Google Search is broken

SEO May 17, 2012 3 Comments

Google search algorithm has gone berserk. With a number of major and hundreds of minor changes which Google is pushing down to it’s data centers the search results have beocme inconsistent.

The good news is that not a lot of websites are affected. The bad news is that the ones which are affected leave us fuming.

Baring few, just 2 to be precise, none of my 100 odd live websites are affected by any of these updates. I’m in SEO business since 2004 and since then none of my websites has ever been affected by any of Google’s search algorithm updates. I even don’t bother about these updates apart from just glancing through the SEO news headlines.

Google Analytics Report of the Website Affected by Google Search Algorithm Changes

Google Analytics Report of the Website Affected by Google Search Algorithm Changes

However recently one of my websites has been driving me nuts. Something has broken in Google’s algorithm updates which has dropped this website 3 times in past 1 month. Yes that’s right 3 dumps in just one month as you can see in the Google Analytics report above.

The reason why my websites remain unaffected by any search algorithm changes is that I always follow Google Webmaster guidelines and have never been involved in any spam practices. And that is why I never cared about any algorithm updates.

However in this website’s case it is obvious that something has gone terribly wrong with Google algorithm changes.

All good till 6th May 2012 when it struck again and Google dropped this website from the ranking for main keyword. This time the ranking disappeared just for one day and next day website was back in top ranking.

Feeling lost and not finding any clue what has happened I submitted reconsideration request to Google.

After a week or so I received typical reply from Google

Reconsideration request for http://www.mywebsite.com/: No manual spam actions found

April 12, 2012

Dear Site Owner or Webmaster of http://www.mywebsite.com/,

We’ve received a request from a site owner to reconsider http://www.mywebsite.com/ for compliance with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

We’ve reviewed your site and found no manual actions by the web spam team that might affect your site’s ranking in Google. There’s no need to file a reconsideration request for your site because any ranking issues that you may be experiencing are not related to a manual action taken by the web spam team.

Of course, there may be other issues with your site that affect your site’s ranking. Google’s computers determine the order of our search results using a series of formulas known as algorithms. We make hundreds of changes to our search algorithms each year and we employ more than 200 different signals when ranking pages. As our algorithms change and as the web (including your site) changes, some fluctuation in ranking can occur as we make updates to present the best results to our users.

If you’ve experienced a change in ranking which you suspect may be more than a simple algorithm change, there are other things that you may want to investigate as possible causes, such as a major change to your site’s content, content management system or server architecture. For example, a site may not rank well if your server stops serving pages to Googlebot or if you’ve changed the URLs for a large portion of your site’s pages. This article has a list of other potential reasons why your site may not be doing well in search.

If you’re still unable to resolve your issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.

Yours sincerely,

Google Search Quality Team

Sigh of relief but by the time I received this reply the blog was back up in the ranking.

By this time I had realized that Google date centers are playing ping pong so I didn’t pay any attention and knew that it will be back to normal again in few days of time.

Then came the 3rd tornado and this time it lasted for a week. The 3rd impact was on 9th May 2012 (exactly 1 month after the first impact – just coincidence?).

Boy! Google search algorithm has became a game of Russian Roulette where your fate is decided by a wheel rather than your hard work.

High quality content and User friendly Website

The typical bounce rate for a resonable good and high volume website is around 40%-50%. For this website the bounce rate hovers around 39% which is very good by any standard.

A low bounce rate, and high stick rate, is indication that your website is liked by visitors. Low bounce rate is one of the indication that your website adhere with Google Webmaster Guidelines in terms of page layout and good quality content.

If website adheres with webmaster guidelines and has good, unique content and there are no instances of spamming then why it has to be dropped from the search ranking?

Website Analysis

This website is a blog which I started this year and by April it hit the top 5 ranking and started to dominate the top 3-5 ranks from this website for the main keyword for the home page and other category pages.

This was a new domain which I bought and started the blog from scratch. All the posts on this blog are unique and fresh. The contents are mix of news, videos and images.

I didn’t do any massive link building, no directory submissions, no article marketing and no other traditional link building techniques.

I did good social media promotion which was best suited for this blog and this is what helped this blog to achieve top ranking.

I also did usual on page optimization as I do for all of my websites and blogs.

I didn’t have even a single instance of any spam practice either in on page optimization or off page optimization.

This website has really good content, it uses a nice theme and overall any visitor will find it appealing to stick with it for long time and come back again. This is also echoed by the low bounce rate as you can see in the Google Analytics report above.

Alexa Ranking

Alexa Ranking

Alexa Ranking

As you can see this website has a global ranking of 132,892 and 10,904 ranking in India. You can’t get anything better than this for a free blog which was born out of hobby.

Alexa ranking further emphasizes the fact that website is indeed a good website and liked by everyone who visits this site.

The Impact

So far so good till Google search algorithm first went berserk on 9th April 2012.

My initial thought was that it is my fault as just few days back I’ve added few above the fold banners to monetize the blog. However I didn’t think that Google will pick up the excessive “above-the-fold” advertising and penalize the blog instantly. But to be on safe side I removed the above-the-fold images and submitted a reconsideration request to Google.

I didn’t have any reason to believe that there could be any other reason that above-the-fold penalty which affected this blog.

Conclusion

From the above analysis it is clear that something is broken in Google search algorithm and it keeps on popping up every now and then.

If this blog was by bread and butter than I would have been out of business now. Even though I’m SEO I never rely on Google search traffic to make money.

Imagine if it was your sole business website and you have been affected by broken Google search algorithm then you would go out of business by now.

Comments

3 Responses to “ Google Search is broken ”
  1. Tylor

    Nice article.

    Recently my website lost all traffic as it disappeared from the search result. I’m worried that it is penalized. I’ve submitted reconsideration request but didn’t get any reply from Google. Not sure what is happening.

    What do I do now to find out what is going on?

    • Ajay

      If you haven’t been spamming then chances are that it will be just temporary affect and your website will come back to it’s previous glory ;)

      In the worst case your website might be affected by one or many algorithm changes which Google has recently pushed. If this is the case and you rely on organic search traffic for your revenue then kiss goodbye to your website and do some other business.

  2. Naomi

    I own a small flower shop in Hackney. I also have a website which has been being optimized by a friend of mine. This website used to get good traffic till April this year when all hell broke loose and we lost ranking and traffic.

    My friend doesn’t know what has happened and how to fix it. Any suggestions?

Leave a Reply to Naomi