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Google Traffic Throttling - where are we on this?
internetheaven




msg:3810235
 7:57 am on Dec 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

Been some threads this year speculating on Google limiting the amount of traffic it sends through to a domain.

Earlier this month our site jumped up in rankings quite considerably across a couple of hundred pages (around 500 pages on the site) and across some pretty hefty keyphrases (millions of searches per month) yet we have not seen a traffic increase.

I mean, we've gone from numbers like #53 and #162 to #2 and #11 - surely you see an increase in traffic from that type of jump across hundreds of pages and millions of searchers?

To confirm: the ranking jumps I'm seeing occur when I'm logged into my Google account AND when I'm logged out AND when I use someone else's computer in the next town.

 

Shaddows




msg:3810253
 9:02 am on Dec 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

How many referals were you getting on those terms before/after the rank increase?

Have you seen longtail searches disappear over the correspoding period?

Have you searched at different times of the day/week?

Shaddows




msg:3810257
 9:05 am on Dec 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

Sorry, just re-read your post. I saw " a couple" not "a couple of hundred".

But still, are you getting referals on the same keyword phrases you wewre before, and did the other 300 pages tank?

internetheaven




msg:3810272
 9:38 am on Dec 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

are you getting referals on the same keyword phrases

No, now some of the major phrases (I wish I could post them here so you could see just how major they are!) that never showed up in my logs before are now showing as being some of the highest traffic referrers ... whilst the original lesser competitive and sometimes 'long-tail' keywords are still showing too.

So I'm now getting traffic from hundreds more great keyphrases -- but the total traffic at the end of the day is the same as it has been for the past three months.

Pico_Train




msg:3810443
 2:53 pm on Dec 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

I understand what you are getting at internetheaven. I've thought about this for some time now. Not to sound like a conspiracy theorist or anything but I've hovered around the same level for ages even despite going from page 17 to page 2. Sure maybe the amount of traffic actually doing these searches is limited but to constantly fluctuate between 2 bands for years?

Crush




msg:3810509
 4:23 pm on Dec 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

You would be surpised how little traffic a mega serp can bring sometimes. I sort of know what you mean though. We had one site that went form 8000-12000 uniques per day but there was not really a corresponding rise in sales.

internetheaven




msg:3811130
 9:58 am on Dec 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

Maybe there is a correspondance between how much you pay in adwords? Maybe google shut off your natural search traffic at the same time your adwords daily limit is reached? ... ;)

tedster




msg:3811133
 10:01 am on Dec 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

There is no connection between Adwords and organic search - absolutely zero.

Shaddows




msg:3811141
 10:20 am on Dec 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

You must be losing trafic from somewhere. Have you identified where?

Does your good ranking die after a certain number of referals? I'm assuming you have depressed rankings elsewhere that you havent noticed yet, do these return to 'historic' positions as the others swap back?

My gut reaction is that Google likes your site, and you're about to get a trust and/or authority upgrade to push you up the competitive listings. You are being 'tested'. So as not to give you a boost before potentially taking it away again, they are depressing referals from your mid-to-long tail so trafic remains constant. Depending on your test results (no speculation as to what/how they are testing), you get the upgrade and your 'lost' trafic comes back too.

Does this sound completely off-the-wall to people? I'm thinking it might be another aspect of the yo-yo?

Martin Ice Web




msg:3811202
 12:21 pm on Dec 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

internetheaven,

in November i started a similar thread.
Itīs day in day out the same amout of traffic from google.

#1 if widget1 is up widget2 is down
#2 if widget2 is up widget1 is down
#3 i made several changes in internal linking - no effect
#4 i made some changes in incoming links from other pages - no effect
#5 i updated my sitestructure and added some h3 tags - no effect
#6 new content is crawled and index by google after 2 days

it looks like my page sticks on some forgotten google place where updating, links and changes are some not noticeable factors.

So i will not complain, cause the daily amount is quiet high enough for me, but i am wondering every single day.

travelin cat




msg:3811339
 4:08 pm on Dec 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

Well, I think you're seeing what we have seen for many years. Just because you think a keyword phrase is great for business, doesn't mean that people using a SE will actually search using those phrases.

We have been #1 or 2 for what we thought is the best possible search term for our business, it's a very generic term in our sector and you would think that it would bring in thousands of visitors a day when in fact it brings in around 200 and the conversion rate is awful.

internetheaven




msg:3811352
 4:28 pm on Dec 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

Well, I think you're seeing what we have seen for many years.

I'm not reporting that I got a few good rankings for some keywords and it wasn't all I'd hoped.

I'm saying that 200+ pages just dramatically jumped up in rankings to excellent positions and the traffic remains stagnant - not just a little up or just a little down, but like nothing has changed at all.

jimbeetle




msg:3811365
 4:40 pm on Dec 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

internetheaven:
whilst the original lesser competitive and sometimes 'long-tail' keywords are still showing too.

Shaddows:
You must be losing trafic from somewhere. Have you identified where?

You give a hint in what you wrote and Shaddows is right on here. It might be worth it to run some before and after numbers to see if those terms that are "sometimes" still appearing are the underlying cause of what you are seeing.

travelin cat




msg:3811373
 4:47 pm on Dec 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

My point was that you may have great positioning, and not great traffic. A jump from #150 to #2 will not necessarily bring in that much more traffic for kw phrases that are not what people care about.

internetheaven




msg:3818427
 11:51 am on Jan 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

A jump from #150 to #2 will not necessarily bring in that much more traffic for kw phrases that are not what people care about.

Again, I'm not talking about jumps in ranking on phrases like "names for my pet cat that being with J" -- I'm talking about commercial keyphrases with millions and millions (7 million searches per month for the main keyphrase alone!) of searches per month, people searching for green, blue or pink widgets and my green, blue and pink widget sales pages are now ranking high.

Optimus




msg:3822575
 9:08 am on Jan 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

I reckon this thread is not getting the attention it deserves.

I have a strong suspicion that google is "Traffic Throttling". This started about a year ago when we saw a lot of newer sites start appearing in the serps, displacing many of the older, established sites that had dominated the top 10 positions for years.

Google had to figure a way of giving everyone a piece of the pie, without causing too much disruption to the older, respected sites. Some of the newer sites certainly deserved to start getting some decent results on some search terms.

So in my sector, I saw my site (and most of my long stranding competitors) losing position on a number of key terms, with some newer sites coming in on certain terms.

For example, I would find that my search term "red widget" retained it's number 1 or 2 spot, while I sank to page 2 of the results for "blue widget", with my previous top 3 position taken by one of the newcomers in our travel sector.

Around the same time, the number of google referrals into my site became very stable, with very little fluctuation in daily totals.

Previously, there had been some wide variations in the amount of traffic received from google.

They had to figure some way to give decent newer sites some recognition and placings in the serps, and putting a limit on the amount of traffic it sends through to a domain appears to have been a way to achieve this.

Martin Ice Web




msg:3822661
 12:51 pm on Jan 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

Optimus,

thank you for our opinion. The question noew is, how to gain more traffic, while there is a throttle. Is it only installed for some sites or for all sites? If you escape from one traffic throttle, do you get just away to next one?

If we could have more user input about their daily google traffic, maybe we could get the clue out of it?!

tedster




msg:3822686
 1:53 pm on Jan 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

If there is throttling (and the reports here seem to indicate there is) it certainly is not widely applied. I see a lot of server logs, and wide variations in Google Search traffic are quite common. I think there would be a loud uproar around the web if most or all webmasters saw throttling of their Google traffic.

how to gain more traffic, while there is a throttle

That's pretty much the same question as asking how to get the throttling removed - which relates to the question of why it would be applied in the first place. Both are unknowns to me, and I haven't got a site that is showing any signs like this.

As I mentioned before, it sounds to me like like there would have to be some kind of ranking yo-yo effect during the day to create traffic throttling. So I'd suggest a close watch of the traffic patterns throughout the day - first to see if there's a specific cutoff time. If there does seem to be a cutoff time, then see what the SERPs look like at that moment. If there isn't, then I'd be very surprised, and begin to doubt that there really is intentional throttling.

This kind of study could be labor intensive - but done even once it might also be illuminating. I've seen yo-yo rankings during the day, but they didn't seem to be tied to clickthroughs from the SERPs. Traffic still showed variations, and was not flatlined.

Receptional Andy




msg:3822696
 2:04 pm on Jan 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

The original premise makes no sense at all to me. If you see your site ranked well for a major keyword, then what usually happens is:

- Lots more people see your listing
- So, lots more people click through

So, if that doesn't happen, then your site is not being shown to lots more people - thus you don't get the clicks. But the problem is that your visibility hasn't increased, even if you believe it has.

If it's a genuinely popular keyword, and your site is now highly visible, then the only way Google could "throttle" your traffic is by:

- Preventing people from clicking on your listing
- Replacing the traffic you used to get, with new traffic for the popular phrases

These things are easily measurable with even basic analytics and are not a matter of speculation.

The only other feasible alternative I can think of is that Google show your listing based on a click or time threshold. But that also means that your "ranking" have not truly improved at all. At least not for most of the people most of the time. Again, this would be easily identifiable based on analytics data, since you'd see replaced traffic for new and old keyphrases.

Is there something I've failed to understand in the throttling theory?

wheel




msg:3822707
 2:20 pm on Jan 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

I've not experienced this, and personally I think it's more speculation than anything. Some folks are throwing up rationale for this, but really, I don't see any compelling reason for them to do this.

Doing something like this provides no discernable quality improvement to the SERPS. It makes them no money. And seems like it would be a lot of work to implement.

webdude




msg:3822838
 4:28 pm on Jan 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

I have several major phrases that my site is ranking in the top 5... from local IPSs only. I tested this several times using proxy servers from around the States and Europe. I am talking major keywords and phrases. widget would be a good example. Not red, white or blue... just widget. I pop up #4 (and no, I am not logged into WMT). I tried this from various places (library, another company, machines within our company, friends houses, etc.) When I search from anywhere else using a proxy, I get radically different results. widget pops up #295. This has been going on the past 2 months. Seems the demographic dial in the algo has been turned up a notch. Not sure if this is related. Seems a California search for widget is getting dramatically different results then a Maine search for the same term.

Reno




msg:3822874
 5:00 pm on Jan 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

Seems a California search for widget is getting dramatically different results then a Maine search for the same term.

Very interesting observation -- one that might be at the heart of this issue.

Here's a test I'd love to see:

Within a defined 24 hour period, the exact same keyword searches would take place from about 6 places within the USA (northwest, southwest, midwest, northeast, mid-Atlantic, southeast) ; from 3 places in Canada (east, central, west); from 3 or 4 places in the UK ; and from 3 or 4 places around Australia.

Those searchers would then compare their results and post them here.

This sort of test is somewhat complicated -- and thus unlikely -- but if it could happen, it might help provide deeper insight into this important Google question.

.....................

aristotle




msg:3823029
 8:21 pm on Jan 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

In the statistics section of Webmaster Tools, you can check the average rankings (and relative Google traffic) of your top keywords for various time periods going back several months. Presumably these are averages over all data centers and with "personal search factors" filtered out. So you might take a look there to see what is actually happening.

Dave_Hybrid




msg:3845084
 6:13 pm on Feb 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

Over the last week a page that was pulling 1k a day started to fizzle out, upon checking rankings it came to light people just stopped searching for what the page was about, based on the content of the page we expected it to do so. Funnily enough our overall traffic has stayed the same, other pages effectively filling in for the loss of the other. This leads me to believe the site is at a ceiling traffic wise that will get upped when we get more trust/age. I just wish I knew what would release the filter so we can move onto the next one :p.

Erku




msg:3845124
 7:39 pm on Feb 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

I don't think there is such a thing "ceiling traffic"

Tyme




msg:3845159
 8:37 pm on Feb 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

We have speculated on this traffic minipulation for over a year now. I believe it is a filter of some kind. Regardless of how many new pages of ours get into the main index with somewhat decent rankings our traiffic remains the same day after day... I believe too that it is is a 'new site/trust/age filter'. I believe if the site starts with decent trusted back links the filter does not apply. There maybe more reasons but like others we remain in the dark.

Our traffic does not go up or down, there is no varience. Our site should do better on weekends becuase of the nature of it. But it does not. Google traffic always remains the same.

Dave_Hybrid




msg:3845181
 9:46 pm on Feb 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

Exacly, the site I am currently monitoring regarding this is a forum with 12,000 pages. A thousand or so pages get added each month so we should see steady increases in traffic. But it seems we jump up a level every quarter or so, like Goog is saying we think with all your content/SEO/rankings you could get 50,000 visits a day but we don't trust you so your only going to get 5k, we'll re-evaluate you again in a few months. It really confirms to me that having good content, good SEO, good rankings is all well and good but without trust the site will never perform to it's true potential. This makes sense, there are many websites in any niche that deserve the lions share of the traffic, but throwing trust into the mix separates the good from the exceptional.

gouri




msg:3845183
 9:53 pm on Feb 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

How old might a site have to be to have the trust factor with Google?

Tyme




msg:3845270
 1:31 am on Feb 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

I think that trust means more then just back links or age. I do believe that when a new 'untrusted' site does many on site changes whether it is good for the visitor or not, google seems to flag it further and in some cases your already throttled traffic dips even lower. I have seen evidence of this in my own site, but it is an extremely hard thing to prove. My very limited advice would be too keep changes at a minimum especialy Meta tags and titles.

Just a thought, would it be possible for google to somehow 'cloak' search results in order to keep your traffic at it's daily limit? Ya I know it's crazy but how else would they do it?

kidder




msg:3845439
 9:13 am on Feb 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

This is a great subject, I am certain google has a way of limiting traffic. I've created enough new sites over the last couple of years to know this issue is very real. More recently I had a site jumping between #3 & #9 for a 3.5 million per month term. Volumes would vary from 35 vistits per hour to 140 vistits per hour, shortly after we dropped away to a steady #8 - 9 and peaked at 25 - 30 visits per hour. The last couple of days we are steady at #6 and peaking at #40 per hour. My point is this, we are still a long way below the 130 per hour and we have sinced moved into the top 5 for another high volume term on the same site and the traffic level remains about the same. Google is giving with one hand and taking with the other. It's clever, they have so many versions for any given search term it makes their system that much harder to game and they can still return good results. I think at some point you do break through this threshold, once you gain the right amount of points. Content alone will not get you where you want to go, I've tried just adding more good quality content to a couple of sites and the traffic remains about the same.

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