation) deserves to outrank a site, just because there are easy Type-1 SEO (Passive good practice) wins.

Shaddows




msg:4445902
 9:47 am on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

In fact I would go further. Google is actively trying to negate all that stuff that is being claimed as "necessary" by some.

I suggest while it may not have been necessary, it was certainly powerful. The result is that many, many sites were ranking higher than they would be without these powerful tools.

Google has reduced the effect of some tools on some sites, causing major headaches for some. Like many things, just because it feels like a penalty, doesn't make it true.

Being in the top 0.002% is still pretty good.

irishsolar




msg:4445903
 9:48 am on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

That is exactly what I said earlier. How you choose to interpret what I say is your concern Shaddows.

Good SEO aims to make a site the most relevant for the niche it is targeting. That's the whole point of it. Unless of course search engines are not trying to reach the same goal.

The simple truth is clear to see in the SERPs. A site is now ranking number 1 for a competitive search phrase that has such heavily spun content that is gibberish on 99.9% of its pages. The only page making any sense is the landing page.

Another unpolished diamond?

What's more, the off-page optimization comes in the form of the type of links on blog posts that Matt Cutts mentioned Google where targeting i.e. links embedded randomly within a post that make no sense and have no right being there.

This is the result of doing things the way you suggest. It is quite clear that search engines are not capable of telling good content from bad content. If they were there would be no spam on the internet!

Therefore we need some sensible rules to determine how a site should be ranked and up until this update we had some.

pelizden




msg:4445904
 9:52 am on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

Apr 25- Traffic on my largest site just 1/4 of normal. Lost ranking on almost all of my major keywords :(

fred9989




msg:4445906
 10:00 am on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

Many interesting points here, but a great place to start assessing the results from Google, a place which takes away some of the personal colouring I bring to my own assessment, is the Danny Sullivan page where he compares results from Google and Bing for a number of searches - it's well worth a look (follow the link in reseller's post 4445589 above, then follow the link and the bottom of the page to his article "Did Google's search results get better or worse?")

What seems clear from DS's research is that there is little to choose between Google and Bing now, at least for the "test" searches he selected, which admittedly were rather broad.
Of course what this implies about the absolute standards of these two search engines is open to question, but he does make the observation that he thinks Google has not achieved its objectives.

On a personal level, I have an uncomfortable feeling of familiarity. These results, from the health field, look so much like stuff I've seen before and would instinctively call low quality, a regression to blunders in past updates:

1) Single pages of websites ranking for important searches, not whole authority websites
2) Rankings of a lot of out of date stuff, eg blogs not updated since 2007 - 2009 (the latter blog having had no new posts for 3 years or more but it has had new links added to it from a link buying scheme as recently as Nov 2011 - not necessarily giving traction, I know, but still...)
3) Age old articles ranking
4) Age old directory entries
5) Low quality, trashy Yahoo answers ranking
6) Big branded sites ranking, but often of the superficial "magazine" type, with glib entries that have no depth or authority

Most of all, I have a clear sense of a lack of substance - an unquantifiable feeling when I look at the results that basically there is nothing I would trust or respect....though there are a couple of big name medical sites (not that they offer any products or solutions - they offer advice, rather superficial advice IMJ) and Wikipedia features too - but that's the same issue - it's information, not solutions, presented in response to a clear request for a way to solve a health problem.

And while a lot of this stuff could be the subject of a vigorous debate about how much it is worth, what really sticks out is that the only two sites on the first ten results where you can buy a product are ultra-spammy, both on page and off page, with 1000s of links from - in particular - a Chinese government site!

These links are divided into about ten different anchor texts which cover the whole range of related search phrases for this particluar query, all of which are stuffed throughout the site in abundance.

That's a clear miss for Google - but I hope to see the site drop sometime soon..... (faint hope).

And so - what has changed in the algo? No doubt many things have but my sense is strong around:

1) linked websites - in networks with a clear footprint - got demoted (ho hum!), not just in their own right but also in their ability to pass PR
2) a narrowing of the acceptable frequency of anchor text which would cause a target URL to feature in the search results for a particular phrase; too low - no chance of appearing, unsurprisingly, but go a smidgen over the acceptable upper limit (IMJ around 40%) - and the website plummets for that and all other searches
3) great sensitivity to link churn - changing, adding, or removing links too quickly (and that may be not very quickly at all) causes a penalty
4) I'm not so sure that thin content has really had much to do with this....
5) as always, though, massive link span can still keep you there, till it's detected....

Other suggestions welcome.
Fred

Shaddows




msg:4445907
 10:01 am on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

That is exactly what I said earlier


No, you said
I also strongly believe that if a site with proper on-page SEO for her niche terms had engaged in some targeted backlink building (prior to this update) they would have blown her out of the water

I'm saying that that is not necessarily true, bacause on-topic, organic links are powerful, as is content. Google deliberately rewards those.

Structure, coding and the rest help Google in correctly understanding the content. That's SEO, Google style.

Paid, swapped or otherwise built links not legitimate ways to get pages to rank, according to G.

Another unpolished diamond?

Nope, its a Google fail. Google does that, paticularly mid-update. However, you don't have to think Google is perfect in order to see faulty assumptions elsewhere.
==========
Not @irishsolar particularly
It's funny how many people say they do x,y,z as it is necessary for ranking, but also that they have never violated quality guidelines.

irishsolar




msg:4445908
 10:08 am on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

@fred9989 I completely agree with your assessment. You offer some great insights.

I've been saying for awhile I thought this was definitely an off-page problem and also noticed the keyword density signals.

I do think there will be either a roll-back or a massive overhaul of this update because the SERPs that I am monitoring (and even my own personal searches) are still returning irrelevant results that are outdated, spammy and low quality.

I actually started using Bing for my many of my own personal searches after getting frustrated with the Google results I was getting.

fred9989




msg:4445909
 10:09 am on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

Also would add that I supect Domain ownership as identified by WHOis (rather than linked websites) may be at play.

I say this only based on the interesting (well, to me, anyway) history of one of my websites.
I wrote a book years ago (subject:a very popular hobby) and when the book went out of print, put it up as a website.

Left unregarded by me, unknown to me it attracted hundreds of organic links through being spotted and promoted in the forums, in fact it became the authority in its field, and ranked #1 for a popular term for years.

It too has now plummted, and one possible key might be either the WHOis or the fact it is on the same private server as all my other websites with a hosting company.

But on the face of it - there is no other reason for the drop - no spam, no SEO, nothing artificial whatsover, and it has great content (if I say so myself, LOL).

Fred

irishsolar




msg:4445910
 10:14 am on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Shaddows Google's quality guidelines keep changing. That's the problem.

I have heard Matt Cutts speak on video about ensuring your links have your keyword in it. Now that's a penalty.

For years Google said backlinks & competitors can't hurt you. Now they can.

They keep moving the goal posts and it is getting difficult to stay on the right side of them no matter what you do.

It's funny how many people say they do x,y,z as it is necessary for ranking, but also that they have never violated quality guidelines.


Doing anything to try and improve your ranking is against Google's guidelines.

This whole thing makes me want to have a drink. Or is that just because I'm Irish ;)

fred9989




msg:4445911
 10:15 am on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

To clarify - my sites are spread across a private server and thirty or so other hosting companies' shared hosting...

@irishsolar

...as to a rollback, I fear not. My belief is that what they have done at Google is too complex to be reversible - and bear in mind they are committed to developing tools like LSI and AI. To admit it went wrong would cause a loss of face, I think....I don't see it happening. More tinkering, maybe.

And with more tinkering comes (IMJ) less control. Every time they patch one leak, another bursts elsewhere, like a tyre that eventually becomes more patches than rubber, and then finally explodes in chaos as you career along the road.....LOL

irishsolar




msg:4445923
 11:02 am on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

Nope, its a Google fail.


They seem to be failing a lot because this is happening across all niches and SERPs. The site I mention is not an isolated case.....not even for the same search term.

Structure, coding and the rest help Google in correctly understanding the content. That's SEO, Google style.


Not until recently. Like it or not Google's algorithm was built on counting backlinks. Everything else has been added to that framework.

IMO now that they have messed with the fundamentals of how their search engine works everything has went haywire.

Paid, swapped or otherwise built links not legitimate ways to get pages to rank, according to G.


That is black hat SEO. But all SEO seems to be getting targeted not just the black hat because Google can't tell the difference between good content and bad content.

Example:

Blog network posts that are heavily spun gibberish content with a link embedded in an inappropriate place that doesn't make sense.

Obviously this should be punished!

But, what about a guest blog post?

A webmaster supplies great quality content to a legitimate blog in the form of valuable information and in exchange for an embedded link that is highly relevant to the post and useful to the reader.

The webmaster in question has followed the guidelines, produced quality output to another site, helped the visitor of that site and basically enriched the web with his small contribution. Should that be punished?

Google can't tell the difference so should it just devalue both links? (There is large consensus now that Google manually punished BBR and ALN as well as a few others.)

Some people obviously think they should devalue all types of SEO and IMO this is a basic misunderstanding of how SEO works.

Anything that enriches the web should be rewarded. Proper SEO should always enrich the web. Proper SEO is just marketing and everyone in this forum is a marketer - so is Google!

At the minute it is as if you are guilty for using SEO before trial even amongst other webmasters. There is a saying that it is better to let 9 guilty men go free than to jail 1 innocent man. Our legal systems are built on that premise - innocent until proven guilty.

IMHO this update has made webmasters guilty until proven innocent.

epmaniac




msg:4445926
 11:03 am on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

i miss tedster!

irishsolar




msg:4445927
 11:09 am on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

@george_1 OMG. That is funny.

On the Google index where I am there is a site with the title "Lunch" a site guide to Central Virginia eateries (maybe they are really drug dealers and that's why they are in those SERPs... lol).

Also women in computer science gets returned.

Lol...Google is well and truly broken! You have to laugh. Thanks for the share george_1 that made my day.

IanTurner




msg:4445937
 11:42 am on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think this update is far from over.

Theory for you - Google Panda actively promotes some [possible] spam sites into good positions just to check user interaction data with those sites. If they get good interaction metrics they stay in the serps but dropping back to their correct position otherwise they drop away ne'er to be seen again.

Shaddows




msg:4445945
 12:02 pm on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

Like it or not Google's algorithm was built on counting backlinks


Yes. Natural backlinks. There were no unnatural backlinks because there was nothing to manipulate. You will notice I acknowledge that in the post you selectively quoted:
on-topic, organic links are powerful, as is content. Google deliberately rewards those.


IMO now that they have messed with the fundamentals of how their search engine works everything has went haywire
.
IMO, they are in an arms race where people are exploiting the fundamental way their SE originally worked. Because of backlink manipulation, they have had to work out ways of differentially valuing links.

The thing is, in any given purge of paid links, sites that merely dabble in them also get caught and have some of their backlink power reduced. And that's not even considering downstream effects (you might get links legitimately, but what if all your links come from link builders who have suddenly been devalued).

But all SEO seems to be getting targeted not just the black hat because Google can't tell the difference between good content and bad content

That doesn't make sense. SEO isn't content, and content isn't SEO. That sentence might as well read "dogs are getting targetted because the pound can't tell the difference between white cats and black cats"

Some people obviously think they should devalue all types of SEO and IMO this is a basic misunderstanding of how SEO works.

Anything that enriches the web should be rewarded. Proper SEO should always enrich the web. Proper SEO is just marketing and everyone in this forum is a marketer - so is Google!

That's word games again. To restate:
Some SEO is punished
Some SEO is Good Seo
Good SEO is getting punished.

I don't think all SEO should be devalued. Neither does Google. They want to punish paid links and spun content. That's not good SEO, and it doesn't enrich the web. The SEO is not trying to enrich the web, just himself.

I'm not saying Google are getting it right here. Clearly some crap is still ranking. I do note that those who consistantly advise against chasing the algo are doing fine. Those who say they "only do what is necessary" (and obviously far less than their competitors do) are getting hit.

Perhaps there's something in that.

garyr_h




msg:4445949
 12:05 pm on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

Wow! G just took away FOUR spots from the top 10. Now it only lists 6 websites and then 4 images on page 1.

We are going to see MASSIVE traffic loss!

Edit: Ok, scratch that! They are simply listing unique domains and then listing images as well. Some page 1s now have 6, 7, 8, 9 etc results.

irishsolar




msg:4445953
 12:23 pm on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Shaddows we will just have to agee to disagree. This is getting us no closer to a solution. The SERPs are still a mess and many good websites are still being usurped by bad content.

nickreynolds




msg:4445958
 12:42 pm on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

@irishsolar - in the results I'm looking at it's not just good websites being usurped by bad websites, it's also relevant results being usurped by irrelevant results.
I'm seeing a lot of results on lower page1/page2/page3 etc that are irrelevant to the search other than the one word featuring on their site is what is being searched.

If this is AI it's very unintelligent AI.

The problem for us is not just why did such and such a site get hit, but was it intentional that the site got hit... and then if so why.

irishsolar




msg:4445966
 12:54 pm on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

@nickreynolds I totally agree. If you look at the example george_1 gave and search for:
buy propecia
you will see quite clearly that there are 2 glaringly irrelevant results on page 1 that are not even remotely connected to the search query.

It seems that as Google are trying to fix this update they are just making things worse...at least IMHO.

If users were not noticing anything before 24th they will surely be noticing the bad results now - there is no escaping them.

crobb305




msg:4445968
 12:58 pm on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

in the results I'm looking at it's not just good websites being usurped by bad websites, it's also relevant results being usurped by irrelevant results


I'm still in shock. Some of the newly ranked top 10 sites across numerous queries are fairly new, and in fact seem to show a rapid increase in backlinks just since February. Removed from the serps were established, trusted websites that have been around a long time and are expected to have some strange links. If I need to get a loan or make a purchase of any kind online, I would certainly prefer to do business with someone who has been in the business for 10 years than a fly-by-night site that gets a free pass because no one links to them. They haven't been around long enough to ever get a blogroll link. The entire update makes no sense. It's just not right.

bluemonster




msg:4445977
 1:24 pm on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have one doubt. If suppose my blog posts are linked on so many spam websites (auto blogged sites or spam content) - will my website be affected in the webspam update which is rolled out ? The post content of my blog which are linked by many spam sites which I don't have control on, will my site be filtered by google bcoz of spammy incoming backlinks ?

backdraft7




msg:4445984
 1:41 pm on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

Anyone notice a change in the handling of plurals? We used to rank for "widget" and "widgets". Now we only show up for the plural term. This holds true for over a dozen terms related to our site.

plaflai




msg:4445986
 1:44 pm on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

We've seen some changes in our UK sites today. Some sites are up and down across a range of phrases.

To be fair to Google, phrases which I was always suprised we did well on due to little relevant on-site content have bombed and phrases which where we've got strong on-site content the serps have held. If it stays like this I wouldn't complain... just hoping that this isnt the start of something bigger to come!

george_1




msg:4445989
 1:48 pm on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

@irishsolar "Thanks for the share george_1 that made my day. "

glad to know that!1

maheshr




msg:4446037
 3:35 pm on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi Guys, I am new to this forum and this is my first post but been following this thread since it created.

I got warning message through WMT on 29 th March. But my site survived around 10 days and after that its ranking started to disappear. 2 keywords(ranking was around 6#) went to beyond #600 and 2 keywords were got around -10 penalty. But it seems yesterday they disappeared.

I was watching my niche rankings closely and I noticed the #1 site in that niche disappeared today. #3 got a penalty of -600.

And I saw a strange thing. The #12 ranking site (work-from-home-data-entry-jobs.com) is a single page wordpress site, absolutely no content. It has only the theme uploaded. But it is outranking many high quality websites having 100s of pages. I think googles recent updates are not working as what they expect and it made their ranking system malfunctioning.

Eventhough my site's homepage is showing beyond #600 for the main keywords, some innerpages having no backlinks or onpage seo is showing up on 4 th and 5 th pages.

Experts, will they rollback their algos? or the current results will be continued? or it will corrected?
Our bussiness is completely lost and in the current situation it is impossible to continue bussiness...

tigger




msg:4446044
 3:40 pm on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

@maheshr

I "think" we will see them tweaking panda pretty soon.....Its been a major roll out and they normally let it run for a few days before another tweak...I'll put money on it over weekend

least I hope so

robert76




msg:4446094
 4:54 pm on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

@backdraft7

yes, definitely noticing a change in handling of plurals

onebuyone




msg:4446098
 5:02 pm on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

Anyone notice a change in the handling of plurals? We used to rank for "widget" and "widgets". Now we only show up for the plural term. This holds true for over a dozen terms related to our site.


Does this mean that we should make more pages to get more traffic?

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