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Google Updates and SERP Changes - Apr 2012



4:34 am on Apr 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

Going, going, GONE!
After over 10 years of consistently ranking between position #1 and #3 on page one for a single four letter word search term, the month of March (starting on the 10th) has resulted in falling to below the fold, then to page 2, then page 3 and today I have been completely removed for that term.

In place is nothing but garbage. Branding obviously has lost traction. I'm thinking whatever they have done is meant to stick. I checked to see if I had been over optimized for the term, but with a mere 4 occurrences on my page and my need to use that term to describe my product, I really don't know what they want from us anymore...

The effect of lost traffic has set off all the "Big Traffic change for URL" warnings and the anayltics charts have nose dived. Anyone else seeing this type of situation on their long established sites?

Lost income from March updates is just about $1000 / week.

I'd almost guess that Google is just removing older authority sites in favor of nothing but news articles and blogs.

[edited by: tedster at 4:54 am (utc) on Apr 1, 2012]


8:54 pm on Apr 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have an older affiliate site that pretty much has been collecting dust over the past 5 years. Upload new content a few times a month and that's about it.

It's currently ranking for a keyword or two that it hasn't ranked for in almost 2? years.

However, it's not getting any traffic (as per Google analytics).

My guess is that the current set of search results are only temporary (for the Easter weekend) and come next week it's going to fluctuate yet again.


9:10 pm on Apr 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

I hate G. I did lost 1.5k per day on 22-23 of March. Now I have to buy the traffic to be alive.


10:31 pm on Apr 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

@true - Join the club. My GA graph looks like a profile of the Matterhorn. I went from over 2500 per day just prior to the 10th of March to under 900 yesterday. There is no sign of improvement. Localization is not working in my niche either. This recent update looks like a plaugue to established sites yet a boon to unmaintained garbage sites. I'd love to say hang in there, but it might be more prudent to just say "stock up on Ramen Noodles".

Oh, and don't bother with Adwords. That's not producing either. I've been going back & forth with Adwords support, but all I get is boiler plate replies. I've also been A/B testing by pausing my campaign & restarting it to see if I am getting decent, converting referrals...I'm not.

[edited by: backdraft7 at 11:18 pm (utc) on Apr 7, 2012]


11:17 pm on Apr 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

re: ak_web - did I just get a love letter from Larry P.?

@ irish - you hit the nail on the head! lol!


1:00 am on Apr 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

Moderator's note:
It's time to talk analyze Updates and SERP changes people - that's the topic here. Otherwise this thread becomes useless.


7:22 am on Apr 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Its worrying when your site ranks below a page from the Second Life marketplace!

Most people have been saying that it looks like internal anchor text weighting has been decreased but from results I'm seeing it looks more like the opposite. Does anyone else have opinions on this?


7:36 am on Apr 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

Guys Google's algorithm is based mostly on backlinks. We should be looking there for the answers.

I am seeing a pattern that might indicate an over-optimization penalty is at work.

The "new" top ranking sites seem to have a huge diversity in anchor text from their backlinks and most have NOT gone out of their way to rank for the keywords they are hitting top spots for.

For those that have clearly targeted those specific keywords they have ensured a good balance with their URL (as anchor text) or brand name and other keywords.

Typically I am seeing about 20% - 25% keyword targeting with about 17% - 20% brand targeting.

Those sites that had about 40% - 50% keyword targeting that held the top spots have mostly gone. The only exception I can find is 1 site that has 50% keyword targeting with only 17% brand targeting.....however on closer inspection I found that this site has a 301 redirect pointing to it from a site with a huge backlink profile that IS following the same pattern.

These are the results I am seeing in my niches. Can anyone confirm or refute these findings with their own data?


7:52 am on Apr 8, 2012 (gmt 0)


I concur 50%.

I also think we should be looking at on-page factors as much as links. If you haven't done it already, lower your keyword density and take down those multiple affiliate links!


11:37 am on Apr 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

My site tanked last October for the worse. I experienced huge drops in traffic until last Feb. Since then My traffic has been growing 32% on average. However, I'm still down 35% from last October's algo change.

Now, I'm experiencing huge changes once again. WTF is going on over at google? Have they lost their minds?

I'm also noticing that the search over in Hong Kong is awesome. IDK!


12:41 pm on Apr 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

Guys Google's algorithm is based mostly on backlinks.

Huge mistake. You still consider Google, as an IT company. But it is not anymore. It is an advertising company. And advertising companies algorithms are based on the people behaviours. They can measure it.

You have to change your point of view to understand modern Google. But even if you could do this, you would be upset. Because you would understand, that you can't manipulate Google as easy as you did before. You can't manipulate people behaviours. This is what Panda is about. Kudos to Google )

It's still far from perfect, but the direction is right. Sooner or later most of the Google algo crackers will be out of business )


12:54 pm on Apr 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

@mike1019 when you say the search at Hong Kong is awesome, is that with results in English or not? As in, do you click the "view Google Hong Kong in English" button?


1:12 pm on Apr 8, 2012 (gmt 0)


I searched in non-english. However, when I use the english version it's horrible.


1:25 pm on Apr 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

@mike1019 then the great results aren't just Hong Kong. Try other non-English engines. They are all much better, not just HK.

The english version of HK is very similar to .com. That's what I've been trying to find out, if it has something to do with the weird synonyms or what if they are testing something else or if it is no-Panda figured into the results (which wouldn't make sense).


1:44 pm on Apr 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Could it be less emphases on ranking? All my websites are now doing really well, all of which are around PR3.


11:29 am on Apr 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Surprisingly, Sunday showed some improvement in traffic quality and conversions. The Mayday sort took about 6 to 8 weeks to settle out. I expect the same for this update. I'm hoping your observation (Irish) in the UK are not headed back this way. Whatever you guys see usually hits us in the States 6 hours later.

UPDATE: Oops! I just checked the serps and I do concur...the garbage (thin spin) is at the top again this morning, but if it is like last Friday, it won't last long. The sort continues.


1:55 pm on Apr 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

Is anyone seeing any movement today?


2:11 pm on Apr 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I'm seeing more changes. Signs that results are gradually working their way back to how they were pre April 1st. At least for long tail searches anyway. Not sure about the major terms.


2:13 pm on Apr 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

@snowman - I am. The overnight churn must have just completed because the garbage results I mentioned in my last post (about 4 hours ago) have now moved down the page. Seeing some new black hat techniques that are ranking highly too! (keyword loading the title) it's actually funny to see what some people will try! It's flippin' hilarious to see it working, even in light of G's long list of quality updates over the past years.

Another possibly interesting observation is that if I change a page on my site, then refresh my sitemap in WMT's, it takes 4 days to pick it up. However, I just added a WP blog post and it was picked up an in the #1 spot within 30 minutes. Now I'll watch it to see if it ages out. Looks like they are big on fresh meat.


2:23 pm on Apr 9, 2012 (gmt 0)


The site you are referring to is purely content or content and ecomm?


3:59 pm on Apr 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

It's a long established paid content membership site. I don't make MFA sites.

Robert Charlton

9:07 pm on Apr 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

Another moderators note:

Let's keep personal and emotionally charged comments out of this discussion, or we're simply not going to learn anything.


11:45 pm on Apr 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I don't know when it happened, but I noticed it a few days ago: Google has disabled a number of rich snippets displays, even for sites owned and operated by Google (such as the Android Market). Users are now less likely to see large icons beside normal web search results due to this.


1:46 am on Apr 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

No other noticeable changes in the serps, listings still look good across the board, however traffic quality and conversions have finally jumped up dramatically...anyone else seeing this? Hope this was just another shake & bake. Good thing I had enough ride through in the bank account to survive the past 30 days.


2:49 am on Apr 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

These holidays are a killer, it's very difficult to detect if changes are due to overall internet traffic or a change in SERPs. Traffic from Bing and Y! jump all over the place daily adding to the problem.

Anyway, did anyone else just see what looks like another update about 8:00 pm U.S. Eastern? Over the last two hours, our traffic just jumped 20% when compared to last week and 10% higher than March 26th.

We're getting traffic for terms that disappeared for us last October.


2:51 am on Apr 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm seeing an increase of about 20% in long tail G referrals compared to last week Monday on our US ecomm site.


3:24 am on Apr 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Traffic has been solid the past week. Bounce rate dropped about 8% with this last update at the end of March. Conversions are up. Some of this is a bulking of content on our site.

The SERPS also have started to remove some of the spam duplicate sites. However and I think this is important to bring up there still seems to be an issue with similar words. I did a search tonight that was very specific. Google provided a bunch of results that were bad. How so? One of the word in the phrase was minutes. I got back some really bad sites with terrible grammar, spelling and that made no sense. Think "bake the cake for 5 moments" instead of minutes. That is not the example but I'm seeing this over and over in the last week. Instead of returning exact matches I'm getting spam because the exact matches are deprecated.

Tonight is the first time I've seen it on this level and to this extent. Surprising as it reminds me of Webcrawler days. Is this the algo not fully grasping the English language, seo optimization penalty side effect or some combination? Remember my tumbler versus tumblr comments a few weeks ago? These problems seem to be growing.


3:29 am on Apr 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Seeing a very large increase in long tail traffic across a few sites.


8:01 am on Apr 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Seeing a very large increase in long tail traffic across a few sites.

Yes but is it any good or just complete c**p with 100% bounce?


8:08 am on Apr 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

However, I just added a WP blog post and it was picked up an in the #1 spot within 30 minutes.

I made small changes to one of my site pages as an experiment and...bang... within hours it was in on page 3 of the SERPs after it had fallen off completely.

I agree that freshness seems to be at play (as well as a multitude of other things).


2:27 pm on Apr 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Fresh meat does seem to be an important factor at the moment, the problem seems to be that quality is not initially important. Perhaps this is why we are seeing a lot of garbage across the serps.

Throwing Google prime grade steak and dog food grade horse meat immediately ranks high. It takes another iteration of the sort for it to determine the quality.

Example: I am watching a site in my niche grabbing for straws by ridiculously keyword loading their title. Once he updates the page, he pops to the top for a few hours, then drops back down beyond the fold.

So the trick to success right new seems to be keep it fresh, but be sure it's high quality too!

This is interesting, because last week Google seemed to be hip deep on processing and was not picking results up very quickly (4 day delay), now they are back to picking up fresh meat very quickly.

My theory: under normal conditions, Google's system has been previously advertised to have has the capability to index a stack of pages three miles high every second (that has probably increased since then). When the system is busy updating a new algo, it re-sorts the entire global database, putting a higher than normal load on the system. When the update completes, load is reduced and changes are picked up more quickly.

This faster uptake might indicate that the new sort routine is completing (for this update). But don't get too excited, I think we can be sure this will be a continual wash, rinse, repeat cycle.

This all seems to follow previous patterns that we've observed.

Either way, I am seeing improvements in traffic quality over the past three days....which is positive.
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