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Was there a big change Saturday 7/16?

     
6:02 pm on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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On Saturday 7/16 I noticed a 60% drop in visits to one of my sites and today looks to be equally dismal.

While investigating the cause I first checked my Google sitemap statistics particularly "Top search queries" It still reports that the site averages within the first 10 results for a handful of search terms. However, when I search on these terms rather than finding the site on the first page of results - something I have been able to do for a long time, several years at least - it is now nowhere to be found.

So I have two questions for the Webmaster World community:

Did anyone else notice a big change in search results beginning this weekend?

Can anyone suggest or refer me to methods of figuring out why my site is no longer listed in the results for search terms it traditionally ranked well with?

12:19 am on July 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Literally tens of thousands of websites were hit June 27 and it appears that some websites may be hit now. The reason I say this is that many websites that I manage are so similar in approach but only one has been hit. Maybe others will be hit soon like yours. Google has been a mess for months now but June 27 was the absolute worst.
12:44 am on July 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Some update or activity does seem on. My backlinks have dropped from 147 to 56.
1:03 am on July 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Lost 80,000 pages from one site on the weekend. Rankigns for key terms remains unchanged, but as I get only 10% from key terms, the rest from other pages that are now missing, its a bit of a disaster.
1:24 am on July 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Looks like some update is being performed... Maybe it is connected to recent PR update. I noticed some huge drop in inbound links few days ago... Data's getting refreshed again?

I think Google will sort some things out till the end of this month, hopefully it'll be benificial to us.

1:34 am on July 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I have sites that were only 25% indexed almost fully indexed as of last night. Traffic is so-so, but it's really nice to see the increase in pages indexed. But this is Sunday and tomorrow is another day...
1:47 am on July 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Yep ... definitely something going on. Large drop in backlinks here too. Also pages are disappearing from search results. Not looking too promising. Hopefully this is just a glitch, but somehow I think we are in for another big shake up.

[edited by: Liane at 1:48 am (utc) on July 17, 2006]

3:08 am on July 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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My main site jumped up about 30 spots over nigt. Unfortunately, it had lost about 100 spots on Jun 27.
4:45 am on July 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Not losing pages, but I've lost a couple positions. It looks to me as if PR is now factoring in more (in the sector I watch) as well as the quality of the backlinks. I dropped, but I can't say I didn't deserve it. Just not any futher please.
6:50 am on July 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Brett,

What name are your thinking for this update?

Sunny

7:39 am on July 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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maybe hes gonna name it:

"oh no..not another update call..can we really name an update on a weekly basis?"

10:37 am on July 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I found the site - it is now consistently on the last page of results using the same keywords that previously brought it up on the first page of results.

So - after years of methodical white hat work, doing no evil, etc the site has been relegated to the end of the results. I guess I can hope that people will often click "Next" 99 times and then visit the site.

This is almost certainly an algorithm change - possibly one based on some kind of anti-spam theory - and I would say to whoever is in the driver's seat that it looks like it was not well tested prior to going live. If that's true then I would interpret that as a sign of desperation.

Google, did you guys really just push a new algo out there and then stand back and wait to see what would happen? Ouch.

By the way for these keywords the site is still #1 on MSN and #5 on Y. I guess I need to start telling people those are the best search engines out there and sell my Google stock :p

11:08 am on July 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Google, did you guys really just push a new algo out there and then stand back and wait to see what would happen? Ouch.

Indeed, i think that's exactly what happened.

I'm still of the belief that higher ups were "pushing" the algo engineers to get BD out before some type of internal deadline.
(Indicated by MC's rather vocal acknowlegement to the algo team and long vacation soon after)
And like most "rush jobs" it was not tested, refined, etc.
So now we see the past few months of them trying to figure out what went wrong.

12:33 pm on July 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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happened to my site too...went from 7,000 uniques to about 2,0000 uniques...large site with 80,000 pages...it hit on Friday night..
12:58 pm on July 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Big drop in backlinks here and a further 50% drop in traffic.

Most of the site went supplimental on the 27th and with a 50% traffic drop, and now this and an even further drop in traffic. That's a 75% drop in traffic now in just 3 weeks. DOH!

1:01 pm on July 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I am seeing a 40 000 page site that has always been fully indexed as www, and has never had a non-www to www 301 redirect, now have most of its pages additionally indexed as non-www.

Only a few weeks ago, a non-www check revealed that Google had not indexed any pages as the non-www version.

It shouldn't take long for stuff to start going Supplemental or URL-only if Google still works the way that it did a year ago when handling duplicate content of this type.

1:19 pm on July 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I am still doing some analysis with the Google sitemap reports. One new thing I found is over 500 entries in the "Web Crawl -> Not found" report.

Sincerely, I am meticulous about 404 errors - in fact my error handling pages send me an e-mail whenever a real one occurs - and I know for a fact there is not now nor has there ever been anything like this actually on the site.

They are all of the form:
http://mysite.org/rg/deeplink-name/http://subdomain.spamsite.com/name/nm0001169/

Is anyone else seeing anything similar? Does this mean another webmaster is targeting this site? Or could the data Google has for this site be corrupted?

Meanwhile, I added "Disallow: /rg/" to robots.txt so maybe they will be cleaned up the next time G makes a pass on the site(?)

1:34 pm on July 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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are you really saying that despite true updates taking days>weeks to propagate through dc's we now have updates that hit overnight? from start to finnish!
1:34 pm on July 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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When you drop back links, you will lose pr. Those back links you all lost google is more than likely looking at them as spammy or questionable. Are they paid links, link farm links or natural links?
3:01 pm on July 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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More findings:

While the original site which has been out there since August of 1999 has now been relegated to the last page of results there is a blog entry dated Feb 2006 with a verbatim copy of portions of the site's original content now appearing in the #1 postion on the first page of results for the given keywords.

It makes me think I should register a new domain and convert the whole site to a series of blog entries.

4:17 pm on July 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Seems GG is staying in hiding for this one. No comments on Matt's blog either.

I think I will check and then recheck my site today (seeing as how things are a little slow) to make sure I have no orphaned pages, dead links, etc. Good way to kill some time. (She says while making stick figures out of paper clips and waiting for phone to ring) ;)

4:23 pm on July 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I just found the 5 billion page subdomain spammer in the google index again this time with redirects. He had close to 250,000 pages indexed on the site I came across. I just reported them to google.

This might be one issue that google is still fighting.

4:24 pm on July 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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The new "bad" SERPs seem to have stabilised (unfortunately) since 27 June.

I still see a "psuedo-page" when I do a ... site:www.mydomain.com

www.mydomain.com/?NF=1

is listed first, and my main site homepage is listed at spot #6

Two other of my sites have dropped from #2 and #8 to #zillion or so...

Does anyone know if most things will recover? Or is the current sad state of affairs the new "normal"?

4:51 pm on July 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Hi donelson,

The last record that I have of a blip like this one happening was in March this year. It took 23 days to fully recover, but my stats finally returned to become slightly stronger that before the changes. 23 days from the 27th June would make an estimated recovery on Wednesday or Thursday this week. If nothing then we know that we have some work on our hands eh?

All the Best

Col :-)

5:13 pm on July 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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our backlinks went from 700 to 50 according to google. They obviously didn't like many of the links that exist to our site. Consequently we went from #59 to #109 in the SERPS for our term. And of course the top 10 has not budged in two years, no matter what tweaks were made... I smell handcoding.,.....
5:37 pm on July 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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More analysis:

Using site:mysite.org it appears that the site is fully indexed (around 29,800 pages) and I can account for each major section by refining the search "-pages_generated_from_database_X" etc.

Also, a brand new set of 7 pages that were just added to the site last week were found to be indexed as well with a cache date of 7/15

I originally found the new pages in the Google index by refining & paging through the site command but I can also find them by enclosing the key words in quotes so they go through the algo as a complete phrase rather than as separate words.

Further, I found that I could bring some - but not all - of the site's other pages up to their traditional results by enclosing keywords in quotes as well.

It makes it look like whatever was done has made searching for blue widgets even more equivalent to searching for widgets blue than was previously the case.

So - pure conjecture - could it be that some change took place that further decreased reliance on the keyword sequence (nearness, word distance, whatever) and consequently the overall search results are in a different order?

6:14 pm on July 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Literally tens of thousands of websites were hit June 27

Can you give a source for that information? (I'm not questioning the statement's validity; I'm just curious.)

8:21 pm on July 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I as well have seen a big shift in traffic from Google but the Lord provided yahoo and msn to replace the lost traffic from google same traffic pretty much just now 40% yahoo 40% msn 20% google
8:24 pm on July 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Do you really think this is an update? I don't think so. I think it is a reflection of the PR update. If you drop backlinks and therefore PR, you're going to drop in the search results.
9:06 pm on July 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I smell handcoding.
I think that happens more than G wants to admit, esp. with PR.

Further test results:

Another three word phrase that used to rank around position #5 on the first page of results is now buried so deep in the results it may as well not even be there.

Also parts of the text of this page (in some cases with a link back to the original) have been copied verbatim into some newsgroup posts and some forum posts and those copies appear in the results way before the original. Google, that hurts.

One bright spot: now when I add a 4th word to the phrase from the page in question - like a refinement to clarify the context - then it is back on page one of the results where it was before.

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