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September 2007 Google SERP Changes - part 2



1:24 pm on Sep 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

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

So with all of this discussion about what's happening, has anyone heard anything about what G is "trying to accomplish"?

I had heard that they were headed for "all inclusive" search where they wanted to bring images, videos, books and "normal sites" into a single listing. Not to say that I think that's a good thing but is this the beginning of that? Yahoo and MSN surely aren't trying this.

I've never ( 5 years experience ) seen anything like what is showing up. Craigs list entries, books.google.com entries, entries that I can't even see a KW. My site has been Page 1 for 4 years of over 5 million pages and still is on Yahoo #7 with 7 million and MSN #2 with whatever. I can't see that there is a solution for this right now and have decided to ride out the storm ( which I believe started in Feb and got worse in May and just got worse now ) AND this is ONLY happening for single KW, my phrases have not been touched. Even the guy with www.KW.com which used to rank really high ( not a great website but he ranked high ) has joined the rest of us bobbing on the high seas.

There are about 20 really good companies in my industry and about 6 have really good websites. These guys have been my website competition for the past 5 years ( our company is 30 years old ). I know their sites inside and out and not many of them make changes that often and have not made any that I have picked up. I made changes thru the summer trying to combat what I preceived as a simple algo change and managed to stay on page 1 as I watched some of my competition drop to page 2. Now we are ALL bobbing up and down with no reason. Yesterday, I was in 12 different positions ranging from 2 to 46.

Google - I'm getting seasick. Please let this end.

[edited by: tedster at 11:18 pm (utc) on Sep. 16, 2007]


11:10 am on Sep 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

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<Not sure of your products search but I have been seeing the shoppings sites taking over almost all my product searches for 5-6 months now. Maybe longer...>

I started noticing it more recently but you may be right on the timing. I've been wondering what the possibility is that it is a paid placement arrangment. If not, these shopping engines must be much more profitable now that they don't need to use sponsored link campaigns nearly as much for traffic.


11:25 am on Sep 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Quick question.or rather just thinking while typing.

You guys seem to think that Google is testing things in certain sectors first before rolling them out, which might be... no, which IS what they do in many cases, but I'm not sure if that's the trigger this time.


There might be clues in there.
I mean in the sectors affected.


Is it just my thinking or are your sites in areas where there is no academic/informational aspect to the theme, or at least not represented online, [and/or] no informational authority sites acting as hubs,[and/or] no collective communities just non-collaborative high-competition rush, (closed circuit same ownership networks faking to be otherwise at best), [and/or] no multinational brands, no special attention, [and/or] an industry in which competitors do NOT link to each other? At least not in the numbers which would have created a network strong enough to propagate one another into a higher state of 'trust'.

Google would know what I'm talking about.
Not sure what they call TrustRank or any of its parameters in-house, but if sectors in which it is passed from hubs to tier 1,2,3 pages are unaffected, and spam / massive irrelevant link campaigns are only effective where the flow of trust simply has no way down to the commercial sites ( there are no in-between hubs for the niche )... this seems to be a weakness affecting industries which their algo didn't favor, nor monitor so far.

Sort of like leveled trust... or better yet, 'reversed TrustRank' *** for businesses generally not within the sight of the original parameters. ( see explanation at the bottom )

Areas where it's hard to get relevant links. Especially from sites Google likes.


To be honest, I'm content with the SERPs for the most part... which means they're OK unless I'm looking for something that doesn't have a trusted theme in Google. Which is silly, because it was Google's capability to provide relevant info for the most obscure searches that made me use it many years ago. Now I only have the confidence to use 'exact' queries when I'm looking for something, and am willing to land on a slightly irrelevant but trusted page and proceed from there... ( for the sake of not having to exterminate trojans, droppers and stuff from my box )

As for one the sites I'm in charge for... they're doing fine.

Even the not so authority, newest travel sector sites are unaffected, meaning they're inching towards the top. ANd a top that is the same as ever... the players didn't change. Some not so well SEOd sites, and ranked-by-accident sites sent back to -950, othrewise it's business as usual...

But with travel sites for example, the competition is so harsh that appearing in the index for a 2 keyword phrase like 'destination hotels' is as hard as appearing at the top for just... the destination. And you can get plenty of related, relevant, trusted links from informational sites strengthening your theme, adding trust. And there's plenty of attention and relevancy to hand out on this topic. I mean... as far as Google's parameters are concerned.

Not to mention that even competitors link to each other, creating a net that's unpenetratable for newcomers / spammers.


... *** : While for non-collaborative niches, I can kinda imagine how a virtually irrelevant spam site can reach the top without anything else but a bunch of crappy links. Especially now that trust is leaking through most if not all spammable sources towards the netslums and net suburbs where where it's forming into somekindof... counter-trust-net. Their 'link power' is irrelevant, and can't challenge trust, but will take on any sector that's in between: sites that are neither spammy, nor included in the trust matrix.


Uh, okay no one will get where the question was so I'll just ask.

What are the sectors/areas/niches of the sites affected?



2:36 pm on Sep 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

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

Our policy is not to mention specific markets - see the Google Forum Charter [webmasterworld.com]. But for the sake of this analysis - let's give it a try in this thread only - general market niches please, nothing too specific and no specific keywords.


3:09 pm on Sep 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I know that in the pet industry there are areas that are affected, and not.......
I know a couple of sites, even newer ones, that are not affected at all by this (trustrank? links from authority sites?) while others are way down at the bottom.
I haven't figured out why some suddenly went to the bottome while some stayed at the top and I really liked Miamacs analyze of things!
I think this is what we need if we are going to figure out what GOOG is doing, and how they do it, and maybe also find out why all these spam sites found their way into the serps.


3:56 pm on Sep 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'm in the travel sector, and a few years ago, boilerplate affiliate hotel-booking pages dominated the travel SERPs--even for searches that didn't involve hotels. Today, the situation has improved enormously, and most of the travel SERPs that I see are as good as they've ever been if not better. (Google does have a problem with keyword-driven, template-based, computer-generated Web 2.0 megasites that are are padded with "stub pages" or low-quality editorial filler, but those sites don't seem to be ranking as high now as they did in 2005.)

For the travel- or destination-related keywords that I watch closely, the top players don't change much. Example: For one of my top travel keyphrases, the #1, #2, and #3 players are nearly always the same: my site, a commercial Wiki site, and a guidebook publisher's site, with the 1-2-3 order varying from day to day. The results for the single root word of that keyphrase (which yields 40,000,000+ results) don't change much, either.

Note: The unnamed example keyphrase and keyword mentioned above aren't necessarily "commercial" (except to the extent that travel is commercial), but I don't see any obvious changes for an unquestionably commercial keyphrase (one involving accommodation in a major city), either.

On the whole, it seems to be business as usual for the SERPs that I watch closely--and for SERPs in the photographic sector that I've been using for my own research in recent months, where the results are pretty much what I'd expect and hope for (manufacturers' pages , product reviews, and occasional forum posts for obscure products that haven't been reviewed by editorial sites).


4:28 pm on Sep 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

could it be that years ago the webmasters that churned out the boiler plate sites were some of the first guys in that sector to understand the seo of the day? That was why they were at the top. Today the big players in that sector are all clued up to what it takes to achieve top rankings and and out budget the former players in that market by employing the top SEO's of today? They may also benfit from the added leeway given to heavywieght sites in terms of what they can get away with in the seo field.

just something to consider


4:59 pm on Sep 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

could it be that years ago the webmasters that churned out the boiler plate sites were some of the first guys in that sector to understand the seo of the day?

Sure. Five years ago, the SEOs ran the show.

That was why they were at the top. Today the big players in that sector are all clued up to what it takes to achieve top rankings and and out budget the former players in that market by employing the top SEO's of today?

Yes and no. The Web 2.0 megasites obviously have SEO gurus on staff, but they also have far more real, original informational content than the boilerplate affiliate sites did, and they attract organic links from other information sites (including the mainstream media).

What's more:

- The biggest players in that sector appear to be doing less well than they were a couple of years ago, when you could nearly always find them high on the first page of any destination search.

- Mom-and-pop sites can rank at or near the top for competitive searches, in some cases outranking the megasites.

On the whole, I'd say that travel results are far better than they were back in 2002 and possibly a little bit better than they were in 2005. And they haven't changed much at all in recent months (except for minor everflux), at least for the topics that I watch.


5:05 pm on Sep 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Speaking about SEO, are SEO's just like lawyers? Trying to find loopholes so they can get away with things?
I am thinking that GOOG probably has subscribed to every SEO newsletter there is and is following all boards about SEO so they know what's going on in the SEO world.
Whenever we find a way to get a better ranking by doing some SEO, they know about it and tighten hole as soon as possible since they don't want an easy way of getting into the serps.
The spam sites right now, exploited a hole and got away with it, while other sites follow guidelines and have a hard time getting indexed.
I have for a long time said that everythig GOOG does to the serps are "theme based", i.e. they do certain areas like travel and then move on to the next area. I also think that they do smaller country specific areas before that. What that means is that they go to UK for example and do their testing in a theme. If it turns out good according to GOOG then they target a wider area like US. If they wouldn't do it this way it would be hard to check results. I know, I'm speaking as a DBA right now.


5:05 pm on Sep 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member


Well, there you go, people confirming what I've mentioned, that the travel sector is *not* affected. We don't see it irrelevant or spammed. Travel uses a lot of phrases that require ultra high trust and relevance ( sometimes very generic phrases, all are monitored closely ) for any player to even appear in the SERPs. Those can't be faked by volume ( 50.000 x 0 = 0, trust threshold set to 0.1 kills all spam ). Reason is simple, not all sites are reference sites, some try to make big money by selling services.

And as every area in which online promises require real life follow-up it could even raise safety issues, should low quality SERPs appear.

But since academic references, trusted resources pass the proper signals to good sites - links, articles from major newspapers, magazines, universities, local governments, traditional publishers... this is a theme Google has a pretty good grip on for the most part. As for what is trusted and what is not.

The trust thresholds are high. Make that, they *can* be set high, for there are lots of good sites that have the required parameters.

Travel in its entirety, and all regions ( geographic names ) form solid relevancy and trust networks in which editorial links are only given when earned. Thus they aren't that hard to compete in with good content, but are very hard to spam.


And this brings us back to my original question.

Just what are the sectors ( generic, as to tedster's request, and respecting the forum charter ) that *are* affected?


My guess would be... er... uh, see my previous post.


5:37 pm on Sep 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

This is a search in google.co.uk someone did to get to my site:
where to buy a widget in uk

You would expect a lot of results for that, wouldn't you? Google returns 24,000 listings, at least that's what it says.
This is what it looks like:
ebay listing
hungarian site
rating site
almost relevant site
ebay listing
ebay listing

Strange result for such a search, isn't it?


6:17 pm on Sep 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I am seeing link spam working in the trade show promotion swag area.


9:51 pm on Sep 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Thanks to all for your contribution to this forum.
This is my first post but I have been reading this forum since 2004.

My site used to be 7 years in the # 1, 2,3,4,5 positions in Google. My niche is like an educational – hobby area. My page is in Spanish, with around 10k users daily. Most of them from Latin America and Spain and USA as well. Now I am receiving only 800 loyal users and some others from Yahoo that my site is until today ranking #1 for years.

For 6 month my site have been moving from first places to page 2 or 3 for one week and then back to normal; that had happened often for months, but one month ago all my pages haven sent to page 3 or more until now.

I had review my site inch by inch to find a mistake, but I couldn’t find a clue to this “Disaster”

I agree with gehrlekrona.

All that are affected for this “Disaster” must describe our experience in this forum to try to figure it out what is happening. And let Google know that is not a minor issue.


10:44 pm on Sep 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

"what are the sectors?"

Certain products in the jewelry industry for one.


11:04 pm on Sep 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

interestingly the sites now getting good listings in the effected industry I am dealing with are the ones with a lot of text url mentions from other sites as opposed to hyperlinks.

A search on top listings domain names are bringing up on page one sites with domain name in text, sites with email adress, yahoo directory also featuring prominently and even pdf files.

seems a mention of a url in text is being given more weight than a backlink.


2:30 am on Sep 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Sectors effected?

Exotic animals
clothing/apparel/homeware (small niche. I am seeing a page with a PR2 - site has PR 3 - as number 1/2 on a two word term.)
Needle/Fiber arts
Business planning (3 word term specific to one sector in which some incredibly useful University links have vanished into the netherlands)


2:56 am on Sep 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

seems a mention of a url in text is being given more weight than a backlink.

When you think about it why should a text based url count just as much or almost as much as a link? Hmmm, good observation.


3:16 am on Sep 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Good observationa bout the links. It might be what GOOG think is a "natural" link and not a "planted" one, and that probably why all blog links are so popular, it's just that GOOG can't differentiate between links in the blog itself (someone mentioned your site) and spam links in comments.
So maybe they have found a way to remove link value from "planted links" totally? They probably already devalued links with the same anchor text and maybe "upped" the value of a "natural" link in natural text.
So now what do we do? Have every blogger write a little about us, mentioning us in a sentence in their text? So what if we pay them to write a blurb about us? Are they links paid then? Will GOOG re-evaluate them after a while also?

[edited by: tedster at 8:44 pm (utc) on Sep. 30, 2007]


3:18 am on Sep 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

seems a mention of a url in text is being given more weight than a backlink.

Interesting. Makes sense that if someone mentions a site in text, it could be seen as more of a "natural" vote, rather than one that was solicited or paid for.

oops, looks like gehrlekrona was faster with the same observation...


5:24 am on Sep 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

"Will GOOG re-evaluate them after a while also? "

I think you can pretty well count on that judging by the quality of the results.

They could also leave it in place for a while and then use it to find which sites are heavily seo'd by using it in the opposite way once evrybody has spammed blogs and forums with their sites text url.

Personally I would sit tight as the irelevent results of this algo should be enough for google to rethink it anyway.


7:01 am on Sep 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

do you think that it will know which links form part of the content and differntiate them from the links that are in the left menu or in the foot?

[edited by: Errioxa at 7:01 am (utc) on Sep. 30, 2007]


2:20 pm on Sep 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'd like to share some of my thoughts in addition to the unreal SERP's previously described :)

1. IF this is a test then it is not industry related. It is eventually keyword search volume related.

Example: IF [widget] search estimatation > n THEN show [Safe Results] ELSE [Show verified authorities] + [blow up random]

2. Empty or almost empty page.
This must be a downside of their new semantic approach. Maybe a major update of related content.

Explanation: The more focused the content/page title/description the less the chances to raise a filter are...ain't that st.pid right? :)

3. Google seems to have downgraded their backlink quality factors.
Maybe so complicated by witch hunting big optimisers instead of focusing on real issues.
I dunno but inbound and outbound links are taken with equal quality disregarding theme and quality to a degree that makes no sense anymore.
It becomes super easy for anyone that can buy $100 of cheap backinks to rank their sites on average competition (by # of searches) type of keywords.

4. The singular / plural changes.
Google used to be quite good at displaying a logical result. Now it's a competition of which SEO beginner (mostly overseas) has focused more his backlinks on exact matches.
Which once again opens the door to super low search experience.
As far as I am concerned Google can come back with their PR's and speak when they will be able to rank themselve when I search for "search engines" as keyword...no offense.

5. I won't talk about the indexing issues again but it's like a whole part of the web has become irrelevant to favor blogs whatever their quality.

OTHER stuff that are really painful on a daily basis as searcher:
- Foreign language results
- Geolocation: Damn'it! If I want Widgets in India or San Diego I specify it in my query, so most people do! No need to show me what the worst of small online businesses have to offer all the time. A website that states clearly it's Geolocation is not relevant for broad searches, period.
- Sub domains and networks are back. Incredible the number of times I find 20% of the top 20 that belongs to the same company. Either corporate sites + blog(s) or TLD+subdomains. All ranking on the same keywords almost equally whatever the popularity of their unique webpage. This increase the feeling of being back 3 or 4 years ago like if nothing happened on the internet in between according to Google.

Only a few things are good and these are not SERPS: Google does not talk and removes all means of tracking changes.
The don't update their toolbar, whatever its accuracy it's still somewhat an indication of how some pages do to Google's eyes.
They removed the supplemental links displayed.
They don't say much at all even about their recent changes including universal search approach.

That's either there is a huge problem on their end or they want us to swallow the web according to their views exclusively or they are working on major improvements or they don't see any problem...

So far no changes if not worse. Let's see who Google really is now, how will they react...at a certain point truth comes out and spices the competition, I don't whish that at all neither to them nor anybody else but it's a possibility if major news network start building a case.



3:02 pm on Sep 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

followgreg, I am with you to 100%!

Here's a thing I have noticed about some searches.
If I search for widgets for sale I get about 3 million pages and the result is kind of what I would expect, except for blogs that shouldn't be there at all!
Then, when I search for widgets for sale toronto it seems that Toronto has become the most important part in my search! The result is totally different with one site having lots of subdomains showing up on very page and the ones that was in my widgets for sale search is way down in the results. So, does GOOG try to geo-locate or what is going on? Any site with Toronto in either tags or content will show up for this search and it seems that internal linking or blog spamming gets them to the top. It also seems, for the searches I have done, is that when I add the location I get mostly classified sites! Lotsa'weird things going on here...

I searched for widget for sale UK and get 517,000 results. I was expecting millions! I see 3 valid sites at the top, the rest are magazines classified and other classifieds in the result. Maybe this is the "re-typing" of web sites I have seen and been talking about (see another thread by tedster) lately?
Not only all this starnge results returned, I, just like followgreg, think they have changed their link policy. Right now they seem to take any link, except the "paid" ones or "planted" ones and get them some real juice. I guess in the future it's all going to be who is the smartest one with linking structure. No more SEO, clean sites and following guidelines. The best "natural" looking link will take you to the top right away! Thoughts?

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

[edited by: tedster at 7:37 pm (utc) on Oct. 1, 2007]

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