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Fear Factor : Ranking the Updates



3:13 am on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month


Worst update: Nov 2001?

3rd, 4th, ort 5th: Florida?

Other biggies:

Altavista: Too many urls Dec 1998 (?)
Altavista: Black Monday, August 1999
Excite: Density tweak (Dec 1997)?
Inktomi: Over submission update Spring 98 (?)

[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 7:25 pm (utc) on Dec. 2, 2003]


12:53 am on Dec 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Florida devestated me as well. Lost 45 #1 spots and 90 % of my pages have fallen off the face of the earth! I will get back over time, but having a speech by President Bush rate higher than my home page is pretty demoralizing.

Is it over? I think not. Will Google achieve what they want with this? I really think not!

We will see what happens over the next couple of weeks, and maybe by then the chaos will cease.


4:04 am on Dec 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

i like google much more then AV


4:16 am on Dec 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

funny this Florida update,
only found out there was an update when I got some spam in my inbox about SEO and how the November update killed all those sites that did not use company XYZ for their SEO.
In other words, my sites are scoring like they always have, pretty well for what I want them to score on. Actually their placements have increased by about 10%, which made me very happy the last time I checked my 100 favourite kw phrases.
Main Sites are in the travel sector and rather competititve for their chosen European City destinations, but not for commercial hotel of flight bookings but for the hard core info that people want.
To find my site you need not search for XYZ Hotels but for XYZ clubbing or XYZ nightlife or XYZ Bars etc. the stuff people really need to know. and on those searches my sites went from No3/No4 to No1/No2. Lovely! just the way it should be, as we rock!

For me the worst update was Esmeralda. We took a hit of 50% decrease in visitors over night and had to create loads more content to cover for it. ever since the non-update update I decided that panicking about SEO is as damaging to the heart as smoking 2 packs a day, and as I had quit smoking already it was the next logical thing to quit.

Sorry to hear that so many webmasters have been hit hard by another moodswing from Google. But I'm sure you'll recover. you always do.


4:52 am on Dec 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

i like google much more then AV

Really? Because, all upset aside, until now, even if my site wasn't doing well in Google, I have always used Google as my SE of choice. I literally haven't used another search engine in years. This has continued through Dominic and all the other bobbles over the past few years. I still could find what I needed with Google.

However, this week, with the searches I've needed to do, Google has been coming up as close to empty as a SE can get. Where was the first place I turned? You guessed it! Good ole AV! :)

Now, I'm getting what I need there. Seriously, if this crap continues, I'm only a few steps away from removing Google from my bookmarks and replacing it with AV.

BTW...my wife noticed Google being a mess and not being able to find what she wanted and so did my dad. Word is gonna start to circulate on this one.


3:04 pm on Dec 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I find all this google conspiracy theory stuff hilarious. You guys crack me up.

And for those of you saying that people are going to notice that the results aren't as good any more, I disagree. The majority of people out there have no clue that anything changed in google. If they are not finding what they are looking for on google anymore, they'll probably assume google is still doing the best job, and it's the rest of the internet's fault for not having the information they want.


3:28 pm on Dec 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

My PTT (BT) line has just gone down, my telecoms provider worth millions might see me as a threat what should I do?

It is all rubbish, a lot of people got effected - have you ever had a network fail? Everyone wants to say this or say that and speculate...

a) Has Google announced any updates in the Algo?
b) Could it have been just a temp hickup, restoring itself next update?
c) I was told that penelized sites loose PR and get greyed out - has this happend, is it true?
d) I don't believe everyone in Google has somehow pulled a stunt like this, unless they all have 3 heads and have good share options;)
e) Years ago in UK we had lots of cornershops selling vegatables, newpapers and fresh food. Then the supermakets came, then the hyper markets came and now you have plots of land being bought up and sold to Block Busters, McDonald's etc...

If the bigboys are conspiring to weed out any future compition then you might as well give up the game and promote adwords. If however you are good at what you do, take the knock, move on and re-engineer yourselfs. 'The cream of the crop will always rise to the top'

If there is any corporate giants out there conspiring to change the algos - give up now I will not be beaten, on the other hand as I am a fair bloke i'll take a big huge bribe and will start a gardening company 'offline' and will no longer carry on my art of SEO. Why doesn't everyone just move on and wait for the next update, analyse the results and build a better solution.

Otherwise im going to add an update into the commercial-exchange post area - Link Parnters wanted, your country needs you. Google's future competitor seeks strong minded 'self opinionated' webmasters who think their system is better than googles...all we need to do is form a cooperative and link all our sites up together world wide and build a better search engine than google.

PS - profits are equal until I go for IPO in which case I will add premium rate advertising and add spider traps to screw you all up and forge a contract that says I own the World....

smokey sterling

4:06 pm on Dec 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

a) Has Google announced any updates in the Algo?
Here's a clip from a (hopefully) unbiased source:
>Google, as a matter of policy, does not discuss changes to its search engine algorithm. A spokesman said that the Mountain View, Calif., regularly tweaks its algorithms to improve the relevancy of search results.< -- eWeek
I think this policy of silence is definitely going to hurt Google. If Google does not agree to engage in an open and lengthy discussion of the algorithm and what is driving the changes, then it can only continue to breed distrust. Maybe I am paranoid, but the fact remains that weak results drive AdWords sales. I experienced it myself during my own searching -- see my previous post. That cannot be an accident/happy mistake/side effect of a change meant to improve results by penalizing dubiously optimized sites. If that is the claim then let's open the books and have a look at what they did and why. What are they afraid of? Of course we have no idea what they claim is the reasoning behind Fla. because they don't comment.

Learning Curve

6:36 pm on Dec 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

The best strategy for the future may very well be forgetting everything you know about ranking and looking as stupid as you can. toolman

I'm golden!


8:48 pm on Dec 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

It truly is the end of google.
MS will prob buy Yahoo
and use their own algo.

If Google had any brains,
they would set up a
google classic search bar
and a google new search bar.

Google would soon notice that
80-90% of the people are using
Google classic.

They would then drop the new algo
and go back to the old algo.

The one that worked.

Remember when ebay made all those
changes and nothing worked?

They QUICKLY went back to the old
algo and searches were great again.

We threatened EBAY with a boycott
and started putting our stuff on Yahoo.

It worked. Ebay is OK now.

When you search for "dolls"
you don't get a Pamela Anderson DVD.


6:07 am on Dec 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Google Commandment #6: "You can make money without doing evil."

Is this still true?


1:25 pm on Dec 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I do agree it does not look good.

But I still think it is too early to conclude as to what happend. And I think it's bad timing for everyone. It's like the chicken and the egg, if you have good rankings then you appear more credible - Even if I get traffic from link partners by nature of my work I need my listings on Google to prove I am who I say I am and am therefore credible.

I used to work on Cisco's internal EMEA network and flew all over Europe working on Cisco software (which had and still has it's fair share of bugs). My market went sour and I went from a high-flyer to being unemployed. Since then I have been spending the last year researching, building sites and promoting my site. I want to continue SEO work, not everyone can do it and I think if you are going to put the effort in to optimise a site correctly as opposed to paying Google lots of money then it should be our right to do this with out Google 'manipulating' our situation.

I personally gained a top 5 listing on g for about 1 month. I saw 40 leads come in by email and now a lot of them are debating my crediblity. I have been out of work 'technically' for over 12 months and this was my last effort to regain some self worth, I have been working 10, 14, 9, 17 hour days sometimes without rewards and have had to sell my new mer. sports, have sold my yuppy flat and have thrown everything into my business. The only thing I own right now is a pair of DJ turntables that have 24 carrot gold mechanics on them. Luckily my girlfriend earns a lot of money to support me but after working for such a long time I thought I would be seeing very good results and would be receiving high rewards for my efforts. Only to find my listings gone!

That is the nature of SEO work and it has been that way for many years by the looks of it, it is a cat and mouse game.

I don't mind working around it but Google say it is a 'fair and honest' way of listing websites. If the problem does not get sorted out ASAP I think they will need to change this info as it would appear to be false information. I still personally think that the problem will fix itself. Lets hope it is just a temp. problem for everyones sake cause I still believe we could all work in harmony and all benefit from it. If we all know how the algo worked then why not make great sites and compete for the business? It is Google's right not to produce information on their algo but we are not stupid and can work it out ourselves. Other alternative is to pay for advertising which would seem fair, if they don't sort this out soon then I am sure Mr (Sir) Gates will use our skills to build a better search engine.

I pray that Google do not loose their position over greed and shifty foot work, and listen to honest, hardworking professional like us. At the end of the day it does effect many people and in the end will effect their position. I will be looking at the IPO in great detail and will become a share holder as soon as it is possible. If they are thinking for the future and their future share holders then they must listen to us as we are after all qualified in our area.


5:40 pm on Dec 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



5:44 pm on Dec 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have not been doing this near as long as you webmasters. Only 2 years now. I used to show up on the 1st page for the majority of my searches and yesterday i could not find my site anywhere in Google. I have a page rank of 5 which is not to bad.

I sure hope this problem is resolved quickly. The majority of my business is drawn from Google. I am loosing alot of money because of this. I guess all i can do is sit back and wait it out like everyone else.

I love this site. I hope that one day i can contribute as much as everyone else has.


4:55 am on Dec 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Greetings and Gidday from downunder folks,

IMO, the great AV debacle, a bunch of my primary site pages (unique editorial content) disappeared, along with a good chuck of traffic, but pretty soon thereafter, so did AV from the search publics' radar because this little SE called "google"? had arrived on the scene, and by then, it didn't matter.

After a cursory check, it appears that my primary site has benefited from "Florida", got two pages back in the top 10 for a common 3 word search after nearly a year out of the loop (so to speak) and have the referrals chugging through ... WOO HOO! while other sites have slipped to top 20.

But this is all so deja vu' <shrug> ... algos come algos go, SEs come SEs go ... they're like buses, there'll be a new one along any minute now G has apparently stuffed up.

Meanwhile, those of you who relied on soley G serps to power your affiliate/agent/whatever money makers have suddenly learned what Henry Ford meant when he said that "It's OK to put your eggs in one basket, just watch the basket very carefully"; will have to adjust your business model and go out and shake your money maker to earn a living like the rest of us.

Or, as ex Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser once famously said "There's no such thing as a free lunch".

But then ... Malcolm is also famous for being found, on a state visit to the US, somewhat disorientated and sans trousers in a Memphis motel, after experiencing the hospitality of the locals. ;-]



6:42 am on Dec 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

Its interesting that all this is happening at biggest shopping season of the year. The pay per clicks should do well since the web pages from the dreggs have been pushed up underneath them and leave them with little or no competion.

Im sure that when law suits are done, sure well all get a little piece for getting ripped on our paid inclusions. Even, maybe the entire public be get a piece for being defrauded as well.

The big search engines will surely make make more from this than they will have to pay. Isn't that how it really works.



8:09 pm on Dec 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

From Google's TOS
A search using Google Services may produce search results ... that some people find objectionable, inappropriate, or offensive....You may not use the Google Services to sell a product or service, or to increase traffic to your Web site for commercial reasons, such as advertising sales.


Looks to me like most of the people who find the new results inappropriate are the ones who have been using Google for purposes that it explicitly says are not permitted.

Makes a change for those of us using Google to find information who used to be flooded with inappropriate commercial sites.

The answer is obvious: use Google for what is allowed in Google, and do your selling elsewhere.


11:05 pm on Dec 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

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

Victor, that applies to people using Google search services (business solutions).
To find them search for
search services -kfhjfh;)

There is no contract between webmasters and Google. They simply come and crawl our sites.


9:00 pm on Dec 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I agree with Powdork. Google is a service. We do not pay them to index our websites. It's a FREE Search Engine in simple terms. A lot more to say in other terms though. :-) A Good Business as well.

smokey sterling

1:54 pm on Dec 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

i was not going to post again in this thread since it's become such a behemoth but i have to say, it's not a matter of agreeing with powdork, he/she has simply stated the facts. it is a misguided notion to believe that google has some kind of written policy against commerce sites. the whole point of naming the search engine "google" was to get the point across that their mission is to index "googols" of information without prejudice. now it looks like they should be named "something approaching but not quite google".


7:48 pm on Dec 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

For the last year or so I have ranked #1 for "Keyword+Keyword+mycity" and I sill am. And my hits have almost doubled in last few weeks (mostly Google related).

However I also provide about 80% info on my site (SEO tips, graphic tutorials and free stuff) and I think that is why I'm still doing so well. I"ve been adding more info to various pages for last several weeks and every week my hits go higher (i.e., they are not static pages they are constantly changing and I think that is causing the search engines to check more often).

I manage about 20 sites and none of them have dropped significantly since Nov (other than one temporary glitch that only lasted 3 days) and a few have doubled their hits (but I always encourage my clients to add info pages).

So I suggest if you want to get site ranking high again start adding more info to your sites.


8:25 pm on Dec 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Hi annej

>I don't see any real difference in how information sites are doing at least in topics that aren't very commercial.

I did a search for "web design" the other day and went thru a multitude of pages of info sites on that topic when I was looking for an actual web designer. Then I tried "web design + a city" (not my city) and while the first result was a web designer all the rest for several pages were info sites.

This is one reason why I believe the more info related sites are going to rank higher with this recent update.

As webmasters we need to be tweaking our own algorithum to keep up with Google's.


10:15 pm on Dec 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Gidday from Downunder,

As Lorel said ...
>So I suggest if you want to get site ranking high again start adding more info to your sites

OR, to put the mantra as many of us old timers (!) know from the "field of dreams" halcyon days ...

content is king ... content is king ... content is king ...

not link farms, not affiliate links, not commission links.


Thanks for sharing and reminding us Lorel.

<edit>Oh yes ... and I should have added UNIQUE to the CONTENT (not stolen, ripped off or framed from someone elses site or published works, unless you have their permission, credit them and link back to their web site!)


10:57 pm on Dec 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

In this update some things have changed... for the first time (in the last month or so), I have noticed that the ol' GoogleBot has been reading my external javascript -- which basically contains a document.write() statement... Now, I don't know how much this would change ranking and the like, but, in the past I have used the *script* tag to hide stuff that I don't want to be indexed or seen by straight-html bots and browsers. I can see how rankings can change dramatically if other webmasters used the tag to include "no-no" type, out-of context, language that would previously get you banned from the index.(?)

I don't know either way, but I wouldn't try to find hotels in Paris, France now on any search engine. As a webmaster, I have been getting more hits from "other" engines, but that may just be the holiday rush, since overall the hits from all s-engines has increased. As an "advanced" user, I too have noticed the high ranking of out of context results, and I have also noticed that some use external JavaScript to add keywords, but I just pass them up, It's obvious to a human --- I just wish the algo could at least come close... :)


10:52 am on Dec 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Google SERPs' quality has fallen in the fields I use to search at. I'm deceived. :(
Another vote for the Florida Update as te worst SE update in history.



10:58 am on Dec 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

The contract between webmasters and Google:
1st: Everyone wants traffic.
2nd: The better the first pages of SERPs are, the better these serps are
3rd: The better G's SERPs are, the more traffic google gets.
So, we can deduce that G wants to give good SERPs, ranking high the best pages.
4rd: The better a page is, the higher G will try to rank it.

So, there is no contract: If your page is good, G will rank it high for its own interest.

A web need SEs, and the SE's need a web to search in. Simply two entities in a symbiothic convivence.



5:51 am on Dec 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

As a user, I feel the quality of Google's searches have declined, to the point where I've turned to alltheweb to find information. This includes technical stuff that was Google's strong point from the beginning, like specific Linux FAQs and such.

The only site I'm watching stats on has dropped from +7000 hits in October from Google/Yahoo to 3000 in November and December. Mostly the same keywords driving traffic but I don't have data on where they were in Google's results.


10:10 pm on Jan 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'm only just begining to take an interest in the behind the scenes behaviour of serach engines, Google in particular. Since november in fact, well after Florida.

But I too have become frustrated by the results I am getting with Google. As AnneJ said, if I wanted a spammy link farm to show me links to match my query, I'd have keyed my search into a spammy link farm.

I almost never click on adwords, but recently I have started doing so because they are now the only really relevant results Google returns.

Franky I don't give two hoots if a site exploited Google to get to a top 10 rank as long as they give me what I wanted, which they were doing until this autumn.

Still, much as I liked google, I have had no qualms switching to Inktomi. I'll give Google a chance, I have their toolbar instlled, but they'd better get it fixed or they're going to go the way of Alta Vista.

I'm surprised MSN and Inktomi haven't been flooding the news channels with "Is Google broken" propoganda.


10:32 pm on Jan 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

There is nothing wrong with google. Its working fine. Just config your pages correctly and you wont have probs. As for Florida there was no update. Florida was invented by amateurs trying to describe the powerbrokers failure recover from buyouts and leveraged deals.
Just learn to write your pages well and you'll get respectable placement.

By the end of the 1st quarter 04 the powerbrokers should have their acts together better then ink, yahoo and msn may be working - those are the engines that have failed.



9:49 am on Jan 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'm surprised MSN and Inktomi haven't been flooding the news channels with "Is Google broken" propoganda.

I do not think MS and others are able to attack Google from the front. They will wait untill Google is definitively broken to start that propaganda. Meanwhile, they are preparing all they can to hit google from the back. For example, MicroSoft (MSN) is preparing its own toolbar for IE, with a search box, a popup blocker, etc.

Back to the topic,
Google has, indirectly, given job to many people there. And when it has some objectable results everybody attack it.
Instead of working in your SERPs to get again your rankings, you begin a thread trying to decide if has sometime (or hasn't) been a worse update than this!
When I came for the first time to these forums, I found them wonderfull, but now I'm getting deceived by most of you :(

It's true that SERPs are not so good as they used to be. It's true that Google is not in their best times. But they have always been there. When hundreds or thousands webmasters were spamming G's results, there was a lot of people working against spam, to give users what they needed and to send to you the surfers that needed something from your sites. It's very sad. At least we could show a little more respect for thoose people who have worked for the Web more than anybody in this world.
I've also said some things about G that I now regret. G is a great search engine, moved by a lot of people who try to make the web better. And now, at the first problem, all of us are turning our back on them? No! I will get links. I will take my page again to the top and I will help G to detect spamming as often as I can. I will continue using Google and, as they have always been in the side of their users, I will do all as I can to keep users on G's side.

My most sad greetings,

smokey sterling

1:19 pm on Jan 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

oh my gosh, this is hilarious! will this thread ever die? now it's become a critique of itself! in regard to the defense of google, isn't that a bit like defending mike tyson against michael jackson? google has a lot of power, and we as individuals only have our ability to congregate and empower ourselves through shared information and experiences. is anyone really weeping for google, when they had the ability to stay on top and somehow lost their way (if only temporarily)? it's all academic to them anyway; our little rants have no effect, i'm sure.
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