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Google Updates and SERP Changes - Feb 2012



7:50 am on Feb 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

Any help would be greatly appreciated, is it possible that this lastest update woull dump the SEO of my sites because I had link to them within the footer of one of my other sites? Also Google shown within its webmaster tools that there were some 2,000,000 + pages linked from the footer to my site.. is this a reason for google to penalize me? Any input wouldbe greatly appreciates..

I own all the sites involved...


[edited by: tedster at 5:41 pm (utc) on Feb 1, 2012]


9:21 am on Feb 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I think the drop in traffic with my site on the 24th was not necessarily due to Panda. Probably just an algorithm change with signals that downgraded various pages on my site for whatever reason.

Agree. I think there hasn't been a Panda update in January 2012 and Google hasn't announced any Panda update for sometime.
However I think that the factors of Panda are already integrated in the current main ranking algorithms "Panda flavored main ranking algorithm". I.e the update of 24th january 2012 was an update of the said "Panda flavored main ranking algorithm" which might have caused the drop in traffic of your site.


12:23 pm on Feb 1, 2012 (gmt 0)


Google did confirm a Panda refresh (recalculation of all site's quality) about a week ago.


12:26 pm on Feb 1, 2012 (gmt 0)


Sorry to bother everyone, I’m looking for an opinion?

All of my 3 sites ranks dropped in unison and the only connection was the fact that between them I had a link within the footer of one of my sites, I am talking about major drops between all of them, like from first page for very competitive words to page 6. I was of the assumption that having a link within the footer of your sites referring people to your other sites was not a bad,, thing..

Can somebody please take a moment and shed some light?, I have since removed the links, In addition when viewing my links via google webmaster tools is showed one sites links being 542,000 and the other being 2,432,567.

I am hoping that google has now just devalued the links from these sites and not penalized me for some reason.. in otherwards I hoping that all I need to do in order to get up is work hard and not infinitely.

I would appreciate your comments…



12:45 pm on Feb 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month


Google did confirm a Panda refresh (recalculation of all site's quality) about a week ago.

I wss talking about "Panda update". The Panda data refresh your refer to isn't considered as a Panda update, IMO.

@tedster put it in a very nice way :-)

It seems to me that the machine learning part of Panda is used to establish what factors are used in the algorithm. If those factors change (or possibly even change their relative weight) that would be an UPDATE. But in this case, the actual factors didn't change - just the data about websites that is being measured, as rustybrick explained.


1:50 pm on Feb 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

reseller, people working hard on their sites to get them 'out of panda' are generally hoping to improve the site's quality such that they are no longer affected - I am one of those and consider a 'panda refresh/update' to be the test every few weeks of whether our work has been successful.

Of course, we all hope that the panda algorithm itself will change and release our sites, but that's a hope not something to actively work towards.

Point is, both 'refresh' and 'update' are equally important to people with sites affected and whichever takes place most of us affected would still consider it to be a 'panda rerun'.

ps I have three sites that have been released from panda after having had no changes at all, and a main site that I've been improving constantly for 10 months that hasn't been released (it's much higher quality than the three that have been released), so fully appreciate that just waiting is probably as effective as working hard to improve things.


2:09 pm on Feb 1, 2012 (gmt 0)


I'm curious... Is your main site much larger than the 3 sites that were released from Panda's grip.

I find big sites have a hell of a time getting out.


2:21 pm on Feb 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Pjman, yes, it's much bigger than the others (about 10k UVs per day after panda, 20k before). And I'm completely confident after many thousands of hours of work that it is as good or better than any of its competitors who weren't affected (yes I know site owners all wear rose tinted spectacles when looking at their own site but even so...)

You might be right, perhaps a big site (more pages? more traffic? more high paying search terms?) site does have to prove itself more than a small site.


2:29 pm on Feb 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

@robdob - it sounds like you found the smoking gun - the site-wide footer links you placed to your sites.

whether this is a manual penalty or the algo doing its thing - someone else would have to chime in on that. Since it seems like you can point directly to the cause (site-wide footer links), you may want to consider a reconsideration request. Here again, someone else might have better insight on how to proceed.

Google has always been strictly against 'link schemes', but since their definition of a 'link scheme' is quite nebulous, and has probably changed over the years - I have always refrained from linking my sites together unless they are very closely related, and definitely would not do a site-wide footer link.

This is only my own approach, and I can't point to sources to back it up, but I think I've read enough about the inter-linking of sites over the years that avoiding doing so is just second nature to me... I guess I'm just paranoid - the last thing I want is to be considered to be part of a 'link scheme' by Google - either now, or by what their definition of a 'link scheme' might change to in the future.

The thing is, you see tons of sites doing it - but they are generally big brands/media networks, have high traffic, are older, and have more domain authority to where I guess they can get away with it.


Marketing Guy

3:09 pm on Feb 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

@robdob @cr1t1calh1t are sitewides really that much of a big deal anymore? Like you say many sites do it and there are loads of non "internal network" variations on the theme - wordpress templates, design agencies including footer links on their client sites (a practice which pre-dates Google), etc.

There was a point cicra 2002-2004 where site wides worked really well for SEO and Google put a nail firmly in that coffin by limiting the amount of benefit a site can gain from multiple links from the same domain. If that process happens automatically (i.e. you never get credit for those links in the first place), then there's no way it would result in a penalty (most likely just ignored).

Only exception might be if you suddenly introduce site wides overnight with juicy keyword anchor text, but even so I can't see that even triggering an over-optimisation penalty.

@robdob there can be a load of different reasons your sites all drop at the same time. Interlinking may seem like the obvious common factor, but I'm sure there are more.

Is there any crossover in the themes of the sites?
Similar layouts / CMS / ad positioning?
Similar IBL profiles?
Similar content (i.e. just articles, just affiliates, just forums, etc)?

Google updates are essentially Google casting out a wide net to catch a specific type of website in - there are loads of reasons one site can be caught, so if you are producing similar sites (even across different topics), then it could be something about your design / copy / SEO process that is Google is filtering out.


3:56 pm on Feb 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

@ merketing Guy

I have 2 sites both non related, i put a link into one site to the other and i got a message from Google in regard to unatural linking, which went on to say that linking to a site for the gain of manipulating PR Blah Blah..

and that was for just one link on the home page from a car site to a security site, so it would seem that the pr 5 site was trying to push up the pr 2 site (which i suppose on the face of it was correct , but not my intention at the time)

so if they are picking me up for that then they are bebeing very picky..

From what i see Google are very quick to drop you but very slow at forgiving you ..

Link was removed immediately Security site lost all its number 1 positions and dropped between 3-40 places and the car site was fine

Marketing Guy

4:11 pm on Feb 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Sure it was that link they were referring to?

That's a bit of a different issue. Keyword links between two unrelated sites is clearly for SEO purposes and that was always going to be a problem.

But interlinking a network of sites that you own using the site names as links or linking up to a group site is fair play.

One of my clients runs several websites - the main one a car dealership, and three others for luxury brand cars. They all interlink every page from main to sub and sub up to main (using the company brand as the link text). No issues with that whatsoever.

SEOs being scared to link their sites together is as old a concern as the industry itself, but it doesn't need to be if done correctly.


4:29 pm on Feb 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

@ Marketing Guy

90% sure as i Have no ther links on the site, I removed the link put in a reconsideration request and got the standard message and the first message disapeerd.

Its the only thing i can think of unless it coincides with another update but been steady number 1 for 4/5 years

The way i see it i had a PR5 car site pointing at a PR 2 site, and although yes i owned both sites they are not really niche related, and the message i got was

We've detected that some of your site's pages may be using techniques that are outside google's Webmaster Guidelines.
Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate pagerank. Examples of unnatural linking could include buying links to pass pagerank or participating in link schemes.
We encourage you to make changes to your site so that it meets our quality guidelines. Once you've made these changes, please submit your site for reconsideration in google's search results.
If you find unnatural links to your site that you are unable to control or remove, please provide the details in your reconsideration request.
If you have any questions about how to resolve this issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.
google Search Quality Team

So it may be a coincidence but it makes sence point a higher pr site to a lower one could result in a message like that, however that message was in my WMT on the 16th december the drop took place on the 16th of January

so could be coincident but not sure


12:51 am on Feb 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Two things I'm seeing is duplicate keyword sites have all reappeared in the last ten days. Sites setup simply to capture keyword combos - sometimes up to ten sites for a single set of products may rank 1-10.

Next pages are mismatched to results. If I search for a product the result google gives me may have no relation to what I searched for. It's the wrong page similar to what another person started a thread on. On one site I manage since 1/20 there has been a 500% increase in clicks for a specific manufacturer. One problem it's misdirected traffic. It's other resellers trying to reach the manufacturer. All the good end user product searches are gone and replaced with this garbage.

Someone screwed up at google


1:06 am on Feb 2, 2012 (gmt 0)


No one ever screws up at Google! MC just convinced South Korea. The US Congress is drinking that Kool Aid too!


3:38 am on Feb 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

I'm just curious...did someone at Google pull the plug at about noon today? We were banging away all morning, doing about 4 sales per hour, then at 11 am BOOM! Shut down for the day. It's now 8 pm and still nothing. It's the return of Zombie traffic again...non targeted junk hits.
What would a new month be without a new algo?

Two different PC's both logged out of G, one shows a 4 letter single word keyword we have consistently ranked #1 for 5+ years still at #1, and the other PC shows us at the very bottom of the page for the same keyword. Something is definitely digesting again. Where's my Maalox?


6:22 am on Feb 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Backdraft zombie traffic is a great comment. For the sites I work on it started later 1/24 or on 1/25. It's all the wrong kind of traffic and like I said some competitive serps are dominated by the same duplicate domains from 2008?

Looking at the logs about three weeks ago google started to fetch pages using the ip address. In the ten years prior it had never done that. I found it happening for many competitors too. Curious.

Traffic is the same but it's garbage. Resellers on other reseller sites, transactional searches mixed with informational. I don't know what they did but it's the worst change in 2+ years for search quality?


10:25 am on Feb 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

Anyone know if something is screwy with Feb 1 Stats in Google Analytics?

It says that I lost 50% of my traffic, time on site is down 50%, and visits are down 50% Day on Day yesterday.

The funny thing is that yesterday conversions were through the roof, real time stats yesterday were up, and when I check my main keywords they are doing better than normal.

Martin Ice Web

12:11 pm on Feb 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Got a boost an 1/24, conversions did follow a bit later,
yesterday night, switch off, pre 1/24 level. conversions ZERO.


1:23 pm on Feb 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

Same here again backdraft. Zombie junk traffic, jesus Google what are you up to now?!


2:21 pm on Feb 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

First symptom is conversions dropping to near zero but traffic remains the same. It is true zombie traffic google has lost track of who is searching to buy vs who is researching. I'm seeing it in all my personal searches too.

If I type in a specific model or part I get one or two valid results mixed with 8 that are unrelated. Issue seems to be a failure to identify their searcher.


3:45 pm on Feb 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I captured a search ten or so days ago on google for a personal product. Forgot I bookmarked it and redid the search today. The top 7 results are totally different. 3 of the 7 are the same business offering the same product on different domains/keywords.

Two have nothing to do with the product but contain the name somewhere. Two are relevant.

Two weeks ago the manufacturers page shows up first. Stores and resellers were the next 5 and a consumer reports public article was 6th. All of those are gone from the top 7.

Verified on several different devices. Yikes google


3:53 pm on Feb 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

For anyone not in the know since it will affect some/many of you, the severe weather conditions across large swathes of Europe and Russia emanating in Siberia is having a big affect on our traffic numbers this week to some sites.

Even Google can't control the weather:-)


4:03 pm on Feb 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

Can't see that affecting UK sites! I've been in contact with another UK member on here who sees the same as us. Sorry,but it IS very obvious when Google have been tinkering & this is one such occasion. ps, we were busier than ever when the UK virtually shut down in the last severe winter we had(2010)!

[edited by: ohno at 4:38 pm (utc) on Feb 2, 2012]


4:24 pm on Feb 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Pjman I am seeing the same thing in Google Analytics on a large US oriented site. That said, previous day's numbers are often off for us until 12-1 ET, although typically in the other direction. So, I'm waiting to see if things correct themselves by the afternoon.


4:47 pm on Feb 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Missing: Last Seen on Twitter :-)

I wonder what happened to that famous Search weather report which @google posted on Twitter on 14th December 2011 [twitter.com...] :-)

Search weather report: no major Panda updates until the new year. Context: [googleblog.blogspot.com...]


6:00 pm on Feb 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

Can anyone confirm that interlinking between sites you own may cause a 2-4 position drop or worse in the serps? Are there any other factors apart from whois data to determine if the sites are owned by the same webmaster? Isn't it ok to link from my company site to all sites I've designed?


6:48 pm on Feb 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

when the UK virtually shut down in the last severe winter we had(2010)!

Hahaha...you must be in London? :-)

FWIW I am seeing a reduction in traffic and enquiries from Europe and Russia, Ukraine (yes I know it's in Europe but just in case anyone doesn't know) even Italy and Greece have been hit.

Unless one is solely one country focussed then severe weather will have an impact.


7:14 pm on Feb 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

I see that Bing and Yahoo are sending me particularly relevant traffic, while Google does not. Users from bing/yahoo have low bounce rates and high time on site. The discrepancies are much more noticeable these days.


7:52 pm on Feb 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Its so bad today we had to change the voice attendant to instruct callers we are not the manufacturer of brand xyz. In the last ten days almost 3,900 visits from people looKing for the manufacturer versus 300 in the previous year. Those 3600 came at the sacrifice of 3600 that was actual converting traffic. Our google referrals are the same but they are misguided trash.

Site has not been changed in over a year. Bing and yahoo traffic and conversions up 20%.

Don't know what they did but some switch is providing users with an awful experience.
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