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Google "Honorary Update" - Buffy

June 2007

     
2:06 am on Jun 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Ever since Update Jagger, which prepared the way for Google's new Big Daddy infrastructure, the changes and shifts to the SERPs come so frequently that we haven't called an Update in over a year. Instead, we've been trying to watch the SERP changes in an ongoing, monthly thread that shifts with the irregular roll, pitch and yaw of the good ship Google.

But something quite major is now going on with the Google SERPs. Members are reporting major changes in the single word search results, most particularly, but lots of other things are stirred up as well. On one of my single keywords, I've just passed wikipedia (yeah!) and jdMorgan reported the same for one of his keywords.

So it's time -- we are officially declaring Update Buffy. We'll begin with recent posts from our June SERPs Watching thread [webmasterworld.com]. What do you see going on?

< So why name it Buffy? Let's say it's in honor of someone who just
left her job but knows a whole lot about Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
We've never gone with someone's formal name for an update. Tip
of the hat to reseller, goodroi, and jdmorgan for their input >.

< further note - Matt Cutts says [mattcutts.com] that in his mind this is not an
update. OK - so we'll call this moment an "Honorary Update". >

[edited by: tedster at 7:27 pm (utc) on June 19, 2007]

4:11 pm on June 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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dont see any major movement othere than flux on google.de in my sector.
4:15 pm on June 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Interesting... there's a one word search term that I've never even tried to go after, because my site is pretty much concentrated only on what's going on in my own state. This keyword would be too generic (and I figured too hard to go after even if I wanted to) but since the middle of May, my ranking for this keyword has risen from being about #350, to #16 today. Just keeps going up and up, replacing some (well known in the industry) commercial and ecommerce sites on its way up (my site is informational, with AdSense) I'm definitely getting traffic from it, but I haven't changed anything, other than the tweaking I did to de-950-ize a couple of pages at the end of the May.
4:21 pm on June 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Well, just today I watched a competitors site come back from the dead zone. They had been relegated to the abyss for 6 or more months. Are now top 20 (many top 5) across about fifty 2-4 word terms that I track.
4:43 pm on June 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Lots of Govt. websites showing up for one word "cityname" keyword, can notice higher density then earlier.

Also little more weightage seems to be given to Dmoz -> Google directoty listed sites.

5:12 pm on June 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I suppose that's one way of looking at it Marcia, but Google could easily re-educate searchers

Ok, does anyone else see a Google/Darren Brown merger coming? :)

(if you don't know who he is, gotta search youtube, the guy will make you go Wow... even thinking of Google hiring him as a consultant on "behavioral influence" give me goosebumps. :))

-Michael

5:42 pm on June 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I just tried the keyword-asdf and I got the pre May 24 results. Does this mean the sites that dropped have been penalized? It doesn't seem like they dropped far enough for that. It's more like certain kinds of sites have been pushed up like wikipedia, topix, answers and in my case sites for free stuff.

I don't really see a de-commercialization on the searches I'm watching.

I wondered about calling it an update but there are really no traditional updates anymore and it does help to have a name for this. It seems like something major is going on that is making some big shifts especially on one word search terms. I just hope it doesn't spread to two and three word phrases.

Since I haven't lost any traffic in spite of my top keyword being demoted I have to think that the difference is made up for by better long tail search.

I think you have something there Marcia. In my topic I do think people searching the one word would rather find free patterns then a site about the topic's history. Which is exactly why I've gone into making free patterns based on antiques over the last couple of years. ;)

6:00 pm on June 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Any major updates on local country-specific google results?
( i.e google.de, google.uk etc )
7:25 pm on June 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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this 'update' happened exactly when my inlinks updated in webmaster tools hence i don't believe it is an algo update at all and is instead a backlink update. perhaps a very severe one eliminating lots of 'dubious' links..

hence the big changes some people are seeing and the almost non change others are seeing.

i see a very small change, consistent with the minor regular shifts since big daddy, on both .com and .co.uk.

8:21 pm on June 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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This is not a backlink update. They are evaluating whole sites differently to deal with single keyword searches. I would call this a siterank update affecting single keyword searches.

They keep on tweaking it, I wonder when they'll finish. I think the current iteration is too far, I bet they'll pull back a little. They overshot. The results were better a week or so ago during the update.

8:35 pm on June 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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The inlinks they show in webmastertools were several months out of date before they finally updated last week. No way they were using something that old for calculations. Just coincidence it updated around the same time...
8:46 pm on June 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Skier: I'm seeing the exact opposite results on a ~8 year old site. I'm seeing a drop in long tail results, and a huge drop in specific phrases - generally my queries have 3 or 4 keywords in them. It's extremely frustrating to say the least.

i just made a search for a place to buy specific products on google. this is my search quality test and a way to see what our blackhat brothers play with lately.
have a look and see how badly the SERPs look.

idolw: it's a huge shame that your example has been removed - it's a great example of how horrible the google SERPS are for that very popular prescription drug we've all gotten horribly misspelled spam about. The top two results are .edu domains - Argh!

8:48 pm on June 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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keyword -asdf

answers.com drops out of the top 100. Main listing for about.com drops 35 spots; two other ones drop from the top 100.

But these results are definitely NOT pre-May 24 serps. Some of the trivial sites that weren't in the top 200 before May 24 still hang in the top 40.

10:50 pm on June 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I'm not seeing any shift in our sector or google here in the US. Very stable traffic for the most part other than a large spike of traffic/sales on 6/12. Maybe a bit more revenue, but weather is good so sales usually are as well.
3:17 am on June 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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skizzo - the .edu spam has been in the results for at least a year that I can remember in many "niches"
Its a relatively easy way to get many pages to the top and they tend to rule the top 100 of just about every search I do for commercial sites - something Ive been considering quite a bit since it doesnt look like Google knows how to handle it after a years worth of many people reporting it
3:34 am on June 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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The key with the .edu spam is to report it to the .edu domains. Get it to the right person and it disappears very quickly indeed.
8:07 am on June 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Hi Folks!

So in general we could say that Update Buffy has brought us better quality search results and boost in traffic for some relatively old sites regarding 2,3, 4+ words search queries!

However, few friends here have noticed "edu-spam" sites are still there at top of the serps for search query concerning buying specific potency-enhancement materials :-)

10:20 am on June 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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MC says no update: [mattcutts.com...]
1:10 pm on June 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I've recently seen two sites that use subdomains with a hot single keyword affected in my sector. As you already know, black hat webmasters have used subdomains to target lucrative keywords for a long time.

One keyword.domain.com site that was #1 for many months and #2 before that for years has disappeared out of Google SERPs; while another keyword.domain2.com site has jumped to top 10 out of nowhere.

p/g

3:33 pm on June 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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potentialgeek

Was that "hot single keyword" also related to potency-enhancement materials ;-)

7:21 pm on June 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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MC says no update

You know, given that we do not have a flood of people rolling in the way we've seen with past major updates, I'd say his call is right. However, we do not have any landmarks for updates any more - it's like a vast expanse of time without any easy reference points to use in discussion.

I'm leaning towards letting this name stay, just for our own discussion purposes. For now I'm just going to edit the title a bit and call it an "Honorary Update".

7:29 pm on June 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I think it's a real update. It's just not an update aimed at removing duplicate content or spam or whatever. It's a rejuggling, not as much as weeding out. So people aren't up-in-arms as their sites get nixed. But people watching the single keyword searches are seeing a serious shake-up.
7:53 pm on June 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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You know, given that we do not have a flood of people rolling in the way we've seen with past major updates, I'd say his call is right........

I'm leaning towards letting this name stay, just for our own discussion purposes. For now I'm just going to edit the title a bit and call it an "Honorary Update".


Yeah it seem like mosts posters were not complaining about their sites dropping but rather noticing new sites floating up in the serps.

I miss the old days when there were real updates.

8:04 pm on June 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Not to drag us too far off-topic, but what Matt said is that the weighting in existing algo elements have changed (he even specifically acknowledged one-word searches) but no new elements were folded into the algo.

That last scenario is what has always been called an update, but what on earth could there be for a new algo element these days?

At any rate, I wonder what is helping all the long-tail searches? Can anyone who is seeing this see any relationship with those URLs losing a Supplemental status, for instance? That's one thing that might do it, since we now know Supplemental URLs get scored much differently - only "important words" rather than full text.

8:47 pm on June 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Unfortunately I don't monitor these things as closely as I perhaps should, but I could have sworn that the site I have that had it's traffic double overnight had many, many more supplemental pages than it appears to have now.

It was on my list of 'to do's' for the site to see what I could do about the problem, but now there are so few pages in the SI it's hardly worth bothering about.

As to when they slipped out and joined the main party though I really can't say. If I were a betting man however, my money would go on June 13.

8:52 pm on June 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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>> MC says no update: [mattcutts.com...]

You had to truin it for Vanessa, didn't you? :)

Honestly, it looked like an update to me.

9:27 pm on June 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Hi Folks,

Update or not update..this is the question!

I wish to underline that this isn't the first time that some of us don't agree with our kind friend Matt Cutts on update or not update [blog.searchenginewatch.com].

First off, Matt hasn't mentioned at all a possible data push or data refresh as a reason for the present changes. So what we have noticed isn't a result of a data push or data refresh.

Allow me to recall what Matt Cutts wrote once [mattcutts.com] about "an update"

Usually, what registers with an update to the webmaster community is when we update an algorithm (or its data), change our scoring algorithms, or switch over to a new piece of infrastructure. Technically Update Gilligan is just backlink/PageRank data becoming visible once more, not a real update. There haven�t been any substantial algorithmic changes in our scoring in the last few days. I�m happy to try to give weather reports when we do our update scoring/algo data though.

Lets take a look at what we have at present:

- Relatevely old sites including internal pages have started to rank high for 2,3,4+ keywords search queries.

- Members have reported sudden large boost in traffic for some of their sites.

- Top of the serps suddenly occupied much more than before by "authority sites".

- Then we have that one keyword query discussion and changes noticed in that regard accordingly.

The question now is: Could all above changes just happen by themselves? is there any logical explanations for above changes other than an algo update or a change in scoring algos?

Therefore Buffy is an update

IMO, whats left is we might discuss whether Buffy could be considered as a major algo update or a minor one. Not whether Buffy is an update or not.

10:17 pm on June 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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... not.
10:24 pm on June 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Back on track here, while Buffy obviously is not an update by any sense of the word, the unstable movement among one word searches is astonishing.

While the rest of the results are moving around normally as they have for months, one word searches are pulling up some truly bizarre results.

For my main term, the second result I'm seeing for a site i watch has changed from the (objectively) second or third most powerful page on the site, to about the twentieth.

Another thing, there is a lycos search result ranking well, which i thought was weird, but now I see that page is linked from all the Lycos Top 50 pages, so it makes a bit of sense.

10:45 pm on June 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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steveb

Would you be kind to elaborate more on what you just said:

While the rest of the results are moving around normally as they have for months..
1:42 am on June 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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The first thing I thought when I saw all the authority sites being pushed upward is that it had to do with Universal Search. The second thing I thought is for them to get those things to rank well it would mean resurrecting many dormant informational or Adsense pages. In other words what Im hearing is traffic is up for some but not a mention of money being made. Based upon that most changes are probably taking place in the most competitive areas where authority sites could be pushed forward. It seems under this scenario sites selling things would be the most likely to take a beating.

Cutts is defining it by his definition so its a fooler. I also think they're doing a lot of experimenting with Universal Search and there could be hefty collateral damage over the summer months.

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