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Google Updates and SERP Changes - September 2010



11:06 am on Aug 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

For the last 10 days or so I am not seeing any "fresh bump". It's almost like the days of old where sites just stick in their current positions. This is radically different from what I have been seeing for 2 years and across many sites.

[edited by: tedster at 3:26 pm (utc) on Sep 1, 2010]


5:29 pm on Aug 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month


Since Mayday Google has now chopped 60% of our traffic and all of our competitors look the exact same way.

So who IS getting a boost in the SERPs / traffic if you and your competitors are taking a hit? Is it the spam / mashup sites you alluded to?


7:23 am on Sep 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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For the last 10 days my traffic is climbing by 5% everyday.


2:03 pm on Sep 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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< moved from another location >

About a week or two ago GG serps changed for my site - similar event happened last year. I think GG considers my site an academic resource and is elevating me for the academic season.

Trafic is up and so is GG earnings.

Anybody have thoughts on this?

[edited by: tedster at 3:31 pm (utc) on Sep 1, 2010]


2:25 pm on Sep 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

Absolutely yes, certain query terms are tagged to change the way the results work with the seasons. Others with the day of the week or even the hour of the day. It is also mentioned in one of the patents - I'll see if I can dig it up.

In fact, many recent ranking and traffic changes could be due to Google switching to "academic season" - and there are other season factors besides school that are involved with this time of year.


3:31 am on Sep 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

We have several current threads here mentioning that the old "tried and true" on-page SEO methods for Google don't seem to be working the way they used to - for example:

Updating Question - no ranking movement despite on-page changes [webmasterworld.com]
Exact Long Tail Phrases in the Title are Not Ranking Well [webmasterworld.com]

There's a scholarly document available from Penn State that describes a potential type of analysis that may be at work - Hidden Topic Markov Models, or Latent Dirichlet Analysis. Yes, the math is a bit intense but it's worth a scan for anyone with an appetite for understanding the kind of tech that may be folded into the Google algorithm these days.

Here's a URL for the PDF file, a paper from Amit Gruber, Michal Rosen-Zvi and Yair Weiss:


Yes, some pages are ranking well today with only related vocabulary rather than directly plugging in the search term keywords. And other pages rank better when the related keywords are added. It's a mysterious effect for anyone who is used to a more literal type of search result, whether this is the exact math being used or not.


11:27 am on Sep 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Since late May/ early June I have seen monumental changes in the SERPs with URLs appearing that have a number of low quality sitewide links, but include the URL name in the anchor text - which is keyword rich. So, in over 100 examples (for a extremely competitive term) that I have investigated the factors are the same:

- Massive improvement in Google SERPs for keyword rich URLs
- Under 500 external links
- Keyword rich anchor text
- Do not generally perform well for multiple search terms
- Domain age is under 1 year (some went live in May/June)
- Keyword rich internal anchor text that hinders usability

I've taken this from another thread that I started but I think it is relevant for what I am seeing now. I'm putting together a Matrix diagram to analyse these factors against a number of URLs who were there pre-May and post-May.

Problem is that any buffoon could setup a website like this and spam blog comments (trust me that is a lot of the link equity) - so why is this happening? Surely this is a massive backwards step? Welcome to 1998.

Robert Charlton

6:50 pm on Sep 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Seoering - Just for reference, here's the link to your other thread... [webmasterworld.com...]

The sites you mentioned there are social video upload sites. Can I assume that all of the sites you're describing above are similar in that respect?

I ask because I've been hearing a number of reports that some video upload sites are doing extremely well on competitive keywords. I'm beginning to believe that this has to do with a social component in the algorithm, also hinted at by drall in this discussion...

Mayday-style long-tail update happening again?
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4193036.htm [webmasterworld.com]

I'm not clear whether this is due to time on sites and return visits, and/or whether there's a "branding" effect.

I've recently been seeing "branding" effects showing up in unexpected ways... and, if nothing else, keyword-rich social domains are brands and are discussed on the web beyond the inbound links they're receiving. It's likely, of course, that they receive a lot of buzz, as there are online communities involved with them.

I'm curious to hear what you come up with about timing of when these domains started rising. At the moment, I'm straining to connect the dots, or at least to establish whether there is a connection.


8:17 am on Sep 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

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@Robert Charlton

These are pirate movie websites as apposed to your YouTubes and Metacafes. So all of the content on these websites are illegal - which is great link bait for a seventeen year old locked away in his bedroom watching illegal material! But I guess Google doesn't really publicize that type of link bait.

One thing i've noticed early on in this study is the percentage breakdown against the keyword within the anchor text as opposed to the brand being included. One domain has around 200 links with ALL the same anchor text and this domain only ranks for this term. Most of the other test subjects are above 95% keyword specific rather than brand - but then again as all of these domains contain the keyword term, it isn't won't make much of a difference.

Some of these domains have only been registered in the past year (with one at the start of June!), so I doubt there is enough time to build up a respectable brand name. I can send you some date over PM if you like (regarding the rise of these URLs)?


5:27 am on Sep 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

Notes from another thread [webmasterworld.com] that might be worth longer term tracking here:

drall: Google recrawled our entire site and reweighed it through a completely different system that takes social networking aspects into account more. It's as if they are looking at the site through a different engine now.

Also interesting is that although overall visit count dropped our overall pageviews have doubled. So perhaps we are seeing the bleeding edge of something very big and very new? Less traffic but much more on target leading to better usage of our site?

Also pages with any social networking usage have a much greater % of recently updated caches even if the social networking activity is quite stale.

Tallon: I'm seeing something similar too. A smaller site of mine is increasing in both visitors and pageviews (before a visitor would view just over 1 page, now they're visiting 3 on average). I noticed that trend starting in June, getting stronger in July and then WHAMMO! August saw double the amount of pageviews this site typically saw in the months/years previous (pageviews per visitor). No changes to site at all during this time


5:31 am on Sep 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

And then there's this gem from a different thread [webmasterworld.com]:

steveb: What has changed is (amazingly) some words not in a query are now valued just as much as words that are in the query (!). And the importance of page title itself is less important overall. (It still is very important, but where it might be worth 114 points a few months ago it is worth 93 points now.)

So it's a bad idea to change your titles randomly, because tweaking a title can't help you with either of the above things. That is especially true in regards to the second factor.

In essence, Google's choices have been to move away from relevance... and the more precise a searcher searches, the further away from relevance Google gets. A webmaster can respond to this by making their pages more stupid (on a page about someone named Marie sometimes use "Mary" and "Mariah" instead), or just make pages that are not stupid and assume you'll still rank decently in 2010's Google-the-in-exact while also ranking just fine in the future when Google finally gets over its stubbornness and realize this change is a really and truly stupid one.


6:51 am on Sep 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

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It's getting a bit comical. Today I tried searching for:

organic wiggly green widgets

To get relevant results, I eventually had to do:

"organic" "wiggly green" widgets -wadgets -wodgets -wiggles

Admittedly, there weren't many relevant results, but Bing came up with one using the original search on page 1 - a result that I never saw on any Google Search.


7:48 am on Sep 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

Here are a couple other recent SERP changes I think we should make record of in this thread:

SERPs Peppered with Local Results - for non local queries [webmasterworld.com]

Google To Show More Results From a Domain [webmasterworld.com]

The last couple weeks have really been volatile.


9:36 pm on Sep 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

My traffic goes up and down depending on when school is in session and I assume it's due to a lot of students doing research. It went down after Mayday and now coming back up so I don't think it was due to Mayday effects - just seasonal.


3:55 pm on Sep 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Iím just seeing the opposite. My traffic went down hard just in a couple of days since the first of September and I didnít change much that could have caused this.

I also noticed that the traffic for one of my section which is more focused on brands got hit the hardest (- 20%).


7:57 pm on Sep 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

Mfishy - have you done something to a site of yours which you would expect to cause ranking changes - and no ranking changes have happened?

Im stuck solid for 2 months around now.


9:46 pm on Sep 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

for the last 2 days, site: operator filtered to 24 hours is showing ZERO results for many of the major sites?

what are you guys observing?


12:33 am on Sep 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I am still seeing results for the site: operator. If you are seeing this, it could be an indicator of a pagerank update. They are long overdue, and I still see lots of sites that are making big money selling links on their artificially inflated purchased pagerank sites.


2:18 pm on Sep 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I think pagerank is officially dead as its taking google ages to roll out changes.

Results in September have been mixed. Up until they rolled out instant we were doing very well, traffic went off the cliff today.


2:52 pm on Sep 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

@ Scottsonline-yep traffic gone off the cliff today here too (well, strated about late afternoon yesterday. Up until then we were back to pre May Day. Just whne you think things are back to normal G brings you back down.


10:59 pm on Sep 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

today traffic and adsense revenue dont look encouraging... pitch darkness all around


10:03 am on Sep 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Well it looks like instant has killed us again. I've gota say I'm sick of Google this year, ever since May Day it has been up & down (last few weeks we had just got back to pre May day). I've just watched that Google video and it's made me even more angry, I've come to the conclusion they are on a mission to ruin small business, fill their pockets and nothing more. I've done some personal searches this morning & the screen made my eyes hurt, adwords all down the right hand side, big pictures at the top with alternative products, sponsored links at the top & total mess organic results. I gave up, & TBH, I'm getting close to giving up after 9 years of business too.


10:32 am on Sep 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

this sudden drop in traffic is attributed to instant?


12:54 pm on Sep 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

If it isn't then it's coincidence of the decade. May Day-DEAD, just about recovered over the past 4-5 weeks. Instant gets switched on-DEAD. At the moment actually worse than May Day, I also see loads of junk foreign traffic. Oh the joy.


12:55 pm on Sep 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

I should add, either that or they made other changes at the same time, struggling to see why instant would result in lots of foreign traffic.....


2:27 pm on Sep 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

We went to almost no sales as soon as instant went live yesterday on the east coast. It's infuriating because our conversion rate is something like 2.5x that of our competitors (we know this from trade meetings/shows) so we obviously give users what they want. Even the google benchmark service shows our bounce rate is way lower etc.

I think Google needs to stop trying to divine what people want. Leave this feature off, let people choose it if they want to. If we were talking traffic here it would be one thing, we're talking conversions which tells me smart consumers liked our site and are nw being directed elsewhere.

Talking to one of our major suppliers this am, sales inexplicably dropped yesterday for them after a month of steady gains and it impacted the much larger online players. So its not a matter of customers not finding us, they're not finding anything.

I just searched a medical term on Google and found 4 out of 10 results were medical-condition-fixes dot something which redirect me to generic drug sites overseas. Fix THOSE problems first, worry about user intent first.

I really feel Google is taking the cheap way out. Instead of allocating the resources to catch the scammers and cheats which would cost money they use algorithms to monkey up the system in half baked attempts to "fix" these types of problems. There's no free ride, if you want to run a good search engine you need to take out the trash every so often.

I've never seen so much garbage in the google results as I do now.


2:37 pm on Sep 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

@ scottsonline

I know it's hard here but can you give me a generic (somehow) example of how instant has diverted your traffic? I don't see it affecting my traffic. My traffic was affected last week so not down to instant.


2:54 pm on Sep 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Well we lost 25k google unique visits yesterday and can safely say its not because of instant our rankings on 1000s taken a massive drop! Anyone else had this?


3:33 pm on Sep 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Forgive me if someone has asked this question already (I do try and read all the posts but I do miss some stuff) how many people have noticed a significant improvement in Google SERPs lately?

We launched a revamped version of our website at the beginning of June. Mainly a cosmetic make over due to the 1000's of pages of content and apart for adding new pages of content there isn't a lot I can do to update the current pages. They say what they need to say, and that is never going to really change.

It looked like we were taking a hard hit but I flagged up that historically the website has always lost traffic during the summer school break. Traffic is now recovering but compared to last year we're still losing around 20% with no obvious benefits in other areas pages views etc.

Due to the nature of the business I work for the launch of Google Translate has hit our website really hard, but as if that wasn't enough to deal with our SERPsare now up and down like a tartís knickers!

I've been keeping a log of every little change I make, even changing an image or the wording in an alt tag to see if I can spot any patterns; so far, no banana!


3:51 pm on Sep 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google's changes are forcing every single person to buy adwords.

Not everyone, definitely not me.

As a generalisation, for those who have been "affected", are these relatively new sites or have any good quality, well-established authority sites been hit as well?

Personally I've seen no change whatsoever in my genre...so far!
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