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Google Updates and SERP Changes - August 2009

     
4:52 pm on Aug 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

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

I just came across another anomolous result, just as I was thinkging things were settling down.

Results 1 - 10 of about 4,490,000 for widget

Only 9 results appear on page 1. We see

"Image results for widget - Report images"

Nine listings, with the ever present wikipedia as #1. (No indented results)

"News results for widget" (One totally unrelated listing)

"Video results for widget"

"Searches related to: widget"

First time I can remember seeing Google count to 9 and call it 10.

[edited by: tedster at 10:29 pm (utc) on Aug. 1, 2009]

4:28 pm on Aug 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I have definitely seen some changes in our traffic in the last 24 hours for sure. 1yr and up to 2 days ago ... phone rang off the hook.... today... very quiet....

And we're an old site and made no changes to it...

4:44 am on Aug 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I'm not sure what's up, but the -50 is in effect for one of my sites.

I just helped a friend shake this exact penalty. The penalty started on May 6th.

I can only describe what worked for this person, but I thought to document it here for education.

To be clear, this particular business was caught in the -50 where all searches - including searches for the official business name - showed up in and around position 50. Searches for specific text in quotes appeared in position one, but all keyword positions were moved to approximately position 50.

We first started with the website, which had what I deemed to be a high amount of keyword rich links in the footer and navigation. We toned the navigation down, and removed much of the footer and left only the copyright.

We delinked the keyword-to-home phrase in the footer which this person was using, and linked their actual business name to home from the footer instead.

This person had been purchasing links. We used the yahoo siteexplorer and found the links, and then added those to an excel file. The total number of links we added to the file was about 20. The site owner documented the nature of the links, cost etc (although I doubt this was necessary)

We submitted a Google reinclusion request on July 15th with details including the changes on the website we had made, the links purchased, and his new-found goal of remaining aligned permanently to the Google webmaster guidelines. We stayed to the point basically saying he had broken the rules knowingly, has paid the consequence, has cleaned everything up, and vows to never, ever do it again.

4:55 pm on Aug 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Update! I have posted several times about our -50 penalty.

We were hit with a -50 for our main site May 14th. Like CainIV's friend, we did not rank for our business name or any other searches. We painstakingly went through all of our backlinks and tried our hardest to get the paid links or irrelevant stuff removed. We also cleaned up the site in general. We documented all of this for Google and submitted our 3rd reinclusion request (but by far our most comprehensive) August 6th.
Today, the penalty was finally lifted. YAY!

Let me know if you all have any questions & I would be glad to give you more details.

8:32 pm on Aug 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

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We were also hit on May 14th, same exact penalty. We had much of the same internal linking structure Cain talked about but did nothing in terms of 'toning it down'. We did document and removed all paid link in our re-inclusion request and were back in 12 days.

iamhrh - 3 re-inclusion requests too? seems like the third one is a charm.

Cain - how many days did it take the site to come back?

12:42 am on Aug 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Hi Talimon. It took a total of almost 3 months for this particular website. But I should note that when I was asked to investigate the situation, the website had a ton of paid links that looked, well paid.

I was able to track down, contact and actually have 20 removed, 10 of which were sitewide on higher pagerank websites.

However, in my estimation there were at least 100 paid links in place, although they offered less of a questionable 'footprint' than the core links I investigated. this mirrors what the Google spam team have mentioned - that they want to see conditions improved - a solid effort at understanding and eliminating the problem on the website, and do not need a 100% cleanup of every flagged link.

3:54 pm on Aug 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

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My site was penalized (-50) on 9th August, been trying to work out why for a while and had suspected maybe duplicate content due to a lack of canonical tags initially, but I'm pretty sure that's not it.

What I have noticed however is a lot of weird spammy sites appearing in my backlinks list, however when I go the sites in question no links to my site are present. I didn't place links on these sites, and I'm not in the habit of buying/selling links. What I'm wondering/worrying is if could someone else have created loads of spam links to my site, let them get indexed and then remove them once the damage was done? If this is the case will the penalty be lifted when Google sees there aren't links on the pages it's currently listing as having backlinks to my site? And if this is the case, what's to stop someone doing this again?

Any insight much appreciated!

3:58 pm on Aug 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Did you check the links with googlebot as useragent? Perhaps the pages are cloaked, presenting the links only to Google.
4:19 pm on Aug 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the reply. However, I installed the Firefox plugin and checked, no links show up.
8:06 am on Aug 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Um, what was that? Almost every keyword which vanished begin of June is back again for me - but only for the domains I didn't change anything... Keywords with large "the-keyword-online"-anchortexts are ranking very well for me, while keywords for which I tried to gently balance the keywords more are still gone far away.
4:28 pm on Aug 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

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so who flipped the switch at G then ! - not holding my breath it lasting as some of the sites I'm pulling traffic for haven't been touched for a long time
6:12 am on Aug 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Some domains will simply come back after time, depending on the nature of the penalty, if indeed it is one.

I often see webmasters signaling that a penalty has occurred, but after investigation find it was more of a technical issue, such as accidental nofollow, incorrect robot.txt values, canonicalization, etc.

7:58 am on Aug 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

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often see webmasters signaling that a penalty has occurred, but after investigation find it was more of a technical issue, such as accidental nofollow, incorrect robot.txt values, canonicalization, etc.

Or the Google engineers forget to add something one update and add it back when they find it rolling about under the fax cabinet.

Cheers

Sid

1:49 pm on Aug 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

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As of last Saturday, for one of 2-word keyphrase I am following, the google.co.uk and google.com SERPS are exactly the same for the first 80 results if I remove 4 sites out of SERPS.
The keyphrase niche has approx 12000 searches per month and google reports 32 milion results. This change happened once google has appeared to fold in Caffeine SERPS for this phrase into live version.

I find this extremely odd - the SERPS between COM and CO.UK for this keyphrase have never matched to this extent.

2:24 pm on Aug 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

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aakk, you say google has began to merge the caffeine results into the live results? Are you sure about that or maybe movement is just movement?

Has anyone else experienced this?

2:35 pm on Aug 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I can only comment for the keyphrase I have been watching.

I have found that the changes in SERPS since last Saturday are much closer to Caffeine than to SERPS that existed before.

I am, however, very puzzled by almost identical SERPS between COM and CO.UK site for this keyphrase. As I said, pull out 4 listings and compare the rest - identical for the first 8 pages. Weird!

2:54 pm on Aug 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

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If Caffeine is an infrastructure change and the existing .com results are on the Big Daddy infrastructure how can they "merge" the results?

Are you saying that they are migrating to the new infrastructure or what?

From what little I know I can't see how they can mimic Caffein on the old infrastructure other than either by going live with that infrastructure or by some random coincidence.

Cheers

Sid

3:36 pm on Aug 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

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If Caffeine is an infrastructure change and the existing .com results are on the Big Daddy infrastructure how can they "merge" the results?

I am just sharing my observation.

However, if Caffeine is ONLY infrastructure change, then why did Goog asked webmasters to comment on SERPS differences between Caffeine and live SERPS?

I think that Caffeine infrastructure uses differently tuned algo and since Saturday I am seeing similarities in Live version with Caffeine SERPS for the keywords I have been watching. There is always possibility that whilst the infrastructure has not beeing rolled out, the algo that is on dev version of Caffeine is. Google certainly had much more positive feedback on SERPS shown on Caffeine than on SERPS that are/were in live in the last 2 months.

3:50 pm on Aug 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

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if google made a change (even if it is a very slight change) to their algorithm or how it rates links/content etc etc, there will be differences in the rankings.

My site is ranking MUCH better in the caffeine version, where I believe it should be ranking...and where it was ranking about 6 months ago...I hope they roll out caffeine soon.

The results are overall better as well...not just because they benefit me.

8:25 am on Aug 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I am seeing some fluctuations in the UK...some sites are up and some sites are down...one site was up 12 positions. It looks like some more anchor text is being taken into account in the SERPs.
10:18 am on Aug 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I am seeing big changes in the UK too, almost like an old rollback..
1:09 pm on Aug 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I am so confused again. 3 days ago my traffic from google quadrupled, finally getting good positions that i used to have months ago... this lasted three days. today i woke up to find out the site in question ranks nowhere for the main keywords (or the other kws that improved in the serps).
so what does this tell me? penalty? fluctuations? i am really confused as far as the interpretation goes
2:09 pm on Aug 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Trax i am in exactly the same situation as you.

I am STUMPED! NO IDEA what to do :/

what you describe has now happened to me THREE times since june.

if it is a penalty then please just keep my site penalised google! at least then I know! stop messing it about!

4:08 pm on Aug 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

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well... if this keeps happening. what do you think it is for your sites? am i just seeing different datacenters, is google trying to gather data? anyone else with comments/experiences/thoughts?
5:38 pm on Aug 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Better try to classify the filter or penalty, this will give you better results than trying to find out what Google is doing on different datacenters.
5:46 pm on Aug 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

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i honestly dont think its a penalty.

because as my site has come and gone 3 times I would have had to fix (and then break) something 3 times for it to match these exclusions.

ive pretty much just left it as it is.

I am thinking its google trying some quite big algorithm changes every few weeks. maybe connected to this "caffeine" thing.

6:02 pm on Aug 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

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@SEOPTI: how to classify the filter or penalty?

@lethal0r: i dont think the break and fix logic applies... donno why. as far as caffeine goes. i checked the caffeine option too during the three days it came back and it had almost the same great spot for caffeine as for "regular" google. something just does not sound right...

11:55 pm on Aug 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Or the Google engineers forget to add something one update and add it back when they find it rolling about under the fax cabinet.

Yup. Up here in Vancouver we call that a 'safety break'

8:44 am on Aug 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I suppose its too much to ask of the major search engine company to give stability in its rankings?
9:14 am on Aug 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Sites are always going to shift around in the SERPs...I have some up...and some down :) :(
10:12 am on Aug 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

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just dont like things at the moment.

we have a competitive keyword that we have up until start of july ranked well for.

it goes to page 1, then 2, then back to 1, now its on 3.

looking deep into things i get really fristrated.

one of our competitors is page 1 for said keyword.

the page that is listed has the following:
- 70 mentions of the keyword in the meta tags
- 26 mentions of the keyword in alt tags
- 3 mentions in the title tag
- 117 mentions of the keyword in the on page text, 24 of them linked to other parts of the site

now i thought that creating a page like that would be frowned upon.

also what i dont like is that the top 2 results for the keyword are youtube videos.

update:

position 3 for this jeyword has 106 mentions of it on the page.

This 140 message thread spans 5 pages: 140
 

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