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Google Updates and SERP Changes - Apr 2012

 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]



 8:17 pm on Apr 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have been reading some black hat forums and it is amazing that the same things that they say is what keeps popping up here. Is that because people here have been usgin black hat without even knowing (?) it or are Googles 'updates' a war against everything that has with SEO to do? I am guessing it does. SEO=Search Engine Optimization. Why would they even think that's a good thing? It's like cheating in their eyes so they are fighting everything we do so they have to come up with other ways of indexing sites. So, if they remove all SEO tactics, what is left? The pile on the floor? Where do you go from there? Try @hissingsid's idea maybe.


 8:45 pm on Apr 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

anyone finding any correlation to internal linking (i.e., contextual links pointing back to the homepage using penalized anchor phrases)?


 8:58 pm on Apr 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Leosghost - again, you're overstating and missing what I am looking for in my lengthy post. It's about transparency from Google. I guess I can distill it down to this statement "If they won't give it, maybe they'll sell it".

The small business registration I suggested would only afford you a higher level of transparency by providing better feedback through the WMT suite. I'm not in any way suggesting all other sites get thrown out or that these business registered sites get any preferential listing whatsoever. Just the tools to keep the economy moving. Abuse or neglect those tools and you'll fail too.

That fee would just provide the feedback tools to know WTF is really going on between Google and our sites, because quite honestly, I've had it with all this pointless conjecture and speculation. That's where all this animosity towards Google is brewing.

Speaking for myself, I dislike Google because they insist on being the worlds biggest black box system that has a direct impact on our livelihoods. If I were a Farmer, Google would be the rain.

I really think this is a topic that needs it's own thread.
(but it's still related to these algo updates)

[edited by: backdraft7 at 9:01 pm (utc) on Apr 28, 2012]

Robert Charlton

 8:59 pm on Apr 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

Mods note: Let's stick to observations about the serps in this discussion. I may be weeding out the chit chat from some of the posts above.


 9:59 pm on Apr 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

anyone finding any correlation to internal linking (i.e., contextual links pointing back to the homepage using penalized anchor phrases)?

Correlation is too strong a word, but I have a suspicion there is something about my menu system and/or other internal links that Google doesn't like, and have been trying to figure out what would improve it (whether or not it makes any difference).

Do you have evidence of actual correlation?


 10:09 pm on Apr 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

Correlation is too strong a word, but I have a suspicion

Statistically speaking, you're right -- it is too strong of a word because I haven't made any direct calculations and have only looked at a handful of sites; however, I have a hunch based on some of the sites I've seen, even my own.

I did find some of my own articles were linking back to the homepage using my phrases contextually, sending visitors in circles. It does seem that if the homepage is optimized for a set of phrases (via title, img alt, header tags, AND internal pages link back to the homepage with those terms, it could really be over the top. I've corrected those, and I only found 4 instances sitewide, but it may have been enough to trip the filter.

I am still digging, so I will post an update if I find something more definitive, or see any improvements as a result of my changes.


 11:41 pm on Apr 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

The traffic today is so off. I mean, incredibly off. About 1/3 of the traffic G is sending me.

Traffic amount about the same as last Saturday, but it's different and not on-target at all.

Another change? Yesterday was fine, but today...yikes!


 11:42 pm on Apr 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

We are still seeing the major flux from what is apparently yet another Thursday night update which seem to hit us hard on long tail serps. Last Thursday, we saw the exact same flux. Traffic has dropped 40% since Thursday night and if last weekend is any indication, will start picking up Monday when they either pull the update or start fixing it. Pretty bizarre when the weekends used to be our highest traffic.


 12:35 am on Apr 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

We are still seeing the major flux from what is apparently yet another Thursday night update which seem to hit us hard on long tail serps.

I have been seeing bursts of traffic from G today, increased from yesterday. I hope we do see some improvements.


 12:40 am on Apr 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

You were lucky, because when I checked a search for V**gra, there were 4places on the first page of 10 results which showed sites that "may harm your computer".

I see a weather website ranking top 20 for that keyword. Astonishing. Very similar to the fungus website I see ranking for financial terms. lol


 12:48 am on Apr 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

Saturday update - serps still look reasonably good. (just thankful we didn't get totally dropped) Have lost a few good producing phrases, and still seeing little to no listing for the singular versions of two word phrases that we used to rank well on.

While traffic volume is definitely down (by 300 to 500 unique visits per day over last year and the year before) quality is down even further. The suggestion results at the bottom of the page for my niche used to be spot on for us, but now it's hit or miss. Right now quality seems to be the biggest issue. I can go 8 hours or more with no sales conversions, then suddenly 5 sales within a 10 minute period. WTF?

Just ran a keyword ranking report for my site and see many +2, +3 moves, a few -1, but many the same. It's clear the sort continues.

One other observation on the shaping issue - the past 5 days have produced the exact same number of sales each day. That has never happened. Very strange indeed.


 1:23 am on Apr 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

I really, really hate this Saturday. 1/3 of traffic coming from a synonym related to my "brand name", but nothing to actually do with the website. Well, semi-related but I don't have what the users are search for. It's resulting in high bounce rate and low on-page time. I can only imagine G seeing that as a bad, bad sign.

Traffic is same amount as last week, but with that 1/3 taking place of other terms which were related to the site. Not seeing the traffic bursts like @backdraft7 is stating.

Also, what I was ranking for the past week (a main keyword) isn't ranking even though I had very low bounce and high on-page time with it. Now it fell 3 pages out of the top 10.


 2:33 am on Apr 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

Got to assume G is just throwing garbage algos up and seeing what sticks. Seems as if they roll back Sunday nights across most of the servers. Long tail serps are all over the place Friday/Saturday, start to recover Sunday nights, while quality seems better than last weekend. I can't fathom what they are doing, when they roll back on Mondays, we recover right back to where we should be almost everywhere. But we are losing two of our biggest sales days while they play with their algos. In summary, it seems as if G is far more volatile the last few months, which is quite worrying.



 2:42 am on Apr 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

backdraft7 wrote:
While traffic volume is definitely down (by 300 to 500 unique visits per day over last year and the year before) quality is down even further.

That's what I'm seeing as well. Uniques down slightly, but the quality is AWFUL. Either all the quality traffic has already abandoned Google for better searches, leaving behind just junk traffic, or Google isn't matching sites to searches very well, sending quality traffic to sites that aren't a good match for their query.


 2:43 am on Apr 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

It's definitely G messing with synonyms this weekend. I have no doubt about it now after looking more indepth. At first they seemed to turn it up way too high where I was getting traffic *only* for synonyms and right now I'm getting traffic for *no* synonyms at all.

Definitely a test day at the complex. Plus with Labour Day on Monday, they will be doing tons of tests on their international servers.


 7:28 am on Apr 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

Down another 50% on last Sunday, pretty much the worst day we've seen in over 2 years. Another update overnight?


 9:24 am on Apr 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

UK results are awful. Looks like a complete roll out of this messy algo update on .co.uk as well now. 13 year old news articles, websites made in the 1990s with little to no content.

The .com results aren't much better.

This doesn't seem to be getting any better at all in the niches I am monitoring. Is anyone seeing any real improvement in the SERPs - not for their personal sites but quality wise? Is anyone seeing any quality results from Google searches?


 11:09 am on Apr 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

I don't usually comment on these threads but looking at the results in the UK today, I had to!

For a number of searches in my industry, Google doesn't seem to understand 'UK' sites! For example, 99% are US-based .coms and even a few .au websites! Absolute rubbish!


 11:16 am on Apr 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

Definitely a change, but it still looks like synonym changes to me. They were greatly, greatly devalued.

Yesterday they were overvalued, today undervalued. The undervaluing is causing my traffic to go down quite a bit.


 1:45 pm on Apr 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

us ecom - google referrals up about 10% since Friday morning - conversions of these referrals, however, are down almost 50% - the two word keywords seem ok, but longtails are a mess in my sector - hoping that the indexes are still getting crunched and we will see better data soon


 2:15 pm on Apr 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

Looks like the larger data set is sticking.

The search I've been monitoring continuously returns just short of 2 million.

With regards to conversions... during the week our sales are 1/15 visits. After the weekly Friday shift, this drops to 75/1 (a couple of weeks ago I did see this hit a low of 100/1). Pre-March weekends were converting better!

This Saturday was no different, and referrals were lower than the previous Saturday, hitting yet another all time low.

Today things are much better; traffic and conversions are up.


 3:22 pm on Apr 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

Just to toss in a non black-and-white animal observation - I launched a new site on Friday night, no backlinks (even from my own sites; haven't gotten around to adding it to the menus yet) only a sitemap in GWT and BWT, and Bing was sending traffic to it within three hours, and Google within eight hours (although only a few pages indexed, they were the important ones) Never saw THAT happen before.

Amended - actually I did link to it from FB and its Google+ page, so maybe that was what did it. Still pretty fast.


 3:52 pm on Apr 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have just checked my backlinks in WMT to see how they look and see if they look spammy in any way. Well, they do. There are links from spammy sites that I have never requested. Some 30 links from a book genre forum I have never been to where someone is using my domain as their signature. Loads from spun articles (part of which I did write, years ago which has been spun several times with only a tiny part of the original text but all have my URL.) 56 from another that WMT thinks have a link to me but have been removed, which must be a huge flag in itself, spammy links added and then all removed looks like I am buying links there IMO. Is someone out to get me? Has negative SEO already begun?


 4:23 pm on Apr 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

Negative SEO has existed for years..

It is only just recently being talked about widely in "the West"..

It has been possible to purchase Negative SEO in the .pl, .ru , .ro etc "space" to be directed at "wherever/whoever" worldwide, since at least 6 years to my knowledge..and I have no doubt that it was well developed at last 2 or 3 years prior to that..


 4:45 pm on Apr 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

Negative SEO is just becoming more popular thanks to Matt Cutts over optimization statement. Another Google own goal IMO.

I've noticed it has been done on one of the sites I monitor that had already been hit prior to the backlinks becoming visible on WMT. Whether they were there prior to the update and whether google knew about them I can't say.

Inner pages on site are still ranking for main term that the landing page was optimized for (and which vanished from the SERPs) so how much damage those links are doing is impossible to judge at the minute


 4:49 pm on Apr 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

Is there anything I can do about it? I'm guessing that telling google will be a waste of my time. I can only imagine that a competitor would have done this


 5:30 pm on Apr 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

Netmeg.....do you mind keeping us posted on the results you are getting from the new site you launched? Your experiment runs in line with my idea of just closing out our WMT/Analytics account, letting it sit for a week, and then opening a new account for our same domain and just see what happens. Not sure what the downside would be at this point. Thoughts?




 6:06 pm on Apr 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

Negative SEO has existed for years..
I agree, I was hit a year ago when my links rose from steady 4,000 for years to well over 100,000 in the less than a month, I am still sitting with 22,000 links.

I did not add these and could do nothing about them. I have been running with a -50 since, although now an internal page appears on page 14, home page which was my main keyword moved from page 5 to page 28. Negative SEO worked then and it is still working now.


 6:10 pm on Apr 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

I couldn't tell you, Solar_guy, this is a brand new site, not a penalized one. So far, I have not been hit.


 2:52 am on Apr 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

Looks like most of whatever positive I saw from penguin and April 19 Panda update is gone, and actually worse than ever.

Saw a 17% traffic increase last week, now showing about a 9% traffic decrease from pre-April 19 Panda.

Traffic started going down on Friday, then down farther on Saturday, and now even farther.

At first, I thought it was only down due to Labour Day around the world, but I'm seeing almost exact same traffic from around the world except the USA.

Same exact thing happened during the March refresh. Saw traffic up by 17% for a week then *smack*.


 3:06 am on Apr 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

Today for the first time I saw Pinterest pin ranking in top ten for a very popular two word keyphrase. The pin has no description just an image caption.

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