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Q: Lost top listing in google ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Lost top listing in google
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Visual Arts
Asked by: mmn-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 21 Nov 2003 08:07 PST
Expires: 21 Dec 2003 08:07 PST
Question ID: 278897
My website: always had a #1 ranking on the
google search engine, today I did a search and couldn't even find my
site. When I searched to see how many sites linked to mine I
discovered there were only 36, down from well over 100. The
categrories that I was top-listed in were: watercolors, watercolor
paintings,watercolor prints. The drop off in hits on my site is pretty
dramatic in just one day. What could have happened???
Thank you for your help,
Subject: Re: Lost top listing in google
Answered By: serenata-ga on 21 Nov 2003 21:15 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi Marlies ~

Your watercolors are just stunning. My favorite is "tulips" - that is
so vivid, I just love it.

I'm sure it's no comfort, but at the moment you are not alone ~ a lot
of people are experiencing the same phenomenon that you are with
regard to search engine results placement (SERPs) in Google since last

It is pretty well acknowledged that Google had a major change to its
search algorithm, and those who have been 'gaming' Google to increase
their SERPs. Rumors abound on  how and why to get back to their first
page ratings, and you can read pertinent threads, from those outraged
and those happy about the results on the Google News section of
Webmaster World here:

A word of caution, though. The only one who knows exactly what's going
on with these recent SERPs is Google. If you peruse some of the
information on Webmaster World, the only posts you should take as any
kind of 'official' word are those by GoogleGuy who is a Google
employee. And very often his statements may seem enigmatic.

Some Pertinent Posts
From GoogleGuy About The Recent Changes

I have taken the liberty of gleaning some of GoogleGuy's posts for you
from those above, and I think you'll notice remarks about 'whitehats'
and Google's guidelines.

From the first thread, "Update Florida - Nov 2003 Google Update -
Looks like an Old Fashioned Dance Baby!"

     "... any update is going to make some people mad and some
      people happy. And everyone's going to have different
      (but strong) opinions about it. You and several other
      people have noticed that whitehats are doing better in
      this update ..." [Post #76]

     "... I'm not going to speculate on what the future holds,
      other than we're always going to be working to find ways
      to make search more relevant ..." [Post #85]

     "To me, whitehats stay on this side of our quality guide-
      lines at
      and blackhats are willing to go to the other side.
      [Post #90]

     "... I think that there's such a thing as spam, and it lies
      outside our quality guidelines." [Post #105]

     "... Google has some pretty clear examples of what we con-
      sider spam in our quality guidelines, and people who think
      that there is no such thing as spam should still be aware
      of our quality guidelines ..." [Post #120]

     "Several people have said that things look better; some
      people have noted that their sites have dropped. In any
      update, some people won't like it and some people will ...
      [Post #134]

     "People post that they're dropped need to distinguish
      whether they just aren't where they expect for the key-
      words that they monitor. For example, if your domain shows
      up at all for -asdf then you haven't
      been dropped." [Post #136]

     "... we always reserve the right to improve our algorithms.
      So the rankings for a query can always change at any time
      if we think that we've got a better way to score or rank
      sites for queries ... there's always more filters and data
      waiting to be added; it's more a matter of how and when we
      roll out quality improvements and pull in new data."
      [Post #147]

     "... Bear in mind that this forum has webmasters, SEOs, and
      a few blackhats (what Google would call spammers), so weigh
      every comment and consider the source ..." [Post #210]

From the second thread, "Update Florida - Nov 2003 Google Update Part 2"

     "... Google got to be where it is partly because we try our
      best to return the best sites to our users. We haven't
      stopped that tradition, and I hope we never do ...  I can
      say with complete confidence from my experience here that
      Google takes the long-term view about maintaining its
      quality. When we see ways that we believe we can improve
      our quality, we test it out a lot and then introduce those
      changes ... it's a fact of life that only a few urls can be
      on the front page, and if one site replaces another then
      someone won't like the results and someone will." 
      [Post #754]

From "Is Google SEO a waste of time longterm?"

     "...Google SEO (as SEO for any other search engine) comes
      automagically if you do the right things. Google SEO is not
      what you want to be doing - you want to be making good
      content for your user base. [Post #22]

If you have perused any of the posts, you might notice that not
everyone has experienced huge drops in their placement, and most of
those have followed Google's Guidelines and more or less played by the
rules. Even your best search engine optimization gurus have repeatedly
said to design for your visitor and don't try to "game" the search
engines, it's too much like shooting at a moving target.

Google has repeated stated that its responsibility is to present the
most relevant returns for a search query. Although you might think
it's a bit "hokey", Google states its company goals in "Corporate
Information: Google Today"
   - ://

Google has posted information and guidelines for webmasters with
recommendations and suggestions, and specific things to avoid at the
risk of being penalized by Google in its "Guidelines".
   - ://

and Google has repeatedly warned about trying to improve placement
(ranking in results) in its "Quality Guidelines - Specific

     "These quality guidelines cover the most common forms of
      deceptive or manipulative behavior, but Google may respond
      negatively to other misleading practices not listed here,
      (e.g. tricking users by registering misspellings of well-
      known web sites). It's not safe to assume that just because
      a specific deceptive technique isn't included on this page,
      Google approves of it. Webmasters who spend their energies
      upholding the spirit of the basic principles listed above
      will provide a much better user experience and subsequently
      enjoy better ranking than those who spend their time looking
      for loopholes they can exploit."
   - ://

The anecdotal posts on Webmaster World indicate that some people have
gotten 'caught' gaming the system, others who have always followed the
rules and provided keyword rich content have seemed to survived or
avoided the roller coaster effect of Google's latest algorithm update.

Since every other person had some theory of what has been happening, I
thought I might give you my 'take' on the situation - but I want to
make it perfectly clear that my guess is no better nor worse than
anyone else's - and it IS a guess.

I believe that Google doesn't make *big* mistakes, and what we are
witnessing (and some complaining loudly about) is basically what
Google intends to happen - and I suspect this may be a 'housecleaning'
to bring sites with relevant content to the fore and to push those
sites who have been 'gaming'  or 'spamming' the system down or out.

So, What About

The good news is, you are not dropped from Google's index, although I
did not go through all the pages to find your current ranking in the

A search on produces the following results:

   "Watercolor Paintings Reproduced as Limited Edition Giclee
    MERK NAJAKA. ...

    Google can show you the following information for this URL:

    * Show Google's cache of
    * Find web pages that are similar to
    * Find web pages that link to
    * Find web pages that contain the term ""
  - ://

Clicking on "Find web pages that link to ..." produces about 36
results, and clicking on "Find web pages that contain the term ..."
produces about 56 results.

A word of advice on your links, make sure all income links use your
full URL, as Google has in the past treated
differently than just (without the "www"). Make all
links to your full URL and it will eliminate any confusion that may or
may not be present.

Because Google is in a state of flux at the moment as it's system is
updating, it isn't easy to find out if your present placement in SERPs
or if it is one of those that are there one minute and gone a next,
etc., because of the update. The best advice along those lines are to
wait this out and see what happens.

What Else Can You Do?

Taking a look at your html coding, I notice that you have TWO titles
and TWO sets of keyword metatags. While it may be true that not much
weight has been given to keywords for a long time now (some people
were 'gaming the system' by stuffing keywords), nonetheless, two
titles and two keyword metatags might be a bit of overkill - even
worse, it may be seen as an attempt to 'spam the system', especially
when you use the same words more than once.

You might consider changing those -  Why risk a chance at having a
robot interpret those as 'spam'? You can make sure that any keywords
you use and wish to be found under are included in rich text content
on your pages. It's what Google recommends in its Guidelines, and
there are more than one reference to following Google's Guidelines.

Google Information & Links For Your Reference

Here are 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 desire.

   * 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 - - 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.


It is uncertain why you have dropped from your previous ranking in
Google's search engine results. It could be the current "Google Dance"
which is documented enough to show that it has happened to others and
you aren't alone. It isn't even certain at this time whether or not
the drop is where you'll permanently end up.

With GoogleGuy's statements and anecdotal evidence on Webmaster World,
I think it is safe to say that you will want to pay close attention to
Google's Guidelines and the information it provides and follow them as
closely as possible - remembering that Google is determined to return
relevant search information, and doesn't seem to be happy with those
who 'spam' or 'game' the system for a higher placement.

Your artwork is just stunning, I would hate to see your site penalized
for something which you clearly don't need to do.

In any case, I suspect this dance isn't over and we'll have to wait to
see how things end up.

Search strategies -

I relied on information I use during the course of my daily work and
resources from bookmarks to answer your question.

Best of luck,

Google Answers Researcher

Request for Answer Clarification by mmn-ga on 22 Nov 2003 07:40 PST
Thank you for the informative and in-depth answer you have given me as
well as the compliment.

Thanks also for letting me know about the meta and keyword
duplication, I wasn't aware that they existed.

My follow up question: My site is linked to from what appear to be
link factories, I have not requested those links and have kept my
outgoing links to a minimum. Am I being penalized because of these
many links to my site? My hits from Google and the other search
engines using Google have gone down to zero the last two days.

Again thank you for your answer, I will follow you suggestions.

Clarification of Answer by serenata-ga on 22 Nov 2003 08:13 PST
Hello again, Marlies ~

As I stated, only Google knows for sure what effect those links may
have on your SERPs, but they do discourage link farms and linking
schemes. I'd ask them to remove their links to your site - no point in
risking getting penalized.

You're not being penalized, in that you are still in Google's index.
From looking at results from different data centers this morning, I do
not think this latest 'shuffle' or 'rearrangement' (or whatever you
want to call it) is over yet.

Establishing relevant links may take some time, but your work is so
good I can't picture sites like interior designers or sites like those
not wanting to link to yours. Those links are the type that will be to
your advantage.

I think we're still looking at adjustments and this is by no means
final results, as SERPs do change daily - and I do believe it's a
matter of waiting it out.

It is so aggravating I know, but at the moment, that's the best we can do.

And I do think you'll do fine by playing by the rules.

Best regards,

mmn-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars

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