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Google Updates and SERP Changes - June 2010



9:45 am on Jun 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

I've been trying to work out what happened on May 17th and May Day. I seem to spend a lot of time analysing on-page factors and back link profiles for my own ranking pages and those of competitors but have fallen into the trap of focusing on a few big traffic volume terms.

Recently I've been looking at some second tier terms and this has been much more enlightening. This has also made sense of what is happening for the big volume terms.

In site linking seems to be out ranking external back links if done in a particular way.

The pattern I'm seeing is this, when all other factors are roughly the same, pages on sites where the site is organised in such a way that there are a large number of back links containing the keywords in anchor text within the site. ie Sites with many pages each page focusing onto one page with the same anchor text and very few back links from external sites are out ranking those that have a better external back link pattern.

So sites that have Javascript or CSS drop down navigation systems with the same links on every single page seem to be doing very well.

The other thing I'm noticing and this may confirm what I'm saying above. I'm seeing SERPS loaded with home pages.

Anyone else noticed similar patterns?



[edited by: tedster at 11:32 am (utc) on Jun 1, 2010]


4:26 pm on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I am also seeing incredibly wild/random swings in GWT Search Queries and have no idea what to make of it... in part I don't know how to interpret since GWT Search Query only went live a month or so before the MayDay debacle, so I don't know if occasional wild fluctuations are part of it.

What I see is a steady drop in the baseline impressions and CTR over the past 5 weeks, with sharper drop on May 31. There are occasional wild oscillations where the Impressions counts goes up by 8x - from roughly 4k/day to 30k/day for one-two days, then down to 3-4k/day. On days where Impressions skyrocket, the Click count typically drops, though, ie CTR goes way down.

Prior to May, Impressions were roughly 8-9k/day and this was very steady, never varied by more than about 15% (from memory).

I can also confirm that the pages from my site alone which now rank are far less relevant, and the pages in the top 10 are from nearly-identical affiliate template sites which carry identical inventory. These sites build tons of links to parent pages, not individual deep pages. There's a severe usability drop in those pages since users must scan them to find the proper relevant page and click a few times to reach it.


4:56 pm on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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It would be so helpful if Google would simply post an official statement whether this is a temporary situation because of the update still running or if this will be permanently.

I would say it is still running judging from the remarks of fellow webmasters who have been hit (and are still hit it seems). Another observation that supports this is that the site that got hit is not ranking for its own articles at the moment while sites that copied the article are. Even an exact "" search does not list my site on position 1 which it always was when I searched in previous months.

I cannot just believe that the current SERPS are reflecting the quality that they are talking about.

I have to say they ****ed up badly if this is perm, at least judging from the searches that I made in the last couple days.


5:12 pm on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Van: I was wondering the same thing, if there was some latency in getting the new algo fully implemented. I've seen how it works in the past, and there is usually a little (a lot in this case) shake up, then it settles out. I would hope if/when the update settles out that in the future, G refrains from such large sweeping changes all at once.

This is really hitting many website operators where it hurts - in the pocket book, and that has a substantial trickle down effect all the way to the brick & mortars. So rather than some who say Google doesn't owe us diddly, as a G shareholder I disagree - they simply owe the courtesy to not overturn the markets of their clients, you know, the ones who contribute to G's advertising program.

[edited by: backdraft7 at 5:20 pm (utc) on Jun 7, 2010]


5:14 pm on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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history seems to be repeating, as not long time ago when Google launched the Knol service, was ranking for some time the articles on Knol better than original (exact match, available on web for longer period on other websites).

hopefully this will get fixed and is a temporary bug or something


5:35 pm on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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The quality of the search terms for probably 2/3 of what I'm searching for are attrocious. Blatant cheaters are all over the top serps with duplicate sites that were penalized up until this "update."

Our traffic today is the worst yet so I'm guessing we've had another "fix" which broke what worked fine to begin with.


7:09 pm on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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meta-question: I keep getting email alerts about new comments to this thread ; they contain a link to the thread but the link always goes to the first page of the thread, and I have to look at the page list, click to the latest page etc. Is there any way to set it so the alerts take you right to the new posts? Maybe I have something set up wrong?


7:24 pm on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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scotts: I am also see a lot of the keyword-keyword-keyword-keyword.com disposable type MFA sites making it to the top. Also seeing a lot of those lame article sites getting top billing. Those sites deliver content of the thinnest variety and are only there to infuriate the user as they get a only small bite of the topic, then are led to a huge selection of ads to escape the page. That's not quality results.


7:26 pm on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

mantucket wrote:
Is there any way to set it so the alerts take you right to the new posts?

It's not currently a feature here. There's a technical challenge, in that each member can set their "posts per page" differently in their ControlPanel. However, if you use the "Reset last read pointers" link at the top right, then only posts that are new to you will show their time/date stamp in bold characters. Currently, that reset affects the entire forum and not just one thread.

You can further discuss this type of board operation question in our Community Center [webmasterworld.com] forum.


8:05 pm on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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@backdraft7 I think a lot of us will have to do the same thing. I can't continue to take the hit I'm taking in favor of the spam sites. I know their business is through the roof since around 4/28 through our vendors so it is clearly paying huge dividends.

I applaud the effort google made in trying to deliver more precise longtail...but this so far is not a good user experience in many, many cases and I worry just as much about the fact that whatever change they made is rewarding those clearly and willfully violating the webmaster guidelines.


9:39 pm on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

whatever change they made is rewarding those clearly and willfully violating the webmaster guidelines.
Amen to that!


10:14 pm on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Has anyone heard about " snailffeine " and does anyone know where google stands as far as its introduction to the world ?


10:24 pm on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Yes. After the holidays.....


11:57 pm on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I am 100 and 10% certain now that something is broken with Google. I have doubted many members here and thought they were being too subjective. I have recorded data (scrapbook plugin) that I capture the 1st and 2nd page SERPS from time to time. Comparing them to last DEC. Google is doing an awful job especially the past few days.

Here is the evidence that Google is broken. Clearly and I do mean clearly they are trying to do something with the brands. Page 1 is dominated by brands but #1 in the serps is now a site that is clearly gaming the system. This site popped up during the weekend, maybe little before that.

The most dominant brands have a listing on page 1 and a second listing on page 2. Now brands that have a mere mention of a KW in their description are massing on page 3. Another oddity is an old aged parked domain for sale with exact match keyword is on page 2 with no links and no content. This is a competitive niche where the 1st 2 pages were mostly very good quality.

Guys you think we have it bad? In another niche a competitor of mine who is deserving of being #1 has been on page 3 and sometimes 4 for the longest time. This site is without a doubt the best site and I know for a fact that he lost most of his traffic from 300,000+ to 80,000 a month. I know this because his aw stats are exposed /stats.


2:02 am on Jun 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

@sean22, I can tell you the same is going on in our industry. Some of the true blue, honest and hard working national competitors are getting demolished in favor of junk.

Something else that is interesting tonight. In looking at long running adwords campaigns with 3 year histories with no change in anything...since about 4/27-5/3 the impressions are way off versus the last two years. So what I was saying in earlier posts about customers searching for specific and exact 3-6 word products not returning results or returning junk with no adwords....it's clearly happening as the stats show this to be the case.

I wish Google had focused on detecting and stomping out duplicate sites, doorway sites, multiple domain stores and cleaning up Google Base once and for all versus these "new" changes which have really taken a huge step back. I've been an avid web user for 15 years, an active develop for 10+. I've never seen an update this bad that has broken this many basic searches.

The wife put a dent in the car tonight. In searching for that type of repair in this geographical area 70% of the top 10 are directory/marketing/spam sites. I had to go to Bing to find a local shop that does what I want it to do. Google seems to be not understanding that I wasn't looking for another resource listing these services, I wanted the actual services. Otherwise I'd have just gone to the resource run by the national phone company to get the same information. I'll say it again I cannot believe this was the intended result.


2:36 am on Jun 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Here's another oddity to ponder.

I've been monitoring a list of about two dozen phrases for my site for years. Several of them have been #2 or #3 without moving. I looked at those phrases (they're in the same spots), and GWT shows visits from those phrases down anywhere from 45-60% from last year. The pages haven't moved in the SERPS (I've checked multiple datacenters), but the visits are down.

Traffic to my site is about 80% of what it was last year. What I don't understand is how traffic for these particular pages could be down 45-60% when the pages are in the same spots.

BTW, one of the garbage sites I mentioned earlier that had climbed to the number one spot for a phrase not related to my niche has been dropping in rank a bit each day. Today it's gone. Maybe there's a sliver of hope there.


2:48 am on Jun 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

db: that is very interesting. I am seeing similar traffic levels as in previous May's, but the source of the traffic seems not to be targeted for my site, hence my drastic drop in sales conversions. Some of that traffic might also be from hyperactive spiders. I've experienced this before and call it "Zombie" traffic.
If G is resorting the entire dc network, then this could take some time before it settles out. Buckle up!


5:35 am on Jun 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

"Websites with few or no content, not offeing exactly what users were looking for, outrank me."

What appears to be happening is that Google is penalizing SEO'd and highly relevant sites, in favor of sites that are "not quite" what the user was searching for.

This is not the first time Google tried to do this.

Back in 2003, we were likewise all scratching our heads, trying fruitlessly to find the algo change, to make sense out of nonsense.

It wasn't until we started looking at the SERPs from a user perspective, that we finally realized what had happened.

Here's a Tip: If ALL the SERPs are crap, then the problem is NOT with the SEO on your site! The problem is with Google.

"Now brands that have a mere mention of a KW in their description are massing on page 3."

We are seeing the same thing. The importance of Title tags is SEO 101. Even most good web designers know about this. Hell, even GOOGLE advised us to use this - and now having a relevant Title generates a ranking penalty?!

This is the same thing they tried to do back in 2003 - targeting ANY SEO'd site. So the only way you get your business to show-up well in Google, is to buy more AdWords.

In other words - PUT US ALL OUT OF BUSINESS.

"I am seeing similar traffic levels as in previous May's, but the source of the traffic seems not to be targeted for my site, hence my drastic drop in sales conversions."

backdraft7, we also saw this back then - some sites were still getting traffic, but because most of the traffic from Google was not relevant to the site, it generated few actual sales.

I started a thread about these problems, including a detailed analysis of some of the ranking factors for Mayday, here -


Those of you who haven't seen it yet, might want to give it a read - particularly if you care about SEO's future in Google!


7:36 am on Jun 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

Here's a good one, the duplicate of our site that is on our developers server has appeared in search results along with our site, so i guess now one will get knocked due to duplicate content. I would hope the developer would have it setup to not be indexed but have read on here that Gbot is now ignoring that request? We've setup a 301 in the mean time. Our .co.uk site was quiet yesterday but the .com site had a massive spike in traffic!
Edited to add: WMT shows .co.uk has had more pages indexed but the .com site has dropped again! The query data for .co.uk site seems well off but the .com site seems accurate.


8:53 am on Jun 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Seeing a lot of issues with Google picking up 'mirror' sites which it was previously able to deal with but is now massively confused. Cant beleive dupe content is still an issue in 2010.


12:06 pm on Jun 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Since midnight last night I am seeing some positive changes - our Sitelinks (which were not taking the user to the correct page) seem to have been fixed and along with that, three overnight sales. Perhaps the big G bubble sort is finally beginning to bear some fruitful traffic. I'm not holding my breath though, it could go through another couple of down waves.


1:48 pm on Jun 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

@backdraft7 I think it's industry dependent. It's still a disaster this morning for us. What's ironic is how I am even having trouble triggering results that would bring up google, facebook and other sites within google. I figured search the web or internet would put the largest SE in the world at #1, it's down at #5 here now. Similar generic terms like upload share videos returns youtube as expected in the others, youtube is not found in google on page 1. It's all just so odd. It really is like they've deliberately or accidently tried to make the results less relevant.

I'll go back to what I said yesterday. Instead of "this", if they just went through and cleaned up and enforced their policies in product/google base search and continued to filter duplicate/mirror sites they'd have achieved far more than they have now with this unfortunate situation.


2:28 pm on Jun 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

"search engine" is quite a good example to show how bad the serps are at the moment.
i'm seeing dogpile on top, and then bing and altavista(?) above google. i'm even seeing a wikipedia definition page ranking above them.
altavista gets 2 separate entries in the top 10, and so does ask.


2:34 pm on Jun 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

@scottsonline there is a great news article just this second been published on exactly this theme. (I have nothing to do with it)

My latest theory (there have been many these past few weeks!) I wonder whether the algo tweak they have done is an over optimisation algo penalty? Ie sites which appear to be too good to be made by human hand have been given a penalty, it would certainly explain a lot - the naff sites are naff enough to look 'human' so have got up in the listings and in fact it is the well optimised but incredibly useful sites that have been hardest hit using a too good to be true algo.


2:53 pm on Jun 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'll report some bizzare results here:

1. we've lost 30% of our traffic on eCommerce site, and 50% sales (hence traffic we still get is less targeted).

What I see in serps is that #1 spots (and quite often #1 and 2) gets a website which is one of the larger competitors (granted) but uses spammy descriptions everywhere. Every widget on their site is described like that "green widget 12345, green 12345 widget is a great widget for gadgets. gadget widget 12345 can be used both at home and in office. the widget 12345 lasts N years. green widgets are great. if you buy 12345 green widget's replacement gadget, you can look here." etc. These are all bunch of border line spammy synonyms. And that site now gets #1 spot.

2. Our non-commercial web portal has seen no changes in traffic. It has a large number of pages, hundreds of thousands. it'll take more research to see if keyword pattern shifted, and I doubt I'll be looking into this unless its income dramatically falls, which I don't see either.

A side note:
Wikipedia shouldn't really be in top 10 for every search. Just tell everyone to search for "keyword wiki" to get it, don't see a reason for it to be there (besides leaving less free spots and driving more traffic to ads). It is clearly taking a legitimate spot that website #11 could have had. And I commonly find its info to be inaccurate, which is less case with encyclopedias such as Brittanica.

[edited by: aleksl at 2:55 pm (utc) on Jun 8, 2010]


2:53 pm on Jun 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I was one of the first to notice the new changes 4 threads ago. I said it then and I will say it now, Google is clearly broken. Our decade plus authority site has lost 50% of it's longtail traffic to be replaced by junk. Now if it was replaced by comp I could understand. I mean thats just the same ol game.

But sites that look like they took 1 hour to make using a templatemonster 15buck template and database driven crawled/scraped spam.

You know the kind of spam im talking about. You know, those scraped search result pages filled with 2 lines of stolen title tags from every site on the web with 3 adsense ads ATF and 3 ads from other networks below the fold.

Even worse I am seeing sites with obvious purchased backlinks/ 1-2 years old, outdated product info with just horrid designs outrank sites such as cnet, techcrunch yadayadayada.

I see what they did, I saw it 8 weeks ago. I said it then and I will say it again.

Google IS broken.

Maybe in Googles eyes it isnt but to me as both a searcher and webmaster long before G was born I know without a doubt it is just broken.

For the first time in oh 10 years G is no longer my default search provider. I remember a similar scenario with AV ;)


3:17 pm on Jun 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

"Maybe in Googles eyes it isnt but to me as both a searcher and webmaster long before G was born I know without a doubt it is just broken.

For the first time in oh 10 years G is no longer my default search provider. "

Here here to that!


3:24 pm on Jun 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

@drall Thank you for the motivation, i mean that sincerely its is nice to think people still think it is broken (like me). Im getting a bit fed up with coming up with a theory a day just to keep myself sane!

One little tweak I have done today is change all white text on dark css backgrounds to a colour - I dont want google to think I am trying to hide anything!


3:53 pm on Jun 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I wonder how long Google can go on denying they have an issue here? Today's another perfect example I just went searching for a computer part and instead of finding the part I'm finding sites like thefind and a bunch of spam sites that have 401 errors to the content that google shows in the meta description and instead are serving 100% ads! How in the world can this be the "end game" for this update?

Meanwhile Yahoo returns parts for sale as does Bing.


4:03 pm on Jun 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

i'm even seeing a wikipedia definition page ranking above them.

Hehe, now wikipedia gets top 2 spots, Google pushed to Page 3.


4:09 pm on Jun 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I posted this over a month ago, long before matt cutts confirmed anything, seems i was pretty spot on, which is reassuring that my seo knowledge is not half bad. But i still stick by my point, matt says its deliberate, it's not, Google is broken, the results are appalling, i cannot use it for non-webmaster stuff anymore, it's totally unrelevent and at best a junk search engine. You had a good run Google, but seriously, from a non webmaster angle, your search engine is crap, the worst search engine i have used in a decade in it's current state.
Google is broken. For example; I'm planning some travel soon so off comes the webmaster hat and on goes the regular user hat.

Pretty much every search Ive done tonight is bringing up scrapers, hub spam, social networking spam, etc. Complete junk, thin articles, first posts ripped from forums into wordpress outranking the the forum it was ripped from, content ripped from Yahoo answers outranking Yahoo answers. This has been going on a while but i've never seen it this bad.

All of the junk on the first page too. I've lost count how many times this has happened, so many different searches. I never need to go past page 1, now I'm on 4-5-6. This is the worst Ive seen Google, and no this is not from a biased webmaster view, this isnt my niche, this is purely from a normal searchers view. I've spent hours genuinely researching travel tips, destinations and so on and I'm finding utter junk time after time.

Some filters must be missing, my bet is it's the junk sites getting the traffic loss, hopefully this will be sorted soon. I genuinely had the worse user experience I have ever had using a search engine today, in 15 years of using the Internet. I'm well aware of some great sites in this niche, and not one of them showed up today, it's like they all lost authority and the crap has risen up past them.


It's also worth noting this was long tail searches that i was doing, 4 or 5 word stuff. It's bad from where I'm sitting, spammy and also very irrelevant serps. I'm searching for pretty clear stuff and getting results on totally irrelevant topics.

I'm not even clicking on lots of searches as I can see from the titles and snippets it's not anywhere close to what I'm searching for. I'd hedge my bets lots or traffic is also going nowhere, except getting bored and turning on the TV.
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