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Google Updates and SERP Changes - December 2010

 5:35 am on Dec 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

I know tedsters has stressed this but what we see ourselves in the SERPS doesn't always help. We are getting pummeled by traffic on one keyword that is relevant. I can't find it and neither can any friends buts it's converting at a great rate. When I perform that search i get no results. Oh the games....

I'd say 20% is a close number compared to two weeks ago. Google traffic is off 35% over these days last year. Yet business is strong, and the bounce rate is low.

The shopping SERPS are impacting more this year because exact matches are turned down. Theres s bunch of products that we were 1-3 on last year where we are gone and so is everyone else, replaced by unrelated stuff...think:

Product whiplash from Appalachian co

Man falls from tree in appalachians suffering whiplash
Walking the Appalachian trail
Blah bla x 7

The exact match of the product name yields no results in holiday search 2011.

I was laughing tonight when I saw a site on amazon that sells helmets also is selling tools. They rank near the top on many items in google. They have no ratings and appear to just dump feeds. #1 in google, ahead of the manufacturer and a world renowned climbers site. That's the lunacy in all this, amazon isn't an authority on rock climbing helmets, crucial memory, or even sweat socks sold by 3rd parties.

This is as bad as the earlier wiki is 1st which was adjusted out. An unknown third party selling on amazon using content that's identical on 5k websites prior...doesn't make amazon the expert.

Im betting a lot of lost traffic went to amazon. They were up 25% yesterday, a lot of us were down 25%. Thanks google im sure amazon needed that boost.

[edited by: tedster at 6:51 pm (utc) on Dec 1, 2010]



 6:58 pm on Dec 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

Network yes they are trying to be consistent in breaking everything at once.


 7:09 pm on Dec 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

The 2010 rule with Google seems to be, "enjoy it while it lasts, because it never lasts". The problem is that he "enjoyment" part now lasts only a few days, if you're lucky. Right when things seem back to "normal" the Google geeks can't leave well enough alone and have to turn another screw.


 7:35 pm on Dec 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

The Google gods must be crazy.... that's all I have to say about this shopping season. Why in the freakin world would they screw up the algo during the christmas shopping season. ARGH! yesterday ... phones crazy... today .... I've picked up the phones twice to make sure they were still working! Pfft!


 8:09 pm on Dec 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google's Algorithm apparently has mood swings. (end of comment)


 9:04 pm on Dec 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google's Algorithm apparently has mood swings.

Maybe we should buy it some cranberry juice. ;)

It's becoming very tempting to buy some domain names that use the names of the products I sell, and just slap up a couple of pages that then redirect to mine.


 9:35 pm on Dec 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

maybe it's time to start optimizing for Bing.


 1:18 am on Dec 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

today got really bad for a few sites I watch regularly in the financial services (not ecommerce space). Rankings for sites that are normally #1 (for at least a year) moved down from 1 to 10 rankings. Dont see the pattern though as to which sites are affected.

Anyone else?


 1:34 am on Dec 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hippy I think it is a google error. They will never admit it as a public company but there's no way they want to return a predator offender registry when we do product searches.

I think when they turned down exact matches it's opened the door to too much for unrelated items. The offender registry because the product sku is a zip code. Nothing else is even close on the page. So searching for brand product 12345 returned a pj offender registry at zip code 12345. It's like the algo is lost OR they are setting us for the big google places buyin and that's how zips are driving results?

Does anyone feel that these changes in stages are helping google SERPS overall? I feel like every change makes the SERPS worse and this has nothing to do with my
living. I just can't find anything.

Bottom line: when I do a search for brand product 2345 that's what I'm looking for. Not the city with the same name as the brand. Not a criminal registry for 12345 zip. The results seem to show a smattering of products, blogs, informational sites etc as if it doesn't know what I want.

I'm sure they have an end game but I dont know what it is. In one of those moments where you have an epiphany I realized today the few new HPs that arrived Monday, we didn't change and nobody has asked that we change the default search from bing. A year ago IT would have been buzzed at 910am on day 1. It goes to show if we did a pepsi coke challenge right now with bing v google I bet most would prefer bing.


 2:33 am on Dec 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

@spencer thanks man. so far so good for my Google traffic this December up by 7%.


 7:11 am on Dec 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

"I just can't find anything. "

I agree Scottsonline.

Last week I needed to research and buy some specialized tooling for my company. Out of habit I searched Google. Only showed the same old suppliers I was already familiar with.

Just for fun, went to Bing. WOW! Easily found new sources with great prices.

My opinion as a search user and e-commerce website owner is that Google is loosing it. Google is not a search company - they are an advertising company, and it's obvious that is driving all this nonsense.

Google's main advantage is their name - synonymous with "Search". The average user doesn't know what they are missing, but folks like those on this forum see the biased results. I wonder at what point the average user will wise up.



 9:33 am on Dec 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

"I've noticed 2 of my product sitemaps have 0 out of 49000+ urls indexed on both. However, I just did a few random queries and found results for those product pages in Google's results. Is google breaking everything?!? "

Same here, I rather delete my sitemaps and close my account in GWT before something worst happens , what do you think guys or is just a temporary error? BTW all 0 urls of the sitemaps are in the index and ranking very well some in top 1 result, whats goin on......? should I delete those site maps since most urls are older than 3 - 10 years, I will apreciate an answer.


 10:25 am on Dec 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

I have now finally decided it's time to switch my default Firefox search to Bing as the Google results are not helping me at all.

The rate the Googlebot is going through my bandwidth and giving nothing in return, I've half a mind to ban it as well and kiss G goodbye completely.

Now that would be a funny notion if lots of people did this - could be the only way to end Googles 'reign of terror'

I really wish I could have this year erased from my memory, but the trouble is I'm not holding my breath for next year either. I have just filed our accounts for this year and we are about 60% down on last years turnover. You can see the months when G went awol at a glance in the sales ledger.


 1:54 pm on Dec 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'd love to see some passive resistance towards google that gets the measage across. A simple 2-3 day "google out" would send a clear message that users are dissatisfied. Could be worded as anti-privacy, poor search, anti adwords whatever. A few million users not using google would be noticed by the end channel (advertisers).
I just don't know why bing isn't exploiting this in their commercials. They really should do a coke pepsi blindfold search comparison. I guarantee most wouldn't be able to tell the difference.


 1:54 pm on Dec 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yesterday was honestly the first time since google was born that it could not find what I was looking for and Bing could. Not only did Bing find it, it performed this action 17 times and Google could not.

Further while searching for goods that are fresh (14days) on one of the biggest pet stores online Google no longer has any of that data when historically I could just run a quick search and find what I needed. Bing performed this action, Google could not.

So for me at least in an almost epic change in my online life Bing became substantially more relevant and is now my primary search provider.

You have totally lost the plot here Google.


 1:58 pm on Dec 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

The problem is IMHO that our buyers are mainly using google for search and that we are bound to that index at the moment unless you have managed to build up solid alternative traffic sources! And that is VERY hard and much more work!


 2:12 pm on Dec 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

maybe it's time to start optimizing for Bing.

If you are semantically well optimised for Google then the other two should be more or less the same, I certainly do not do anything different.


 2:26 pm on Dec 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

We rank well on Bing, but our no. of indexed pages is only ~10,000 as opposed to ~150,000 on G

As most of our traffic tends to be long-tail, those missing pages make a big difference (or would do under normal circumstances)


 2:52 pm on Dec 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yeah well, those of us here are not normal users. I don't think civilians are having as many problems. Certainly not any of the ones in my circle. For that matter, neither am I. When I'm searching for myself, I usually find what I want right away. When I'm searching on behalf of clients, not so much. I'm sure the latter colors my objectivity more than the former.


 3:12 pm on Dec 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Think back to when we all started using google. At first we tried it while still searching on our old favorite. Eventually we dumped the old for google. I sense we are seeing a lot of comparing going on right now but eventually bing will gain. I think it's already happening. Initially yahoo/bing ate the smaller competiton but they are now eroding google share weekly on our site.

The problem with the SERPS:

1. Slow pickup of content on sites not buying deep links. Plain and simple this is it in our niche. Buy deep links or suffer. That's fine but Matt should stop telling us this is bad. It has been bad for us because we haven't done it. I saw a major retailer that added an entire line in mid November one link from the home page and it's still not cached. Amazon could load up yellow snipe and it would be cached by brunch.

2. When the data is there the relevancy is blown. The mixing of results is problematic. The old top ten are there but spread between four pages with mostly irrelevant junk in between. I'll post the offender image later. This shouldn't be happening


 3:17 pm on Dec 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

I usually find what I want right away. When I'm searching on behalf of clients, not so much.

I do to, but I've been using Bing for a while now and haven't missed Google in the least bit.

The only reason I pay attention to Google is because they still do supply a lot of traffic.

In doing the searches on Google for my money words, I'm just not seeing this huge upset in the SERPS that some are seeing.

If anything, those stupid Local search bubbles are more annoying to me.


 4:47 pm on Dec 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Seriously, the people here, and over at a few other sites could probably convince more people to use Bing, even if it was just a 3 day period. With Google shipping Chrome on computers next year, the problem is only going to get worse.

Google needs to be put in check for many obvious reasons.


 4:51 pm on Dec 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

well...i am seeing sites offering cracks and keygen on page 1 for popular softwares now...you don't have to add the keyword "crack" or "keygen" anymore...

good work google...keep it up...u do have a serious crack now...


 5:42 pm on Dec 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

My Bing traffic is 1/10 that of Google, but it is slowly increasing.

Google gets all their revenue from advertising. Microsoft does not. It's easy to see that what once started out as an unbiased search engine has turned into an unmanageable monster driven by $$.

I don't want a search engine that tries to guess what I'm looking for based on my past activity. I'm intelligent enough to express what I'm looking for. If I want red widgets with blue dots - find it! Don't give me generic Amazon crap, thin client sites, software-assembled sites stuffed with keywords, etc.

Bing, while not perfect, has somehow figured this out.

Google would not exist without webmasters, and e-commerce sites like mine would not exist (to date) without Google. But Google seems to have made a decision to favor those with big $$. Personally I think the trash sites are left in place so guys like me will throw in the towel and start buying ads.

Remember back when sites would have a little banner that said "Best viewed in browser XYZ" ? What if webmasters started adding banners that said "We recommend you switch to Bing for better search results"

Multiply that by tens of millions. I know - we would all be afraid of being down-ranked by Google. Guess what - you are anyway.



 6:35 pm on Dec 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

So what does the Google Shuffle history look like for this holiday season? (it's not a Google Dance anymore - so I'm calling it the Google Shuffle.)

Here's what I can gather - feel free to add, subtract or whatever:

Oct 22 - pretty big algo change, supposed to be a refinement of Mayday long-tail changes reference [blog.alexa.com]
Oct 31 - a smaller adjustment, some sites hurt on Oct 22 report recovery

November, to me looks like a string of small tweaks and algo adjustments. Nothing sweeping across a large swath of sites. In other words, whatever you saw going into November is pretty much hanging around.


 6:47 pm on Dec 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

What if webmasters started adding banners that said "We recommend you switch to Bing for better search results"

Microsoft is already running plenty of commercials to that effect. Not sure webmaster recommendations would make much more difference.


 7:21 pm on Dec 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

I just did a search on google.com looking for bank info. Rates, etc. The top results are mostly shopping (datafeed) sites, article sites, a lot of co.uk stuff. (I never use google.co.uk, never been to uk, etc.) Nothing useful.


 8:10 pm on Dec 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Onepoint thanks! Same here never search on the uk never been there. I'm going skiing this winter in nh and was looking for places to stay in Manchester. I typed that and lodging and got Manchester England sites? Relevancy gone haywire.

Tedster the biggest change I see in the last 8 days which seems to be do
Dying off is a presentation change. Algo confusion on what is a product vs informational searches so they take the shotgun approach. The best example being the product 12345 search returning some of all but not nailing any of it.

IMO last year the product and part would have returned all good results. Exact matching is bad for adwords so it's gone.

Instead of 100 advertisers after 30 click keywords at 50 cents they've removed those organic results. When we try to buy them it says not enough clicks so we are forced to buy category keyword ads at triple the rate and competiton. Sweet anti-business move on the part of google. Artificially destroy niches to inflate ad earnings.


 8:30 pm on Dec 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

The location searches - that's always been that way. My event sites get tons of UK traffic during various times of the year because Michigan has a lot of cities with the same name - Manchester, Birmingham, etc. This has happened every year since there was a Google. (And my domain actually has the word "Michigan" in it) That's not new. I also don't know that I'd expect Google to be able to tell a part number from a zip code, specially when the product name is the same as a city name. It ain't that smart.


 8:32 pm on Dec 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Tedster-8 days ago something went to tit for us-in a BIG way. Two sites.Dead. Merry Christmas.


 9:03 pm on Dec 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

What if webmasters started adding banners that said "We recommend you switch to Bing for better search results"

Microsoft is already running plenty of commercials to that effect. Not sure webmaster recommendations would make much more difference.

I think it would make a big impact if it took off. Searchers would start questioning why all these sites are telling them to abandon Google. News media would pick up the story. Google would see the effect and feel some pain.

I guess it all depends what the collective trip point is for webmasters and whether they want to have a business model that depends on Google whims, or if they want to encourage a more level playing field.



 9:34 pm on Dec 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Just make the "We recommend Bing" a link to bings homepage, or better yet, a search box to Bing. Perhaps a banner like the firefox logo did a couple years ago.

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