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Google.com SERP Changes - November 2008

     
1:50 pm on Oct 31, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

A set of holiday season penalties and filters just rolled out.

[edited by: tedster at 3:21 am (utc) on Nov. 1, 2008]

4:02 am on Nov 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I am finding that is some cases my well-linked, well ranked sites have disappeared and some old sites of mine with only one or two incoming links - that have never placed well - are now placing quite well for competitive commercial keywords.

In other cases there has been no change. It is like there is at least two distinct and completely different algos being used.

4:07 am on Nov 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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>> Finally why would Google implement this today of all days?

there is a hollywood party at plex and they all decided to give us a scare of our lives.

should i add that there's no engineer on duty to get things sorted with this nerve wrecking change.

4:23 am on Nov 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I've had about 10 subpages disappear which were previously doing quite well. Most were at #1. They have been replaced by the homepage 2 -5 positions lower. I went and checked all the backlinks and all linking pages except one have a greyed-out toolbar. The one that didn't have greyed-out TBPR was for an extremely popular title with over 80 links on the page.

social bookmarks are completely devalued for internal pages as well.

interesting...

anyone else noticing this?

Quite possibly this has contributed as well. I have a lot of links like this.

4:28 am on Nov 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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watching the effect of the links built 3 weeks ago and after that. at least in my case there is definitely a pattern - older "verified" links are not getting affected. newer - built 2 weeks ago or less (that did have feasible effect on SERPs for smaller keywords) are getting nullified.
4:37 am on Nov 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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ChicagoFan67 - Social bookmarking links? I thought Google was onto those a long time back, maybe I was wrong. I've noticed some big shifts in our main vertical. We have moved up 10 places for one of our primary keywords, this is one keyword we have not bothered to chase for a couple of years due to the competition. How about that? No "promotion" and we are up in the rankings. Our site has a very large footprint that dates back to 2002 and it has grown naturally so maybe this is a link relevance type shuffle?
5:05 am on Nov 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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older "verified" links are not getting affected. newer - built 2 weeks ago or less (that did have feasible effect on SERPs for smaller keywords) are getting nullified.

I'm seeing this as well. Older pages are looking very healthy in the serps and newly added pages have been very unstable.

Social bookmarking links? I thought Google was onto those a long time back

Maybe you're right. I was thinking about social networking sites? - I rely on these a lot. I think these have been devalued as well now. Certainly explains my results.

5:12 am on Nov 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Those gold nuggets lol.

Seeing my serps come back just now, rankings back as were or better.

5:17 am on Nov 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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" I just found two of my big searches got their #1 positions back...

p/g "

Not seeing it yet...

5:29 am on Nov 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Stuff is till totally bouncing around. One of my websites I am top 4 for a two word phrase a have no business whatsoever ranking for.
5:30 am on Nov 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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My site just got it rankings back this morning. <relifed\>
5:33 am on Nov 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I'm seeing my sitelinks come back right now (on 2 sites), also some "new rankings" at the same time. Looks like it might be coming back, I bet some webmasters are going to be sore after the dust settles.
5:44 am on Nov 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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My homepage went from the first page of results to no where to be found for it's main keyword, the site's theme. Additionally it dropped to the third page of results for it's main keyword phrase. I feel like I have been punched in the gut.
5:53 am on Nov 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Massive changes and flux. Very cool to watch. Dead on Whiteknight, same two sets that we watched folding in, plus a final 're ranking' based on new algo criteria (possibly tweaked for Holiday timeframe?)

I see the same thing too Kidder, most of the big players are back, with some refreshing new changes.

6:42 am on Nov 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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both sites that lost out have returned seems for once G didn't sit on its a#*$! for weeks - thanks
6:58 am on Nov 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I wouldnt feel too secure about it right now. SERPs for one of the most competitive keywords i am working on show an authority UK site that ALWAYS gets removed (the results are US based) when the algo shift has stabilized. which simply means there is more to come!
7:03 am on Nov 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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agree I'm still seeing some odd results but the index on both sites that were dropped and their main money terms have returned
8:31 am on Nov 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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This morning,(UK), everythings back to normal.. Sitelinks returned on all sites.

Phew.. Lets hope that wasn't a test of future serps cos if so I'm worried!

To me, it seems they have been de-valuing certain links so see what happens. It certainly seemed to my hit sites with newer links harder....

8:53 am on Nov 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Same here, UK results back to normal. I suspect this algo might come back in a lighter form though a some point, I wonder what its intention was?
9:12 am on Nov 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Funny you should mention links yahalimu - I was wondering for a while if sites with mostly older links might have been hit.

From my brief look it seemed they were devaluing content and ranking solely based on links. Or possibly giving huge weight to big brand name sites. There seemed to be a number of huge sites with very little info on the subject outranking large content sites dedicated to the topic.

One site I noticed in #3 spot was a brand name organisation with a single short forum post on the topic that was unanswered. Reminded me of 2002 where DMOZ was near the top for everything.

Back to normal in the UK this morning.

EDIT> My references to a non-commercial topic with only a handful of relevant sites so easy to see where the useful sites ended up.

9:39 am on Nov 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Saturday morning I see my sitelinks are back. Test could be over or it could be in the flux of the Google dance. But I suspect for the sitelinks, at least, it was a test, and they're done, because sitelinks is a separate issue from ranking.

But I see one of my sites that was knocked to oblivion is back where it was before the recent ranking developments.

> I am finding that is some cases my well-linked, well-ranked sites have disappeared and some old sites of mine with only one or two incoming links - that have never placed well - are now placing quite well for competitive commercial keywords.

> Same here, UK results back to normal. I suspect this algo might come back in a lighter form though a some point, I wonder what its intention was?

I'm going to guess it's related to inbound links. Various people reported their home page was affected and as you know most inbound links are to the home page. If Google turned a dial really hard undermining IBLs, dropping ranking points based on, say, "suspect" IBLs, it would wreak havoc on home pages.

p/g

9:48 am on Nov 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I agree with some of the assumptions in this thread about google temporarily devaluing content. This is exactly what it looks like to me now the situation is settling. Why test it on the live index though? - Surely they can't be considering completely devaluing content in the future? If so I'm considering giving up this SEO lark; I have similar pressures to city traders and am grossly underpaid. I might aswell go and sell pet food from a market stall by morning and go fishing in the afternoons :)
10:06 am on Nov 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I wonder if this is the result of the grey bar phenominon. It seems that Google has grey bared a huge amount of pages. I am talking about pages which participate in link exchange, directories etc
10:50 am on Nov 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I went from page 1 to page 5 to nine, PR drop from 3 to 0 for all my keywords, including my sitename.
Given my main keyword there are 3 results from google books on the first page, couple of sites that have barely something related to the keyword itself, one from amazon and the other five are of sites with millions uv/day.

Link from directories (paid or free doesn't matter) are a no go.
Link exchange with relevant sites via a link exchange program is a no go.
Links via blog comments are a no go.
Links on signatures are a no go.
How I am supposed to get traffic and build natural linking if I am nowhere in the index?
G wants my money for adwords campaings? FORGETABOUTIT!

Having nothing to loose, I wonder if I have to start the worst black hat SEO just for the hell of it.

@koded: I have 20 cats so I might come and buy some pet food ;-) and i have my rod, lures and hooks ready!

11:04 am on Nov 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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google.de has ALWAYS been pure hell to search, its so much pamming going on, that it fills it all.
11:10 am on Nov 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Guido - don't jump the gun, the update has just started and usually take days if not weeks to fully settle.

Link from directories (paid or free doesn't matter) are a no go.
Link exchange with relevant sites via a link exchange program is a no go.
Links via blog comments are a no go.
Links on signatures are a no go.

You will find allot of information about how best to go about promoting your site in WebmasterWorld. These are all legitimate ways to build traffic and inbounds but you must also adhere to basic SEO guidelines. Many blogs and directories add nofollow to comment outbound links so my take is that this would only really be done for the sake of creating awareness of your site.

The keywords are organic and moderation!

11:19 am on Nov 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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*sigh of relief*

Looks like my site has got its #1 ranking back for its main auxilliary. I did however lose my 10-place boost for my main. Also, long tail traffic seems up.

Seems like they rolled back (at least in google.nl)

11:56 am on Nov 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Dutchie,
mine is a small, family managed website and our goal is to provide the best content and the most pleasant navigation to our users.
Sadly, we are in a niche where it's extremely hard to get organic backlinks because visitors come, print what they need and go.
My main competitors spend millions for advertising, while our budget is zero. Given this, we have managed to be in the top 3 results for some good keywords, top 10 for many other and we were having 2000 uv, with hard job on site optimization, content and some links from free directories, blogs, signaturesand social networks. IMHO plain white hat, diluted in years of work, failures, and success. Thanks God we are not aiming at gaining any money with it, but it was at least paying itself.
It's so frustrating to see that, all of sudden, what you did till now has become rubbish, especially after more than one year in the top five.
Honestly, I'm sick tired of it and I'm not available to play google's games anymore. I will find another hobby.
12:38 pm on Nov 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Guys

what i see since Sep2008 and even since beggining of 2008 is:

google.com performing bad and google.com.br performing a little bit friendly to my 2 work keywords

as google.com performed even worst my google.com.br position get a bit worst

some internal pages got yo-yo effect jumping from first positions to page 3 then 10 then 3 again

googlebot is visiting my site with only 66.x.x.x. ips and very slow only 100 pages per day are crawled

page rank not assigned yet, is growing and taking time to be ranked at all

some competitors with poor sites and no content performing well

many inbound and out links are getting many time to be crawled but take a very fast time when they are being un-crawled (in case of 404 pages supposing i remove the page google is fast to observe this)

get one week of pure heaven and then googles pit again

some pages that had good titles and performed well are not appearing on serp some new pages are grey rank for a while

well i have been reading 1000 posts nothing concret is there no one can explain so i guess i am going to a metaphisical aproach praying some Algo mantras to see if this can get better!

thanks
Claudio

1:04 pm on Nov 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Well I guess I missed all the excitement. See what happens when you take a day off? :-)

Are you guys seeing a rollback, as the serps I'm monitoring haven't moved at all since last check a couple days ago.

(Google.ca, Google.com from canada, and Google.com via proxy browser)

1:08 pm on Nov 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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My site has come back as well now. Dropped to position 140 now back to its original spot...
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