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Google Updates and SERP Changes - July 2013
spreporter



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 6:32 am on Jul 1, 2013 (gmt 0)


System: The following 3 messages were cut out of thread at: http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4580257.htm [webmasterworld.com] by goodroi - 9:35 am on Jul 1, 2013 (utc -5)


RIP Tedster, though I never knew you personally for 8 years now I've learned a lot from your great contributions

 

spreporter



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 11:02 am on Jul 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

Lost one middle level keyword from top 10 but gain another !super level! keyword....can't say I'm not satisfied.

ColourOfSpring



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 11:12 am on Jul 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

Actually it is a rating service. That was the whole purpose behind its initial design, the updates and all the Animal Farm patches. Rather than just being an ordinary search engine, it rated sites based, initially, on the site's link authority. However that's broken now.


Yes, Google are a defacto ratings service. A broken one at that. They use proxy signals to hazard a guess at how good a service or product a company provides (the proxy signals being content, user metrics, inbound links etc). As we all know, these are often misleading signals. They're also signals that site owners obsess over. How to make Google like me? How can I appear better in Google's eyes? How can I be more popular with Google? To me these are the wrong questions - wrong because Google change their rules so often anyway. And wrong because what Google wants isn't really what your searchers want (and that's becoming evermore the case as time goes by).

spreporter



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 1:17 pm on Jul 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

@ColourOfSpring, "How can I be more popular with Google"
For every question there is an answer, and I believe that there are answers to your question, but don't expect those answers to be given to anybody through a public forum, except the usual referrals to G guidelines, FB likes, twitters... etc.....but this is not enough.....IMHO

backdraft7

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 2:36 pm on Jul 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

"How can I be more popular with Google"


Get a few million in VC and set up a meeting with Google's Ad Network team.

So, here it's Sunday and the roller coaster continues...1 to 2 visitors at a time on the busiest day of the week. Not sure what is causing this. SERP's look "ok", but traffic is non-existent. Oddly my private membership area (Joomla) shows 141 guests and 5 members online. I suspect the guests are all bots.
Seems like overall network floods or the like are causing problems too.

BTW, I'm throwing money at both Adwords and FB ads...neither seem to be working....BUT, all of a sudden it could pop open and go crazy. While the 'boot' is on however, I expect another bad day.

JesterMagic

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 2:46 pm on Jul 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

Those guests would be bots. The bots have been outnumbering real people for me since I was hit by Penguin. The bots are pretty stupid. Most are from Europe and Asia and are either trying to create accounts or post comments and forum posts. Looking at all the 404 errors most seem to think my site is either Joomla or Wordpress. I can tell by the name of the files they are trying to access over and over again.

diberry

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 2:57 pm on Jul 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

Google was designed when there was nothing but information on the web. Businesses were NEVER going to consider joining the cess pool of the web and exposing their precious customers online. Besides, it was just a fad - like TV! ;)

The web had been built by academics and geeks. Links really WERE citations. All Google had to do was count the links in, and boom - great search results.

Then, Adsense created a reason to build spam sites.

Then, businesses finally adopted the web.

Then, non-geek, non-academic types adopted the web.

The algo was designed for an academic citation environment; now it's trying to cope with an environment in which:

- SEO, spawned by Google's own activities, allows sites to rank whether they offer quality to users or not

- Businesses can afford however much SEO it takes, whether they offer what users want or not

- The new average user actually expects Google to only include QUALITY businesses and tradespeople they can TRUST, apparently thinking that someone on this earth would create a free service that actually thoroughly investigates businesses to make sure they are reputable.

There is just no way the old algo can keep up with this. It's like an operating system that's 10 years old - you can patch it 500 times a year, but it would still be better to go back to the drawing board and start all over again.

EditorialGuy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 3:02 pm on Jul 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

Actually it is a rating service. That was the whole purpose behind its initial design, the updates and all the Animal Farm patches. Rather than just being an ordinary search engine, it rated sites based, initially, on the site's link authority.


But it isn't a business rating service. It's a site or page rating service, if you prefer the term "rating service" to "search engine."

I've never heard anyone seriously suggest that the 200+ factors in the Google organic-search algorithm include shipping speed, returns policies, restocking fees, customer-service hours, and similar "retail factors." Matt Cutts & Co. have been telling us to focus on building great content for users if we want to do well in Google Search. They haven't said anything about keeping merchandise in stock, providing tracking numbers, or being quick to ship.

If you want to do well in Google organic search, you need to publish original content of intrinsic value to users and attract freely-given links that Google can count as "votes." This is where most small e-commerce sites are at a disadvantage compared to megasites like Amazon.com or Booking.com. The latter are big enough to attract a critical mass of user-written reviews. (To be sure, not all user reviews are of equal quality, but some are useful--and in any case, they qualify as "content" in Google's eyes.) If your typical page just has a product description and an "Add to cart" button, you're going to be at a disadvantage.

The bottom line is pretty simple: If you want to rank well in a search engine that cares about page content, then write pages with content of intrinsic value--or pay someone to write those pages for you.

EditorialGuy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 3:18 pm on Jul 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

The new average user actually expects Google to only include QUALITY businesses and tradespeople they can TRUST, apparently thinking that someone on this earth would create a free service that actually thoroughly investigates businesses to make sure they are reputable.

There is just no way the old algo can keep up with this. It's like an operating system that's 10 years old - you can patch it 500 times a year, but it would still be better to go back to the drawing board and start all over again.


As I've suggested before, maybe that's one of the reasons why Google is starting to let ads dominate its commercial search results. Before the era of online retail, shoppers were happy to find stores, offers, etc. through advertising (such as display ads, classified ads, and Yellow Pages). Over time, as shoppers become more accustomed to relying on search ads for retail information, Google's ad revenues will go through the roof and--just as important--there will be less value in spamming the organic results.

Wilburforce

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 3:59 pm on Jul 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

If you want to rank well in a search engine that cares about page content, then write pages with content of intrinsic value


My content didn't suddenly cease to have intrinsic value in April 2012.

Whatever is going on now has very little to do with the intrinsic value of page content.

EditorialGuy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 4:06 pm on Jul 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

Whatever is going on now has very little to do with the intrinsic value of page content.


It's even less likely to have anything to do with shipping times or tracking numbers. (See turbocharged's post above.)

Wilburforce

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 4:40 pm on Jul 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

It's even less likely to have anything to do with shipping times or tracking numbers.


I agree.

backdraft7

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 7:54 pm on Jul 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

Still seeing poor referrals, no buyers and at the same time, coincidentally or not, a strange absence of spam coming in. I think MIW has observed this phenomenon regularly too.

EditorialGuy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 8:13 pm on Jul 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

I just noticed a commercial EMD ranking #1 for the name of a big-city transit system. (The transit system's domain is a set of initials representing the name of the agency that runs it, so the vendor managed to snap up the name that everybody uses.)

jmccormac

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 9:55 pm on Jul 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

But it isn't a business rating service. It's a site or page rating service, if you prefer the term "rating service" to "search engine."
Wrong again. Its whole dynamic of the last few years has been pointed towards being a business rating service. Its purchases and even its efforts in Local Search have been geared towards rating businesses.

I've never heard anyone seriously suggest that the 200+ factors in the Google organic-search algorithm include shipping speed, returns policies, restocking fees, customer-service hours, and similar "retail factors."
A few years ago, someone used a lot of negative commentary on these subjects to get to their site to the top of Google. Even Google and its FUD buddies (the cargo-cult SEOs that believe every rumour and speculation) have been going on about Trust Rank and this looks very like an attempt to implement a business rating service.

Matt Cutts & Co. have been telling us to focus on building great content for users if we want to do well in Google Search. They haven't said anything about keeping merchandise in stock, providing tracking numbers, or being quick to ship.
Whatever happened to Google Merchant?

If you want to do well in Google organic search, you need to publish original content of intrinsic value to users and attract freely-given links that Google can count as "votes."
People don't link the way they used to link. They assume that search engines will find their sites without links. Without link data from new websites (either from bugged browsers, Analytics or Adsense) Google is missing a lot of new websites, especially ccTLD sites, because they have no inbound links.

This is where most small e-commerce sites are at a disadvantage compared to megasites like Amazon.com or Booking.com.
More cargo-cult SEO and noise from Google's FUD buddies? :) Links to Amazon.com and Booking.com at an index page level are rare. The most common sites with links from index pages now are likely to be to Social Media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Linkedin.

The latter are big enough to attract a critical mass of user-written reviews.
Amazon is a kind of walled garden when it comes to reviews and content. Amazon associate links, with articles on various products or books, rather than laudatory reviews of Amazon are far more common.

The bottom line is pretty simple: If you want to rank well in a search engine that cares about page content, then write pages with content of intrinsic value--or pay someone to write those pages for you.
Search engines do not care about content. They are typically a set of algorithms working together to produce a result and often a result that can be monetised. The whole Page Rank model worked well but it was, like any simple system, exploitable. Rather than fixing the basic problems, it would seem that Google has merely tried to patch a very large string bag one hole at a time. Now it has an accretion of patches masquerading as an "algorithm". The instability in the SERPs seems to be due to the way that these patches are tweaked and the unexpected effects on existing patches when new ones are applied.

What a lot of SEOs have missed is the way that Social Media has changed Search. The web is no longer a situation where Search is purely algorithmically driven. A recommendation on Facebook is becoming far more important. A mention on Twitter by a poster with a lot of followers may drive more traffic than good position in SERPs. Google's Google+ isn't even a serious player in the Social Media scene compared to Facebook or Twitter. Simply concentrating on creating "pages with content of intrinsic value" is the kind of FUD that Amit Singhal came out with in that post about what constitutes a "good" website where Google is concerned. The web is far richer and more complex that that. It has sites that are complete rubbish and sites that are diamonds. The problem for Google is that it is the user that decides the value of a site rather than an algorithm. And Social Media is playing a more important role in that valuation.

Rather than jumping over backwards for Google, site owners should really be developing their site's social network. This involves a bit more than creating "pages with content of intrinsic value" and using meat bots to spam blogs with backlinks. If it was simply down to creating "pages with content of intrinsic value" then spinning services and meat bot backlinks services would not be successful.

Regards...jmcc

mike2010

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 11:28 pm on Jul 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

what the freak is going on again ?

several of my sites took huge keyword traffic hits over the last week. Especially the last 2 days.

70% reduction in keyword traffic.

could they stop f'n around already? Or at-least wait until summer's over...to start driving us nuts again.

backdraft7

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 12:00 am on Jul 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

@mike2010 - I concur. I'm seeing the same upset...again.

johnhh

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 12:19 am on Jul 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

@mike2010 same here .. just about to give up, bing+yahoo now exceeds google searches

gouri

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 2:37 am on Jul 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

It looks like there might have been some sort of update late last week.

ColourOfSpring



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 7:11 am on Jul 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

jmcc, interesting commentary, and I hope the admins allow the occasional slight diversionary comment on the monthly thread as much of what is written in these comments is a natural reaction to what we see - we see inexplicable things in the SERPs and sometimes it's good to theorize and offer advice. One thing stood out for me:-

site owners should really be developing their site's social network.

Absolutely. And I take "social network" literally - be it word of mouth, picking up the phone, meeting people in real life - networking. Not just Twitter and Facebook, of course. To quote Depeche Mode, people are people - people don't change. It's people who are looking for that service or product you provide, and have the money to pay for it. People don't care so much about "stellar content" when they're looking for a service or product. Just because Google is now ignoring 95%+ of the commercial web, it doesn't mean people don't want those services and products Google are hiding.

If you're in the "information industry" (product reviews, product information, product discussion groups etc) then for sure - you have to rely on search engines like Google - but that kind of business model is extremely risky, and it's hard to bolster the site via TRUE social networking (IMHO).

jamesMP



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 9:53 am on Jul 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

[G.] isn't a business rating service...


But it is in the eyes of a "normal" user who IMO sees Google as ultimately trustworthy. How many people rely on G. as their first port-of-call for emotional/health problems type searches every day? (things you'd only discuss with your partner/doctor). This extends to commercial searches too and users inherently trust that G. only gives them quality results. I would speculate that many people wouldn't be able to separate quality content and business reputation when it comes to rankings in search results. (ie "I found them on Google, so they *must* be legit").

Anyway, back to the main topic - SERPS for my important keywords seem to have remained stable, with only minor shuffling, but less important keywords are fluctuating from between obscurity and pages 2/3. The site has been online for approx. 5 years, but was only properly utilised and launched about 18 months ago. Traffic has been growing slowly, but steadily (might even be described as "organic"), with no sudden drops or sharp increases.

UK based (low traffic) service and eCommerce site.

Martin Ice Web

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 10:18 am on Jul 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

@backdraft, friday was frightening again. Just not good to go into weekend with this bad fgeeling about serps.
The weenkend was surprisingly good but i donīt know if it was the changes i made regarding the navigation back to a full /large navigation with categories/subcatogries open automatically to the point where the user is looking at on friday. It seems poeple like this navigation more then small navigation panes alhtough there are many links to subcategories now.
I took it of after April update and nothing changed so i reverted it back.
Brands with multiple domains are coming up clearly. This whole panda plays them into their arms.

backdraft7

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 1:31 pm on Jul 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Sat & Sun were terrible. It just seems G throws us their worst traffic on the weekend now...in fact, yesterday was higher traffic than last week Sunday, which almost 1,000 uniques for the day (in the good old day this was more like 2,000 uniques a day). As far as the site, if you throw "real humans" at it, they will buy, but if all we get is "Zombies", they don't.

Still seeing what appears to be massive day parting... a sale at 3am, then nothing till 9pm. 9pm to 12 midnight is now what it seems I am given as my "day". During that day parting period, traffic is clamped to no more than 4 visitors at a time. This pattern has always seemed to precede update announcements.

EditorialGuy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 2:53 pm on Jul 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

But it is in the eyes of a "normal" user who IMO sees Google as ultimately trustworthy. How many people rely on G. as their first port-of-call for emotional/health problems type searches every day? (things you'd only discuss with your partner/doctor). This extends to commercial searches too and users inherently trust that G. only gives them quality results. I would speculate that many people wouldn't be able to separate quality content and business reputation when it comes to rankings in search results. (ie "I found them on Google, so they *must* be legit").


User perceptions don't change the fact that Google doesn't rank businesses according to metrics that aren't readily available--and that it has never claimed to use.

If I owned an e-commerce business, I'd certainly want to have happy customers, and I'd hope that having happy customers would lead indirectly to better Google rankings. But I wouldn't get angry with Google (or Bing, or Yahoo!, or Yandex, or Baidu) for ignoring my quick order fulfillment or the fact that I supplied a tracking number with every shipment.

diberry

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 4:04 pm on Jul 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

As I've suggested before, maybe that's one of the reasons why Google is starting to let ads dominate its commercial search results.


I agree. It's a safe choice, especially in an environment in which people have written their government representatives, complaining that the #1 plumber in Google didn't do right by them, and the government representatives have turned around and said, "Yeah, Google, what on earth are you doing having disreputable plumbers at the top of your listings?" As long as they have PAID to be at the top, it makes it much easier for Google to argue before a frighteningly ignorant yet just as frighteningly powerful group of government nimrods that they, like TV networks and newspapers, cannot know upfront that a potential ad client might be disreputable.

Sorry for being a little off-topic, mods. But I can bring it back: I'm not seeing any big changes in rankings in my informational niches today, but I AM seeing more consistent advertising in them. While this may not have to do with any updates per se, I do think it makes sense to track ads on your queries as well as your rankings to get a sense of where your traffic is going.

mike2010

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 4:24 pm on Jul 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Seems like the PR0's and PR1's are getting hit the hardest.

Anything with a PR2 or higher I guess is considered more stable, in Google's eyes.

But it's practically a free-for-all (battle) on my newer PR0 and PR1's...and it shouldn't be this way.

These sites will have 50+ keywords entered through google one day....and 3 to 5 keywords entered the next. And then back again. That's how shakey / nerve-wracking it's becoming.

(in case their oblivious to the fact , that these small algorithm changes are causing huge shifts)

EditorialGuy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 4:45 pm on Jul 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

these small algorithm changes are causing huge shifts


Even if the shifts aren't huge, they add up--especially when spread across hundreds or thousands of different search queries.

Our Google referrals have been declining since Panda 1.0, yet we still rank high for many terms--just not quite as high as we once did. The phrase "death by a thousand cuts (not 'Cutts'--no pun intended) comes to mind.

jebernier



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 6:02 pm on Jul 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Drop in two of my major traffic keywords (4 to 5 spots)

Wilburforce

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 6:35 pm on Jul 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

The decline continues here, too. WMT referrals are down 90% from 2011 levels.

The pages that have dropped furthest in SERPS are those with the greatest number of backlinks (on one of which all the backlinks are organic), so either:

1. Google now incorrectly sees organic backlinks as "unnatural" (so the algo is certainly flawed), or

2. The links have been heavily devalued (on the 100% organic page a lot are from - very reputable - forums, so that is a possibility).

Overall, my site seems to have lost authority, although some of the unsolicited backlinks on reference pages come from household names in my sector, and none of my pages have lost any PR (according to the current Opera PR tool) since they were all downgraded in the PR shake-up a few years ago.

The odd thing is that what seems to pass now has no apparent authority at all (the current #2 for a term I dropped 40+ pages on is factually incorrect on some aspects of the topic), so it really is impossible now to get a good idea of how to optimise for Google. The only thing that stands out is that what MC and the guidelines say is complete hogwash.

My main suspicion, FWIW, is that Google is concentrating on improving organic performance in verbose inaccurate searches, while if you want to be confident Widgets will find you, you will have to pay for it.

SerpsGuy



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 7:36 pm on Jul 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Would you guys take your retarded discussion about google ranking adwords users higher into another thread. They denied it, they wont change their stance ever- who cares if they do, none of you are going to use adwords anyway. So stop talking about it. Everytime I come here I see another page thinking oh great, updates on the serps! And its just some stupid rant about how evil and unjust google is.

Wilburforce

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 10:55 pm on Jul 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Would you guys take your retarded discussion about google ranking adwords users higher into another thread. They denied it, they wont change their stance ever- who cares if they do, none of you are going to use adwords anyway.


What are you talking about? The only mention of adwords on this page prior to yours was from Backdraft7, who says he uses them.

backdraft7

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



 
Msg#: 4589243 posted 11:20 pm on Jul 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

- I never said they rank you higher either...all we are discussing is the weekend upset.

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