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Major SERPs changes [Wednesday 26th]

Major serps drops and rises experienced as of Wednesday 26th

11:52 am on Aug 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I thought the postings from page 13 on the thread Google PR -- Next Update? [webmasterworld.com] deserved a new thread as it was getting off topic and imo is important enough to merit its own thread.

Many webmasters in the thread above are reporting significant drops in traffic, up to 80% in some cases within the last 24 hours. In contrast others are reporting significant rises in the SERPs which indicates a big change (which imo is not sandbox related).

Rather than having a "I've dropped/risen too" thread, perhaps it is a good idea to attempt to work out what has been happening. I personally have seen big changes on numerous travel booking related sites. One of the theories appears to be too high keyword density. This may have some merit, as on some sites ranking drops are not across the board on all themes/phrases. So it could be that templates focusing on one term have a much higher density than others. I'll certainly be looking into this. I'm also wondering if this is somehow theme related as as I've mentioned it defintely has affected the travel theme. or perhaps it is based on just highly competitive terms as a whole.

It would also be interesting to see if there is a concensus from those sites that have lost traffic on..

1. Are they affiliate sites with many links to the affilate host.
2. Do they have satelite domains which they cross link/one way link with sites particularly on the same ip c-block.
3. Are the drop in serps keyword specific or site wide.
4. Are some inbound links on mass from single domains. For example, a great number links from a footer link on a major site.
5. Have changes been made to keyword density recently.
6. Is there a distinction in ranking between major and minor terms.
7. Has there been any PR changes or backward link changes.

Google isnt likely to give us the direct answer, but maybe they wont need to if we work together in cracking this change.

If your site has been affected from wednesdays update, it would be helpful for all, if you could perhaps answer the 7 points above relating to your own site.


4:44 am on Aug 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>> We're a big, old, not overly optimized site with 200K pages of content and tons of organic incoming links.

Ditto. Seeing traffic return to pre August "update" levels on several sites. Makes you wonder what they were testing.

4:56 am on Aug 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I can't answer your questions based on my site, 'cause traffic is up and my SERP positions are fine. However, in the niche that I have watched carefully for years, there are strange happenings afoot.

The first pages of the SERPs have been invaded by multiple listings for affiliate sites. Half my stable competitors' sites have dropped out of sight. (Travel category)

The last time the pages that I watch were like this, it turned into Florida.

5:14 am on Aug 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I am seeing pages/sites in the top 20 of my niche that I have not seen since Florida. Now mind you, they have not taken over all the top spots, but some fairly established players have obviously been hurt.

Among other less than stellar results are:

1) An amazon book
2) A Yahoo directory page
3) A blog spamming/pay for links brochure site
4) An inner of a well established site (not an indented entry)

#4 deserves a closer examination. Yahoo shows 11 IBLs, and G show none.

Now, the homepage of that site is ranking at #6 purely on IBLs. It has no visible copy! It is entirely image based and is absoultely bloated with JS.

I think that I could just about replicate 90% of these serps by combining allinachor from the plural and singular keyword terms and overall IBLs. PR is not a major factor in what I am looking at - rather, shear numbers of links is what is doing it, and that counts on-site links.

It is the remaining 10% that just seem to drop into the SERPs from nowhere. ANd then there are the mysteriously vanishing sites that were ranking well and have disappeared for no discernable reason.

Overall, except for those odd ones, the SERPs are not bad, just different. Of course, if my sites had been the ones to vanish I might have a different opinion about this :)


5:19 am on Aug 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Well guys, i feel there had been some changes during the start of this month, but i don't feel anyting significant has happened.
There has been inclusions of some new site as i've also seen the google database to swell on many competitive keywords. There has been some SERPS changes also but nothing that can be called significant.
Also there are some faulty sites which ought to be dumped by Google during any major update which has not been done.(I'd myself placed a spam report for some sites for which i'd got an affirmative response from Google. They'd however said that these site will only disappear during their next update. It's been around 2 months now since i got this reply. This clearly means that an real update is yet to come.
5:52 am on Aug 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

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? The 26th is Thursday, and I'm not seeing anything. ;-)
6:03 am on Aug 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>Among other less than stellar results are:

>2) A Yahoo directory page

Many would consider this an excellent result. Certainly relevant.

6:22 am on Aug 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

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rfgdxm1 - many would go to the Y directory if they wanted to look at a directory page.

I doubt that you and I will ever agree on this point, as you make it every time the subject comes up.

If the SERPs were for the query "sites about widgets" I wouldn't argue that it was relevant.

If the query is simply "widgets" then the most relevant would be pages about widgets, not lists of "sites about widgets", nor pages with "widgets for sale".

As long as G insists that directory pages are relevant, there will be many made for adsense directory pages showing up in the SERPs, a common problem if what we read on these boards is accurate.

Heck, I've got some of them myself. Perhaps you do to?

Finally, if you had read my entire post, and not quoted completely out of context, you would have seen that I stated that overall the SERPs were not bad, just different.


6:34 am on Aug 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

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What do you think is the best places to check your SERPS? Don't forget everyone is in diffrent places. And some where a search enging of some sort is re indexing!.. With that in mind where is everyone checking?
6:35 am on Aug 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I see internal links on authoritative sites devalued significantly more.

I see the most anchor text trash since pre-florida -- completely worthless sites based on thousands of anchor text links from blogs. (As well as many sub-domain redirects.)

These two factors do demonstrate a difference between now and the poor serps of last summer... getting tons of blog links works now, but making thousands of internal pages works much less well. In terms of which garbage is worse, I'd rather see internal crap links valued more than blog spamming. That is the dregs.

Of course it would be better if internal linking of quality domains would be valued, since building deep, content-rich domains has been the mantra of Google for some time now. The current "scraper algorithm" is diametrically opposed to that though.

The brave new world of seo... the hunt for PR2 links is on!

[edited by: steveb at 6:36 am (utc) on Aug. 27, 2004]

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