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May 2007 Google SERP Changes

     
9:35 am on May 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

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

I had two sites. The main one is very stable, but the second one goes up and down very often, almost one week up and one week down. This week, it stays longer than usual and I hope Google found a way to keep results consistant. Both sites are ranked higher than before.

[edited by: tedster at 2:03 am (utc) on May 2, 2007]

9:49 am on May 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

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the glimmer of hope google would quit messing around.

Haven't we been all there ...........

6:24 am on May 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Hi Folks;

My site traffic has dropped this year like nothing. Google's up to something and, as usual, it seems to be at my expense.

Stats from this year show a steady drop (not gradual - like a rock) and AdSense earnings dropping in parallel.

January - 66,000 visits
February - 52,000 visits
March - 41,000 visits
April - 37,000 visits

I used to get 6,000 visits per day (180,000 per month) and then Google implemented the Jagger updates which immediately cut my traffic in half.

With every 'improvement' Google has gradually cut traffic to my site - usually by 50%

Now this year's stats show that something (Google again?) is once again killing me off.

I've been out of the loop - does anyone know what Google has 'fixed' this year?

[edited by: tedster at 5:31 pm (utc) on May 2, 2007]
[edit reason] moved from another location [/edit]

5:33 pm on May 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

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mmiller, you will find a lot of discussion in this very thread (and its ancestors) about recent changes. Other key threads can be found in our Hot Topics [webmasterworld.com] section, pinned to the top of the index page.

Look into the -950 penalty thread, for one, and the newest patent threads for other clues.

8:10 pm on May 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I see something strange in the SERPs nowadays. Well, for the last three months or so.

A #1 site for a certain keyphrase seems disappearing intermittently, that is to say, disappears in certain datacenters temporarily. Usually, it comes as the first of natural results.

For example, throughout today, I checked it a couple of times, and saw that it is not in the first 4-5 pages (I did not go further) in 6-7 DCs out of 15 DCs I checked. Right now, it is again at #1 in all datacenters.

It seems as if Google is turning on and off an exclusive (either-or) switch that causes this site to disappear temporarily.

8:18 pm on May 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

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My traffic has doubled, ranking well for my keywords, but my home page went from toolbar PR 4 to a 3. I believe that is the only page that the toolbar PR dropped. Previously, new unranked internal pages have obtained toolbar PR with this round.
8:22 pm on May 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

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turns on and off a switch

I see the same thing with a competitor site and have been for the last 4 months. It comes and goes. Its authoritative weight goes in and out. Occurring more frequently as of late, the yo yo bouncing affect.

This turn on and off feature IMO is their link devaluation filter that they have been hyping for the last year.

8:30 pm on May 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Check the last page or so of results when a site disappears - it may be suffering the so-called -950 penalty [webmasterworld.com], which does tend to come and go for some affected sites.
8:46 pm on May 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Our main page is sliding down slowly despite more organic inbound links, daily updated rich media content whilst more MFA link collections are moving up.

A fairly irrelevant site with 2 urls remains on 1 and 2 since ages and now their third url is also on the way up to the top.

Google engeneers at work in May 2007!

8:57 pm on May 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Check the last page or so of results when a site disappears - it may be suffering the so-called -950 penalty, which does tend to come and go for some affected sites.

ted wasnt sure if you were replying to me but I am certain thats not whats going on here with what I see. The site doesn't drop off the charts just from like the top 3 positions to around 15 or so. Varies on many terms. I cant put my hands on it but to me it really feels like their playing around with link devaluation.

9:17 pm on May 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Actually I was replying to the issue as selomelo descibed it "it is not in the first 4-5 pages (I did not go further) in 6-7 DCs out of 15 DCs I checked".

Agreed that falling just to page 2 may not be the same as an end-of-results or -950 fall off. I do have suspicions that a periodic 1 page drop and a periodic 99 page drop may be related to the same mechnism in the algo, but this is a very tough bird to chew on and digest for certain.

9:31 pm on May 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I do have suspicions that a periodic 1 page drop and a periodic 99 page drop may be related to the same mechnism in the algo

Some pages stick to the top like glue since eternities with not even higher PR and also very little to offer. Never updated and even with no content that users are searching for.

10:05 pm on May 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

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950 penalty:

Next time I see the same phenomenon, I will check if the site in question really bounces off to +950 or not. But I suspect that it will not. Because, it is really an established, old site with thousands of "acquired," i.e., natural links.Yahoo explorer reports +44K links, of which +34K are external, i.e., links from other sites. And due to its nature, I am sure that great majority of links are of a natural kind.

Another striking observation with regard to this site is its disproportionately low PR compared to the number of its BLs. Google itself reports some +5K backlinks, but the homepage's TBPR is only a 5. Interlinking may be a factor here, since, as far as I see, this site has several other sites, and many country specific domains (site.ca, site.il, site.co.uk, etc.) that link to each other heavily.

1:03 am on May 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Just so you know, selomelo, some sites like that are being hit with the -950 -- even big international corporations.
3:37 am on May 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I see the same thing with a competitor site and have been for the last 4 months. It comes and goes. Its authoritative weight goes in and out. Occurring more frequently as of late, the yo yo bouncing affect.

This turn on and off feature IMO is their link devaluation filter that they have been hyping for the last year.

I am seeing this too, with just one page for just one keyword. However, for another related keyword, the exact same page is solid at #1. To me this calls into question the link devaluation theory -- if links to this page are being devalued, why doesn't it affect the ranking for the other keyword or for that matter the rankings of any other pages on the site?

To me it seems more like some sort of keyword-specific filter being turned on and off, or tuned slightly. Hit a certain threshold of some value for one particular keyword and bam, you're gone for that keyword but still fine for others. Tweaking the threshold slightly would produce this effect.

4:06 am on May 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

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This is the first time it's happened to me and frankly, I am really worried.

Yesterday, saw all serp positions drop between #15 to #100+ for keywords that I have been on page #1 for nine months. I have been MIA for one or two days every 3 weeks, then returning to same spot, but yesterday has gotten me worried.

Now I can't find my site even when searching for my domain name (without www and com).

I must admit that backlinks have dropped from 15 to 5 just before the last PR update (PR stayed the same). Traffic is down drastically and I'm terribly upset because I depend on the income from my site to a certain degree. What does it mean when I cannot find my site even searching for domain name?

My site is white hat. Only minor updates to the homepage every 2 days or so, but I did add a link to a web directory lately from my homepage. Checked that site to make sure it was clean before I linked to it. I suppose you could call it a recip link.

I'm in a daze. I don't know where to start checking what's wrong and don't want to change anything for fear of making matters worse. Is it too early to panic - I already am...

Help please?

[edited by: tedster at 4:20 am (utc) on May 3, 2007]
[edit reason] moved from another location [/edit]

7:03 am on May 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Hi folks,

One of my Page has reached the top 1 on First of May (after the PR update) for a very convertible keyword, thanks Google, it brings me more traffic, and sales.

I am wondering if visitors always click on the 1st results first, or go around the lower ones, to my experience, there is no different between the First, the second and the Third.

I have changed the title and description in the hope that my site will generate more visitors.

Cheers.

Kurt

7:18 am on May 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

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fairly irrelevant site with 2 urls remains on 1 and 2 since ages and now their third url is also on the way up to the top.

I think that Google should find better way to distinguish Link exchange and natural links. I feel that back hats find it so easy to SPAM Google today. Just build link, not content.

Google plz...

10:47 am on May 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Hi Tedster,

The reason why I do not think that a 950-penalty is in order is that the site in question has a solid position at #1, and is still at #1. It only disappears at certain times, especially during "updates" or "refreshes." Then, it quickly resumes its former position.

I would expect it not to resume its current position if it is subject to such a penalty.

12:14 pm on May 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

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In my sector several sites have been intermittently popping in and out of the top 10 for several months, my own site included. In fact, of the recent 'usual' top-ten it has happened to 6 different sites. The length of time out varies from almost none to several days and different datacentres show different sites out at the same time.

I can only guess, based on what Matt Cutts has said, that this is some sort of paid link / repetitive anchor text filter. The yo-yoing is only happening for the key money term and not variations. This would make sense if it was an achor text filter since a lot of the anchor text for these sites is the key money term.

Personally I think Google is pulling sites (or applying this extreme fliter to them) in order to see how many people then search for the site's name in its absense from the regular money term serps. In this way Google could determine how much a site is missed and thus get an idea of how much it deserves the ranking it has. This would all be part of Matt Cutts current crusade against paid links and anchor text based manipulation.

2:22 pm on May 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I see a lot of pages on my site showing a grey bar in the Page Rank bar...what is that? We have never faced this before - the site has been stable for the past 1 year..what seems to be happening now?
2:52 pm on May 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I have a lot of those too, just since yesterday - I think it's a sign a of impending change of PR, but I don't know for sure. The pages are still indexing and ranking, so I don't see any reason to be concerned as yet; if you aren't noticing a change in traffic or serps, I'd wait and see what pans out over the next few days to a week.
3:31 pm on May 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

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--- The yo-yoing is only happening for the key money term and not variations. ----

100%

#1 key money term in-out-in-out-in-out of the first page.

secondary at #1 no changes, stable for the past year

One thing i found today that made me smile that if I use word "and", as in:
keyword1 and keyword2 it puts me at #1

3:46 pm on May 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

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My traffic has doubled, ranking well for my keywords, but my home page went from toolbar PR 4 to a 3.

It's now broken/irrelevant. My new PR3 acts like an old PR5. Regular updating of new pages linked off the "PR3" daily. Before I'd never even get that with a PR4. So it's still the same power, just a new number.

Why can't G find better things to do with its employees' time than messing around with PR?! It wasn't broken, so WTH did they try and fix it!?

p/g

4:38 pm on May 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I see a lot of pages on my site showing a grey bar in the Page Rank bar...what is that?

Normally this would not be a good sign (indicator of a penalty?). But right now things are in flux so you're just going to have to wait until the dust settles.

5:54 pm on May 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

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mmiller:

The drop off could be for other reasons.
Check your stats from last year and compare to this year.
Depending upon your niche, you may be seeing a seasonal decline. I also would check the search trends using trends.google.com
I have noticed a decline since 2004 of many previously hot keyword search volumes for my niche.

It's not always the search engines that are to blame for traffic declines, or increases for that matter.
Current events and weather seem to play their part too.

8:03 pm on May 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

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It's about time people wised up and built traffic outside of Google. I know that sounds difficult, but the big G has put too many obstacles and too many variables in front of webmasters. They've distorted the search mechanism to suit their own business model (sell ads next to results). The ads are often more relevant than the SERPs and that's just plain wrong.

I find much better results for my searches on Yahoo. White Hat webmasters need to spread the word that as far as search is concerned, Google sucks.

If you're tired of seeing MFA's, scraper sites and ebay auctions in your search results, it's time to take up arms against these morons.

And, as far as PageRank is concerned, it should be S**Tcanned along with about 70% of Google's "engineers."

Let's get real. They're awful and make more work for webmasters than is necessary.

8:36 pm on May 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

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They've distorted the search mechanism to suit their own business model (sell ads next to results).

Really? That hasn't been my experience as a user. If I search for "widgetco wc-1 digital camera," for example, I usually get a SERP with Widgetco's WC-1 camera page near the top and a bunch of reviews from trusted review media. If I search for "widgetville tourist information," the Widgetville CVB or tourist office is usually in or near the #1 position. Seems pretty relevant to me.

The ads are often more relevant than the SERPs and that's just plain wrong.

Depends on how you define "relevant." If you're a dealer in Topeka who wants to rule the Web for "widgetco wc-1 digital cameras," you probably think your site is more relevant than Widgetco's or a review site. If you're a "pure play" travel affiliate that used to rank #1 for "widgetville tourist information" and has fallen out of the top 20, you're likely to be puckered up with the taste of sour grapes. That doesn't mean users think the results aren't relevant, however. And let's face it: Google has a much better idea than we do (thanks to Google Toolbar data, Google Analytics, etc.) of how users respond to different types of search results.

Google's SERPs aren't perfect, but in the topic areas where I conduct searches (which aren't just my own), the SERPs tend to be better than they used to be, and they're better than Yahoo's or MSN's.

Still, we all get to vote with our feet (or our keystrokes). The fact that Google continues to gain market share suggests that users aren't unhappy with Google's search results--and if they are unhappy, they haven't found an alternative that they like better. That's the reality, and calling Google's search engineers "morons" or suggesting that people should take up arms (a questionable suggestion after what happened at Virginia Tech) isn't going to change that reality.

2:06 am on May 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

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The fact that Google continues to gain market share suggests that users aren't unhappy with Google's search results

MSN and Yahoo are completely useless in terms of search results and traffic. They want to leave it all to Google engeneers :-)) So migthy G can leave any MFA crap on top for a lot of keywords.

However, they are not doing that for all search terms, but they ruin by far too many good websites with cutting them off from traffic.

2:55 am on May 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

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but they ruin by far too many good websites with cutting them off from traffic.

ditto.

Can you imagine a little old lady somewhere who's dabbling in a hobby site and wondering why she's at #10 one day and at #698 the next?

or

a single mom who's struggling with her site after a full day's work, happy that she's discovered a way to earn a little extra to make life a little easier for her kids and herself, and just when she sees a little light at the end of the tunnel, someone shuts the door?

I bet that's how many are feeling right now... I can hardly find the time to work on my content let alone deal with G's algo mood swings... sigh!

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