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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]


1:59 am on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Same thing happened to me - I was a PR8.

Today - a PR2.

Had 4000 links (all valid - hand entered one at a time)

Now - 1 link showing.

Searches are nowhere to be found.

I think it is a penalty - but Google isn't talking. They say to get links - well - I got them. I guess you get a penalty if you play by their rules - and win.

All I can figure.

Good luck.


2:04 am on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

By the way - early stages started like you describe.

PR8 - stayed the same - reduced backwards links - reduced presence in listing. Acting like a PR6.

Then PR6 showed up. Links reduced to 1. Fell off the listing like a fly. Acting like a PR2.

Now it is a PR2.

During this - cached pages became "supplemental cache".

Then not in cache at all - although the page name still showed up.

No google crawls.

No nothing.

But still in the cache. No gray bar. No being banned. I emailed Google - cookie cutter reply. But the spider came after 3 months. And updated the cache on my home page only. Nothing further.....

Like I said - they say write content - done. They say get links - and get Page Rank. Done. Play by their rules - they made them. But if you get a winning hand - against rules designed to be impossible to win -
then bam - you are thrown out of the casino - so to speak.

That is all I can figure out.

Thoughts and ideas?


2:10 am on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

It might be temporary. One thing that you cannot expect from G lately is consistent results, apparently due to major experimentation with the algo.

If your site is good, with lots of content, and lots of pertinent/quality incoming links, then it might be best to ignore Google for the time-being and continue doing the things that all SE's like, which apparently worked for you in the past.


Also, I do have an affiliate links box on the footer of every page (like many sites).



5:13 am on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Well, it happened to one of my PR6 site as well. As far as I can tell, there's no penalty, unless my backlinks have been penalized.

But, I got thousand of external backlinks, 'majority' are unsolicited, now only a handful is left of it. Site have gone down to PR4.

Which leads to an interesting observation. I thought I've read somewhere here that PR no longer plays a major role in the scoring.

Apparently the opposite is true because traffic just died after changing to PR4.

Main question then is what happened to all the backlinks?


5:46 am on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hi to all,

The same thing i am experiencing with my 2 sites earlier both the sites were doing well on G with aroung more than 1000 B links for sites. PR was 7,6. One day I checked the back links for both the sites unfortunatelly google showed up only "0" back links with the same pr for both the site. Few days back i again i checked the sites with the links, links was the same as 0 and the new thing was, PR reduced from 7 to 4 and 3.

After few days back i got both the site marked as supplemental results and then washed out from the G serp's :(

This time i dont have any pr and no back link. I was having affiliate links on my sites and sites were hosted on the same servers also with 2 sites on different server. I think this is the big point if you have affiliate links on your site this is going to make major effects on your Pr with backlinks and into the SERP's of Google.

This is the big point to checkout your linking strategy where you have the links for your site and to whom you provide the links. You said you loose your 1000 blinks this time. I must not say but may be a possibility for your site is after 1 month or so your PR is going to be decrease. Everybody is experiencing the same thing as i have my live experience.

So Pls dont do the new optimization for your site. Check the inbound and outbound links. make the proper strategy for Intralinking of the site. No the have affiliate links on the site. Use actual and original content with proper Key density. NOW sit down and watch the google dance.



7:35 am on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

It might be temporary. One thing that you cannot expect from G lately is consistent results, apparently due to major experimentation with the algo.

I'm not a PhD, but I was always taught not to "experiment" on production applications...


5:37 pm on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I am glad you brought this up. I posted earlier today but it did not make the board

We have 4 sites affected. A years work ( temporarily ) down the crapper.

Written my google rep, she sent a mail to the techs and they would not give me an answer. My argument is that I spend lots on adwords so they should give me some service when I need it. Just asking if I got a penalty. A yes/no answer would be nice!

Anyway it is bad news and I thought we were alone. How about some Googleguy intervention to clarify about this particular penalty as there seem to be quite a few of us.


5:46 pm on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rfgdxm1 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I'd advise if your sites are clean to assume this is a Google glitch, and hang tight. Your sites many rise from the dead. Google is, and in fact long has been, a bit buggy this way.


5:52 pm on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I feel the same way. I spend close to $175.00 a DAY with Google Ad Words. You would think that for over $5000 a month - SOMEBODY could at least say - Yes/No there is a penalty - and give you a itty-bitty clue on what to change to correct it! I personally would pay an extra $500 for such a service, if I knew that once changed, the site would be respidered, and links applied in a reasonable timeframe. (HINT: Google)

On a side note - I will say that my traffic has gone back up to pre-penalty (or whatever) levels. Ad Words is part of this. But the big reason is Yahoo. I have seen a huge traffic migration to Yahoo, so it begs the question if Google is not loosing searcher eyeballs due to this type of thing. If people cannot find industry leader sites in Google - they will go to Yahoo or other competing engines. Is anybody else noticing this phenomenon?


6:40 pm on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I went from a few hundred backlinks down to two - my directory listings in yahoo. I'm even listed in dmoz and google directories and those links don't show. It has to be a glitch because I still show up in the SERPs (just not as high as I used to). I guess it's time to focus on ranking better in yahoo - apparently a more legitimate search engine. BTW, my site is not spammy or affiliate ridden. It's a very legitimate site that users seem to enjoy. I guess google has a different opinion.


8:07 pm on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

I noticed today too that www.domain.com have different backlinks from domain.com.

I thought that this is an old Google issue in regards to www alias and have taken care of this problem.

Interesting though, a lot of my pages are still getting fresh tag which lead me to believe that perhaps Google is just updating the backlinks, albeit slowly.

Now I'm stuck between a hard place and a rock, all this seemingly glitches at Google and the obvious manipulation of the serp by Yahoo.

Would MSN come to the rescue or would just add to our misery?


8:56 pm on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I guess this is off topic, but this happened with the number of pages google indexed. We went from 856 to 127. serps actually went up though..go figure.


12:19 am on Mar 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

So, my backlinks aren't showing and google has so far not responded to me on this. But, when I type in my web address - ****websitexxx.com - without using link: as just a regular search term, hundreds of results come up. These results are linked to my site and used to be categorized as backlinks. Is there a difference?


12:31 am on Mar 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Is there a difference?

Yes. "http://www.example.com" shows text occurences of the URL, which are not necessarily links.

I occasionally credit things on our site by posting the URL, without <a href></a>. It can be copied and pasted by the user, but isn't a backlink.



6:17 am on Mar 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


You said G reported over 8,000 backlinks in last update, but do you have any idea of how many actual websites link to you (not by link pages, but by websites)? For ex - You might got a website with 1,000 pages who linked to you on every pages and that had bloated your backlinks in the past by 1,000. Those pages might got rotten by now or had been filtered out by G, therefore what used to work well in the past does not work anymore. It is not surprising that you can lose 7,000 backlinks in one update cycle.

As of the PR - Your PR still remains the same PR7. Don't be so sure about that...In a number of circumstances, G does not report accurate PR. I'm sorry to say this - you may expect to see PR drop in the next one or two update.


6:57 am on Mar 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'm not sure about our backlinks . . . we seem to rise and drop daily, but it varies within a range. We advertise on many search engines, and we’re # 1 or #2 on Google for many of our top keywords. As for Google Adwords... we recently had some of our campaigns optimized and having this done really did optimize not only our position but our CTR . . . You should give this a try. I know it's only available to an advertiser who spends a certain amount per month . . . I believe $500, but I'm not sure. A word of advice . . . I noticed that on many of the search engines out there, they are getting their search results from Overture . . . I’ve counted more than 20, some well known. I’ve also noticed that the same advertisers who advertise not only on Google but on different search engines show up well on Google.


10:10 am on Mar 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

As a owner of a website that generates most of my business...I run a small music agency...I get a little comfort in seeing other "straight forward" sites suffering like myself. Not in any malicious way you understand, but relief in knowing I am not on my own. I was getting top ten results in Worldwide Google for about twenty relevant phrases. Every term brought up just what potential clients wanted. in other words I do exactly what it says on the tin.! Now they have all gone and with it a great deal of my revenue. Is this situation going to change? Is there some one at Google I can refer my site too? This feels very unfair that some anonymous automated "thing" has come along and decided my site is not relevant after thinking for well over a period of a year that it was. This is the real effect of Googles tinkerings....genuine people, trying to earn a living with the help of the internet, being penalised for no apparent reason.


6:01 pm on Mar 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Amen! You are exactly correct!

I will say that my industry - power equipment - has been overall very hard hit. Not just my site - but my competitors sites also, with only 1 or 2 exceptions. The results returned are worthless - people who are out of business with derelict sites, comments on forums from a year ago, things like this. But Google is presently returning neither informational sites (ie: manufacturers) nor retail sites. Much less sites like my own which is both informational and retail (one definition of an "authority" site).

(flame mode on:)

Google is FUBAR. Period. It has the freshest results of all search engines. Unfortunately - it is fresh junk. And junk is junk is junk .....

IMHO - Google's PHD's thought they were going to take on spammers and such - and got their heads handed back to them. Spam is now ALL Google is serving, at least in my categories .....

So much for the genius who came up with HILLTOP, or whatever else they are trying to implement - and failing miserably at.

Of course - Google is consistent. They added - what was it - 2 BILLION new websites - during Austin? I guess they had to. Since all the good sites are now nowhere to be seen - they had to have a fresh load of junk to serve to their users ..... They could not take the chance that a relevant site might be returned in their results by accident - so they filled the cupboards with junk they had ignored for years .....

I will say that, at this point - I really don't care what Google does. AdWords will bring me the minor traffic Google is now generating. I have seen a mass migration over to Yahoo in terms of sales volume over the last 6 weeks. I guess people are tired of going to Google to find a good deal or information, and being served a steady diet of garbage.

Google *was* big - because of it's customers. Notably YAHOO - and AOL - and Netscape - and Earthlink. The rest are really irrelevant. They lost their #1 customer - Yahoo. AOL - in my opinion - is a follower and not a leader. They will likely follow Yahoo and go to Yahoo / SiteMatch / Overture results when their current contract with Google Expires.

Very good chance Netscape and Earthlink will also. They will want to offer the best results on their site, to increase their stickiness to their customers.

Then where will Google be? Just another has-been search engine like Excite or Alta Vista or Lycos, that is a vague memory, but nobody really uses much anymore.
Alta Vista had an attitude like Google at one point - they thought they were the big doggie. When was the last time *anyone* reading this went to Alta Vista to search for something they were trying to find for themselves (not to check the ranking of the site you are optimizing)? I'll bet 99% of you will agree - it has been a long while ....

Yahoo and MSN will be the big boys. They have the bones to play. And they are not afraid to pay what it takes to take market share. They are both public companies - and can generate cash if necessary. And Google - will simply blow away. Dust in the wind. The winds of change are coming ....

This may take 12 - 24 months - but remember - you heard it here first.

(flame mode off:)


6:48 pm on Mar 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



6:59 pm on Mar 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I would imagine a large number of pages you were enjoying links from can be found in the supplemental index...


7:14 pm on Mar 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Yahoo! and Google are not that different right now, their rankings varies, but they display the same stuff. Now that Overture and Inktomi are part of Yahoo!, once Yahoo! contract with Google expires, they'll take on Google. They have what it takes to generate a comprehensive search. Hopefully, all goes well.


8:02 pm on Mar 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Sorry to contribute to the off-topic posts, but I guess I will anyway...

Yahoo! and Google are not that different right now

Correct. Along with MSN, they are all equally poor. In fact, I don't know of one single SE that I particularly like. A big part of this is because of webmasters on the one side, (in some cases), trying to game the serps, and SE's on the other side trying to prevent being gamed. It has all resulted in a complete mess.

I am hopeful that eventually some brilliant programmer/librarian/philosopher/fair-minded person will figure things out and make the Internet more useable. Until then, I figure everyone should just keep building sites that are genuinely good, (or at least the best you can do), with sensible linking, and forget about SE's, (as much as possible ;)


8:14 pm on Mar 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Step 1: Just check it out with alltheweb , how many links you have.

Step 2:After that get few sites which has a link of your(above PR3), which are not listed under Google backlink.

Step 3: Then analyse those pages,splly the cache page.

we may get another clue to solve this mystery.



9:05 pm on Mar 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

For the last few weeks this problem has kept appearing in the forums under different headings. If they had all been redirected to a single forum it would have been a real biggie! It certainly looks like something is Gubbed at Google and I think the situation may look less serious because our discussions have been fragmented.

The number of new members participating in this also seems to be much higher than normal suggesting that many more people outside are suffering the same fate. Would it not be wise for a moderator to step in to redirect and correlate these threads? This would give us a better picture of the extent of the problem.

Perhaps GoogleGuy could comment?


10:30 pm on Mar 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I second that motion.

Can the moderator help establish a single thread, with all the symptomatic issues involved, such that Google and their PhD programmers *MAY* listen to someone or something - other than the tiny little voices in their head, which keep telling them it is time to kill.

Again .....


2:10 am on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

It looks as though Google has learned that PageRank is very easy to optimize for and is experimenting with other ways to skin the same cat.

In the meantime results suffer and so do a lot of honest, hard working web developers.

I hope they don't spend too much time going down this road before they realize the end users experience isn't as good as it was...



3:45 am on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I've been following this forum for quite a while now I'm sorry but I guess I am just searching on all the wrong things when it comes to Google.

For almost every search I do Google has been right on target with very little spam. It looks as if they have got it right this time in my opinion.

I think the majority of Webmasters are pleased with the results they are just less vocal about it.

Who cares how many back links show up or what somebody’s PR is. What matters is where you fall in the SERPs. If your not on top, then you need to figure out what the ones who are have done to get there.

For every site that falls, one moves up. I think were seeing a lot of affiliates sites that have no real value other than being one of 100 other sites promoting the exact same product drop. Yes there is the occasional good affiliate site that actually has valuable information and stuff that people can use but those are few and far between.

It's the nature of the beast and will always be.

Of course you could always go and pay per page and even have the honor of paying for each click with Yahoo.

GoogleGuy you keep doing whatever is your doing there at the Plex because in my book, you guys finally got it right.


4:01 am on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Lets make this a successfull thread and an answer to the question. Can someone sticky me such urls I will like to do some experiments.



6:19 am on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

agree with you..

If google will not list the market leader in the result pages or delist the sites like this definite people will go to the others engines. And google will lost the position they have got in last couple of years.


This 56 message thread spans 2 pages: 56

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