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This 233 message thread spans 8 pages: < < 233 ( 1 2 3 4 [5] 6 7 8 > >     
Google Traffic Throttling - revisited

 2:39 am on Sep 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

The topic of Google traffic throttling came up a good number of times over the past two years or more. Some doubt that it happens - others are convinced but have trouble breaking through the wall of other's doubt.

Last year I saw the analytics for one site that showed a drop to zero Google traffic every day at around the same time - it stayed at zero until the next day and then it cycled again. I also saw another major enterprise site that only had first page ranking for a specific 4-hour period every day. Both of the cases persisted for many weeks, but both eventually "returned to normal".

Just recently someone else contacted me with the graphs to show something very strange. Three months of nearly level Google traffic (unnaturally level in my experience) followed by a huge spike that lasted 4 hours - I'm talking up 1,000%.

So I think it's time to look at this topic again - seriously. It's not a fantasy. Something Google does every so often looks like traffic throttling or rationing. Here's a post from just today:

backdraft: I get these "windows" of sales only minutes apart, then hours of nothing. It's as if Google can turn us on and off while still showing our site in the SERPS. That is very strange and an experience shared by other sites over in the UK. I am in the US.


Here's a small sampling of past and recent discussion:

1. Google Traffic Throttling - where are we on this? [webmasterworld.com]
2. Time of day rankings changes [webmasterworld.com]
3. The Yo Yo Effect - is it now getting worse? [webmasterworld.com]
4. Huge drop in my blog traffic [webmasterworld.com]
5. Google Toggles our High Ranking On/Off Again and Again [webmasterworld.com]
6. One day spike in Google referrals [webmasterworld.com]
7. Is there a threshold for google traffic? [webmasterworld.com]

And there's more where that came from.

It seems like it's a lot harder to pin down now, and it was never easy. So what do you see? Is anyone wrestling with this on their own sites? Any ideas how it is being accomplished?



 5:11 pm on Sep 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

The "throttle" continues today....worst day in the past month.


 12:10 am on Sep 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

same at germany 8 days normal traffic, at 10 am suddenly -50%

all domains and subdomains(121) very strange and frustrating


 12:20 am on Sep 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

But by definition of the word "throttle" it would not cause a drop in traffic. It just keeps you from going beyond a certain level - it's a cap, in other words. If you're losing traffic, then throttling is not your discussion.


 1:08 am on Sep 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think that Whitenight raises valid questions as to why there would be two different methods of throttling, and also as to why so few examples have been reported. There is a clear need for more data.


 2:26 am on Sep 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Agreed. The observations in this thread are not all from present time. Some of them are from more than two years ago. It is very possible - even likely - that this thing (whatever it is) has evolved over time. That's why I think drall's recent observation is so very useful. Ir's right now. Maybe Ian Turner will turn up some clues - he's got a present time situation

It was over two years ago that some sites started seeing a "yo-yo" ranking for some keywords, but at that time we didn't think to ask for overall traffic levels. Still, that could have been the earlier days of a throttling mechanism, if total traffic stayed stable even when one important keyword dropped dramatically for part of the day.

It's very possible that this thread may not get to the root of it. We just don't have enough data right now. I can understand why busineses aren't looking for it. If their traffic levels are steady and predictable - happily sustaining their business - then it's on to other tasks.

I started this thread in the hopes that we would find a new audience - others who are seeing something like this but hadn't focused on it so far. I'd start by creating week-by-week graphs of Google referred traffic, not looking at a day-by-day snapshot. If the weekly trend is "supernaturally" flat for an extended period, then it's worth digging further, especially if you track rankings for major keywords and can see that they are not flat.


 3:09 am on Sep 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Something Google does every so often looks like traffic throttling or rationing.

I agree with the "looks like" part, but I doubt there is any actual throttling or rationing going on, only the appearance of such. Google has rolled out a lot of changes this summer, and something this complex is not going to be perfect. I do believe this is a perfect storm of many factors, the economy being a large part. The only time I ever see wild fluctuations is when a new algo is brought online. It usually clears up after a few days or weeks. In the mean time, the only thing those affected can do is wait, re-examine their sites and hope it all settles out soon.


 3:12 am on Sep 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

"supernaturally" flat

(and/or recurring patterns)

I've wondered about this for a while, not only with traffic levels but with Adsense payouts or Adwords costs, as well. (Adwords, Adsense and WMT are all required to be under the same email/G account, right?) There seems to be something going on that just doesn't make sense. I'd really like to believe that G is being honest when they say that none of the above services have any interaction. Hope that makes sense...


 3:32 am on Sep 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

The only time I ever see wild fluctuations is when a new algo is brought online. It usually clears up after a few days or weeks.

I suggest you go now back and read drall's report a second time. He doesn't even see the fluctuations from an algo change that you do. No pattern changes at all, even for day of the week. And it's been like that for a very long time, while a PR 6 home page grew to a PR8.

Then read what he's seen happen recently with rankings when one of his pages gets a traffic spike because of social media activity. The other pages' rankings drop for the remainder of just that period, so that total traffic stays the same.

You can always choose not to believe it, but that report does not look like something accidental at work to me.


 3:46 am on Sep 25, 2010 (gmt 0)


i think google has domain throttling. over 8 Days we had alwyas about 3300-3400 User, the rest of the month we had always between 1600-1700 UV.
We have many links to Tickets, so sometimes we have 300 UV at one Day for a special location, but no peek so google is throttling the rest of the traffic.

@ tedster if you need more informations or my analytics data send me a pm


 4:29 am on Sep 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

linux, are you isolating the traffic coming just from Google Search to begin your study?


 7:59 am on Sep 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Today my traffic has decreased by 20% but usually traffic is low on weekends. However it is still higher than normal. I will keep you guys updated on this.

A note from Google Webmaster Tools. From the day I am experiencing this increse of traffic I am also experiencing an increase of Googlebots visiting my website

Are these things related? Anyone else experiencing this?


 12:00 pm on Sep 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

I can confirm that out site showed the same throttling symptoms as Drall's. Site is just over 3 years old and traffic had always been metered out until just after the mayday disaster.
It went like this.
Overall, site got x amount of traffic each and every day. For example we will say 1000 visits. The number never changed by more than 1 or 2 visitors.
The interesting part is that the home page received the bulk of the traffic. So for example home page would get 800 visitors. The remainder of our pages would receive the rest. At the end of each day we would have exactly 1000 visits. But the pages google chose to display in serps changed every day.

At the start of a new month we would almost always get a traffic bump of about 200 more visits. So each and every day we would have 1200 visits, again with the home page getting the bulk and the rest of the pages getting the rest and once agian the pages displayed in serps would change daily.
This pattern lasted for almost 3 years.
We don't know what we did, but after Mayday something changed and the traffic is now going up and down in what we perceive to be a more normal pattern. 5000 one day then 4800 the next, sometimes as much as 5800. Bottom line is that the pattern is now different.

I can say for sure that it was not link building because we haven't done any. We may have gained some natural links but nothing significant that we know about.

I tend to believe that this is some sort of a trust factor. The one thing we did frequently is change the contents and design, but not the keywords of our home page.

Hope this helps in some way.


 1:34 pm on Sep 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

@tedster - I'm not trying to debunk the "throttle" theory, or say you are wrong, I'm just playing devil's advocate:

From what Drall is saying, he has "thousands" of pages that rank for X. Is the site in question some type of ezine or content aggregation site? My site is about 150 pages that leads on a specific niche topic, one that is being aggregated more and more each day. So perhaps this is why I am seeing nearly the opposite effect. My site went from a natural sine wave pattern, to a "spikey" sine wave with definite on and off periods.

And now the further question comes up - why would some domains be given this treatment?

It's just my delusion, but perhaps G is trying to keep "massive" fast growing, thin content sites from clogging up the serps. Google may not like sites with thousands of pages of thin content on every topic imaginable, designed solely for Adsense monetization that is spread across an entire domain. I could name a few, but I think everyone knows what I mean. Getting a bone thrown at them from social sites would then result in a temporary blackout, and that would actually be understandable, yet still not a fair practice by G.

Just another example of being "kept down by the man" - lol

@drall - I'd like to see the affected site, please feel free to correct my assumption.


 4:09 pm on Sep 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

i only show google serach traffic, here is my analytics data of this month,

you can see the 8 days peek, but we have a location database, maso there must be a huge movement at your traffic depending on what loaction has events!

here the screenshot of analytics

[terramall.de ]


 4:29 pm on Sep 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

hi linux ,
this is what i am experiencing on my website too but on a bigger scale! the only difference is that my "positive" trend has not finished yet. Apart from this everything else is EXACTLY the same...
So, how do we have to decipher this fluctuation? What is Google up to?


 4:43 pm on Sep 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

hi frank 42,

1. the domain had 10.000 UV at Dez 2009.
2 suddenly traffic is double up at some days of month.
3. at some day we geht 300 UV of a single location, e.g iam from munich so many search at google for "oktoberfest",but this keysword gains no extra traffic,because some other keywords like "sap arena" are gone at this day


 5:37 pm on Sep 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yes I too have seen what linux is explaining here...i had a traffic increase for one of my sites due to a keyword getting more traction in the serps...but after a few days i notice it coming back to the same levels...during this time frame google seems to be adjusting the ranking positions for one another keyword (it could be more as well)..

I saw this other page moving from position 3 to 4 and then to 5 and the traffic is back to the previous levels (slightly on the lower side).

Here is my theory on how google seems to be doing this.

Google has a fairly accurate count of the traffic it drives to every page for any given keyword and at different serp positions (irrespective of whether you use analytics or not). If traffic to a particular page goes up due to some traction for a particular keyword, they then choose to push down one or more pages (ranking for other keywords) by a few positions.This is done to balance the traffic spike...

This balancing act is not done uniformly at all data centers (regions). It knows how to rank the other pages in different regions to do this balancing act. So, if you are tracking the ranking position in one particular region alone, you may not even be aware that this pages has actually gone down a few positions in a few other regions...

The fundamental assumption behind this theory is google has accurate count of traffic it sends to the top 10 or 20 pages (may be even beyond that) for any given keyword.


 5:45 pm on Sep 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

here the comparison of adwords and google search

google search
[terramall.de ]

google adwords
[terramall.de ]

adwords has movements because the search traffic depends on the weather!

the website has many keywords of the adwords as well at very good postions but there is no movement


 6:13 pm on Sep 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Those graphs are not unnaturally flat - and not very long term either. The surge does look a bit funny, but it doesn't look like what we're calling throttling. I think it's a separate discussion.


 7:14 pm on Sep 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Some posters may be suggesting that the throttling only kicks in when a site's Google traffic temporarily bumps up against the limit, due perhaps to a news event. In that case, the graph would be unnaturally flat only for a short time during the period of greatest activity.


 12:55 pm on Sep 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

i am also affected - main site gets about 35,000 uv's per week from organic google. has been at that level +/- 5% every week for over 6 months. i am ecommerce, so not too much facebook buzz...

for me, it has to be in the longtails - that is where i get 80% of my traffic - many of those pages don't even get 1 google organic referral per day - the other 20% are my "main" keywords - these tend to rank in the top 5 on very competitive terms, but they don't ever move - the longtail pages, most of which used to be in the old "supplemental" index, seem to fill up the rest of the referrals so as to reach my "cap". i am guessing that this may be easier to accomplish technically than some have speculated - a big part of the longtail formula is trust, which i think is domain-wide, so a little tweak on this knob could easily move tens or even hundreds of thousands of longtail serps up or down by a few hundred results.

a secondary thought, anybody have any sense of whether google products or images referrals fit into the "cap"?


 1:21 pm on Sep 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hmm, for the last 4 days my UV's have been exactly the same number. Coincidence?


 1:25 pm on Sep 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

After further review, I am more inclined to believe our low sales levels and sporadic traffic have more to do with network problems than Google "throttling". If you check out [internettrafficreport.com...] you will see that the US is at an unusually low level (76) with at least 7 routers OOS or not reporting. It's also been reporting an 18% to 20% packet loss rate. This might explain why we are seeing traffic in our logs, but most visitors are abandoning the page if it fails to load completely. Next step is to optimize the pages, again. I'm outta this topic for now...moving over to the ecommerce area.


 1:38 pm on Sep 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hmm, for the last 4 days my UV's have been exactly the same number. Coincidence?

Did your traffic from Google keep increasing until it bumped up against a limit over the last four days?

If this is the highest level it's ever reached, then throttling could have kicked in to prevent it from going higher. But if it has previously been higher in the past, then it probably isn't being throttled now.


 1:44 pm on Sep 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

No, it's usually higher.

That's duly noted but what if we consider that google has lowered the ceiling for whatever reason? Just a theory.

Mine is a low traffic niche anyway but this is very strange behavior.


 2:09 pm on Sep 27, 2010 (gmt 0)


We are not a fast growing thin content site, our site has been around since 1998 and was getting direct traffic long before Google came on the scene. Our pages are handwritten and have taken over a decade for 4 people to produce. Think along the lines of a how to site. I will not be giving out the site url for what should be obvious reasons.

I posted my data to try and help Tedster and others pin down this oddity. One sidenote I wanted to bringup is that we do own many sites all under the same whois and on the same servers and only one of these sites has been throttled, all others are humming along and growing like usual.


 2:25 pm on Sep 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

If Google is throttling traffic limits to "spread the wealth around" wouldn't the high peak be degraded over a year or so because of 10,000 new websites being added to the Internet per day (more competitors = less traffic per site)?


 2:48 pm on Sep 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

wouldn't the high peak be degraded over a year or so because of 10,000 new websites being added

As drall and others have reported, this does not seem to be an across the boards phenomenon, rather, some sites are targetted and some see normal fluctuations. I see the same level (+/- 5% almost every day) at a few of my own URLs, but not at others. Figuring out WHY that is happening may give us a clue to Google's rationale, which may lead to HOW it is happening. So far, drall's reporting re some keywords going up and simultaneously others going down ~ thus resulting in a flatter line ~ is the most compelling.



 3:29 pm on Sep 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think to have reached the ceiling. On friday my traffic increse hit the highest point and starting from saturday i am experiencing a steady decrese of traffic...i think that maybe i will go to the same traffic levels as before all this mess happened...
Anyone experiencing this?

and most important...WHAT the sense of this?


 4:50 pm on Sep 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've got an old site with millions of optimized pages. I haven't made a change to one line of code on this site for three years (outside of adserver code). Three years ago, my traffic would spike to as high as 68,000 uniques per day and would gyrate with some consistency from G.

Then one day about 24 months ago the gyration stopped and traffic was throttled down. My G analytics graph was nice and smooth with a general downtrend day after day after day, week after week.

Until I was down to 4000 uniques per day, every day from G. Then 60 days ago, it stopped.

I've uploaded a screenshot from G analytics for last 30 days, compared to last year, check it out:


Two things occurred, both related to backlinks, which I think let G free this site:

1) I was leveraging the traffic to distribute widgets that had rotating anchor text to a couple of other sites. G caught me a couple years ago (30 months) and penalized the sites with the anchor text and slapped this throttle on the distribution site. I cleaned that up, told G what I had been doing and my other sites had a 3 month penalty removed, but throttle continued on primary site.

2) I add hundreds of backlinks in rotation but ONLY to site with a throttle on it...I think over time (2+ years), the backlink structure cleaned itself up and the true power of the site was unleashed again.

Now traffic is growing like crazy from G as all the millions of pages are recrawled. 500-2000+ uniques every few days. I am a little worried my server will crash if I hit 30,0000 uniques per day. Might need to pull out the load balancer again.

Anyways, throttling scares me. But the way out is through reworking your backlinks, that I am quite certain.

For now, I am enjoying the increased ad revenue. :-)


 5:02 pm on Sep 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

for millions of pages, that is still very low traffic...

but congragulations on getting things sorted out...

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