February 2011 Google Ranking Changes

Feb 9, 2011 • 9:22 am | comments (40) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google PageRank & Algorithm Updates

Google HammerI am seeing some significant chatter, discussions, within the SEO industry this morning of a possible large and prominent Google web search algorithm update this morning.

There are two WebmasterWorld threads and some discussions in Google Webmaster Help with these discussions. Plus I am seeing some tweets from prominent SEOs. Let me quote a bunch.

WebmasterWorld threads:

Im seeing HUGE changes at the mo with sites all switching positions on page 1 on google.co.uk

We noticed a bit of a 'flutter' in Google serps today. We're in panic mode still after steadily losing our serps since Oct and being hit really hard mid Nov and again Dec 28th. So us noticing something may not necessarily correspond with a lot of others...

-We had one keyword that maintained front page placement (fell from #2 to #5) Beginning of last week it fell to page 2 and today it's back at #5 where it has been for months.

I'm not sure it's a complete rollback, but changes are afoot again. It may also be that the dust is already settling because I am noticing blog posts being picked up quickly and cache dates being updated. That seems to happen AFTER the algo has completed it's initial shake & bake process.

David Naylor tweeted, "hmm seeing a odd update in google .. should be fun and games for a bit." He added in response to Rishil's tweet on if it is a rollback, "can't be a rollback so some big leap upwards has well has downwards."

hmm seeing a odd update in google .. should be fun and games for a bitless than a minute ago via web

So what is this update? Is it a change or rollback to the Google scraper algorithm? Is it the expected Content farm algorithm or some other big expected change coming down the pipeline? Or maybe this is just a weird bug this morning in Google?

What are you seeing? Should SEOs and Webmaster panic?

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld and Google Webmaster Help.

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02/09/2011 02:44 pm

Could be that content farm algorithm. Might also be a decrease of importance of keyword in the domain. One other idea is a sort of an additional 'paid links' filter of some sort. Maybe it just took 2 weeks for the effects of the last change to come to fruition in terms of what rankings are affected by sites that were deindexed during the Scraper update.


02/09/2011 02:59 pm

Really nice news.. thanks for sharing...

Glenn Ferrell

02/09/2011 03:04 pm

Thanks for keeping on top of this ! I'm anxious to hear any clarifying updates - especially any reports indicating whether it may be the content farm update. I've been concerned about potential "collateral damage" from dup-content-related algo changes. For example, many distributors routinely and legitimately use dup content to describe manufacturer's products. I know that many travel agencies also feel their use of dup content (destination descriptions) from affiliates (from which they receive commissions) to also be completely legitimate. I'm sure others can give many other examples of potentially undesired side-effects.


02/09/2011 03:22 pm

I wouldnt Say its a KW domain response - I am seeing MORE KW domains ranking.


02/09/2011 03:37 pm

Couple of my KW domains slipped in rankings, none of them improved so... Similar ranking change happened to me a few months back, just before Christmas, so I hope it'll be temporary again.

Kate Loosley

02/09/2011 03:57 pm

In reply to Glenn, there will always be undesired side effects to any algorithmic change. Any kind of change is never going to satisfy everybody, but the decision to make this change is always made in order to please the majority. IMO the unwanted side effects are a small price to pay so that we can get rid of the plagiarists.


02/09/2011 04:49 pm

My newest site is now #1 for it's target keywords as of this morning, it wasn't yesterday. It is a keyword domain (perfectly generic). Of course, yesterday it was #2, so it might not have taken much to get to #1, site is only 10 weeks old. I did one instance of link building last week (ie, 1 link) and added some additional content. Not seeing any other major movement, maybe some slight improvements.


02/09/2011 05:34 pm

I have multiple sites which were ranked in positions 2 and 5. Both have slipped to 11 and 13. Sadly Amazon products have taken over the SERPS for these sites. It really sucks when you spend so much time doing research and giving visitors a wealth of information regarding specific products just to be beat out by Amazon selling a third party product. Even keyword rich domains have no impact as Google weighs Amazon's domain authority to heavily. And as a small business, I don't have the link buying budget that many have.


02/09/2011 06:03 pm

Right, I've been reading about the changes in WMW and other sites also. But on a side note, do you think it's a Google hammer or just a Google chisel, simply crafting and shaping their results to better meet the consumer experience.


02/09/2011 06:47 pm

Man, I'm watching my listings go up and down lick crazy; and not in a good way. I hope this all evens out soon. I'm doing fine on my long tails, but I lost two top listings on my shorties... I'll check again in the morning and see what things look like. Spooky. "-)


02/09/2011 06:49 pm

"It really sucks" Enough said...

LebSEO Design

02/09/2011 07:20 pm

maybe is the algorithm update that happened couple of weeks ago and now it duplicated on all DC ... found the changes late Sunday afternoon/night. still disecting it S: will keep u posted


02/09/2011 07:49 pm

Hey how do you all keep track of your rankings? What tools? Or are you just refreshing a Google SERP?

Larry Engel

02/09/2011 09:46 pm

I believe this to be true... it's the same update they did about 2 weeks ago in the U.S.


02/09/2011 11:17 pm

We're also seeing some pretty large movements in competitive industries! Upwards though which is nice :) Not too sure what's going on yet, but liking it so far!


02/10/2011 01:43 am

My large volume keywords are fine, but I'm seeing some longtail suffer today on one site inparticular.

Jim Rey

02/10/2011 04:24 am

Hey Vinnie, nice work anyway on "SEO Company" keyword.


02/10/2011 04:29 am

For the ones who practice the points mentioned here http://www.seroundtable.com/best-seo-tip-12930.html do not need to panic at all! Just sit back and enjoy! I am already doing so. :)

Neuro SEO India

02/10/2011 08:11 am

Even, some of the keyword domains got downfall. But I am sure, it will back soon...

online shopping

02/10/2011 08:48 am

I am also seeing that sites rankings also fluctuating on Google, Google Dancing occurs with keywords, may be some update occurs is algorithm and all keywords will back in business in week or two..

Harendrasingh Rajput

02/10/2011 08:52 am

Ya its really true i think its not rollback to the Google scraper algorithm ... because when we submit our site link in high proirity site its cache and one thing i found in changes its blogging affects more and more...


02/10/2011 09:04 am

One or two of the keywords i'm working on have dropped just lately but others have not been affected. I'm still hoping that it will fluctuate back up again but will carry on link building. I didn't assume it was due to a google algorithm update though? Still not sure...

SEO an Social Media

02/10/2011 10:10 am

I have noticed a significant change today. I work for an action sport network and unfortunately all its websites have been built on subdomains. Since yesterday's update, Google started treated all the network as one website! I don't have to say what does it mean for traffic and rankings!


02/10/2011 10:27 am

My older sites have not seen any noticeable changes but 2 of the newer sites (about 3 months old) which had been showing good traffic growth have literally vanished since Tuesday. Still showing in the index but terms that were on front page i can't find anywhere. Hoping just a short term blip as these sites have had substantial content and work put into them.


02/10/2011 11:04 am

Well i have not seen any changes for any of my keywords


02/10/2011 02:14 pm

thanks! falling back a little on this update, but i've been slacking on that word lately.

Glenn Ferrell

02/10/2011 02:25 pm

I don't disagree. I'm already seeing some positives in the disappearance of a couple of "reputation management" problems.

Lucky Larry

02/10/2011 02:48 pm

Can confirm that is a a Google tweak - compared stats from multiple search engines, only Google showing the dramatic upwards trend from the 7th Feb onwards along with overall rank improvements. Only seems to be effecting .com and .ca (so North America) all other local Googles for me don't show the trend.

Lucky Larry

02/10/2011 03:05 pm

Just to add to that, it looks like it's in our long tail thats showing the uplift - again only in North America / .com essentially we gaining rankings here which would suggest that it's the tweak for content/ scrapers. Testing on a new(ish) domain over the last few days showed the same kind of result with improvement in rankings on long tail KWs again only from Google.com, not from other SEs or local variants. for those interested I posted up a more detailed analysis here: http://luckylarry.co.uk/search-engines/google-tweaks-algorithm-to-lower-value-on-spam-sites/


02/10/2011 04:02 pm

One of my major phrases dropped in SERPs about -10. I noticed that most of the phrases being linked from low quality pages went down, while those being linked from some good pages - keep positions or went up in the rankings.


02/10/2011 05:30 pm

Thanks lucky larry (or pete?) - very good analysis and with reliable data. finally some data to support. I have seen the same across my sites (yep I am working for a big corporate) - and the graphs are pretty much the same. The most "backwards" google is the .es one. My humble opinion, of course.


02/10/2011 11:23 pm

Google is looking at businesses as a whole now.....not just great fresh site content and links to more authorative sites, but the overall reputation and social authority of your site. Reviews on Google HotPot and other review sites are key...and having interaction with your social media. It's not just content plus authority equal Page Rank anymore.

Dhanasekar mani

02/11/2011 05:16 am

I too agree on this. Stupid google gives more weight-age to old website, though it has useless content. My new websites are pushed down.

Dhanasekar mani

02/11/2011 05:23 am

this is very true and I have written comments in the same thread abt it. Google gives weightage to old domains or the domains are very popular. like amazon.

rupesh kumar jha

02/11/2011 09:42 am

yes webmaster should panic.


02/11/2011 07:03 pm

i've yet to see the changes..good article though..kudos!


02/15/2011 09:35 am

Oooops! Repeat - Note to self: Although Branding is crucial, never build multi site businesses on the same core domain. Get creative and find a multi domain solution, for added protection get different Class C IP addresses for each domain too. Google logic suggests everything in a domain/sub-domain is all about ONE.


02/16/2011 05:09 pm

Ive seen some of my sites stay the same and other go down. I dont think its anything to do with domain age. Some of my new sites havent moved, older ones have.

code promo

02/17/2011 01:38 pm

Yes changes are made but they are not so big, position of keywords fluctuate at minor basis and this usually happen.Anyways thanks for sharing this article.

SEO Chester

03/01/2011 12:10 pm

I have seen quite a few positive ranking changes occur recently and have put them down to site themeing and the way Google interprets this ranking factor.

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