If probably heard in the News or from an internet savvy friend about Google’s Big Daddy update and the mounting problems that developed since the update was started at the beginning of February. My business site, the comparison shopping portal ConsumerMatch.com was affected by the Google problems as were hundreds of others. It have been very frustrating months for everybody who got “hit” by this.
The worst thing of all is, that there is nothing we can do about it, but wait and hope that Google gets it’s act straight and that everything will be back to normal rather sooner than later.
It started last summer with Google’s Big 3 Phase Jagger Update. The goal of Jagger was to detect spam and duplicate content better and cleanse the Google Search Index from millions of pages of junk. The Jagger update caused serious problems for our Websites. We were not the only sites that got problems. A lot of other sites. Google was able to remove a lot of Spam from their Index, but removed together with the Spam a lot of legit and valuable content.
The last months of 2005 were pretty much like a roller coaster ride for us: Added to the Index, Loosing Pages, Removed, Appearing, Growing and the same from the beginning again. To make the story short; our Google traffic during the peak of the holidays was virtually nothing.
Google Engineer Matt Cutts posted on 10/19/2005 at his blog what Webmasters should do, who’s websites dropped out of the index. Article: Update Jagger: Contacting Google. I did not see the necessity for us to contact Google regarding our website yet. I started working on possible solutions for the probable Problems of our Website instead.
I believe that the problem with our site was caused by duplicate content. We had at the time multiple websites on multiple domains with similar content. Our old Site Shop-Links.net, which was started in 2001 and our current site ConsumerMatch.com (where we also own the .Net Domain).
Matt Cutts published in December and January posts regarding the changes in Google’s logic and what Webmasters should and should not do. To address canonicalization, Webmasters should implement 301 Redirects from the duplicate content to the original version. Also all 302 redirects should be removed from the site since 302 redirects were used by Spammers in the past to avoid an accidental penalty from Google. See:
The Little 301 That Could, 12/21/2005 and discussing 302 redirects, 1/4/2006
Jagger wrapped up by about November 18th 2005 and was the actual logic change. Google was now getting ready for the Bigdaddy infrastructure upgrade which is supposed to work better for canonicalization and redirects.
We had our 301 redirects in place when Bigdaddy started and everything was looking good at the beginning beginning of February and the Webmaster Community was praising the search results returned by the Test Datacenters. Google got ready to push it out to all Datacenters. See post by Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Watch on 2/2/2006: Google Bigdaddy Search Infrastructure To Rollout More Broadly.
The Rollout was performed throughout February and March. One Datacenter after another was upgraded with the new BigDaddy Infrastructure and Bot. In the middle of February did already News appear about unexpected Issues. Known and new Issues are reported until this day and a solution is not in sight.
I collected some News of the previous months, that will give you some pretty good ideas about the issues.
The Register reported today
Full-up Google choking on web spam?
“Webmasters have been seething at Google since it introduced its ‘Big Daddy’ update in January, the biggest revision to the way its search engine operates for years. Alarm usually accompanies changes to Google’s algorithms, as the new rankings can cause websites to be demoted, or disappear entirely. But four months on from the introduction of “Big Daddy,” it’s clear that the problem is more serious than any previous revision – and it’s getting worse.”
Zoomzoom Marketeers blogged last Friday
Having problems with Google indexing?
“If you haven’t experienced problems with Google dropping the amount of indexed pages on your site, you are certainly one of the lucky ones.”
Newcybertech Weblog reported on 4/8/2006
Google Algorithm Problems
“Have you noticed anything different with Google lately? The Webmaster community certainly has, and if recent talk on several search engine optimization (SEO) forums is an indicator, Webmasters are very frustrated”
So far was nothing reported from the Googleplex in California that provides any information and facts to understand what’s going on. I don’t know if it is so quite because Google Engineers are working on a solution for the problem. I hope that this is the reason for the silence.
Let’s hope for the best for everybody. Google’s reputation is seriously suffering at the moment because of this.
During the last 2 weeks were a lot of people working overtime on their website for the mentioned reasons. Others were busy investigating the issue in general to determine what the heck happened.
At the same time interesting articles appeared that talked about recent discoveries and developments in search engine behavior and ranking logic.
The logic and visible behavior of the Google Search Engine and it’s Crawlers showed some remarkable behavior (positive ones and not related to the BigDaddy Issues). The conclusions made from the observations show a trend in the Search Industry that will have major consequences for a lot of Websites in the future. How near that Future is, is hard do determine at this point.
Anyway, the changes are so severe that what you learned about Text Book Search Engine Optimization (SEO) during the last 10 years might become obsolete very soon.
It started with Mike Grehan’s post at ClickZ on 4/17/2006 with the title: Does Textbook SEO Really Work Anymore?. Mike Grehan is a renowned Veteran of the CEO industry and CEO of Smart Interactive Ltd..
This stirred up quite a lot of controversy and responses and eventually caused Mike Grehan to post another follow up article at ClickZ.com on 5/1/2006 with the title: Does Textbook SEO Really Work Anymore?, Redux. The Examples Mike presented about high ranking pages that were not even crawled yet and high ranking pages where the search term can’t be found anywhere within the page at all (no, not a cloaked site).
I did realize after finish reading the Articles, that the current Issues because of Jagger and BigDaddy will seem like minor issues for some in the not so distant future, if Mike Grehan is only to 50% right about his predictions.
The last 12 month were already turbulent. It seems that this was only a Taste or Appetizer for the things to come in the next 12 months.
How the Web being called after that? Web 2.1? Web 3.0? Web 3.0 Beta?
I wish sometimes to be a fortune teller. Just to be able to get an answer to some of those questions. Unfortunately I am not, like most other people and simply have to adapt to the new Environment, react to sudden changes and be prepared as much as possible to be able to make the best out of the new situations and resulting opportunities.