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Latest Google Update; Lost 1000's of Backlinks - Same PR

Lost many backlinks in the last update, but PR is the same.



8:20 pm on Mar 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I am at a loss as to why my site is doing so poorly now after the last Google update. My site was doing very well in Google for the last 6 months. I have a fairly large site of over 50,000 pages, and currently enjoy a PR 7. I even got lucky a few months ago, and got a listing w/ DMOZ.

Last month Google reported my backlinks as over 8000. I believe the exact number was 8301. Now after the last update a few days ago, my backlinks has dramatically been reduced to about 1000. There is no way I lost 7000 links in one update cycle. As a matter of fact, I actually obtained some very good links over the last month. I doubt that sites linking to me can hurt me, but something certainly happened this update…

My site is still ranking well for most of the search terms I usually do well on. However, my site used to appear top 10 for 100's of other keywords relating to specific models of widgets. After the last update, my site can not be found anywhere in the top 100 pages for a specific widget model. Sites w/ much lower PR are actually doing a lot better than my site.

I have not made any dramatic changes to my site or layout. I did add some iframes to increase functionality to my site. Also, I do have an affiliate links box on the footer of every page (like many sites). Could the iframes or off-topic affiliate links be hurting my SERP so dramatically after the last update?

My page rank has stayed the same (PR 7), but I now do terrible for many of the keywords that I used to do well on over the last few months. I certainly am not doing anything spammy, or illegal in Google's eyes. I am very confused, and would welcome some ideas.

Did I manage to trigger some sort of penalty or Google filter? Can sites linking to me hurt me in any way? I checked all the sites I link to, and most have a Toolbar PR of 3 or above. So, I am not linking to any penalized sites or bad neighborhoods. Frankly, I have not done much to my site in terms of SEO in the last few months, as I was doing pretty well. Now I am in oblivion, and I am at a loss... How did my site go from doing well w/ Google to doing very poorly when I changed nothing on my site?

Could someone have written a negative email to Google to affect my SERP? One of my competitors? How can I find out if this is the case?

Also, when searching for a specific widget in the past my site would come up as "domain.com/page.html", but now the only listings I see are "subdomain.another-domain.com/page.html". My actual domain name is not found in most of the listings for obscure terms I used to do well for (specific widget names). Rather, I see a link to a subdomain for my hosting company that links back to my site.

To wrap it up, I am not sure what to do from here. I mean If I was penalized, wouldn’t my PR have dropped?

Also, why is my site ranking so poorly for a lot of keywords I used to do really well for? I still do rank good for some 2-3 KW phrases that I have done well with in the past. It’s strange that I do very well on some phrases, but non-existent for some of the very specific KW phrases I used to do well on; there are literally 1000’s of these.

What happened during the last update that affected my site so dramatically, and where do I go from here? Anyone, please help; I am at a loss…

[edited by: Marcia at 6:37 am (utc) on Mar. 22, 2004]


9:56 am on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

We have wandered off topic again. This thread is NOT about the quality of Google's results. It is about the ABSENCE of Google results.

The thread (and all the others on the same subject) is actually about the millions of dropped pages, lost backlinks, PR, etc. It would be nice if someone from GOOGLE could comment on this. We are witnessing a really serious problem that surely justifies an explanation.

I may be overplaying it but I don't think so. Has anyone any evidence to the contrary?


11:02 am on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

So everybody - tell me. Of those of you who were dropped, whose sites met one of the following criteria:

1) You had a links directory on your site linking out to sites that perhaps your users may not have been interested in

2) You had more than one site on the same topic

I think that's what got us into trouble.


11:26 am on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have a links page on my site that perhaps my visitors WILL be interested in.

I have only one site on my topic.

I have lost all my titles, descriptions, PR and traffic.


11:59 am on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I think it comes down to 2 things having thought about it non-stop over the last 2 weeks.

1 - Appearance to Gbot of computer-generated pages
2 - Inbound linking structure in an unnatural manner


12:56 pm on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I think you may be on the wrong track Johnser. I have no computer generated pages, my website is 100% static. (Apart, of course, from regular updates.)

It is a technical reference site with inbound links mainly from other sites that are involved in some kind of maintenance or reliability engineering.


1:01 pm on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Are all your inbound links natural?
Are they recips or one-way?
Are your pages template-driven / of a standard design


1:02 pm on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

how many outgoing links in your links directory?

Are they reciprocal or is there incestuous linking between industry players?


1:10 pm on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Are your pages template-driven / of a standard design

I don't think that's a valid point, as I still see tons of yahoo/dmoz directory listings (i.e. serps pointing directoly to a category) showing up in the serps.

Further, we have one site that is curently ranked in the top 3 for it's major jeyowrd, and it has a template-driven design, yet another site (with a much higher PR) on a completley different topic thayt is also template-driven has gone MIA (dropped about 90k pages, etc.)

So I don't think a "computer-generated" filter is the problem. After all, what's wrong with having a standardized design structure for both ease of use, and branding purposes? Not a thing.

I'm just chalking this up to some kind of glitch (granted, one that's costing us about $200-$300 per day in lose revenue), not unlike the one a few months back that sent a bunch of index pages MIA for awhile.


1:42 pm on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

None of this applies to our site that are in the toilet.

They are not template driven (just straight html) They do not have fake directories (if google was filtering for that, what a great way to blow your competition away)

All of our sites are for local nitch, but all over the country. So, "keyword city state" use to deliver our sites right on target. Now it delivers garbage unrelated to the search.



2:09 pm on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

It would be nice if gguy could give us some kind of explanation on this issue.

I don't think it's a penalty, there's just too varied sites affected by this and the only common thing happening is the drastic disappearance of backlinks (solicited/unsolicited) and eventually the loss of PR.

But since gguy is mum about this thing, I could only surmise that it is just another G glitch...an aftershock of Austin.


2:17 pm on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I built my site using a template that I designed myself. Is someone suggesting that sites are being penalised for being based on a template? I always understood that using a template is a recommended technique in web design it would be just plain wrong to penalise sites that use this technique.

All the content on my pages (about 80) is different and some of them have lots of text providing detailed, technical information.

I have 23 links on my links page most of which are reciprocal. Alltheweb currently reports 158 inbound links, many from authority sites.


3:12 pm on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

hmmm - maybe I should think some more then.

OTOH, I'm looking at over 40 sites, some stable, most down but all built in a similar manner. Some by hand, most not. No recip links. All sites PR 4-6

The ones which are still doing ok have diverse incoming links from off-topic high PR sites and manual optimisation.

Many people have had directories hit. Directory pages usually look the same and are generated by a computer. Our sites that got hit are similar.

I've no answers here btw, just trying to figure this out.


5:02 pm on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I think BallochBD..if I have that right... makes a very pertinent remark. Peoples concerns over Googles changes seem to be spread very thinly over a number of different threads. My site provides a service and therefore has to look good, be informative and create the right impression. Therefore I am not going to produce a spammy site just to get rankings as it is my shop window and has to create the right impression.

Once I did that the next step was to work out how to improve rankings. I had done both those things and I have had a reasonably successful year for my efforts.

Now my PR has virtually disapeared. I wonder how much quality control Google has done in order to see the effectiveness of their changes? And I wonder, apart from the feed back of threads such as these if they are aware of the effect it is having on the small..and fat ..business man such as myself.

I would just say as well that you can have a great informative, useful service, beautifully visual site, but if no one can access it or find it then youre all dressed up and nowhere to go. I suggest people put their spanners and slide rules down and get vocal.

I am quite happy to start a new thread in order, hopefully, to provoke a larger discussion but it might have a little more kudos coming from a longer standing member with a better grasp on the technology and jargon.


5:15 pm on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Hey Jeffers

It's been said umpteen times before, but if you are a commercial site, there is always ppc.

I have been penalised too, and I am happy that I have a good advertising campaign set up, so I hardly noticed.


5:29 pm on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Lost 1000's of Backlinks - Same PR

I manage a little website and have noticed something like that: Backlinks have gone from 30's and 40's to 17. PR unafected: it's still pr5. but SERP's have improved for me ;): from #10 ~ #12 to #6
Even so, I'm scared... now trying to get new links with different but on-topic anchor text.
Any suggestion?



5:59 pm on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hi there Slyoldog. I appreciate your comment however I have an aversion to spending money on search engines. My feeling is that the more people do it the more the engines will expect it in the long run. We pay out to web designers, photographers, for domain names, site space, ongoing web site maintenance....I sound like my dad telling me why he can`t put up my pocket money!


6:23 pm on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Well, I hope you are one of my competitors then ;)

I would actually be glad if SERPs disappeared altoghether and I could concentrate on getting the best bang-for-buck on ppc.

Right now it's just too tempting to try to get free listings!

Anyway back to the topic under discussion.....


6:25 pm on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member caveman is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

>>I have an aversion to spending money on search engines

That's cool. Just don't rely on them for traffic, in that case. ;-)


8:05 pm on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Point taken.


10:23 pm on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Well, I hope you are one of my competitors then ;)

Put your site in your profile then we'll know whether or not we are!

Let's be honest about this. If you have a site that sells something commercial (and I stress commercial) then PPC or Adwords may be appropriate but there are many of us who are not in that position. If you are one of us trying to scrape a living from the Internet then you will know what I mean. Would that I could even consider this.


10:57 pm on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

>>Put your site in your profile then we'll know whether or not we are!

Just lost a bunch of sites thanks. (Politely declines offer)

Just wanted to reiterate that our lost sites fall into the following category:

1) PR on Home page but 0 on all others
2) Pages have NOT lost Google cache or description
3) 95% of backlinks vanished in the last update
4) Not in top 100 serps - but Google seems to know who we are and often groups our sites together in clusters when lower down in the SERPs.

Our possible crimes:

1) Had/still have a human unfriendly links directory with many reciprocals. I'd say most of our pagerank came from cheesy link swaps. Which I hate but see as a necessary evil to get ranked in my niche.
2) Each lost site was a backup for another main site on our topic. Stressing here: There was NO duplicate content, no similar IP, no linking between sites on identical topic, and no identical WHOIS data. A few of the sites were on the same ISP with radically different IPs.
3) We cross-linked our home pages for sites covering same topic but different city. I don't think this is a crime, but I'm throwing it in for discussion. One of the sites in the cross-linked network (the oldest one) did not get the penalty.


9:06 am on Mar 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Someone in my line of business previously used to rank very high for searches on WidgetSTATENAME.com They had bought up all the domain names in this category. They are now nowhere to be seen.

This was because they had redirects set up such that when anyone searched for Widget Statename they found a site by that name but got channelled into the main Widget site. This was just a directory of Widget suppliers. Not exactly original but effective until recently. They got caught in the filter and so they should have.

"So what's your point caller?", I hear you say.

My point is that a few of us in this thread have been chewing the fat about stuff on our sites that could possibly have warranted a penalty. The example that I gave is an obvious offence but is it not the case that if we have to search for problems on our sites then they most likely don't exist? Which leads us back to the Google is broken conclusion.


8:27 am on Mar 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I think it is a linking penalty. Google is going after sites that are similar but in the wake of this algo change it has wiped out good people who link to a few sites that google has "caught". I have de-linked my sites even though think the linking was minmial ( a few links per site of about 600 pages).

What kills me is do I throw these domains away and start again or do I wait for the next PR update and see if we can come back. Meanwhile my business is in limbo.


11:57 am on Mar 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

301 may be an answer BUT will the 301 carry the penelty forward?


1:25 pm on Mar 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Crush, I was wondering if the linking penalty is associated with the domain name in the Google database. If so, maybe the following might work:

1. Register a new domain name.
2. Transfer content from the old domain name to the new one.
3. Discontinue the old domain name.

Of course, you need to get rid of the suspicious links before trying to do the above.

It is only a theory. Any experience with this?


7:23 pm on Mar 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

301 may be an answer BUT will the 301 carry the penelty forward?

Yes thought about that one. I Might dulicate the site and ban googlebot from one set of sites that are now listed #1 everywhere on yahoo. Then with the new domians start the laborious task of getting links again ( thank god I have staff to do that)

This 56 message thread spans 2 pages: 56

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