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This 391 message thread spans 14 pages: < < 391 ( 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 [8] 9 10 11 12 13 14 > >     
Google Updates and SERP Changes - Mar 2012

 3:39 pm on Mar 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

Something very odd just happened. I searched for my top keyword term. We have been at #3 since Panda, previously #1. My listing had disappeared completely, nowhere down to page 10 (in 10s). I did the same search on a different browser with no history on it, same result. Other terms were where I expected them.

Then 2 minutes later I'm back at #3.

What's going on?

Sid (In UK)

[edited by: tedster at 3:28 am (utc) on Mar 2, 2012]



 4:18 pm on Mar 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

Whatever testing they are doing is revolving heavily around Product Search results for our niche. When the box is there it's shifting position, when it's gone image results take it's place. This is VERY worrying as it suggests a lot of our conversions came from the product search results box (as our conversions have been as erratic as the one box results). They are either going to make it a paid service (doubtful seeing as they do not police the prices people claim now, loads with incorrect prices & claims of free shipping which are not true) or they are going to drop it. My is on dropping it, it MUST hurt Adwords performance (which is why they have also been testing Adwords in with the Product Search results!). Google has just become too greedy, adverts everywhere & constantly looking to minimise the SERP's. They are no longer a search engine, they are a data manipulator.


 4:31 pm on Mar 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

@ ohno

You think that they are going to drop the google shopping results?


 4:40 pm on Mar 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

They are certainly testing a lot around that. Whether than means the one box results go or the whole tab I do not know. One thing is for sure, if their testing shows an increase in revenue for them the one box will go! Today has been dire despite the SERP's looking good. All I can put it down to is the erratic one box results.


 4:46 pm on Mar 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

Seeing massive changes to UK local search today; not sure if it is the arrival of Venice update or something else. Either way, all I can see is Places results moving up the pages - very few organic results above the fold. The quality of the organic results seems to be going down too; good content buried on pages 2-3; perhaps to make Places look better?

Niche by niche, Google continues to manipulate the results to their advantage.


 6:40 pm on Mar 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

For those who often repeat "Google is broken" I can finally report - it's true, even if only for a few minutes. I tried a search query on google.com just now which would normally produce "millions" of results - and it returned 5 - yes 5 - results. I then managed to find a common query which failed to rerun any results! (No documents matched your query.)
Amusing enough, but no doubt significant as an indicator of massive behind the scenes changes.


 6:56 pm on Mar 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

/\, well, in some ways that is great news! Hopefully it will blow over, whatever "it" is!


 7:27 pm on Mar 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

They'll likely make it a paid service.

They've been making a lot of changes to the taxonomy for their product categories lately. So if you're having issues with your products not coming up in product / shopping search you should check the google_product_category part of your data feed to google.


 7:39 pm on Mar 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

And I can confirm that as of now, the results previously showing on google.com are still showing on google.co.uk, while google.com is still "broken" (as reported above).


 10:37 pm on Mar 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm seeing some signs that larger sites (vs average in my niche) with strong internal anchor text have been given a boost.


 11:38 pm on Mar 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

I manage a large number of websites in different markets.

Whilst all doing well... there seems to be no logic to the results.

Some very small but focused sites are doing very well, and some are not. Some websites with broader topics are doing well with just a single page.

There's just no logic or pattern anymore... I can see this getting very messy indeed.

Now business is good from these results but as a user I am not keen. Have you seen Bing lately... it delivers!

Very strange times.


 3:27 am on Mar 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

some signs that larger sites (vs average in my niche) with strong internal anchor text have been given a boost.
Is that larger as in number of pages? Or larger as in a "bigger business"?

 7:22 am on Mar 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

@ Bewenched, it not a product feed issue, all is OK there. It's the fact that the one box results are there one minute gone the next. They are split testing that without doubt. My money is on it will become a paid per click service pushing the small business further out yet again.


 7:25 am on Mar 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi Ted,

More pages.


Martin Ice Web

 9:08 am on Mar 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Very big changes to the bad, lost about 30%, switch is off.
One of my pages retuns on 1,2,3 for one keyword?!
Big businesses are coming up again although they do not have anything in common with the query.
it seems they match the exact query without proving the niche.
bing is really better right now!


 9:13 am on Mar 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Can confirm as of yesterday afternoon in the UK that there has been a shake up in our niche serps. Dropped a few spots to some god awful sites that I have never seen before!

Lets hope this irons out!


 9:31 am on Mar 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

& yet we've had more traffic & conversions in the fisrt 30 minutes today than previous days when the SERP's looked better! I'm really lost now.


 1:39 pm on Mar 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Us site. Google traffic the same Wednesday but time on site down 50% for google traffic only. Bing and yahoo jumped 34 and 45% in visitors.

I didn't follow the SERPS but something happened and it caused the biggest 1 day jump in 5+ years for yahoo and bing.

I do see the mirrors doing well again this morning. I wish mr cutts would focus more on the blatant, in their face cheaters and worry less about an abstract link on some site devalued ten years ago


 2:24 pm on Mar 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

US ecom sites. Still seeing the same big shifts in quality of google organic referrals. The testing seems to be ongoing - this has been the case since the beginning of this year and right through the various updates and data refreshes. Maybe this live testing - if thats what we want to call it - will be with us permanently.

We were also affected negatively on march 10th, but there hasn't been much analysis here about that one. For us, overall google organic referrals down 5-10% with the aforementioned swings in quality. Was it just ecom sites?

The changes that we are seeing as of yesterday are looking like another update. We saw a slight improvement in the number of organic google referrals, but, also more pronounced swings in the quality of google referrals (measured by conversion rate). In fact, for a couple of hours last night, we saw some of the highest conversion rates in the history (14 years) of our site from organic google referrals. Pure nectar. This was followed by some very poor converting traffic which lasted for 6 hours. I should note that our poor performing google referrals (zombies) are not international.

I would ask that those of us who have been experiencing these swings should undertake some careful log analysis and report back to this thread. For my purposes, GA is too dumbed down for this. In fact, i used to be able to get hourly conversion rate data by referrer from GA, but they seem to have removed that function (strangely, not long after i mentioned it in a post here - oops). Now I have to parse this out of my native log files.


 3:13 pm on Mar 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Following on- are we all experiencing swings in the quality of organic google referrals? or just some of us?

I think the only way to be able to determine this is to be able to really work with your log files.


 3:56 pm on Mar 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Wingslevel spoke with another merchant, he is in b2c. Conversions yesterday were at 23%. Multiyear average was about 1.5% and never above 4%.

Today he was totally quiet compared to 10 orders by the same time yesterday. I wonder who google thinks this is helping?


 4:22 pm on Mar 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yesterday, I did a G search in the form of a question about how to modify an aspect of a php file. Nine out of ten of the top serps were snippets from a variety of old forum posts from 2005 to 2008. Not a one had the answer. Found the answer in ten seconds on Bing. So much for Google's organic quality on that particular search. But it's typical of what I'm seeing too often lately.


 4:28 pm on Mar 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

It's almost like they are on a mission to return the worst possible results. I mean, our bounce rates have gone up & up. IMO this is a pretty good indicator that what Google is sending us is simply incorrect. When this is coupled with the dire conversions we are getting this firms it up even more for me. The SERP's are FULL of forum posts 9old ones too!) for loads of search terms. At least the SERP's seemed to have settled a little today to my eyes? Trouble is things are still dire on the conversion front :(


 5:44 pm on Mar 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

One of the things i am trying to figure out is whether all of google's serps are running through the testing process, or, [and the paranoid side of me coming through...] are some of us riding right on the edge of some trust threshold and google is trying to decide what to do with us?


 6:22 pm on Mar 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Interestingly enough the most SEOd sites rose to the top (#1 etc) in the areas I traffic. This is in the past few days. These sites engage in heavy keyword stuffing most using the same keywords as much as 75 times on each page. Sites that engaged in less but some SEO seemed to have been pushed down in groups.


 12:01 am on Mar 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

I use a 1600x1200 browser window. Today when searching a popular product term the first organic result was almost below the fold. Three paid adwords at the top each with snippets below. Under that 3 product ads with photos. Under that the one box google shopping. Under that and about 1" above the fold was the first organic result.
I kept a screenshot for posterity sake. Google has become a pay for search engine. They've now closed the wheel. Soon google shopping will be a pay service and 60-75% of the real estate will be google paid services. Organic search is about to die a slow death.

This was so blatant it was sickening. Displayed/layed out in a manner that would have FAILED the above the fold algo as it looked terrible.


 12:38 am on Mar 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Today I'm seeing the best SERPS I've seen in weeks for our vertical.

We've had a lot of what I would call "stale" results for a very long time. An example would be you search for a product and the first result was a website that when you clicked on it would tell you "Sorry, this product is no longer available" with no product details, data, or content that would warrant placement for the searched terms.

This has been going on in our vertical for at least 120 days or more. Today checking they are all gone now, with results showing relevant content both when logged in and logged out using a Chrome Incognito session.

It isn't just one or two keywords/keyphrases either, its dozens that we've been monitoring for over 4 months now.

Some sort of update is definitely in process, and it looks pretty good from our perspective thus far.


 3:56 am on Mar 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Everyone should specify which region of the globe, will make it easier.


 4:18 am on Mar 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

US based ecom site. Seeing a big shake up in our niche. A lot of shifting in the serps as of tonight. Wondering if some soft of an update is underway.


 7:26 am on Mar 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

SERP's look the same as yesterday for me(UK). One product search term nets SEVEN forum posts on page 1! Most aren't even new dating from 2009 & 2010. To be frank it is my feeling this is their mission. Make the SERP's so poor from a retailer POV that you just HAVE to have Adwords to get your revenue stream back. As an experiment I slashed the prices of a few products that prior to whatever update is going on were selling really well. They still aren't selling, infact it would seem there is zero interest. It really is like they can turn a tap on & off as far as conversions go. I no longer control my business, Google do. That wasn't what the interent was all about, sad times.

Martin Ice Web

 8:01 am on Mar 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yesterday, I did a G search in the form of a question about how to modify an aspect of a php file. Nine out of ten of the top serps were snippets from a variety of old forum posts from 2005 to 2008. Not a one had the answer. Found the answer in ten seconds on Bing. So much for Google's organic quality on that particular search. But it's typical of what I'm seeing too often lately.

Thats what Im seeing,too. Its been a while now. I do not use google to search for coding any more. Most querys on bing for coding will return good results on page 1.


 10:25 am on Mar 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Huge changes in the UK... results seem completely non logical. Very scary to watch but makes me think this can't be over as they are so poor.

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