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Google vagaries and wild changes in search results



2:10 am on May 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Maybe someone can advise on this...

My site shows up in MSN Live and Yahoo as number 1 for the term < keyword1 keyword2 >. Yahoo it's been #1 for about 2 weeks and MSN it's been number one for about 7 months...

On Google I was typically number 4 for a long time but would periodically drop completely off the results, only to reappear again a few days later... about two weeks ago the site want to #1 on Google for about 4 days then again inexplicably dropped completely off the results...what's more, depending on the data center I might be completely gone in one data center and number 1 in another...for example google uk may rank the site number 1 while in the US east coast it's gone...also just today on the east coast US the site came up number one for a few hours and just now has disappeared again .....also sometimes if I hit refresh on the search results, on the first display of results I'm there number one, then on the second gone again, keep refreshing and I sometimes show up again....what gives?

any ideas as to why and what if anything to do about it.

<Sorry, no specific search terms.
See Forum Charter [webmasterworld.com]>

[edited by: tedster at 2:17 am (utc) on May 16, 2007]


5:00 pm on May 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I have been watching my keywords for the last 6 months and i can tell you that google filters the results on big keywords. They mix up the results daily for whatever reason i cant tell you. It might be traffic or click based.


5:16 pm on May 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

seems to me like you'll be ok.

relative to other top ranking sites in google, how to you measure up to them in terms of age? If you have a younger site it will tend to blip in and out of the rankings (at least this is what i've noticed) more than established ones.


7:31 pm on May 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


I have seen this two. I have had number 1 KWs for more than 2 years and made no changes to site. keywords had over 50 million results plus. I posted a discussion yesterday....
"Site omitted from results from my IP location?
Reaaperaing & disapearing for main keywords only from my location?"

I think Google is changing their algo and this is an update preview, that's right an "UPDATE", not a DC push. I have seen this before but never lasted this long and was hesitant to not jump the gun and make irrational changes in a panic.

But after seeing this for over 2 weeks, I am getting ready to make some changes including changes to kewyword density (lower) and we also removing some sitewide links that we have had on other owned properties for more than 3 years.

Today I checkd all DC's and it continues to look bad, now mssing on 1/2 the DC's - NOWHERE TO BE FOUND, it's not a 950 penalty. Is it an adwords push?


11:14 pm on May 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Hmmm. What happened last year when Matt Cutts went on holiday?

Ahem! He's off on holiday again right now I see...


11:45 pm on May 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

We were suffering from the Yo Yo effect for quite while until this last "update" we are pretty much gone now and our site is 7 years old - so much for "trust".


1:44 am on May 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

So, does this mean the update is beginning, on-going, or has ended? I am confused. I have not seen much movement in the serp for my competitive keywords.

Any ideas?


2:09 am on May 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

I think update is a pretty loose term with Google these days - I think the idea is to keep us guessing. In the sectors I watch it looks Google paid MSN for their alogo from 3 years ago and pushed that out. It looks a bit like an exteneded April fools joke. If you can be bothered ask some end users - not seo types but real people how they find search, the answers will amaze you.


4:04 am on May 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

it's supposed to read "vagaries" by the way...."an unpredictable or erratic action, occurrence, course, or instance"...

thus of course back to #1 today on G for at least 6 or 7 hours....

....it is a newer site, about 2 years old.....just under 100 pages...

After looking at this carefully...in the final, very technical analysis, I think Google is "broken"

but...it's my understanding they have excellent engineers and so will "fix it"

most kidding aside...

..the people one reaches on the phone at Mountain View are very cordial, by the way. I called them just a couple of days ago and started into telling the receptionist just a bit about my issue here so she would know where to route me...she was instantly familiar with the nature of my call, like they must get about 1 followed by a hundred zeros number of calls each day about "website owner not happy with search result ranking"

anyway, no one there with the algorithm in their pocket that day...

[edited by: SuperRedBear at 4:05 am (utc) on May 17, 2007]


12:23 pm on May 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hello Kidder,

Since you are now gone from the results have you made any changes to try and regain your position from the YOYO effect // If so any luck?


12:51 pm on May 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

The serps I monitor have had certain sites popping in and out for several months now. The thing I see in common is dubious backlink PR passing schemes and paid links with monolithic anchor text. I'm putting the yo-yo effect down to Google testing a new anti paid link filter/part of the algorithm. The current temporary nature of these yo-yo drops might be construed as warning from Google.

If you get yo-yo dropped you might want to think about where your backlinks are coming from.

And, re. above, Google doesn't do updates in the old sense and hasn't done for several years.. The term 'everflux' was first coined more than 2 years ago and is where we are now at.


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

5+ Year Member

If your site is only 2 years old and you're doing as good as you are I wouldn't change a thing.. or that is I would continue to update / improve the site but not change an overall direction. Age is still a factor for sites, and as far as i know there isn't a way of bypassing that :p


2:52 pm on May 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

there are indeed some backlinks I'd like to get rid of - how exactly can I do that?

by the way, yes, after this yo-yo effect started up I began looking at all the things that I might have done to cause it, but at the same time didn't want to panic and make all kinds of changes because I've seen this happen before, seems like waiting a reasonable length of time before reacting is a good idea...plus no matter what Google does, I just keep adding content in the belief that in the end that will win out....

....but from a year ago before I put adsense on and before I even knew about Google TOS, I joined a linkreferral program...it produced fair traffic and I never thought about it...then I realized that this sort of thing can be outside Google Adsense TOS and I deactivated it...but I noticed the other day even though I'm out of their database(the link referral prgram database), there is still a backlink of sorts from that site(in other words my site is not listed in their directory anymore but there are still a few pages that say 'this page or entry no longer available' still connected to my site ...how can I get rid of that?....

thanks for all your replies by the way...I think this idea of a warning from Google or maybe it's some sort of penalty for these backlinks might be it....

by the way, last night and today it's back at #1...but I still would like to clean up some of these backlink issues...so if anyone has any suggestions, thank you in advance...

best, srb

[edited by: SuperRedBear at 2:54 pm (utc) on May 17, 2007]


3:33 pm on May 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I agree about the yo-yo effect and links. The question is seeing G doesnt provide all backlinks, how do you know which ones they are "devaluing or penalizing"?

I have some web properties with sitewides HOWEVER the anchor text being used on those sites are not the search terms being effected.

Im thinking yo-yo could be effecting sites with old link exchange pages/ even though in our case no links have been exchanged? Relative or not. FYI we also do not use a monolithic anchor text approach but an array of anchor text.


4:22 pm on May 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

How do you clean up the ‘bad’ backlinks is a very good question. In many cases these will be backlinks you now have no control whatsoever over. Does Google penalise sites for something they are unable to fix?

Another reason we might be seeing the yo-yo is that Google itself realises that once it has penalised sites for 'bad' links it is then offering devalued serps with key sites missing. After all, some of the sites that have, say, bought a load of ‘bad’ links might be of value and people might miss them in the serps. They may have bought those links in a competitive environment where link buying was considered acceptable.

Google thus has a problem. It doesn’t know which way to turn. Does it act to eliminate 'bad' links as completely as it could and thus have less useful search results in the short term, or does it allow some of these 'bad' links to stay and have sites doing well in it's serps that have effectively cheated there way to the top (this being grossly unfair to sites like mine that are genuinely squeaky clean)?

What we have is a halfway house with sites disappearing and reappearing in the serps on a seemingly random basis.

As has been discussed on other threads this is bad for the user and horrendous for an internet business that needs to be able to plan ahead.

Google has a huge mess on its hands caused by the way PR and backlinks have distorted the web.


5:51 pm on May 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

well said city...

it's an absolutely huge problem...

essentially G is stuck with the job of judge, jury and executioner for all website errors, misdemeanors, and felonies for a constantly evolving world of how many websites?....I wouldn't want to try to resolve it all over my lunch break.


1:17 am on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

vstevens - We have not made any changes as yet, what I think is that we will start using a lot of noindex commands on the suspect areas of our site. Try for the "less is more" angle. We may need to clean house but the more we clean up the more it looks like SEO. The things that busts me up the most is that this is all so negative, filter this, filter that, penalty 30, penalty 950, link anchor penalty, penalty, penalty, penalty. Who knows what is real, a few years back you could build your site based on positives and now we are ducking for cover from every angle it's just not fun anymore.


4:30 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

well, mid thursday the site dropped completely off the search results again...

I notice too, when I google site:www.mysite.com I get only 8 pages. all the other pages (92 pages) show up as supplemental results

any ideas?

also I notice my site doesn't show up at all on any foreign language area, is there something one does to cause that to happen?...I notice most of the other sites that rank highly for these keywords are showing up in foreign language areas of google as well (like Google Germany).

What's truely frustrating with this, is when I check the sites that are ranking on the first page(when I've dropped completely off the results, and this is over the course of checking it for months) a few times the google link returned a page couldn't be found, in a few cases the returned result was some junk not related to the keywords, or it returned a partial page with just keywords on the page (and that's on the 1st 10 results from google)

...move into page two or three or four of the results and there is a significant amount of junk - like the site is obviously wildly out of date or the site is just a blog with a couple of pages, or a very small site with a couple of pages....sites with lots of broken links, even a couple of times there were sites with a note there from the owner/webmaster such as "I am no longer able to maintain this site due to blah blah blah, and I've appreciated all my visitors over the years but blah blah blah......"

...meanwhile my site is completely relevant to the two keywords, is all fresh content, and I check the links internal and external weekly with a program I have and keep them all up to date...

...anyway before I go well into a rant...it makes no sense to me to rank it #1 one day, then drop it off completely the next...and I don't understand why all the supllemental results...

any help is appreciated...

[edited by: SuperRedBear at 4:47 pm (utc) on May 18, 2007]


5:56 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

With no transparency from Google no-one really has any idea. In fact, right now no-one seems to have any idea what's going on at all. And I include Google in that. You'll probably be back again in a day or so. Post here when you are. Prolong the opera.

God (Google in this domain) has struck down from on high. Maybe you'll get an answer in the afterlife if you believe in such things.


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