Hi BlueBamboo ~
It does appear that there was a new update (this one named "Florida"),
and you can read about it - and a lot of the gripes - in two
discussion threads on the Webmaster World site. Please remember that a
lot, if not most, of the comments are pure speculation and probably
not the greatest information at this time.
I suggest you do pay attention to any post by GoogleGuy, who is an
employee of Google and whose posts are probably the closest to any
kind of definitive word by Google on this recent update.
The first thread, "Update Florida - Nov 2003 Google Update - Looks
like an Old Fashioned Dance Baby!" contains 693 posts and spans 47
pages, can be found here:
The second thread, "Update Florida - Nov 2003 Google Update Part 2",
with the first post by GoogleGuy, can be found here:
You'll notice references to "white hat/black hat", which refers to
those who follow the rules and those who don't and some references to
spammers and irrelevant material disappearing from the index. It does
appear that there was indeed a major change in the algorithm, and that
you are not alone in your dismay at a drop in search engine results
So, What About Bluebambu.com?
Searching Google for the term "baby shower favors" (without the
quotation marks, bluebambu.com is placed 154; and with the quotation
marks, bluebambu.com's SERPs is 112.
Obviously, I can't tell you whether or not the results as they are
right now are as they will stay, although there is an indication (but
only an indication) that this may not be the case in the second
thread, "there may be some more data to incorporate tomorrow or so.
I'd send feedback now and feel free to send it later as well."
Just remember, though, if you are designing for search engines and not
for your visitor, you're really aiming at a moving target (as this
last Google dance clearly shows).
I did notice a few things, though, that you may want to address in
your site's design. One is purely cosmetic, although it does involve
accessibility issues for those with vision problems, and the other is
purely paying attention to Google's recommendations.
Your Links Page
Your "Third Party Links" page,
, has over 200 links on the page.
Google recommends breaking your page up into several smaller pages
when you have that many. From Google's "Design and Content
"Keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number
(fewer than 100)."
With that many OUTGOING links, you really would do well to split the
page into smaller, more logical links. The choice is up to you, but a
search on Webmaster World often cites that Guideline and recommends
breaking outgoing links up to reasonable sizes.
About That Grey Type
When I first visited your page, I though you were using CSS and a
content management page to design the site because of the small grey
text which seems to be the fad among those who are relying on CSS for
I was surprised to see that your site's DTD was HTML 4.01 transitional
and the layout was tables and that you intended your text to be that
While it is true that about half the browsers are set to an 800x600
resolution, it is also true that half are not. On browsers set at a
1028 width, the text size is so small and the contrast between the
background and the text is so slight that the text is really not
readable at all. I suspect it was not your intention to turn away a
part of your visitors, so you might want to reconsider the text size
and color and make the contrast readable.
Here's a very good article by Aycan Gulez of Wow Web Designs about the
problems that presents, "Has Your Web Designer Ever Heard of
This problem is also mentioned on Web Pages That Suck,
http://www.webpagesthatsuck.com and the problems it causes for those
with lousy monitors, larger resolution settings, and lighting
conditions which may not be optimal.
There is also the accessibility issue. Sections 504 and 508 of the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. 794 and 794d, set forth the
minimum government standards for accessibility.
You might want to run each page of your site through Bobby, which will
give you a full context report of any portions of your site which do
not meet the minimum standards. If you make all the corrections
suggested, it will greatly enhance your visitor's enjoyment of your
The Bobby analysis page can be found here:
Please understand it is not my intention to be hypercritical here. My
only gripe is that I could not read some of your site's content
because of the conditions I mentioned. My monitor is a 19" diagonal
flat screen ViewSonic set at 36 million colors and 1028 x 800
I suspect there may be others who are experiencing the same problem,
and you might want to check your site logs to see when your visitors
click away. The small grey type may be the reason.
Yes, there has been a recent "Google Dance" with an apparent major
change to Google's algorithms. I can't tell you whether or not the
results you see are permanent, but it would behoove you to take the
time to go through the threads on Webmaster World, taking each entry
with the proverbial "grain of salt", as Google is the only entity who
knows all the answers, and they're not given to sharing their
For your help in understanding exactly what is considered "white hat",
I am also including some important links from Google's Webmaster
Information and Webmaster Guidelines. Webmasters who follow the
guidelines and avoid Google's "Thou shalt nots" usually have no
problem getting listed and showing up under the search terms they
* Google Today (absolutely the best information you
can read about the "how and why" of Google's results
* How Do I Get My Site Listed on Google?
* My Web Pages Are Not Currently Listed (a good 'primer'
on how and why Google works so well)
* PageRank Information (covers both Google's PageRank and
* Webmaster Guidelines (contains both the dos and don'ts)
* Google Facts & Fiction (can you buy your way to a
high ranking in Google?)
* Search Engine Optimizers (some good advice on what to look
for if you're going to hire a Search Engine Optimizer)
* Frequently Asked Questions (pretty much what it says, but
definitely worth wading through)
Other Sources of Information
There is also good information from many of the top search engine
optimization experts, such as
* Detlev Johnson, Search Engine Guide
* Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Watch
* Jill Whalen, High Rankings
* Shari Thurow, Web Pro News (and quoted all over the Internet)
who all have columns or newsletters to which you can subscribe and
keep abreast of the best way to use good content for better
positioning in search engine results.
In addition, Webmaster World - http://www.webmasterworld.com/ - has
discussion boards on most of the search engines. While some of the
discussions are anecdotal and/or questions for information, there is
usually enough discussion to keep abreast of what seems to be
There is an entire section devoted to Google at:
It never hurts to keep track among these discussions, but remember,
trying to optimize for search engines only is like trying to hit a
moving target. You'll notice among the more experienced contributors
to the discussions - plus the SEO experts listed above - that there
really is no substitute for content, relevant links and good HTML.
Search strategy -
With the exception of the search specifically mentioned above, the
rest of this material was provided from bookmarked material for
resources used almost daily.
Best wishes for your success!
Google Answers Researcher