5 Sites, 1 Week: Google’s Latest Algorithm Tweak

We’ve all just finished another round in “the Google Dance”…those periodic interludes where the engineers take center stage…and we all watch the awkward movements as sites suddenly appear on…or disappear from…the front page of the search results.

This time is always fascinating to those who pay attention to such things, or whose job it is to track them and improve the rankings of the sites of others…and incredibly frustrating to those whose income is based in large part on being found in the search engines. It’s times like these that can kill a business deader than anything…

After a quick review this evening…there seem to be some subtle moves, as well as some dramatic ones. We won’t know for a while what factors went into this…or how webmasters and SEO types might adjust to the changes.

Here are the results reflected in changes of the rankings of five of my sites over a one-week period. Before proceeding, let me note the following:

  • I always have link-building campaigns happening…so some of the changes may well be due to progress on that fron…and not just on what Google has done recently.
  • These are only the terms I am currently tracking. Many of the keyword phrases for my sites are as high as they could ever get a (rankings of #1 or #2,  for example). Thus it is frequently a waste of time to track them over and over again (though not always… as we’ll see in a minute).
  • These are 5 out of the 55 or so sites that I currently own…and I intentionally ignored some which barely moved.

Key:

  • Keyword # is keyphrase number for purposes of this report
  • Avg: XXK/mo uniques is the average number of unique visitors to that particular site each month according to Google analytics
  • Searches per day is estimated daily searches (per Wordtracker) at the time the tracking was launched
  • 02/17/11 is the site’s rankings in Google results on Feb 17, 2011
  • 02/25/11 is the site’s rankings in Google results on Feb 25, 2011

Site #1:
Related to free, legal MP3 downloads within a particular tight niche.
History: 6 years old…ranked at #1 for its most targeted keyword phrase for a good 4 years now.

Site #2:
Related to free, legal MP3 downloads within a particular tight niche.
History: Virtually identical to #1 in concept and execution.

Site #3:
A 6-year-old site that is a great example of taking existing content and doing it better…nice presentation, interesting content, very decent traffic
History: Has been bouncing between the first and third pages of Google (almost inexplicably) for years now.

Site #4:
Clean, well-executed within a particular niche appealing to a tight demographic.
History: Less than 1 year old. Has been steadily gaining ground in rankings over the past few months.

Site #5:
A friend’s real estate site appealing to a top 60 metro market.
History: 8 years old, mostly page 1 & 2 rankings for selected keywords…though rarely in the top 5

OBSERVATIONS:

Site #1 is the real surprise. In addition to holding the number one spot for its primary keyphrase for the past four years, the content of the site makes it, by far, the very best site in its category… hich was reflected in its dominant ranking for so long.

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