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Aggregate ratings and glass traffic ceilings
Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4491739
 3:03 am on Sep 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

I own a small number of sites and am convinced that, today, SEO is more about an aggregate rating generated using various signals and that a glass ceiling is indeed in place depending upon that rating.

I'm also convinced, after seeing stats and measuring results of various actions, that on page SEO is nearly dead after the title is chosen. Sure the old basics don't hurt but they aren't required anymore.

Ratings, specifically off site ranking factors from things mostly out of your control, seem to be the end all of how much traffic you will get and it DEFINITELY feels(to me) that it doesn't matter what I do because the traffic level is pre-set and I cannot exceed the glass ceiling no matter what I do, at least not for as long as it takes to improve my rating which also feels like a timed event.

Evidence: While checking some standard keyword results in my niche, and after seeing one site own the top 17 of 20 results(or a silly number close to that) I was a bit surprised to suddenly find a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT SITE being displayed for the top 13 of 16 results. It was as if a switch had been flicked and it was a new sites turn to be top ranked. The following day site A was back in its usual position, getting its fill of visits until it again reaches its ceiling.

Has Google pulled a fast one while tightening up what they consider a good link? Have they simply imposed margins and caps on all sites and implemented a traffic growth over time agenda that has little to do with on page content? It probably isn't that simple of course, or is it...

 

tedster




msg:4492188
 4:54 am on Sep 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

on page SEO is nearly dead after the title is chosen. Sure the old basics don't hurt but they aren't required anymore.

I agree with the direction of your thinking here, but I also think you've over-stated it a bit. Relevance, especially for secondary keywords or longer tail phrases can still be affected by on-page SEO, in my experience. And from what I see, the basics of on-page SEO most definitely ARE required at publication time to achieve competitive rankings.

the traffic level is pre-set and I cannot exceed the glass ceiling no matter what I do, at least not for as long as it takes to improve my rating which also feels like a timed event.

I think the jury is still out this - especially the "timed event" part. The apparent glass ceiling on traffic that some are reporting may well be what scientists call an "emergent phenomenon". An emergent phenomenon is one that cannot be predicted by looking at the underlying or preceding conditions. For the accounts I manage, the ups and downs and new highs once in a while still continue to be the norm.

The original Sandbox Effect was just such an emergent phenomenon - so much that Matt Cutts had to be convinced to take the many webmaster reports seriously before he checked in with other Google engineers to confirm that something real was going on.

Ralph_Slate




msg:4492313
 2:14 pm on Sep 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

I can tell you that before you wrote this post, I was having the same general thoughts. I can see my minute-by-minute traffic due to tracking I do, and I noticed that my traffic appeared to be hitting a ceiling compared to my pre-Penguin graphs. I actually thought that maybe my host was throttling my traffic, that is the shape I saw, with an almost perfectly flat period over the course of a couple of hours.

BaseballGuy




msg:4492317
 2:26 pm on Sep 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have always suspected traffic throttling as well....and it seemed to happen a few months before Panda came into existence. I validate my statement by looking at my rankings during that period of time. I was ranked both #1 and #2, and for a long period of time, I got more traffic ranked #2 than I did #1.

Panthro




msg:4492341
 3:16 pm on Sep 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

Interesting about the "emergent phenomenon", thanks.

1script




msg:4492370
 4:11 pm on Sep 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

I actually thought that maybe my host was throttling my traffic, that is the shape I saw, with an almost perfectly flat period over the course of a couple of hours.
Same here: if a day starts unusually well and I see better-than-usual traffic before 3-4PM (EST), I just know that I won't see much between 5-10PM (which is normally the best converting and the highest volume traffic).

When I look back at my 2012 traffic, it always peaks on Mondays and then trails off for the rest of the week, whereas traditionally, over the course of the entire last 7 years period, the traffic had peaked on Wednesdays with Wed-Fri being not only most traveled but also the best converting days. I also see most traffic between noon and 3pm, where it was traditionally the evening hours.

I don't think all people in the world had suddenly changed their Web surfing habits. I am inclined to believe that Google has finally gotten a good feel for what the best traffic is (perhaps through the Panda efforts) and is now sending it to people that benefit them most. Most (almost all) of my competitors are running custom AdSense (premium publishers) and I'm sure Google would rather send their traffic to a site that brings best return to Google.

I realize it sounds like a conspiracy theory, but what's stopping them? It's not illegal. In fact as a public company they are now obligated by law to act in the way that's most beneficial to their shareholders. Sounds like a normal thing to do in a business world.

Panthro




msg:4492435
 5:58 pm on Sep 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

^ I like that. There have to be tools that get a decent hold on your SERP positions every so many minutes/hours and report. I guess that would be a place to start.

scooterdude




msg:4492464
 6:40 pm on Sep 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

I am also seeing a lot of the on off phenomenon, and the on periods do seem to correlate to a fixed amount of traffic, the higher the high , the shorter the flow, Algorithmic apparently

I also agree that the ceilings are graduated,

Its always nice to have other people noticing this stuff an I feel less like a fruit cake now :)

Now, does any one know how one Climbs to the next level of this arcade game of levels :)

SevenCubed




msg:4492467
 6:43 pm on Sep 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

ow, does any one kow how one Climbs to the next level of this arcade game of levels :)


You just made it to the next level without realising it -- that was post #343 for you so you've been cubed. 7*7*7=343 :)

netmeg




msg:4492477
 6:58 pm on Sep 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

(starting to sound like Donkey Kong - with a monkey on top tossing barrels at you as you climb)

I gotta be honest though, over many sites (and many types of sites), I've never seen anything I could point to as a ceiling. So why do you think it would hit some sites and not other?

SevenCubed




msg:4492482
 7:04 pm on Sep 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

...with a monkey on top...


:p -- if we loose touch with our inner child we are defeated and might as well just retire.

scooterdude




msg:4492483
 7:07 pm on Sep 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

Because of what I see in my stats,

because of the convergence I see in the traffic stats for sites that where previously enjoying very different fortunes,

Select 100 sites whose fortunes you're a little familiar with, tho not your own,

Check their stats on the usual sites, compete, trends.google.com, quantcast, for up to 2 years

Something might jump out at you, then again , maybe not.


Good news tho, some Glass ceiling are set higher than the target site can achieve :)

tedster




msg:4492589
 3:50 am on Sep 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

over many sites (and many types of sites), I've never seen anything I could point to as a ceiling.

I have - but only once and it was a few years back. On a time spread graph of Google traffic, when that number hit a certain level it just went to zero for the rest of the day. Then the next day, it started out healthy again, but somewhere usually between 10 am and noon, it went back to zero.

If the analytics hadn't been shared with me back then, I would never have believed that report. It showed me a very peculiar (and unsophisticated) mechanism at work at Google, and perhaps in the meantime it has been smartened up.

Andem




msg:4492830
 1:03 am on Sep 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

does any one know how one Climbs to the next level of this arcade game of levels


I have a theory which I'm currently experiencing. From what I can tell, there is a level of user experience which, if the site can maintain it, they are sent more traffic. If the [good] level has been maintained, then the site might continually experience further jumps up the ladder.

Even with this, there does appear to be a cut-off and not surprisingly, it appears to be based on Pacific time in the US.

But as long as I maintain those great user experience numbers, I seem to be getting a boost in both rankings and this so-called 'glass ceiling' every few weeks. The last boost was exactly one week ago (give or take 5 hours).

My experience applies to a site which has no ads and sells nothing. YMMV.

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