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Google Updates and SERP Changes - October 2010



8:22 pm on Sep 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

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

There are many different kinds of ranking disruptions being reported right now - dropped domain roots, unexplainable traffic spikes and dips. These things often come right before some kind of algo shift. What do you think - is something brewing?

[edited by: tedster at 12:38 pm (utc) on Oct 1, 2010]


8:07 am on Oct 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

@brinked - I am also noticing different results in FF, Safari, and Chrome.

I've also been intermittently seeing the page preview gui change (http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/101006-090600) on google.co.uk searches.

@RP_Joe Great post. The last big algo change (MayDay) was pre-caffiene. Maybe caffeine changes how they can roll out sweeping updates.


8:44 am on Oct 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

@brinked. (Long time, no see)
Yeah, my entire product team has just noticed they aren't getting remotely similar results.

You can add "clicked a link on an IM program"- never saw that before. Even on the same browser (IE8), with flushed cookies and not logged in, we're not getting matched results.

Possibly prefaces the holiday update as the datacentres de-synch? Wonder if Whitenight is lurking somewhere?

We're discussing an alternative take on variable traffic quality over on another thread [webmasterworld.com], if you're interested.


9:10 am on Oct 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

with flushed cookies and not logged in, we're not getting matched results.

I noticed that a couple of weeks ago too. I also noted that after you have flushed your cookies that it only takes one refresh for google to start showing you what it thinks you want to see again. I think the differing results are due to the fact that I never use IE and when I do I break my "profile" Does this mean that I have a profile based on my location, IP, usual searches I wonder.

I tried it signed in, signed out. Not sure I like loking at what I "like" looking at all the time! I might want to see something new!


9:22 am on Oct 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Shaddows the question is, why would google show different results per the way we are referred to them? New way of split testing perhaps?

I just really hate when google does this because it puts a lot of people who I consult for in panic mode, and they want me to check for penalties. And no matter how many times I tell them to sit back and relax and wait for steady SERP's, they still want me to investigate, which would be great if they were paying me by the hour rather than by the month haha.

and yeah, whitenight should be showing up soon, I think he is much like me, shows up when SERP's are shaken up and an update appears on the verge.


9:34 am on Oct 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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IMHO Google make these shake ups to prevent people making money out of SEO services. The closer that they get to chaos without the searching public noticing any vast differences the better they sleep at night ;-)


9:41 am on Oct 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

why would google show different results per the way we are referred to them? New way of split testing perhaps?

Great question. I have profiling on my mind, so I'm prejudiced into thinking that might have something to do with it.

But more pragmatically, I think Google might have optimised new services for different portals on different DCs. So one group of DCs serve Instant on each of the main browsers, while others will deal with links or browser boxes. These appear to be de-synched which, given I'm confident the Holiday SERPs are about to arrive, seems to spell imminent chaos


11:05 am on Oct 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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without doing extensive research, from what I can see is that in many niches, several sites that are in the top 10 results have dropped anywhere between 3-20 positions.

If I had to guess, it would be that google is discrediting something, whether it be a certain type of link, or a 301 redirect etc, but what they might be discrediting, I have no idea.

Will look into this more.


11:20 am on Oct 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Google are testing / releasing something. Local searches are being mixed in with main SERPs. Images and map pins, reviews and sliding map and then regular SERPs over half way down the page. Is anyone else seeing this. TJ who posts here occasionally just pointed it out to me for hotels in [UK County]. Anyone else seeing it?


11:37 am on Oct 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Jez, there's a thread [webmasterworld.com] devoted to it.


11:39 am on Oct 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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@Jez -yep, looks like a death knell for the IYPs (a lot of whom are 85% + reliant on Google traffic)


1:29 pm on Oct 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

WMT shows a real mess of keywords for us, the indexed pages is the highest it has ever been. Traffic is normal as far as visits go, the fact is they are sending people to us that they shouldn't be, some of the search terms that have people hitting us are a million miles out.


1:31 pm on Oct 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Has Google lost their mind? That map location pushed all the Adwords customers down, nearly beyond the fold. If I want maps, I'll click on MAPS. The whole page is now a mess! This localization concept SUCKS!


3:41 pm on Oct 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

Why am I not surprised to see nothing but foreign junk traffic in our logs! What we sell is UK use ONLY, why would people from countries that I have never heard of want to visit our site? Why does this junk traffic ALWAYS tie in with a useless day sales wise? What IS going on at Google, does anyone know? I don't think I can take another day sat in an office with nothing to do, tracking SERP's seems a waste of time with different results from one minute to the next which change depending on browser-impossible to try & work out what is going on.


5:45 pm on Oct 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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In our niche we have slipped one spot. The company ahead of us just bought a bunch of great links. They keep telling us not to do this but they're like parents that threaten the kids and don't follow through.

Results are all over the place. I'm getting Chinese companies selling knockoffs when I looked for sneakers so not surprising we are all seeing foreign traffic. If I'm on long island getting results from china why not uk?


7:45 pm on Oct 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

@OHNO - what is your "Geographic Target" set to? I'm assuming just the UK. I switched mine back & forth a few times and it is currently set to "none" (unchecked). Been that way for about a month. Traffic levels are higher than last year and steady, sales have again picked up to pretty much normal levels, but every now and then I'll get one dead day which seems to correspond to a new "feature" being tested or released. All in all I can't complain - (another sale came in as I'm writing this). :^D


7:55 pm on Oct 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

.co.uk domain can only target the UK, our .com domain is set to target the UK too. 7 days we have been well below average and it seems to get worse each day :(


7:56 pm on Oct 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

So I get a frantic call from a friend this morning. After getting copies of his logfiles:

Friday his traffic went through the floor. 1-2 days prior every google search visit was followed by a google non bot visit. Quality check?

The visits stopped and Friday their google traffic dropped 70%. I didn't look but he reports a 1 to 2 position drop in SERPS.

That's weird but it backs up Shaddows. They are following user clicks and checking for quality on their own. All visits were within 1 minute of the original search. I don't see it in or logs. I don't know what type of backlinks they have. Just thought it was interesting.


12:42 am on Oct 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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They bounced back later today. About a 6/7 day test. For those of you being tested check your logs, look for google visits that follow other google searches.


2:13 am on Oct 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hey Scott,

The test lasted 6-7 days? Would they have to move sites they want to test up in the search rankings to get a natural reading? Just curious of this being the reason so many white hat good standing sites seem to have been bumped so far back...



2:15 am on Oct 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

To explain the elaborate se manipulation scheme I am seeing in multiple niches right now:

Site abc contracts with linkseller xyz
Linkseller xyz get 7-9 other prominent firms in that niche to join
Linkseller xyz has built up 50+ blogs, full sites, bought some expired domains and moved hosting but out the original files back up. Pages are created on themes. Business of bulk shipping for instance. A site is built up around that with hundreds of quick pages. There are telltale spelling mistakes, but it passes eyeball muster. Most of these sites are listed in dmoz which is a mystery first off. They are in parts that get picked up by the google directory around the world. Instant credibility. Now a lome link comes off the home page back to a series of pages with ten outbound links. They are all related, maybe 1 per 150 words. All of these sites are dominating right now. Google sees these pages, bing doesn't. In those segments the product based SERPS are wildly different. Repeat this 3/10 times per inner category page and you have results that they seem to be unable to filter right now. I'm sure if google could "see" it in action they would quickly see how much it is impacting SERPS. It's one thing to buy expired domains, another to set them up with dmoz links and then use them for spam. With probably 500 pages of content 3/5 pages of links...don't stick out as much.

This was all done in early 2009 but it was just last week where something was flipped and those links passed juice.

Another note the educational traffic is still piling in. So the site from which you get a great link must help in the profile of who they send you


2:21 am on Oct 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

@tshirt fairness. Test a bunch of sites on a bunch of terms, weight for position etc. See who prefers what. Maybe I have a product with a meta description that's so good I'll get good clicks at 4th and help move eyes down a page.

Ultimately google should go to a more modern page layout. Run 4 ads at the top in a 2x2 arrangement. Run 3 organics underneath left to right. When they're all on one line I would bet it would dramatically improve the ctr for spot 2 and 3. Run two more underneath then have spots for images etc. They would increase the number of SERPS above the fold by a few, and adwords above the fold by 2. Win win.

Google should also come right out and make a suggestion. If we are transactional sites we should out the starting price up in the page title. It's probably better for users anyway. Make it a WMGL. It will improve everything across the board.


2:53 pm on Oct 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hi there,

Just wondering if anyone could hopefully feedback on the following (related) issue?

We're a big, well-established website that receives thousands of visitors on a daily basis. On Friday, we noticed our traffic had dropped.

Looking into this more, we found that only a certain section of our site was affected. Simply put, the pages that have new content added to them on a daily basis suffered a drop in rankings. The pages which don't have any new content added to them are still ranking well.

Is it possible that the indexing issue could affect only portions of the site? Or, is everyone else seeing sitewide problems? It's worth noting that we also made some small site changes - changing from a table based layout to CSS. However, content remained the same and these changes were made on the 19th.

Any feedback on the above would be greatly appreciated! If you have any questions, please just let me know.


3:15 pm on Oct 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Matador, If you update this section often, chances to make a mistake are huge. Looks like you made a mistake sectionwide (check the template codes)


3:18 pm on Oct 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I think across the board new content is not ranking well if at all. I'm not sure what I'd causing this and neither is anyone else but the cutoff seems to be content within the last 30-45 days.
IMO I think what's happened is that a google re-evaluation occurred that coincides with a big spike in spidering on a site by site basis. Any content added roughly after that period won't rank well.

The trouble is the sites they are ranking well - in every case I've looked at have tons of spam backlinks but that are AGED. Old junk is better than new good content.

As I said in one niche a friend is in - his company hired an sem from india. They did a huge link building campaign last year. They would take over old domains, out up fronts that would get them listed in dmoz, once those listings were complete they'd go and turn back pages into billboards. Those sites in particular are rocking right now.

I think google had good intentions and they also do have to make assumptions, one of which is that a site in dmoz isn't a spam site but.....

Take a look at your competitors. I bet you find the same thing. The only ones ranking well had hardcore link building in early to mid 2009


3:43 pm on Oct 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I agree with Scott. In my industry (live music ticketing) I've started seeing aggregate tour pages (from affiliates) outranking individual concert pages where there is 100% clear intent that the query is looking for the concert page....


4:09 pm on Oct 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

My traffic is down after having received a boost last friday 10/22. Something has changed , maybe filters off and on


4:31 pm on Oct 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I've been seeing hour long fluctuations since 9am GMT at 2 distinct levels; pre-last Friday and post last Friday.

Thought maybe they were just testing our site, but maybe it's switching for everyone.


4:51 pm on Oct 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

@miozio double-checked and triple checked - as i said, apart from the change from table to css driven layout, nothing has changed. For example, our homepage was changed the same way and homepage traffic has been unaffected. Regular updates to these pages are just an update of data. Overall, every change made to the layout was a positive one in my eyes.

Not only this, I am seeing an unbelievable dance in the rankings, literally every 5 mins something changes.

As i have seen on other threads, perhaps this is a pre-cursor to a wider scale algo shift.


7:15 pm on Oct 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

danimalSK your site dropped last friday 22?

My site dropped and I don't see nothing yet...


8:03 pm on Oct 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Walkman I've been watching a competitors site today that leaves an automated "#*$! visitors are online." his traffic is terrible today, i think US people have to realize we have an election coming up and the holidays.

The shift is ongoing though no doubt about that. We got clicks all day today from people typing in an unrelated business name that isn't even close to ours.

The business month is ending here is some stats:

Brand product xyz converted at an astounding 9.3% thru 8/31
Brand product xyz converted at 1.1% since

There is a week or so of spill over in early September. What google effectively did was steer our best customers to the informational manufacturers site. For particular subsegments of brand product xyz traffic converted at near 50%! I'd say we gave the people what they wanted.

What we have now is shotgun traffic. Tons of hits but not accurate. That stat is all brand product searches not single prods.
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