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Google Updates and SERP Changes - Apr 2012
backdraft7




msg:4435783
 4:34 am on Apr 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

Going, going, GONE!
After over 10 years of consistently ranking between position #1 and #3 on page one for a single four letter word search term, the month of March (starting on the 10th) has resulted in falling to below the fold, then to page 2, then page 3 and today I have been completely removed for that term.

In place is nothing but garbage. Branding obviously has lost traction. I'm thinking whatever they have done is meant to stick. I checked to see if I had been over optimized for the term, but with a mere 4 occurrences on my page and my need to use that term to describe my product, I really don't know what they want from us anymore...

The effect of lost traffic has set off all the "Big Traffic change for URL" warnings and the anayltics charts have nose dived. Anyone else seeing this type of situation on their long established sites?

Lost income from March updates is just about $1000 / week.

I'd almost guess that Google is just removing older authority sites in favor of nothing but news articles and blogs.

[edited by: tedster at 4:54 am (utc) on Apr 1, 2012]

 

tigger




msg:4446395
 5:42 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

anyone seeing a shift in the uk serps? seeing some big changes and so far it looks like a bit of a roll back and a lot of my dropped terms have recovered - still a lot of sites that shouldn't be around but its looking better, least in my niche

Edit - scrap that clearly they are running between a few test results and its just reverted back ....

Hissingsid




msg:4446422
 8:05 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google always did a great job of returning the results we wanted. When they stopped returning exact matches the results started to fail.


I agree absolutely.

In Adwords when I had complete control I got exactly what I wanted. When Google started sending me "Broad Match" and "Session based Phrase Match" etc things went badly wrong. I've got control back in Adwords by switching these things off and my conversion rate and spend is back on an even keel.

I can't get control back on organic searches so Google sends people who don't want me and I don't want. Its a bit like folks standing in line outside butchers shop to buy bread.

And what really bugs me is they think they are oh so cleaver. IMHO they have great brains going in the wrong direction.

Jez123




msg:4446424
 8:10 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

My SERPs seemed to recover very briefly this morning / last night. I think it was just an old, stray datacentre though and quickly reverted to the crap that I now see.

tigger




msg:4446426
 8:18 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Jez123

agree...doesn't it drive you mad that you see a decent set of results returning first thing and you think "thank frig" only to hit the refresh and ping its all reverted back and gone again ...time to work and forget about the serps and hope

Jez123




msg:4446427
 8:29 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Tigger. I agree - apart from the fact that without the SERPs there IS no work! :-)

I have seen this happen to my site too many times to really panic yet. I am hoping that a tweak or two will see my site back on track.

tigger




msg:4446436
 9:35 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

this is a complete joke the way they are switching results around so often - looking at my stats clearly people are getting confused as the search volume for my url has increased

fred9989




msg:4446453
 10:07 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

If you have any complaints to make about the quality of the results, there's a feedback from set up by Google for the purpose. If the results are as bad as all that, why not tell them?
See post number 4446393 by reseller on page
[webmasterworld.com ] for details of how to do that

tigger




msg:4446459
 10:27 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

that would be fine if it was stable enough to do any real analysis - how can you submit a report on the serps if the pages change almost with every refresh

scottsonline




msg:4446482
 11:09 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

The best indicator that the results are woefully unstable:

In the last month our days to transaction has dropped to near zero. Gone are the 28+, 14 day and 7-14 day transactions. Everything is 0 or 1 days and searches for the company name have gone up 4x.

I thought the results were great 18 months ago. Good 12 months ago. Unstable 6 months ago, bad 3 months ago and so bad now I'm beginning to wonder about the future of the search engines. I wish I could post examples from the last year or two showing the degradation of searches. Bing is not much better currently. What's happened?

It doesnt matter what I type in the box most of the time I cannot find what I want. If I'm doing a medical search I don't want a yahoo answers page. If I'm buying a product I don't always want amazon. Gone are the small .edu's returning for searches. Somewhere the knob for big sites considered authorities in one topic is turned to high for other topics.

This started a few months ago and is getting worse. Sites authority is being misunderstood. Our site is an authority in the wrong areas and we are getting the wrong traffic as a result and my own searches yield the same thing in all other areas. My guess is the problem is with a semantic misunderstanding of page wording.

fred9989




msg:4446545
 2:42 pm on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

scottsonline -
I broadly agree with you, semantic analysis is clearly at work, but I think it was switched on or "turned up" before Penguin. I noticed a sudden change in Google's behaviour a few weeks ago, when search for "how to stop x" (where x is a personal problem) started producing search results full of how to avoid x, how to overcome x, how to control x, how to prevent x (and vice versa).

Nonetheless, the degree to which search results now produce irrelevant but indirectly related meanings suggests to me that this algo has introduced much greater use of semantic analysis.

At the same time I see no clear patterns, and see little opportunity to anlayze what is happening, which might imply that they have introduced a whole raft of changes in the Penguin update - I don't think that is news.

My sense is that the following factors are implicated in Penguin:

1) There is a big attack on sites with affiliate links; some EMD and small sites which have survived appear to be ones without affiliate links
2) The top ten results seem somehow different in quality and nature to the ones on page 2 and further down, leading me to wonder if they are being treated differently in the final stages of ranking....and yes, I know that doesn't quite make sense, since they obviously are, or they wouldn't be in the top 10, but I can't articulate what it is that I am sensing.
3) most of the sites I see in the top 10 results that have blog comment spam as their backlinks are relatively new sites
4) the sites which have hundreds or thousands of spammy backlinks from blog link networks, the ones that are still in the top 10 results, seem to be older sites which have recently risen to the top of the search results
5) keyword stuffing does not seem to have affected sites' position in the search engine rankings as far as I can see
6) ?

Your observations would be welcome

outland88




msg:4446650
 7:20 pm on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

If I'm buying a product I don't always want amazon.


Quick funny story. I was dealing with about 15 well informed intelligent women this week many who were showing me their I-Pads and explaining their set-ups. Suddenly it was like somebody threw a firecracker into the crowd when one lady mentioned Amazon. Right off, if almost like on cue, all begin to let it be known they were very mad Amazon was number one on “all” Google searches. Their agreement on multiple issues among themselves quickly followed. First it was Google must be in bed with Amazon. Then it was basically that it was wrong to others what Google was doing and must be illegal. Plus many felt without any heavy evidence that Google must own many of the companies in the top results. I responded that Google can’t own that many companies. One woman then responded, “As I understand it they want to own everybody’s business.” The other women quickly agreed with her not me. These are the users who never visit forums like this. Plus the perception is often greater than the reality.

LavingRunatic




msg:4446671
 8:22 pm on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

Weird. None of my SERPS are changed as far as I can see.

Bill_H




msg:4446737
 12:43 am on Apr 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

Last Thursday's update, our traffic plummeted, started recovery on Monday, then BANG, this Friday, heading down again. Seems to be an update that starts rolling out every Thursday night and they try to fix it come Monday. In the interim, we are hosed. Wonderful. It would be nice, if they would get it right once, and leave it alone.

Bill

gehrlekrona




msg:4446743
 1:20 am on Apr 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

@backdraft7, I HOPE Facebook will get into Search because I think they will do a much better job than Google. Googles days as a search engine is over even though people will still use it out of habit. When FB goes into search, which they already kind of has with having all big and small companies as well as personal pages within FB that you can search, I think Google will be nothing but an ad agency for a while until companies put their money where people go, in FB.

garyr_h




msg:4446744
 1:21 am on Apr 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Bill_H I concur. Traffic started going down around 9/10pm EST Thursday night. Traffic down today more than what I'd expect on a Friday. SERPs seemed to rollback a bit but add some changes. Probably some of the things they were testing.

ladymacbeth




msg:4446752
 3:52 am on Apr 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

as an SEO provider and as a site owner, the changes Google has instituted lack merit and certainly fail dismally at offering better content in place of those sites they removed. One site in particular, owned by a friend of mine sat on the top of the serps for several months pulling a few thousand searches a day That site, <snip - an exact match domain>, offered good quality content as well as excellent products to the searcher. Each item was well written and he worked hard to ensure that all of his content was completely original. There were to my knowledge and to his, no spammy links involved in the sites growth. That site, today is completely gone in search with one or two exceptions which are ranking on page 5 and 7. In it's place-- ironically, since Google says that the reason for this update is to showcase better content and give the searcher good quality options... lies <snip>, a free tripod site with little to no content to speak of. Interesting exchange and what benefit the replacement site can hold to the searcher is well past me. I've actually saved several examples from clients. one used <an online link building site>, not realizing what it was. In many cases, the sites which have been replaced far and away outstrip the quality of the content that the replacements hold and most have little to no inbound links that might be even remotely considered spam. It is my feeling that about ten percent of the changes google made could be considered spammy links or black hat SEO, while the other two or three percent of the affected sites are quite likely collateral damage.

RD.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 6:13 am (utc) on Apr 28, 2012]
[edit reason] removed specifics [/edit]

bluntforce




msg:4446756
 4:15 am on Apr 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

I spent the day redesigning a site for aesthetics, not for SEO. Made the homepage live with that design, I'll watch it over the next week or so.

Sadly, that didn't leave me time to check SERP positions all day, so I have no idea what might have changed.

onebuyone




msg:4446763
 6:21 am on Apr 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

I just observed complete rollback in SERPs and in cache. Changed titles of few pages last week, two days ago I saw them in SERPs with new titles and also with updated rich snippets markup. Today they have old titles and old rich snippet data.

garyr_h




msg:4446773
 7:02 am on Apr 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

I suspect there will be a lot of testing in international markets due to Labour Day over this weekend.

petehall




msg:4446777
 7:09 am on Apr 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

@onebyone I think you are right, the index I'm looking at seems to be older again. This has happened many times during this update, no doubt it won't be around for long.

I see other people are reporting the Thursday night shakeup now. This cycle has been going on since mid March.

Robert Charlton




msg:4446781
 7:25 am on Apr 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi ladymacbeth, and welcome to WebmasterWorld. Sorry it was necessary to remove the names of the three sites you mentioned, but, as you can read in the Google Search Forum Charter [webmasterworld.com], we don't allow the kinds of specifics you posted, nor do we allow public site reviews... for all sorts of good reasons, including the protection of webmasters.

That said, a few things I noticed that were characteristic about the domains you posted are possibly worth mentioning. I noticed that your friend's site was an exact match domain... four words, no hyphens. It's the kind of domain name that I would guess was once parked. I mention this because history of parking is a consideration I've seen come up with regard to sites I know of that have been dropped in ranking and since restored. Something perhaps to look into.

I agree with you about the tripod subdomain site that you say replaced your friend's site... It's crap.

Did the site that you mentioned that used the unnamed online link building service receive a Google WMT notice of "detected unnatural links"? Google is sending these messages because they want webmasters to know what's happening and to have a shot at fixing things. If no notice was sent, then... on this update anyway... it's likely that the problem wasn't linking. See this thread, among others here: [webmasterworld.com...]

It's also probable that this update is far from over. For several queries I've monitored for quite some time and have rechecked for this update, there are simply too many cookie-cutter commercial sites up top to reflect what I perceive as Google's traditional goals.

The algo had previously been keeping some great non-commercial sites, eg, sites that had never surfaced at all in Bing, up top on very competitive searches in Google... perhaps, I thought, to lend variety to serps that were monopolized by 800-lb gorillas. These are now sitting on page three or lower. This seems to be very contrary to the road that Google had been on. It also doesn't support the AdWords conspiracy theory, as these non-commercial sites aren't going to buy AdWords.

It looks to me like, on some queries, Google may be trying to make distinctions among branded domains. Just a guess. I'm expecting to see some large shifts yet.

Markoi




msg:4446782
 7:30 am on Apr 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

@bluntforce On 20-4 i started also with a redesign and changed the url structure from my-blue-widget.php to /my-blue-widget/ (301) using Wordpress as my new CMS. 22-4 i ranked for about a hour #2 on my main keyword instead of #34. 23-4 the whole day #2 and from 24-4 i'm #428

Traffic loss 90%

bluntforce




msg:4446786
 8:09 am on Apr 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Markoi

That was a bad day to redesign url structure, results would be tainted by algorithm updates. If it's possible, make sure you have redirects in place from your old urls to the equivalent new pages. With a bit of time, and proper redirects in place, you should regain your previous rankings.

I've strictly been doing cosmetic work based on proportions of females vs. males actually completing my signup process.

It's not sexist, just working with established concepts of what groups find certain designs more acceptable and looking for higher conversion rates.

Wilburforce




msg:4446804
 9:18 am on Apr 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

For main business search term my site dropped from #3/4 to #10 at the end of March, to page 2 - with a couple of visits to p15 and beyond in the meantime - during the last couple of weeks, then to #27 yesterday.

A lot of other terms (finding a lot of other pages) are doing the same thing. Google referred (i.e. most) traffic has fallen massively.

As content includes a lot of links to manufacturers of the products we supply (on a relevance, not a paid basis) I suspect the site is being marked down as an affiliate. Currently removing all outward links to see if this has any effect.

irishsolar




msg:4446810
 9:28 am on Apr 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

I suspect the site is being marked down as an affiliate.


I really don't see this update as being in any way an attack on affiliate websites. If anything I have seen an increase in affiliate sites at the top of the SERPs in several niches I am monitoring.

I don't think Google has ever really targeted affiliate sites per se. I just believe that many affiliate sites are weak and have very little value to offer and this is why they have been targeted in the past - not because of affiliate links but because they were crap sites!

zeus




msg:4446814
 10:04 am on Apr 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

I just cant find ANY good results as soon I type more then 4 words and its web related, but it has been that way for 4 month now

spreporter




msg:4446816
 10:05 am on Apr 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

" Facebook will get into Search because I think they will do a much better job than Google."
They might get a piece of the cake when the children that growing up today playing farmville ( and that's all they now about internet) become adults and get a life...but then, they will realise that there is a life outside Facebook!

spreporter




msg:4446817
 10:09 am on Apr 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

" serps that were monopolized by 800-lb gorillas."
The best job ever done by Google!

Wilburforce




msg:4446819
 10:15 am on Apr 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

I really don't see this update as being in any way an attack on affiliate websites.


fred9989's post refers.

On key search term yesterday, only two of the top ten (the first at #7, the second at #10) had any outward links at all, and those had only a couple each.

This morning, #1 position has been taken by a 7-page site with scarcely enough content to put a link in, so outward links cannot be the only issue.

Hissingsid




msg:4446820
 10:23 am on Apr 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

You know how when you decide to have a garage tidy the first stage is to chuck everything on the floor.

Next you put all of the rubbish in bags and boxes and put them outside the door to go to the tip.

Next you put all of the stuff that you might sell on ebay or give to a charity shop in a pile.

Then you start organising what is left into boxes and put them onto shelves.

Well Google is at the stage where they have chucked everything on the floor.

That's how you start artificial intelligence.

irishsolar




msg:4446822
 10:26 am on Apr 28, 2012 (gmt 0)


You know how when you decide to have a garage tidy the first stage is to chuck everything on the floor.


@Hissingsid I concur. It's just difficult times waiting for Google sort out the mess on the floor.

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