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Sporadic Move from #1 to #101 in SERPS

7:31 pm on Apr 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have a strange event that happens solely with Google search results that I'd love to figure out.

I've got a domain name bluewidgets.us that's been around for 3 years. White hat link building, nothing too over the top (an occasional new inbound link here and there) and no links from shady spots on the web.

About two years ago, an inner page on my site moved into position #6 for the phrase "blue widgets" and stayed firmly there until a couple of months ago. (FYI, the page is #1 in bing and yahoo).

In the last couple of months (pre-panda) occasionally it falls to #101 (page 10 of the SERPs) where it stays for about a week. Then it will reappear back at #6; there's no "climb". This happens every 2-3 weeks.

Last week, the page suddenly became #1 for "blue widgets", much to my delight. Today, it's completely gone. The site and the page are in the index, the page is a #1 return for several other related keywords.

Any guesses as to what causes this massive fluctuation and return to the previous position? The content is not time-sensitive, the other sites in the SERPs stay fairly consistent. I haven't made any changes to the page's content, inbound link structure, etc.

Is someone reporting the site? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
9:05 pm on Apr 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

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

Weve been kicking this kind of ranking strangeness around for a while - at least three years. See Yo-Yo Effect - Observations and Understandings [webmasterworld.com]. It now seems to be more common than it used to be, especially the past couple months.

My suspicion has long been that this kind of yo-yo ranking is an artifact of Google's machine-learning algorithm. In other words, it's a kind of testing and learning that goes on automatically. If I'm right, then one of the things you might learn if the up-and-down continues for too long is that your site's signal is too confusing for Google to evaluate.
10:58 pm on Apr 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

Perhaps you are right on the borderline for an alogithmic penalty. If the determnation involved a variable factor such as traffic (high traffic might mitigate something of concern), one can understand the jumping up and down.
11:02 pm on Apr 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

Another possibility is a small error in the algo - say it doesn't escape correctly from circumstances where a depends on b that depends on c that depends on a. Something like that; there are many possibilities.
11:17 pm on Apr 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member sgt_kickaxe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member

Build it, SEO it, do the backlink work and enjoy life.

Who the heck has time to worry about what Google thinks anymore. Don't second guess, build! build!
12:19 am on Apr 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Great thoughts everyone. It does seem to indicate that the page is right on the edge of a certain aspect of their algorithm, it's just strange to me that the shift is so dramatic.

A little tough to figure out, but I appreciate the ideas and the links regarding the yo-yo effect. Perhaps a few more inbound links from diversified websites might do the trick.
12:54 pm on Apr 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

nah, Its something with google. Their doing some kind of 'other' panda update their trying to be 'hush-hush' about.

Because I was in the top 3 for an important & well optimized keyword for the last 6 months... Panda update came and went & nothing happened to me.

then about 9 days ago, my position was 'dancing' around from 7 to 10...then 15...and now at 20 ! It was slowly slipping every day. And now even the other 2 people I was competing with for the top 3 have dropped out as well ! (they were also solid for 6 months straight)

6 months solid, and now this !

and like I said it just started happening 9 days ago. way after the panda update.

Things are getting shuffled around like crazy, and none of this seems to be making any news. Even though its quietly driving me nuts...

[edited by: tedster at 9:59 pm (utc) on Apr 29, 2011]
[edit reason] maintenance [/edit]

3:37 pm on Apr 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

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

Great thoughts everyone. It does seem to indicate that the page is right on the edge of a certain aspect of their algorithm, it's just strange to me that the shift is so dramatic.

I have had the same thing happen to one of my sites. Lately it has been on page one and stayed there so I did bother to update it.

I noticed that it had some syntax issues with the html that may have caused it to have a spam penalty in the past. So the wide swings for this site may have been caused by whether they decided to penalize this type of error or not. I don't really know for sure though, but it has exhibited the same wild ranking swings like you described, over the past couple of years and especially during the past month.
7:18 pm on Apr 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Just an update; it's been about 5 days, and the page reappeared at position #10. The entire set of results for the phrase shifted; I didn't change anything on the page during the week. Interestingly enough, the most deserving page moved to #1 for the first that I can remember.

It's almost as if Google is giving every position on the page a few days at #1.
4:19 pm on Apr 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

I experience such movments daily too.

If you want my opinion:
Google tends to make the SEO life harder. For this reasons he randomly changes the ranking of (some) website pages (in this way a reverse-engineering becomes harder)

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