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March 2008 Google SERP Changes

5:41 am on Mar 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

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

I have noticed that the numbers of indexed URLs from the sitemaps of my main site have been steadily reduced in the last two days. The reduction rate is about 5% per day. This drop takes place in all sub-directories and also shows on the results of a site command search. However, it seems that the fully indexed pages are not affected. Does anyone experience this?

2:13 pm on Mar 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

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eljacko please tell me how do you check first 100 google results for a specific keyword. Do you use a tool for this or manually?
6:10 pm on Mar 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Set your preferences for 100 results.

10:42 am on Mar 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Hmmm....Again strange...
Google set me back this morning to old positions for all keywords and 6-8h later by next datacenters update send me again outside of 50 or 100.
It happen now for second time in last 12 days. 2 times back to old positions for 6-12h and then again gone.
Anybody have hier any explanation?
12:12 pm on Mar 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I have seen about a 25% loss in traffic from both my 7/6 year old websites. They are not being linked too in the way they had been by independent hobby and education websites. These types of websites are slowly dying on the web and we are left with blogs (same class c ip's) and major co-operation websites that are unlikely to link. Further more the independent sites are too scared to link exchange because of bad SEO advice in forums!

My own theory is that old historic links that we used to have from education sites that are no longer there had been kept to give link weight... and suddenly now have been killed off.

[edited by: Johan007 at 12:14 pm (utc) on Mar. 19, 2008]

12:50 pm on Mar 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

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why dont you just pay someone to setup a bunch of link pages on edu sites? this works a treat even when those edu pages show as pr0. But your right about co-op websites, or even self owned websites. This seems to be how it works now. Even the big brands are setting up multiple websites selling the exact same thing and all the network does really well. Now if you try that as a small guy it doesnt seem to work. Strange that.
1:55 pm on Mar 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I have no intention of paying for links I get them naturally.

If you are buying links on .edu they would be worthless.

2:02 pm on Mar 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

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paying someone to setup pages on edu sites is not the same as sites selling links. If natural links are so great why would big brands be faking their links?
4:35 am on Mar 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I don't know what's happened but I've done lots of searches and I am seeing MFA's and blogs creeping in everywhere! In one instance there's a page that holds nothing but a pointer to an article. That's almost the only thing on the page and it's ranking higher than the article which has a ton of incoming links.
10:31 am on Mar 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Anybody seeing changes in Google results today?

I'm seeing huge fluctuations in many results across various datacentres.

Could there be an update taking place?

There also sees to have been a visible PR update yesterday too....

11:16 am on Mar 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

If natural links are so great why would big brands be faking their links?
Two wrongs don't make a right. santapaws each market and topic require different strategies. News type sites only require natural linking and my site has only had a small hit and I am sure it will be back at the top soon.

[edited by: Johan007 at 11:17 am (utc) on Mar. 20, 2008]

6:37 pm on Mar 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Well, since Google is being old fashioned, I would not mind an old fashioned rollback. ;)

The bottom line for me is that I have a bunch of link building to do. It's not that Google dropped my sites. It's that Google raised other sites. I bemoan link building in one-time-purchase B2C categories. *sigh*

One thing I am seeing are Chinese operated .com websites. I am going to call these the Triads because it's like the whole mainland China website community has decided to create trusted networks by linking to each other in a non-obvious fashion.

Of course I am still seeing my not-so-favorite text link buyers and some blatent old skool BH.

9:08 pm on Mar 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Komodo_Tale - I hear ya on that one.

I will tall you guys that if you are using webmaster tools and see a drop in traffic, you might want to make sure there are no errors reported in WMT. recently i noticed that we will drop traffic and there will be ONE little error in one of the sitemaps and I fix it then things start coming back.

9:26 pm on Mar 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

You can ping a blog page into the top five on many competitive terms in Google now in less than 12 hours after creation. Foreign optimizers seem particularly keen to this now. I've watched some resurrect sites from nowhere to top positions in five days. At least they see the holes in Google Universal Search even if Google doesn’t.
10:25 pm on Mar 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Outland88, could you please explain in more understandable terms what you mean?
12:57 am on Mar 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Dick I'm not going to go into depth because I consider it a spamming technique. Take a look at how recently some of the pages were created if it pops up in your area then follow the crumbs.
1:07 pm on Mar 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Ive seen my site enter the serps for a great keyword phrase, 24 hrs later its gone, definetly rumblings, and generally traffic has increased:)
6:07 pm on Mar 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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<moved from another location>

On one of my most important and most monetized pages our ranking in the SERPs has been incredibly erratic. This is happening without our making any significant changes to the page. Below is just one of hundreds of examples showing our ranking in Google. At first I thought this was related to the Position 6 Penalty. I even discussed it with a very key person at Google. Soon after that discussion we saw our results go back to pre Jan 26 levels. But today we are once again experiencing some kind of penalty or filtering affect. We are in an extremely competitive and often times spammy industry, however we are Totally White Hat.

Any insight would be appreciated.

Keyword Placement Over Time

Date Rank
Mar 21, 2008 9,999
Mar 20, 2008 4
Mar 19, 2008 4
Mar 18, 2008 9,999
Mar 17, 2008 9,999
Mar 16, 2008 9,999
Mar 15, 2008 9,999
Mar 14, 2008 4
Mar 13, 2008 4
Mar 12, 2008 4
Mar 11, 2008 3
Mar 10, 2008 4
Mar 9, 2008 9,999
Mar 8, 2008 9,999
Mar 7, 2008 9,999
Mar 6, 2008 9,999
Mar 5, 2008 9,999
Mar 3, 2008 9,999
Mar 2, 2008 9,999
Mar 1, 2008 9,999
Feb 29, 2008 9,999
Feb 28, 2008 9,999
Feb 26, 2008 9,999
Feb 25, 2008 9,999
Feb 24, 2008 4
Feb 23, 2008 9,999
Feb 22, 2008 9,999
Feb 21, 2008 9,999
Feb 20, 2008 9,999
Feb 19, 2008 9,999
Feb 18, 2008 9,999
Feb 17, 2008 9,999
Feb 16, 2008 9,999
Feb 15, 2008 9,999
Feb 14, 2008 9,999
Feb 13, 2008 9,999
Feb 12, 2008 9,999
Feb 11, 2008 9,999
Feb 10, 2008 4
Feb 9, 2008 9,999
Feb 8, 2008 9,999
Feb 7, 2008 9,999
Feb 6, 2008 9,999
Feb 5, 2008 9,999
Feb 4, 2008 9,999
Feb 2, 2008 9,999
Feb 1, 2008 9,999
Jan 31, 2008 9,999
Jan 30, 2008 9,999
Jan 29, 2008 9,999
Jan 28, 2008 9,999
Jan 27, 2008 9,999
Jan 26, 2008 9,999
Jan 25, 2008 4
Jan 24, 2008 4
Jan 23, 2008 4
Jan 22, 2008 4
Jan 21, 2008 4
Jan 20, 2008 4
Jan 19, 2008 4
Jan 18, 2008 4
Jan 17, 2008 4
Jan 16, 2008 4
Jan 15, 2008 4
Jan 14, 2008 4
Jan 13, 2008 4
Jan 12, 2008 4
Jan 11, 2008 5
Jan 10, 2008 5
Jan 9, 2008 5
Jan 8, 2008 5
Jan 7, 2008 5
Jan 6, 2008 5
Jan 5, 2008 5
Jan 4, 2008 5
Jan 3, 2008 5
Jan 2, 2008 5
Jan 1, 2008 5

[edited by: tedster at 7:56 pm (utc) on Mar. 21, 2008]

8:59 pm on Mar 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Getting erratic behavior as well. Relatively large leaps in rankings for certain keywords. Not 9999 to 4, but 11 to 6 and back, or 1 to 6 and back in less than a week's time.
2:26 am on Mar 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I've had a number one to four ranked site on Google for the past four years, no big changes have been made to the site and now it's completely gone from the ranks, but pretty much all of my main competition is still there......strange stuff indeed.


2:47 am on Mar 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

<moved from another location>

My site just dropped out of the Google universe today. We've been up in the top 10 since the beginning of Google!

What could have caused such a complete ban?

I did a Google index check using info:mysite.org and got
"Sorry, no information is available for the URL mysite.org"

Gone. Vanished. All day too. I check every hour.

Not just demoted to #800 or so. Gone.

Are they updating? New algo? New penalty for over-SEO that we might have just crossed?

It just happened today. We were up in our usual spot yesterday.

[edited by: tedster at 3:10 am (utc) on Mar. 22, 2008]

3:24 am on Mar 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

Wow, there are an unsual number of people right now who are reporting the complete disappearance of a long time well ranked site - not just a ranking drop but a vanishing. Yes, this could be some new anti-spam effort or algo change, and yes, it could also be a temporary technical error.

However, I suggest that these site owners check into some basics that they may not have looked at for a long time:

1. Check your robots.txt and make sure it hasn't been hacked. Lots of this going on right now.

2. Check your pages look for the injection of hidden links in your source code. There's lots of "parasite hosting" out in the wild.

3. Check your Webmaster Tools account, or set one up and then check it. Don't take it as gospel, because sometimes the reports in there get buggy - but consider any spidering errors you see. And if your trouble is very recent, check in regularly for a while. Sometimes the reporting lags behind a bit.

4:44 am on Mar 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

to those who have had your pages "vanished":
In addition to what Tedster suggested, have you had gotten any recent links from other sites (i.e. what google might consider suspicious links)
Also, did you have SiteLinks from Google (those 6 links on the bottom of your URL on Google serps?)

If you site totally vanished, as in "No results" and you know your site is fine, it may be a glitch and wait for a few days before going totally nuts. Google rarely removes sites completely...unless there is a serious, serious violation. Even then, G will reinstate after clearing it up and confessing (Good luck with Y! on that one :)).

5:34 am on Mar 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

In addition to pages vanishing I think it's odd that some pages with zero content apart from a couple links with zero backlinks are #1 for some searches I've done. I can't imagine them remaining there. No one would use Google if they did.

It's the strangest thing, though. I tried to find a single good reason why these pages would rank but came up empty.

5:36 am on Mar 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I did a site:domain.com search and did notice a new sorting order. This time the pages appear to be ranked by incoming links. Haven't seen that in like forever.
11:55 am on Mar 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


Noticed some shuffling on google.co.uk, but for the terms I watch the SERPS on google.com show no change at all, even if I go straight to the IP that is serving my .co.uk. I suppose this could indicate an update in one of the metrics used to calcualte whatever makes .co.uk different.

My site has done well out of this. I wish the target would stop moving though so I could know if the changes I've made are what has done it or if I'd have got here anyway by standing still.



1:38 pm on Mar 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

< moved from another location >

I have been searching endlessly for hours for an answer to my problem and found this forum in my search.

My site was listed in some top ranks (depending on keywords entered) in google searches. Now its not listed anymore for those keywords. All it comes up under is it's name. Not even if I type the whole title that is set as the index.html title, does it come up on google. My site traffic has suffered greatly due to this.

I'm baffled as to why this is happening. It is displayed well in ranks on other engines likes Yahoo.com and altavista for common words searched. I am really desperate at the moment. Thanks very much for your help

[edited by: tedster at 3:17 pm (utc) on Mar. 22, 2008]

3:20 pm on Mar 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

Welcome to the forums, ninbay - although I'm sorry you found us because of such a problem. In addition to the remarks in the posts above, you also might get some ideas from the Hot Topics area [webmasterworld.com], which is always pinned to the top of this forum's index page.

Especially check out Am I penalized? What type of penalty do I have? [webmasterworld.com]

4:43 pm on Mar 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

I haven't been completely knocked out of the serps, but it looks like I might have seen a slight lowering of my rankings on the main part of my site.

Hard to tell for sure just yet, because I've seen the serps go up and down before, but this seems to be a larger drop, some to the second page from #1 - 2, most just down to # 5 - 10 from 1 - 2.

That doesn't sound like much, but it's a fair amount of traffic, at least for me.

The biggest difference this time around is who moved up. In previous shuffles, it was just that, a shuffling of sites that were already on page one.

This time there are a bunch of sites that are making their first appearance on page one. Before page 1 mostly had info sites like mine.

Among the newly appearing sites it looks like retailers and classified ad sites have done the best and sites like wikipedia, etc, have gotten in between the retailers and the old sites on some serps.

None of this has stabilized yet though, so it can change quickly. Makes it hard to get a grip on what to do, if anything. I'm not doing anything yet.

6:42 pm on Mar 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

my traffic is down today by a lot, but then it's Easter. Yesterday was a normal day so maybe that's why. Time will tell.
7:29 pm on Mar 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I have taken a big hit as well, I am hoping it is because of the holidays!
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