Google Algorithm Update / Refresh

Not sure if it is correct to call it an algorithm update, but a number of keywords I watch I have seen large authority sites get demoted in favor of smaller niche players with spammy keyword rich backlink profiles. I am seeing things like spammy new(ish) lead generation sites outranking fortune 500s and long standing industry association sites.

This is probably about the first update in a year that I have seen Google do anything major that bucks the trend of placing more and more emphasis on legitimate authoritative domains, although things are still shifting around quite a bit and will probably head back the other direction soon.

What are you seeing?

Update: Thanks for all the great comments below. I think Cygnus summed up the change best so far:

I see a few things that can probably be summed up as one change...the sandbox/trustbox was modified to be less restrictive on age and theme. I'm betting it'll tighten up again, but hopefully just on the theme.

To me, this was their way of tackling the ever-growing .edu spam. A lot of that is gone from some of the SERPs I watch; of course, now I see even more blogspots a few pages into the listings, so who knows how much tweaking they'll do over the next couple of weeks.

Published: February 22, 2007 by Aaron Wall in google


March 16, 2007 - 1:35pm

Now its too tought to optimize websites
google is more seo friendly than yahoo and msn
my all sites ranking well in google but not on yahoo
i think yahoo is behave like a giant with seo's

February 22, 2007 - 11:08am

I'm not seeing anything to be honest; it all seem's to be on the level with me.

February 22, 2007 - 11:20am

I see this too actually. A site that spammed its way to the top of MSN for the term "mobile phones" by setting up a subdomain with 3 million spammy backlinks is now sat at number one on Google for the same term.

The site is and they are on of the 5 phone networks in the UK - a legitimate company.

February 22, 2007 - 11:35am

I saw some of my profitable keywords go from position 5 to page 2 - but have now risen to the top 3 positions on page 1.

February 22, 2007 - 12:17pm

My blog has seen some major movement trough SERPs the last couple of days. From being nowhere to position 16 for a keyword with 150,000,000 results... I think that Google did change something but not sure what it is.


February 22, 2007 - 12:18pm

It happened to me as well..from #5...i am now not even on Page 2..


any idea when this will restored..the so called google dance?

February 22, 2007 - 1:35pm

There have been discussions on a forum about this going back several days. (SEOrefugee) I noticed minimal shifting in Google Analytics with regards to traffic, but when running a keyword report there has been some minimal shifting.

Yet alot of people are seeing more drastic results. I decided a long time ago that Google updates and refreshes on a categorical basis and thats why I see some being affected today, others last week, etc..

I say minimal because if it was an update there would be serious movements on these keywords for me by now. With that said a data refresh would seem possible.

I have noticed over a long period of time that while a data refresh is very important, it usually goes through a "cycling" period with minimal shifting, but seems to "bounce back" to a more normal flux within a week.

My guess is that it cycles because new data is being applied to an existing algorithm.

In my opinion thats what makes an update different than a data refresh because an update usually does not bounce back so quickly (a guess, but I think its because the index is applying a new algorith agains an existing set of data.)

Also we would think that by now the traditional sources for confirmation that it was a true update would be out there. (i.e. Matt, Brett, etc...)

I think that since bid daddy updates are less frequesnt and data refreshes are the norm and I spend more time looking at that than updates these days.

At least for my niche anyway.

February 22, 2007 - 2:37pm

I am seeing broad movements from the education vertical right on through to things like interior decorating.

February 22, 2007 - 2:59pm

over the Presidents Day Holiday weekend, i saw massive change in Google's algorithm - not index. i'll agree with aaron - i saw a lot of smaller sites pop to the top of the SERPs. many were small commerce sites. the results in Google on Sunday/Monday looked very much like MSN results.

at midnight on Monday, everything appeared to roll back and this new algorithm (which appeared to have devalued links) was history.

that's my story ...

February 22, 2007 - 3:17pm

Hi Aaron,

Can you give us some example keywords that you follow where you have seen major changes in the SERP ?


February 22, 2007 - 3:27pm

You're right Aaron. I'm tracking over 100 sites and over 500 keywords, and there was a big shift today vs. yesterday. More movement than I've seen in a while.

Mark Pappas
February 22, 2007 - 3:35pm

I noticed our company;s site dropped off the first page for several of our search terms for the past few days - as far back as page 10

I came in to the opfice today and all of the sudden we are back on page 1

February 22, 2007 - 3:44pm

I see exactly what you are seeing and been watching this since 17th with interest.

February 22, 2007 - 3:57pm

I am not seeing any loss/gain of earnings in Adsense which leads me to believe their is nothing going on.

February 22, 2007 - 4:34pm

yep I'm seeing a loosening on the authority as well

February 22, 2007 - 4:42pm

I see a few things that can probably be summed up as one change...the sandbox/trustbox was modified to be less restrictive on age and theme. I'm betting it'll tighten up again, but hopefully just on the theme.

To me, this was their way of tackling the ever-growing .edu spam. A lot of that is gone from some of the SERPs I watch; of course, now I see even more blogspots a few pages into the listings, so who knows how much tweaking they'll do over the next couple of weeks.


February 22, 2007 - 4:53pm

There is certainly change somewhere.From last 2 days i am getting 40 hits from google.Never seen more than 10 before.Its a good news for me in anycase.Just waiting to know more whats going on exactly...who is going to get benefit

February 22, 2007 - 5:00pm

We dropped from #1 to #2 and it doesn't look like it was a case of a massive SEO campaign on behalf of the new #1 or anything...

February 22, 2007 - 6:56pm

Graywolf pointed to a loosening of authority, which I'm seeing as well. I think it's due in part to a lowering of the bar on link quality.

Aaron, are you and Caveman seeing anything that supports this?

February 22, 2007 - 7:09pm

For 3 years weve beend submitting articles through out the net, changing content s often as possible and done more content wise strategies...and for 3 years with this shifting this is the only time that we are able to get a very good rank...

I think this shifting and inconsitency between Data Centers is caused by the incorporation of Agent Rank??? the new Google patent??

February 22, 2007 - 7:20pm

I dont think its content related. I think its the links you've gotten from the article submissions that didnt mean much before. I'm seeing links win out in many sectors, and the links are often crap.

August 20, 2007 - 10:37pm

But yes I do see where your coming from on this aaron

February 22, 2007 - 7:34pm


I had not noticed anything in sites I monitor, but I have to agree something is up.

The best evidence may be the changes in your Dave Pasternack contest. The New Yorker article, anc no longer on top. Presumably only authority kept them there in the face of high quality SEO.

It looks like, wolf-howl and webguerrilla are going to be able to defend the honor of SEO.

February 22, 2007 - 8:10pm

Oilman 301'd his links to Webguerilla who thinks SEO contests are lame.

The winner will be Greg Boser unless people are 301'ing Michael Gray or Threadwatch who still like SEO contest.

March 8, 2007 - 8:05am

I have one site that was getting 1600 visitors a day after change 300 a day. :(


February 22, 2007 - 8:43pm

I have seen an increase in traffic to low authority, but relevant pages, which took place maybe a month ago. Since then, I haven't seen much change in my niches.

February 22, 2007 - 8:49pm

I've seen some movements that might suggest a shift in authority bias, but not anything major yet.

February 22, 2007 - 10:07pm

I see some major drops in search traffic on my most trusted sites. And I see some increases in search traffic on sites with little trust but decent amounts of keyword rich IBL's from low quality sites.

So as some has mentioned, it does seem like a shift in the weight given to trust/authority vs. keyword rich IBL's.

February 22, 2007 - 10:38pm

loss of rankings with some commercial terms, and gaining rank with non commercial ones. those above me now are definitely lower quality, smaller sites, and with less backlinks. it's slowly coming back, but last week it was a drastic shift.

February 23, 2007 - 12:36am

I've also noticed some serious changes, but for the better. One of my clients' competitors was bumped from the top in favor of a more relevant and authoritative site. My client also climbed in the rankings despite losing some inbound links. It really proves that quality of inbound links is much more a factor than quantity.

February 23, 2007 - 12:49am

I gained ranking and started to rank for terms I used to not show up in.

February 23, 2007 - 12:55am

>It really proves that quality of inbound links is much more a factor than quantity.

Not seeing this at all.

February 23, 2007 - 1:11am

Hi Tanner
I think recently the algorithms probably tipped the scales away from quality and toward quantity a bit.

Hi Aaron Pratt
Sophisticated algorthmic analysis deals with much more than personal AdSense earnings.

Hi David
I prefer not to reveal too many of my keywords and verticals that I track closely. Part of being able to see a shift though is to have a feel for what the SERPs are, what they were, and what they should most likely look like in a few industries.

This also involves removing oneself's self interests from the analysis, which is hard for a lot of people, especially if they pour themselves into a site.

One of the worst (and noisiest) pieces of most update threads is people giving updates based on a self biased perspective or too small of a sample Aaron Pratt did here.

Hi Jonah
That is the sort of stuff I am seeing...older authority sites losing position to newer sites. In many cases they are also losing position to non-authoritative websites as well.

Hi red_hot
I am seeing nothing to do with Agent rank in this refresh.

Hi Kirby
I think cygnus's comment said it far better than I could have.

Hi Cygnus
Brillaint, as usually buddy.

March 8, 2007 - 7:36pm

I'm used to fluctuations after a google dance but this is the most erratic set of results i've seen in a long time.

I'm seeing results on key competitive terms change on a daily basis. One minute it looks bad, the next everything seems fine. Today i seem to have lost loads of strong long tail positions and two absolutely core competitive positions. I lost my top spot too but it seems to be back now.

It does seem to relate to link quality and there seems to be some sort of relative weighting against all the anchor text of all links pointing to you - and trades off one term for another- as if they decided you can be number 1 for one term but not for all.

It's like you can have your cake or you can eat it :)

February 23, 2007 - 3:29am

I hope they also think about this too. Sometimes I think in future you will not see and website on the SERPs but just the pages.

They have everything on their website whereas if other websites have some off-topic content, it will affect their ranking.

It is also the same as

March 8, 2007 - 8:53pm

For the kws i watch constantly i see the same situation : spammy domains with lots of links from low-quality,unrelated sites outranking old sites with quality content and good links.

February 23, 2007 - 6:58am

I see major change in SERPs for my new blog sites. I have launched my new blogs two weeks ago and one of my blog has been ranked very well for niche keyphrase search term. Then my blog had been de-indexed from Google without reasons because I do know that Google hate bad site spammy so I did not do anykind of it.

Next 3 days my blog come again and ranked well as it were before.

Feb 20 - I see that my blog has been filtered/penalized. I cannot even see my blog ranked top 100 in "allintitle" and "allinanchor" search operator for my keyword. Subpage has been ranked #321 for keyword without add-on search operator but the mainpage doesn't, even it's still be indexed and cached in Google DC's.

My blog offer unique contents with links from relevant sites so I hope my blog to come on first page again.

February 23, 2007 - 1:32pm

To be honest, I am not seeing anything of this kind.

February 23, 2007 - 5:05pm

Although Google will not state it publicly, they are trying to keep up with the Jones'. So many more people and companies are getting online now they HAD to make it a bit easier for them to be found. Not because of direct pressure but from public pressure. People get upset when they can't find something they are looking for and go to Yahoo or MSN Live. So to fight for their user base Google is letting semantically related content rank much faster and avoid alot of the "sandbox" issue. They are also starting to put blogs on a bit of a backburner to combat the extreme spam found in so many. All in all I like the direction they are going in. It is making life easier for the average webmaster and search engine user. Although I must admit it makes things more difficult for "old fashioned" Seo "experts".

Lol, good thing for ma I happen to be 100% new school Seo. All you have to do is think about the internet in the real web 3.0 framework. Which is akin to supply and demand. If you don't supply what is demanded someone else gets your sale. Big brother is doing a great job at keeping up.

Love your Seo book Mr. Wall. Keep up the great work.

Mich D. Feinx
Web 2.0 Seo -

February 23, 2007 - 8:34pm

Shifts like this are just par for the course. It's great that Aaron notices them, but we should all be SEO'ing resilience into our client's sites. If you drop off on one keyword, you should be appearing on another, and able to ensure no net loss of traffic. If you track your actual referring sources, you'll find that a ton of old ones disappear, and a ton of new ones appear with every alg tweak.

The way to get such resilience is fortification through diversification. In this case, diversify targeted keywords. If all your monitored keywords are competitive, you're exposed to great risk. The more non-competitive keywords that somehow still manage to produce for you that you have, the safer you are from these shifts.

Of course, I have a prescribed solution that Aaron has already been generous enough to mention. For those of you who don't know it yet, it's the link on my name.

February 23, 2007 - 9:21pm

Aaron, I don't quite think there is anything wrong on my case, I have went up to around the 6-7th page for for the keyword Website Design, and digitalpoint, is saying its getting around 14k searches a day, and plus I am on the 1st page for strong keywords, which In my case I know why my serps went up so far it was because i got some really good quality links that hardly have no links going out, and Microsoft is linked to this website.

Now I have been submitting to lower end directories, and just getting averaged sites links, and it gives me a lot of credibility because of the good quality links I already have.

Another thing, just because its a fortune 500 company, don't mean its going to rank good, if you ask me 1 good quality link can blow a site away that has 60k links easily, as long as this site pointing to you don't have a lot of outbound links.

Which granted yes typically fortune 500 companies will rank good because of the popularity, but then again I'm sure they have a lot of spammy sites, but they are probably getting somewhat credibility for these sties because they already are in a major trust area with then Google.

So they have a lot of good sites linked to them, that is telling Google that they are important, so its giving credibility even from lower end sites, and site that are not in such as good area as what the other links that are pointing to them.

February 23, 2007 - 9:31pm

Just my opinion

February 23, 2007 - 9:59pm

This is the first time i posting here. I am observing this change since 2nd FEB 2007 and i was amazed no big names in the industry blogged about it. And to i would like to thanks Aron for writting this post.

I have sites that rank No.1,2,3,6 for competitive Keywords and on 2nd FEB my one site completly gone for that keyword it rank No.3 and the same site is still ranking No.1 for another keywrod.

Another site Rank No.1 for a keyword gone to page 3 came back to No.1 on 17 FEB stays there for 3 days now gone to 2nd page. the same site is ranking no.1 for another competitvie keyword and no change.

Other sites are ranking firmly on No.2 (2 Sites both from differenet niche)

One site that was on slow gaining position from last 5 months now sits at No.3 Position for a keyword.

I am still confused what is going on. Different Sites different results same SEO techniques used on all of them. Few Stays and Few Gone.

February 23, 2007 - 11:14pm

I see it also, very prominent on European and Asian Google's., .no, .it, .da, etc etc...

In almost every case it looks like more spammy sites, and less authority sites in the top 3 pages

I monitor 10 sites with 50 top level terms in 18 languages, and I'm seeing shifts all over the place.

I've noticed some small shifts throughout Feb, but heavy changes in the last 48 hours.

Has anyone located any significant varying changes in the data centers?

February 24, 2007 - 1:57am

Hello everybody!

I saw a certain change for myself also last week when I was in mid of a chat with my friend. He told me about this then I saw similar changes for my websites also. My website has now climbed rankings up with the authority website of that niche.

One more thing I would like to add is that I don't have spammy links. All these links are fair and from related sites. So the call of quantity over quality is not for me.

One of the reason for this could be the cygnus said the TR/age filter be revamped by google, but that being said it would make google similar to other search engines which it would never want!

Take care

February 24, 2007 - 4:03am

But yes I do see where your coming from on this aaron :)

February 24, 2007 - 8:30am

Offpage criteria gets a page moved as well as onpage criteria.

If your visitors are continually going back to google because they don't find what they are looking for then google will move your page whether there's an algorithm change or not.

When this seems to happen to more than 10 people who use the same message board then everyone thinks something is going on.

Pages are being moved around every day, there can't be an algorithm change every day, can there?

February 24, 2007 - 2:50pm

I've seen one new keyphrase I have been working on for the last month drop from page 6 to page 18, I'm sitting back and waiting till things die down before I take action.

February 24, 2007 - 7:03pm

Hi Jason
Many of the changes in rankings are indeed due to marketing or the growth of the web. But some changes are associated with large underlying patterns.

Note there are lots of ways to cause similar effects to what was seen recently, including at least the following:
- lowering the topical and temporal TrustRank thresholds needed for new sites to rank
- lowering the amount of weight placed on core domain authority
- increased weighting on anchor text
- some combination of the above

February 24, 2007 - 9:24pm

First time poster. I'm also surprised no is talking about this. Talked to several other webmasters on forums who's sites are getting hit for about 2 weeks at a time, dropped down to Page 10 or lower. The site domains come up when you search for them. Sites still being crawled regularly. But unless you put the title of a page in quotes to search for it, it doesn't come up, let alone for keyword phrases. I'm hearing the same from people with 100% original content, decent PageRank, no blackhat or spamming at all. Our site, we've never submitted to directories, etc. Down for 10 days at the end of January, up Feb 1 with better than ever traffic 'til Feb 22, down again.
It's clearly not something we're doing/have done. So I'm expecting we'll return, but when, and for how long? And what's causing it - it doesn't appear to be anything we can control.

February 25, 2007 - 1:47am

A few days ago I noticed on one of my sites that has been on the first page of Google for the last year dropped to I think #49, and then - the very next day it was back to the first page of results (and up a couple spots).

The exact same thing happened to another buddy of mine and we thought it was odd. I have not blogged about it or anything yet because I was still thinking the update (if you call it that) was going on.

February 25, 2007 - 2:40am

My sites actually dropped about 5 places, then came back a few days later not only to their old spots, but increased in SERP a few notches.

It seems a lot of funny things happen when an algo, datacenter or PR update happens. When the last toolbar update was going on, I lost three spots, then gained them back PLUS a new spot higher up.

Not that I mind, but it does make you wonder where the algorithmic logic is.

And while I'm at it, Aaron, would you say there are some AI like attributes included in the indexing algo? A buddy of mine who is somewhat of a Google enthusiast seems to think so, and that this attributes to Google weirdness.

February 25, 2007 - 5:38pm

Sales on my site skyrocketed on Feb 21-st and 22-nd! As I offer a trial version this might have something to do with high traffic from Feb 15-th, hard to tell. The site is not being promoted and it must be from that Google change! Unfortunately, things are back to normal :(
There is no connection with any spamming about the site I'm talking about it's just that my competition is big.

February 25, 2007 - 6:16pm

Hi Aaron, it is totally true and the most amazing is that authority poker sites have this problem, authority legal sites and governmental sites have this issue. where I did tell a little bit about this technique and the most amazing is that top 10 results for most competitive keywords are redirect spams.

I do not think it is Google update but rather a google HOLE. Watch some old domain sites with no relationships to the keyword update and repurchased in order to get into the domain age legacy.

February 26, 2007 - 1:34pm

I saw relevant changes in the way my personal site is ranked. I always thought I should rank better, because of my content, and finally I do. In addition, some client sites got updated to better positions. All in all, I think Google is paying more attention to web 2.0 links and content linking.

Bob Williamson
March 31, 2007 - 4:36pm

(1) I'd like to update the information on - about the Kingdom of Redonda
(2) I hear that the website called "Kingdom of Redonda" is available. I'd be grateful if you would let me know how I can obtain this title


Bob Williamson

February 27, 2007 - 2:48pm

Don't think that this is a major update, just a mear "patch" update impacting .edu and user generated content driven sites...

February 27, 2007 - 6:21pm

I've been looking at depth into the current changes in Google and argued extensively to a few of the guys at the SES conference in London about what is causing all this.

In my opinion, there has been a few smaller changes done by hand that's affected some of the search rankings, eg: the "hyped" removal of the Googlebomb.

But the main changes are towards link weight, and how Google values link relevancy and freshness.

I've summarised my ideas in the Google Kettle theory.

Feel free to rip my theory to shreds and dissect as necessary!

February 28, 2007 - 1:10am

I see too many small sites without user generated content passing up larger sites without user generated content to think that the user generated angle is the distinction between sites that improved in rankings and sites that dropped. More weighting on some of the newer links (than was previously given), as mentioned by Kun, is probably far more likely.

February 28, 2007 - 8:09pm

Kun, I would love to rip your theory to shreds, but I can't. I've been tracking several dozen sites dating back to the Florida update, so I know the ongoing changes with these sites, and I am seeing exactly the same thing. Sites that have continued to aggressively get new links, and in many cases these are primarily reciprocal links, are beating the pants off of sites that have been longstanding authorities with lesser quantity but higher quality links entrenched at the top of the serps.

None of these sites are generating much in the way of new content, and few are impacted by any .edu factors. The two constants are anchor text and quantity of links. Its the Dave Pasternack algo where links rule the roost in several sectors.

March 2, 2007 - 10:08am

I have seen several of my sites go up, then down, and then disappear altogether, then come back and be competeing with sites I never thought I would get to compete with. I had read somewhere that Google had run out of space on their servers. Has anyone else heard about this?

March 3, 2007 - 6:56am

I went from #3 in a competitive term to #21, and I've been there for 2 weeks - so I guess that is where I'm going to stay.

However, for me the results are very localised. I was #1 for the term in (my site ends in and I have remained #1. On all the other datacenters (.com, etc) I have shifted to #21. I have also noticed this for a competitor who runs a site. He went from top 5 to 25 in - while remaining in the top 5 in

All sites but 1 in the top 20 results are now .com/.org/.name etc (ie - no distinct country) when I search on

Have any other people noticed this?

March 3, 2007 - 1:38pm

I wish Google would somehow differentiate between blogs and websites. Can't tell you how many times I am looking for something, only to stumble on some SEO optimized blog that just wants to generate google adsense income.

March 4, 2007 - 10:50am

So what if they want to get some income. Writing content takes time. If the content is good, then why discriminate between income and non income sites?

March 4, 2007 - 9:58pm

I have been watching this Google thing for weeks, at first I thought I was going crazy. I didn't find much talk of this. I have noticed several of my sites drop down then back up then disappear then back up then down for almost a month now. I have also noticed something the no one is talking about key words that would normally have 1.3 million links would go to 11-19 links out of 24 example - Results 1 - 64 of about 78 for Cisco Dealers. Normally keywords like this would have millions of links found. It seems do be different in different markets and cities in the US. A buddy of mine was looking at the same keyword and it seem to have 100’s of thousands of links found which is still for from 1.3 million links in Google. I have also noticed that when this happens there is only 1 or 2 google ads for a major keywork.

Example NEC Dealers
Results 1 - 100 of about 1,240,000 for nec dealers. (0.14 seconds) – has 2 ads
Results 201 - 207 of about 324 for nec dealers. (0.13 seconds) only has 1 keyword ad.

March 5, 2007 - 12:18am

Our site rates news sites based on their performance at Google News.

Newsknife has been monitoring Google News since 2004. Every few months we take a broad look at what we've found to see if there has been a change in Google News rankings for several news sites.

This might indicate a change in the algorithm Google uses to rank its news site listings.

We've just updated Newsknife's Google Algorithm Watch. Our data suggests there may have been a change in Google's algorithm six months ago.

You mention that there may be one taking place right now. We'll watch with interest.

Our page has a link to this page of yours.


Klaas Weeda
February 19, 2008 - 4:06pm

Does anyone know the current update/refresh-time of Google?

February 19, 2008 - 4:47pm

It is variable based on site authority and how often the content changes on that publishing channel.

Janey Griffiths
February 25, 2008 - 2:12pm

I have been watching this since mid December, which concerns me as that makes it a really long update. The results are really unstable lately. A bunch of us have been discussing it at for some time. Running a rank report on my phrases right now seems a pointless exercise. We are experiencing pages bouncing in and out of the index being replaced by lesser optimised pages for our critical phrases. The number of pages in the index bounces as do the results returned in the serps (and we're talking huge numbers). 3 days later it's all back to normal. Could an update honestly last this long? I have been sitting back wondering whether to do anything or not but after 2.5 months...I have to admit I'm nervous.

February 25, 2008 - 9:26pm

I think this is an extension of the -6 stuff...if you read Tedster's post in the middle of that thread (about 6 or so pages in) I think he is probably spot on with what is going on in his comment.

March 7, 2008 - 9:11am

yes, a lot of spammy sites have taken over my top place... One of my sites also decreased in page rank. Following your keyword ranking position can be stressful these couple of weeks... I hope this would stabilize and change for the better. :) I don't think google would want to comprise themselves as a trusted search engine.

james neo
March 4, 2009 - 10:34am

Dear all,
Recently I have seen drastic changes for the kp seo which previously comes in 3rd page of the google UK for my website , is now beyond the 10th page of the google. same is for the kp "website design" and "ecommerce". Can any one suggest what is the reason for this?
Is there any Google update going on??

July 27, 2010 - 12:10am

I wonder if there is a plugin SEOBook for wordpress ? for my blog

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