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September 2007 Google SERP Changes



10:16 pm on Aug 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

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

Hi, I am not sure IF this is relevant or not.. but here goes... I have suffered with a website dropping like a stone in Google.. and this happened on August 25th/26th. At the SAME time my website error Log seemed to crash and 100 core files got generated. I deletede these files... and have checked my current error log and I am getting about 100 error message an hour... and Google is picking up on these errors as shown in my site index... I have the IP addresses and can block them but they are from numerous sources... and they try to find an impossible url... any suggestions?

Could there be more to these changes in Google serps than meets the eye?

[edited by: tedster at 4:44 am (utc) on Sep. 1, 2007]


11:30 pm on Aug 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I've lost a few pages. What they all have in common is that they were keyword edited sometime in the last three months. One site is an image site, 4 years old and I rarely update it. Back in June I decided to edit one keyword in the anchor text to my other site in order to boost it's rank for that keyword. I changed the keyword Widgeting to Widgets. My site has always stayed on the first page of results for this keyword. Now today, I find it at the 850 mark.

Most of the pages on the other site that have been lost are gallery pages. I manually add a title and description to all my Gallery pages. Sometimes I forget to do this before I upload them. In some instances, I've gone back a few weeks later to add titles to these pages, after it's already been indexed. Pages that have not been edited are all doing very well.

Some of these pages also have Amazon text links on them, so this may also be a factor.

If it's not broken, don't try to fix it!


9:15 am on Sep 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I saw a huge increase in SERPS for a 2 year old site today. I was previously ranking 3-4 for all terms I was targeting & they all moved into position 1 today.

A newer site (1 month) fell foul of the -30 penalty. Possibly due to aggressive link building on my part :-/


12:07 pm on Sep 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

As of this morning the website I cherrish the most is dropping for the first time since its creation over 2 years ago. That's not good.

Provided that I spent the past few weeks making it look nicer, hired copywriters to make the content more appealing. Also removed some of what Google would eventually consider evidence of SEO...

Obviously Google is neither god nor even close to artificial intelligence because what's ranked instead now is either clearly manipulated or just would not be trusted by human beings.

Does Google have problems feeding trust or what?
Or does it have something to do with indexing problems?
Or do our competitors send 12's of baseless spam reports and it works based on whatever criteria?

On monday, I will ask for some black hat SEO budget, nothing to loose anyway and we don't rely so much on Google anyway for this site.
I am considering it seriously because everything seems to work except hard work and following the so called guidelines.


4:19 pm on Sep 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

From what I've observed from the recent yo-yo of the serps, is that the changes seem to have certain characteristics:

1) almost all of the changes seem to be due to external factors, so that in-site SEO does not seem to matter all that much

Knowing as to what that external factor is would be extremely valuable.
DMOZ/Google directory changes do not fit the profile of the likely cause.

2) the site's themselves seem to be evaluated on a site-wide basis for this (likely external) factor (which also means that there are sudden, dramatic changes to the rankings)

3) the changes do not seem to have anything to do with so-called sandboxing factor


4:57 pm on Sep 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Our site dropped from the 2nd page to +100 page for two word generic keyword, yet it didn't move at all for a more specific keyword, also 2 words. Basically the first keyword describes the business we are in in general, while the second one exactly describes what our site is all about.

Obviously, the generic keyword phrase drives more traffic so we focused on optimizing for it, and it worked fine till yesterday. Somehow Google figured it out and properly classified our site.

Does it mean they started implementing their search patents? Is google a semantic search engine now?


5:06 pm on Sep 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

I changed the keyword Widgeting to Widgets. My site has always stayed on the first page of results for this keyword. Now today, I find it at the 850 mark.... Some of these pages also have Amazon text links on them, so this may also be a factor.

I'm not convinced keyword changes or anchor text modification necessarily is considered evil by Google. In recent months I changed five-year-old internal navigation links, including Keyword 1 Keyword 2 to Keyword 2, and the SERPs are about the same.

I did this for consistency in the top navigation bar, so each link is a single word (so many categories fit in a single line).

I believe it's more likely for Google to suspect overoptimization if you're doing something else besides adjusting navigation link anchor text. I suspect Google engineers are smart enough to realize not all anchor text changes are done to game the system.

Let's face it. A lot of websites could use a makeover now and then in both visual design and nav links.



6:06 pm on Sep 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

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

Is google a semantic search engine now?

Google has been folding in various kinds of semantic indexing since they purchased Applied Semantics in 2003 [webmasterworld.com]. The effects of semantic factors in the SERPs are becoming more and more important to understand IMO -- at least in a broad, top-level way. One of the Information Retrieval (IR) approaches that uses semantics is co-occurence [webmasterworld.com].

In a pure text-match algorithm, when you want to rank for a given keyword, you focus on including just those words in your copy and anchor text. From a semantic point of view, this approach can generate an unnatural page -- because it does not include any of the related words that would naturally be expected to "co-occur" with the target phrase. For example, if you want to rank for "garbage collection", then with a co-occurence algo you would also expect to see on the page at least some words like "truck, waste, refuse, route, sanitation, regulations, recycling, compactor" and so on.

In some cases I've worked with, significant ranking improvements came after we took the restraints off the copy and folded in more of the naturally related vocabulary. It's something to think about, and it's a lot less risky than removing the actual words you want to rank for.

Caution - don't overdo this. One of the signs of an automated scraper page is that, by collecting snippets from many different sites, they can end up with TOO MANY different co-occuring words. I'm pretty sure that Google looks for this unnatural signal - high co-occurence - as much as it looks for zero co-occurence. So this approach is really a "non-technique" technique, and there's a big fat sweet spot.

In basic terms, you might just say "write good copy that communicates effectively to your users."


9:29 pm on Sep 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

To stay a bit on topic all supplementals I had in August are 90% out of supplemental index and bring in traffic.
And new pages got indexed too.
At this rate entire site will be out by Monday.

Some major changes at Google this month.
Looking forward to some official announcement.


9:48 pm on Sep 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

And new pages got indexed too.
At this rate entire site will be out by Monday.

:) Glad to hear that.
It is Labor Day yet? ;)


9:55 pm on Sep 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

Good guess!

[edited by: TheSeoDude at 10:34 pm (utc) on Sep. 1, 2007]


3:06 am on Sep 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Not sure this is important or not, but for one key phrase, widgets for sale my site has gained a few positions on the first page, which is good, but over all it has just plummeted the last week. SThe keywords I see in my stats vary a lot from what they looked like just a week ago, even a few days ago.
But the main thing is that for widgets for sale, there were 20,000,000 pages the other day, today there is only 14,000,000 so where did 6 MILLION pages go? Supplemental? Deleted?

I got a lot of traffic to pages like "widgets for sale in New York" but not anymore. Even if thepage is there it seems like they just care about the main page, kinda' saying that we have a page where "widgets for sale in New York" would fit in but you have to search for ut your self. It's in there, somwhere, instead of sending them to the targeted page. They used to, but not anymore. My pages are newly cached, not like the other so called update where they had a several month old cache dates.....
If it is going to stay this way, we might as well give up and turn to black hat. No reason to stay white when black hat always seem to win the battle.

UPDATE: Search for widgets for sale now has 15,500,000 pages....


9:02 am on Sep 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Probably google give more power to RELEVANT links or links that placed for long time in one location (way to separate paid link from organic).


12:39 pm on Sep 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Did they update then roll back?

It looked to me like the uk serps were updated on Thursday and then rolled back Friday?

I noticed some sites got moved up on Thursday meanwhile some got hit and fell out the index. It now looks like its back to how it was prior to the update.

Anyone have a clue whats cooking?

Also, are we not very long over due a green bar PR update? This has to be the longest period ever between updates?




1:04 pm on Sep 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Looking at some movement it could be some infrastructure changes:

- Crawls have been slow during the second part of august
- cache for a large number of sites was not updated since the first 10 days of august

I've seen sites getting back close to where they belong historically (sites that would not have any reasons to be filtered IMO) starting last night.
Looking at it closer some of them were on close IP ranges, while unrelated in terms of keywords.
So that makes my think that some huge infrastructure changes are taking place during labor day, Gooogle taking advantage of the slower traffic to perform the switch.

Not sure if this makes sense, somebody with large scale database server experience could give a better explanation?

My 2cts....does not change my opinion concerning some new sites that do not deserve their rankings whatsoever.


3:00 pm on Sep 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

"Did they update then roll back?"

Also noticed this when a couple of my sites (UK) had a decent increase in positions, same thing, Thursday to Friday night/Sat morning.

I also thought this talied with an increase in pages over same period on a search for site:www.mydomain.co.uk when "pages from the UK" was selected (could be mistaken though)

Google continuously shows more of my sites pages on a site:www.mydomain.co.uk when I DON'T have "pages from the UK" selected which is possibly a bug as there is no sense in it otherwise

Oliver Henniges

7:39 pm on Sep 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

> so where did 6 MILLION pages go? Supplemental? Deleted?

As a matter of fact, I notice a continuous decline of pages proposed in the SERPS, as well as number of backlinks in my webmaste central.

I believe, that for a couple of months now google is performing strong efforts to erase large parts of the web from the index, parts, which have obviously grown simply for the purpose of providing links.

The challenge for google is, to find means to do this automatically, not by hand.

[edited by: Oliver_Henniges at 7:40 pm (utc) on Sep. 3, 2007]


10:01 pm on Sep 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

> so where did 6 MILLION pages go? Supplemental? Deleted?

Supplemental AND Deleted


12:27 am on Sep 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

something has changed: I am #1 for my 'domain name' with no quotes and with "". I know they words are in the name, but I have never been #1 despite owning it since 1996. It is arguably the most popular word in ecommerce so I am essentially competing with every worthy site out there.

Also, I moved up on another keyword that many link me. I suspect extra credit was given to anchor links this update.


5:49 pm on Sep 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Is anyone who experienced the drop *not* using any SEO tags such as <meta name="robots" content="none"> or nofollow on internal links?

If no one fits that description, it could be related.


8:58 am on Sep 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Further update to out movements

25/7/2007 results re-appeared at prominent positions
8/8/2007 results returned to levels prior to 25th
12/8/2007 results back up again
13/8/2007 results down
14/8/2007 (around 1pm) results up
17/8/2007 down again
21/8/2007 back in.
28/8/2007. knocked out again.
30/8/2007 back in again at good positions
4/8/2007 results down to perhaps the lowest positions since this whole dance began

5/8/2007 a slight recovery on a couple of keywords that are reverting back to high positions but genrally no real movement from yesterday.


9:00 am on Sep 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

We are NOT using the previously mentioned <meta name="robots" content="none" /> tag and we only provide instructions to robots on page if it is either noindex, nofollow or both.

As a rule any individual-bot rules are only in robots.txt


1:22 pm on Sep 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

From nowhere to oblivion :(
Today is the worst day ever. I thought in my ignorance that Google would come to their senses but not no, but h**l no.
I am at a total loss to what is going on, how you can be accepted one day and not the next. From thousands of unique visitors every day to almost nothing overnight is something I don't understand at all. Guidelines? I see sites not following any guidelines at all. A search I did yesterday for widgets for sale had a PORN site on 3rd position! and I didn't even see any widgets on that site....
Google must have had a brain fart and it's not over yet :(


2:57 pm on Sep 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

One of my sites that has ranked very well with google for about 9 months now dropped quite a bit of traffic starting around Aug 31 - Sept. 1. Yesterday it dropped a little further.

I was on page 1 for almost all my keywords.

The page that has suffered the most is my index page. I used to hold the number 2 or 3 spot on the first page of Google for my main keyword on my index page and now I can't even find my site for that keyword.

The index page can still be found with a few other keywords, on page 2, 3, or 4 so it hasn't been banned. I also used to rank on page 1 or 2 for these other keywords, so they have moved down in the listings.

I don't use any black hat techniques and I follow Google guidelines strictly.

I made changes to my navigational menu on August 27th. Ever since then my traffic has decreased slowly and then around Sept 1 dropped quite a bit. I added two new pages. One of the pages has as a link out to an affiliate.

I've had this affiliate link on many different pages of my site for a couple months and didn't have any problem with it. No loss in traffic.

The affiliate link doesn't really look like an affiliate link since they gave me a subdomain instead of an affiliate link. For example it looks like this.


There was no loss of traffic from this affiliate link for the past two months.

I'm wondering if the loss in traffic could be that the affiliate link is now present on too many pages?

Or is it just a google dance and I should wait it out?

Many of my other pages are still ranking well for their keyword. However some of them have disappeared from the search results as well and others moved down a notch or two.

Overall I've lost about 300-400 uniques a day, which mostly are a result of the index page not ranking for it's main keyword. I'm still getting about 900 uniques a day.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.


8:54 pm on Sep 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

The sudden drop or vanishing of the index page may signify your trouble is about to begin. May go hand in hand with Universal Search. It seems to me Google has decreased the allowable keyword density on index pages to elevate universal site pages in competitive areas. They may also be discounting links to the index page. Many sites such as in travel or niche areas may go unaffected. From experimenting decreasing the density for the searched term may elevate your own rankings but hurt you on long tail searches.


11:36 pm on Sep 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

After reading this post, it sounds like some serious G type dancing is occurring.

One of our client's index page is no longer indexed in G. The page dropped out sometime in the past few days. This sounds like a similar problem to what many are having and countless others have had.

Our client was at the top of the second page for several heavily searched for terms, and on the first page for many others. I'm crossing my fingers that rankings for the home page come back the same or better. But you never know.

Outland88, can you elaborate on how the trouble may be about to begin?

For me this experience raises several questions:

1) What's to say that the home page won't come back?

2) Could the volatile SERPS be related to the multi-link testing going on over at business.com?

3) Has anyone else had their home page de-indexed and reappear with minimal negative results?


11:46 pm on Sep 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

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

Here's an interesting weirdness. Two of the 65 or so sites in my Google Webmaster Tools account have the preference set to no www. They are set to example.org and blahblahblah.com.

A couple of days ago, GWT started reporting there were no pages indexed for these domains. One of 'em predates Google by at least half a dozen years or so. And the pages ARE there - if you do a site command with the www, you get one page for each domain, and if you do the site without the www, you get all the pages for each domain. And they come up just as they always have for searches. But GWT thinks there are no pages indexed - ONLY for those two domains. It's been that way almost three days now.

So just for the heck of it, I set the preference to www. We'll see what happens. Neither site is anything terribly important as far as losing ranking goes, so I'm not risking anything I care about by making changes.


3:25 am on Sep 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Does make you wonder, how much data does Google lose a day due to crashed hard drives, corrupted media data in its servers, hacked data bases and possibly even some good old spyware or adware.

Even the big boys can lose databases... That might be a reason why some sites disappear for a few days, get recrawled and reranked.


11:15 am on Sep 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

This makes me think about our online store. For the past year we have had 1,200 products and about 1,600 total pages in Google. Now we are about to add 600 new related products. Will such a significant increase in site pages have a negative impact on our SERP's?

The September SERP changes moved us from #2 for a top search term to #1, a spot that our oldest competitor has always held, so we are wondering if a slower product rollout would have a different effect than a faster rollout. Any thoughts on this?


12:49 pm on Sep 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Well, I thought yesterday was bad but today is a total disaster :(
Overnight my site has totally disappeared and what I see now are thousands of CHINESE spam sites in my area plus many of the old spammers has been brought back. WTH is going on?
I checked one of the pages shown and it was redirect to another site wanting to install a spyware/malware program.........
This 187 message thread spans 7 pages: 187

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