• July 22, 2024

It has been exactly one month since Google introduced its infamous Florida Update. As the Florida Update has brought about the largest and most comprehensive shake-up of Google’s listings ever, it has generated a great deal of interest around the world and genuine panic for the literally millions of webmasters who’s sites have been adversely affected by the change. The following article is a compilation of our writings about the Florida Update since November 17th, the first Monday after the shift.

Monday November 17, 2003 – Happy Monday Morning Folks… DON’T PANIC!

Have you taken a look at Google today? Yes, what you are seeing is real. Google is showing totally different listings on the search engine returns pages today. Actually, this weirdness started sometime on Friday night or Saturday morning. Most of our clients have not been affected and the only one we have seen effected has had his rankings rise dramatically. Our site has been affected though, rather badly at that. From the #6 spot under the phrase “Search Engine Placement”, the happy-go-lucky StepForth site has dropped past the fifth page of returns.

I think this is a temporary thing. We last saw such a massive shake-up six months ago and the listings went back to normal after a few days. This sort of shake-up generally indicates that Google is re-ordering their entire database of spidered sites.
Something big is happening at Google but we’re not sure what it is. What we do know is that since a major update of Google’s database started on Friday night, the search returns have been extremely buggy with long-term Top10 pages dropping from existence, recorded back links decreasing or disappearing for many sites, and more than the usual amount of spam appearing in the Top10. We have also noted the disappearance of one of their major servers (www-sj.google.com).

Google has been delivering questionable returns for several months now with spam and duplicate listings often making it into the Top10. The last time their listings have been this upset was in October 2002 when Google tried introducing Blog entries and news releases into its general listings. Within two weeks, the listings had been restored to a shakey state of “normal” but that marked the beginning of strange and often spammy entries into the Top10. This month’s update is being referred to in the SEO community as the “Florida Update” and has a lot of SEO practitioners scratching their heads. Our current advice is to wait it out for at least two weeks and see what Google does next.

December 3, 2003 – Google’s Florida Update

The impact of Google’s Florida Update has not been fully realized yet, but it appears the damage will be extensive considering the reports we are getting from some clients. Literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions of websites have seemingly disappeared from Google’s listings, most of whom enjoyed a Top10 placement before the massive update which started on November 16th. Like most retailers, ecommerce sites that have faded from the listings needed a good Christmas season to remain viable into the next year and many of them staked their sales plans on a their previously strong placements at Google. The fallout will be noticeable, particularly among small businesses where advertising options are limited by small business budgets. Small businesses, however, will not be the only companies facing an uncertain future because of the Florida Update. When the SEO community starts receiving calls from the mainstream media and people who are not clients, asking what is wrong with Google; one knows that Google itself has a problem that goes far beyond their data centers. As one of the pioneers of the web, Lee Roberts of The Web Doctor points out, “It was word-of-mouth that generated their popularity because people could find what they were looking for. Now, we only find sites with less quality content and less sites that offer what we want.”
The Florida Update encompasses the most substantial changes to Google’s famed ranking algorithm in the young company’s history. There are several theories as to why Google forced this update. Some say that Google is trying to force small businesses to join their highly profitable AdWords program by making such a comprehensive update just before the Christmas shopping season. Others say that Google has always used the weeks around the US Thanksgiving holiday to make changes in the hopes that the sudden decrease in traffic over what is often a 4-day weekend will give their engineers enough time to introduce a new algorithm, (and fix any minor errors), without causing massive disruptions to their normal users. A third theory, (the one I lean towards), states that Google was simply tired of being gamed by the growing cadre of less ethical players in the SEO sector and has simply changed the rules overnight by applying this new algorithm. Whatever the reason, the damage is being done and now advertisers and web-users want to know what to expect next. Unfortunately, that is not an easy question to answer as Google does not comment on any changes to their algorithm, therefore the only thing we can do is offer experienced and educated guesses. real estate crm and marketing features

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