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Google Updates and SERP Changes - November 2010
indyank

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 5:50 am on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

< continued from [webmasterworld.com...] >

Here is alexa's take on the the oct 21-22 debacle..they do see a significant shift...

[blog.alexa.com...]

but wait, there seems to be one more tweak that happened this friday, oct 29. This could either be a reversal or yet another tweak...google is enjoying the tweak game and one thing for sure, they are trying to achieve something for themselves via the tweaks...

[edited by: tedster at 2:18 pm (utc) on Nov 1, 2010]

 

natim

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 4:05 pm on Nov 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Late Fri or very early Sat there was some sort of tweak, we have 6 sites all built on WP with absolute fresh unique content every day. Each site ranked mostly 1,2,3 for it's primary target, Saturday morning every single one of them had fallen back to pg 5 or 6. Anyone know anything specifically regarding WP sites?

scottsonline



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 10:14 pm on Nov 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Beats me! I'm looking for a job now too. Traffic is solid but it's unqualified. Very frustrating as the changes keep coming. It seems this weekend they upped the ante for amazon and other shopping aggregators.

I'm looking to get totally out of the web side. I cant take the uncertainty of dealing with big g now.

scottsonline



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 5:29 am on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Added to the grand scheme of things: our whole industry had a great year right up to the last seven to ten days of October where it collapsed on both sides of the ball and stayed down through 11/10. I polled two of the top 3 suppliers tonight and they all responded with their being no holiday buying this year. "turned off the faucet, plugged the dam" were the terms used to describe trend around 11/1.

Did the bottom fall out in the economy or did this change not Go as well as thought? I'm thinking the buying dollars are still here and that google is gradually putting it right but this was a rough update.

Robert Charlton

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 6:30 am on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

"turned off the faucet, plugged the dam" were the terms used to describe trend around 11/1.

Various industries I've worked in traditionally have big drops at election time... often in election years... and these also are very uncertain times. This beyond the sweeping changes in Google.

CainIV

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 6:36 am on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm looking to get totally out of the web side. I cant take the uncertainty of dealing with big g now.


Never rely on Google as your business model.

Many, many very experienced users here have preached businesses developing diverse business structures and practices which involve leveraging a range of traffic sources. It truly helps those businesses survive when these types of updates and events happen.

CainIV

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 6:44 am on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Anyone know why G is dropping the root in favor of more targeted pages on some but not all keywords?


Excellent question. I notice this too.

Wondering if it isn't query intention matching along the lines of the avenue Tedster has notably spoke about before, where Google believes an inner page on the website might offer a best match for the intention of the user?

mkassets

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 1:15 pm on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Wondering what's happening with WebmasterWorld.

It is not just Alexa. I am looking at semrush data and WebmasterWorld rankings are plummeting from ~500K to ~20K organic keywords - just in a few months.

martinacastro

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 3:03 pm on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hi

It's only for me or GWT is not updating "Links to your site" info?

I have the same link information for the last 10 days or a bit more.

Gemini23

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 6:16 pm on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Dropped in Google today having been steady with them for about 3 years. Also noticed that on Y Site Explorer my backlinks have been cut in half from 7,000 to 3,500. Two things connected?

networkliquidators



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 8:27 pm on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

A couple of scenarios I'm pondering on combing throttling and Google preview.

Let's say, Google assumed you would click on the result normally, but you decide to click on the preview instead. You then decide not to visit that site. Would think that may take away on your predefined throttled amount?

Also, if Google preview puts extra load on your website, do they take away traffic counting all those previews in conjunction with your predefined throttled amount?

I know there are post for both subjects at hand, but since combined as one, this topic may be best for it. I guess I'm mainly looking for after answering these questions, if you have seen a dip in your organic searche?

MLHmptn

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 9:46 pm on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Gemini your not alone. It appears to me that the "Holiday SERP's" have kicked in within the last couple hours. Suddenly today every website of ours has a 25%-50% decrease in traffic while seeing shifts towards the amazons, walmarts, etc. sites.

MrHard



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 1:22 am on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

How often do top 5 spots get updated? Any patterns to the updates 2, 4 years?

scottsonline



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 1:23 am on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

@Robert, there's an associated drop but it has continued. So far November has been the worst year ever for several of our suppliers. It cannot be a coincidence that it timed out with the odd SERPS in our niche.

@Gemini we see it too. Sometime today any large affiliate site is tops. Buy, amazon, the aggregators, even sears. This is what google is messing up. Anyone can out anything on amazon but it doesn't mean it's a good result. Doesn't matter. I can see giving sears a boost for craftsmen tools, but why are they getting a boost on skis being sold by a third party through the site at 3pm today? Silly.

Re career path I know there are other avenues but google has been so erratic the stress for all of us tied to it is tough. How can I explain to a boss that one day we get 5k google serp visitors and the next day 500 then 7000. I'm looking for more traditional work.

Why is this site being chopped when it is the source of information? Indicative of googles problem. A scrapper somewhere probably is getting playtime.

Traffic died about 4pm today. What is clear from this year is google needs to hire some business owners and those dependent on them. I don't think their programmers have any clue about how much their little changes can devastate others. They owed us nothing but with this much power they do need to be sensible. One bad update could really hamper the economy.

brinked

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 5:03 am on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

ok. I finally got around to crunching numbers, analyzing different industries, analyzing, analyzing, and more analyzing. From my 12+ years of webmaster and SEO experience and as someone who is familiar with SERP changes during the holiday season, here are some educational theories I have put together for the recent google mayhem.

1. All for the holiday season. I truly believe this update has a lot to do with the holiday season. Google is trying to match up online consumers with the proper vendors. My belief is that google does not want consumers to be hitting too many dropship, affiliate, overpriced retailers, so they are trying to get the consumer as close to the product originator as possible. For example, if you were a site that has lots of unique useful information but you try to lead your visitors to an affiliate program, google might start to say "ok, lets bring these customers right to the source, rather have them go through these "doorway" or affiliate store fronts. Which leads me to...

2. Split testing. We all have seen by now google ranking inner pages of websites instead of the homepage in an attempt to get the customer directly to the useful stuff.

3. I also believe google is starting to devalue sitewide links a bit, especially if all your backlinks are sitewides, you may be in trouble. Also, if you depend on 1 type of link (such as all article links, all directory links etc) you may have gotten hit as well.

I saw the same thing last year and the same thing before that and what ended up happening is that torwards february, it all started coming back to the pre holiday SERP's. So do not panic too much folks.

tedster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 5:13 am on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

RE: split testing. Maybe even some highly dynamic multivariate testing, as in Traffic Shaping - a hidden method to the quality madness [webmasterworld.com].

bugsy2334

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 6:07 am on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

For what it's worth, here is my two cents...

Google is flat out broken. I'm having similar issues to everyone who has commented in this thread. Here's the list of issues I'm seeing.

Good traffic vs bad traffic - Depending on the day, hour, or time period, the visitors to my site are either real people, or we call them ghosts. I can have 50 ghost visitors to my site in an hour, and not one lead, contact, or order. The next hour, I may have another 50 visitors and all of a sudden the phone is ringing and our inbox starts filling up. What was going on during that first hour? This can happen on a day to day basis also.

Traffic threshold - It seems no matter what we do, our traffic never increases or decreases. If you were to look at a graph of the traffic to our site, it is almost a perfect straight line during the weekdays. It doesn't matter if I'm paying for adwords or I have adwords turned off. No matter what it's almost exactly the same number of visitors. Sometimes I can have days that only show a difference of 4-5 visits. To me it would seem that Google has a threshold that based on the rank of your site, they will only allow a certain number of visits.

Google Analytics - I'm seeing very strange results in google analytics. Maybe it's always been like this and I just never noticed it. If i look at our traffic sources, and then at keywords, and then separate the keywords by city, it seems that I may get hundreds of searches for a keyword phrase, but they all come from the same location. Looking at historical data in analytics, it was never as prominant as it is now.

Bounce Rate/time on site - My bounce rate has gone up about 10% since this whole thing started. About the same time as everyone else. Likewise, the average time on site has gone down.

Location search - I think Google has gone beyond personalizing search based on your previous searches. I think they are giving results based on your IP address. So it's not just your browser history, cache, or whatever other information they are tracking. I think they are also feeding you results based on searches that originated from that IP address. So your results can be shaped on what others at your office have searched for

With all that being said, this is not why I think Google is broken. I think it's broken based on my experience of doing simple searches when trying to find what I'm looking for. When I'm searching for a solution to a computer problem, or searching for a technique to use in illustrator, or searching for help on a hobby of mine, I just can't find what I'm looking for. The results are really complete garbage. This really has nothing to do with my site.

I'm seeing more and more affiliate sites, or sites that just list a bunch of links containing the text that I searched for. I'm seeing pages with malicious software, I'm seeing doorway pages, pages with only Google adsesne. I'm seeing multiple results that are all from the same domain. I feel like I am searching on Gigablast when that search engine first launched.

To add to this, I'm starting to hear complaints form people who can barely copy and paste. My father has complained to me about result, relatives and friends have mentioned it to me. It's really getting frustrating.

Anyway, that's my two cents. I can't imagine who is being positively affected by the recent changes. Normally I wouldn't complain because our company has benefited greatly from Google. But it's going beyond our business. It's just not easy to find what I'm searching for anymore. And that's why I say Google is broke.

scottsonline



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 6:44 am on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

@Brinked but theyve gone way too far. If someone went and registered a seller account on amazon tonight and started selling Nimitz class aircraft carriers that page would rank #1 in a day for that search. #2 would of course be wikipedia, #3 would be another feed at another major store from the same shop as #1, the navy would be down to 7th because it's shopping season. 4-7 would be a mix of sites related to thinks once carried by Nimitz and other information that is close but deliberately not exact.
I believe it was on sears earlier today when I was looking at washers I mis-clicked on a link and came to an affiliate selling military grade parachutes on sears. I did the search and sears was #2, the manufacturer of the chute 3, and military supply stores and hobby parachuting stores came after. Is sears really the authority site on military parachutes or has google gone loko and decided that without matter to WHAT these sites list it must be good? #1 was the same guy selling on a different store affiliate...another big store.
I changed the specific item but you can see this effect on any item on the site.

I am pretty sure I found a cure for the housing crisis. Start listing houses on amazon, sears etc and they'll rank for everything from kitchen cabinet to lightbulb....can get that gray inventory cleared up before new years.

I'd like to run a test on amazon but I'm trying to figure out which product would best prove the point. Something moderately competitive listed on trusted sites. I'm betting with 1-2 days of going live on amazon everyone gets bumped down notches even if I put in the description "this is a test of the emergency broadcast system, this is only a test" and for pictures I put up famous rodeo clowns. Long as the product name matches we are good.

brinked

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 8:27 am on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google is trying to accomplish something by these changes. I think google is aware that some aspects of its index will have to suffer in order for it to achieve what it wants to do for the holidays. Matt Cutts has said that people have complained that keyword domains are ranking higher than they should and they are going to try to fix that. This is something I have seen lately as well.

This obviously has not been fixed yet, but they probably have a bunch of other fixes they are working on as well.

My best advice to everyone here who has a gripe with the latest index changes is this: when you search (as a user, not a webmaster) and you see results that should not be there, send a message to google and report the site either as spam, or give google feedback. At the bottom of every search page there is a link in googles footer that says "give us feedback" use it! This is the only way that we can tell google to fix this. If enough quality googlers use this feature, google will get the point that their index needs adjusting.

Is googles index broken? I cant say. Its like when you order something online, if you have a positive experience, theres about a 2% chance you will submit a positive review about it, if you have a bad experience, there is a 95% chance you will submit a negative review about it. So all these complaints can simply be from people who had a bad experience, and maybe there are more people who are benefiting from this than arent.

Jez123

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 9:40 am on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

One bad update could really hamper the economy.


I agree but it doesn't seem that everyone is affected.

It's a scary thought that google could probably impact the economy in either positive or negative ways. That's way too much power.

For my own site I am seeing traffic at much more normal levels but sales and enquiries are well down. Under half what I was getting throughout the whole rest of this year. Bugsy2334's "ghosts" scottonline's "zombie traffic" are all over my site.

I thought halloween was last month?

Robert Charlton

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 9:46 am on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Good traffic vs bad traffic - Depending on the day, hour, or time period, the visitors to my site are either real people, or we call them ghosts. I can have 50 ghost visitors to my site in an hour, and not one lead, contact, or order. The next hour, I may have another 50 visitors and all of a sudden the phone is ringing and our inbox starts filling up. What was going on during that first hour? This can happen on a day to day basis also.

bugsy2334 - This is about as clear a description of a test designed to optimize traffic to your site that I can imagine. Google can't do this on an individual site by site basis, though, so I believe it's trying to group sites and searches by various factors to see which groups provide the best user satisfaction. Clearly those are the results that set your phone ringing.

You should definitely jump into the Traffic Shaping discussion. I think you might take heart from the outcomes some are ultimately seeing.

Traffic threshold - It seems no matter what we do, our traffic never increases or decreases. If you were to look at a graph of the traffic to our site, it is almost a perfect straight line during the weekdays. It doesn't matter if I'm paying for adwords or I have adwords turned off. No matter what it's almost exactly the same number of visitors. Sometimes I can have days that only show a difference of 4-5 visits. To me it would seem that Google has a threshold that based on the rank of your site, they will only allow a certain number of visits.

I recently saw examples of exactly what you're describing. Have you kept impression data with dates? I'll bet your impressions jumped around quite a bit while your click-through rate held fairly constant. I assume that Google needs to keep a controllable factor constant while measuring other variables in order to be able to compare different sets of data.

Location search

I'm assuming here that Google is comparing different types of Place Search serp pages [webmasterworld.com...] again with the idea of maximizing searcher satisfaction.

tigger

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tigger us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 9:47 am on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

majority of the keywords I'm checking seem pretty OK - the GRIPE I have with G is these stupid multiple page listings for sites that in some cases are showing 4 pages - this IS a joke and offers nothing to the serps

backdraft7

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 11:53 am on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

@Robert_Charlton - where would I find this "traffic shaping " discussion?

I had another "shut down" day yesterday, no sales between 7 am and 7 pm. But after 7 pm, traffic started up again and sales started back on their regular pattern, one or two per hour.

martinacastro

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 1:24 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

My cents/thoughts about G Index, if it's broken or not...

My link profile is the same since 2 weeks, no changes, and in the past (until middle of october my link info update once a week or at list 8/10 days) I don't know your expriences.

Searching the same kw using IP from the same country only different cities, I can see difference of 1 or 2 pages, and the sites have not local reference.

About the link profile values I agree with brinked that something change in the values...

roodle

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 1:33 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Traffic threshold - It seems no matter what we do, our traffic never increases or decreases. If you were to look at a graph of the traffic to our site, it is almost a perfect straight line during the weekdays. It doesn't matter if I'm paying for adwords or I have adwords turned off. No matter what it's almost exactly the same number of visitors. Sometimes I can have days that only show a difference of 4-5 visits. To me it would seem that Google has a threshold that based on the rank of your site, they will only allow a certain number of visits.

In my case the traffic graph has the same shape week in week out. Almost identical (sometimes EXACTLY the same number) traffic from one Tuesday to another Tuesday, but different levels on each day. That said, if I check the traffic ONLY from G, that does seem to vary a little more but still roughly maintains the overall traffic shape. So I'm wondering whether it's using Analytics to shape the overall traffic levels? We don't use Adwords on this one so can't compare that.

scottsonline



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 1:37 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

It is funny to read certain complaints as they roll through niches. The pattern is the same. If it is part of an end goal great but why are they re-injecting sites they had previously removed as duplicates? That's whats tough, when domains that show 3 pages out of 5500 indexed once again outranking even their parent site for the same item.

Jon_King

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 1:56 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

>>Matt Cutts has said that people have complained that keyword domains are ranking higher than they should and they are going to try to fix that.

Can you point us to that comment please...

tedster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 3:23 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Matt made his comment at PubCon - here's an outline of his main points, but there's no exact quote that I'm aware of:

Google will be looking at why exact domain matches rank so well. For example, if you have a site at www.blue-widgets.com it may rank a bit too well for the keyword phrase [blue widgets].

[searchengineland.com...]

The link includes a number of other key points from Matt's talk.

And here is the Traffic Shaping discussion [webmasterworld.com]

Jez123

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 3:31 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google will be looking at why exact domain matches rank so well. For example, if you have a site at www.blue-widgets.com it may rank a bit too well for the keyword phrase [blue widgets].


You would think that google MIGHT know why that example would rank well. I know why it does. Think I'll get a job at Google? :-)

roodle

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 3:48 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Oh wow. So after soooo many discussions about whether to go with keywordy domain names or whether they're considered spammy or not etc. etc. it turns out Google don't even know WHY they rank so well. Don't these guys know their search engine inside out? What do they do all day? Play in the Google ball-pit? Mystifying...

tedster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 4:12 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google's algo, taken as a whole, is too complex by far for any single person to see the entire picture - all the interactions over billions and billions of query terms and websites.

You know those infamous "200 ranking factors"? Matt Cutts recently commented that each one of them is really a kind of top-level signal that is modified by about 50 sub-factors. Bing also recently said that they use over 10,000 factors - so it's not just Google who has reached an outrageous level of complexity.

roodle

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4224860 posted 4:34 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

@tedster - that may well be true but we're talking about one of the biggest companies in the world with massive resources. They built their brand around search. You'd think that something as key as the domain name they'd have a clear idea by now about how it affects rankings. Am I asking too much? These guys should be experts on every aspect of what they're doing. It's, dare i say it, GLOBALLY important. If not then we're just wasting our time trying to work out how to rank better for a search engine that the creators themselves no longer understand.

I just hope that the above is a mis-quote of some kind...

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