Just slight shuffling down to #2 or #3. Now all back to #1.
I'm always here. Forewarned is forearmed!
We're drifting into a bit more of a 'trouble shooting' discussion than strictly updates, but I think it might be helpful for others experiencing the same thing, so I'll post again and leave it to the Tedsters of the world to decide if they would like to splice this discussion off somewhere else.
One of the first things I look at on a site where 'nothing's changed' is what changed, and when I work with people they almost invariably say nothing has changed at first, but let me give a few of the odd examples of 'nothing's changed' I've run into...
The oddest was one where someone contacted me with a form that worked a couple for weeks before and then suddenly stopped sending certain pieces of information. I asked what changed and got the standard 'nothing', then started asking more specific questions:
Has the site moved? No.
Has the hosting changed? No.
Has the version of PHP changed? No.
Have you updated the page in any way? No.
What's not working? The form is not sending the information for these check boxes... In looking at the script, the checkboxes were correctly coded to be sent as an array() according to my knowledge and the manual, but there is a bug in a subversion of PHP that does not send the information in arrays correctly via forms and when the hosting company installed a new sub-version of PHP the form broke due to the bug in PHP. I'm sure it was a routine sub-version update, and they probably didn't send out a notice or anything, but since the form was coded originally to send the variables as an array() when the new subversion was installed the form broke. They were getting most of the information though, so it's not like the entire form even broke. It was only a specific part leaving out some specific information.
Another one where 'nothing changed' was one where I wrote a script that worked for a week and then stopped working, and of course when I asked what changed I got the standard nothing, but then when asking more about it I got to: 'well, nothing, except the project has been moved from the dev.domain to the final home, but that was two days before it stopped working, so that's not it...', which of course it was, because the script creating the accounts was set to not follow redirects for security purposes and no one said anything or changed the location the script was trying to access and create accounts within the script itself. They left the original location of the script live for a couple of days, then redirected it to the new location, so when they installed the redirect rather than having the live location the script broke, and the change also came along with some intermittent DNS propagation issues since the script does not cache locations like a browser does, so sometimes it would get through to the site and other times it would get a Not Found error because the DNS had not fully propagated through the DNS system yet.
I had another issue dealing with a remote server where the local site was moved and the remote server checked for the IP Address of the script running on the local site doing the remote activity for verification. When the site moved the IP Address changed and did not get updated by the remote site causing a serious error there too...
Anyway, the point is, I don't mean is the site up and running, but I mean has every single thing through the entire process that could have possibly changed been extensively trouble shot, down to the Server OS Version and what ever scripting language sub-version the site is running on?
If so, then I would look for a different way(s) of doing things or make it up as I go from there depending on the situation, but I highly recommend double checking every aspect of the entire process down to sub-versions of systems to make sure there is not an error somewhere, because I've definitely seen some 'goofy' errors no one really realized would effect anything when the changes occurred cause some serious issues.
[edited by: TheMadScientist at 9:38 pm (utc) on Jun 14, 2010]
@Mad - as a former Systems Engineer and with extensive UNIX experience, I always check that stuff first, but moreover I now HIRE a reliable dedicated hosting company to keep it up to date for me. My scripts are all up to date. I keep a very close on on my server with MUNIN Service Monitor to watch for leaks.
Since my last post, two sales just came in back to back. within 5 minutes of each other.
My problem I see is that things have suddenly become very erratic, with what appears to be high quality targeted traffic, then many hours of "zombie" traffic. This is not normal. I'm sure some are saying "how can you define normal", well after 10 years, I know my niche quite well and my site makes this easy by utilizing audio page ques on my main pages. This allows me to sit back and do something else while I listen to my site traffic as people hit the main page (which is a sonar ping) then to my product pages (a blip sound) the signup page (a buzzer) and my thank you page (a cash register kah ching, plus I've got a bunch of farm animal noises for other target pages...it sounds like barnyard on a good day.
Lately it's been dead on the farm.
The bottom line is that it seems Google is refining some kind of traffic "throttle" and perhaps trying to add some AI to it.The problem is that it does not seem to be very "I".
@scotts - sound like you are still in the same boat with us. YOU know what I'm talking about...traffic on - traffic off.
@Yippee2 - there's that word again THROTTLE! I'm really starting to believe it. Right now it seems they know exactly when I convert on a sale, then shut me down for a while so as I don't get too rich. (paranoia will destroy ya)
My sales have always fluctuated within what I would call a natural statistical mean. Now they seem to have me "pegged" to X number of sales per day.
[edited by: backdraft7 at 9:53 pm (utc) on Jun 14, 2010]
|The problem is that it does not seem to be very I. |
Well, hopefully my post helps some other people out more than you... It's actually sort of too bad you're that on top of things and can rule out quite a bit of what I've seen affect others way too often, because it could be sooooo much easier if there was a possibility it was something on your end.
@backdraft, are you selling primarily in the USA?
At the back of my mind is the thought that the economy is collapsing into the 2nd dip again.
@themadscientist....I can see the traffic as it comes in via keyword in chat. What's happened is google has stopped sending "custom widget a" traffic and instead sends us "widget a" traffic which might as well be "retail widget a" vs "wholesale widget a"
No doubt it is related to the lack of direct keyword matching/the filter/the dumbing down of optimized sites which = sites that targeted lower traffic keywords. My guess now is that they saw that many were making a living without adwords by targeting long tail and wiped it out. Like I said competitors that boasted up until 2 months ago being online for 10+ years without a single ad are now paying $6 a click for 10-15 clicks to make a single $300 sale where they make $70 before commission. They don't do that unless sales are through the floor.
Mayday is a disaster for b2b in some cases.
As far ads Google Adwords - I spend about five to six hundred dollars per month on AW, even though my organic results are great. I do make a good portion of that back through one Adsense ads in my right border.
My competitor who ranks right next to me (below me)does not advertise on Adwords, but displays the max adsense panel (three) on his page. The bottom line is that this does not seem to be a factor with the MayDay update. It SHOULD, but it's not.
Regarding the possible foreign traffic we seem to be getting, I notice my geo-targeting is not set in the webmaster tools. Is it advisable to set it to USA or should I just leave it and rely on the IP?
Yea, backdraft7, a PHP error on your site must be what caused the global meltdown of Google's SERPs! It's all your fault - shame on you! ;)
Don't let yourself be fooled! As I mentioned previously -
If ALL of the SERPs are crap, it's NOT because there's something wrong with YOUR site!
|"Through the grapevine we're hearing that the big dogs in this 30 billion dollar industry are all smarting from the changes too. For the first time ever I see a top competitor out of NYC paying $4-$6 a click for adwords. I can't make money running far more efficiently so the fact that they are all doing it tells me they are seeing a tremendous drop off. These people have NEVER once paid for an ad and they boast that fact at every tradeshow. |
Guess what? It worked! Google has now produced some bing like search results. Customers cannot find what they want, I cannot find what I want, and as a result we all have to use adwords where we pay $6-$10 a click"
@scottsonline: This was the same conclusion we eventually came to back in 2003.
|"Come on Department of Justice...time to get off your rear ends and take a close look at what is going on." |
The possibility of "federal" involvement was also discussed here back then. And Google had reportedly less than 35% of the US search market, compared to the virtual stranglehold they enjoy on search now.
You may be interested in knowing that I am looking into some "official" options, however. ;)
Ok, update on things here in the UK for us. Traffic well down but the best Monday sales wise for nearly a MONTH. Weekend was pretty dead but we did SELL. I really do not know what to expect today. Reading some of the above posts makes things very interesting, big players losing out so paying ££££(or $$$$!) for Adwords, this is starting to sound like some serious anti trust issues surely? One things for sure, with the economy in such a mess anyway this is the last thing everyone needed.
I've been doing some test searches in areas I searched a week ago, and I'm seeing fewer synonyms in results than I had been, as though Google has dialed that kind of matching down a notch.
Some geo-targeted searches I monitor in one highly competitive area remain the same as last week, which is to say changed quite a bit from normal patterns. Several major players in that space are now (surprisingly) on page two.
If semantics is a major part of this algo change and word association is being used for fuzzy results rather than specific long tail multi word terms then we in the UK need to consider the differences between our English and the dialect used in the US.
Its almost as though the Florida failure slowed down Google's move to semantic webs in search until now. Perhaps now they think that the time has come to roll out the whole semantics, fuzzy search becomes AI engine.
PS I've spent the morning weaving in some ~synonyms and associated words found on pages above me for some terms I've not been doing so well for on the pages that previously ranked for long(ish) tail terms.
As much as I was griping early yesterday, traffic turned back on later after 4pm CST ending the day with decent sales. What a roller coaster!
Good day yesterday bad day today, up and down like a .... fill in your favorite saying!
good day yesterday too... pretty slow start today but nothing out the ordinary. think everything is back to normal for me?!
Something deffo changed today, both sites seeing increased traffic, sales OK'ish. Problem is, how long will it last this time?
I don't think we're supposed to give particular examples but hopefully Tedster won't mind once to illustrate a point. A friend passed this along in email who's site is ironically not really being effected that dramatically yet. Apparently he was looking up a major prescription medication and did the search as medication how long before it works with no quotes. The medication is for toenail fungus. A bunch of the top sites three months ago when they started their research were scholar/research type articles. Now #2 reads as "this site may harm your computer" and at least 3 in the top ten are harmful. This is Google's new quality metric?
Bing is slightly better but at times less on topic with that term, Yahoo is best. But that wasn't the point, the point was up until these supposedly good changes google was so far above everyone else it wasn't even a competition and now we have to compare to see?
The traffic we are getting now is for "widgets" not "customized widgets" like we got for years. Somewhere somehow Google decided they knew what our customers were looking for and started sending us the customers looking to buy 1 item not 1000.
The fact that Google is serving top placement results that it knows is infected with malware makes me think filters are still off.
|The fact that Google is serving top placement results that it knows is infected with malware makes me think filters are still off. |
Or, if someone sees that and says no way, they then instead click an adwords link that looks nice and safe.
Payday updated seems to be a good term for what they have done.
It looks like google has sold out the results to adwords. If I search for a product or service, I get blog posts, news articles, etc.. Google has morphed from a search engine into a global taxing authority, if you want to do business, you pay google their cut, it really is that simple. Get over it.
It's time for you guys to fall out of love with google and find a new paramour.
Google is trying to give a spectrum of results. Eg. One news, one blog, one shopping, video etc. So the days of all SEOd text sites are over.
It is getting one's spot on that page that is important now - SEO - or good SEO's definition has changed.
So the way I am looking at it now - is that my Good SEO - which used to work, is now not "good" so i had better change.
What I have noticed is that google is ranking sites now based on top of Silo or top of the chain root words. So if you are not including the root word(s) in your SEO and in your on page text and have that root word weighted then you will not rank like before.
What i have noticed is that some writers have used those root words naturally in their writting and those pages have held.
So I believe the new SEO will be to know which Silos one's long tail key words fall into and then make sure that Top level root or the 3 mail root silo words (with the long tail falling into all 3 somewhere) is included in the seo - if it is not, then the site won't rank well.
My experiments and deep level examinations over the last 2 days have been very revealing - Usually the top 3 or 4 sites for the keywords I have working with all have weighted the top level root words. And not surprisingly all the page one results contain at least 3 of the top 5 root words that the long tails fall into.
So i re-wrote one of my formerly good money producing pages that was at #1 and slipped to #8 with Mayday - and now I am waiting for a re-indexing to see if I am correct.
Today I am examining another Nich and finding the Root words that my long tail is under and weighting those roots higher on the page with h2 tags etc. and in the text.
Real patterns are emerging - and I think this is how the on page is weighted now.
One has to see the general conversation happening out their on the net regarding the long tail - then see what is the top level root word and make sure that is weighted on the page.
Those Root words are from what the conversation is now on the web - so those will shift over time - I believe this is what is happening.
It ties in with the new conversational aspect of how Google and Ceffeine is working.
Not that this matters much now..Most people seem to realize that SERPS are not right at this point. But I just queried "Is United Kingdom a country?" and I get a Google suggestion that reads
Wikipedia country — Lebanon - Feedback
According to state.gov, cia.gov and countrycodes.com
PS: Really, I didn't know if UK was a country by itself..
@victor1 I still think this is a historic failure on the part of Google and one that'll be viewed as such down the road until it's modified or changed. I've searched using plain text phrases since I got on the web. Gradually the SE's adjusted to make that work better and better. Six months ago Google was the king. I could not imagine a better index of the internet. I could find whatever I wanted in a flash and never once thought of using another engine nor did I ever have a reason.
To see the search of the only medicine for a particular condition return a known malware site in a coveted second spot? Really? What does malware have to do with top of the silo? I understand what you are saying but Google has gone away from giving some credence to well maintained, well thought out and subsequently SEO'd sites in favor of malware sites? That cannot be part of their plan.
Funny thing is that i have telephoned a number of my full time seo friends asking about their sites and other big site owners i kown and most were not hit by this.
So i believe it is just a certain type of SEOing that is affected or whether one is participating in the web conversation on behalf of the web site.
Sure enough a large enough percentage of people have been hit - but so many have not - and I want to know why some were hit and others where not. Maybe 3-5 % at most of web sites where affected. Other wise every where you looked on forums their would be posts on this. I am a moderator of another private internet fourm with 3000 paying members and their is no talk of this change. On another private forum I am on some are hit but most are ok.
So again, I ask why? So i can adapt..
@Victor1, here's an example that I was just given by someone in another industry that relates to earlier comments: leeds cornado tumbler . Search that term you will see one company that sells that product out of 25,000 at the top. You will then see a ton of junk/unrelated sites. But look more closely and you will see "Search instead for leeds cornado tumbler" which is the EXACT same darn search terms but when you click on it? A whole set of actual real live ecommerce sites.
Multiply that by hundreds of thousands of products in that one industry and you have an epic failure. Why is it that Google cannot return a result when someone is so specific that they type in the brand product name? Why did the new algorithm go from showing people exactly what they searched for to instead showing them 1 favored link and tons of junk and then require they click on a text link with the exact same search term but different results? That's terrible, IMO. This is why the long tail is failing for so many.
I understand what you are saying and agree, but in that industry and in ours where people will do the same thing and search for specific brand name products we are seeing mega confusion. If you were an end user of my friends business you would see one choice and a bunch of junk and I bet 90% of the people never bother or would think they have to click a text link to tell google "NO, now show me what I ACTUALLY searched for!"
If your site is setup to target specific products and not the coveted keywords you're doomed by this update as google has decided that even in the case of an exact match you really weren't looking for that exact match as the example shows. That is why some sites are hit and others are not.
EDIT: The end users will go look elsewhere/yahoo/bing when they realize what is happening. Also, this is NOT to sell Adwords because in their error in circumventing user wishes by search they also dont serve adwords. When you first search for the above term it returns no advertisements. So in the case of my buddy he can't even BUY an ad that will get the lost business back from the #1 spot because Google isn't serving ads unless you click the text link telling them YES I really meant to search for exactly what I typed. Also note with the first search there are no shopping results either. So anyone conducting specific searches runs the risk of going into the abyss with Google. No Google Merchant results, no Google Adwords results, no useful results at all.
EDIT2: I'm now told by my buddy that up until this week when you clicked on the text link that made google understand you were searching on the real term you got actual product pages for that item. He says now for ALL competitors it's the category page! IE, even when it takes you to the right industry it no longer serves the actual product pages but instead the category/parent pages for most competitors. So again clearly something is afoot with Google and it's probably going on segment by segment but you can see in this case it's resulting in poor results.
I'm following up after thumbing through the engines. I took a handful of products off the first few sites in the results. In almost all cases I can't find what I'm looking for in Google only. In the case above I get: "Find tumbler ridge golf course" as the number 2 result likely because Leeds, Alabama and Coronado (note wrong spelling) California both appear on the page!, #3 is a blog about Hot Wheels matchboxes, #4 is a bread and butter site, the #5 site has plates and piggy banks but both with the same names in them.
You can see how tragic this would be for the end user or the retailers involved. Google has determined that a site that has Coronado (wrong spelling) California along with a mention of Tumbler Ridge Golf Course is more relevant than all the exact matches. I think it perfectly demonstrates why the long tail is so damaged and it's a perfect example of how horrible some of the results being served by Google are today and not only that, how badly designed the new interface is that it requires the user to search for the exact same thing twice.
@Scotts, that is crazy.
You may find it interesting that the first set of sites shown are promoted with a much higher incidence of guestbook and blog comment links than the second more accurate set of results.
I didn't see any more or less Adwords results toggling throuh a set of queries, so the tinfoil hat Adwords argument isn't the case. I think they are just really messed up.
I see and feel what you are saying. It is very frustrating for many.
I spoke with a Silcon Valley Friend yesterday and he felt this was only the first phase of the new change.
So users will quickly adapt to the extra click or not get what they want.
Google said they are doing everything now to refelct the mobile market. Maybe this all ties together.
I just want a stable algorithm so i can adapt.
I just did one more top of silo key word test over the last 4 hours. I did it on a site that was #1 and is now 16. I was surprised when I looked at the silos that I did not have the root word weighted enough in the on page seo. All the new results do. Now to wait till site gets re-indexed and re-ranked. I am only changing one thing per site - otherwise i will not be able to tell which changes are working.
|Guess what? It worked! Google has now produced some bing like search results. Customers cannot find what they want, I cannot find what I want, and as a result we all have to use adwords where we pay $6-$10 a click in an imaginary bid system where none of us know what the other guy is bidding. We all could be bidding $1.50 a click but we'd never know it. |
Come on Department of Justice...time to get off your rear ends and take a close look at what is going on
I posted recently talking about how useless is today an organic result even if among top 3, since Goolge now increased their Adwords sales forcing everyone in the net to use it. Our sales were completely destroyed and in latinamerican market advertising costs makes almost impossible to make you earn some money since clicks became highly expensive. As result Google results quality dropped a lot, since users find just those who are paying most in Adwords. And score quality blablabla doesnt seem to be causing effect.
What I see actually is:
1)Organic results doesnt matter anymore
2)Google results decreased in quality due to high amount of desperate advertisers paying more than ever and some without getting positive ROI
3)Many business in trouble and no serious alternatives to Google
4) No matter how much you try to optimize adwords - I have several years of experience and very old campaings tweaked daily, all that matters is raising the bids. I see no results following several strategies, and the only one working is RAISE THE BID. Unfortunatelly, that gives me negative ROI.
I assume some niches most affected than others, but in general that's what I see.
Mod's note: I'm allowing scottsonline's specific "tumbler" related search terms above, because I think the example clearly illustrate the problem, or at least one aspect of the problem... but please let's not continue posting specifics, because mods will have to delete them, and frankly, it's a PITA for us.
It is possible to force Google to display the entered 3-word tumbler query scottsonline suggested by putting it in quotes. That's generally not the way most people search, of course. They don't even know what quotes do.
I should note that, in the quoted search, WebmasterWorld is now the 2nd ranking site on Google for the phrase (again one of the reasons we don't allow specifics). Particularly interesting to me is that there are only 10 exact matches on Google for the phrase (without WebmasterWorld, there would be only 9), so it is a rare phrase.
Bing only offers 6 exact matches, but... in strong contrast... and this is the important point, when you search for the phrase without quotes, Bing is offering pages of satisfactory results. I didn't count too precisely, but the first 50 results appear to return the desired product... and the quality of the pages from the start is higher than what the quoted search on Google was digging up.
On Google, the rewrite of the query, changing the spelling to "coronado", is producing, as scottsonline suggests, pages of nonsense useful to no one... much the same as the Ducks music search produced, but with the important difference that in the tumbler query Google had, apparently prior to the disambiguation, excluded other pages that were excellent matches.
In relation to the disambiguation, I should note, Google announced a new "feature" in the week of June 6...
Spelling Corrections in Suggest
My emphasis below...
|This week we launched an update that makes Google Suggest even more intuitive and simple. If you're typing a query for which there are no search completions to offer, and yet some of your search terms do seem to be misspelled, Google Suggest will now offer a "Did you mean" suggestion for your query—giving you an option to correct your spelling right away and get on with your search. These spelling suggestions already exist on the results page, but by moving them to an earlier point in the search process, we hope we've made it faster and easier to get to the results you're looking for. |
For those who haven't encountered the feature, it's extremely aggressive. When I was searching for a friend's name that was a rare combination of first and last name spellings on the web, Suggest intruded a lot, but still recognized... when I clicked the Search button... that there were "search completions" in the several pages that listed my friend as she spells her name.
In the tumbler searches, I'm thinking, something in the algo mechanism is refusing to acknowledge that there are search completions out there, and it's rewriting the query.
[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 8:09 pm (utc) on Jun 15, 2010]
@ Robert and Tedster I really appreciate you leaving the one example up as when I saw it this morning my eyes popped. It is the ultimate example of what might be going on with so many sites who still have "traffic" but that have traffic with no value. The targeted traffic is gone, the true specific long tail traffic which has been destroyed by an overly aggressive google. Using the three word term - would you all call that "long tail" or is it to short? It is impossible to find the specific product pages from all but 1 or 2 sellers when there are probably 20k plus webpages offering that same product. I can replicate the same result with dozens of other products on the first site listed - it's probably about 50-70% of all products like that are gone from Google. It's a total disaster. Worse they crush the user friendliness even further by dumping people to category/header pages even when they do "deliver" results.
The other thing I noticed is many times the results were littered with duplicate sites. In many cases they clearly link to one another and state that they are sub-sites of the parent, in other cases it's the same SSL or chat software that gives it away. This was not the way the old Google prior to this spring operated, they filtered out the duplicate sites.
I think Google misunderstood that even though some products in some industries may only have a few dozen searches a month those were highly targeted searches. Anyone that looks through the first page results can see that Google is pulling snippets from the landing page instead of taking direct matches which is insane.
Regarding Adwords. In this case I'm not suggesting it's a plot to get people to buy adwords. I'm saying they have muddied up the algorithm so badly Google adwords doesn't even serve the right ads for those searches until the user clicks "did you mean" which in this case is the EXACT SAME PHRASE in the first place? How can we have a "did you really mean" that letter for letter is the same but has two entirely different sets of results? What a nightmare!
@robert....clearly you are correct. Not only are they rewriting the query but they do it invisibly. They don't change the query in the text box and instead provide a "did you mean" link that is the exact same text. It just all makes no sense and I could list 50 more that I just found in a bunch of different industries for specific products. It seems if google relates any of the words to some other search term it goes awol. My friend was just telling me that all of this started to get much worse in the last week or three and that the removal of spefic product pages in favor of months old category pages is very recent. Whatever they are tweaking they tweaked the wrong way.
scottsonline - While you were posting, I added an extra bit of bolding in my quote, to emphasize: "These spelling suggestions already exist on the results page, but by moving them to an earlier point in the search process, we hope we've made it faster and easier to get to the results you're looking for."
I think this is key. Something in Google's search algorithm had completely knocked these pages out of consideration. It's a sharp filter, driven by misplaced "user friendliness".
|In the tumbler searches, I'm thinking, something in the algo mechanism is refusing to acknowledge that there are search completions out there, and it's rewriting the query. |
This really is quite frustrating for a user who actually know what he or she wants. I search for some quite arcane stuff -- and I thought I knew how to use Google -- and get quite frustrated with Google ignoring my queries and returning what it thinks I want. Half the time it ignores quotes, the other half the + sign, and the other half -- ;-) -- any terms that it feels like.
Some knobs are definitely dialed the wrong way.
And G, this is as a user, not a webmaster, SEO or whatever.
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