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Google Updates and SERP Changes - November 2010



5:50 am on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

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

Here is alexa's take on the the oct 21-22 debacle..they do see a significant shift...


but wait, there seems to be one more tweak that happened this friday, oct 29. This could either be a reversal or yet another tweak...google is enjoying the tweak game and one thing for sure, they are trying to achieve something for themselves via the tweaks...

[edited by: tedster at 2:18 pm (utc) on Nov 1, 2010]


10:24 am on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

We are basically seeing a lot more traffic to our index page (however this traffic is worse than normal). Both the category and product pages have taken a real bashing. Goodbye long tail keywords...


10:33 am on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

CONFIRMED: Google is completely screwed up.

That session id? Well guess what just happened, I clicked on the site (its an ecommerce site btw) browsed around, went to the checkout page and guess what!?!? Someones freaking name, address AND credit card info were all filled out already. The credit card number was starred out except the last 4 digits but how freaking serious is this? I cant believe this just happened...im like jumping off my seat right now.

I did this test because I remember about 6 years ago I used to do ecommerce development and one of my clients had a similar issue..it was because she was pasting URL's on her homepage banners with the session ID attached and it caused other peoples sessions to get in the mix.

reporting this to google right away, bet I wont even get a response.

what troubles me though however is this session id is likely from googlebots session, and I doubt googlebot is purchasing stuff on websites these days, so this might be a site error that google is revealing.


11:07 am on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

The session id is interesting, in theory this shouldnt happen because google wouldnt autofill the details - would it!? Sounds like a combination of the session being picked up in a link and bad coding resulting in the session not being recreated because of its age.

My interesting development for the morning, just been working though the mountain of keywords from google referals, around 80% of referals over the past 4 hours have all had cache dates of 28th oct (possibly when they fixed the indexing issue?) the other 20% had cache dates between the 9th and 11th september - nothing in between. Are these done on a batch system or is it an indication that whatever they have fixed has resulted in our pages getting back into the index although a complete recrawl will be neccesary to find them all again?

It seems like the bots have been taking in all the information but for whatever reason further along the line nothing is being done with it until whatever was changed on the 28th? We are seeing our site:domain numbers increase for the first time since mayday (they have been sutck at the same number since then)


11:21 am on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Just to add to what I said, picking a random sample of keywords where we feature on page one and some where we apear elsewhere.

When we feature on page one the cache date is the 28th oct, all the other pages back to page 3 have similar cache dates, from 27-29th.

When we feature on page 4+ we have cache dates of early september/late august. These are pages which have definately been crawled since then (it takes around 2 weeks to crawl the entire site) so this question is whether this is just 'normal' or whether a complete reindex has just started to happen now that the 'fix' has been implemented and we will have to wait for pages to be respidered?

Or am i just trying to make something out of nothing?


11:26 am on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I see some slight dips and fluctuation but nothing too crazy (on my biggest site) and I'm still seeing a healthy growth when comparing month-2010 vs month-2009 (for older posts, still nothing much happening on new posts--fall 2009 till now). Because of Halloween and the U.S. election on Tues. I haven't been getting excited.

Analytics has been crapping out on and off the past couple days. Feedburner service has been burping for a few weeks (delivery issues to some subscribers, some new signups aren't getting emails, the same pathetic experience as per usual with the same pathetic Google support...but wait!...there's a cool new feature that the cool kids rolled out on Feedburner so everything's cool beans I guess).

As a searcher though I see things are getting pretty gnarly this past week. I just came across a result in the top 10 that was one of those nonsense-name-domain.c0m/342b dealies with the serps descriptions clearly showing computer generated content (with sex words tossed in for good measure). I'm not clicking that link to see more, lol. It's #7 for a decent...very mainstream keyword phrase (I see about 20k visitors a month from google for this, I'm #1) and I've been watching a few sites trying to crack into the top 10 with no luck. Two minutes later and a quick looky look, backlinks to this ? site are guestbooks, forums, a lot of .cn, .kr and other international sites (maybe some hacked). I'm not clicking around to find out more.

The problem: this isn't the first time I've come across this in the serps this week. There really is plenty of garbage floating to the top for some reason. I don't mean so-so sites, I mean GARBAGE that no one could justify being in the top 100,000.

Wen Jiabao have mercy!

This truly isn't sour grapes (because I'm not feeling stress over the google traffic at all)...but I've pulled the plug on Google a few times the past couple days and moved over to Bing to search. I just don't have time for nonsense when I'm searching/researching and it's become tiresome to use google lately. Actually, between their search engine, analytics, and feedburner, google's become tiresome overall. They just don't shine anymore.


12:09 pm on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

Our indexed pages are going up, as above they had previously been stuck at the same level for months. Number of links looks normal though-not the massive spikes like some have seen. GA data shows "traffic" around normal but the high bounce rate & single page views suggest this is junk traffic for whatever reason. Personal searches lately show an index that is in a right mess IMO. Google what have you done?!


1:32 pm on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

My logs are still showing the gorg sending junk traffic. My domain is USAkeyword.com and the last 6 visitors came from... google.fr, google.cm, google.it, google.co.uk, google.bg, google.com.ph

Looks like they still need to tweek things... so much for local.


1:45 pm on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Wow they're indexing sessions on our site too even though they're blocked. What in the world is going on?

Started 10/18. For some reason on our site google picked up a second homepage with a parameter not possible as we run on a different os. It got indexed a few days before all the trouble started.

I'm also noting pages after about 10/28 seem better.

Btw all our links that dropped have php backlinks from foreign sites. So it seems it's possible to have links from bad places hurt.


5:24 pm on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Viewing stats, my traffic yesterday from organic search was basically the same compared to the previous Wed. Mon and Tues was down but that was due to the day after Halloween and the elections.


5:43 pm on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Brinked I'm seeing this for my website too minus the session ID's. If my main URL use to rank for that keyword now a page of my website ranks there.

I have actually seen this test before about 6-7 months ago. I started seeing this again on the 27th of October.

Use to rank: widgets.com/
Now ranks: widgets.com/keyword-of-term

A lot of weird stuff is happening in the SERP's I monitor. Google is ranking pages of a website instead of the actual domain. For example if www.widgets.com was ranking for widgets, google is replacing that SERP with www.widgets.com/widgets

But then it will remove it...like it is doing some testing.

What is weird recently is I am seeing the most authority site in this niche now rank with the URL widgets.com/?PHPSESSIONID=asdasda34324

Now this is really alarming, why would google rank a site like this with a session id attached? This tells me that there is something wrong on googles side and I really hope they fix it soon.


5:51 pm on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

A slight return to normal today, traffic good, sales on the hour, knock on wood. I'm not holding my breath though...


6:08 pm on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

It's slower here today by some margin but that's not abnormal.

I think whatever happened between 10/19 and 10/29 had a lot to do with these weird urls and as a result the SERPS went crazy.

Now that many of us have adressed the canonical issues which will print the session data from indexing how long before it helps?


6:55 pm on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

The fact that Google is trying to lift click throughs for the first pay per click results by placing an arrow image next to it must be affecting traffic for sites listed bellow this. When I added an image like this to my ads on one of my sites, click throughs went up by 100%

From Google AdSense Program Policies to all publishers of ads:

"Encouraging Clicks
Publishers may not place images next to individual ads to encourage increase in click throughs."

Yet Google go and do the exact opposite by placing an arrow image to encourage click throughs.

Don't you just love Google?


7:09 pm on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I double clicked enter by accident while Google instant was active and accidentally went to a paid advertisers website. Wonder how many #1 positions are affected by this alone.


7:13 pm on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

You know that blue arrow moves, right? It's a keyboard navigation aid.


7:24 pm on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I'm aware its a aid. However, Mal_Jones has a point. It brings your eye focus to the little blue arrow increasing the chance you will click that spot or by just hitting enter again u automatically go to a paid advertisers website.

I mean the avg. user may not know what the blue arrow is for and may think, "A little blue arrow, Google must recommend this site". Who knows.


7:25 pm on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

Tedster you may know its a navigation aid but it has no purpose other than to draw the average surfer to click on the first PPC result IMO. After all , you have to hover over it before you magically understand you can move it. I have to ask why the heck would you want to move it for in the first place?


7:38 pm on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

Just called an average user to my pc to make a search in google (the Mrs - she who must be obeyed) Did the search and she clicked on the result that had the arrow next to it. I asked why she clicked on that one to which she replied " Its the one that stood out to me more" I then asked her "do you know what that arrow is for" Nope but it makes that result stand out.


7:47 pm on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

At any rate - here is our thread discussing the "blue arrow": [webmasterworld.com...]


9:36 pm on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

LOL, yeah the queen is the queen. but look at this behavioral research Mal just did in five minutes...
My wife of many many years would be a good subject too.
I might try this and see what happens


9:57 pm on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Ironically mal jones test group was the same size as the one goolge used for a lot of these changes this year ;)

We seem to be among those that lost all traffic to deep pages. All of our new content if it gets listed at all ends up at slot 5 or 6. This is great because we put up tons of new and unreleased products just before google decided to do this new product rank thing.

I don't really know what's going on, but even with the traffic increase our multi million dollar business with 30+ employees will be laying people off in a month. We played in the rules the entire time, had good consistent traffic and suddenly we got a ton more non converting traffic. The bosses always had contingencies for 30% drops, but when sales stop entirely on 10/29, it's scary. I know for a fact it's sent ripples through our tiny 40 billion dollar industry and it shows the power of google. We are small potatoes but x 1,000 our collective dropoffs the last week of October have multi billion dollar suppliers worrying the holiday buying isn't coming.

When people talk about oil being a matter of national security, googles dominance isn't far behind. A few big mistakes and we will all be wandering around like lemmings looking for jobs.

In every niche I see it's link wheel buyers and other gamers winning.


10:38 pm on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

Well for all loosers there must be some winners but who are they?

I use both organic results as well as PPC but it seems to me Google just killed the radio star in favor of video whom ever that may be.


2:46 am on Nov 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Well for all loosers there must be some winners but who are they?

I run a pretty popular blog and our traffic has increased by 20-30% over the past month. G brings in close to 8K visitors daily. Seems the recent SERP changes have primarily affected online shops / affiliate sites, which receive a much lower volume of organic backlinks.


5:10 am on Nov 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Setser very true but they also help drive the economies of the world which is why google needs to find balance.

With social traffic - every angry customer will tell 20 people, happy customers don't say much. They also need to be able to tell the difference between "xyz just ripped me off tell a your facebook and twitter friends" to "what a great deal tell your friends"


8:14 am on Nov 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

Something happened yesterday (Thursday 4th), GA shows high traffic, drilling it down still shows lots of single page views but on the flip side a return to decent site visits with multiple page views. A very specific niche product that only we make & sell started to get visits & sales too, the search term is long tail. Shame Pay Pal Pro has now started to have payment errors telling customers the transaction could not complete when it already has! WMT shows indexed pages going up still too!


5:39 pm on Nov 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I think we saw a fluctuation based on some issues with canonical problems. Maybe google handled this well before and the tweak didn't and it caused a huge devaluation of pages that rolled through the web.

It goes to show we all should look carefully at our sites which is one of the things we can take for granted. Unbenoucned to our webmaster a programmer rolled in new changes last month but introduced an index.php as a link on every page of our site. As a result we had two home pages both ranking a 6 and various tools showed about 15% of our total page count were being counted as links to the wrong page.

I can't blame google. We shouldn't leave anything up to doubt and just because they normally can handle it doesn't mean they always can.

That doesn't explain the bad results for ten days but searching medical terms today the top few results are good again. It's shaking out slowly.


6:07 pm on Nov 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

Well well, we did more today than all week! Traffic WELL up and single page views all but gone! We have changed NOTHING. Two weeks in the dustbin then this?! The problem is Monday could be so different, time to have some stability Google please!

OT, Pay Pal have been doing updates all week so if anyone out there has had issues you know why! This has affected all products-standard, Pro & Hosted Pro.


6:39 pm on Nov 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

@ohno - moderate improvement here too and no changes to the site whatsoever. Glad to hear you're seeing improvement, especially for a typically slow Friday. Cheers!


11:47 pm on Nov 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Geotargeting is a little aggressive. If I type in Portsmouth beer you would think it would show me the nearest Portsmouth and not England!

But medical results are much better, informational results too.


4:58 am on Nov 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I believe in following up whether it supports my position or not.

Google is getting it right. Not only are personal searches much better but so goes my employers site. Traffic is up moderately but conversions were up 3x wed onward.

IMO: something did go awry about 10/19 with indexing which effected the valuation of sites downstream. It got remedied around 10/28 and rippled out this week. It had slmehog to do with or the side effect of indexing parameters, "disunderstanding" (ha) canonicals on sites where it had previously resolved even site errors in that area. But they got it figured out and it's slowly propagating as the google we knew.

For the first time in a month when I searched for some varying topics tonight I got what I expected. A few searches still came up way off the mark but that's geo issues.

On to the next topic. I think the reason new content ranks lower is related to:
1. Canonical issues that started to occur in october
2. Time filter to prevent modern day bombing. Most terms will start around fifth And move up or down from there on merit. This blocks spamming.

Things they could improve? Spam is still a big problem. The time weighting of links has helped 2009 spammers prosper. If a company with 40 people has 80 blogs where every tenth word is a link to the parent site that's manipulation.
This 502 message thread spans 17 pages: 502

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