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Google Updates and SERP Changes - February 2010

     
2:27 am on Feb 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I have noticed a big increase in my Blog Traffic, but my keyword traffic is down. I am going to assume that Caffeine has not hit all data servers yet ? I would assume this because my contacts in Chicago, Iowa all say my keyword rankings are -30. My assoicates on the west coast say I am on the first page. Here in Texas I am on the first page. The wierd thing is my traffic is not really down. hmmmmmm

[edited by: tedster at 5:47 pm (utc) on Feb. 1, 2010]

9:18 pm on Feb 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member crobb305 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



I am assuming this on some Valid Grounds. This is based on my research and i hope it won't be ridiculed until 20th Feb....


Trust me. Those of us who have been at this for nearly a decade have seen prediction after prediction in anticipation of Google's actions. Years ago, webmasters predicted/anticipated the regular "Google Dances" and "PageRank" updates. Then, there was Big Daddy, now Caffeine. Your "February 20" date may be correct, but I doubt it will be due to any valid "research" unless you're a Google employee. There are no data that suggest Google will do anything by a certain date, unless they specifically say so. It will happen when they are ready.

By the way, I am not making fun of you. Just encouraging you to face the reality that when they said "after the Holidays", it opened the door to all kinds of expectations/predictions of an early-January launch. Each passing week has prompted new predictions. Here we are approaching mid February, and everyone is still waiting (or not, depending on how much it really matters to them).
11:24 pm on Feb 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

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RishiRich,

I wanted to reiterate that I am not trying to belittle your observations. They are perfectly valid and very interesting. I am just playing Devil's advocate regarding Caffeine-by-February-20th. There seems to be some issues and I just don't know if it's going to happen by then (which is just 12 days away).
12:40 am on Feb 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Something is going down, my site that has been on the first page of google for very competitive terms for over a year, has been toggling back in forth.


Is it toggling between page 1 and 2?
12:44 am on Feb 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member crobb305 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



I have seen sites in -40 to -50 for a month. Filters or caffeine related? I don't know. But, definitely frustrating.
1:57 am on Feb 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Its toggling between 1 and 3. Now we are stuck on 3 for 3 days. This is just for competive keywords, I am on the first page for less competive keywords. Very strange....
2:38 am on Feb 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Mike,

Is the first page for the competitive phrases dominated by brands? If so, do you see even more brands when on page 3?
3:14 am on Feb 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Its toggling between 1 and 3. Now we are stuck on 3 for 3 days. This is just for competive keywords, I am on the first page for less competive keywords. Very strange....


I think those are some excellent observations, and it helps me to understand what I have been seeing over the past couple of days.

When seeing a change such as this one, do you know about how long it may be until we see the changes from Google implemented?

Also, did you go back to page one after the update from Google took place?
3:55 am on Feb 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Yes, brands are dominating the first page. I dont see what I would call brands on 3rd page. I did go back to the first page after update took place I assume it was an update, I am not sure if it was the result of Caffeine being rolled out or not. I do know this, it was regional for my rankings. Now the rankings seem to be the same for competitive keywords everywhere. It looks like there could be some massive devaluation of links with the update. I have however been working on pageload time, with googles utility firebug. I found image optimization issues, which are fixed now. According to what i have read google is looking real hard at load time of sites. So I have fixed those issues and now I am working on off page optimization. Unless you are a brand it looks like this is the wave of the future.
10:42 am on Feb 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Tedster I have a feeling you may be very right about the "recent backlinks" factor... Did some link building (not so context sensitive) and got some improvement in rankings within 2 days... Gonna start trying on a wider scale....
5:36 pm on Feb 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Were here in the US. Yesterday traffic to our site was rockin! Today.. down about 25% of normal.

We've made no site changes, no marketing changes etc...

Just wondering if anyone else has noticed a shift.

[edited by: tedster at 5:49 pm (utc) on Feb 10, 2010]
[edit reason] moved from another location [/edit]

7:16 pm on Feb 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I guess I am the last to see this but Google has now put a scrollable box of twitter comments (7-8) on the first page of the most popular keywords in my areas. Looks like spammers dreams do come true. One box contained nothing but drivel from article sites. As if there were not enough of this junk.

Plus now they seem to have added the blogs. Asian companies seem to have found quite a few spam holes here. Things must be coming late to some of the areas I frequent.

[edited by: outland88 at 7:49 pm (utc) on Feb 10, 2010]

7:41 pm on Feb 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I agree, I'm seeing alot of wikipedia stuff popping up too.
7:52 pm on Feb 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I never check the serps anymore (who needs the anxiety). But even if my daily haul (not adsense) stays roughly the same, unusual fluctuations in what is usually the daily norm will cause me to sense "a disturbance in the force". Then, sometimes, I come here and I find a discussion like this, to which I say misery loves company.

Ted, re:
What I think I'm seeing is a stronger weight for the "recent backlinks" factor.


--Would you take this as far as to imply that older links, still in place, are being weighted less? If so, this would have strong implications for sites in niches where links are gained slowly, but surely, over time. It might mean that such sites would lose out in the serps placement to inferior sites that are capitalizing on the same keywords and are going gangbusters on a wide range of linkbuilding efforts. IMO, it would, if taken to this extreme, invalidate the way backlinks are supposed to convey a democratic vote.

Also, if so, what might be the effect on internal linking? Might provide less boost for interior pages versus simply acquiring scads of external social media promotion links.

In either case, the result would be a sillier search engine, one that is more focused on fad than the tried and true, and one where more people are dependent on adwords to make a buck versus organic search placement.
8:08 pm on Feb 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Yesterday traffic to our site was rockin! Today.. down about 25% of normal. Just wondering if anyone else has noticed a shift.


Indeed. We noticed many of the proxy IPs that were consistently showing Caffeine datasets for the past couple weeks
are now showing the "regular" old SERPs.

What this "means" is anyone guess...
8:26 pm on Feb 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



It's more complicated than devaluing long-time backlinks that are simply still in place. At least according to the patents, this link devaluation factor also has to do with the freshness of the linking page and site - and the current traffic levels going there as well. This is what makes it challenging to reverse engineer such a factor.

The continued appearance of new links would be a strong compensating factor. (This is only looking at links from other domains, by the way, not internal linking.) I still can't say I've pinned it down - it's only an hypothesis.

the result would be a sillier search engine, one that is more focused on fad


That sums up my sense of so-called "real-time", or social search. Even on the hottest trending topics I just don't see anything worth a click in that whirling dervish of a search result. And i do think there is some playing around with that type of weighting in regular results, too, but not enough to completely discard the tried and true.

There's another factor I am certain is alive right now -- an even looser play for spelling corrections and other types of query revisions or "user intention" guesswork. I have one client whose brand name is close to two others, but those others include extra letters and are even split into separate words. Nevertheless, for the first time I can remember, the first page results are being challenged by these "close match" websites.
8:53 pm on Feb 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

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This is why it seems to me that Gorg is making matters much worse. Let Social media be social media and not part of the serps. Let Microsoft have windows etc... It seems when Gorg was concentrating on just search then we had a much better serps. None of this make sense to me. It seems like Gorg wants a piece of everyone's pie and may in fact lose there own in the end.. Who knows.
12:38 am on Feb 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

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At least according to the patents, this link devaluation factor also has to do with the freshness of the linking page and site.


The continued appearance of new links would be a strong compensating factor


Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds as though a facebook "page" (not group, not personal profile) that is continually updated with links to new material on the site that the facebook page is affiliated with...fits this bill.

It provides a steady stream of new links to the site that it is connected to, it's constantly changing with updates, and since it regularly gets new "likes" and new fans, it would appear to be the kind of thing that google lately has interest in.
2:00 am on Feb 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Interest, yes. However, if the Facebook page is clearly affiliated with the site it links to, that would dampen (not eliminate) the effect. If it's some independent page, I'll bet links would have a nice influence.
3:04 am on Feb 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

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How would the Facebook page be clearly affiliated?
3:24 am on Feb 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



A Facebook business page that matches the domain the link points to, or the same owner name as the Whois listing of the domain - something like that.
12:54 pm on Feb 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Google forgot that guestbook and blog commenting also fit the bill for freshness; I'm seeing lots of sites promoted solely by those old tactics again.
4:12 pm on Feb 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I'd guess press releases and article submissions also. Unfortunate if so. Ideally, these aren't bedrock links.
4:24 pm on Feb 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Google forgot that guestbook and blog commenting also fit the bill for freshness; I'm seeing lots of sites promoted solely by those old tactics again.


Good point. I've been a bit peeved to see free article sites ranking at the top, with nothing but blog comments for a while.

Now, I'm seeing another one that is 3 weeks old moving up the top 10 for the most competitive keyword in my niche.

It's ridiculous, but I've decided to join them and hired a blog commentor last month. Now I think I'll double his work.
4:42 pm on Feb 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Don't most guestbook and blog comments do a nofollow?
7:58 pm on Feb 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Not all of them Seattle -- besides, G still passes value on some nofollow links.
2:24 am on Feb 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Gorg is showing SERPs from a few months ago, guess they messed something up and had to revert back to the old data?
5:35 am on Feb 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Again their supplemental index seems to grow, new links (recent links) only helped for 2-3 weeks.

Again the query www.exapmle.* shows less URLs in their main index and therefore less traffic. Same game since September 09, nothing changed at all.
7:23 pm on Feb 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Local traffic is down about 50% in the last couple of days.
9:45 pm on Feb 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

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It's ridiculous, but I've decided to join them and hired a blog commentor last month. Now I think I'll double his work.


Just don't forget the hand review.

Lots of websites have used these types of links in the past, and many of them are no longer around.

Look for longevity and stability in a sea of 'fast food SERP's'

In the case of the article pages, the top 3 well known article repositories are very responsive in terms of removing those. If they have any redirected link in the article itself, or are there solely for over-promoting their product, a simple email to the article repository takes care of that.

In terms of websites above you ranking using blog comments or obvious unrelated blog posts, their time will come. Once someone passes a review over the website, they will get hit and come running to boards.

You can easily identify them, most times just look for the post

'Site got hit! What Happened!'
12:33 am on Feb 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

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what really bothers me about all of this is that google had decided to announce this update. Google even decided to let the people test out its caffeine update and even announced that they were releasing it to a certain percentage of datacenters.

Google also announced that it would be released "after the holidays"

It is now almost 2 whole months after the holidays and google has not said anything. Not only that, but google has also removed the "caffeine" updates from these certain datacenters.

People can only conclude that google messed up on something in regards to caffeine. Maybe they didn't, but by not announcing any kind of updates as to what exactly is going on and why caffeine has not been officially rolled out can only leave people to assume that there is something wrong with caffeine.

Like I said, I am not by any means saying that google did mess something up I do not know what goes on at google but google made the decision to announce this latest update rather than keep everyone in the dark like it used to. But now they are keeping us in the dark which makes it worse.

How about an announcement google? Nobody will start a lynch mob if there are setbacks, we can understand setbacks. But when you leave people in the dark after making certain announcements, people will assume the worst.

Why not make a simple announcement? Something like "Google strives to be the worlds best search engine and we want to make sure everyone is receiving the most relevant results possible. Because of this we have decided to do some more testing and/or minor modifications to ensure you receive the best results possible...."
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