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March 2007 Google SERP Changes (part 2)



7:53 pm on Mar 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

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< continued from [webmasterworld.com...] >

Our site is bouncing up and down in the SERPs. One minute its #4, then the next it's vanished...I'm off to check the datacenters, I can't imagine what else would be doing this.

[edited by: tedster at 5:49 am (utc) on Mar. 13, 2007]


10:41 am on Mar 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

I had the same problem. It started on the 6th of March, my site was down to page 6 or 7 and I changed keywords (limited to 25 words) and description tags (limited to 64 characters) and this week most of my important keywords found their way to page 1 or 2 (most). It took me 2 days to edit about 150 page headers. Try and I best of luck to you all.


12:42 pm on Mar 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Today we were back in as normal then I started tracking back my Google traffic only to find we have dropped again - I did some digging and I am now finding my results around the 700 - 800 range. So we seem to go from number 1 to the very end of the results in the blink of an eye...

Is this related to the size of the site? Big sites dont seem to budge in term of ranking in Google?


4:15 pm on Mar 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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My site disappeared on 17th jan till 24th jan.
Was back up on 25th jan till today.
Now again disappeared in serps.

From 3500 visitors per day to just 350 visitors per day.

What the hell is going on with google.

I made no big changes in site, i just added more ads.

They say adsense won't change ur ranking, but i guess it do, cos people hit the back button if they site full of ads.

Hopefully things get fine soon. I am loosing 30$ per day.

[edited by: Thaparian at 4:16 pm (utc) on Mar. 18, 2007]

Undead Hunter

5:06 pm on Mar 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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As I just mentioned in the 950 penalty thread, I'm back again. Did nothing to cause this, in fact made changes to the site during an up phase, and they seem to have been "accepted" for now.

My advice is wait out the rollercoaster. Whatever is happening, its too soon to determine exactly what's causing it.

I was banking on a pretty slim amount of money for next month. High time I used the extra money to diversify.


10:05 pm on Mar 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

- Big sites get hit all the time


2:59 pm on Mar 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I keep watching other forums as well and the talk seems to be about the new filters in place for content.

Jill Whalen recently posted on Search Engine Land


There's no doubt that duplicate content is a problem for search engines. If a searcher is looking for a particular type of product or service and is presented with pages and pages of results that provide the same basic information, then the engine has failed to do its job properly. In order to supply its users with a variety of information on their search query, search engines have created duplicate content "filters" (not penalties) that attempt to weed out the information they already know about. Certainly, if your page is one of those that is filtered, it may very well feel like a penalty to you, but it's not -- it's a filter.


Read the Full article from Search Engine Land



3:25 pm on Mar 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

wroka, I do not think duplicate content is what is causing the current problems. My site is completely original content, there are no other sites taking more than little snippets of my text (and all I know of link back). I have nothing in the supplemental

Furthermore my articles are longer than those of the nearest competitors, and more on-topic than some of the pages beating them.

What I mean by the latter is that if some searches for "blue widget", the result from my site will be a page explaining blue widgets.

Some of the pages beating me have incidental mentions of blue widgets on a page - e.g. "we also have some blue widgets".

In spite of this, I have been very hard hit.

I wonder whether on-page factors are becoming less important. Has anyone else seen any indications of it.


8:25 pm on Mar 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I've been perusing the discussions about the missing search results and the 950 penalty and I can't come up with any consensus to what is happening.

We got whacked massively starting around March 6. I can look at the graph of web traffic and see a significant drop. We've been on the net as an ecommerce site since 1996 and sell physical items. We are not a directory or affiliate type site.

What we've experienced is pages that were in the top 10 are no longer in the top 1000. They are completely gone. Some pages are at the very end of the SERPs. Some pages are not affected at all. Some pages it is just the singular or plural search that is affected.

Has anyone noticed what the quality of the SERPs for your keywords / items are like? It seems to me that the quality has gone down. Where there were 10 quality results there are now informational and off-topic pages showing up mixed in with the quality sites.

I see absolutely no pattern.

I have noticed that Google seems to be chopping up the searched term into individual words and searching on these seperately. For example: big blue widgets = Big is searched for, blue is searched for and widgets is searched for. As a result pages that are not as accurate are showing up. For example: A page about big blue frogs with a link somewhere on the page for widgets. A search for: big blue frogs might find a completely different page. Anyone else see this?

Is there any way to let Google know about this crazy drop in SERPs? I would like them to verify one way or another what is happening. I would just like to know whether this is a fluke or a penalty of some sort or what. I don't want to mangle our website pages unnecessarily trying to fix this only to find that it wasn't a problem on our end and now that I mangled and changed the website I create a whole new set of problems.

And before anyone says "You shouldn't have to mangle your website to get good rankings" I am saying that somewhat cynically. Because, taking a look at the current top 10 websites for some keywords, in order for me to emulate them I would need to reduce the usablity of our site by putting tons of unreadable yet informative (to a search engine) text (text that should be on individual pages for each product) all on one page.

Of course, what good is a usable website if the the search engines prefer unusable copy over usable copy.

Undead Hunter

8:30 pm on Mar 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Wroka: definitely not just duplicate content. because some of my high ranking content is/has been used elsewhere, and its been ranking high for some time.

I'd like to add something interesting today. I have one article on "orange widgets". G. took us from obscurity to # 1 on that yesterday, and we had 95 visits to the page. Checking the competition, "Orange Widgets.com" is # 2 to us. But Orange Widgets is a single page, NO content domain holder page. It has the phrase in the title, keywords, bottom of the page, etc.

And below us are actual sites that sell "orange widgets".

So if anything I have to wonder if G. is reacting to pages with keyword phrase repetations. As in, I've got the max # right, the Orange Widget contentless page has a bit too many, and below us come the sites where all the content is on the same general theme.

Though in my defense, our page is pretty useful. It breaks down all the variations of Orange Widgets, and other than the AdSense ads, there's no other links or affiliate bits. Whereas some of the industry-themed sites are replete with these.

I'm just surprised, because we're not a site on that single theme, where there are other themed sites below us. I guess that does't mean they have the best content, though. In fact our page has more info, and naturally written, than the other 9 pages.

What will tell the tale is in a few weeks, if we're still there, but the content-less "Orange Widget" page is gone... or if we get zapped, too, in favour of themed sites.


11:09 pm on Mar 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

From 3500 visitors per day to just 350 visitors per day.

Same happened to me on March 7. One of my blogs lost almost 90% of traffic from Google - from 3000/day to 300/day and it's still there.
After two days in depression I made some modifications to my fallen blog:
Added <meta name="robots" content="noindex,follow"> to all Categories and pages other then my home page hoping it will fix any possible duplicate issues (even though all content is unique and written by me). AND I stopped developing this blog at all. I don't know how much time it takes to get out of this hole. We'll see.
After that I started developing a new blog. I already added 15 new pages to a new one and started getting visitors from Google, even earned some money with AdSense. :)
By the time my fallen blog gets out of the hole, I'll have a new one up and running.


12:24 am on Mar 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

noindex,follow... interesting. I was thinking of asking whether noindex,follow is worth the time typing it into the <cfif> statement, then concluded that the absence of the tag means that indexing is ok, and 'index,follow' guarantees no particular response, and SEs which matter take note of noindex. So thanks NOTME for prompting me to write which is rare because I usually just lurk.

It is difficult to attribute any one cause of loss of ranking. It would be nice if someone from the google god would pop in here and put a stop to the guessing, but that's unlikely. I have several sites which pay the mortgage etc in a variety of ways. One has been hit badly and I can try to guess why but honestly don't have a clue what would really be the best course of action. It's down from about 3K to 500/day referrals. Revenue decrease is almost exactly in line with this.

So what is it about this site which is different to the others which seem ok just now [touch wood]?

[1] It was hit in the Jan update but recovered completely.

[2] It's in a crowded market worth $$$$ for successful players, but it's [or was] about #4 against some players which I guess turn over 6 figures.

[3] I've found duplicate content [some exact, and up to about 600 words], not in scrapers but in other competing sites where my clients also advertise... so I guess they have joined up and done a copy-and-paste as it's the easy way.

[4] As I've not had my eye 100% on the ball [due to it being #2 in a stable of 5] it hasn't had the attention it deserves re concatenation issues and possible internal near-dup content issues.

[5] It includes a couple of affiliates, one of which is very big but only has 5 on the XML, the other is used and abused by thousands.

Sorry, this won't answer any questions for anyone. But if anyone has constructive suggestions, I'm looking for a way forward. If it doesn't recover meaningfully in the next 2 weeks it's a 100% rework -- throw it all up in the air and see how it lands.


4:59 am on Mar 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

It seems I am not the only one affected by this... just wondering what your thoughts are. The site is just over 2 years old. We do have sponsored listings on the site which have been there for over a year. We also just(3 months ago) purchased 4 links. The site has been teetering between page 1 and 3 for our most competitive key word and now is not indexed. What are your thoughts? There is nothing black hat about it. We do have a problem with scraper sites stealing content but try to revamp it on a regular basis to avoid the duplicate penalty.

Does this mean the site is banned? Does the PR bar become greyed out if the site is banned? (it's not.. just curious if that was fact or fiction)

Thanks for the help.


5:07 am on Mar 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

We jumped all over our boiler plate text a few days ago and got rid of anything we could that was repetitive and not needed in an attempt to stop the rot. Today we popped back into the top of the serps but I am betting it is just part of the cycle and hoping I am wrong.


5:29 am on Mar 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

I just did the rounds of the DC's for one of our competitive search terms - We are between number 2 and 5 for a search term returning some 40 million results - the thing I notice is from one DC to anther there might be a difference of 10 million or so results for the same search - does that mean 10 million webmasters are in the can?


7:22 am on Mar 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


what about plural vs. singular..?

For some of the keyword phrases on an older project I used to work on..(3.5 years running till last Dec 2006...I still watch it because I kept this site at the very top of its sector for the entire duration of my involvement and for its main "money phrases"....)

This one site in particular clues me into some very specific moves that Google is doing...

I see that Google may be pulling apart the singular / plural .. which for some sectors and searches would affect traffic, sales and revenues...(at least in this sector for sure...two word phrase...very competitive and absolutely spot on for searches by users)...

Another factor for sure is that Google is now running localization testing in the organic SERPs across some sectors...you can count on this upsetting some of the established SERPs (this is in conjunction with Google's recent interest in the cell phone business ... ;-)


12:11 pm on Mar 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Kidder, I have also noticed that in some DC's our main keyword is sending back 6,000,000+ competitors while in other DC's it is sending back less than half a million. This makes me thing our delisitng is a glitch. Any thoughts?


11:43 pm on Mar 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Decaff - If I start looking at plural v singular I see even more results and we still rank top 3 - We are talking now 70 million plus results now. It's a bit harder to define on the long tail results and I am "guessing" you may be right on about the "local" thing it might have a lot to do with what we are seeing.

Susan - Well I am like many of the others here and hoping it's a glitch but that did not stop me from making some pretty big changes that I thought might help and certainly would not hurt. In terms of "on page SEO" I did not think that we were perfect so while we bouce in and out I will continue to make adjustments - If your happy with your "on page" then I would be sitting tight.


1:49 am on Mar 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hmmm, we have too been hit hard after top 5 rankings but the googlemap account still has us in the top 5.
Think this is a glitch of some sort.



5:42 am on Mar 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Regarding local style searches:

I was starting to wonder that myself about a month ago and decided to run a test. We removed our address which was in text form as well as our phone number and put them into a graphic. Our servers are actually 5 states away. the only place I did not change this was our w3c privacy policy.

I haven't seen any dramatic difference as we are still getting many more sales (percentage wise) here in our own state which blows my mind since they have to pay taxes.


2:43 pm on Mar 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Anyone notice a drop on March 27th?

For a last 4 months or so my site has been comming up and down on an almost monthly basis.
When the March update happened on the 6th, my site made a recovery.

But now just 20 days later my site is only getting 10% of the traffic.

20 days seems to be a strange time to be ranking well, as there didn't seem to be an update on the 27th.

Did anyone one else notice anything on the 27th?, or an explanation for this?

I thought I was out of this woods, I *thought* I had fixed all the problems.


[edited by: tedster at 2:59 pm (utc) on Mar. 29, 2007]
[edit reason] moved from another location [/edit]


3:24 pm on Mar 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Yep, I have lost a site on 27th..my best one.

Whats interesting is that it first gone on 27.12, then came back on 27.1, now gone again on 27.3

It seems new algo is made on 2-1 month basis :)

2 months of happiness, then one to put us on Earth again :)

Its just silly


4:37 pm on Mar 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

almir, ah, so im not the only one to notice this on the 27th. (This is also my most important site)

I myself have been in and out for many months, normally the changes happen around 1 month spaces.

I got my rankings back on the 6/7th of this month. 20 days seems very short for a major change.


6:01 pm on Mar 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Our largest and oldest property got pummeled starting on the 26th. PR7 and 8 years old. Dunno whats going on but we are down about 35% now.


6:19 pm on Mar 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I am almost on zero visitors form Google now.

But it will come back, I am sure.

Google knows! ( or maybe not )


7:59 pm on Mar 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I am curious on you guys who got hit on the 27th. Noticed a authoritative site get hit yesterday. Been up and down like others have explained.

Im curious what you guys link profile looks like. I was guessing that was the cause of what I was seeing on this other site. Essentially to me it looked like a devaluing of their links.


1:12 am on Mar 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

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

I got a site that always loose rankings on every update and will then return when it ends I just saw today its gone again, so is something happening.


12:44 pm on Mar 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hey jakegotmail, im also very curious.

I don't know how to explain my link profile but I am linked to from a number of fairly large sites, with PR6 site wide and also a number of deep links to many of my articles.
webmaster tools is saying 7,000 external links.

I am thinking of removing private from my domain name, as it need renewing shortly, and renewing it for two years. whether this is a factor I doubt it, but who knows.


2:10 pm on Mar 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

so you had a bunch of PR6 sitewides?

if thats the case then that may be it right there.


2:59 pm on Mar 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Anyone else see a pr updated today? I've seen changes


6:08 pm on Mar 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Bewenched: PR is updated in real-time, so there are always changes.
This 98 message thread spans 4 pages: 98

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