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Google Updates and SERP Changes - February 2013
petehall




msg:4541244
 9:12 am on Feb 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

< continued from [webmasterworld.com...]

Not just location screwing things up... all web browsers are now using your history to distort results, even with Web History switched off. Only way to check the real results now is Chrome Incognito.

That and the location issues are really screwing things up. If I type in weather, G gives me weather for Windmill Hill, UK... I don't even know where that is. I looked and its 200 miles away at the other end of the UK!

[edited by: tedster at 2:08 pm (utc) on Feb 1, 2013]

 

HuskyPup




msg:4546471
 4:00 pm on Feb 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

This is my "Too Good" theory.


I feel this has probably been around for much longer than we may believe. I have had a specialist 60 page example.asia site for 6 years and it really is a comprehensive site for those specific niche widgets.

It's always ranked so-so however this last update every page has gone to both #1 in the regular SERPs and the image SERPs as though something else had just qualified the site as being the best for those widgets after 6 years!

I'm also seeing something similar on a 600+ page example.eu however that site is only about 18 months old with most of the additions in the past 12 months. Those pages are also all unique and comprehensive and are, at long last, dislodging crappy one pagers with one dodgy image, a couple of keywords and nothing else!

Wilburforce




msg:4546526
 5:54 pm on Feb 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

There's something pretty f'ing major going on in my niche in the UK at the moment


For Key Term my site dropped from page 4 to page 46 at the beginning of February, and from page 46 to page 73 today.

Still at #1 for Key Term Prices, however. Figure that out.

theskunk




msg:4546575
 7:57 pm on Feb 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

claaarky ... I am totally with you on this IN THE UK - really really surprising results - I only checked it due to the total lack of friday orders - and the total lack of the phone rigning - I had basically given up being SERP obsessed and was getting my life back. BUT - this one is unavoidable - thing is some of my most niggling competitors seem to of held ground - even those that employed poor link building and content generation methods.. I have kept my nose clean and focused on elminating bounces and increasing page views and visit length.. right now spending the day resolving some page load issues that do some deep sql requests that may have impacted google spider. life googles on regardless.

Wilburforce




msg:4546580
 8:14 pm on Feb 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

IN THE UK - really really surprising results


I'm not sure I find it surprising, but the top result for Haircut today is at least interesting (Wikipedia): "In finance, a haircut is a percentage that is subtracted from the market value of an asset that is being used as collateral."

I'm wondering whether to refer Google's Haircut leaflet to Trading Standards.

At this rate the "have you seen this?" factor will be pushing their social network traffic into overdrive.

tedster




msg:4546669
 5:25 am on Feb 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

pages that are "too good". In other words, their information is "too relevant" and their quality is "too high". Therefore, says Google, there must be something wrong with them.

I feel this has probably been around for much longer than we may believe.

Yup. In the Phrase-Based Indexing [webmasterworld.com] patents from 2006, it was mentioned being statistically too high was just as "wrong" as being statistically too low. And Google certainly knows how "non-SEO" writing stacks up statistically.

Wilburforce




msg:4546710
 10:04 am on Feb 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

@Tedster - interesting reference.

I don't take much issue with Google's phrase-based results: it is single and two-word key terms that are in a mess.

Possibly this is of more concern to peeople like us than to the world at large: Google's stats are comprehensive, and if most people are searching for "where can I buy a budgerigar" the fact that my site is no longer at #1 for Pet Shop may worry me more than it should.

I think it quite likely that long phrases are much more widely used, and SERPS based on these are

1. Much harder to game and
2. Favour good well-written content.

As I have already posted, the phrase-length from Google referrals is increasing, and in a general sense (whatever other gripes I may have) are well-matched with my site in terms of relevance.

The difficulty I have with the current situation is that my new business is disappearing with the short-phrases (so I don't think I am worrying unnecessarily).

I'm not sure I agree that 'Google certainly knows how "non-SEO" writing stacks up statistically'. They certainly have the statistics, but the current single and two-word results to me indicate misinterpration of them.

Awarn




msg:4546771
 2:40 pm on Feb 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

This kind of makes me laugh when I sit back and think of it. For almost a year now I have been dealing with the big Google change that makes no sense to me. When I search for things I tend to use one to three words in the search phrase. I have always found that narrowed the selection down and worked well.

Now I get people that call us at times that start the conversation with hello I am so and so from some town in some state and I am looking for something (very generic term). The item is made by this company. The company made it in 2012. Then I get something like I saw it when my daughter and I were shopping in Dallas. Thats in in Texas you know. You know in that mall on such and such street. It was made by this designer etc etc.

All of this instead of telling the exact name of the item they are looking for. It drives me nuts when people do that. Instead of saying I want a 2012 blue widget, they define everything else but the actual item and they waste what seems like 5 minutes of my time. I have kind of learned to be patient and kind of wait for the punch line that actually defines what they are looking for. Now when I look at Googles knowledge engine today I think they are doing the exact same thing. I bet if we search that Joe Smith in BF, Texas is looking for a transportation vehicle that is sporty made by an American car manufacturer and the color of the sky, he will find a Blue Corvette someplace in Texas.

Maybe that is why we can't figure it out, because we just don't think like that. It just is not logical.

Bewenched




msg:4546819
 5:44 pm on Feb 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

We've had a pretty good February so far, but today I have a strange feeling that something has changed/tweaked in the algo as of 2/19/2013.

Bot spidering by google the last two days has been off the charts and today just seems a bit off for traffic and orders.

Sand




msg:4546821
 5:53 pm on Feb 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

@Bewenched,
We're due for a monthly Panda refresh at anytime now. It could be that that's underway -- it can cause some weird results and traffic patterns while it's rolling out.

For what it's worth, I've seen a spike in crawl rate the last few days too.

getcooking




msg:4546827
 6:23 pm on Feb 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

I have a strange feeling that something has changed/tweaked in the algo as of 2/19/2013

We're due for a monthly Panda refresh at anytime now. It could be that that's underway


After relatively stable rankings the past week or so, we had a significant dip in rankings overnight. If it's not Panda starting to roll out I'll be surprised. Can't wait to see how far my site drops this time.

HuskyPup




msg:4546832
 6:46 pm on Feb 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

For what it's worth, I've seen a spike in crawl rate the last few days too.


Thirded!

UK SERPs are an absolute mess at the moment for my widgets, many UK companies have been replaced by pin-it sites and Chinese and Indian directories...terrible results.

SEchecker




msg:4547010
 7:17 am on Feb 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

Yesterday something happened! Conversations and sales were up 300% even adsense earnings were much higher as usual! Traffic remains same!

Was just a lucky day? I donít think so...

P.s.: I noticed high amounts of incoming spam mails as well...

superclown2




msg:4547039
 9:01 am on Feb 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

Some unbelievably spammy junk entered the SERPs in my niche yesterday, (totally irrelevant sites redirecting to lists of links) joining other junk with thousands of injected links that's been in high positions for two months now. Brands continue their inexorable march to world domination but that was expected of course.

How to make a fortune: compromise thousands of sites using certain vulnerable CMSs and insert the spammiest of links. Google's algo doesn't seem able, at the moment, to realise that new web sites don't naturally go from zero to ten thousand links within days so success is assured.

If this is progress heaven help us.

Martin Ice Web




msg:4547044
 9:25 am on Feb 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

since monday we see changing serps at 9 AM ( very bad serps , -90% traffic in this time) switching back at about 10.30 AM ( pretty good serps )
Switch back to bad serps at about 12 AM and back at 13.30 AM. It seems to go the whole day like this.
Overall traffic is up, of course traffic with throtteling.

If this is panda then it is very unusually.

ecom, germany

Wilburforce




msg:4547048
 10:00 am on Feb 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'm trawling through today's top 30 for my main key term. 5 newcomers on page 1, another 5 on page 2, 8 on page 3, so the top 30 has changed a lot. Complete spammer from an unrelated sector at #7, one US and two Australian sites in UK top 10. A bit of a mess, really.

My own site's "recovery" (from p 73 to p 69) hasn't opened the customer flood gates.

ppires




msg:4547180
 5:31 pm on Feb 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

my site was hit by something or i'm just getting ripples for the change i made in the social buttons or anything totally new. back to 10% again

Sand




msg:4547186
 5:46 pm on Feb 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

@ppires,
Sorry to hear that...

Are you able to identify when the hit started?

ppires




msg:4547190
 5:52 pm on Feb 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

@Sand,
the big drop starts around 20h00 gmt (yesterday)

Convergence




msg:4547191
 5:55 pm on Feb 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

One of our ten year old EMDs which has never been lower than #3 on page one is gone for the keyword...

superclown2




msg:4547333
 8:38 am on Feb 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

Wow, what a mess. The more I look through the UK SERPs for my vertical the more junk, backed by injected or xrumer-type links, I see. Many of the the search terms I've looked at this morning could have come from ten years ago, they are so bad. What is worse - some of this stuff has been there for more than 2 months now, but much more has arrived with this 'update'.

Wilburforce




msg:4547425
 1:22 pm on Feb 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

I had quite a close look yesterday at the the pages in the top 30 for my key term. Apart from the fact that the Australian and US sites have gone, today's results haven't changed much.

Although the results bear some relationship to Key Term, in most cases its on-page prominence is relatively low (only 4 of the page 1 results have it in h1, 5 in description, 7 in title, and only 3 in all three). Of those with Key Term in all three, one also has it 12 times in keywords, and another 12 times on-page, so although prominence is generally low, higher prominence doesn't appear to be penalised. There isn't any clearly visible policy (unless it is to confound anyone looking for a policy).

There are three with a PR of zero on page 1, one PR1, three PR2, two PR3, and one PR7 that is not relevant for the term (it contains both Key and Term, but not Key Term, and does not address the subject of or supply Key Term). With low PR generally, it doesn't look like backlink profile carries any weight (unless higher profiles carry negative weight)

Further down (#16) we have e.g. theirsite.co.uk/keyterm.html which is a 301 to a page that last had Key Term on it nearly a year ago: the company has very obviously withdrawn Key Term as a product/service.

Quite how Google is now assigning relevance for Key Term is not at all clear from this, but what is abundantly clear is that it is not working.

My own site dropping 70+ pages is clearly some sort of penalty, but nothing is obvious or flagged in WMT (or applies in any other search engine).

I think there is no such thing as "recovery" from this. Google SERPS as a marketing tool is history.

HuskyPup




msg:4547461
 3:18 pm on Feb 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

G.UK is looking totally different for me so far today, Thursday, much better relevant results ... are we slowly getting there?

Lenny2




msg:4547468
 3:44 pm on Feb 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

40% increase in g traffic yesterday. Can someone comfirm panda?

SnowMan68




msg:4547470
 3:48 pm on Feb 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

Nice Lenny! Hopefully that sticks :)

Panthro




msg:4547531
 5:55 pm on Feb 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

Yeah, seeing that big uptick yesterday AND today that usually precedes a Panda announcement.

backdraft7




msg:4547592
 7:37 pm on Feb 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

Overall traffic is up, of course traffic with throtteling.


@MIW - I too am seeing the same on / completely off patterns the last few days. Monitored from GART, PIWIK and CF CDN analytics all simultaneously. Very 'unnatural' traffic envelope again. User interaction patterns follow. When it's good, it's good, but when it's bad....it's bad.

reos




msg:4547603
 7:59 pm on Feb 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

Found that traffic dropped on Feb 3; anybody seeing similar trends around then?

reos




msg:4547605
 8:01 pm on Feb 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

(to clarify, this for a US site, bc I know some people were seeing drops for UK)

Sand




msg:4547614
 8:17 pm on Feb 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'm seeing some funny behavior too in real-time search. The odd part is, I'll see a very brief wave of visits to a single page, all with varying search terms. Then a little bit later I'll see another similar wave, this time to another page with different search terms. Definitely feels like a test, but it could also be coincidence.

ichthyous




msg:4547736
 4:06 am on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

My own site dropping 70+ pages is clearly some sort of penalty, but nothing is obvious or flagged in WMT (or applies in any other search engine).

I think there is no such thing as "recovery" from this. Google SERPS as a marketing tool is history.


Wilberforce I think you are right. I've got no red flags, no warnings, no sign of any penalty from Google at all. But my top ranking pages dropped about as much as yours. It's been a slide straight down for the last few months until I've lost half of my traffic. Now it seems that only sites with massive social media presence and plenty of authorship cred are making it. That's a heck of a lot harder to attain than a strong backlink profile....possible but much more work.

Martin Ice Web




msg:4547783
 9:29 am on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

backdraft17, nice to hear from you again. We see high amounts of traffic, conversion rate is going down, pageviews/User is going up?! This changed somehow last week. Before that conversions where at a very high level.
Keywords seem to change within minutes and it looks like the go a loop the whole day.

sitenote: Do we have a googleer in this forum, because we got 1 on google+ ;)

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