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Google Updates and SERP Changes - December 2012

 12:27 pm on Dec 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

I had been experiencing gradual recovery since Penguin, with my key term page back at the bottom of page 1, and home page (in top three positions before penguin) up to page 5 for key term.

Today the key term page has dropped back to page 2, but the home page has dropped below page 50 (Startpage finds it on p 47) for key term.

I has all the hallmarks of Penguin 1: exact term and page (e.g. <key term location> is OK).

It might be just a temporary glitch (I hope so!): I can't see what on earth would cause that kind of penalty now.

[edited by: tedster at 2:51 am (utc) on Dec 3, 2012]



 10:21 pm on Dec 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

After a full-on audit, I noted two evergreen pages which were previously in the top 3 positions of the serps get kicked down - by new results that were much newer. I looked at the results and it made sense - Google now believes these keywords should be time-sensitive, and I agree.

Good job Google, and thanks for taking away my evergreen traffic.

I also noted EMD/PMD competitors that are edging me out for a few keywords that I've targeted. They must've benefited from the recent test/update.

Last but not least, I also found a cluster of linkable assets within the site that seems to have been devalued, and therefore all associated pages which were written to capture a lot of long-tail traffic now don't capture the long tail as well.

Best of luck everyone, I hope you find your strategies moving forward.


 12:30 am on Dec 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

I tell you my website is down 90% every day since December 10th, used to make hundreds per week now nothing. Long tail keywords are gone, EMD ranking ahead of me now. I got completely Scroogled this holiday season and I now hate Google big time.


 12:47 am on Dec 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

The drop continued all weekend long. This has been the worst traffic the site has received since August (before Panda improvements started to help).

Traffic is also down for Yahoo and Bing though. Yahoo by 23%! Maybe it's because schools are out? Or are they? I thought kids were still in school until this Friday.


 12:55 am on Dec 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

Unfortunately not my friend, you've been Scroogled just before the holidays. I seriously hate Google. I have a good quality product with user involvement but I'm a new site so I don't have a lot of back links. Scroogle traffic went from 60,000 impressions a month to about 3000.00 per month. I lost every long tail keyword I was ranking on. I have been surpassed by EMD's with less info. My revenue dropped from around 50.00 per day to less than a dollar. Thanks Scroogle!


 1:40 am on Dec 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

Maybe it's because schools are out? Or are they? I thought kids were still in school until this Friday.

It's hard to do, but do your best to not panic during the holiday season. I work in one niche that takes a serious nosedive for about 3 weeks in December and then recovers in January. It happens every year. But if you don't have the historical data yet, it's scary.

Check the Google trends graphs on your keywords for previous seasonal data.


 3:54 am on Dec 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

Last year, traffic did go down on Dec 15, but it was only slightly (5%). This season is around 25%.

This years can be tracked to Dec 14th evening. Traffic started to have weird patterns where one hour would be normal and the next hour would be less than normal. Now, it's all less than normal.

I'm hoping it is seasonal, but there isn't any evidence to suggest that. There had to be some sort of Google change.

This site has been hit by Panda on several different occasions, but over the past three the website has seen some gains. Whatever happened on Dec. 14 took away every single gain the website has had.


 5:19 am on Dec 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

if you are using adsense, check your CPC, if it went up, traffic drop is seasonal(everyone is lower on traffic thus click bids are higher)


 5:32 am on Dec 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

CPC has been up since Thanksgiving though.


 6:05 am on Dec 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

This years can be tracked to Dec 14th evening. Traffic started to have weird patterns where one hour would be normal and the next hour would be less than normal. Now, it's all less than normal.

Any chance any of that was due to the Sandy Hook shooting? The news broke Friday morning while many would have been at work or school.

I'm not trying to convince anyone that Google isn't making any changes, but remember there has been a LOT going on. People in the US are wondering if their paychecks are going to shrink in January, and big business is worried the debt ceiling debate will cause an economical debacle that makes the recession look like a cakewalk. These things have to be squeezing the markets at both ends, altering shopping habits, changing what businesses feel they can afford to spend on new employees and initiatives... these things are likely to impact searching and buying habits.

Martin Ice Web

 8:39 am on Dec 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

I doubt that this is g$$gs intention. Our niche has been flooded with low content sites that do have ebay and amazon ads on it,nothing else. For g$$gles journey of finding trusted, UE friendly and great sites it is a very big step back.

Of course we took a big hit this night from over 50%.

ecom, germany


 10:54 am on Dec 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

One of our sites had a significant drop in organic traffic from google on December 11th, down from 1200 unique/organic from g on the 10th to 90 on the 11th.

I didn't bother to look until now because I don't care. I've been on a singular mission since April 2012 and that is to get my traffic/customers before google does.


 10:58 am on Dec 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

@shepherd. How are you going about it?


 11:38 am on Dec 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

How are you going about it?

Traditional Advertising
Niche Publications

Basically anything we possibly can to become/grow the authority in our niche. We want to get to the point where when someone asks someone else about Examples they say "go to example.com" instead of saying "google it". That takes reaching out to as many people/professionals/experts in our niche as possible and getting them to mention us, whatever it takes.


 11:58 am on Dec 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

My website was hit by a Panda update on November 21st, dropping around 12% of our total traffic. It is the first time it has been negatively affected by a Panda or Penguin update.

Last Wednesday, December 12th, I saw a very noticeable recovery. We also saw a lot of ranking changes in our weekly SEOMoz report on Thursday which would seem to back this up.

No confirmation of a Panda update from Google yet but something definitely changed early last week.

Martin Ice Web

 12:06 pm on Dec 18, 2012 (gmt 0)


this is a big deal. And I think this is what google does not think of: poeple looking for other ways to find their information and will find them without using google. And if they think that their knowledge base ( that lunched on 4.dezember in germany ) has any added value they think in a wrong direction. This is only thousand times scrapped content.


 1:03 pm on Dec 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google obvously think that people are putting all their amazing info and images online for their own wellbeing. Without the traffic that google sends they will not have any incentive. It's a stupid idea and shows how far up its own backside google now is. They are starting to believe their own hype. Webmasters will simply find new avenues to sell (yes, google, that's what we want to do!) their stuff.


 1:10 pm on Dec 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

We are in a unique situation however I believe that this situation will become more mainstream in the very near future. You see, we are in competition with google. Last year google invested in a direct competitor of ours. After that we were in the position of getting the majority of our traffic/customers from our competition. Not a good spot to be in. In a way (a few ways actually) I think we are lucky, this has made us stronger, we were too dependent on google and they showed us what a mistake that was.

Now, a year later, we are stronger, strong enough that google can not kill us, hurt yes, kill no. Next year we hurt them.


 1:10 pm on Dec 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

According to [searchengineland.com...] Google is saying "no update that they were aware of".

Another post by [seroundtable.com...]


 2:27 pm on Dec 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google is saying "no update that they were aware of".
That just shows you how clueless Google is!

 4:19 pm on Dec 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm not seeing any big changes in rankings lately as some of you have been, but I am continuing to see long tail search phrases for words that don't actually appear on my site, but do reflect the precise concept on my page. In other words, my pages are totally relevant to what the searcher is looking for, despite not using the same words the searcher used. I'm neither a fan nor a hater of Google, but I have to say I'm impressed with this. I remember longing for a day when you didn't have to use the most searched words on your page in order to get found, and it looks like we may be on the cusp of it.

I think we are lucky, this has made us stronger, we were too dependent on google and they showed us what a mistake that was.

Now, a year later, we are stronger, strong enough that google can not kill us, hurt yes, kill no. Next year we hurt them.

Applause! This is the way more of us need to be looking at it. I'm not in direct competition with Google, but all of my sites rely on Google for only 30% of their traffic or less. The one site that got Penguinized had relied on Google for more like 60-70% of its traffic, but Google decimated that. Since then I've spent *some* time trying to figure out what I did to get Penguinished, but I've spent considerably more time building my site through other avenues of promotion. I'd love to get all my Google traffic back one day, but I don't ever want it to make up 70% again. (Nor do I want any other source to be that kind of majority - sometimes it can't be avoided, but it's never an ideal situation.)


 11:04 pm on Dec 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

FAO: Speedshopping

We have received exactly the same issue as you, early hours on the 11th (around 3am) complete drop.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 2:47 am (utc) on Dec 19, 2012]


 5:38 am on Dec 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

This is oldish news for me, but since I started returning 404s for Googlebot for image search and thus being deindexed and thwarting image hotlinkers, traffic to my site from Google has increased by around 28%, despite no more image traffic. Image thieves also seem to no longer rank. I tried earlier by disallowing images via robots.txt, but to no avail.

This belongs in the November thread, but December traffic has remained steady.


 10:34 am on Dec 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

If anyone has received a drop in traffic on the 10th/11th december, would be good to exchange information about our sites etc.

For example, changes made prior to that date, and recent link building? and 301 redirects? Is it a new site etc?

Anything that could help us work out what we could have done wrong.



 11:28 am on Dec 19, 2012 (gmt 0)


We originally hit a 950 way back in December 2010 and has taken us 2 years to get this recovery back. No major link building is involved with the site. It looks like Google turns some kind of algo-dial around xmas that has re-ranked us again.


 12:25 pm on Dec 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

Anything that could help us work out what we could have done wrong.

I wouldn't start with assumption that we have done anything wrong.

There are clearly multiple factors in play, and their interaction is currently throwing up a lot of anomalies, including massive drops for perfectly sound pages, and thin pages/sites coming up on page 1.

The only clearly visible factor is that in general (but not universally), the top positions compared to a year or so ago have lower keyword density/count, and lower PR (according to Opera's PR tool). Coupled with odd synonym spikes, this suggests that Google is placing much less weight on keywords in both backlink profile and on-page, and is giving more weight to synonyms. To paraphrase Tom Sharpe, you should never be afraid to call a spade an earth-inverting horticultural implement.

Heavy keyword use may cross some threshold and incur a penalty, but changing internal links and/or on-page keyword count and density is only really appropriate if the keyword use was inapproriate in the first place.

As an example, I have one particular (non-commercial) page about a technical subject that is well-regarded in a relatively narrow technical field. It has a lot of unsolicited backinks (most of which have technicalsubject as the anchor-text), as well as a lot of sub-headings like technicalsubject calculations, technicalsubject applications, etc.

There isn't anything "wrong" with the page or the backlinks, but in May it fell from the top of Google's page 1 (where it had been for years) to nowhere. I'm not going to change content that makes obvious sense on the page (and e.g. SI units don't have synonyms), or contact a lot of third parties to tell them to change the "water" anchor-text on their page about water to "H2O". Consequently, that page (still at the top of page 1 on Bing) will probably never return to Google's page 1.

We should all be clear that some of Google's changes in the last year have produced ridiculous effects, and trying to fix these ourselves is an Emperor's New Clothes reaction.


 12:59 pm on Dec 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

@ Wilburforce great post. I hadn't really thought about it like that. It also seems that lots of sites, as you have experienced with yours, that have been doing well for too long (in Google's eyes anyway) get demoted.


 1:07 pm on Dec 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

Part of me thinks since my site was new, Google gave me a little honeymoon then they pull the plug on me expecting me to pay for ad words.


 1:08 pm on Dec 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

I averaged 500 to 600 visitors a day until December 10, yesterday was my best day at 28 visitors. :(


 1:48 pm on Dec 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

hi chawk, excatly the same 500-600 a day, then 20-30 a day since.

How old is your site?


 1:50 pm on Dec 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Wilburforce - well said - that's one of the most lucid theories I have heard so far. The difficult part (as you point out) is that there's not much we can do about this new filtration of the serps, rather than dig deep into our pockets. Your page could be perfect, but Google wants to shake it up (like the grocery store analogy) and serve what they consider diversity even if it doesn't help us find what we are searching for. After looking at Alexa, I see even WebmasterWorld is not immune to the decline.


 2:14 pm on Dec 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

Has anyone else seen an intensely deep crawl on their site from Googlebot over the past few days. It started on Dec 15th for me, but I attributed it to some new URLs I had fed to our sitemap for some changes I made to our category pages (the panda-hit portion of our site). It slowed back down on the 16th. However, yesterday Googlebot was back spidering the REST of the site in full force, and seemed to especially be looking at things I've "fixed" over the past few months (canonical issues, pages that were merged, etc).

If it's just crawling my site heavily I'll be happy - I'm nervous about the next Panda update. I want gbot to suck up ALL my changes before running it. I've given the site a last ditch effort to get out of Panda. If this doesn't help, I'm out of ideas.

(U.S-based, 17-yr old content site)

This 301 message thread spans 11 pages: < < 301 ( 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 [8] 9 10 11 > >
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