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Perhaps now Google are updating every month again and using 2 different algos.
Aug 5th saw an algo tweak and a sudden drop of traffic for many.
Aug 23-25 saw another algo tweak where sites that suffered on Aug 5th regained traffic but other sites lost 70%.
Sept 22-23 seems to me similar to Aug 5th algo tweak where sites that suffered on Aug 23 regained but sites that got hammered on aug 5 were hammered again.
you've forgot to mention 2 onther drop-times: 30-31 of Aug, and 6-7 of Sep.
Does Google publish numbers on THEIR traffic?
Its possible that Google is getting hit more or less depending on seasonal factors, competition (other SEs) and still other things.
IF G traffic drops markedly, it would stand to reason that your and my G-referred traffic would also fall, even with NO change in SERPs positions. -Larry
Google is a zero sum game folks. For every site getting few hits because they are mired at the bottom of the SERPs, someone is at #1 and delighted.
I can't accept that statement when in the UK we are seeing a lot of non UK sites at the top.
One search for "cheap widgets" brings up 6 american sites in the top 10, how useful is that for a UK surfer looking to buy a "cheap widget"!
From a user perspective, however, it is definitely not a zero sum game - having 10 average sites move up 1 spot does not balance out a very topical site dropping 10 spots.
Even from an SEO perspective it isn't a zero sum game. I personally don't like one of my sites that is on a related topic taking over the top spot for the main site I run on a specific topic. I'd rather get users going to the appropriate site.
there's general agreement among many (most?) that PR is changing, just not visibly (toolbar PR is unchanged, but actual PR has already been recalculated several times since June 23) - so what you're experiencing would be totally in line with your back links' PR (and hence your PR) having dropped.
> Googlebot spidering around 2,000 pages a day
> I could understand one or the other of these events, but both together? I'm at a complete loss understanding this behaviour.
Likely explanation : Google "lost" your site (possibly an accident) and is now working to get it back!
This is not a pagerank update happening behind the scenes (at least not the Sept 23rd drop of sites, which seems to parallel something from August 26th). You used to be able to have virtually 0 pagerank and still rank first for a very very specific term. Now, some sites can't with decent pagerank can't even do that.