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January 2008 Google SERP Changes



5:10 pm on Jan 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

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

Happy 2008, everyone!


"I've been staying clear of these threads but my traffic is up 40% since Wednesday"

Are we still talking about your same "watching the grass grow" site which had lost traffic in 2005/2006?

[edited by: tedster at 10:35 pm (utc) on Jan. 2, 2008]


2:23 pm on Jan 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Is anyone else seeing an apparent attack on sites that target synonyms, presumably an unusually aggressive assault on spammers?

One sector I watch looks like long-time heavyweights were just knocked out of the top 10. They'd tried to pull traffic based on the competitive synonym keywords in their home page title.

Typically the title was keyword 1, synonym 1, synonym2, synonym3.

The synonyms weren't in the domain name. Now it's pretty much the old sites with the keywords in the dn that survived.

Wonder if there's just been a co-occurence algorithm dial turn. Co-occurence as in synonyms, where Google determines/guesses spamming software spits out similar words to blanket themes to manipulate SERPs.



4:55 pm on Jan 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

First a quick note to avoid confusion - co-occurrence is much more than synonyms. It's any words that very commonly occur when the main word is present, such as "doctor" and "prescription".

That is an interesting observation, p/g. Can you tell if those synonyms are words that always show when you use Google's tilde operator before "keyword1"?

[edited by: tedster at 11:52 pm (utc) on May 25, 2008]


7:32 pm on Jan 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

A lot of reports are reaching me that at least some competitive SERPs are shifting in a big way right now - urls with a long history of being at the top are falling down the first page (and not just to #6 [webmasterworld.com]) and overall it lookis like

Are we seeing a major algo change right now? Was the "position #6" phenomenon over the past month an early test of something major that is now coming on in a bigger way?


8:52 am on Jan 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

dear all,

I am observing the way Google is dancing, in my niche most of the top results are from authority forum and blog posts.

Moreover, I also noticed that Google preferred domain rather than internal pages.

Anyone see the same things?


[edited by: tedster at 12:31 am (utc) on Jan. 24, 2008]
[edit reason] moved from another location [/edit]


10:49 am on Jan 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


Allinanchor:search term seems to have moved along with the natural serps. We used to be #1 for a two word term in web search and #1 for allinanchor:(2word term). Last week we were #4 for both now we are #7 for both allinanchor and standard search. I do not believe that there has suddenly been a change in actual anchor text pointing to the pages in question and strongly believe that this is either a direct consequence of an algo tweak or possibly more likely a side effect.

The rest of the standard top 10 also did and still do match the allinanchor search. So they have all shuffled in standard and allinanchor.

Also the SERPS on .com now matches .co.uk in our niche for the first time in years.

With regard to synonyms and stems. After the Florida update I re-wrote my site focusing paricularly on the index page. I stem and synonym rich text and links to pages which expand on those synonyms. I did this for two reasons at the time.

1. I believed that semantics had become a significant part of the algo.

2. We have a particular ambiguity problem between UK and US English for our main product. So I was trying to use semantically linked words to disambiguate our main target word.

I wrote here some time ago saying that I thought that Google was getting its act together with regard to disambiguation and that this was part of the change that we were seeing since last summer. For many 2 word and above search terms any ambiguity in one of the words is almost always removed by the other word or words. If you develop a "dictionary" based on terms rather than individual words then you remove 99.99% of ambiguity.

If you no longer need to look to the pages being indexed for disambiguation clues then the benefit of the use of stems, synonyms and semantically linked words on a page may be reduced. Or perhaps the influence of the mix of these has changed so for example stems and synonyms have reduced weight but other semantically linked words such as Tedsters example of Doctor and Prescription is increased.

This may also explain the change in the allinanchor search which could be discounting anchor text including stems rather than the actual term searched for.

Is it time to change my site?



PS The anti spam effect observed may simply be a side effect to a change made for other good reasons.


9:00 am on Jan 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

< moved from another location >

Two years ago I launched a site and it's done well. 9 months ago it reached #3 on Google for its top term out of 27.6 million results.

A week later it dropped to #21 when the same search began returning 52 million results instead of the usual 27.6 million. Slowly the site has crawled back onto page one, as high as #4 and tonight it's back to #21 again with 75.4 million pages showing up compared to last nights 53.6. Deja Vu!

This is big time Deja Vu for me. Both times pushed back to #21 (which means no traffic again) when Google dumped an extra 20 million+ pages onto that term. But it gets more strange.

When I was on page one this week my stumbleupon stats, the ones you see attached directly to the Google results if you are a member, began floating off my site and onto competitors two or three ranks above mine. My stumbleupon stats were attached to the #3 site last night while mine was #6.

Yet more weirdness - I use adsense on that site and had the absolute best day ever income wise by a factor of 4x my next best day, but the traffic was exactly the same. 4x more is a lot on the same traffic, today the traffic is gone from Google on that term as can be expected.

Whats up with all of this?

[edited by: tedster at 12:02 pm (utc) on Jan. 23, 2008]


12:07 pm on Jan 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

JS_Harris, that stumbleupon effect sounds like tapping a different datacenter with a significantly different data-set at the moment. Adsense might be something similar, although having the same level of traffic seems strange. Maybe the traffic source was from a better targeted term for a day?

The general shift in the SERPs sounds like the same kind of thing I'm hearing from others - some new factor pushing different urls into the tops spot, but the fall all the way to page 3 is very strange. We've been guessing in another thread about certain key positions that may be "forced" in some cases - #6 and #11. Possibly #21 and even #31, eh?


1:28 pm on Jan 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I can confirm that there is a lot of shakeup occuring...was seeing 5 distinct datasets on the datacenter clusters I check -- this morning it looks like 4 sets, with two of the previous sets merging.

It wouldn't surprise me if the datasets keep folding into one another, as neither dataset made much sense by itself, but makes more sense now that it is merged.

Filters seem to be wonky on 2 of the datasets as stuff that should definitely not be ranking and was penalized 1-2 months ago is holding high placement.

Seeing the same?


1:55 pm on Jan 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member


Would you mind posting the datacenter ips you mention?


2:52 pm on Jan 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

my site just dropped mostly off the map yesterday or last night, as well. but only at the www.google.com data center (.147)

the site shows up in the expected positions at EVERY other data center. the exact same thing happened to this site last week, after which it came back in better position than before. hopefully this shake-up will have similar results. but in the mean time, my site is 'gone'.

[edited by: tedster at 7:06 pm (utc) on Jan. 23, 2008]


2:55 pm on Jan 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

g1 put together a list a while back...I just flip through here:

gfe-ar.google.com 72.14.223.x x104 x99 x147
gfe-au.google.com 72.14.211.x x104 x99
gfe-bf.google.com 72.14.209.x x104 x99
gfe-bp.google.com 216.239.63.x x104 x99
gfe-bu.google.com 72.14.217.x x104 x99
gfe-bx.google.com 66.249.81.x x104 x99 x147
gfe-cw.google.com 216.239.57.x x104 x99 x147
gfe-dc.google.com 216.239.39.x x104 x99
gfe-ed.google.com 72.14.219.x x104 x99 x147
gfe-eh.google.com 72.14.207.x x104 x99
gfe-ff.google.com 66.249.85.x x104 x99
gfe-fg.google.com 72.14.221.x x104 x99 x147
gfe-gv.google.com 216.239.59.x x104 x99 x147
gfe-he.google.com 66.102.1.x x104
gfe-hk.google.com 64.233.189.x x104
gfe-hs.google.com * 64.233.179.x x104 x99
gfe-hu.google.com 72.14.215.x x104 x99
gfe-ik.google.com 66.249.91.x x104 x99 x147
gfe-in.google.com 216.239.53.x x104 x99 x147
gfe-jc.google.com 64.233.187.x x104 x99
gfe-jp.google.com 66.249.89.x x104 x99
gfe-kc.google.com 216.239.51.x x104 x99
gfe-kr.google.com 66.102.11.x x104 x99
gfe-lm.google.com 66.102.9.x x104 x99 x147
gfe-lo.google.com Not Responding - assume 66.249.87.x block?
gfe-mc.google.com 66.102.7.x x104 x99 x147
gfe-nf.google.com 64.233.183.x x104 x99 x147
gfe-nz.google.com 64.233.163.x x104 x99
gfe-od.google.com 64.233.161.x x104 x99 x147
gfe-po.google.com 72.14.253.x x104 x99 x147
gfe-py.google.com 64.233.167.x x104 x99 x147
gfe-qb.google.com 72.14.205.x x104 x99
gfe-rn.google.com 64.233.171.x x104 x99 x147
gfe-ro.google.com 72.14.203.x x104 x99
gfe-tw.google.com 72.14.235.x x104 x99 x147
gfe-ug.google.com 66.249.93.x x104 x99
gfe-ui.google.com * 64.233.179.x x104 (* same IP as gfe-hs)
gfe-va.google.com 216.239.37.x x104 x99
gfe-wr.google.com 64.233.185.x x104 x99
gfe-wx.google.com 66.249.83.x x104 x99
gfe-yo.google.com 64.233.169.x x104 x99


5:01 pm on Jan 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I have noticed in two circumstances that Google has given much preference to exact match domain names.

In both situations the exact match name was ranked between 4-6, but now they're both #1 and both have indented listings. One of the indents is actually ranked 2nd (I limited the search results to 2 and both were there) and the other was up to #7.

On certain c-blocks the indented listing is not present.


7:23 pm on Jan 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

site:www.mysite.com search today is showing the same results as the search site:www.mysite.com/* used for supplementals. Never seen this before.

site:www.mysite.com has been at about 15,000 and site:www.mysite.com/* at about 2,000.

Anyone else seeing this sort of thing? Any thoughts on what this might mean?


7:32 pm on Jan 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

I'm still seeing the old familiar patterns with /* - but the numbers are growing.


10:17 pm on Jan 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

I think that dumping an extra 20 million pages of results onto one keyword overnight is a big change, it's happened twice to me in 9 months on my primary keyword for this site.

20's to 50+ million and now 50+ million to 76 million instantly is a lot. I'm not surprised that some of the pages bumped my site down, I should be thankful to still be within reach of page one.

#6, #11, #21 etc.... they do seem forced when I look at other terms.

As for my adsense, apparently it was highly targeted traffic from a stumble. I took a closer look at the pages (2) in question. Since the site gets stumbled regularly the traffic numbers stayed the same.

Note: it seems that even mentioning the word once in any article is enough to get your page dumped into the 76 million now.(although you'd never get traffic on the last 3.8 million google pages, assuming 20 per page)... is this the effect of phasing out supplementals?


10:54 pm on Jan 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

i don't get what the /* is all about.

I see a difference too, but what does it mean?

kamikaze Optimizer

11:07 pm on Jan 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

/* shows you the pages on your site that are not in the supplemental index, which is a good thing.


11:28 pm on Jan 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I noticed one site of mine ranking @#4 for 2KW phrase moved down to #26 for last Wednesday and Thursday all day and returned midday Fri

UK time UK site

Today around lunchtime it's back to #26

2 y/old site - no recent link building except a few forum sigs. Has one of the KWs in the domain. Has adsense on it. Only 1m results from pages from web so not competitive at all.


11:28 pm on Jan 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

What I'm seeing is that our overall traffic is down, however sales are up. Maybe google is sending alot more "Qualified" traffic?



2:22 pm on Jan 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Thanks kamikaze. I have a very small site (only about 50 pages), and I noticed that about 20 are not being shown. I wonder if this could be my ranking issues with my target term.

Will go through and make a bunch of on-page changes and see what happens.


2:44 pm on Jan 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

does anyone know what's going on with the .co.uk and .au sites showing up in the .com serps? in my category 6 of the 10 listings are of these extensions.


3:16 pm on Jan 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

the site:www.mysite.com and site:www.mysite.com/* results today are are back to typical after showing exactly the same results yesterday. Orders at normal levels.


3:22 pm on Jan 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

my site is normal on ALL data centers EXCEPT www.google.com, where it is still missing. this same thing happened last week. the site disappeared (for me) from www.google.com but still appeared in all other data centers. then things returned to normal with www.google.com displaying similar results as the rest of the DCs. patience is key.

the current www.google.com results seem to be from months ago, shortly after my site started, before it attained the positions as displayed on all other DCs.

[edited by: BlueSkyIS at 3:24 pm (utc) on Jan. 24, 2008]


6:50 pm on Jan 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

i did a search in normal serps and 6 out of the first 10 results were videos..i dont understand why google is doing this when they have a dedicated link for videos..soon they will need a dedicated link for pure website results..


9:42 pm on Jan 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Two sites that I launched within the last 4-5 months have been dropping in and out of Google's SERPs. Both grabbed the #1 spot in Google for city specific keyword searches the first few months. One or two weeks ago, both plummeted, only to bounce back a few days ago. Today they've plummeted again.

Are we looking at long term results here? My clients are wondering why their sites are off the radar after they've written glowing testimonials for me about getting them ranked well.


2:53 pm on Jan 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'm in a similar boat. My site was created 4 to 5 months ago and was #1 on several terms. At the moment, www.google.com has mostly 'disappeared' my site, all rankings gone or at least much lower than they were. Almost as if it was 4 or 5 months ago... But checking ALL other data centers besides www.google.com, my site is still in it's expected position. I'd check non-www.google.com data centers to see if your site is performing similarly.

One thing should happen: Either 1. ALL other DCs switch to display what the 1 DC www.google.com is showing (highly unlikely, imo), or 2. www.google.com will be updated to reflect the results in ALL other DCs (makes more sense, no?)

This exact same thing happened to me last week, but several days later the www.google.com results were back to normal. Then a few days later... here we are again.


9:42 am on Jan 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I'm having the same problem...sigh...
Site results bouncing in and out the serps. Some phrases that were ranking in top 10 in competitive arena have either dropped to 80+ or disappeared completely. Also, in some of these cases the optimised page has been replaced by a different page of the site which ranks poorly in comparison. I don't know whats going on. Was battling to get the key phrase to rank (was sitting #609) and instead of improving its not even showing in top 1000 now. Also seeing major fluctuations betweeen the number of results reflecting some have gone from 75,000+ to 700+ to 77,500+ again. Crazy stuff. Client is not going to like my latest report thats for sure!


10:33 am on Jan 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Similar case here too.

2 pages have reached page 1 in competitive phrases and have dissappeared for the last 9 days. Similar pages but not as optimised for these phrases rank instead at around 100+.

They have yet to bounce back for me. I am not seeing results in and out as DXL, BlueSkyIS and Durbanite have reported. They are just out for the moment (on all DCs).

My hunch tells me to go for links with less specific anchor text. Also we have been successful in an attempt to aggressively gather links so I am thinking that this may be part of the issue. In any case our links bring us traffic so it does not make sense to stop gathering links.


7:03 pm on Jan 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Some instability in one of my target keyword groups. We've been bouncing between 2 and 1 for a few weeks, but dropped to 3 all last week. We've popped up to 1 this week.

Some 2+ year old sites that have never placed on the first page appeared at 5 and 6 last week as well, and have since dropped back into nowhere land as of today.

Rankpulse.com is showing increased activity for the past week, but nothing like the great paradigm shift around Sept 07 that nearly dropped my SERP placement off the front page completely.


9:40 pm on Jan 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

We've been experiencing the exact same thing. Very wierd. Our domain is over 10 years old.

the number of reported links in webmaster tools jumps as well.

This 109 message thread spans 4 pages: 109

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