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Old 03-22-2005   #1
PhilC
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Significant Changes In Google Results: March 2005

There were some significant ranking changes in the serps today which are being talked about in at least one forum, but I don't believe that it's an update in the normal sense. Bear with me while I explain...

I started watching the 64 DCs some weeks ago. At that time I recognised 3 distinct groups of DCs. They were recognisable by the significantly different rankings that were returned for a particular searchterm. I look lower down the serps where the differences are greater and more easily noticed. There are DC sets within the groups, which return slightly different rankings, but not too significant.

Soon after I started watching, 2 of the DC groups merged, and there have been 2 groups ever since. Group A was the smallest. It had about one third of the DCs, and group B had the other 2 thirds. Through the weeks, group A has gradually grown to about 2 thirds of the DCs - the trend is towards group A.

Today group A had all but 3 of the DCs when I first looked - that's 61 out of 64. It meant that many people saw changes in rankings due to a lot more DCs returning group A results, plus some shuffling within the original group A DCs, and it has been talked about.

But even now, things are back to the way they were yesterday, with group A having about 2 thirds of the DCs. I've seen it happen before but not the the extent that it did today.

I keep using the word "about" when it comes to numbers. It's because we don't always receive the results from the datacenter that we explicitly search. We are sometimes redirected to another datacenter. It's something to bear in mind if you use one of those "Google dance" tools.

So right now, things look pretty much the same as they did at this time yesterday. There was a significant change, and people noticed it, but it doesn't appear to have lasted.

Anyone seen anything? Anyone seen any significant ranking changes that *have* lasted? I don't analyse the DC results so I could be missing something.

Last edited by PhilC : 03-22-2005 at 11:26 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 03-23-2005   #2
Robert_Charlton
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilC
There was a significant change, and people noticed it, but it doesn't appear to have lasted.
Phil - Not sure which forum you're talking about, but I was an early reporter of some changes on one discussion, and one significant change I saw does seem to have lasted till now... ie, one search phrase I've monitored apparently falling to oblivion and not yet returning to what had heretofor been a pretty solid position.

It wasn't a highly commercial phrase... more informational... but it brought visitors to a site, and I'm hoping it's temporary. I've seen lots of pages drop out and reappear from time to time. The disappearance of this one gives me an uneasy feeling, though, because it was accompanied by some other changes... the biggest movement I've seen in these particular serps in a year... and I'm sensing algo change rather than glitch. It's just a gut feeling, though.
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Old 03-23-2005   #3
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More changes?

Results today on many terms different from what they have been for the past week. I have joined this forum to try and find out how this all works. It is very difficult if not impossible for small businesses to keep up with these changes, I started reading everyone's opinions about <h1><h4> etc, inbound links, outbound links, keywoprd density, some search engines look at Meta tags and Google doesn't. How does a small guy with a website about his business achieve any sort of position in a search? Recently looking for the results for an Indian restaurant in a particular town generated results about hotels with restaurants and references to 'Indian Ocean' Islands.

It is interesting to move outside the box and try searches for things not relevent to your own business and see what kind of results show up. It is all very confusing.

Last edited by nongasia : 03-23-2005 at 05:28 AM. Reason: Typo
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Old 03-23-2005   #4
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I've seen a great number of changes, including the re-emergence of terms that were "lost" on 2/2. The results are very unstable and blink on and off.
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Old 03-23-2005   #5
inlogicalbearer
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On my side I see two differents sets. Even this morning. The first set with the stop words manipulate to 8 billion and the new one going off and on since first week of march where "the" give you less than 3 billion.

http://inlogicalbearer.blogspot.com/2005/03/something-have-changed-at-google.html

Last edited by Marcia : 03-23-2005 at 04:00 PM. Reason: Fixed link.
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Old 03-23-2005   #6
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Hi all, first post I have noticed quite a few changes recently with results. But I have also seen backlinks in Google alternate for the past 2 weeks. It seems everyday they switch between 2 sets of results. Any thoughts?
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Old 03-23-2005   #7
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The results across the DCs continue to change for me, but on the whole, group A still continues to grow.

The "blinking" is due to receiving the results from different datacenters, which I seperate into 2 groups. Right now, there are 52 in group A and 12 in group B. For a search on "the" (no quotes), Group B DCs return 8 million results and group A returns various figures between 2,960,000 and 3,700,000 depending on which DC supplies the results. For other searches, the 3 sets that are currently in group B vary in the number of results returned. (A "set" is a a small group of DCs that have the same IP address except for the last number - e.g. 64.233.171.xxx)

It's just not like it used to be, where the different DCs would converge over a few days. They have shown no signs of converging since I've been watching them. Even though group A is getting bigger, there are a number of different results being returned by its datacenters, and the same is true of group B. My impression is that there are 2 Google's - 2 distinctly different algorithms. And within each Google, there are small variations in algorithms. It seems to me that we can no longer think in terms of a page's ranking for a particular searchterm - we have to think of its various rankings for the searchterm.
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Old 03-23-2005   #8
hiero
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Arrow Mixed Results Since February

I've seen mixed results being returned for the same searches since the February changes, so I don't believe this to be new. I do the same searches on a daily basis and have been doing them for some time since February and there are 2 sets of results being returned. One set has a larger index and the other a smaller index. It's weird that some people have just started to see that, maybe it was being tested on the west coast DCs.
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Old 03-23-2005   #9
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I've seen the same thing PhilC. In my case, Group B resulted in a return of my rankings from the mid-December update (which not everyone noticed), but Group A is now on nearly every datacenter and it looks like the return of the mid-December results. Like you, Group B was the dominant group most of the time over the last few weeks, but the last couple of days have seen Group A overtake Group B.
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Old 03-23-2005   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil
My impression is that there are 2 Google's - 2 distinctly different algorithms.
Now your making some sense, not that you don't usually.

I remember discussing the issue of different google algo's some time ago (about a year ago), with Chris Ridings. It seemed to me to be the only explanation of what was going on with the google SERP.

If you want to discourage people from learning your algo, I can't think of a better way than to keep changing it up on a almost random bases.

When the algo shifted the other night, I had two servers go down because of all the traffic I was getting from google, it overwhelmed the servers. Let me stress this was not traffic from googlebot this was genuine real traffic from google and a lot of it, never seen anything like it before. This traffic only lasted for about 6 hours then the SERP reverted back to what it was before and the traffic went back to "normal".

<added>
I do believe that there are at least three completly different algos in play with google.

Last edited by lots0 : 03-23-2005 at 10:47 AM.
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Old 03-23-2005   #11
PhilC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hiero
It's weird that some people have just started to see that, maybe it was being tested on the west coast DCs.
It's been discussed, but quietly, for some time. I brought it up yesterday because the change (in group A) was far more significant than the changes that we've been used to for while.

Some time ago, Matt Cutts said that Google uses several algorithms at random. Until I started to watch the DCs a few weeks ago, I simply didn't believe it. But I changed my mind. I don't believe the different numbers of results are anything to do with different index sizes, because it doesn't make sense to not update a bunch of DCs for so long. It does make sense to use different DCs to test algo tweaks without ruining all the serps. It also makes sense to run significantly different algos on some DCs while a major change is being tested and tweaked - the 2 groups.
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Old 03-23-2005   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lots0
I do believe that there are at least three completly different algos in play with google.
There was a small group (2 sets - 64.233.183 and 64.102.11) that held their own, but I lumped them in with group B because their rankings were closer to B than to A. But it seems to have merged into group A now. Maybe you mean another group. Which DCs are in the third group?
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Old 03-23-2005   #13
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Phil, I am seeing the same thing you are.

It does not look like the "third" algo is currently in use.

But, I'll bet a third (smaller) group breaks out again in the next few days.
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Old 03-23-2005   #14
PhilC
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Well that small group has been in A for at least a week now, but if you want to bet on it....

any takers?????
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Old 03-23-2005   #15
Frank Kilkelly
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3 different algos, could it be possible that Google is monitoring and comparing how users interact with the different algos? e.g. Algo A results in 33% less result page navigations than Algo B so therefore the user must be more satisfied with the results from Algo A. They could be testing the relevancy satisfaction of different algos.
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Old 03-23-2005   #16
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I guess I was wrong.

64.233.167.99

216.239.57.105

64.233.183.99


When I last checked these three were returning different results.
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Old 03-23-2005   #17
PhilC
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That's quite possible. But there are more than 3 algos, imo. Each of the 2 groups produces several different "of about" numbers for the results, and, rightly or wrongly, I put that down to minor algo tweaks/variations. I'm assuming that all the DCs have the same index most of the time.
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Old 03-23-2005   #18
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Yesterday a co-worker and I were running a search for the number of pages with a particular website. The search on Google was "site:www.domain.com www". She got 4,000 pages while I got 1,400 pages. We wrote it off as a fluke, but PhilC's post makes sheds some light on this.
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Old 03-23-2005   #19
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The main reason they would do something like this would involve measuring user metrics. Does he hit the back button? Does he read 4 pages?

This way they could monitor the "quality" of the SERPS based on several distinct algos. They could also figure out which algo generates the most revenue.
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Old 03-23-2005   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lots0
I guess I was wrong.

64.233.167.99

216.239.57.105

64.233.183.99


When I last checked these three were returning different results.
The 57 set has been frequently switching between groups, although the switches may be just redirections.

The 183 set is almost always the same as the 11 set (part of that small ex 3rd group), although odd DCs do switch for short periods of time.

Individual DCs in most of the sets switch from time to time, as do whole sets.

I believe/assume the redirections are due to load balancing, and updating.
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