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Seems to be a lot of consensus that the shuffling is about links and link value. I am in a highly competitive industry and I definitely concur. I've spent the past three days doing in-depth backlink analysis on the competitor sites that jumped ahead of our site (pushing us to #11 from #6) and they exhibit obvious link building practices that Google supposedly frowns upon...mainly link purchases. I'm coming across a lot of run of sites. We have been steadily cleaning up our paid links, which seems to have been a mistake.
I've had this nagging thought in the back of my head that just gains more credence with each new Google update. I think Matt Cutts accomplishes through PR and dictum what Google is NOT able to accomplish algorithmically. You can only program a machine to do so much, evidence by the fact that we still don't have robot servants or cars that can drive themselves.
So how could the largest ad agency in the world (oops, I mean search engine) control the factors that they can't through algorithms? Why not create some sort of demi-god that respectable, white hat SEOs will flock to and follow without question? I think a lot of us have been duped and now the spammers and less-than-white hat SEOs are reaping the benefits.
Seeing as how many of us are seeing poor quality sites with poor quality backlinks beating out older, quality sites, is it too far-fetched to suggest that maybe Google had turned off a big portion of their algos that try to filter out paid links? Perhaps because after several months of launching a PR campaign against them, maybe they feel that enough sites have cleaned up those links? Or maybe because they only real filter they have the "Report Paid Links" database that they've been building?
PageRank isn't the biggest PR in SEO anymore, it's Press Relations and we all know what that's about...how to "spin" things.
[edited by: tedster at 6:37 pm (utc) on April 5, 2008]
Adding &filter=0 does nothing to affect my pages when they take a dive. I have a lot of pages affected by this, some seem immune to it.
I suspect that they are doing this to collect data on user behavior but I wonder what the criteria is for determining the switch. For me, it seems like the more popular the search term is, the more likely it is to see shifting. Less popular terms are extremely stable for me.
It's like they have two very different implimentations of their algo and are switching between them, tweaking along the way (perhaps until the two are merged?).
In any case, I feel like I'm playing a Vegas money wheel. Every so often my number comes up but the wheel just keeps on spinning around.
BTW, I don't see any connection between time of day and shifting. It's like you said, they seem to be on their own cycle.
But in fact for some of the most competitive phrases they see additional sites injected above them in the top 10 ( none of the big players fall out though, perhaps pushed down but stay close ). This happens every day, only to revert back to the regular SERPs without these URLs later on.
It's interesting to see, for these injected sites are indeed garbage, nothing I'd ever consider as examples to follow ( neither for SEO, nor user friendliness, not even design ).
One of them is full-flash. No text on site. Has same links, just fewer of them ( 30% ), worse anchor text than my site. As for content, it's actually way too regional to be where it is now. Looks cr@ppy. Navigation is in flash.
And we're talking about a competitive phrase here.
another interesting find, which might be completely off-target, let alone off-topic: yahoo site explorer showed a backlink from a site that was also in full flash. I've tripple checked it, it wasn't a previous design, it's not cloaking, it's not a redirect, it's a full-flash link shown as a backlink in Yahoo! I wonder if there's some new technology to follow flash links or this is but a coincidence.
I'll wait until Google settles down.
And if it won't, then I'll try to find the pattern in its shifting, no problem. But don't want to adjust to an environment that's temporary.
Note: I'm seeing the biggest changes on SERPs where the asterisk character would bring up a whole different set of results instead of just seemingly turning stemming and synonyms on/off. ( I think that perhaps that's what it does ). e.g.: mycity hotels [Vs] mycity hotels* - that asterisk doesn't really alter the SERPs that were NOT affected, at least not where I looked but I'm pretty busy so no further testing for now *smirk*
[edited by: Miamacs at 1:21 pm (utc) on April 17, 2008]
Round #1: suggestions at the bottom of the search page.
Round #2: suggestions in Google Toolbar+Search bar
Round #3: suggestions at the top of search page
For example, for the keyword widgets, Google knows which related top searches that word gets, say, red widgets.
So then it reranks the searches for just widgets with a higher weight on the sites that rank for red widgets, or, better yet, when it's a commercial site that sells red widgets.
I'm seeing a recent boost or dial-turn for commercial sites.
It's not such a bad idea in principle. A pretty reasonable filter.
Why should a site rank highly for a single competitive word if it doesn't offer anything on the most relevant related phrases (which in some cases are searched for more often)? Those related searches anchor the site theme.
Good thing I have my seat belt on; things are lurching around like a drunken sailor.
Also, my primary (event) site is still ranking #1 for everthing, but all my sitelinks are gone this morning. Hope this means they're being reorganized, and not just disappeared.
Also, oddly, results from my site are the top two searches, but not indented - just like #1 and #2 as if they were different sites. I saw that when I had the sitelinks, but not like this. It's all very weird.
And it's been doing this whilst it's SERVER IS DOWN
Their site has been inaccessible for about 10 days now (at least) and yet they are climbing in serps. Their bounce rate in Google must be 100% so I don't think it's that (unless a high bounce rate means a good serp)
For example for our top target term a new site has come in at #4 on google.co.uk which is #27 on google.com. This is another site that has bought thousands of backlinks from one site. Google even lists 6 pages from this multi thousand page site, which is an ecommerce catalog/shopping cart, when I do a link:www.domain.com search.
So much for having a solution to bought links. I wonder why Matt Cutts is keeping so quiet.
At the moment I see some serps difference between [72.14.207.***...] and the rest of DCs in the sectors I watch. Take a look. Maybe you can see the difference too. For example:
Guess Update Dewey is still on the move, as expected. The current flux will continue for the rest of April, IMO ;-)
It isn't wise at all to make changes to your site(s) while Dewey on the move, IMO.
Best thing to do for the rest of this month is just to sit back and watch the grass grow. Or to view what was said about the "Rotaing Algos" back in 2005 during Update Bourbon [webmasterworld.com] !
I feel like I'm playing a Vegas money wheel. Every so often my number comes up but the wheel just keeps on spinning around.
Yes! And yesterday it slowed way down at my dream serps. Alas the wheel moved on. :o
It's like a really sloooooow version of the old Google dances. I always felt the thrill of Las Vegas during those dances.
And delivers for Canada:
seeing almost the entire first page of serps dominated by .co.uk sites.
It seems to me that Google wants to deliver excellent results for the US and generally does with some notable exceptions but the rest of the English speaking World is just an irritation that throws up "weaknesses in the algorithm".
[edited by: tedster at 4:21 pm (utc) on April 18, 2008]
[edit reason] fixed charset issue [/edit]
has anyone noticed negative effects on non .com addresses?
Yep, I have an authority keyword .in site for one of my products completely disappeared now in G but still #1 in Yahoo! and Live.
Like everyone else I have no idea why, it's a unique 20 page site, no duplicated pages anywhere, sometimes I find it -950 but most of the time it's MIA.
My site is a .biz and I absolutely have noticed a decrease in traffic. Come on Google, get your stuff together.
Ummm ... sadly, all these .infos and .bizs are mostly low quality sites. I'm fine with them being devalued a little, the same as 40+ characters domain names and those with 5+ hyphens in them.
has anyone noticed negative effects on non .com addresses?
The tld itself does not affect rankings. This has been borne out in numerous discussions on WebmasterWorld and elsewhere.
While a .biz or .info doesn't necessarily suggest a low quality site, as internetheaven points out, most of these are low quality. At best, it's likely that sites with these tlds are newer and have less established links; at worst, they are often used as throwaway domains.
But I am seeing good quality sites built on .biz, .net, etc, currently doing a lot better than many competing .coms.
188.8.131.52 for the two main terms I watch pulls the dodgy site, that bought its way to the top, off top slot and pushes it back to #3 and #5. Also another site that employed and SEO firm that promptly went out to but sitewides for it has drops from #4 to #30 when I look through a proxy but comes back when I go direct to the IP from my browser in the UK.
The one thing both of these sites have in common is a link back to the SEOs site on each page.
Google has said for a long while watch out for who you link to. ;)
Above mentioned DCs, still display different serps than the rest of the DCs, for example [184.108.40.206...] .
Update Dewey is still on the move, IMO.