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February 2007 Google SERP Changes

     
6:33 pm on Feb 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

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And here it is. 12:00pm CST My site magicly disapeared from Google's earth. 1st page for many majour keywords, now is no where in the first 9,999.

I think disater is about to strike. Good luck to everyone

2:21 pm on Feb 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I have a feeling it is Wiki links being given the nofollow. A site does not have to be linked from Wiki to be effected by this at all.
2:54 pm on Feb 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

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ALbino,

It looks like we are in the same situation.

Our home page which has ranked on the first page, generally 6-9, for the last few years has dropped to #131. Several internal pages that ranked #1 o #2 have dropped as well to #90-#100. Strange thing is that we still have a few pages ranking #1 for their specific keywords.

No link farms or other black hat tactics. The only thing that I can think of is that we are over optimized. Keyword placement in meta tags, h1, and text. While we never intended to keyword stuff, maybe we have tripped some sort of filter?

How do we confirm this or where do we start?

We had a similar situation on Dec. 17. All of our listing just about disappeared or where buried, then within 2 days everything started to come back, and with higher rankings. We didn't make any changes to the site.

This most recent incident occurred on 2/3, and we haven't seen any progress with our pages returning to normal in the rankings.

Michael

3:29 pm on Feb 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

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tetongolf, I do not think you would be the kind of person to over do the SEO filter. Do you have any sites linking to you from Wiki or your linked yourself?
3:30 pm on Feb 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

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p.s. sorry forgot to say I don't think there is a filter
4:02 pm on Feb 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

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What is most frustrating about this is that my site seems to be virtually frozen using the site: command. No pages added or removed from their index, most still stuck in SERPs and perhaps worse, Googlebot dropping by very little these days ... how can I get out of this "penalty box" if Googlebot doesn't crawl enough to see whether I've cleaned things up?
4:03 pm on Feb 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Oops, didn't mean "still stuck in SERPs", meant "stuck in supplementals"...
4:22 pm on Feb 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

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No Wiki links.

We made it through most of the big updates, unscathed, if not stronger.

I wish I knew what was going on here.

Michael

4:34 pm on Feb 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

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>>No Wiki links.

ooohh

like the sounds of that

even better, no ebay or amazon links

4:42 pm on Feb 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

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No Amazon links.

But we do list some products on Ebay, and there is a link there on each of the listings back to the main site. Probably about 100 listings.

Has anyone narrowed this down as an issue before?

Michael

4:49 pm on Feb 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

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People have given us Wiki links, and although I don't know how many, I would think it's an extremely small portion of our total number of inbounds. I would guess from hits that I've seen that we have perhaps 20 or 30 Wiki links and several thousand other links. So I don't think the Wiki nofollow is at fault.
6:06 pm on Feb 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I've also made through all other updates well, until now. I use only white-hat methods. No funny business. Site just dropped like a rock...hoping it will pop back into place, but each day that goes by it seems less likely to happen. I've made some small changes like many of you have mentioned, but I'm afraid to do anything drastic yet. (not sure what that would be any how). This really hurts. :(
6:39 pm on Feb 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

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A lot of what I've seen, and read on this and -950 posts, make me believe it may be related to keyword searches that Google now finds the page as over-optimized for. Other keyword searches still rank the affected page.

I know many say they are not over-optimized for those keywords, but that is according to past guidelines. Perhaps G has lowered acceptable kw density for competitive phrases, in attempt to combat spammers. Are you saying those keywords don't show up at all on the affected pages? How much?

Look at similar sites (similar backlink, pr, etc) that now rank high in serps for those keywords - how much do the keywords appear on those pages?

9:11 pm on Feb 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

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My PR 6 well established site just dropped today. If I type

www.example.net

into google my site shows up at # 43 in the listings.

If I type

http://www.example.net

It shows a mathematical site first and then one page of my site second. If I do a

site:http://www.example.net

It shows all of my pages..

Also, a keyword that I used to rank # 1 for I now rank # 40. I am not ranking for any of my keywords anymore. Don't know what this falls under but I am totally baffled.

[edited by: tedster at 9:18 pm (utc) on Feb. 7, 2007]
[edit reason] use example.net [/edit]

9:56 pm on Feb 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

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My site came back this morning, after suffering the symptoms mentioned here for 4 days. I suspected over-optimizing or keyword stuffing, so I reduced my keyword density. Googlebot came back to visit after a 2 day hiatus. Today, the main page caches is updated and I'm back in the SERPS just like I was before. Did the changes I made fix it? who knows.
10:00 pm on Feb 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Hey Dave,

Did your site have the URL issues as well, like not showing up for your own url: www.example.com?

10:32 pm on Feb 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

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My site came back this morning, after suffering the symptoms mentioned here for 4 days. I suspected over-optimizing or keyword stuffing, so I reduced my keyword density. Googlebot came back to visit after a 2 day hiatus. Today, the main page caches is updated and I'm back in the SERPS just like I was before. Did the changes I made fix it? who knows.

Had that experience too. Changed the format of my homepage 2 months ago, which affected the KW density. Site fell from page 1 to page 2. Immediately reverted back to old format and went back to page 1!

Looking at the serps for my niche though, I am convinced (in my own mind anyway) that Goog periodically "abducts" the #1 site for a couple of days, send them off into the lab for poking and prodding (filters), then if they pass the tests, they come back at their regular place.

Then again... what do I know... sigh!

10:52 pm on Feb 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Our kw density is somewhere between 3-4.5% depending on the page. Honestly, I've never even bothered checking until now since we write what we write. I can't imagine that 4.5% is high enough to trigger a flag. But maybe.
11:31 pm on Feb 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

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What about keyword density in the title, hrefs, and H1 tags?
11:41 pm on Feb 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

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What about keyword density in the title, hrefs, and H1 tags?

Title - The the titles of these pages are all the same:

"Our Site Name: Red Widget"

hrefs - The hrefs that link to these pages are:

"Red Widget"

or

"Widget, Red"

There are no other internal hrefs for these pages.

H1's - We have no H1 tags on the entire site. Nor do we bold or italicize the keywords, although at the top the keyword "Red Widget" is in a larger font than on the rest of the page, but this is purely aesthetic and has nothing to do with SEO.

We now rank in the hundreds for "Red Widget" but if you use a 3rd keyword and type "Red Widget Accessories" or "Large Red Widget" (for example) we're right back at #1.

12:16 am on Feb 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

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jGold454, no I still came up for a search on my domain name and some other obscure long tail searches, but almost everything was buried very deep. Strangely, a search for "vintage widgets" for which I used to rank #2 was now 900+, while a search for "widgets vintage" had me at #1! what gives? It is almost as if someone at Google hand picked the exact high-traffic key phrases and put them into penalty or something.

My site has a home brew CMS which I have been optimizing like crazy for the past few months... perhaps I tripped a filter or something, Google may have seen too many changes in title and description tags, content etc. over a short period of time. I may have over optimized. I decided during the down time that I might as well take the plunge and convert all my URL's to friendly static style as advised by others here at Webmaster World... so, going from index.asp?w=30 to /widget30.htm with 301 redirects may put me back into the darkness again for a while, but hopefully it will pay off before too long with better rankings and stability. Has anybody else ever done the change from dynamic to static URL's? How long did it take to recover in G's index with same or better traffic?

12:26 am on Feb 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

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It is almost as if someone at Google hand picked the exact high-traffic key phrases and put them into penalty or something.

Why "hand picked"? Couldn't they be looking at searches for high traffic phrases and filtering/penalizing pages that are too highly optimized for those phrases?

12:36 am on Feb 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

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"Why "hand picked"? Couldn't they be looking at searches for high traffic phrases and filtering/penalizing pages that are too highly optimized for those phrases?"

I didn't really mean hand picked literally, but just very well targeted and focused on specifically my target phrases. Very "AI" ish!

12:51 am on Feb 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Well, it seems every time someone states they lost all rank for keyphrase1, but still rank at the top for keyphrase 2, then keyphrase2 is the LESS highly searched phrase. So it hurts a lot more, but is nothing personal :)

But really, I'm just suggesting perhaps they aren't using this "filter" for less competitive phrases, so you still rank for those...

8:46 am on Feb 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

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hi Nostalgic,

Has anybody else ever done the change from dynamic to static URL's? How long did it take to recover in G's index with same or better traffic?

yes one of my client who was ranking #1 and #2 position for last couple of years has done some major changes in site layout and urls since last dec 2006 and it seems like goole has hurt him badly what we can do is wait and watch if we can come back or we have to rollback or we have to find what is gone wrong. As per me everything was very much as per google guidelines and no spamy technique or no deceiving at all. Still my client is hurt he is no where in SERPs for any keyword.

Please if anyone can know if it is just to my client for his global changes or it is google who is doing some algo changes

thanks
lashkari

9:25 am on Feb 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

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We helped a client make a url-rewrite change last fall - to every url but the domain root - and they never had a drop in traffic, even though we were prepared for that with an increased PPC budget. If you're thorough with your 301, 404 deployment and other intelligent prep work, then url rewriting can work out very well.

Google is changing almost daily now, vikram, so it's hard to answer you more exactly. I would not try to back out, however, I'd just make the new way work - I know it can.

9:44 am on Feb 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Thanks Tedster, thats what I wanted to hear! I am seeing my new URL's show up in Yahoo right along with the old ones that now have 301's in place, so... lets hope G is as kind to me!
1:36 pm on Feb 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Anyone have any idea about why this is happening? When I enter my my full URL into the search like this:

http://www.example.net

I get 2 results. The first is a mathematical site and the second is my site.

11:31 pm on Feb 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Netmeg - I'm still thinking the site command is not working right, or else they changed it. Most of my sites are display as filtered content right now (mine and my client's) and not as supplemental, and many of them are as high or higher than they've ever been in the SERPs.

My hunch is that it's intended and sites are at risk with the "duplicate content" dials being tweaked . I think it's no accident - be wary and prepare [ IMO ] .

g1smd has made some early comments: [webmasterworld.com...]

I think some special focus seperated out from the above on the specifics of what the site:tool might be trying to tell us is urgently required for some sites to avoid the fall, even if you previously believed that you had cracked the duplicate content filter.

8:35 am on Feb 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Just an update on my situation. I like a few others was getting low results when using the site operator. The difference with me it appears is that my traffic has not been affected, it has actually increased over the last 2 weeks. Even hitting a small milestone in visits.

At it's lowest it went down to 1-3 of 21. As of a few hours ago it's 1-10 of 960. The first three results are the ones that were showing before and are 3 major pages on this site. All of the results after that are supplemental however doing a regular search brings up many pages that are not supplemental. It appears at the moment that the site operator is only returning my 3 main pages plus supplementals. Pages that are not supplemental are not listed, at least as far as I have looked.

1:42 pm on Feb 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I think the site: command is broken. I think I have about 5,000 pages in the index but it only shows about half of them with the site: command. My traffic is unchanged and when I do a specific keyword search I can find almost every page on my website.
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