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SERPS UP but traffic down
MustardDan




msg:4156113
 4:38 pm on Jun 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thought i'd try and gain some general feelings for this. But i have a site, which has recently seen a good rise in the Google SERPS.

We're back to a position we used to hold a good year ago. However, we're actually seeing traffic drop - we know what these positions should bring, but it's no where near old traffic levels.

There's a lot of stuff going on at the moment (world cup / market conditions etc), but i just wondered if anyone else was seeing drops in traffic levels, but yet a rise or hold onto good SERPS?

 

tedster




msg:4156244
 8:11 pm on Jun 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google's layout today is quite different from a year ago - that alone has lowered click rates for many people.

In addition, rankings are not stable in many cases. Even if you turn off personalization in every way you can manage, you can still see a different ranking at different times of day. Only the query terms reports in Webmaster Tools gives you something like the big picture.

kidder




msg:4156315
 10:12 pm on Jun 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

We're back to a position we used to hold a good year ago. However, we're actually seeing traffic drop - we know what these positions should bring, but it's no where near old traffic levels.

I've seen that sort of thing on a couple of sites, rankings appear ok but traffic is nothing like it should be. Its one of those questions that is very hard to get an answer on.

meelosh




msg:4156348
 11:31 pm on Jun 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

I have a similar experience ..very stable serps but huge traffic drop..i am hoping it is world cup related as the globe seems a little distracted at the moment and the traffic drop coincides with the world cup period...fingers crossed

Web_speed




msg:4156365
 12:22 am on Jun 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

I am seeing the same on a number of client sites that i monitor. Excellent SERP positions for very good (popular) keyword sets yet hardly any clicks, and if you do get clicks...NO SALES. Traffic is considerably down on these sites.

This started happening only recently.

Very weird patterns indeed....maybe the entire world are just busy watching the 2010 World Cup...

The only other explanation is that it may have something to do with the Google auto log-in thingy. It is my guess that the SERPS probably look very different once one is permanently logged in (behaviour & history based SERPS).

As much as i hate being logged in when doing searches, I will have to try this theory for the entire month (so no more auto delete cookies, and flash cookies upon browser exit for me for a while).

[edited by: Web_speed at 12:37 am (utc) on Jun 22, 2010]

MustardDan




msg:4156630
 8:20 am on Jun 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yeah, we countered for googles personalisation by checking on brand new machines with inprivate browsing in different locations around the country, so as best as possible we're seeing it as most people see it.

I agree about the comment on webmastertools query terms, but this also shows the same picture...

hopefully world cup....i'll post back after!

pxc433




msg:4156650
 8:44 am on Jun 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

This is an important thread in my view, and I hope it stays on topic.

My site has very very good rankings, but the click through rate is nowhere what it was say 3 years ago. The value of the clicks is lower also - much much less likely to have someone spend any time on the site.

The site has improved as well over the years, both in terms of content and things you can download.

Overall, I'd say the economic value to me of search has declined dramatically.

I'm not a professional SEO. However, I'd have though this has some major implications for search marketers.

proboscis




msg:4157868
 8:15 pm on Jun 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Me too, according to webmaster tools the average positions of my top search queries have moved up since June 1, in some cases from the second page onto the first, but the impressions and clicks have decreased and continue to decrease each week, now down around 30 or 40 percent from June 2009.

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4157903
 9:01 pm on Jun 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Serps up but traffic down makes no sense. Do you rank better for the keywords you looked up but overall are ranking fewer pages for longtail searches?

MustardDan




msg:4157925
 9:29 pm on Jun 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Good point as it doesn't make sense, and hence this post, but no, it's all that are down. Longtails are difficult to exactly confirm as there's so many etc and they often differ month to month.

However we have accounted for the differences in traffic levels and its the big ones that are easiest to confirm that while they've got great positions traffic is definately down from them at an alarming figure

proboscis




msg:4157934
 9:43 pm on Jun 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Same. I rank better for some queries but have less traffic on those specific queries even though they have risen, my overall ranking is down as well.

HuskyPup




msg:4157991
 11:28 pm on Jun 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Serps up but traffic down makes no sense.


It could do under a couple of normal conditions:

1. Are the Serps they are seeing only "their" Serps and not global/geo-targetted Serps making them believe they have better Serps than global reality?

2. In "general" (for many sites) overall traffic is lower at this time of year therefore even sites that dominate their sectors see lower earnings.

Interestingly only this week we were viewing some nice traffic graph charts for our sites and the reduction is almost identical for the last 10 years even though overall traffic has increased a huge amount.

FWIW my B&M businesses are extremely quiet with very low enquiry levels...again normal at this time of year for me.

restless




msg:4158039
 12:59 am on Jun 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

I see this all the time, and it's laughable all those people selling SEO services showing they have first page positions, it doesn't mean you have traffic at all.

I have a theory that Google is testing your page for that particular keyword phrase. I rank very well for highly competitive terms, the ranking never changes but traffic has gone up consistently every month for pages who have good content and a highly relevant to the search query, in otherwise G likes your page so it will send you more traffic. For pages with crappy content but high rankings I don't see much change in traffic even though there should be more.

As for how the limit the traffic even though you have the ranking I have no idea! Perhaps hiding and showing it at different times of the day, or hiding to different groups of IPs. But having said that, I've never NOT seen my website there or when I've showed other people my rankings (who would be on a different IP range) they ALWAYS see it too. It's quite a clever thing G have done, I would love to know how they a limiting traffic out of curiousity

dickbaker




msg:4158077
 2:14 am on Jun 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

MustardDan, is there any seasonal aspect of your business, or anything that could be affected by the current economy?

I ask because I'm seeing something similar to your problem, and the only conclusion I've been able to reach is that people in my niche aren't spending money, and thus aren't looking at sites, and it's summer.

Reno




msg:4158185
 6:24 am on Jun 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

SERPs up / traffic down is no longer an anomaly, and the main reason as to why this is happening is exactly what Tedster said:
Google's layout today is quite different from a year ago - that alone has lowered click rates for many people.

This has been so widely discussed in other threads here I will reframe from any additional comments, other than to say that the good old days are largely over so it's adapt or die.

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

Mark_A




msg:4158208
 7:30 am on Jun 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

Reno: This has been so widely discussed in other threads here I will reframe from any additional comments, other than to say that the good old days are largely over so it's adapt or die.


Indeed, #1 and #2 and #3 are now taken.

tedster




msg:4158896
 12:35 am on Jun 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

It's important in doing this analysis to be very precise, so I'd like to summarize some ideas.

1. If your rankings have improved on an important keyword but your search traffic went down for that same keyword, then maybe your rankings are not really up.

2. You may be getting customized or personalized results when you check rankings.

3. If you use an automated rank checker, you may be getting red-herring data (some people have reported this happening.)

4. Rankings may be up only part of the time - Google seems to be doing more dayparting than ever before. So take a day and do some manual hourly checks and see if the ranking is regularly where you thought. Check your Webmaster Tools and see what kind of impressions and clicks Google is reporting for your terms.

5. Rankings may be up but not for your main geographical target. Check the IP addresses of your search traffic.

6. Maybe your ranking went up, but the Suggestions drop down changed and is taking some of the previous traffic off to a different search.

7. If you're comparing data from this year to last year, remember that the Google interface changed seriously in May 2010. I've seen some rough data that suggests that #1 on today's search results page generates up to 30% fewer clicks at #1 than a similar #1 would have received last year. Now don't take that and run with it just yet - I said the the data was "rough".

I'll bet there are other possibilities, too and would love to hear more ideas. But what I'm saying most of all is to zero in on a particular search term. I don't think that insights will come from looking at high level, aggregated data.

arronsky




msg:4158900
 12:41 am on Jun 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Fantastic post and advice from Tedster. You have to both have cookies cleared PLUS opt out of customization each browser session to avoid getting personalized results. Even then, I believe Google will customize to your hour, location, and whatever else it knows about you (browser, screen resolution, etc... could you imagine if it decided to show 'simpler' results to people with 640x480 screens? haha).

4, 5, and 6 are incredibly important points (particularly #6, that's a genius observation that I hadn't really considered much but is definitely happening).

One other thing I'd add is that many searches are now auto-corrected by Google, e.g., search for chomocolate and it will show you chocolate results, telling you that you can switch to the chomocolate results if you like. Don't quote me, but I BELIEVE this behavior used to be exactly the opposite, only suggesting the other search but showing you what you searched for. For people who got traffic on obscure or misspelled/mistyped traffic, you can rank #1 and only get 10% of your old traffic.

Mark_A




msg:4158992
 7:06 am on Jun 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

could you imagine if it decided to show 'simpler' results to people with 640x480 screens? haha).


I look at the web on a machine with IE8 and XP, and on a machine with Win98ME and IE5.5 - The experience is different, some of the recent tweaks like background images don't show up at all on the older machine. And I am pretty sure the old machine still shows the pre May 2010 layout.

MustardDan




msg:4159128
 11:43 am on Jun 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks for all the replies - all interesting. But to repeat, we've ruled out the geo-targeting / personalisation. We have access to independant machines in multiple locations throughout the UK, and on ones, which are brand new, and not-seen google before.

With regards to seasonal, we've counted for that too. The bits that are new and un-charted is the world cup, and general market conditions.

From all the responses i see above, the ones which i think give a plausable answer is tedsters 'possible' 30% fewer clicks due to the revised layout of google and the fact that the market is currently toilet.

I've been battling search engines for many years now, and 'if' the answer is the new layout, then i've got to say, that this seems to be the biggest impact change i've seen. Yes the algo updates have big effects, but you could always come back to the point that if you get a top position, then traffic will come. However, this may mean that we indeed have to think about the google page 1 real-estate much more intelligently etc

cien




msg:4159232
 2:39 pm on Jun 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Guys, it's not the World Cup, the economy or Virgen Maria. It's the new Google! Those block of Adwords ads at the top of search results are killing your traffic.

Mark_A




msg:4159277
 3:26 pm on Jun 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Guys, it's not the World Cup, the economy or Virgen Maria. It's the new Google! Those block of Adwords ads at the top of search results are killing your traffic.


Perhaps when we get #1 we should actually say, we got #4!

for #1 you have to pay!

Mark_A




msg:4159286
 3:37 pm on Jun 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

It was always going to happen, 1) for #1 in the serps, website owners often have to pay someone for SEO (not google).

2) for #1 in the adwords website owners have to pay google directly.

Hence option 2 is favoured by G

proboscis




msg:4159413
 6:30 pm on Jun 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

What about your impressions in webmaster tools? Have those gone down as well or just clicks?

Robert Charlton




msg:4159427
 7:05 pm on Jun 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

...It's the new Google! Those block of Adwords ads at the top of search results are killing your traffic.

Aside from just pushing organic down... that block of three with the extremely faint background color they're using for the ads makes it hard to distinguish where the "Sponsored links" drop off and the organic results begin.

This is particularly true on an LCD monitor viewed straight on. For me, it verges on deceptive.

internetheaven




msg:4159503
 8:39 pm on Jun 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google's layout today is quite different from a year ago - that alone has lowered click rates for many people.


More specifically, ads are far more prevalent and whereas they use to sometimes take up the top 3 spots then now seem to always take up the top 3 spots and the number in the right hand column seems to keep increasing too. #1 is now really #4 for organics and there are now more adverts than organic results in a large number of result sets.

Aside from just pushing organic down... that block of three with the extremely faint background color they're using for the ads makes it hard to distinguish where the "Sponsored links" drop off and the organic results begin.

This is particularly true on an LCD monitor viewed straight on. For me, it verges on deceptive.


There's no "verge" about it. It is plainly and blatantly deceptive and most non-webmasters I talk to are completely unaware that the top results are paid for. They think only the right column contains paid ads.

gouri




msg:4159529
 9:17 pm on Jun 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Aside from just pushing organic down... that block of three with the extremely faint background color they're using for the ads makes it hard to distinguish where the "Sponsored links" drop off and the organic results begin.


I agree with you. When there is an Adwords block at the top of the page, it is sometimes hard to make out if the ad at the bottom is a part of Adwords or the organic SERP without looking at it again.

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4159760
 8:40 am on Jun 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

If nobody speaks up nothing changes so...

Mark_A - I agree, spots #1, #2 and #3 in the vast majority of search results are taken with sponsored links. That's a shame too, there are lots of fantastic sites much more helpful to visitors being shoved below the fold below the "taken, cannot compete for these" positions. The "what's best for visitors is what we do" mantra is no longer accurate in this case. This is fast becoming a recipe for fail imo. Search engine fail. Our content is making them stinking rich.

maximillianos




msg:4159792
 10:34 am on Jun 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

You cannot accurately determine where your site ranks any more due to personalized search. Even if you go through a new ip with no cookies or history of search, that does not even help since that does not portray the majority of users who do have a history of search on their machine.

My advice, don't look at where you rank in search as a measure of anything. It is counter productive and can misguide down a road where you waste time, money and resources making changes based on a stat that no longer is consistent or measureable.

Instead focus on your webmaster reports and your traffic logs.

Reading where you rank in serps is a dead science.

Now if you want to blame the layout changes, that too is out of our control. Googles can and does rotate what you see for any given search based on a number of factors including each machines history of search and location.

It is not what most SEO's want to hear, but it is my opinion that checking serps rank is a useless stat now a days. And this was done I believe by design by G. Which is actually a really good design, causing folks to focus more on what they can control, their own sites, and less on what they can't control.

graywolf




msg:4159826
 2:09 pm on Jun 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

Is it traffic for that keyword or set of keywords that's down or is traffic to the page as whole down

This 47 message thread spans 2 pages: 47 ( [1] 2 > >
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