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July Update?

     
12:59 am on Jul 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Is it me or does it look like a significant update is going on at google. I am noticing a number of SERP changes for a few of my sites and they've been fluctuating for the past few days.

Anyone else noticing any major changes?

1:34 pm on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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From where I look the SERPs seem to be back in the old pattern known before the update with small changes from day to day. Backlinks still look confusing. Guess I'll have to accept that this is not a glitch but on purpose.

rrl

1:44 pm on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Google has indeed become the worlds largest link farm. No matter what the criteria, spammers will always find out what google is up to and exploit it. For now, it's links. For my phrases, if you're search for a lawyer in the cities I'm optimizing for, the first several pages are full of useless spam directories full of sponsorship listings and flashing banners. Nice job, google.

rrl

2:13 pm on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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For lawyer-related phrases, the new big dog on the Internet is a website promoting studying in a foreign country that loaded up with tens of thousands of anchor text with lawyer phrases in it.
2:31 pm on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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link numbers way down, SERPs filled with junk. My widgets are very specialized, people don't chat about my widgets, there's no 'widget history' to look up, they search to buy them and move on. Top results when looking for 'special widgets'? An Amazon book with the words 'special' and 'widgets' sprinkled in the title. A site explaining that to get the special widget required by the Skunkville County Board of Commissioners, you'll have to come in to the courthouse and talk to Madge. And so forth. You wanna buy widgets? Hey, the AdWords guys are selling widgets, imagine that...

My Google traffic is in the trash. For 3 years now, I've been faithfully doing what everyone says Google likes to see - good content, clean pages, no funny anything, relevant links, etc. I've gotten decent results, people are happy they find me because hey what a concept, I actually have what they are looking for! Now we have a repeat of the Florida fiasco, where overnight, everything that was good about my site is now bad, and the Skunkville County website is trying to figure out how to pay for the bandwidth.

I'm not sour-graping, I'm what-the-hecking. This 'update' is nasty.

2:36 pm on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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From here, it looks like more of a back-date than an up-date. Time to roll in the new data hopefully! Bet this one brings us to rolling updates. Bye-bye Google of old.
3:35 pm on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I seem to be one of the victims of this update. My site was listed in many top 10 positions for various keywords, but now I seem to have fallen out of even the top 100 for many of these.

How am I going to get those positions back? This is killing my business and we need that placement. It really sucks that we have not changed our site in years, and are suddenly basically dropped by Google.

3:46 pm on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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schenz,

Maybe the fact that you have not changed your site for years could be the problem. Others may have changed their site to keep up with the times leaving your site behind.

3:58 pm on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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My site changes almost daily (new products added, prices updated, etc...) What I mean about no changes is that there has been no major site restructuring.....No major changes to site design, how pages are linked, etc.....

The actual content changes frequntly. I'm sorry that I didn't make that clear before.

4:01 pm on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Also, we have made changes to ensure that we were following basic rules (relevancy, keyword optimization, page design, etc...)

Now suddenly we are out of the top 100 on terms we used to be ranked #1 on for several years.

4:07 pm on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Hi

I see a big diff. with backlinks, used to have about 255 and now 11, drop from high on page 2 to page 3.

rrl

4:12 pm on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I will say that after Florida, my site which had been ranked #2 for my primary phrase disappeared completely. After running around my house for half an hour screaming and waving my arms over my head, I made a few small changes and about 5 weeks later, it was back at #2. I'm not even sure the changes did much, but the serps were so bad I felt like G had to fix it.

Right now the serps for my phrases are a complete joke. I've emailed them to G and they've actually been good about responding after a few days. The top sites are just link farms with harvested content and (surprise) adsense ads for making duh money.

4:33 pm on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>I see a big diff. with backlinks, used to have about 255 and now 11, drop from high on page 2 to page 3.

Pay no attention to the backlink command that is being manipulated by the man behind the curtain. That command has always given incomplete results. It is now just that not only is it incomplete, it is erratic. Ordinary searchers just don't use the link: command. Almost all who do are webmasters trying to figure out Google. It's quite possible Google actually *likes* the fact it is confusing webmasters. And, if this is just some byproduct of some new code Google is running, fixing it has gotta be right on the bottom of the priority list.

5:02 pm on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Welcome to WebmasterWorld, schenz.

I get the impression that your website has not been completely dropped, but still it is possible that you may find useful advice in this thead: A Dropped Site Checklist [webmasterworld.com].

Apart form that I can only say that building a commercial website on traffic from searches in a search engine is risky business.

5:14 pm on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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schenz

Did you mainly get all your traffic from Google? I have branched out so that when the time comes my site gets dropped by Google (planning ahead) for no reason, it will just be a hiccup. I guess my point is that I am taking advantage of the $ I'm making from my Google referrals and putting it back into different areas of marketing (ppc, etc). I hate to see it when Google rankings affect someone so much, but you should diversify. Just my .02 cents.

wellzy

5:17 pm on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Now that the "non-update" update is live on the main site, could we at least agree that it is some sort of "update"? Even if it is just an attempt to foul up SEO's.
5:18 pm on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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We are using PPC (Google and Overture), and we also rank nicly with Yahoo and MSN (just not as good as with Google).

The thing is that we find (in our logs) that mose people who find us by Search Engine do so by using Google.

Perhaps if the poor results G is giving continues, another engine will take the lead and then we will not be as hurt by it, but for right now it is affecting us.

5:57 pm on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>>>poor results G is giving continues, another engine will take the lead

Don't bet on it. Lots of people have been waiting for Google's demise. Just like a lot of people have been waiting on M$'s demise. Neither is likely to happen.
You are best to fix what is causing your poor Google rankings than wait them out.

6:04 pm on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Wow, why didn't I think of that. Since nothing changed on my side before G deep-sixed my traffic overnight, maybe you can point me to a page that lists what Google expects to see now? Because I'll be more than happy to do whatever the heck Google wants, if they'd just be kind enough to make up their minds what that might be, and magnanimous enough to let all us little people know what their new rules are...

I'm sorry to be snarky, but simplistic stuff like "why don't you just fix it" just makes a frustrating situation worse.

[edited by: crankin at 6:50 pm (utc) on July 20, 2004]

6:13 pm on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I must agree with Crankin. I'd be happy to do whatever will make them happy (as I was before all this started). I'm not knowingly breaking any spamming rules and I see no reason for my rankings to be hurt as they were.
6:15 pm on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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You are best to fix what is causing your poor Google rankings than wait them out.

content continues to count for less and less...when you say you fix the problem i guess you mean link spam? Sorry if i read that wrong but thats whats happened to my sector. I will happily say this is not the case if someone can explain how a one page domian that is a frame of another domain competes on a competeitive phrase with content sites. Only inbound links count for anything there, and not a single link is a genuine vote

6:46 pm on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>>>link spam

I know of sites that rank well with link spam, I also know of sites that rank well without link spam. What I am suggesting is.... figure out what you need to do and do it.
Google will never reveal exactly what is most important in the algo this month or next month or ever. If they did, it would be open season and would quickly put them on the search engine trash heap.
I have been watching Google closely for more than four years. For a couple of keywords (over 7 million results each) I track very closely over that period, it is basically the same group of ten sites in the top ten. We all take turns at the top and at the bottom. So what does this mean, build your site for the long term. Add quality and unique content. Get quality and relevant links.
That is the best advice I can give. By doing this (and/or follow Brett's 12 months list) you will rank well and outlast your competition. The most successful SEO's on this board spend very little time worrying about every little hiccup in the Google algo and instead spend their time building more pages for the g-bot to inhale the next day.

7:21 pm on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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backlinks reverse to old set for me. Seeking confirmation.
7:24 pm on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Still seing lots of low ranked backlinks.
7:28 pm on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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strange, when I search with google.com, it returns the old set of back links; when I search with IP based google, all of them showing the new set.

I can't find the IP where google.com is connected to. www2 and www3 return the new set of back links, www return the old set. Update still in progress?

[edited by: AthlonInside at 7:43 pm (utc) on July 20, 2004]

7:42 pm on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Well said Rugles!

Too many people get bogged down with short term thinking (algo change this and indexed backlinks that...)

The SEO field is like the sales field:
If it was easy everybody would do it!

7:54 pm on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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ok the IPs that return old set of back links are
64.233.167.99
64.233.167.104
8:32 pm on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Wow, why didn't I think of that. Since nothing changed on my side before G deep-sixed my traffic overnight, maybe you can point me to a page that lists what Google expects to see now?

I've noticed several posts in this thread about how lost rankings have affected bottom-lines, why doesn't G list what they expect to see in pages they "like", etc., etc.

First, I do feel for anyone who works hard to achieve and then sees their hard work wiped out by a change in G, or their hard work eroded by spam sites grabbing top positions. As someone who has been doing SE positioning work since 1996, I can assure you the same things have happened to me many times over.

Perhaps it might be useful to take a bit of a historical look to set things in perspective. While there are many in this forum as, or more, experienced in SEO as I, there are also many who grew up doing SEO during, and after, the establishment of G as the dominant SE on the web and the resulting relative stability that has existed since G became the dominant SE.

Prior to G, there were three major SEs - AltaVista, Excite and Infoseek (I don't count Yahoo as they were primarily a directory and not a Search Engine). Rankings on these three fluctuated constantly. For those around then, we still remember posting a page that would rank #1 on Infoseek, only to see it drop to second page in a few hours (back when you could submit a new page to Infoseek and their database would add it in an hour, others would "see" what you had done, do it "one better", submit and in the next hour replace your top page with theirs). If you didn't constantly make appropriate changes, your #1 wouldn't be in the first 50-100 before the week was out. Back then no one complained about the affect on their bottom-line because this was the "norm". No one mentioned that these SEs should post a list of what these SEs "expected" because that list was likely to be out-of-date before the day was over.

During this time, I learned to develop solid strategies that worked well across all SEs (such as Magellan, Webcrawler, HotBot, Lycos, NorthernLight and about a dozen others), not just the three major ones. I came to realize that at any given point in time I'd usually rank well on two of the three "biggies" and reasonably well on the others such that my traffic would be fairly stable, even though there continued to be major fluctuations day to day, week to week, month to month.

When G started up, I didn't pay any attention to them as they were just another Internet startup. Over the months I noticed more and more traffic coming from G. Still I never did even one thing to rank well on G. The months continued and my traffic from G continued to grow as G became very popular. I still didn't do a thing to influence my ranking well on G as there was no need. I was in the top positions for the majority of the search phrases I follow, so there wasn't a need to do a thing. The "solid strategies" I had learned to implement during the 90's resulted in my not needing to do squat to consistently rank very nicely on G until Florida.

These were not low competition search terms. They were in industries such as car stereos, home electronics, women's clothing, furniture, real estate and vacation accommodations. After Florida, I could see certain things that G now seems to like and, for the first time, made changes to help my G positioning - which was to do the things that make me more of an "authority" in my field. Again, no tricks, no quick and dirty schemes - just "solid strategies" that involve hard work, smart work, and a guiding knowledge that these weather the "storms" and will result in a good ROI (long-term positioning that results in profits).

I, and many of my competitors, were soon back in our accustomed positions after Florida. Did my work, and continuing work, to become more of an "authority" make the difference? To be honest, I'm not sure as many of my competitors didn't do anything and they are back to more-or-less normal positioning. But it sure didn't hurt to do what I did, and I feel it is likely to help me weather future storms because that is what implementing solid strategies does.

However a part of my strategy isn't to rely upon any one search engine - so even with Florida, my over-all traffic dropped only about 20-25%. What are the "solid strategies" I learned back in the middle 90's that have worked so well for me over the years? They are most of the same strategies Brett, and others, variously talk about in such things as "26 Steps to a Successful Site on Google in 12 months", "Search Engine Theme Pyramids" and such. There really aren't any secrets, unless working hard, working smart and doing what others have found to work over the long haul is a secret. It is no secret the SEs algorithms are highly proprietory. So do you honestly think the SEs are going to post a list that basically says "this is what our algorithm looks for"?

Even if the SEs did post such a list, how long do you realistically think that algorithm would survive the SEO onslaught before it'd have to be changed (which is why I believe we saw Florida - G became too easy to "game"). This post isn't to debate the relative merits of G's SERPs, of the link spam, etc. - because these kind of things are a "given" (to me) since the mid-90's. They've always existed in one form or another, and I assume they always will. This post is about accepting these kind of things as "inevitable" and moving on to doing something that succeeds, survives and profits in spite of the spam, in spite of changing algorithms. If moaning and groaning makes you a profit, then you are better than I - but if it doesn't, then maybe it is time to move on to stategies that will make you profitable.

I'm under no illusion many will read this post and de-bunk it because these kinds of posts are made regularly in this forum and yet the same complaints, groans, moans, and calls for G to post lists of what their algorithm looks for continue. However I do post this in the hope it will give a measure of assurance to some that hard work, smart work and solid strategies "do work" in spite of all the spam, artificial links, etc. - and there are many on this list who can attest to this.

8:36 pm on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Rugles!

yup, I'm not saying you're wrong. However please don't suggest i worry about every single algo change, i don't. I am only commenting on a continuing theme, where content counts for less and less. All i asked was for a logical explanation as to how a sophisticated algo can let a frame domain compete with content sites, that was my point. Obviously it can only be through its backlinks, so my point was to highlight an increase in the dependence on links to a page for relevance and less regard to a content page. Its more a point of interest than a worry about every single change.

8:46 pm on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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AthlonInside well spotted. These IPs show the old results. Any idea why they have not been updated with results on other servers?
8:47 pm on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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soapy

>>>don't suggest i worry about every single algo change

I was not refering to you specifically, just the general tone of the discussion. I quoted you because I thought it represented the general frustration with this and other "non-updates". Do not feel I was picking on you, I wasn't. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

With Google it is like driving on the highway. If you are staring at the road just in front of your car you will be constantly adjusting your steering wheel. But, if you are focused on the horizon, it makes driving less stressful and requires less effort.
Just coined a new phrase, SEP, search engine philosphy.

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