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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.
I stress my concern is really only for those sites that dropped on Wednesday not before, as on Wednesday something changed that has affected many travel sites and from what I am hearing other competitive keywords as well.
I'll keep you informed of the tests.
I agree however that it is very easy to come up with a hypothesis. Too often hypothesis posts on this forum remain that because no one actually bothers to put them to the test and publish results. It all ends up in speculation which helps no one.
Because urls, specific examples aren't allowed here you cannot really show/prove your hypothesis anyway.
New fresh tags just appeared on one of my sites, although only about 40% as many as usual.
Those pages with fresh tags seem to be universally ranking a few spots higher, close to where these pages generally rank. Those pages without fresh tags either stayed the same or dropped a spot or two. Of course it is varying on different datacenters, but I got a suspicion that bad crawling and/or trying to better deal with new/fresh pages is involved in several of the bits of weirdness going on these days.
Problem with anonymous forums where you can't post either relevant urls or search terms, nor can you know what type of site most posters are referring to in their comments, it's not really possible to ever empirically verify anything any poster says, with a few exceptions where they list their sites in their profiles, which most seo types don't do for obvious reasons. This means you have to try to figure out what each poster actually does, what type of sites they actually run, whether they are serious one site hobbiests or pro seo types etc, what category of keywords they are testing, whether those are the keywords being run more or less straight, or through the various new filters that have been installed.
All in all not the most ideal environment for applying the scientific method, sort of like if anyone could submit anything to Nature and get it published, leaving it up to the readers to determine what was empirical fact and what was conjecture. This is what makes this forum especially entertaining though.
Fact - If you build a website based on yesterdays facts, you will rank well for yesterday, not tomorrow
I understand your point that the algo is always subject to change, but the fact is that my site was optimized and I rank #1 for my targeted keywords last week, and I still do today, have been for months in fact. The algo doesn't dramatically change everyday, so using historical data to optimize is and has been very successful both to webmasters and SEO companies.
When tweeks occur, we adjust and get back on top until the next tweek.
Why bother lurking here if you think it's futile to try to adjust to the changing algo?
Observation...yes. Meaning...who knows?
I offer this regarding theories - [teacher.nsrl.rochester.edu...]
"A scientific theory or law represents an hypothesis, or a group of related hypotheses, which has been confirmed through repeated experimental tests."
But, we drift far off topic I think.
Your main point is right though, but solid conclusions cannot in general be reached in the absence of actual data, whether keywords or urls, many questions could be resolved very quickly given the quality of some of the posters here if actual data could be used.
There's also the problem that some posters simply don't want to use empirical methods, for whatever reasons, I've seen this a few times where one says something that is easy to test, and empirically verifiable, that offends a belief or fondness for a company/site, but which is still objectively true, and people jump all over it until you conclusively demonstrate the truth of the claim, rather than testing it themselves first then responding. But I guess that's part of the game here.
Some people are affected and some aren't and no one has a clue why.
Some people are upset by the change, and others can't even see a change.
Oh, and there has been a debate about what it is to have a theory vs. a hypothesis.
I found four or five pages in my site (which haven't been changed since Florida) which were suddenly penalized. The only possible reason was keyword density.
Do a site:yourdomain.com search and see what you find. Good luck!
I have two websites relating to a sport. One site focusses on news relating to players in the sport, and the other focusses on statistics relating to the very same players.
Both sites used to rank well for searches of player names (especially the less famous players) and regularly ranked in the top 5. This is really almost entirely off the strength of internal anchor text as these pages don't get inbounds from outside the site generally.
In addition, each stats page for a player links to the news page, and vice versa.
Both sites are served on the same server and same IP.
Now, the stats site doesn't feature at all when searching for player pages, but the news site is as good if not better than ever.
Both have similar on-page optimisation, e.g. h1, a mention in bold etc. and both have very similar internal linking strucutre. The stats site homepage is PR6 with a dmoz link, and the news site has no dmoz link and the home page is PR5.
I can understand the loss of position on the stats pages if something has changed (not that I'm happy of course) but it's strange that it didn't equally affect the news site given the similarites in structure.
Keep in mind the content on the pages is totally different and there is no question of a duplicate content filter.
These pages are absolutely nowhere near travel of course.
I personally lean towards some sort of change to the value of internal anchor text rather than keyword density, but it's clearly nothing too simple.
I have seen a slight increase in traffic today too, i cant say for sure until tomm though. I lost around 80% of my traffic 25th...i really hope it comes back.
At least, this is how it appears in my field -- mine and my competitors sites do not change much over time (well, certainly haven't changed much recently), so all other factors remain about equal.
I posted a longer message on this subject in another thread (in which it is probably a bit off topic [shrug]).
How does the above idea fit in with the changes people are experiencing / have experienced in their ranking?
Maybe it's not the only factor at work, but I've definitely seen changes in stemming/variation/synonym weighting over the last weeks.
I have been reading through this forum and have seen a lot of interesting posts. I find it weird how a lot of Travel related sites are getting hit. I also have a travel related website, though it is an informative website.
My stats show about a 30% decrease of my normal traffic on August 25th, the day everybody seems to have been getting hit. The thing that kind of gets on my nerves is that on August 16th I saw a 30% increase in traffic for about 3 days. Then my traffic went back to normal on the 19th before dropping by 30% on the 25th.
Those are very inconsistant stats. I haven't really seen anybody else talking about any significant increase on the 16th. I thought I would mention it. Google must be testing something. Two major shifts like that isn't normal.
Has anybody else seen this?
To me it seems like more "authority sites" (based on incoming links not content) may be rising. These sites have lots of incoming links because they are huge corporate sites, the smaller sites sites/companies are getting squeezed out.
For the sites/keywords I watch, I have not seen that KW density has much to do with it yet, it seems mainly to be incoming links.
I just lost my homepage in the SERPs for several phrases, however, those same phrases are pulling up sub-pages better ranked then they were before.
One other thing I noticed (for one of my sites anyway) is that links to my site are ranking higher then my site. In fact, on my money phrase, a site with a link to mine is popping up #3 while I am #534 with a sub-page. When I examine the site linking to me, the only instance of the money phrase is the anchor in my link. So what's up with that?
The main page had a 301 redirect that I had to remove because for some reason googlebot was not following the redirect to the new page. I believe this will straighten out with time. The PR on the new home page is still the same as before, just not listed in the results. I have posted several times stating that 301's were not being crawled correctly and I have seen other posts that are starting to point in that direction. I have removed all 301's and now am starting over.
Is this making sense?
Not to me!
Some datacenters at least, like 220.127.116.11 as in [18.104.22.168...]
[edited by: steveb at 2:24 am (utc) on Aug. 31, 2004]