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Google.com SERP Changes - May 2009

     
8:05 am on Apr 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

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

Something is up. We monitor google.de very closely and the SERP's have remained very static for a couple of weeks now. No jumping around of sites as we have seen over the past months with the exception of a few sites that should not be ranked as highly as they are. Last time I saw this there was a big shake up. Lets hope for the best results ; )

[edited by: tedster at 5:39 am (utc) on May 1, 2009]

10:48 am on Apr 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Hi,

I have seen something similar happening over the last weekend (25th/26th April) where the rankings for all the site's phrases just vanished.
Site is still indexed.
Has anybody seen a reversal of this yet, if it is a Google Dance/tweak to the algorithm?

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

4:38 am on May 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

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For a few days traffic on one of our sites has decreased, today was the worst day ever since the site launched 5 years ago. The site ranks for keywords that don't appear anymore on its pages anymore or keywords that Never were there in the first place.

I noticed in the logs that Googlebot is crawling almost exclusively pages from years ago, pages that don't exist anymore or pages that are not linked from anywhere on the site for a long time.
It's weird. Especially considering that the site has received national mainstream media not so long ago and all of this is natural.

Sites who receive a lot of traction right now in this niche are mainly scrappers.

I think that unfortunately this is another collateral damage, once again...

I don't know what Google is heading at exactly but let me tell you this: we are all being tracked (toolbar, cookies) and not only Google is trying to display results based on our location but they are also profiling us in order to show us sites we may like based on other sites we visit.

By the way, it doesn't even matter, google knows that there are 100's or 1000's of pages that could be in the top 10-20 for many keywords, so they can continue playing around for a long time. There will be many many many loopholes that blackhatters are going to jump into.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 6:03 am (utc) on May 1, 2009]
[edit reason] fixed typo [/edit]

7:18 am on May 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I have seen something similar happening over the last weekend (25th/26th April) where the rankings for all the site's phrases just vanished.
Site is still indexed.
Has anybody seen a reversal of this yet, if it is a Google Dance/tweak to the algorithm?

This happened to one of my pages, and it eventually fixed itself after about a month.

[webmasterworld.com...]

10:00 am on May 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

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wuih, my site is back, at least my adsense imp shows that. Before my site is at 2nd rank on my keyword, disappear for 7 days and now it's back at 4th rank.

The weird thing is, my site seems to be recover exactly at 01 May 00:00 just when Adsense change day.

I still don't know what's going on. I just hope nothing funny going around anymore...

1:51 pm on May 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Oh no... I don't like this !
7:45 pm on May 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I have a site that has ranked anywhere from #1 to #6 over the last 7 years for a competitive two word phrase. It now sits in the 20's or 30's.

Nothing much has changed on the site. The only thing that I can think of is that the Business.com directory listing has lapsed recently.

7:52 pm on May 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

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So this is what caused a spike on my traffic? I hope, and pray it stays. I don't look at specific keyword, I just look at my apache log for the day. Weird but
9:29 am on May 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

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The serps that I monitor seem to change on a daily rate so I tend not to bother focusing on them too much these days!
3:00 pm on May 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Across a large sample of keywords, the churn recently seems to be at a low level -- it's too low for a major algo tweak. IMO. If anyone is just watching traffic levels and wondering why traffic dropped, I strongly suggest watching at a more specific level - the individual keywords that bring your site Google Search visitors. When you only monitor total traffic, or even rankings as seen from your computer, you don't have enough information to take action.
4:09 pm on May 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Weird Google observations today - Anyone else seeing Dogpile.com being ranked in Google Search results?

I thought it was against Google TOS to show a result of another search engine.

Also....seen a few more "spammy" type sites rise pretty high in the rankings today.

I realize that Google changes the algo on an almost daily basis....but is anyone seeing anything out of the ordinary today?

[edited by: tedster at 6:45 pm (utc) on May 5, 2009]
[edit reason] moved from another location [/edit]

6:52 pm on May 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Dogpile is a brand. :)
9:56 pm on May 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Hmmm... My site fell from two to three on one of its major secondary keywords, but rose from five to four on its primary keyword. Nice!
10:16 pm on May 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

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All round - good for me. What I also see is more associative search results though - ultimately vaguer and even ill-defined results around 'my' search terms.

Seems the old kw1+kw2 searches are being continually modified. But, much like popular TV, they're being dumbed down to lowest mainstream common denominators, not direct (and relevant) on-page associations.

Seems that to win at 'search' you have to get your kw's into the equivalent of what, once upon a time, would have been the music sales charts.

Syzygy

11:16 pm on May 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I also see "more associative search results" - maybe the effect of the approach outlinedGoogle patent [webmasterworld.com]. It does get frustrating when an experienced user of search can't count on seeing precise results, even by using quoted phrases, plus signs and the like.
5:37 pm on May 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

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It does get frustrating when an experienced user of search can't count on seeing precise results

well according to the patent:

The method of claim 2 wherein the total selection score comprises a total number of users that selected a result returned for a search for the first related query.

so if indeed a large number of users don't find what they want by...

using quoted phrases, plus signs and the like

they may click less or no results and ignored snippets will disappear from the related search query. of course, not all birds fly south for the winter.

7:42 pm on May 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Looking at a couple of sites where almost exactly one year after launch, traffic has trailed off by 80% over just the last month. Both have stunted link development, but are gaining links slowly, however their Toolbar PR has been heavily reduced since the last check many months ago, with many grey bar pages. Interestingly, both sites show 99% of all page URLs are still indexed (there's no Duplicate issues at all!). Both show good rankings for many key phrases, especially in local searches, but the traffic has gone. WebmasterTools lists nothing of concern (just three pages with short titles or meta descriptions).

[edited by: g1smd at 7:47 pm (utc) on May 6, 2009]

7:45 pm on May 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

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major keyword went form 8-9 ish... to 6-4 ish... supplemental kw's seemed to move up a few spots here and there...
8:08 pm on May 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Wow! Sudden drop :( For my main keyword, for which I yesterday rose from 5 to 4, I dropped to 10 today :(
9:09 pm on May 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I'm seeing a big drop for pages which had run-of-site internal links (i.e. linked in the navigation from every page on the site). Just happened yesterday.

Not sure if that's THE characteristic that caused those pages to drop, but rankings for other pages on the site are holding steady. Could be a bit of an over-optimization/too-much-internal-linking issue, for this site at least.

12:49 am on May 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I'm seeing an extended slow and steady rise still, I look at weekly figures and the % gain per week is steady dating back to early 2007 so if there is a change it hasn't affected me thus far.

I AM seeing some new things in the sites around mine in Google however.

#1 - the site immediately below mine is a .ca, the only .ca in the top 250, since yesterday, and it's ranking for an acronym that the keyword and other 249 sites aren't about. (first time ever seeing a .ca mixed with .com results in my niche I think).

#2 - Google started returning roughly twice the number of results on and off over the past few days, it fluctuates but my site isn't affected when it does.

Suggestion: stop looking at Google results ONLY, instead start looking at some intra-day or intra-week comparisons between the % of traffic from Google vs the % of traffic from say Yahoo!. If you start seeing Google stats 10% above or below their average when Yahoo! seems to be steady your site may be on the move.

Comparing stats with other search engines also gives you a refference point. Google sending 50% less traffic one day is not a big deal if all search engines did the same, it just means less people online looking up your keyword. Some people have lives and major events get them out of the house darned it.

edit: Here is how to set up your analytics for comparison as suggested.
a) Choose today's date
b) Select the compare feature and choose the same day last week (ie: today is Wednesday, compare today with last Wednesday)
c) Examine the % ratios for differences.

example from my site: It's roughly 6pm in the day and Google stats show a 30% decrease for today when compared with last Wednesday, Yahoo and MSN show the same within 0.1%, so I know that there isn't a big increase or drop in any one search engine when compared to last week. The 30% down at 6pm is also reasonable, I get roughly 30% of my daily traffic from 6PM to Midnight.

Also useful - do the same comparison with keywords to find out if they are on the move. As I said I do this by comparing week to week (same day to the same day the previous week) but that's because I don't check daily. I hope that helps anyone who doesn't check stats very often.

[edited by: JS_Harris at 1:07 am (utc) on May 7, 2009]

8:56 am on May 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

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google.de has always been the worst place for search, the rankings are just pure horror, been that way for years
9:20 am on May 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

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google.de has always been the worst place for search, the rankings are just pure horror, been that way for years

Zeus - what do you base that on? IMO pure horror is unjustifiable.

9:40 am on May 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Seeing some of the same symptoms that many have described already.

Basically, traffic started to fall off slowly starting in April, and then a major drop on April 25/26 which lasted a week. Saw a recovery of the major drop on May 1/2, and then another major drop about 12 hours ago.

I monitor all top keywords rankings and there has been very little movement, and if any, mostly positive changes. A sample check of the less popular keywords also reveal the same thing. Looking at the top search queries section of Webmaster Tools, I can't see much change comparing

However, and this is for a forum, the number of indexed pages has been continuing to drop. It is now only half of the figure that Google Webmaster Tools reports (120,000 in Webmaster Tools, versus 60,000 that site:forum.domain.com shows. In fact, I lost another 10,000 today compared to yesterday, which I guess would account for the drop in traffic coming from Google.

What's going on?

10:23 am on May 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Pass the Dutchie - well it dossent matter what I have to search for I get SO much wierd stuff in the search results, that I always switch to Yahoo or other SE, I just cant find any good results on google.de, I also think its weird, why is the results there so bad or are there just more spammy/no content site in german.
1:08 pm on May 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

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zeus - I assume you are useing google.de in Germany and that you have not set your Google search to any other lanaguage than German. If not it might explain your results. However, if I compare results on Yahoo, MS Live etc they are so stale, and so full of spam which explains why less than 1% of users using SE's in Germany do not prefer Google.

Anyway, the discussion of this thread is to determin changes in Google SERP's. Please see first post.

mfg

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3:23 pm on May 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Google is definately running different algo's based on the competitiveness in the sector. Adwords competition I'm sure is being used as a metric for determining whether the organic algo is set to flux (forcing a payup by publisher for a consistent position) or not.

I don't need to be convinced otherwise, I've seen it and I've been able to document solid examples of Google dampening organic search results where the publisher is also participating in an Adwords campaign and I'm now advising all clients to use separate domains for adwords and organic based advertising, and taking steps to ensure these domains are kept separate at all costs.

From where I see it, Google is able to mine keyword referral data from Google Analytics (it's always bugged me that GA was free) to establish existing emerging keywords that are delivering traffic. The organics on these keywords get majorly fluxed to the extent that the only way to get constancy is to start a campaign.

There is no niche that is safe from this. Once there is sufficient interest in the keyword niche, you watch it go into flux. Think of it as G's version of following Twitter conversations for trends.

2clean.

7:50 pm on May 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I've been able to document solid examples of Google dampening organic search results where the publisher is also participating in an Adwords campaign and I'm now advising all clients to use separate domains for adwords and organic

Interesting, I've had two Adwords consultants tell me the exact opposite -- that running an adwords campaign will help your organic rankings because total traffic is a "signal of quality."

Your version sounds more sensible to me, assuming G is profit motivated -- however, I personally doubt either is true. I think G would regard that as pollution of their organic results and stay away from allowing adwords to affect organic rankings one way or the other.

9:21 pm on May 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

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You could be right, I'm not adverse to that. Not too sure I would be comfortable accepting traffic as a "signal of quality" without something a little bit more substantial in terms of a proof, I might feel that is was a justification from my supplier for me to provide funds for a relatively easy service delivery. Which, quite frankly it is.

Clearly though there are very good reasons to use Adwords in certain sectors. It would be stupid not to, considering all the hassle and uncertainty organic results can give, and the answer Adwords provides to businesses planning their activities online.

My analysis is always geared towards understanding how the organic algo and ranking is changing according to different factors, and that I might be able to exert some degree of control over them. :) There's still a bit of fun left.

2clean.

11:08 pm on May 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I'm a little late to this party but on May 4th, our website vanished into thin air when searching for our big cheese keyword. Instead of having a heart attack, I went home and pretended like it never happened. On May the 5th, the next day, our link in Google came back! (Whew!) Today we are sitting as high as "we" ever do with our keyword so all is good. I call it the 24 hour GooFlu.
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