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Google's November 2008 Update Feedback


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19 replies to this topic

#1 Michael Martinez

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 01:16 PM

Every year since 2003 (perhaps earlier, but I don't recall that far back) Google has gone through a massive changeout process. You can call it an update, an algorithmic change, a recrawl/rebuild process, etc. I don't want to niggle over semantics. These Google upheavals usually start in October and their full effects are usually noted by mid- to late-November.

This year appears to be no different. I'm seeing complaints in multiple locations of people whose Web sites have mysteriously vanished from the search results, or they have lost rankings.

I'm not interested in hypothetical explanations of what is going on. I would like to collect anecdotes about lost rankings, sudden rankings increases, pages dropping out of the index, etc.

If your Google listings have radically altered over the past week or two (or by the end of November 2008), I would appreciate your describing your situation here in very general terms (please remember forum policy). I am not asking for the keywords you are targeting or the URLs of your Web sites.

If, however, you would like an OPINION, please feel free to send me a private message and I will look at your site and give you some feedback. I will not use whatever you share for my competitive advantage (I AM a full-time practicing Director of Search Strategies and I have clients in many industries).

After a couple of weeks, if I have collected sufficient data, I will share my thoughts here in this thread (I have done this before here on HighRankings). So I don't expect to follow this thread past late November, just to be clear.

Although I cannot make any guarantees to anyone about anything, my experience has been that these "Fall Flurries" usually right themselves by the end of December or mid-January. That's why we also sometimes call this effect the Google Christmas Crunch.

So, please share your pain (or joy). If you're in travel, it's good enough to say you're in travel. If you're in real estate, it's good enough to say you're in real estate. Other things I'd like to know include:
  • Age of your site (in years and months)
  • Size of your site (in page ranges: 1-10, 10-50, 50-100, 100-1000, 1000-10000, 10000-100000, ...)
  • How many pages you think Google should normally index
  • How many pages you think Google is currently indexing
  • Have your rankings changed on Ask, Live, or Yahoo!?
  • Do you use Google Analytics or some other package?
  • What approximate percentage change are you seeing in search referrals from Google?
  • Have your search referrals from other services changed?

I ask for the information about other search services because people often make subtle but significant changes to their sites without realizing the impact those changes can have on search referrals. If you see changes in referral patterns across all major search engines, you're probably more responsible for whatever happened to your Google traffic than people who did nothing to their sites.

People may be curious about what Google could be doing. I can't tell you because I don't know. In the past they have introduced major algorithmic changes, added significant filters, and even launched a complete redesign of their search system infrastructure (although the Bigdaddy Update actually began in December 2005).

For now, I'd just like to collect anecdotal information. I'll be glad to look at Web sites privately shared with me.

If this event follows historical patterns, most people don't need to do anything, and we should all resist the temptation to panic and assume that Google has suddenly targeted us for any particular reason.

Thanks in advance.



#2 BBCoach

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 01:53 PM

Michael,

QUOTE
These Google upheavals usually start in October and their full effects are usually noted by mid- to late-November.
I tend to notice it starting in August and lasting thru January, but you're right it does seem to be something going on. Don't know what either.

QUOTE
I would like to collect anecdotes about lost rankings, sudden rankings increases, pages dropping out of the index, etc.
Don't do anything! My sites all came roaring back NLT Jan. Besides, there's nothing one could do anyways other than pay G for some PPCs. Personally, I think that's part of what's going on. I'm cynical when it comes to G.

QUOTE
If your Google listings have radically altered over the past week or two (or by the end of November 2008), I would appreciate your describing your situation here in very general terms (please remember forum policy). I am not asking for the keywords you are targeting or the URLs of your Web sites.
Nothing so far this year, but last year my hobby site lost all of the 1500+ pages from G's index and some of my friends ecomm sites experienced the same thing. All were back to normal by the end of Jan. No effect in Y or M.

Based on effect last year at this time:
QUOTE
  • Age of your site (in years and months) - all sites 8+ years
  • Size of your site (in page ranges: 1500-50000)
  • How many pages you think Google should normally index - of course every dang one of 'em.
  • How many pages you think Google is currently indexing - all
  • Have your rankings changed on Ask, Live, or Yahoo!? - Nope
  • Do you use Google Analytics or some other package? - Yes & Yes
  • What approximate percentage change are you seeing in search referrals from Google? Last year dead. This year 10+% increase
  • Have your search referrals from other services changed? - Nope

This year the Fall has not occurred with any sites I'm familiar with, but last year was bloody.

#3 Michael Martinez

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 04:59 PM

I appreciate the feedback but what happened last year really won't help me identify any possible trends for what is happening this year.

It will be helpful if people post current data. Google normally makes up to 10 algorithmic changes per week and people don't notice most. What historically happens each fall seems to go beyond the weekly tweaks.



#4 Randy

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 06:50 PM

Sorry Michael, but I've not seen anything adverse on any of my sites this fall or early winter. This covers both older, more established sites of which I have several, and sites that are new in the last 6-12 months.

For the older sites where I have years worth of data the sales numbers on some are down a bit, probably due to the economy and the nature of those sites where what they sell is not a necessity type item. On other older sites sales are actually up a bit. Across the board I've not seen rankings drop. I've not seen any kind of shuffle affecting my normal competitors either. If anything my own rankings are up a little bit over the norm, where that's possible.

Traffic wise, every one of my sites is receiving more traffic than they did in the year prior. Depending upon the site, I'm seeing traffic change percentages ranging from ~5% up to ~15% improvement for my older sites. Newer sites are more difficult to gauge, but if I compare the last month or so to a couple of months ago, most of those are in the ~50% to ~75% improvement range.

Overall I don't see any sort of ranking adjustment during the Oct-Nov time period as we used to see. So I have to wonder if some folks don't simply have the timing of these in the past --along with the PPC ulterior motive some have always put forth-- stuck in their head. I have to wonder if it's not more mental than real sometimes.

Anyway, I'm not going to have any data for you. Because all of my data is the opposite.

#5 qwerty

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 11:45 PM

I'm currently putting together a proposal for a site that apparently lost a number of top ten rankings, but I'm told that the rankings dropped a few months ago, and that there's no log of any changes that were made to the site during the time leading up to the drop.

In other words, nothing from me either.

#6 Andy LoCascio

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 06:58 AM

Michael,

We have hyper-accurate tracking data for the last 30 days for 20+ distinct domains each with a basket of 20-50 keyword phrases. We have this data for MSN, Yahoo, and Google. the domains cover e-commerce, basic services, manufacturers, distributors, etc. The sites range in age from 6 months to 6 years or more. Here is a typical sample:



Unfortunately we are a day or two short of a month (the tool has only been in place for 30 days) and the monthly change column is not visible. However, we viewed the history and determined that this site, which had no modifications during this period, remained stable.

For sites where the content remained unchanged during this period, all have improved in rank (probably due to our internal partner link network). We cannot see any real evidence of Google rank degredation during this period. If anyhting we are seeing the opposite for the last 30 days.

Andy

#7 BBCoach

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 12:14 PM

QUOTE
I appreciate the feedback but what happened last year really won't help me identify any possible trends for what is happening this year.

I have to disagree somewhat with you Michael. What I observed last year is exactly what some are seeing again this year, and websites shouldn't go making all kinds of changes in the hopes of regaining those rankings. Sit tight and between Dec and Jan your rankings will return to where they were. That advice is still very valid.

Like I said, "I'm cynical about G." I don't think it's beneath them to devalue different sectors of website rankings in order to drive up the necessity of those sites to run PPCs during the busiest shopping season. Can anyone think of a quicker/better way of increasing revenue during the busiest buying season with a plausible, "Oh we're just updating our index." as a valid excuse? My opinion, but this has been going on for the last several years at G and neither Y or M have done this (yet). It's their ballgame and there's absolutely nothing anyone can prove or do about it. Of course to do it effectively one would rotate the different sectors each year to keep it cloaked, cuz if every site experienced it, then it would definitely become obvious what G is doing during this period to increase revenue.

#8 Michael Martinez

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 05:11 PM

Thanks for the feedback, guys.

BBCoach, what happened a year ago is irrelevant to what is happening now because Google keeps moving forward. It's great that some people are seeing stability in this year's autumn churn, but other people are not. Even here in Highrankings Forum there are several current discussions where people have complained about lost rankings. I was hoping to draw more people out, but perhaps the majority of folks who are suffering don't visit this forum.

BTW -- I did not say I had lost any rankings (I have not). I am asking for data from people who have seen drastic changes in their Google search referral traffic and/or search results, as I have done in previous years.

#9 Jill

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 09:39 PM

I do think the majority of people here who follow our advice prolly don't see major fluctuations in general.

#10 bosserik

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 02:16 AM

Hi all.

I have about 10 money making sites in european countries (holland, denmark, germany, sweden and norway). Some of these sites are doing very well, while others did not gain many high rankings (yet).

Two of my oldest and best running sites (both in Denmark) both ranked very good for almost all important keywords in the subject. I had about 25-30 number 1 positions and a lot more top 5 positions in the local google.dk organic search results.

On the 18th of october almost ALL these rankings dropped significantly. Most of them moved to page 5 or 6 or lower. I panicked a bit, because even though I tried to spread my income over various sites, this drop hit me on two of my best sites, resulting in a significant drop in my income. I was relieved a little to read about the Christmas Crunch; even though I don't know if this is the case for me, I hope the rankings will recover soon.

I post here your requested info of one of the sites (I can post the data for the other site, if needed).

* Age of your site (in years and months): 4 years and 7 months
* Size of your site (in page ranges: 1-10, 10-50, 50-100, 100-1000, 1000-10000, 10000-100000, ...): 20 pages
* How many pages you think Google should normally index: 20
* How many pages you think Google is currently indexing: 20
* Have your rankings changed on Ask, Live, or Yahoo!? don't know
* Do you use Google Analytics or some other package? No
* What approximate percentage change are you seeing in search referrals from Google? 90% ? I hardly get any organic searches anymore
* Have your search referrals from other services changed? Not to my knowledge


General for both sites:

* affiliate sites
* have had good strong #1 positions in a fairly long time
* not gained or lost any backlinks for quite some time
* run on different servers


I began to work on getting more backlinks, but after reading several comments, I guess the best advice is to just sit it out and wait?

I would love to hear more advice. I you need any more info, please let me know.

/Erik



#11 Nueromancer

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 06:12 AM

We have one medical site that for a one word term has been jumping between position 11 and mid page 1 on Google UK it now seems to have moved up permenatly to page 1 even beating NICE (part of the NHS for that term)

We are also beting one of the major players in that area for that term and are just under the other one.

Thats the only major change we have seen



#12 Michael Martinez

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 12:20 PM

Thanks for the feedback, guys. I hope more people share.

As for additional advice, I don't have any to share at this time. If you're convinced your sites are not violating search engine guidelines, there should be no cause for alarm.

But it never hurts to create new content. If nothing else, it keeps the mind busy and deters thinking about doomsday scenarios.



#13 axeray

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 08:25 PM

Hi Michael,

I was wondering if you've collected other data from other threads and furms?

If so, what are your thought's so far on any changes?

If not, have a Merry Christmas.

#14 fbw

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Posted 07 December 2008 - 05:38 AM

QUOTE(bosserik @ Nov 25 2008, 08:16 AM) View Post
Two of my oldest and best running sites (both in Denmark) both ranked very good for almost all important keywords in the subject. I had about 25-30 number 1 positions and a lot more top 5 positions in the local google.dk organic search results.

On the 18th of october almost ALL these rankings dropped significantly. Most of them moved to page 5 or 6 or lower. I panicked a bit, because even though I tried to spread my income over various sites, this drop hit me on two of my best sites, resulting in a significant drop in my income. I was relieved a little to read about the Christmas Crunch; even though I don't know if this is the case for me, I hope the rankings will recover soon.

/Erik


I am in the same position as Bosserik. I have a Danish and Germen website both going from number 5 on G to completely gone on the best keywords!

The Danish one disappeared about the 15. of Nov and came back the 20. of Nov. The Germen one has not come back.

Now the Danish one disappeared again the 5. of Dec.!

I have changed the index page from index.htm to index.asp and supplied the main page with a feature with display of renewing elements (10 last customers).

Can this have a negative effect?

The German site:

Age of your site (in years and months): 10 years
* Size of your site 1000 pages according to G index
* How many pages you think Google should normally index: 1000
* How many pages you think Google is currently indexing: 1000
* Have your rankings changed on Ask, Live, or Yahoo!? don't know
* Do you use Google Analytics or some other package? No
* What approximate percentage change are you seeing in search referrals from Google? 40% ?
* Have your search referrals from other services changed? I don't know

The Danish website:

Age of your site (in years and months): 10 years
* Size of your site: 700 pages according to G index
* How many pages you think Google should normally index: 700
* How many pages you think Google is currently indexing: 700
* Have your rankings changed on Ask, Live, or Yahoo!? don't know
* Do you use Google Analytics or some other package? No
* What approximate percentage change are you seeing in search referrals from Google? 40% ?
* Have your search referrals from other services changed? I don't know

What to do?



#15 Randy

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Posted 07 December 2008 - 08:20 AM

QUOTE
I have changed the index page from index.htm to index.asp and supplied the main page with a feature with display of renewing elements (10 last customers).

Can this have a negative effect?


Changing the filename can have a negative effect, if Google had the page indexed as www.domain.com/index.htm and not simply as the domain address of www.domain.com. And of course changing the content of the page can have both positive and negative effects.

Then again, if they already had it indexed as www.domain.com/ (not with the page filename included) and the content change is recent you may simply be in a situation where Google is re-indexing and re-scoring the page. Where if you did nothing more than wait it out the page may come roaring back.

That's what I'd do first. Nothing for a few weeks.




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