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Google Updates and SERP Changes - March 2013
gyppo




msg:4550034
 5:18 am on Mar 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

< continued from [webmasterworld.com...]

I'm seeing daily switching between 2-3 datasets across around 600 keywords. Seeing roughly 10-20 keywords swapping in & out of positions.

[edited by: tedster at 2:47 pm (utc) on Mar 1, 2013]

 

Saffron




msg:4558829
 8:09 am on Mar 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

So why the bullcrap about making the internet better? They're just punishing good site owners :(

I found a site yesterday, similar field to mine. Their article outranked mine. It was an entire copy of an article from a book. Word for word. Sure, they referenced it, but is that the new "Google"? Just rewarding sites for copying text from books now? Sure...that's improving the net.

Funnily enough, this site doesn't show up in Bing or Yahoo at all.

ethought




msg:4558868
 12:58 pm on Mar 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

@Saffron

We had to have the discussion with our kids yesterday about our house :( That was traumatic. We can't hang on any longer. I hoped fresh content would just keep things stable, but traffic still dropping 2 months on.


Damn - that must have been hard, I really feel for you if you truly are in a position where you may now lose your house.

My income is down to about 15% of this time last year, and I have been working harder than ever - Google just keeps making it hard for me too. I'm not about to lose a house or anything, making enough to hang on but not for much longer if things just keep going from bad to worse.

It always seemed like if you built sites to provide web users with something valuable you would always do okay, now it seems like a lottery - provide the best info or functionality around and maybe you will get some traffic from Google but maybe their 'intelligent' algorithm will decide you are not quality enough for them. Google are single handedly killing / changing the web as we knew it, where everyone had a fair chance, and it is depressing - it feels like the end of an era (maybe the end of the free era).

I am not sure if this is part of their master plan to up their bottom line or whether their index / system is just out of control... I fear it is the former or maybe both.

harmhero




msg:4558878
 1:43 pm on Mar 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

For 5 years now I live entirely on my affiliate income I generate through 2 websites. I saw to many randomly ups and downs in ranking and SERP positions that I came to a point that I think it is of no use to measure, tweak and listen to so-called SEO gurus for their advise. Better spend time improving UI for better conversion from your loyal visitors and maybe the Google God has mercy. Now and then.

I would never, ever take a mortgage based on income generated from Google's free SERPs traffic, since you don't have any control on your stream of converting visitors at all. Ask Google to provide you with a proof of income for your loan and guess what their answer will be. I saved money for some years and bought myself a mortage-free mountain cottage where I live and work. No worries since my direct visitors I gained over the last years provide a minimum to live from. I spend more and more time growing vegetables then on SEO. Better ROI.

Anyway, we will never predict Googles way of thinking and operating, they will make sure of that. Unlike their Pandora's Box, Google's Black Box stays closed.

JesterMagic




msg:4558885
 1:58 pm on Mar 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

Google has a monopoly and there is nothing we can do about it. I had hoped we would have multiple players in the market but Yahoo and MS keep sliding.

Google keeps adding "value" to their search results which just squeezes out other companies.

I heard the other day on the news that YouTube has hit 1 billion unique visitors every month. Gee I am not surprised with all the YouTube videos ranking high in the SERPS these days.

Saffron




msg:4558901
 3:32 pm on Mar 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

I just read somewhere (sorry can't remember where) that Google don't like sites having search on them. My site has a search box. It's not a Google search, just a search that must come with Joomla. This article says that Google prefer you use them to searching within a site. Does anybody know if this is true?

I still have hopes for Yahoo.

I've been using Bing for a few weeks now, I prefer their search results. You don't get 20 links for Youtube at the top. That is another really big annoyance I have with Google.

Str82u




msg:4558920
 4:40 pm on Mar 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

I am not surprised with all the YouTube videos ranking high in the SERPS these days.
I agree but have seen the YouTube videos in our niches disappear to page two or worse over the last 3 weeks, maybe a month.
that Google don't like sites having search on them
Saffron, first, sorry for the jokes earlier in this thread, wasn't catching on to your personal troubles for a while. As for site search, I can't say if they have shown a preference but I know they are counting forms in general. No formula for you but I've seen sites jump when adding a third or fourth form to a page, never had it happen just adding site search or swapping ours for a G-branded searchbox. I believe the number of forms (whatever that number is) is a sign of interactivity and features for users; site search, subscriptions, surveys, calculators, etc.

EDIT TO ADD: We just experimented with the Gbrand search last month. Got a site up quite a bit one month then added the searchbox a month after but saw no increase, or any further change for that matter.

Wilburforce




msg:4558925
 4:47 pm on Mar 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

@Saffron

I have a non-Google search-box on all pages on my site, and I am as certain as I can be that it has nothing whatsoever to do with the terms/pages that have lost position.

If it makes any difference, the (php) search runs from a folder that is disallowed in robots.txt (so Google shouldn't look at it anyway).

Broadly, if a search-box keeps traffic on-site (i.e. lowers bounce-rate) it ought to be beneficial, and if it helps a client find what they are looking for it is good for business.

However, the search-log is generally quite depressing: often the users of the search-box combine a breathtaking lack of intelligence with an inability to spell something my site very obviously wouldn't include. I'm not sure removing it would ruin my life (although I would have to find something else to do with the time I currently spend checking the log).

netmeg




msg:4558940
 5:33 pm on Mar 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

(What Google doesn't particularly care for is have search RESULTS pages in the index. I doubt very much that anyone gets penalized or algo'd out because of a search box)

TheOptimizationIdiot




msg:4558948
 5:48 pm on Mar 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

Today when I searched 6 of the 10 suggestions I got were for "service in Australian City" even though I'm on Google.com, obviously in the US based on IP and haven't search for anything in Australia I can even remember. It would have been years ago if I even have and definitely not on this computer, from this browser or on this system. Not logged in. No cookies. Clear cache.

Wilburforce




msg:4558951
 5:51 pm on Mar 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

What Google doesn't particularly care for is have search RESULTS pages in the index.


Again, in the disallowed folder in my case.

Bewenched




msg:4558953
 5:55 pm on Mar 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

I have a feeling that something shifted yesterday/today. Seeing less ecommerce conversions than the last couple of months. Maybe it's just nearing the end of the month with peoples bills due, but it is significantly lighter today.

Regarding Bing, bing has it's issues too. Got a call yesterday for someone looking for a product that is similar to what we sell, but in bing shopping it said that we sold that particular product. Ahh the joys of bing shopping.

Str82u




msg:4558983
 6:53 pm on Mar 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

the search-log is generally quite depressing
They are often humorous compared to common terms seen from SE referrals. What was that?
Again, in the disallowed folder in my case
Indeed
Saffron




msg:4558996
 7:48 pm on Mar 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

I noticed yesterday that none of my images were indexed. Oops. I need to get onto that.

I find the search on my site pretty woeful. If I'm looking for an article of mine, I will generally use Bing to locate it, not my own site search. But it can be useful at times, so I keep it there.

netmeg




msg:4559000
 8:03 pm on Mar 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

Well the issue is, do your USERS use it? Take a look at that, and if it looks like they're finding what they're looking for. If they're not using it, might as well get rid of it. If they're using it, but the stuff they're searching for doesn't come up (do some of the same searches yourself) then maybe you need a better search.

Sand




msg:4559019
 8:44 pm on Mar 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

I have a feeling that something shifted yesterday/today.


I've been wondering that too. But at least in my niche, it could be a result of families taking spring break vacations & the upcoming Easter holiday. So I'm not worrying for now, we'll see how things are in a couple weeks.

SnowMan68




msg:4559055
 10:39 pm on Mar 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

@ sand

Good call on spring break and Easter. If you're B2B, tax season might be in play as well.

Modulo_m




msg:4559069
 11:23 pm on Mar 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

The 'broken' part is when I search for 'business specific service in area' rather than 'businesses offering the service' I get the 'all businesses in the area' page.


TheMadScientist, could you elaborate a bit more on what you're seeing? Are you using much structured data on your individual business pages? It could be that the knowledge graph lacks sufficient metadata to understand how your site is structured those algorithms pay attention to strings, but not to links.

Edit: formatting

TheMadScientist




msg:4559077
 12:34 am on Mar 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

TheMadScientist, could you elaborate a bit more on what you're seeing?

I'll do my best.

Are you using much structured data on your individual business pages?

Yes, and have been for years.

When it was first announced Google understood and supported microformats and a couple others I added microformatting to the site based on microformats.org specifications.

The site had no issue ranking or issues with having the 'right pages' rank in 'the right places' ... I switched to schema.org a while ago, but it should make no difference since it was 'essentially the same' formatting as the microformats.org formatting, except schema.org's structure was agreed upon as a standard by all 3 major search engines, so it should not become 'deprecated' at some time in the future.

The rest of the basic structure of the site I'm talking about is:

Widgeting (in general)
Widgeting > Location
Widgeting > Specific Widgeting Type
Widgeting > Location > Specific Widgeting Type
Widgeting > Specific Widgeting Demographic
Widgeting > Location > Specific Widgeting Demographic
Widgeting > Specific Widgeting Type > Specific Widgeting Demographic
Widgeting > Specific Widgeting Type > Location > Specific Widgeting Demographic

Google is currently ranking the Widgeting Location page rather than:

Widgeting + Location + Specific Widgeting Type
Widgeting + Specific Widgeting Type + Demographic
Widgeting + Location + Specific Widgeting Type + Demographic
Widgeting + Specific Widgeting Type + Specific Widgeting Demographic
Widgeting + Specific Widgeting Type + Location + Specific Widgeting Demographic

The site is not only canonicalized to www, it corrects capitalzation, it corrects extensions (EG htm or php or ententionless) to html, it has proper canonical link declarations, it has proper alternates, it has proper link relationships to declare index pages for sections, it has structured/correct xml sitemap importance according to the hierarchy of the site, and it recently (today) has proper HTML4 (even though it's written in HTML5) link relationships to declare sections/subsections.

The wrong page ranking is something I've seen before with Google, but it's also not something I've had much difficulty in correcting within 1 to 2 weeks through the use of not only site structure, but link relationship declarations.

This time I've triple checked everything and as far as I can tell the issues are absolutely on their end, not mine, and they're ranking the 'least relevant' or the 'least of the relevant pages' for the query, which as tedster pointed out, usually results in a bounce.

I can't find anything 'wrong' or 'not definitive' about the site/pages/hierarchy right now, and usually when there's an issue with pages ranking where they should I can.

Modulo_m




msg:4559106
 2:06 am on Mar 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

Interesting. Reason for my asking is, an 'x offering y' entity/relationship query challenges Google's databases to work a lot harder than a simple 'y in z' entity/attribute query, of course. If the two searches are producing markedly different results, the RDF seems like a likely culprit.

But you're saying that Google returns a more relevant page for the more complicated, 'x offering y' query? That's really odd, because I usually see less relevant results when I search that way. But it's a brave new world for them.

Wondering about your breadcrumbs:

Widgeting > Location > Specific Widgeting Type
Widgeting > Specific Widgeting Demographic
Widgeting > Location > Specific Widgeting Demographic
Widgeting > Specific Widgeting Type > Specific Widgeting Demographic
Widgeting > Specific Widgeting Type > Location > Specific Widgeting Demographic


Is there a reason for inserting the location between the category and the type? I'm thinking about what "Widgeting > Location > Specific Widgeting Type" looks like from a predicate logic perspective, and I think it's something like:

x -> G(x,y)-> typeOf(x)

It's been a while since college, but I don't think it's possible to go from a modal argument (widgeting in place) to a universal instantiation (widgeting in place in specific widgeting). What about changing the subfolder structure to location, then widgeting, then widget attribute refinements?

backdraft7




msg:4559108
 2:56 am on Mar 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

Google are single handedly killing / changing the web as we knew it, where everyone had a fair chance, and it is depressing - it feels like the end of an era (maybe the end of the free era)


I'm going to step back and disagree with this general premise...
Here's why...

It's not GOOGLE who is killing the web, it's greedy, cheating HUMANS that have forced Google to employ their endless updates. If it was left stagnant and predictable, you can bet your grandma's teeth that it would be gamed in no time at all. Understand that G was funded in part by DARPA, then understand that DARPA's goal is basically to avoid surprise on a military level. When Regina Dugan joined G last year, I'm sure she took some of their methodology with her. Oh, you can be sure it's about profits too. Combine the three, greedy humans, military strategy and profit building and you've pretty much wrapped up the whole picture of what is happening....IMHO.

The one thing that really bothers me is this...
While Google's revenue increases, (50 billion in 2012) the people who make up it's content are indeed dying, but to place it all on G is just not fair. I'm no cheerleader either, I just see the root cause of the problem....greed from both users who want to be on top and by a company motivated to take over the universe. It's all unsustainable, just like most things humans do.

My only hope is that if DARPA style strategy is employed, it has the smarts to ensure the system avoids total collapse.

One last thought...
Remember the California Gold Rush of 1849? of course not, but what happened there is not very different from what is happening today...at first a few miners did very well, then word got out and greed kicked in. Eventually people were crawling over each other to stake their claim, people were murdered for the love of gold. Luckily, in our day nobody's suffered that fate...yet.

If you want to succeed, do what the smart people did at the peak of the Gold Rush chaos, forget the gold and sell the shovels.

tedster




msg:4559111
 4:00 am on Mar 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

I have a feeling that something shifted yesterday/today. Seeing less ecommerce conversions than the last couple of months.

@Bewenched, is your total Google traffic still the same? How about the distribution of search terms?

Saffron




msg:4559135
 7:38 am on Mar 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

Do you expect to see a drop in traffic over long weekends? It's Thursday evening here & my traffic is lower than it's ever been. I'm hoping it's a long weekend thing & not Google continuing to kick me in the head (repeatedly).

TheOptimizationIdiot




msg:4559145
 8:43 am on Mar 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

I have a feeling that something shifted yesterday/today.

Seeing a shift tonight too in the results.

Traffic was flat relative to other similar days and dates today, but I'm just now seeing the shift so it'll be interesting to see if it sticks and what type of impact there is from it.

petehall




msg:4559163
 11:04 am on Mar 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

If you want to succeed, do what the smart people did at the peak of the Gold Rush chaos, forget the gold and sell the shovels.


You can still succeed, only you need distinction to stand out now... being one of the copycats will no longer cut it. If you can't find distinction in either your product, website, or ideally both, then perhaps it's game over long term.

I woke up this morning to quite a big shift on a troubled site, which may indicate something is going down. Panda everflux?

backdraft7




msg:4559204
 2:28 pm on Mar 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

Something is ALWAYS going down. That's their plan. We should stop being alarmed or flabbergasted by every change. Change is the only thing we can be sure of. I'm moving away from the web as much as possible, developing several physical products that can be sold through offline retail channels. If you're still thinking of putting all your eggs in one online basket, the only thing you'll attract is the Easter Bunny.

Str82u




msg:4559222
 3:19 pm on Mar 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

Good call on spring break and Easter.
Easter maybe, Spring Break, maybe not. I checked online schedules after the first post mentioning this a couple days ago and there are fewer colleges on Break this week than the previous two.

Also it doesn't appear that the Federal Government in the US is taking a long weekend (getting Monday off for Sunday's holiday) so banks and other institutions will be open as usual.

There will be families taking off during this week leading up to the Easter weekend, according to some of the largest public schools schedules, that I checked just now, kids are on spring vacation from the 25th of March until the 3rd of April. Assuming many parents take off work for this....

That's all there was.

Dymero




msg:4559269
 5:13 pm on Mar 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

The same SERP I reported on last week is actually showing 9 results, not 7. It's just that two of them are indented. Still, it makes the page look strangely empty for something that's not a strictly brand SERP.

Lorel




msg:4559286
 6:08 pm on Mar 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

I get a lot of traffic from students so experience a lot of slumps in traffic not accredited to what Google is doing and it is usually always attributed to school vacations - mostly Christmas and Easter breaks (the later can last for 3-4 weeks because of schools across the US not taking the same weeks off) plus now it's tax season. And then in June comes the long summer slump when no-one is in school.

petehall




msg:4559291
 6:20 pm on Mar 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

Something is ALWAYS going down. That's their plan. We should stop being alarmed or flabbergasted by every change.


I'm neither alarmed or flabbergasted. Just reporting a significant move on the Google updates topic... which is what this, is after all? Don't forget Penguin is on it's way at some point. I think the impact will be significant unlike the daily flux.

I'm moving away from the web as much as possible, developing several physical products that can be sold through offline retail channels.


I can definitely see your line of thinking and I think that's a wise move. None of the businesses I work for rely solely on the Internet for their income. In fact most of them make more money trading outside of the Internet. As for me, I'm a web developer... I love and live technology as it's my passion. I can't see any other future for myself as this is what I love doing.

Saffron




msg:4559329
 8:14 pm on Mar 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

Do any of you know if it's against their TOS to be directly copying articles from a book. The entire article, word for word? It pisses me off that a site Google has decided to favour is beating me with copied content.

Wilburforce




msg:4559336
 8:35 pm on Mar 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

Do any of you know if it's against their TOS to be directly copying articles from a book.


Technically, if it is copied without permission from the copyright holder, it is. However...

If the author of the book entered a DCMA complaint it might have some effect, but even they might experience resistance if the content hasn't obviously been lifted from an online source.

I have had several run-ins with Google over copyright and trade mark issues, and their response has varied from instant removal (over content on blogspot obviously plagiarised from my website) to "Nothing to do with us: sue us and we'll fight it all the way" over trade mark infringement on Google Places.

If you were thinking of complaining as a third party, don't bother.

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