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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]

5:57 am on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Alexa is showing a decline in traffic trend for webmasterworld...Though alexa had never been accurate, as they take into account factors other than traffic in their traffic stats, the changes seen are significant...

Is webmasterworld seeing a drop in traffic?
8:15 am on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

What a night, now I remember why I said we will just have one when my daughter was born! OK, to recap, for us traffic & conversions all but disappeared Thursday 21st until 1pm Friday 29th. On Friday 29th conversions came back for around a 3 hour period. This weekend shows traffic about the same as last weekend(not had chance to check location/quality/keywords entries yet)but conversions back to normal. If this was an algo tweak then it had a huge impact on us for a week. SERP's looked the same to me throughout that period, I have noticed the one box results seem to be shifting position a lot more though? Sometimes at the top and others half way down the page. One thing is for sure, a roller coaster week ahead, even if not down to Google!

ps, one other issue i notice is when we are busy our forums have LOTS of spam user regitrations, these were all but gone last week as well. It's like when traffic is gone/junk/sales conversions gone even the spammers can't find the site!
9:03 am on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

hey ohno,

a lot of spammers use automated software that scrape Google SERPS (e.g. first 1000 results for "las vegas hotels"), so a drop in ranking will usually also correspond with a drop in spam!


9:16 am on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

Interesting, so our site was probably disappearing out of the SERP's.
12:57 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Indyrank and Ohno, I noticed the same thing from people looking to get out business. When we aren't getting spam emails traffic is down.

I've gone through Alexa, compete pro, and competitor logs when publicly available. There were no exceptions. Not one was up in traffic the past 7-14 days. Coupled with supplier side data showing a fall off the 2nd half of October US GDP just dropped 5-10% or google is hurting a lot of people. I know from the largest suppliers offline sales were stable, online businesses down sharply. Not good and backs up what Alexa says.

The contention this didn't effect the entire web? There aren't any searches I do today that are as accurate as last month. Terrible timing, poor testing and the economy may suffer (unless you are a big affiliate site amazon, buy and all)

Something changed Friday. Our traffic dropped but it seemed more targeted. Let's see what the week brings.

All of this is being supported by adsense drops, adwords impression drops and other data. They made a major change a symptom of which was the blog issues. When you remove millions of pages overnight from the SERPS that's bad news.

I long for the good old days when google just plain worked.
3:06 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

I looked at the Alexa blog post and traffic was down by a lot. Where id it go? To non-Alexa measured sites or what? Puzzling.

And yes, there was a 10/29 tweak (cost me about 20% in total traffic)
3:17 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

I long for the good old days when google just plain worked.

In a recent interview Rick Skrenta (CEO for the new search engine Blekko) said that in the past ten years the size of the web has increased 100 times. That kind of scale shift is bound to change the nature of search, and I find that it's one lens we can use to understand changes at Google.

The kind of thing being discussed in the Traffic Shaping thread [webmasterworld.com], for example, is one of their responses to the huge number of documents that need to be handled and organized for searchers.
3:31 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Ted true but what they had was working fine. The solution to the problem of a growing amount of documents isn't to eliminate them based on who buys the most links, being as big as amazon et al.
The algorithm right now - if you want to knock out your competitor for several days upload a feed to amazon. You will take over the top spots almost immediately since 10/19.

There is no way that unilaterally removing this many pages is a good thing. That is clear when major sites are taking 25% hits. In our niche the top 10 suppliers are all down per the metrics and the top ten resellers are down since around 10/20. Where did that traffic go? I don't know but I bet google search numbers and adwords sales are both going to be up.

There are product searches I'm doing today that return pages full of sites in bing that don't return a single site selling the product in google. It's like they've detuned exact matches so much if you didn't spam your titles you are in penalty.

Traffic week over week is done 20% with google post Friday. Adwords impressions are down about 15% with a higher position. It could be the election and holiday but I doubt it.

I saw the wildly fluctuating results before most acknowledged changes were in motion. As Fridays change hits the other niches hold onto your wallets. They just took away another 20% and it was almost entirely the traffic we converted at 50%. The sites rolling in above ours are all stuffed with the 9$ for 1000 backlink sites.
3:42 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

Where did that traffic go?

If you read the Alexa blog article, they state the obvious - search is nearly a zero-sum game and the traffic went to other sites. They even include a graph of one such site with a huge up spike.

This is Google's "holiday shopping" algorithm. You'll see another big change after January, and they certainly will continue tweaking between now and then.
4:31 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

just noticed they add "site searches" actual search boxes for sites... into the sitelinks for sites in the search...

Is the a brand new roll out?
4:40 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

Google started including some Site Search boxes in results back in 2008 [webmasterworld.com...]

[edited by: tedster at 4:42 pm (utc) on Nov 1, 2010]

4:41 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

wow, never saw one before...
4:43 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

Maybe they are more common in the current SERPs? I can't remember using one, not even for Microsoft.
5:05 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

hmmm, not sure... I don't search much for big names, they seem to be for big brand name stuff...

First time I seen one though but when I am in the Google i'm usually just looking at my rankings...
5:14 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

Aha! You've just got to get out more, tshirtdeal
5:26 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

haha, yeah no kidding, tell me about it... over 10 years behind this desk... The way things are going now i'll be getting out to the unemployment lines...
6:12 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

@Tedster do you believe Alexa is onto something? I do, I think google probably didn't realize the elimination of that many blogs had a ripple effect.

Ot but the traffic shaping model is alive and well. At 1130 a switch was flipped and we got hundreds of visitors until 1230 when it stopped. Odd stuff!
6:27 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yeah tedster but: "Among the biggest winners, oddly enough, are file sharing and torrent sites."

Makes no sense at all, especially during shopping.
6:28 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

Good point walkman. That does sound like something buggy went down.
6:46 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

It's not surprising when you consider their seedy link profile. Look at almost any niche right now and the top SERPS are often backed with links that would normally be penalty triggers.

Those sites have tons of pages, tons of diverse backlinks.

The testing or mixing goes on. I am seeing sites injected into the SERPS with no page titles and lengthy parameter based urls. These are on stop shop industry sites, put your logo and name at the top and they frame the same products for 1500 other sites. Whatever happened is still ongoing.

Who is/isn't seeing better SERPS today? Better/less traffic?
7:31 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

Scott, seeing pretty consistent results / traffic on google.com. Google.co.uk, as ever, is all over the place; up 10% one hour, down 20% the next (these are 1+ standard deviation shifts).
7:44 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Here is my theory. It is the only thing right now that would make sense of all this to me.

Google is giving questionable websites a chance. Google is boosting up the sites in which it questions may be a spammy type site, and by boosting its rankings will bring attention to it from its competition by it being reported as spam. Maybe google spam report division is being under worked and this is a plan to put them to work to help weed out the truly spammy sites.

A lot of the times I may not like what google does, but I can never really argue with the SERP's since they are quality for the most part. This time they must have messed up somewhere. Across the board the SERP's are just of a lesser quality than it was a month ago. I am saying this as a searcher, not a webmaster. I can see from looking at industries I am not a part of but monitor for clients that this is wrong. There is 3 duplicated sites ranking in the top 20 for all related widget search terms. same exact domain in the org, biz and ws extensions. It seems google has released a filter or two to run some tests.

Hopefully they will at least announce something soon. I am totally not buying the "different algorithms for different sites at different times" bit.
7:48 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

@scottsonline, you are absolutely correct -- the sheer amount of links that are being counted right now from dubious sources is really making things muddy for users. An old friend reached out to me regarding massive changes in his neck of the woods for something that isn't terribly competitive, but is now mostly dominated by hidden counter link/guestbook stuff. In my own industries I see titles for products that have absolutely nothing to do with what I do (think the P-P-P-C industries).

Who knew f*ing up indexation would have such dramatic effects?
8:09 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

i wept and cried and held back for few days reading comments of you guys while suffering all the while...

referring to the alexa blog and the above argument, so google is currently punishing those sites which have been genuinely following google guidelines while promoting spam sites in the last 10 days?...

please say yesss! :p
8:17 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

epmaniac, it would seem like that. But like I said in my last post, I think google has a reason for this. I am hoping it will improve serps from what they used to be, and they need to make it worse before they can do that.
8:17 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

@epimaniac, i think the vast majority of sites that have been hit are spammers, but they have definitely caught a lot of quality sites in the crossfire, and to make matters worse the sites slapped down have been replaced by spammers, ie:

sites hit:
-20% quality
-80% spam

sites who've benefited:
-5% quality
-95% spam

8:21 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

There isn't a site in my niche in the top 5 that didn't blatantly buy it's way there. Not one.

What I don't get at all is exact product searches return nothing. Sometimes maybe a category page if at all. It's crazy. Long tail seems to be dead-er again.

I don't buy the some sites some times. Everyone here has noticed changes and they're large enough to be seen on the level of Alexa. Is this a chain reaction to blogs being devalued? Maybe.

Whatever they are doing, they may want to consider a google sandbox for public testing because each update is more erratic.

I agree with Ted that it's a zero sum game but when 100 store results are replaced with 100 forum posts the traffic may move but sales aren't happening. The danger is google is a huge part of our economy and the manipulation of it....well it's interesting to me the first thing I saw was a flood of Asian knockoff sites.
8:52 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I have a theory. Some of us are in volatile niches. The end.

On a more serious note, anybody figure out what factor(s) got tweaked in the algo on the 21st?

Seems like more of a link graph thing than "on page" factors from the recent posts here.
8:55 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

folks - I have been rather quiet since MayDay and it had a reason: That update almost killed my company and I focused on things that I considered the "core" of traffic and conversion.

I re-worked my keyword database that I want to rank for. Pretty much updated all competition numbers, result amounts on Google, etc.

Reworked pretty much 40% of our site to show more text along those keywords and match the content better to the keywords. Especially cross-linking on-site ate a lot of time - URLs stayed in place!

During these 5 months I have done 2 hours of link-building every day (well, MOST of the days). I started with smaller keywords and worked up to the medium hard... I tried to gain at least 5 search engine friendly links per keyword wherever I saw fit.

Yesterday was our best day since I started the company in 2004.

Odd is - and here a thing I have a hard time to get my mind around - the traffic did not change much. In fact yesterday (Sunday) was an average Sunday compared with the last 4. Conversion was up big time and my logs show much more long tail traffic exactly to the product detail pages...

So - something happened that compensated MayDay for us. It feels (sorry, lack of data) like the exact opposite of MayDay for me. Less mainstream, much higher long-tail!


PS: the 21st last month meant nothing for us - neither bad nor good...
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