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This problem appeared only 2 weeks ago and affected not only my site but also several sites in top 10 for the same keywords. These sites also lost their top positions for the USA data centers.
How can you explain this behavior of Google data centers?
May there be any database problems on American data centers that Google still haven't noticed?
Can I do anything to improve the situation?
To my knowledge, the different data centers return "raw" results for many locations, and then some extra step comes in - something we do not yet undertand specifically. Something like a last minute filter.
The changes I'm seeing are all .co.uk and .au sites (previously 6 out of 10 were of these extensions), are gone in google.com, but show in google.co.uk.
This occured this morning - Jan 29th.
Good job Google! :-)
[edited by: Smark at 7:44 pm (utc) on Jan. 29, 2008]
For the singular version of the same keyword phrase we are #1 on all datacenter including a search on google.com. By the way the singular version of the phrase is much less competitive than the plural.
Does anyone know if there is some type of filter google applies to non-.com domains on the google.com results for competitive keywords?
Baffling.. and very frustrating.
I've contemplated making a specific country target in Webmaster Tools, i.e., to America, because most of the traffic is from the U.S., thinking it could help the .com rankings.
But I really have no idea if it would help google.com results or diminish the alternative tld SERP results.
I did notice one domain that was first used in another country, and got IBLs from other sites also from that country gets decent link juice from Google for that specific nation's Google results.
Not enough data to make that into a theory, but it wouldn't be completely irrational.
The results on the same data center differ depending on how it's accessed (by IP or by domain name).
[edited by: Smark at 8:40 pm (utc) on Jan. 31, 2008]
Then I searched directly [18.104.22.168...] - my site is in top 10!
Then again [google.com...] - my site is on 50+ position.
This is exactly what is happening to me on my most important keyword. But it has nothing to do with what country. All the numbered data centers show the page near the top but Google.com shows it way down.
I've tried and tried to figure out what is causing this. It's like a final filter is put on it then it goes to google.com. Only the single word seems to be penalized. If it's combined with another word the phrase ranks just fine.
To me, it doesnt look like it's related to discrepancies between datacenters; it looks more like a region filter intentionnaly apply by Google.
[edited by: tedster at 10:25 pm (utc) on Feb. 1, 2008]
[edit reason] link repair [/edit]
Other high traffic single keyword queries for this domain are unaffected. Their position is the same or even better than before. One high traffic keyword rose in the last few weeks from #4 to #2 in the US SERPs (seen via a US IP based proxy) whereas it is #4 on the international english language www.google.com when looking from a NL IP address. So this specific .nl URL performs better in the US than it does in the Netherlands.
On average my US traffic to the .nl domain is slightly up in the last few weeks, rather than down.
What may help is that my the webserver itself is located in the US, so IP wise it is a US webserver. Furthermore I have strong incomming links from US based servers many from trusted neighbourhoods.
My first conclusion sofar:
It is not per se the domain extension that is targetted by the algorithm change, but it could be a combination of the webserver IP and the relative strength of links coming from US and non-US servers.
Anyway Microsoft was doing this for a long while and they "can't fix the problem", since they're now buying Yahoo!, that'll get infected soon too and now good old Goog in the same bad waters. A pity.
I've never seen evidence that the domain extension plays a part in the relevance algo
Who said anything about domain extensions (TLDs)?
This is apparently based on geo-location of your IP address. So, (a guess at) where your server is physically located.
I can see some problems with this, though. Although IP geo-locations is generally accurate to the country level (it's famously inaccurate when attempting to go to the city level), it isn't flawless to the country level, either.
For example, all Google IPs will geo-locate to the U.S. no matter where they are in the world, if only using the allocation tables.
Same goes for companies such as BT, many of the Asian backbone carriers, etc. and I'd imagine this may extend to some hosting operations.
Do traceroutes, and you will see that often the U.S. endpoints of overseas carriers geolocate to that country, not the U.S. You can find loads and loads of non-U.S. IPs that geolocate offshore but really (obvious from ping times and the rest of the route) are in N.Y. Florida, or San Jose.
Now, imagine what happens when a backbone provider also has hosting operations. I suspect in many cases they didn't think of the implications of their IP address use. So, an English company with a hosting operation in the U.S. might geolocate to England, or a U.S. company with a hosting operation in Germany might geolocate to the U.S.!
Geolocation can be enhanced with proprietary information (there are databases available, for example, that map-out the IPs of major end-user ISP's POPs - say Cox or Comcast (often you can figure it out from the domain names, they often contain abbreviated city names) and guesses based on route times, and I'd hope Google is doing this, but in any case it's not going to be perfect, and some sites will be miss-located.
Since our servers are USA based and we have this problem I doubt very much if this is a geo location problem.
Same to me.
.com domain and server in the US.
The company is outside the US.
This filter also hit some companies in my sectror. They are mostly non-US.
They have .com domains and other domains.
But not all non-US companies were hit in my sector.
I don't know how G can distinguish a non-US business from a US business.
May they manually check top websites in some product sectors?
I just checked a site of mine. I've got a regional site with many regional links, and hosted in the region, that ranks in the regional Google. It's rankings have not changed in Google.com - it still ranks pretty good.
I am guessing they are looking at a combination of factors to determine geo-location. We forget the sheer amount of information avaliable. They could technically tell the geo-location of a user if:
A) they have the toolbar installed
B) (possibly) if they are using FireFox
C) they go to a site that has AdSense directly after visiting your site
D) they go to a site that uses Analytics directly after visiting your site
E) they go to a Google property directly after visiting your site
F) if your site uses AdSense
G) if your site uses Analytics
H) if your site uses AdWords
Think how many users that covers. They can get a decent sample and tell from your user's locations where your site is really targeted to.
Not to mention the geo-location of links into the site.
Google never does anything as simply as one factor. Why should this be any different?
In other words, Google already has a history of their search end-users by their IP address. If a given url seems to satisfy users from a certain location, then that factor might provide a boost for that result, but only for that geo-location. And of course, if users from those IP blocks don't seem satisfied on average, then the url's rankings might drop for that geo-location.
It's one more factor that could be in the mix.
I've never seen evidence that the domain extension plays a part in the relevance algo. Google spokespeople have said it doesn't. However, what exactly happens between the datacenter/IP and google.com results is still quite mysterious.
Then a user of a uni .edu site .. not the site per se,but the daughter of a professor .. illegally downloaded that image. Google then substituted their URL .. same image. Traffic drop was about 50%.
Now we have absolutely no connection with Afghanistan and our company is not even located on the same continent. So I am just throwing this info into this debate on geotargeting as I believe google is factoring in the information from ARIN. This may well have a massive and potentially disastrous impact on a site's positions.
Naturally, I requested the host company to rectify the data asap, which they did. So far, it has not lead to a change in regaining lost ground on google. (one week later)
Does anyone else think that this is possible or probable?
Arin details for IP's can can be checked at [ws.arin.net...]