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Google.com SERP Changes - December 2008

     
11:59 am on Dec 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

Does Google refresh pages linked from Sitelinks more often? I think it already does, but if it doesn't it should.

p/g

[edited by: tedster at 3:26 am (utc) on Dec. 3, 2008]

11:27 pm on Dec 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I'm assuming G is continuing to refine their understanding of the actual intent of search queries. So far that doesn't seem to be working out too well for me.

On queries where the intent is unclear, G seems to be favoring commercial sites over info sites, at least in my (info site) case.

Last time I commented on this some of my pages had moved down from 1 - 3 to 5 - 7, now many more seem to have moved down even further to 7 - 10.

I wonder if, or how much, they are using (anonymized) data gathered from logged-in searchers to refine their understanding of these ambiguous queries.

Another thing I just noticed today, and don't recall reading about here (maybe I just missed it) is that G is now showing showing a last modified date on some sub-index pages. They are showing this date right at the beginning of the snippet. These are not forum pages or anything like that. Just topic indexes 1 or 2 level(s) down from the home page.

12:30 pm on Dec 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I have noticed too that more commerical websites who have the branding presencehave all of a sudden come through and are moving upwards in the rankings at a very fast pace.

Is this a glitch which google will fix or is this the end of non branded information sites?

It is heavily noticed in the competitive areas.

1:16 pm on Dec 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

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On or about December 19th two of our sites that ranked very well for home page keyword terms returned to top 10. These disappeared in October for us. We have not lost any sites ranking in this shuffle or if we did it was for only minor keywords that we have not even really noticed.
5:04 pm on Dec 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Gford you are lucky, unlike the rest of us, what is strage is that there is no pattern, I have sites in different areas and I have only noticed it in one which is the most competitive market.
5:12 pm on Dec 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

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For what it is worth... my website homepage had dropped from no. 1-2 to 10-11 for one major search term - and ALL inner pages had bombed since early October... on December 20th they returned.. this had happened from June to July and also Nov - Dec 2007.

Following amendments that I had made to the website within the week prior to the return...

1. Work I did made no difference and it was a coincidence that Google changed their algorythm...

2. I don't like coincidences.... so changes that MIGHT have made a difference... include:

a) stopped using php generated webpages and re-produced 80+ pages in html

b) removed a javascript that linked to an external website (this was a search box on homepage)

c) the number of homepage outlinks reduced from 140+ to 120+

d) removed duplicate php generated content from each page.. (ie. 'current special offers')

e) essentially the content on homepage remained the same

f) I did the washing and ironing in the same day?

I am really not sure about any of the above... and maybe it was number one!

Here is a curious anomaly from before December 20th...

Search for 'Great yellow Widget' and am at Number 11
BUT with a typo... Search for 'Great yellow Widgt' (Google says 'do you mean Great yellow Widget?' and am at Number one!
How does that work?

5:50 pm on Dec 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

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FYI - I did nothing to these sites except get more links. I think it just hit some filter threshold and "popped" back in.
6:02 pm on Dec 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Gemini23, I noticed the same thing yesterday. Normally I would see google search followed by google search in the log. Then it was only 2 in one hour, and they were both typos (also "Great Yellow Widgit" and Great=Yellow=Widgit.

By the way it's almost 3 am where I live. This thing was really getting to me, so I got up again....and I am back at #6 for my main keyword, an indicator that my site is back where it should be for another 1500 keywords.

7:53 pm on Dec 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I have a growing suspicion that if you rank well for multiple derivative phrases, you rank better for the original phrase. This would appear to be a fairly logical way to set up the algo. Think of it as backlinks to the original phrase.

I also suspect that if webmasters try to force the issue too much (e.g: targeting too many hot phrases, where the "heat map" is those related / suggested phrases above/below SERPs), Google will whack your site.

p/g

8:19 pm on Dec 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I also suspect that if webmasters try to force the issue too much (e.g: targeting too many hot phrases, where the "heat map" is those related / suggested phrases above/below SERPs), Google will whack your site.

I saw this happen in the recent past, and in pretty graphic terms. One site tried to target all the "Related Searches" suggestions that appear on the SERP for their trophy keyword. The trophy keyword went from #5 down to page 6, and it didn't come back until they backed out of those changes.

8:59 pm on Dec 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I'm really starting to wonder if Google are just testing and these changes may not be permanent, because my SERPS are getting quite strange...

In addition to low quality sites in the top 10 for my key phrases (still related to the serch term though), now there is a site that seems to me to be totally un-related in the top 5 - a low PR site with no on-site optimization at all, selling a totally different product than the search terms. I really can't see anyone who is searching for the terms having any interest in the site.

It appears for a few key phrases, and according to the Google cache there are only links pointing to the site with the terms - which I find hard to believe as I don't see why a site that doesn't even sell the product category would have this anchor text pointing to it.

Google obviously THINKS it is related... but it's not.

9:51 pm on Dec 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Google has a huge delay, any little change take months to fully take place, in my case my site was 302 hijacked by another site in the same web host due to a misconfigured ip address, now 4 months later, more than 300 urls removed by webmaster tools, we change both web sites ips they are totally different now, we removed the https layer that cause this problem, we placed a robots.txt denying access to then, google still relating my site under the other "Poor Rank" web site

if you search keyword1 + my site name it has 3 position

if you search keyorrd1 + the other "nothing to do with mine" site it got position 1

i am really sad with this i have no sales for months, things are getting worst every day

may be it is time to fill a reconsideration request....

10:19 pm on Dec 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

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They are lightning fast with crawling and lightning slow with removing URLs, this is the world we live in.

[edited by: SEOPTI at 10:20 pm (utc) on Dec. 23, 2008]

2:34 am on Dec 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Search for 'Great yellow Widget' and am at Number 11
BUT with a typo... Search for 'Great yellow Widgt' (Google says 'do you mean Great yellow Widget?' and am at Number one!
How does that work?

I've had this happen as well in last few days.

I went from page 2 or 3 to #1 position for a one-word very commonly misspelt title in the entertainment sector. I'm nowhere to be found for the correct spelling but I am currently experiencing lots of traffic for this keyword. My page doesn't really fit into the regular scheme of sites that would poplulate the SERPs for this title, and would appear quite novel to anyone who stumbles upon it from this query.

I often misspell on my site. I wonder if this improves my rankings on misspelt keywords? It's not the first time I've benefited.

Can't see these results lasting any longer than the Christmas holiday period.

8:24 am on Dec 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

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something strange happaned with my site today morning, I can't find whole site pages in 1st 100 (maybe more), but site is not hijacked and the site name still at the 1st position(not -950). Any ideas? Also interesting that for some very insignificant number of serps I'm at the second result page (was in 1st 5).

[edited by: Tobyha at 8:25 am (utc) on Dec. 24, 2008]

8:48 am on Dec 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Tobyha, reasonably similar to what happened to me, and to many on this post and elsewhere since October. When I lost good rankings for all my keywords on October 11 I did a lot of searches and found that people in the US experienced similar things on Halloween's (I'm in AU). I then decided that there is a time lag for us, and was able to predict the exact date and time when it would come good. However when it happened again on the 11th December it lasted for 13 days. Ironically I had a dream about a spider swimming in the bath really quickly, climbing up the wall real fast, then jumping on me (I'm not kidding). I was able once again to predict when my rankings returned as just over 2 days. So be patient. I tidied things up a bit, but don't believe I had any control over this.
3:26 pm on Dec 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Gemini23 from my experience I would say that (c) from your options would make a substantial difference whether its related to this or not.
10:00 am on Dec 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

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thanks ecommerce, I'm still out of main serps (in 7-8-9-etc pages), and "site:" still return correct number of pages, "site name" search still return my site at the top (1st place) + related subdomain (members listings) site serp positions are still the same.

[edited by: tedster at 3:28 pm (utc) on Dec. 26, 2008]
[edit reason] split out other posts to a new thread [/edit]

1:11 pm on Dec 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Tobyha, as I said all my keywords returned from 24 December (until 27 December). However it reverted again this morning with traffic down 90%. It would be quite funny if it didn't threaten my livelihood. It's an all or nothing thing. Either my site is one of the leaders in my industry or it disappears.
7:28 am on Dec 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I'm really starting to wonder if Google are just testing and these changes may not be permanent, because my SERPS are getting quite strange...

Google.co.uk is all over the place. The results for one of the more competitive terms here in the UK (and across the world!) have completely changed. All the major financial companies and associations that usually rank at the top have been pushed down in favour of a few smaller companys and the inner financial sections of "related" websites (e.g. the car insurance ad section of a used car sales magazine) -- plus several MFAs to boot!

Hopefully this is the "rubbish rising to the top" we see just before a big rubbish scrape away.

8:47 am on Dec 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Same on google.com.au. I've been keeping up with the yo-yo effect over the last few months, but I've never seen as many sites jumping into and out of the top 10 as there are now. Plus, it is not just about position 4 anymore - I can see sites yo-yoing into/out of positions 4,5 and 8. It's been 12 days now - I'm starting to think (and worry) that it's a little long to just be a test!

Of the changes, from my observations it seems that the algorithm could now be placing:

1. more emphasis on the keyword/s appearing in the domain name,
2. less emphasis on the anchor text, and
3. less emphasis on the page title

How does this correspond to what others are seeing, especially on google.com?

7:55 pm on Dec 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

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< moved from another location >

Did soemthing happen on Dec 23rd? Our site jsut dropped its traffic to 1/10th of normal and has been that way since. THis is Crazy! I've never lost more then 50% traffic for holidays.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 8:48 pm (utc) on Dec. 29, 2008]

10:46 am on Dec 31, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I have notice PR change in my sites -
Do you think we have a PR update ?
we had a similar update last year around 10 January 2008
10:56 am on Dec 31, 2008 (gmt 0)

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We are seeing a PR update underway.
11:49 am on Dec 31, 2008 (gmt 0)

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It looks that finally there is stability but I have a feeling that with the new tear approaching Google will do a change in the next two weeks.

My sites have stopped jumping positions but have noticed that a few sites on competitive words are still moving around. Any one else notice that?

12:42 pm on Dec 31, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Things appear to be back to normal here. I am worried that it will happen again in two weeks too, but at least it looks this devastating effect may be only temporary.
1:02 pm on Dec 31, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Yes, it was a toolbar PageRank update.
7:02 pm on Dec 31, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Just wish to mention, Matt Cutts has confirmed on Twitter [twitter.com] TBPR update:

Yes, Google updated our toolbar PageRank values today. Consider this the confirmation.

<Notes:
We've got a thread dedicated to PageRank Update here: [webmasterworld.com...]

The SERPs Changes discussion continues here: [webmasterworld.com...] >

[edited by: tedster at 4:00 pm (utc) on Jan. 1, 2009]

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