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3: Google Updates and SERP Changes - May 2010



5:19 pm on May 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

I have been attempting to follow this thread to the best of my ability but must admit there is information in here that is a little out of my league.

Has anyone been able to do anything to help increase rankings? I lost rankings for 3 my keywords (I am not ranking for a ton of them yet) and these 3 drive a lot of my traffic. I dropped down from the 1 spot to position 5 and 6 for two of the keywords, and from the 3rd spot to the third page for the other major keyword. I am not sure what to do and we are about to enter the "slow months" for my industry and my traffic is dropping every day.

Just thought I would post to see if anyone is having any luck

[edited by: tedster at 7:41 pm (utc) on May 22, 2010]


5:55 am on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

So we got two theories:
- G has devalued ROS /Blogroll type links
- Google is in the process of refreshing its db and some data on links is still missing.

Wow, really difficult so far to match common themes in some of the websites I watch which would justify creation of a theory for some of these movements.

Some sites did not move at all. Others seized top spots (meaning, spots that are traditionally taken up by other websites generating millions with massive (ahem 'paid) link budgets. Still others dropped - but not 'ala penalty' style drops, just what I would describe as 'filtered' drops - as if some types of links had been devalued.

And what is further interesting to me is that this time I am not seeing websites take large scale -50+ penalties - at least much less than in previous updates.

I also see what I would refer to as an inbound link credit 'freeze' right now. Over the month I have built some serious authority links to a few websites and have seen 0 shift.

Also, some significant shifts going on tonite in rankings, with some previous SERP's results showing up again.

Anyone else observe the same phenomenon?


9:58 am on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hi, Anybody experienced this?
In google webmaster tools one of my site was showing 5-6 sitelinks.
Now it is showing zero sitelinks. What may be the reason? New updates at google?



1:12 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Is it even possible to create a theory when the results are so screwed up? I'm monitoring many phrases in distinctly different niches and, in almost every one, there's at least one site that is MFA, a scraper site, or just simply doesn't belong on the first page or any page of Google. It would be like doing a study on sea life of the Louisiana coast and trying to work around the effects of the oil spill.

These sites have keywords in the URL's, in the page titles, or in the copy. And then there's sites that have none of the above. There's sites that have thousands of pages or visitors and then sites with a couple of pages or visitors. These sites have displaced really good, on-topic sites.

There are now sites in these various niches that have been on page one, or are even #1, that are either total junk or irrelevant to the search term, but have been in these coveted positions for a week or more.


1:25 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member


Yes, I've seen that. On March 13th one of my sites has acquired 4 or 5 sitelinks. On March 15th Google's traffic went down massively - to 1/10th of normal. On March 20th sitelinks disappeared. I'm still wondering what the hell was that with sitelinks? If it was supposedly a good enough site to give it sitelinks, why slash the traffic? Not so scare you or anything, just giving you another data point on sitelinks' quirks :)

Inbound links freeze has been mentioned here since March many times and I would say that I personally see that, too. In fact, I see it both ways - from early April on I've acquired some good editorial links that should supposedly at least result in higher G*bot activity or, better yet, bring some more traffic. None of that happening. On the other hand, on another site I've lost a very good link because of the linking site's structure update and that did not negatively affect anything either.


2:05 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

It would be like doing a study on sea life of the Louisiana coast and trying to work around the effects of the oil spill.

Great analogy Dick -- that's exactly how it feels. I'm monitoring multiple sites, and the one that dropped the most is my most popular. I purposely have made very few changes to that site over the past couple years, because it wasn't broken and was doing fine, plus, we've seen SO many postings here along the lines of "I changed my page and dropped in the SERPs", so I decided to leave well enough alone. But from May 1st-6th it fell off a cliff, so yesterday I went through every page and did updates. That may have no effect whatsoever, or by coincidence I may see a return to decent traffic, or it may be what was needed all along ... don't know as the "oil slick" is complicating things terribly, but thought a freshening could only help, as I have no where to go but up at this point.



2:08 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

"but thought a freshening could only help"

Exactly what i have been doing, no major changes but some added content here & there & more info for customers.


3:03 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I have different kind of backlinks for many sites for different pages of sites. My experience is-
1. sitewide footer links ( or left or right menu type) have lost value, even may have nagative impact.
2. There are so many people talking about devalued blogroll links. But my experience has been quite opposite. Recently my new site has started doing well for keywords on pages which have most of its links from blogs. There are not sitewide. Links are from content, very on topic. Links from deep internal pages of blogs have given good ranking for competitive keywords.


3:07 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

1.April 28th
2.(Main KW + Belly Fat Kws) + (Long Tail KWs)
5.Yes and No

Google doesn't see all my Kws in the same light. After Thanksgiving/Early Dec. My trophy KW gradually lost ranking from page 1 all the way to page 6 in 2 weeks time. My longtail Kws however moved up in the SERPS. These longtail Kws were loosely related to my niche. I added them few months earlier to see if they would rank with minimal linking and they did well UNTIL April 28th.

Earlier this month My main KW started to move gain towards page 1 and it made it all the way to the very top of page 2. My belly fat Kws also saw improvements in SERPS. Last week however my trophy KW dropped 1 page back. This particular 1 page drop doesn't bother me at all because it has also affected a couple of other sites targeting the same KW - we all dropped 1 page (exactly)!


3:23 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Just a little more info. I have 2 other websites that were basically designed the same way, with basically the same white hate linking building, guest posting, article marketing, social media, etc.

One lost traffic April 27th (biggest drop), but upon closer inspection the decline actually began April 24th. To this date that site has seen NO movements for better or worse. It lost 50% traffic and remains that way. The only thing that separates it from the rest is that I added about 30 pages on April.

The third site. This is the one that disappeared March 15th and returned for the better has been business as usual. Not even a flinch.

3 websites, and all three with different fates.


3:25 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

1. sitewide footer links ( or left or right menu type) have lost value, even may have nagative impact.
2. There are so many people talking about devalued blogroll links. But my experience has been quite opposite.

These two statements contradict each other. Left /Right links are blogroll links


3:26 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

errrr.. I meant white hat and not white hate. Watching too much Sons of Anarchy. :D


3:43 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Just to try and define "blogroll links" ... are we talking about any group of links out of a site that are in a list format e.g:

<a href="http://example1.com">Site 1</a><br>
<a href="http://example2.com">Site 2</a><br>
<a href="http://example3.com">Site 3</a><br>
<a href="http://example4.com">Site 4</a><br>

as opposed to mixed in with the content or using a title/description layout for each? Obviously, Google would not be able to spot whether a site was a "blog" or not so they would have to target the layout of a blogroll wouldn't they? Even if it appears on a regular site.


4:22 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

The latest post on SearchEngineLand, by Vanessa Fox, gives confirmation from Google that MayDay was indeed intended to whack 'long tail' sites which have lots of single-serving landing pages.

(can we post links to blog posts? sorry Im new..)

It whacked me big time - google searches down from 1400/day to 350/day, enough to kill the business.
And my users think my site is better quality due to the 'instant gratification' they get from finding things quickly, without needing to click from some densely-packed parent page.

This is so upsetting - I would much rather be building my site than constantly dealing with the latest google change.

Better yet, get the sites who are impacted financially to join together and hold google accountable for their secretive judgements which destroy livelihoods - contact the guys mentioned in this NY Times article [nytimes.com...]

Excuse me, Im just blowing off steam at the moment. I do have lots of data to share and thoughts on how to proceed.


4:46 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

This may be a bit off topic, but i'm seeing a new results page.

Did a search for a specific brand and part number for something I'm looking for

it came up with a page that had one result and two more search boxes and on the left it had a drop down of search tools to be able to sort your results by:

o Any time
o Latest
o Past 24 hours
o Past week
o Past month
o Past year
o Custom range...
ex: 5/23/2004

o All results
o Social
o Nearby
o All results
o Visited pages
o Not yet visited
o Standard view
o Related searches
o Wonder wheel
o Timeline
o Standard results
o Sites with images
o Fewer shopping sites
o More shopping sites
o Page previews
o Translated search



4:57 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Reading Vanessa Fox's article (thanks mantucket) ... does it mean niche sites are now more in favor than larger sites?

Does Google want tight, focused sites? I think this is what happened to one of my sites, that lost traffic on loosely related longtail KWs.


5:08 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

mantucket - Good article, great insights. I did some year over year comparisons and I've comfirmed our traffic reduction is seasonal. When making a direct comparison in early April versus mid May we're actually seeing an increase in traffic.

For example, April 2009 versus April 2010 we saw a average of a 68% increase in traffic (day by day comparison over two weeks in the month). When we do the same analysis for May 2009 versus May 2010 we see an average of an 87% increase. So even though our traffic is lower (April 2010 to May 2010), we saw an even larger April to May decrease this same time last year.

It sound like this update is meant to hurt larger sites that have lower value content. In other words, the type of site that is put up for the sole reason of getting traffic from everywhere.

This change should hurt sites that have a lot of superficial and duplicate content sprinkled with all the right terms. For example, I often see the results from another search engine ranking well in Google for long tail terms. I would think this type of result was a target of this update.


5:35 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Roughly translated:

Those who can afford to build links into 1500 of their most popular products will do very well.


5:42 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Refined translation:



5:51 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

Vanessa n longer works for Google, unless she has some inside info she might be speculating.


6:05 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Reading the article is just making me sad...Had prided in calling myself a 'Google fanboi' for years..Guess its time to drop that..Giving my website a month and if things don't improve, I will just have to get back to a job...Thank you Google


6:17 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

hhmmm interesting article thanks for the link mantucket , explains some of what I have seen on some of my sites where some have gained and some have lost traffic , unlike many of the much more professional webmasters not sure about backlink profiles or even serps positions because backlinks not bought or even looked for and never monitored keyword positions, the only fly in the ointment on that article is how is Wikipedia still at the top of so so many results in both info and commercial keywords it can not be described as a tight niche site So what makes it different



6:29 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Refined translation: Brands

I agree with this. It will not surprise me one bit if, given recent developments, the next step is for Google to become a kind of "affiliate" for the major brands/stores/services, and just like any other affiliate, will take a cut of any sale that results from a clickthrough. I admit I don't have any evidence I can point to which would confirm this, and don't think those kind of arrangements are in place as of this posting, but if in fact it happens, my gut feeling is that it may be part of their business plan by the 2010 holiday season.

This would not require them giving preferential treatment to those companies -- a complex algo can take care of that on its own, so on the surface, it can look like all is fair. I see this as a predictable step to satisfy the stockholders demands for ever increasing profits, but again, this is pure speculation as to what may be in their pipeline, so we'll have to wait and see how things unfold. Those who say "Google would never do that" are thinking of the Classic Google -- what we're dealing with now is an entirely new lifeform.



6:50 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Reno's affiliate remark is interesting, and definitely plausible. Almost sounds like the "mark of the beast" :p


6:56 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Very sad to see the end of what was a great SE. The ball has started rolling. Those search results can't look more horrible because they can't. I wonder if Billie at Bing is paying attention.


7:06 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Update from our long tail keywords, we disappeared again yesterday and have reappeared again today. I'm thinking either we are floating on the verge of a penalty, or we're very close to 'the edge' of the new long tail ranking section of the algorithm and theres some fine tuning of the dials going on.


7:08 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

This theory about not-well-linked-pages alone makes no sense either, it has to be in tandem with devaluation of links. I have several pages linked directly from my homepage and they don't rank much better now. Definitely not long tail and all my pages are 2 clicks away from my index page

Home Pr4 > 26 cats PR3 > Product
Home Pr4 > 20 othercats PR2 > Product

The products are accessible also by a sitemap and most are accessible through another map, all linked sitewide on my site. I have plenty of good links coming to my site, I have sitelinks and a daily cache on at least 3 pages. Given my (ex) GreenWidgets.com name I should at least rank well for "Toyota Green widgets" which is on page and title, but I don't. When I do, I get up to 10 referrals a day for a certain page only to have it die down.


9:29 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Got a quick question :

About a month ago I saw our website rank extremely well for about a day well compare to what our current ranking is and then it got back to the old ranking and I haven't seen any change since then ? Has anyone experienced that and does it mean that it is the ranking we will get once google does its very very long waited update ...


6:53 am on May 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

I was just checking out the Alexa traffic trend for some websites like Mahalo and a few others that basically scrape content from elsewhere to create unique long-tail content and see that the traffic has dropped bigtime for those websites. So, I think Google was onto something altruistic. However, the algorithm implemented is flawed in that a lot of other websites too got pulled down.

Taking the example of Mahalo, the website has a lot of IBL thanks to the controversy that the site generated. And because of the subsequent link-love, it was able to rank well for all the long terms. As the SearchEngineLand article points out, the new algo appears to be valuing links to individual pages. Earlier, if you had a lot of high valuable links to your home page, or to a few pages, the credibility of your site was generically established. This would mean that even if I did not have any valuable IBL to example.com/first-longtail-keyword-here, the number of high valued IBLs to example.com and example.com/another-keyword will help Google to recognize the value of example.com and consequently show the example.com/first-longtail-keyword-here page on top.

Now, unless you build valuable IBL to each of these separate pages, you will not rank. This explains why 1-2 page scrap sites (which we call spam) rank on top. Along with them, big news websites too seem to have grown because these sites get linked to for everything that they write.

To people who have lost traffic : Have you built sufficient links to those individual pages that have disappeared? Or is your link building for the site in general?


7:31 am on May 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

Here's what's curious to me - who gained that long-tail traffic. I work with all kinds of sites, from one-man shops up to some big brands, and I don't have a clue where the long-tail traffic went. All the reports we're getting in this thread are either stable or down, and that's what I see, too.

But the organic long-tail traffic still exists and it is going somewhere. I really doubt that it was all absorbed by other Google pages.


7:51 am on May 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

Tedster, exactly what i have been thinking. But, people only complain when things go BAD, the people now getting the traffic are probably too busy to worry about telling anyone else! However, the fact that you work with lots of sites...you would think you would see some that improve........
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