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Google Updates and SERP Changes - July 2012



4:36 pm on Jun 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

A lot of my keyword SERPs dropped a page today - totally out of the blue. They have been going up and up in SERPs steadily all this year with no panda or penguin impacts. I havent changed anything on my home page and no new spammy links, so I *guess* it's a google algorithm change?! I doubt its a penalty as the drop would have been even more severe.

Anyone else in the UK seen something similar today?

[edited by: tedster at 1:14 pm (utc) on Jul 1, 2012]


11:30 am on Jul 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

So... I've spent four months de-optimising. Bringing keywords densities down to what I perceive a machine regards as natural levels, simplifying internal anchors, reviewing and focussing meta-tags and updating articles. The site's been fully cached since the changes were made but the homepage still was languishing around page 35 to 40 (last year it lived on page 1 or 2).

So on 9th July I put in a reconsideration request honestly detailing all the work I'd done. On July 12th I got a reply that there were "no manual spam actions" so a reconsideration request was not necessary.

In WMT this site which had previously been on the top of the listing of sites I work with when sorted by "health of site" was moved to the bottom of that list. So "going to the doctor" when you are healthy is obviously a mistake... I had a gut-feeling it would be, but when you're on page 40, how much worse can it get...?

Well, on 15th July the homepage dropped out of the listings altogether, well at least below the 90+ pages of ten results that Google shows for my two-word search term. I feel I've been smacked in the face once for trying to rank my site using the honest methods that worked for years... Now I've been smacked in the face a second time for trying to come into line with what I construe to be the new acceptable protocols...

And all I ever did (and would like to continue doing) was put useful, high quality information in front of people who were searching for it...


11:50 am on Jul 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

themaninthejar: Couldn't agree with you more. I did the same thing on my Penguin hit site. Got the standard reply. Still hopeless. I'm planning to move to a new domain now. Sad to see, the plain old way of keeping your site clean, useful, indexable and searchable doesn't work (and I don't call this SEO; this is just good content practice).


11:54 am on Jul 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

@ themaninthejar

Did you de-optimize your entire site for the two word phrase you are trying to bring back your homepage for?


12:04 pm on Jul 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

@ Snowman - The two word phrase appeared in the following densities:

Keyword 2 - 21%;
Keyword 1 - 19%;
Next most used word - 3%.

The whole site was edited (text, metas and internal anchors) and now the densities are:

KW 1 - 8%;
KW 2 - 7%;
Next word - 4%.

So my keywords are still dominant, but not as "overpowering".

Usability and usefulness of the site was not adversely affected by these changes.

Roaming Gnome

12:07 pm on Jul 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

I realized after a year of "changes" that these algos are nothing more than a hamster wheel. I gave up on changing what I did to my site. It was just too aggravating. Now, I add content my surfers ask for and keep it moving. I just wish I hadn't wasted my time modifying my site for naught. Its like spitting in the wind.

Reading these threads shows that many of us work for google and not the other way around.

I for one am tired of chasing a girl that doesn't want to be with me. I'm looking for a new love. * Walks off singing Jody Watley *


12:19 pm on Jul 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Rock-solid Page 1 on Bing throughout all of this...


12:28 pm on Jul 16, 2012 (gmt 0)


That is a lot of change. Was there a lot of collateral damage done as well? Did you lose most of your long tail stuff? I know you said that your two word phrase is basically at page 100, but what about your overall Google organic referrals?


12:53 pm on Jul 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I am hoping that the Penguin is going to let us go when it's refreshed next time. If that's the case I have a feeling that it will be soon. A 3 month algorthimic penalty seems like the sort of thing google would do. Of couse - that is guessing that we have managed to clear up all of what google did not like about the site without destroying all of the things it does like.

In the meantime I am breaking my site into micro niche domains for all of the things it sells in case it never returns. Not entirely convinced it will ever return but I have some hope.

Aside from that has anyone noticed a slight increase in positions over the last week or two to have them all drop back again over the weekend?


12:57 pm on Jul 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Snowman - 75% drop across the board.


2:17 pm on Jul 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Jez123 - I saw a nice bump across a handful of sites over last week and yep, just as you said a huge drop (almost near complete deindexing of one major site) on Saturday night/sunday morning.


3:57 pm on Jul 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Regarding comments on over-optimized sites not recovering - I had two sites in particular that were hit bc of over-opt'ed anchors that have since returned after the IBL were cleaned up.

And I keep seeing a lot of hacked .edu sites in some competitive niches.


3:59 pm on Jul 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Can you define "cleaned up"? Do you mean you had lots of links removed altogether, 404 (soft-disavow) the problematic pages, or did you build out generic anchors to even the overall % of profile?


4:45 pm on Jul 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I am seeing significant shifts here in the UK, I even have a site that has vanished from SERPs.

I'm sure it'll be back as it's very clean.


5:09 pm on Jul 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

@dresden - in these cases, we just changed a % of the anchor text to not be so obviously optimized.


9:32 pm on Jul 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

still recovering from last thursday's changes over here. our us ecom site finished that day with half its usual conversion rate on google organic referred traffic. since then, things have certainly improved, but we are still not converting google referrals at our historic rates - its in the long tails, so, hard to really nail down - seeing ebbs and flows of higher and lower quality (measured by conversion rate) traffic - no complaints about volume

separately, i am seeing more local results in serps from different parts of the US. initially it seemed that local results were more prevalent in metro areas - now i see them at the head of serps in smaller markets - used to be rare that the local results would come before the first organic result, now, on competitive keywords in metro markets, i get 3 adds and then 7 local results. good luck scrolling down to the 1st organic result - on an older browser it would be 2 folds down the page - all of this continues to baffle me as the quality of the local results is so poor - i am guessing they are feeling they need this for mobile users (my results were all from a desktop) but relevance is so bad.


11:24 pm on Jul 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I have told you before that I totally redid my web site and I am not sure if the gain the last week is from a Google update or from my tweaking with the site or both, but I have had a 25% increase in hits from Google mostly. Other SE have also sent more tarffic so that is most like the tweaking that did it for Bing and Yahoo. What I DO see is that it seems like my site have been re-classified, i.e. it is clustered together with other similar site, possibly more similar than the other ones where is used to be clustered with. Anybody else seeing this?


5:52 pm on Jul 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Since nobody else is reporting any big changes It's got to be "personal" because I see a lot of changes today and so far a big drip of referrals from Google. SERPs looks ok so I am not sure what's going on. Could it be that Mayers went to Yahoo?


8:12 pm on Jul 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Themaninthejar: you quoted the following stats:

KW 1 - 8%;
KW 2 - 7%;
Next word - 4%

Does that mean that 8% of the words on your pages are KW-1? If not, what is the 8% referring to?

To my mind, if you have "cleared up" your site and still 8% of the words are KW1 then no wonder you have a major, massive problem. At that %ge its still way, way, way to far keyword stuffed. Massively over-stuffed from my experience anyway.


9:27 pm on Jul 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

@nomis5 - The figures I'm using are from WMT. I went to the Optimisation section and selected Content Keywords. I downloaded the table into a spreadsheet, totalled the occurences of all words and expressed each word's appearances as a percentage of that total.

So the percentage is not a density of all words on the site. It is a density in relation to those words that Google considers to be Content Keywords. As such it is an inflated percentage in terms of total words used.


10:10 pm on Jul 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator ianturner is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I saw a couple of sites hit heavily on Friday in the UK - and one other gain heavily.

Looked penguin related to me.


11:51 pm on Jul 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

My UK site was hit very badly in the middle of June onwards by Panda presumably judging by the dates. It's been stable and popular for 8 years. In total it lost around 80 to 90% of the traffic - still up and down, so I can't be sure.

The site had a good bounce rate and high conversions but I think it was panda'd by the duplicate content. Not pages, but sentences inside each block of text. In a number of pages I had repeated sentences. If Panda has AI, there's a good chance it spotted this.

So for me personally, it's duplicate content on the micro-level. Interesting, some areas light in content but all unique are still number 1..


12:49 am on Jul 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

Lookout asia, Japanese and Korean sites are getting Panda ...


12:56 am on Jul 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Anyone with a US based site seeing serp changes today. We've seen a large increase in traffic. Maybe google finally decided our site really wasn't one of the bad guys... (which we weren't)

We've seen about a 15%-20% increase in traffic


1:13 am on Jul 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

We've seen about a 15%-20% increase in traffic

Nothing quite that strong here but both Monday and today have been slightly stronger than usual for our site.


1:20 am on Jul 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Anyone with a US based site seeing serp changes today. We've seen a large increase in traffic.

My wife has a fairly new pet sitting website.

In the past the SERPS were filled with directory listing profiles.

Today ( or the last few days ) all those individual lists are gone and just one listing for the directory is there.

Moved my wifes site from the 6th page to the 1st.


3:11 am on Jul 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Today so far has been a lousy day but there is still a few hours for Google to send some traffic so I get up to the same limit as usual. It's been a lousy day for Google traffic but Yahoo and Bing has picked up some of Googs slack as usual.
I am still seing my site being clustered with other similar sites but not the usual similar ones, at least not when you add some sort of location to the search.
Funny how a 25% increase in traffic makes you "happy" considering you have lost 75% of your traffic you had some months ago.


10:12 am on Jul 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

According to AdSense metrics Tuesday's page views 159.3% compared to July average with seemingly a lot of extra traffic between midnight and 6 am UK time.

The extra traffic was mainly to my trade widget directory site image gallery however my trade widget B&M sites all faired better as well.

Time to do some delving into the SERPs.


4:17 pm on Jul 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

I am hearing about a new Panda update for Korean & Japanese SERPs - [seroundtable.com...]

Why did it take so long for Google to introduce Panda to these languages.Do people have any ideas?


5:08 pm on Jul 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

Panda apparently works from specific search terms. I assume this because Google's Amit Singhal said of Panda 2.0 that it went further into the long tail.

So when we're talking about a language that uses such a different type of character set, I can see why it would be a separate project and take longer.


5:21 pm on Jul 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Panda apparently works from specific search terms

you are right. In fact I do believe that version 1.0 of panda (Feb 2011) was for sites that had pages ranking high(how high is still a question) for the top 12% of traffic driving English keywords. But then Google did release it sooner for several other languages and I am sure they would have followed a similar approach. So I am surprised that they took such a long time to release it for these two popular languages.
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