Google Algo Tweaks: Webmaster Reports of Traffic Down by 90%!

Jun 12, 2008 | 2,811 views | by Navneet Kaushal
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Reports are flooding in from Webmaster World, that there seems to be a sudden and a dramatic traffic drop from Google. Numerous Webmasters have been reporting about this disturbing development. According to some of the reports, the drop is as high as up to 90%. It seems that Google is fast dropping hundreds or maybe thousands of pages from these Webmasters' websites.

The thread at Webmaster World regarding this concern spans 3 pages, so I'm gonna highlight some of the important posts from this thread:

"I can now join the catastrophic loss club! UK site, PR6, rock solid rankings, 400k pages indexed, fast loading – 90% loss of traffic since 2 days ago. Last time the site went AWOL was early February for a couple of days.

Looking up what I used to rank for approx 20,00 medium to long phrases then all top listing just disappeared BUT results can now only be described as awful – in fact on one query results 11-20 contained sites from Poland, Germany, Czech, .info and not a single .com or – when will Google admit that they really screwed up big time this time?

As my site is a .com hosted on uk servers then it seems that I have now moved to the index for Mars. Time to move to the dark side methinks rather than stay in the Google lottery."

"I think that this affected higher PR club may well grow! I have had a dig in my logs and it looks like my tap was turned to off around teatime on 4 June GMT.

Those with higher traffic sites (say top 10,000 alexa for your country) then please have a dig in your logs to see if we can link the drop to a specific time.

Of course this could be part of the Google masterplan to fill the results with loads of tiddlers to suffocate the bigger fish into buying air from Google!"

"My 12-yr-old, PR5 site was also hit on Wednesday, losing almost all Google traffic. What's curious is that from what I can see most of my pages are still listed, but instead of ranking 1-5, they are on the next page of results. I have been hit by the 950 penalty before, but this is definitely not the case this time. The results above mine seem to be mostly good sites, but they are much newer and smaller sites than mine."

"one of our sites was hit hard. it was a "landing page" looking site, without css.
most were not hurt,
one with really great css, (the page looks like old style internet informational pages without css), it has PROPER use of H1, h2 and h3 with videos on most pages and lots of properly tagged images (like for the blind person who HEARS the screen) and it was not hurt and has climbed!
G said they were going to start paying a whole lot more attention so sites with great user experience including video and properly tagged images.

I guess its time to make sure all our sites concentrate on great user experience and contain videos and properly used alt tags"

"I have a few mini-sites and one of these has seen its traffic go up 20 fold and it simply does not deserve to rank for what it is ranking for – no SEO effort whatsoever – a blog with about 20 pages of content!

Perhaps the solution is to take the 400,000 pages of content – yes they are product pages and turn them into 2,000 x 200 page websites, crosslink them all and buy lots of cheap backlinks as this seems to be the sort of site that Google now favours.

The silence from Google is deafening on this one – we all know they have had UK geo problems and my guess is that they have attempted a fix that is wreaking havoc in some areas.

As an aside, I noticed that Google spider stopped spidering some of my other sites early on Wednesday like it was on holiday or something but today the crawl rate on the PR6 site seems to be running at 3x its normal rate – it is like Google lost a whole block of indexed pages and is now trying to get them all back ASAP. The loss of 100,000 pages would clearly hit ranking if internal support pages were lost and the unusual spider activity is certainly something that I have not experienced before – the one thing a large site has in its favour is the remarkable predictability of activity so when that predictability disappears then one notices the impact pretty quickly.

Time to chill for a couple of days, touch nothing and see what happens."

"Lost 90% of Google Organic last week on one of our country TLD sites. Daily 30K organic traffic dropped to 3K, so Google is STILL sending some traffic. We have a network of sites all hosted in the US. All other sites are fine. One application runs the whole network. Network of TLD sites in each country of a major continent.

Only one country was hit. Our oldest and largest site (4 years). Go figure.

1,000,000 pages still indexed for the lost country site though. No obvious penalties.

I can search for some of our unique titles and find a high result other are gone. That being said we are a long tail site so we have 1000s of keywords constantly changing so not beholden to a few keywords.

We do very very little linking out without a NOFOLLOW.

Emailed back and forth with Google, they said they couldn't see anything wrong. (shut off our AdWords account so I could get someone to talk to me)

No link exchanges or link campaigns. We're web standardistas. Absolutely no black hat strategies. We try to escape out any UGC trickery. Some users could have slipped something by us and we're still checking but its unlikely.

We have a footer that links to each country site. Had it for a long time. It's not an SEO trick, it's a legit navigation so our users can jump countries. Could be that?"

"A few more interesting observations.

Firstly, the number of search results being reported on some popular UK products seems to have fallen dramatically – my guess would be 80-90% reduction.

Secondly, and I find this one amazing, I am starting to see sites where the total number of NON SUPPLEMENTAL pages being reported in the serps is significantly more than the total number of pages INCLUDING supplemental pages – the numbers are nonsense.

Thirdly, for say a five word search then the cache reports say two of the words on the page and say three of the words in links pointing to the page BUT the words linking to the page seem highly unlikely. Could this be the effect of all of these external search type query parameters being hosted on remote sites? If this is the case then it seems that the spammers may well have found a way of unduly affecting the Google algo."

4.thumbnail Google Algo Tweaks: Webmaster Reports of Traffic Down by 90%!

Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal is the founder and CEO of PageTraffic, an SEO Agency in India with offices in Chicago, Mumbai and London. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet's expertise has established PageTraffic as one of the most awarded and successful search marketing agencies.
4.thumbnail Google Algo Tweaks: Webmaster Reports of Traffic Down by 90%!
4.thumbnail Google Algo Tweaks: Webmaster Reports of Traffic Down by 90%!