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Google Updates and SERP Changes - Dec 2011



10:14 am on Nov 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I've noticed a website that got pandalized in July and came back right after the last 3.1 update to prior (if not better) positions. No changes made on site, they only acquired a new domain and 301 the pandalized one to it.

Have you ever noticed something similar happening? Souds like a really short term solution but it's at least something new.

[edited by: tedster at 5:49 pm (utc) on Dec 1, 2011]


8:51 pm on Dec 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Thin content? How are all those answer type sites with one sentence on a page continuing to rank just fine then?


9:27 pm on Dec 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

@Dave - My guess would be that they rank because sheer bulk and brand name. Unknown answer sites, of which I'm sure there are many, may not enjoy the same rank. Remember, in the end the serps are like playing king of the mountain and the 900lb gorilla always wins.

I agree with you though, questions like "how to drink a glass of water" with an answer of "fill glass, then drink" are insulting if not infuriating.


9:31 pm on Dec 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

Thes upages seem to move around the globe in waves that take a few days to settle out.


The difference though that they seem to be happening MUCH often since panda (starting around mid August). Something to do with the "freshness" added crap + a all lot of experimenting and fine tuning at the plex at the worst time of the year.

It almost feels like... lets turn down this knob a little to the left, now re-index the entire web... nope wrong, turn it a little more to the right, re-index the entire web... nope wrong...lets change what we look at on page, now re-index the entire web...nope wrong.... you get the drift.

I don't see any logic or rayham beyond websites rank and the constant index moves other then sticking to the good old factors of good original content, good titles and meta tags, reasonable number of on page ads, and links from clean sites.

Trying to fix your sites to fit with the panda "new" algo is like trying to chase the wind. The often crazy ranking move so many are experiencing lately is all to do with a constant (now almost every 3-4 days) full web re-indexing, tweaking and experimenting.

[edited by: Web_speed at 9:44 pm (utc) on Dec 9, 2011]

Robert Charlton

9:37 pm on Dec 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

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

I agree with you though, questions like "how to drink a glass of water" with an answer of "fill glass, then drink" are insulting if not infuriating.

Particularly infuriating when, as too often happens, they never provide an answer. On some queries, I still see pages ranking that do nothing but refer you to more (often unanswered) similar questions.

sheer bulk and brand name

Sums it up very well... though with "brand name", I feel it's not just the name. It's the link profile and general traffic that have been built up by the domain.


10:02 pm on Dec 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Wasn't Panda suppose to address these issues? Thin/shallow content etc.

But this stuff is still ranking?

Anybody else see the problem here?


10:20 pm on Dec 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

That's the kicker, Google says panda targets xyz, webmasters say panda targets xyz but xy and z are still ranking, just fine.

The is no rhyme or reason, there are 1000 contradictory examples for every example you can post that says this is why you dont rank anymore. It's a complete farce.

Plenty of good sites rank, some dont, plenty of bad sites rank, some dont... how the hell can anyone play on that level, remember, in this senario your just one update from disaster, its got nothing to do with what you do/dont do.

Panda targets spam/thin context etc, yeah, show me! Then ill show you :)


1:30 am on Dec 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I saw a major shift in SERP position on a pandalized site yesterday, not back to Pre-Panda levels (nowhere close) but it's positive. We have but a considerable amount of work into this one though.


2:48 am on Dec 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

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@ted, because from my point of view it shows signs of learning => ai. G tries to get closer to the context of today's web, but there's a long way to go. I belive they went "all in" a bit too soon.


4:23 pm on Dec 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

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

Ah, I understand. However, other areas of the total algorithm also have been showing signs of machine learning. and that's been for several years before the Panda component was added.

For example, our members here have long been watching "waves" of ranking changes, particularly in the deeper pages of the SERPs. Google apparently prefers this machine-learning method of tuning the over all algorithm.


5:16 pm on Dec 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

What have they done now?

My widget sector is back into a total mess again. G.uk is useless for many of my search terms, not just for my sites but the majority of UK-based widget sites, with lots of irrelevant Amazon and ebay results combined with Chinese and Indian sites plus US keyword widget spam sites.

G.com is fairing slightly better but overall this means my traffic is way down at the moment. The plex really does know how to frustrate and antagonise people.

At this they excel above all.


6:38 pm on Dec 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Agreed seen another shake-up this w/end. Some pages show pre panda positions and traffic... yet traffic is still in the gutter for my site overall. Engagement is way up though, page views, time on site and adsense CTR more than double average. Not quite sure what to make of it yet, needs further investigation.


8:45 pm on Dec 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

As far as i can see the "updates" are now a weekly occurrence. I'm starting to think this myham can no longer be classified as "experimenting". It is part of the freshens algo and probably here to stay up until they feel users are leaving in droves because the SERPS are crap and full of spam.

The only way to survive (until we have some real competition in the search world) is probably to have a number of copies for each website. Each targeting different languages and different SEO techniques. This or die.

Holding my head as i look at the last of my savings being eaten away by this catastroph...


8:50 pm on Dec 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

This may shade some light(?)

Google no longer best place to work


11:40 am on Dec 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Just got back from a holiday and checking up on some sites. I'm noticing some significant flux on 29th November (some KWs just plummeted), followed by further flux on 8th December (some dropped KWs returned, others that hadn't dropped then did). Doesn't appear to be any rhyme nor reason as to why certain KWs / URLs were effected.


8:44 pm on Dec 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

I'm starting to think the very same thing. We're ecommerce and this sh@t it killing us. We're thinking about making multiple sites that run off of our main database.


9:26 pm on Dec 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google no longer best place to work

pretty old article thar


10:12 pm on Dec 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

May be old but still gives a hint as to the direction Google has taken starting around that time...


11:07 pm on Dec 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Things appear to have gotten back on track the past 6 days or so, now today, we've been extremely slow all day. Anyone else seeing a Wednesday drop off? (US central time)


12:35 am on Dec 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Indeed, I've had a very strong 3-4 days or so. Today is pretty sluggish.


12:47 am on Dec 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Over the past several years I have noticed more and more that a normal, smooth flow of quality traffic is becoming the exception rather than the rule. Daily "delta" is much more pronounced. Not sure of the cause, but today's slow down could indicate yet another minor algo update. I suspect in the past the updates were fewer and farther between. Now days it's a weekly if not affair.


12:52 am on Dec 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

I've been using the Real-Time Analytics > Overview and typically have 10 to 20 active visitors on the site during daytime hours. Right now its at 16 users, but the pages they are on are my obscure, deep pages. The front end "money maker" pages are getting less than normal traffic. I'm going to use this as a guide to tighten my site structure up a bit. It's a great tool with live results.


7:38 am on Dec 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

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

Things appear to have gotten back on track the past 6 days or so, now today, we've been extremely slow all day. Anyone else seeing a Wednesday drop off? (US central time)

this time of the year I always see a slow down in daytime traffic with punters going to xmas parties and more interested in buying presents than surfing -


12:28 am on Dec 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Can anyone confirm a significant change in SERPs for today? Unfortunately, I can see 20% drop in traffic :S


1:04 am on Dec 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

Yes, it is quiet again....

I did not check the SERPs as i hardly use Google anymore (changing my habit into using bing exclusively) but orders over my network of ecommerce sites are all off. Traffic back to junk levels with lots of worthless third country hits.

It is like the tap has been turned off again.

I see targeted traffic only 2-3 days per week now...


1:29 am on Dec 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

@Web_speed - same thing here - getting a few days per week (no rhyme or reason as to which days) with great conversions, steady traffic, then suddenly, like you say, the spigot turns off. If this were indeed the "information super highway" then either there is major construction ahead or a fatal crash.


2:11 am on Dec 16, 2011 (gmt 0)


It looks to me like the new reality and probably here to stay. A major index re-shuffle every 3-4 days...

A la "fre$hnes algo" ...


2:17 am on Dec 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

@ted. Learning is just half of the story. Pls bare with me on this one (Iím an engineer, so I'm not very good with words :) ).

The key word in this is "context". It's like the transition from structured programming to OOP. Regex (regular grammar) is also a good concept to keep in mind.

In my personal opinion, and of a few others, Google is going for contextual search. This is the first step towards AI (understanding human language, concepts and the context in which every word is used). At this step every word is an object. Let's take "Tweet" for instance. It has an obvious meaning for the moment (the social media outlet), it can mean the sound of a bird, or a cartoon character. The "meaning" is another object, which has several properties like timing, previous searches, hot subjects of the moment, etc. Going further down the rabbit hole, previous searches can be categorized too. To go even further, we can add user behavior, ratio of ads / content, website age, website general vocabulary, level of speech, quality of images, hosting service quality, errors, well formed programming, HTTP errors, standards compliance and every single angle covered here since Feb 2011 (and i suspect a few more others too). All these can be added as properties to define a website. Let's say you have defined a website regarding all these (and other) aspects. This means you can define them all. Going further down the hole you can define whole verticals, market segments, etc. Theoretically, this concept can be applied to every single level, from 1 to Layer 7.

If I wanted to go after spam and all the crap filling the web today, this would be the first choice in my mind. Volume, and taking everything into consideration in relation to everything else.

do I make any sense at all?


4:47 am on Dec 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

@Zerillos - it makes sense to me. I'm in agreement with you for the most part... with the special caveat: By saying the above we are saying that Google is getting very advanced in their algorithm... I personally wouldn't give them that much credibility...

My opinion is that it is probably a much simpler problem. That they are far from being able to pin point contextual meaning via a few snippets of user behavior.

I personally fluctuate between giving Google that kind of cred, but it is too similar to the feeling of: watching a science fiction movie about aliens that are playing chess and the pieces are you and me... and saying, "because I don't understand how I feel at this moment... some alien must be controlling my body on this chess board... it's the only reasonable explanation to the unknown in life... I've exhausted every other feasible explanation... Aliens are playing chess."

Zerillos, I bet that even though this forum is FULL of Google LOVERS (like you and me) we'll find more people agree with me... that Google doesn't know what the #*$! they have gotten themselves into and that all this talk about them being in control is complete PR (and I don't mean Page #*$!ing Rank.)

So whats the vote out there guys and gals? Who thinks it's a complicated well run algorithm that is taking in many different layers of complex AI and customer intentions to come up with the results they have today (Panda)... and who thinks that Panda is simpler problem of just a couple signals that need to be fixed to get back into the otherwise relatively simple mathematical good side of Googles algorithm?

At this moment I'm +1 for Google is in over their head and Panda is relatively simple.... And probably an overall mistake (so far) by the best search engine the world has seen.

Someone change my mind please!


4:17 pm on Dec 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I think the idea that @Zerillos is suggesting is correct however i also think @Lenny2 is also correct to a certain point.

Google is trying to look at aspects other than text in links. But I look at it this way: The algo is trying to learn but it's an infant now. G engineers are trying to point it in the right direction but at this point we don't know if the algo with become a lawyer or a biker because it's still learning to crawl and likely can't feed itself yet.


5:18 pm on Dec 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Don't know if others have already posted this but there was a weather report on twitter:


Search weather report: no major Panda updates until the new year.
This 161 message thread spans 6 pages: 161

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