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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]


6:21 pm on Oct 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

I just got one of those SERTPs with 5 positions from the same domain - BUT position #4 was taken by a "Related Searches" block. Up to now I've only seen that at the bottom.

Can you give an example of a phrase used to see the related search positioning? Just for the sake so I am able to see it. I know at the bottom of the page is usually where u find this, but i haven't been able to do a successful query to get the results u do.


6:30 pm on Oct 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I found that one of the search results for my domain has it occupying the top THREE positions. I am seeing a lot of single domains hogging 3, 4 and as tedster says up to 5 positions. Bizarre! I hope it's not a pre-penalty sign.


7:49 pm on Oct 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

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@max because in many manufacturer reseller relationships the manufacturer does not want the search traffic, calls, etc or they wouldn't have resellers! In this one case they've done everything they can from sloppy pages, dead ends, no related items etc yet google is still ranking them at the top. They're actually considering renaming all pages as a temporary fix...ie so they lose traffic. Theyve done everything they can to not optimize pages so they don't compete with the multi-nationals that sell their stuff yet....they're #1

@backdraft it's happening as part of a display change. The results themselves are the same, they've just decided end users needed fewer choices. Caffeine was said to be about being able to index more content faster...so they could turn around and display fewer options? Odd


8:11 pm on Oct 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I am seeing the images at position #3 and most of the images in our niche are irrelevant like from some primp your wall paper site. Why on earth don't they leave out images or place them at the bottom? If I want images I go to images and search there.


5:13 am on Oct 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I can't be positive but I'm seeing huge shifts tonight. Last time this happened was mayday before that with major dances. On many terms pages from closed stores are ranking in the top five, affiliate sites etc. I haven't seen this in months, looks and feels like a dance/algo change.

Anyone else seeing it in the last hour?


6:31 am on Oct 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

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There seems to be a problem with listing the "repeat the search with the omitted results included" when searching the Link: function. The results do not show the missing results.


8:08 am on Oct 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I don't know what's going on still. The SERPS (that I see from my location anyway) have improved. For the last 3 days I have been at #1 for my main search term. This week I have had less enquiries / orders in 1 week than I used to get in 1 day! Something is way out of whack.

I had a very good week last week and the week before but due only to repeat custom and next to nothing from google.

As time goes on it's not improving as I hoped it would but actually getting worse IMO.


3:38 pm on Oct 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Where I had seen many brands getting top 3 spots for brand search terms I'm now seeing non brand, generic terms returning 3 results for a site with that exact phrase in their domain (i.e. best shiny widgets returns bestshinywidgets.com 1,2 &3) ... Really silly move on google's part.


3:43 pm on Oct 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

This week has been terrible, in our case not helped by some payment gateway issues but traffic today is down 50%. The decline started last Thursday for us. We are in mid October, they really need to get some stability of Christams will be a write off at this rate.


4:32 pm on Oct 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

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@ohno terrible here too.

I will say this adwords impressions are down 20-25% too so I wonder if this is a bump in the economy. I believe several states had Monday as a holiday and i wonder if a lot of people are on vacation.

I'm still seeing brand new sites that are templates ranking high which has only ever happened around updates. Something is changing.

I really don't like the triple header results. I'm not sure what they are trying to accomplish.

Likewise I do see any keyword + brand will rank #1. Also a neat trick put the copyright symbol with the brand at the bottom of the page (if you may legally do so) and watch what happens.


4:52 pm on Oct 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

@Scotts - I use the TM and R (trademark / registered trademark) symbol in my Adwords ads and all over my site since I do hold a USPTO registered trademark. I can't say it helps or hinders. Mornings have been OK, but then the switch seems to shut off until evening, then it's still a crap shoot. Conversions are much better than last month, so I can't complain, but it does seem to be going downhill with the latest SERP arrangement.


6:30 pm on Oct 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Since we are not into ecommerce we know little of the effects being raised by G favoring manufacturers.

But a real world example.

For the past couple of days been I have researching a certain brand of a musical instrument. I am about 95% sure of the brand and model of what I will be buying as a gift. Price range $400. - $900.

I have been hitting all the phrases "best widget" "widget reviews" "most economical place to buy widget" "buy widget city name" "independent widget review".

They all loop around and give me basically the same results with the manufacturer at the top and additional URLs from the manufacturer in the second and third positions and of course the inevitable Wikipedia that follows me around like a curse which I DO NOT WANT.

I want independent opinions, reviews, user experiences and where to buy the darned widget in (for this particular instrument) a brick and mortar shop so I send my buyer to inspect it, test it, pay for it, get the warranty, pick it up and bring it to my country.

Doubt the manufacturer will give me the independent information I am looking for on their official site.

Thus I have to go for the number 5 and lower positions which are giving me what I as a prospective buyer is looking for.

I guess it is a dilemma for G how to rank these search queries or maybe I need to better refine my search queries like exclude "manufacturer" or "official site".


7:53 pm on Oct 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I'll go back to the idea an update is rolling out. We have been outranked at times today by our own facebook and twitter pages. Typical shuffle where it ends nobody knows


11:22 pm on Oct 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I don't pay near the attention to SEO as I used to a decade ago, but I still pay some, and for the last year or so G has seemed to spend a week of each month in flux before settling out again. Traffic jumps all over the map and then calms down.

October is generally a terrible month for my retail site, so I've been paying a little more attention. Today I saw two things I thought were strange.

First, I was checking out the keywords that G thinks are relevant to the site (webmaster tools) and couldn't find a word I thought should be there. I finally downloaded the report and found the word was considered a variant of the 11th word on the list.

The strange part is that the listed word only appears once on the entire site, while the variant appears nearly 300 times on a bunch of pages.

The next strange thing I noticed was multiple results from the same domain (already reported in this thread). I'm not seeing it on every search, but I did see it when trying to compare results for the two keyword variants I mentioned above (non-branded generic phrases). Google actually suggests the hidden variant on searches for phrases including the word they listed as the main word...

I don't get it, but life doesn't revolve around Google. Overall sales are up from last October, and in this economy any growth is good growth.

As an aside, I hate having results flash in the background as I type. Glad I switched to Bing a while back.


10:38 pm on Oct 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Shakeout in the rankings continue. I can't list specific searches but in trying to find seo material from last week...it's gone replaced by stuff dated from 2004-2006. Really weird. There's a geographic component to this as well.

But, very clearly for every branded product I'm looking for you want to have than name in the domain.


6:14 am on Oct 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Continuing to see significant changes this evening. In tracking keywords the findings are:

Either a spam type filter is off during the change, the filter has changed or algo detection has changed. For a lot of key terms in our niche a long term competitor is vanishing. The replacement are the two biggest spammers in the business. Analyzing their sites I find sometimes 15 blogger blogs pointing to every category and subcategory pages on their sites. One went from 10k links to 1.7 million. They rank first in almost every term tonight. Both companies have over a million links most gotten in the last six to ten months.

I think it's just a volume thing. The shear number of links tips the scales. This is bad news for a lot of us if they don't tweak it again. It won't take long for people to figure out it's the wild west again niche by niche. I'm hoping we are seeing the normal shakeout process around an update as there are still way too many amazon pages and closed store SERPS showing up so maybe it's going to change.

Also I think I'm seeing how some are reporting SERPS not being different but visits going down but want to check further.

If you're traffic is fluctuating take a two week look at the missing keywords and I'll bet you see some spammy sites with bulk links at the top.


10:41 pm on Oct 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

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We see the same in our niche. What you described has been prevalent for a while now but at the moment it is quite extreme.

We are seeing sites with thousands of off-topic links (blog spam, paid for links)outranking sites like ours that have been occupying top spots for years now.

What we are also seeing are sites with the keyword in the URL and relatively few links (and mostly new links) occupying unusually high positions. It's almost as if google is accidentally ranking sites with generic keywords in the root domain as if it is a brand.

Crap seems to rule at the moment but on the other hand what's changed?


1:47 am on Oct 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

It's terrible and depressing at the same time. Our traffic today was sawtooth clearly with some testing going on. Here are some notes on new and old links:

Keyword text in the URL doesnt matter today. The top two sites use random number and letters in the URL. Exact matches for products are being penalized.

Links to inner pages - 10-15 spammy unrelated links will result in a page outranking another page with 2-3 high ranking authority links.

"others may like" type of product references of similar items on your inner pages hurt you right now. I think this is related to the anti optimization movement. If you rightfully put 3-5 products with the same brand and line name your page will rank poorly. One or two of our competitors that use dhtml sliders that greatly increased the user experience got obliterated starting thursday.

Thin pages are better. Use synonyms in the description. Move a lot of your shopping parameters behind a login page. The sites clobbering the rest of us had nothing but basics on landing pages...very light with a high text to code.

They've devalued text links from respected sites but they have not devalued 1000 spam links back to single pages enough to keep it from causing great rankings to those pages which is then passed contextually to other pages


3:55 am on Oct 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I don't see it with trusted sites and long tail traffic. Business as usual. Go for long tails, rank checking for 1-2 word terms is a waste of time.

Robert Charlton

7:24 am on Oct 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

Thin pages are better. Use synonyms in the description. Move a lot of your shopping parameters behind a login page. The sites clobbering the rest of us had nothing but basics on landing pages...very light with a high text to code.

scottsonline - Are you talking about just this current "update"? I ask because this is exactly the opposite of what I've been seeing over past months, where thin, light pages haven't done that well.

There are of course sites that go too far the other way... with ridiculously overwritten copy, targeting every conceivable synonym, and also sites with a great many 'other product' references that may in fact be random as opposed to being relevant suggestions. Google would of course want to go after these.

It's hard to calibrate your comments in reference to these extremes. Again, I'm not seeing what you're seeing, so I can only conjecture.


12:34 pm on Oct 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Robert it was exactly the opposite in our niche too until a week or so ago. The large multination firm that did not buy junk links (1000s of forum/blog links etc) ranked 1-3 near us and another firm. We envied their similar products mechanism as it was remarkable. They are gone from the top 10.

The page that has replaced them is another big outfit. But they have links everywhere on crap sites, and some pages have 5-10k addjrheyehe.com/dfhrndnd type links to them. They dont list similar items, they don't list much of anything it's all hidden behind the add to cart button which requires a login. They put the product name on the page once, the URL is random numbers, etc. Total anti-product and it's first.
The key is the cheap backlinks and heavy text to code ratio.

Seopti this is all long tail. If they have the product on their site on a page with all the backlinks from garbage sites they rank first in any combination of keywords for that title. They're beating giant competitors that are as trusted as they get.

The only common theme with the other competitor that popped from 4-8 to 1-3 is the mashup/terrible links. Google should be able to differentiate between 273 sites pointing to one domain 5 times a day for 5 months and never referring to the same category page.

The other key is age. These links were Jan to June and are having an effect now.

This is all since about early last week. It's an algo change or data rollout. It's interesting in one sense that this company anticipated the change and is managing to scam google in an in your face type move with the mashup site links. They've full out proven it does pay.


2:35 pm on Oct 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Update....theyre tinkering. Some terms are returning to near normal.


3:04 pm on Oct 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Not posted in a while so though I would get back in with my 2p worth.

I was one of the people who was badly affected by mayday loosing around 90% of traffic overnight. Well several months have passed and im happy (ish) to at least say things are stable, at a new much reduced level which isnít great but at least I know what I am dealing with and have a base figure.

The one thing I can say is OMG what a mess! Google has rolled out so many 'updates' over the last 6 months im struggling to keep up. Apart from the fact that the results are a complete mess, to the point where I am now consciously thinking whether I really want to do a search every time I need to because the chances are I wont find what I need - I have never seen results this bad - I have spent around 12 work hours a day in front of a computer for the past 7 years and I am completely baffled by some of the junk that is being uncovered and returned in the top ten.

Just to wind me up some more they roll out an 'update' where the same junk site has all ten top positions - how can this possibly be useful!

Then to add further insult after scrolling through the results I cant then alter my search in the bottom search box I have to scroll all the way back up again - how fustrating!

And dont get me started on this instant search rubbish, apart from it being distracting while typing it will sometimes work but sometimes need 'enter' pressing (note Im guessing this is to dip into the supplemental index - a clue when doing seo) The worst thing is the fraction of a second it takes to update - by which time I have finished tying (and pressed enter) and have my hand on the mouse ready to click one of the results then everything disappears as it hasnít kept up and I have to go back to the keyboard to press enter again or faf about clicking on the search.

The whole thing strikes me of a new technology (caffine) that they cant stop messing with and changing things just because they can. It will settle down eventually once they find a new toy, like a small child, and it will become a useful business tool once more but at the minute it is a complete mess and mismatch of half thought through ideas.

In terms of rankings/pages listed we are continuing to scratch our heads - we have worked tirelessly for months now and nothing has changed for the better or worse. We have even run a test completely changing the content of a known ranked page and it had no impact, the page still ranked well even though the content was now completely irrelevant - I feel another mayday update could be around the corner, a massive update is needed to the entire index in my view.


3:22 pm on Oct 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

The biggest problem I have with all of this is I was a disciple of Matt Cutts. We didn't buy junk links, we didn't spam directories, we always come up clean as white hat with every tool. We followed the WMT guidelines and listened to the credo that we should build natural links.

Slowly we've gotten squashed this year by those violating every rule and buying every link they can find. That stinks. Caffeine is easily manipulated with rapid link building. It's bringing in so much new data and links smart companies built millions of links early this year and they aren't being penalized because google cannot tell the difference between 800k rapidly bought links vs links it's discovering because of caffeine. Ie, it's detecting so much more it can't separate the wheat from the chaff.

I think this isthe single biggest reason we are all seeing so much junk. For six days a closed store that was hacked ranked in the top 4 for an entire product brand. As you said, how the heck?

It's one thing for google to tell us not to do things. It's another to tell us don't do these things and then reward those that do those exact things


5:05 pm on Oct 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Andylew, that's a perfect summary of instant search.


6:57 pm on Oct 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

From my selfish point of view as a website owner, it's a disaster. I've been in the #2 or #3 spot for many phrases, and am now #5 or #6 for those. Phrases for which I've always been on the first page are now on page three, with results ahead of me that are extremely poor quality.

Purely as a user, it sucks. I've been trying to research a piece of equipment the last few days, and using Google is difficult. Sometimes the "we're going to think for you" system gives me just three results, with no arrows for a second page. I have to start over with a different phrase.

I'm hoping the general public will be dissatisfied and try Bing. If not, and if they accept the poorer quality Google (as they have accepted lesser quality consumer goods), then I really don't know what to do.


9:17 pm on Oct 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Today it was even worse. I can't find anything. A week ago I almost bought an expensive jacket but put it off. All 5 stores that were at the top are gone with amazon taking the top then a spam blog with affiliate links to amazon. Every page ranked has affiliate links to amazon? Wth is going on?

I was searching my buddies niche and there are 10-20% of each first page results are defunct stores. Some closed in may per the wayback machine.


10:28 pm on Oct 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

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For one of our clients who occupies a very specific niche in computer hardware, I am seeing him occupy the first five listings in the 1st page of SERPs. 5 individual listings, 5 different URLs on the same site.
Specifically on 4 word terms
This new behavior for me- is anyone else seeing this?


11:28 pm on Oct 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

Kristos - see Google To Show More Results From a Domain [webmasterworld.com]. Sounds like an extension of that change.


11:43 pm on Oct 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

thanks tedster! i will.
with another client i had a single paragraph of perhaps 150 words (out of a 700 word page)that would rotate with each reload, just giving return visitors a little more information. 3 different paragraphs, all contextual to the product and was seeing a daily change in rankings from #53, then #44 then #2.
I waited till it was #2 again and changed the rotating text to THAT Ranking #2 static paragraph .
now stable/unmoving at #2

Rotating text used to be worthwhile, but in this age of google caffeine and the rumors that google is trying to incorporate Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA)
they are just too fast for their britches!
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