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I've been reading through the June 27th/August 17th threads, and I was wondering if somebody could make it more clear as to what's actually going on?
Like many of you on the board, my site got trashed in the SERPs on June 27th only to recover a month later. At the time, I thought I had incurred a penalty and went through painstaking detail to remove even the most minute possible violations. I thought that correcting those problems was the reason that I recovered.
So needless to say, I was pretty upset when I got trashed again around the 17th when I knew my site was in total compliance with Google's guidelines. After visiting this forum, I now see that I was not the only one who has been experiencing this type of problem.
Here are my questions. If any of you can shed some light on these, I would really appreciate it.
1. Why is this happening? It seems like some kind of update, but why are certain sites getting trashed when others are standing firm?
2. Can I expect a recovery similar to the one I had in July?
3. Is there anything I can do to fix this, or am I completely at the mercy of Google on this one?
Thanks for you time!
[edited by: tedster at 6:25 am (utc) on Aug. 22, 2006]
I don't think anyone really knows when or if Google will fix their algo and stop dumping sites for no apparent reason (especially when the spam stays).
What I do know is that these apparently reckless updates have caused some real financial harm to some innocent web publishers and that Google's search results are a total mess.
I went searching for a photographic site, that I used to use for info, last night and there was a note simply stating that due to recent updates in the Google index, they were no longer able to attract enough visitors to go on. This site was very clean, highly informative and extremely 'sticky', but you must find it when you search for you camera type on a search engine, as the owner never used a full domain name, just a free homepage from one of the big service providers. I assume he was a photography nut and not a big pro web designer and didn't know how to transfer his traffic from his established homepage to a new domain ... and why should he have to? Because Google says so, or correction ... Google decided to chage the rules without telling anyone. (Where's my cat? She's gonna get a wuppping now) ;-)
A big loss to my field of interest and not at all surprising, given what's been going on recently.
All the Best
You're description of what happened to your site fits mine to a T. Disappeared June 27th, came back July 27th, disappeared again August 17th.
Others have had the opposite dates, but the end result is still the same.
Welcome to the club... sorry you had to join us.
133000 shown for site:mydomain.com
122000 shown for site:mydomain.com -inurl:www
2460 shown for site:mydomain.com inurl:www
119000 shown for site:www.mydomain.com
103000 shown for site:www.mydomain.com -inurl:www
2460 shown for site:www.mydomain.com inurl:www
we're missing some numbers here. approximately 13000 somewhere in the abyss. Maybe under some sort of review?
We did specify www in our sitemaps so maybe they are slowly converting and respidering?
Oh and alot of bot activity to say the least. From all sides.. nice for a change. Traffic is fair sales are slow, but higher ticket items .. go figure..
Hope this helps someone else ..
painstaking detail to remove even the most minute possible violations
End of June:
.htaccess to redirect www to not www
Improving cgi-bin to return error 404 for the contact form of not more existing pages
End of July:
Changing link structure. the old www. of my main site had only links to subdomains, but not links from the subdomains
Creating a new directory structure on www. showing all the reports of all subdomains in yearly order
Creating across the themes pages on www. for special themes covered on more than one subdomain
301 redirects on www. for some pages of content copied to theme oriented subdomains (about 0,5% of total content)
Now I have no ideas what to do else
Also when you change your site if it got supplemental, nothing is happening, no update of those page, still the old cache a year back is showing, so you can not even make a correction if you are supplemental.
Get more hardware
Drop the supplemental results and omitted results, THAT IS NOT USER FRIENDLY, like you say we shall focus on.
Get more hardware
Drop the supplemental results and omitted results, THAT IS NOT USER FRIENDLY, like you say we shall focus on.
Then we can spend more time making our sites for the users, just like the good old days.
Google, you are no longer contributing to the progress of the internet, you are hurting it.
So the particular algorithm that people are interested in on June 27th and July 27th, those particular algorithms have actually been in line for over a hear and a half. So its actually data-refreshes that you are seeing, that are changing the way that peoples sites rank. In general, if your site has been affected, go back and take a fresh look and see if there is anything that may be exceedingly over optimised, or maybe that I have been hanging about on SEO Forums for such a long time that I need to have a regular person comment, take a look at the site, and see "if it looks ok to me"
This is a direct quote taken from a transcription of one of the videos Matt Cutts has been doing recently. Sure seems to me he is saying that if your site was affected, it’s due to optimization. We had several sites affected, but eventually all came back; our suspicion is that they dialed back these over optimization filters. However, we also firmly believe they will be back. Who really knows, but we have been taking a hard look at too much commonality in the title, H1, text and percent of incoming anchor text all matching up.
[edited by: AustrianOak at 2:01 pm (utc) on Aug. 22, 2006]
Are there any other data refresh dates confirmed by Google?
The scary thing about what’s been happening is that if your site is affected by these filters, you don’t drop 10 or 20 positions, but 500. We would consider all the sites of ours that were affected by this to meet any and all Google guidelines; but clearly they did not once these filters are in place.
It’s a good time to be conservative and ratchet things down a bit. It almost seems like their giving us fair warning with the implementation of these “refreshes” once a month, then dialing it back. It is a little frustrating to operate sites you feel pretty comfortable about guideline wise getting caught in this net their throwing out.
but April 26th was huge as well.. as there were multiple threads started and discussed.
Perhaps it just was sent out a little early for some unknown reason as April 27 was also a Thursday.
As for trying to figure out what has been happening.... My uneducated theory is that it has something to do with backlinks.
While most every phrase I used to rank well for took a serious tumble, I can see a trend for which terms took a more serious tumble. The terms that dropped about 150-200 places in the serps (from the top 10) are terms I didn't have many backlinks deep linking to those pages.
While phrases that dropped 400 or more places in the serps (again, from the top 10) were to pages that I did get several backlinks from. Going through about 50 or more phrases I can see an almost 100% correlation showing the terms I dropped further for were the ones I had more backlinks from. Perhaps these backlinks looked unnatural to Google.
What is interesting about this update is that it has impacted sites that had zero content changes over the past several months. This leads me to believe that whatever change is happening isn't related to on-page factors.
Something else I've noticed is that several sites I've seen that were impacted have a 301 redirect in place from www to non-www or vice versa, AND there were some issues with the 301. For example, I had a 301 problem with my site and didn't know about it for several months. There was a conflict with another rewrite rule that was causing lots of pages to get redirected not to the www version of the same page, but to the homepage instead.
So I had hundreds of redirects to the homepage from other unique pages. I can see how this would look weird to Google and I fixed the problem. This was in late July however my site didn't come back on Aug 17.
When I think about what MC has said about data refreshes it seems to be some sort of calculations/evaluations of off-page factors. From a data management point of view it seems to be something that is too complex to be calculated "on the fly". So instead it is calculated every month or so and pushed out.
So assuming this isn't actually a bug that is impacting these sites but rather a deliberate change, I would assume we are looking at off page factors being updated.
I would be curious to hear if other people experienced the same type of drops in the serps.... that the pages you had more backlinks for (or perhaps the pages you had more backlinks with the same anchor text for) the further the pages dropped in the last data refresh.
Think about how quickly some sites dropped in the SERPs. Almost like there was a massive purge of data and then just as quickly some sites returned (e.g. a massive push of new data).
I highly doubt SERIOUS businesses base a business around free search engine results.. if they do.. OUCH!
Well ... so internet business without SE results .. interesting .. concept .. obviously everyone wants away from that, but meanwhile until we get a huge loan for offline ads or wikipedia delivers enough ...
I also fail to see how G wouldn't be so important.. if the suggestion to make money on the internet without Google would be so easy, I guess the thumble weed would float through this forum .. Sadly though .. G is influencing world economy, even if this is a bad business plan, on a daily basis.
In other words, the domain has nothing to do with the search term other than the page showing up is some kind of generated MFA site. The listed domains are almost something The Onion would come up with.
I also looked at Yahoo's backlink tool in their site explorer beta. Link after link to my sites is some spammy MFA scraper site.
I'm not sure what the long range impact is but from what some of the webmasters have said here about legitimate sites dropping it seems that the folks at G are throwing out baby after baby while the bathwater remains and turns to mud.
(I know - any self repecting english prof would grade the writing above a D- at best... Just rambling)
It seems the MFA scrapers are staying one step ahead of google and the collateral damage goes on and on. I wonder if a scraper gets to a legitimate new site first it will be listed as 'original' and when the googlebot looks at your site it applies the 'dupe filter'.
We do, and have done so for nearly 7 years.
We do pay for some traffic, and also have traditional offline advertising. But the bulk of the first time visitors to our website are coming in from the organic results of the major search engines.
Its not different than being in the Yellow Pages if you ask me.
... a direct quote taken from a transcription of one of the videos Matt Cutts has been doing recently. Sure seems to me he is saying that if your site was affected, it’s due to optimization. We had several sites affected, but eventually all came back; our suspicion is that they dialed back these over optimization filters.
This makes the most sense to me as a theory about what's been going on.
I think G's motivation is to combat the exploding adsense spam problem. Think about it - MFA sites are practically by definition going to be "over optimized" with anchor, title, H1, H2, H3, and body text often matching "too well".
I personally think that there has been an over-optimization dail being played within in combination with trust-rank factors.
I think that on June 27th, they turned the OO dial up hard, then backed it down on July 27th, and again on August 17th.
Is there anything I can do to fix this, or am I completely at the mercy of Google on this one?
Getting 'trashed' doesn't mean you're not in compliance, it means someone else moved up and you moved down, a variance in how the algorithm picks who's on top. With all the competition I would never assume that my site will hold the top 10 forever, or the top 20 even, as the competition for those spots is brutal.
However, with a large link network, lots of long tail keywords, and good ranking in Yahoo, MSN and Ask, you have a better chance of not having your business vaporize on the whims of Google alone.
You may want to consider advertising as an additional part of your marketing plan.
How about Matt Cutts recent video comments -- hinting that too much SEO might be the target?
I have looked at several domains that were being tossed around the past four months, and one factor that stood out to me was anchor text -- within the site links, not outbounds or inbound from other domains. Internal anchor text, in these cases at least, was heavily packed with target keywords, to the point of looking a bit odd for the normal (read that as non-SEO) visitor.
In one case I know the person changed it and saw a rebound rather quickly. Anyone else seeing this factor at work?
I've also seen some suggestive stats that really long anchor text phrases may be a problem -- but I don't think that technique is used widely enough to account for the number of reports of dropped rankings. It sounds like the Florida update in this forum recently!