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Google Updates and SERP Changes - August 2013
JS_Harris




msg:4598284
 1:44 am on Aug 1, 2013 (gmt 0)


System: The following 16 messages were cut out of thread at: http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4589243.htm [webmasterworld.com] by engine - 4:03 pm on Aug 1, 2013 (utc +1)


There is certainly a disconnect/time lag between Google spidering site changes and those changes taking effect, and with the "rolling Panda" and Penguin (in which remote changes may impact your site) it really is getting impossible to get a clear idea of what is going on.


The results are fluid but not as much as we would believe.

When updates are rolled out they change the value of pages/links. The change in values makes the current rollout instantly obsolete which will impact the next rollout, and the next. While the changes are current they impact page rank which sends ripples out that won't be accounted for until a future update.

The trick is to not add more flux to the ripples hitting your own site by making too many dramatic changes. Reduce spam pointing at your site, create great content and acquire solid backlinks where possible... but don't turn the puzzle upside down too often with dramatic changes or you keep starting over.

 

Martin Ice Web




msg:4602831
 5:49 pm on Aug 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

Google feels like Bing.


No, bing is much better now then g$$gle. It does not rewrite your query, it has all the old stuff that was in g$$gle before panda still on top.

It sounds like your niche suffers the same problem other niches do since long time now. G. "figured out" the main dominant/leading site in your niche. This one rules, all others suffer. This now could be after introducing categories for all niches. Maybe they added a lot more in this quality update.

Maby it is a glitch and your site returns in the next days. I cross my fingers for you.

Wilburforce




msg:4602837
 6:23 pm on Aug 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

No, bing is much better now then g$$gle. It does not rewrite your query, it has all the old stuff that was in g$$gle before panda still on top.


Amen!

mamiakimo




msg:4602900
 3:04 am on Aug 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

is there any announced update in this range of date ?
13-15 Aug

JD_Toims




msg:4602901
 3:30 am on Aug 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

No, bing is much better now then g$$gle.

+1

I switched a couple of years ago and it took me a while to get used to, in fact I had to change my default SE in browsers to do it, but once I got used to Bing I haven't gone back, because Bing gives me the results I want way more than Google these days. The only reason I bother with Google any more is to check rankings.

seotrud




msg:4602927
 7:24 am on Aug 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

is there any announced update in this range of date ?
13-15 Aug

+1

I have huge traffic decrease (- 30-50%) on my sites at difference countries in this range of date. On most of them we didn't get backlinks at all or have 1-2 links.

Brodders




msg:4602935
 7:48 am on Aug 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

Hi Guys. I was a heavy user of this forum 8 or more years ago (cant seem to log in with old details (spider_fun i think). Back then it was all about on page optimization, but it was a similar experience. Every month we would get excited and all surf the update to see how our changes would look.

I have now got back into SEO research as I am running a site for myself. I have been reading the forum and the main difference i can see with this update to those of old is that 90% of people are moaning about traffic losses. There cant't be 90% losses across the board as for some to fall, some must go up. I 100% agree that Google is promoting big brands now that spend $$$ with them, which benefit the share holders, but i also thunk there is something far smarter at work that we give G credit for. I really do think they have a way of telling if a site is being worked on to fine detail i.e. SEO. Maybe they look at the amount of changes over time, maybe they go as far as using web master tools to see who is managing multiple website, indicating an seo expert.

To conclude..

My Traffic has dropped
Most of your traffic has dropped
What has made seo professionals sites drop more than others?

One more thing. We have to all remember, Google is not a god, a charity or owes anybody a living. They are now a public listed company. As long as the users are happy with the results, they have no interest in promoting Bills Toasters if Amazon has the same Toaster. (not a real example!)

As for home made sites coming up. I agree with this. I doses not mean they will stay there. I think this is a way to keep the core pubic users happy... like "Hey ted... i just wrote about my wife sticking the fork in the toaster and I am on google"

Tomorrow it will be another day.

tabish




msg:4602947
 8:38 am on Aug 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

Tomorrow it will be another day.


100% agree.

When panda update came in existence, we lost traffic and made changes in hurry. Worked day and night but looked like Google was not at all ready to take interests in our changes. After few weeks of making those changes google put our traffic to normal (but those were not due to changes) as site was getting traffic from old keywords only and we were getting hits on old pages in which we didn't made any changes.

Now after this update, it looks like all the changes we made an year before are being considered by google now and our new pages have started receiving traffics and old pages are dead. Hence we lost traffics we were receiving from "Old keywords" and visits from entirely new keywords are coming into existence.

Our site is completely gone from main old keywords, that is why almost 90% traffic is lost. But I am seeing traffics from new keywords. Everything is upside down. The changes we made an year back seems to taking effect now. But I know it will again take another few months to get traffic from dead to normal.

What I have learnt so far is:

1) Never optimize sites in hurry, when you are hit by algo update, wait and watch even for months. Looks like their database shuffle takes so much time to get stable due to to the amount of websites and hits.

2) Forget about backlink or thin or thick pages kind of issues, it doesn't pay always. We put "Canonical" on duplicate contents but google doesn't care about that. It depends on the mood of their algo. Our duplicate old pages are always on top instead of fresh new content.

3) Their more refine algo prefers MORE junk than good and original content. The blogs you made 10 years back to promote your site (on blogspot or wordpress or myspace), go and check it might have started receiving more traffic than your original site.

Google is serving more junk than any other search engine now.

Rasputin




msg:4602948
 8:45 am on Aug 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

There cant't be 90% losses across the board as for some to fall, some must go up


I am aware of several sites - mostly auto-generated sites rather than brand names - that have increased their traffic enormously e.g. one site I know had a leap in Alexa earlier this year from about 30k to about 3k, and now shows multiple results on page 1 of serps for many searches where before I had never seen it (and where it really doesn't belong)

It doesn't take many sites achieving that level of improvement to counterbalance the 90% of us who lost traffic.

Awarn




msg:4602981
 2:26 pm on Aug 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

Tabish you nailed exactly what I see. It is like blog garbage replaced backlinks. I think they kind of view blog posts as a social signal and have built that into the algo and weighted that higher than backlinks.

Sand




msg:4602996
 3:13 pm on Aug 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

There cant't be 90% losses across the board as for some to fall, some must go up.


My traffic has been increasing steadily over the last year, as has traffic to my client sites.

I don't really post about that a lot though, because it can feel like bragging when there are a lot of people who are having their livelihood hurt by losses. I would wager that other people whose sites are doing well feel the same way.

Brodders




msg:4603013
 3:57 pm on Aug 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

The other thing I have come round to now is monitoring orders / conversions as a gauge of how well the site is doing. Sometimes we can have 2.5k visits a day, but only 5 orders. Other days we can have 1.5k visits but 25 orders. I do believe that the quality of traffic that Google gives us is more qualified at different times. I sometimes believe that pos 3 is better than 1 as some people always look at pos 1 first then think "oh i am sure i can get that cheaper". So as long as your offering is good enough, pos 1 is not the holy grail.

reseller




msg:4603018
 4:31 pm on Aug 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

I think there has been a Panda update starting on 13th August and still in progress for the next few days.

hulk




msg:4603101
 11:45 pm on Aug 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

I think it started earlier. I got a severe loss starting on the 8th, for no reason at all as I haven't changed anything SEO related for more than a year and I followed their guidelines 100%. Google completely killed off my site and the same spammy and somes times even unrelated sites are still on top.

[i.imgur.com...]

frankleeceo




msg:4603117
 12:37 am on Aug 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

I agree with Sand. Too much negative voices and negative voices only really creates a whole negative shroud around the whole community. It is great that webmasters who have had positive results speak out too.

I think that's the only way to improve sites and traffic. To learn from the successes instead of only hearing "what doesn't work", or "Google is Bad and evil and money grabbing #*$!s". I am happy to have read and learned from handful of people who have offered awesome positive and actionable advice which I took to heart.

I would actually love to hear more about the successes and what they have done to improve their traffic and ranking.

Don't get me wrong that I do not want to hear negatives neither. I believe that we can only get the big picture when we actually observe who loses and who wins to really understand the differences between them. If we only get one side of the equation, there's no solving for X.

So @Sand, could you please share or give some insights on what you do differently that grants you more traffic than ever?

Sand




msg:4603128
 1:25 am on Aug 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

So @Sand, could you please share or give some insights on what you do differently that grants you more traffic than ever?


I don't know. I'm going to tell you some things that will probably sound like nonsense, but I'm a zen type of guy and this works for me:

I love improvisational music. One of the things you hear a lot of jazz musicians say is that you have to learn all the music theory to learn to play, but if you only learn the theory then you will sound like everyone else. So if you want to be really great at it, you have to learn the theory and then unlearn it. The unlearning is the most important part.

So I've kind of taken that as an inspiration. If you want to get good at getting traffic from search, you have to unlearn all the crap you've learned -- while maintaining the essence of what makes the elements valuable.

In short, your SEO work on any given site should be invisible to humans, while being apparent to search engines.

Sorry if that doesn't seem like a real answer.

JD_Toims




msg:4603131
 1:58 am on Aug 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

If you want to get good at getting traffic from search, you have to unlearn all the crap you've learned -- while maintaining the essence of what makes the elements valuable.

In short, your SEO work on any given site should be invisible to humans, while being apparent to search engines.

WOW +2 Very Well Said!

Dunzbumz




msg:4603141
 3:36 am on Aug 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

frankleeceo, Sand said his traffic was increasing steadily over the year - that's to be expected, it's not a success, it's normal, business as usual. More people use Internet, so if your traffic isn't growing it means, in fact, you are falling.

If he'd say his traffic skyrocketed all of a sudden a week ago, I'd think his websites are those many-important-words websites full of latent advertising, like scamreports.org. But it seems his websites are legit, and he's in for a big surprise if this wave will reach them. (I hope that won't happen.)

Regarding my situation, it's getting worse.

I am thinking two things:

1. It seems sometimes Google nukes its own index and lets fittest survivors crawl out on to the surface. That's what I felt happened in May. Can it be what's happening? Then we only need to wait, mostly.

2. Start from scratch, remake everything, cause the sooner you start - the sooner you'll get somewhere. Then we have not to wait, but act right now.

I am torn. What do you, fellows, think?

Btw, beside the main website I also have a few others, and those I myself considered kind of spammy and expected to die last year instead are doing just as before August - they are fine with steady traffic. Out of my flock only the real-deal useful websites were decimated.

Martin Ice Web




msg:4603170
 7:51 am on Aug 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

@Sand, great comment. I think there is no overall recipe matching every website, especially since Google introduce categories for the niches. I think every niche gets his own algo treatment. Therefor it would be great when you could just give the typ of websites that are going great till one year.

Just to break a lance for all those whos sites lost traffic ( including mine ). It is realy disappointing to put so much work into a site, make it great ( in my eyes ) give much more Information than others, dont take manufactures widget descriptions.... all this is not rewarded. This knocks you down and down. Finally it kicks of the shoes when u see crap ranking on #1. So I appreciate it when we hear of successfull sites after Panda, we now know theres a way out of panda.



ecom, germany

Martin Ice Web




msg:4603172
 7:58 am on Aug 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

@franklee

I believe that we can only get the big picture when we actually observe who loses and who wins to really understand the differences between them.



backdraft7 and me, are seeing similar patterns. We observe each other and sm about it. So we are in complete different niches. I could not say that our pages even see one onpage, html, css... similarity. But every time his page suffers my suffers too.
What to think about this?
So there is left
-duplicate Content problem ( if have a Little left)
-spelling problems ?
-to much focused
-to much description that Looks like blahblah even if it is not?


ecom, germany

JesterMagic




msg:4603223
 11:07 am on Aug 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

I think people search out forums like this when they are losing traffic to find out why so there will be more negative than positive experiences. The thing is very few of those negative experiences have turned positive which leads me to believe getting out of the penguin and panda sink hole is very hard/near impossible.

I am pretty sure those of us who participate in this forum, if they see a major improvement, would report it as they understand the frustration of losing traffic and not knowing why. I know I would.

ColourOfSpring




msg:4603255
 1:04 pm on Aug 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

The thing is very few of those negative experiences have turned positive which leads me to believe getting out of the penguin and panda sink hole is very hard/near impossible.


From the enormous number of dropped domains / non-hosting paid / increasing number of link removal request I see in my niche directories, I can tell you that what is reported here on these forums is just the tip of an iceberg. But even more so - so many sites now doing redirects. From non-www to www, to slightly different domain name. Not that it would make a difference as you just redirect the penalty / your pages still have the on-page issues, but site owners seem to love doing this one.

Dunzbumz




msg:4603260
 1:25 pm on Aug 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

My website #2, that had slightly more traffic than the main website, seems to be showing what an optimist could see as a promise of recovery. It's morning here, so we'll see later. The website has its niche, but the traffic is very generic and across fields, usually, so it may be a sort of a normalized test.

The #1, the moneymaker and breadwinner for several people, our darling is still very ill, though our hopes are up now. Maybe we'll wait another day before making any hard-to-reverse changes.

backdraft7




msg:4603261
 1:32 pm on Aug 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

I think the similarities to what we see is related more to focus than anything. I've spell checked the daylights out of my site and have a continuing program of improving readability, reducing verbosity and eliminating dupes.

Funny thing is, I have one blog page about red and black beetles that drags in a TON of visitors. It's hardly related to my overall topic, but G loves that page....even griped about it in WMT when I temporarily removed it.

Side note - yesterday was the best traffic and conversion day since April 2013. Traffic is picking up slowly, but that's the usual seasonal uptick and fully expected.

Rasputin




msg:4603301
 3:33 pm on Aug 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

leads me to believe getting out of the penguin and panda sink hole is very hard/near impossible


I have just been communicating with someone at one of the leading affiliate-publisher-management sites about our reduced performance, and of course mentioned panda and penguin.

They said "Unfortunately it’s something we’ve been hearing from the vast majority of publishers on the network"

Before that I was slightly optimistic about recovery through hard work - better content, getting ancient links removed etc - but if 'the vast majority' of publishers in our niche are affected (and this seems consistent with what I see every day in the SERPS) then clearly this suggests it is a deliberate 'attack', at least on sites in this popular niche, to keep them out of the serps.

Some of us might have poor quality spam sites, but the vast majority? I don't think so.

So I suspect no amount of effort will get us 'out of the penguin and panda sink hole', and hence the very few reported cases of recovery.

Wilburforce




msg:4603335
 5:15 pm on Aug 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

this suggests it is a deliberate 'attack'


I suspect not. I personally believe that Google's focus really is on spam/manipulation, which is an endemic problem.

I am fairly certain they won't have paid much attention to my particular industry, in which the whole of page 1 for several of the terms I monitor has changed population completely a couple of times in the last two years. Actual people at Google cannot have a web-wide, industry-wide view, and probably monitor a basket of industries and terms which will include "problem" industries like adult and financial sites, and a few others to make their basket "representative".

The effect of algorithm changes on a lot of posters here, including myself, has been negative and substantial. With each update/refresh, my own site's position - still page 1 on all other engines - deteriorates further.

I don't know what terms others monitor, but the effects I see are all on short (one- to three-word) terms, and for what it is worth I think Google's performance on longer phrases has improved and is better than Bing's. Their penalty target is keyword/key-phrase searches (these are the spammer's target too). The results I see suggest they are getting it badly wrong, but that may not be what they see at all, and their focus will be on the searches with BIG numbers, and they have the data to tell them what these are.

I think industries/search terms that are relatively infrequent - my own main key-term only gets a few dozen impressions/month - are not in their radar at all, and some will certainly be affected more than others. The most likely explanation in your case is that some factor common to the industry has resulted in collateral damage that from your pespective looks widespread, but from Google's may not even have registered.

Panthro




msg:4603361
 6:38 pm on Aug 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

Since we're doing this I'll chime in with frankleeceo and Sand here. I usually like to stay quiet too and unless I need to figure something out there's not always a need for me to post in this thread. The negativity can be really swaying sometimes, though.

Almost all of my clients' sites have done well over the last two years. One client even started his first venture online in a fairly competitive niche in the middle of all this Panda/Penguin mess. Traffic has been up month over month.

I'll agree that it's more crowded than it's ever been and things have fundamentally changed in the past few years, but your business can still make money with organic search - at least for now and depending on your niche. I do, however, see Adwords becoming more and more necessary.

And fwiw, every site I've had the chance to audit who's owners couldn't understand why they were "penalized" had a perfectly good explanation and fix. The owners couldn't figure it out because they didn't know as much as they thought they did - a common theme in this industry.

Some sites, I'll agree, really won't have a fix because the business itself is the problem. Like I said, things have fundamentally changed and some businesses just won't be able to make it in this new environment. In that case, there may not be any "fix", but at least there's an answer.

Wilburforce




msg:4603387
 8:11 pm on Aug 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

Almost all of my clients' sites have done well over the last two years.


In my sector that wouldn't be much of an advertisement for what you are doing.

None of the current page 1 results in Google for my main key term are in the top 20 in Bing, and there is nothing whatsoever about them (few pages, thin, poorly-informed mis-spelt and uninformative content, broken internal links, PR2 or less) that explains their presence there.

I think most of the negative comments arise because the current results are a complete mess, and well-designed white-hat sites with some of the best content have been relegated to nowhere to make space for it.

I don't share with some posters the view that Google is out to get us - I think they are grappling unsuccesfully with a problem that needs a solution - but the current situation is far from satisfactory and doesn't show any signs of recovery.

Negativity won't help anyone. The best advice I have seen here (and what I have applied in my own business) is to diversify marketing activity and try to reduce reliance on Google: trying to fix your site when there is nothing wrong with it to satisfy a broken algorithm is futile. The main shortcoming of that advice is that if 90% of the people looking for your product use Google as their main or only way to find suppliers, you can only target 10% of the market by other means.

Dunzbumz




msg:4603411
 9:01 pm on Aug 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

"a few dozen impressions/month" - that's an excellent point. I think we should add the absolute numbers to the discussion, cause I feel we have different needs here. E.g. I need 2,000 people per day on my main website - the one I am complaining about - for good performance. The drop was to 300-400 people/day.

Somebody mentioned 30k up in these pages.

People I manage websites for, who have brick-and-mortar businesses, are happy with 20 people/day. Those websites are doing fine.

Sand




msg:4603441
 12:38 am on Aug 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

In my sector that wouldn't be much of an advertisement for what you are doing.


It does vary across niches. I guess I'm fortunate that nearly every site I see returned in the SERPs for niches I work in are of high quality. There are exceptions every now and then, but it's pretty rare I see something in my area that is of little value. I work in very competitive spaces, so maybe Google has paid a little extra attention to the results. Or maybe I'm just lucky.

Wilburforce




msg:4603482
 3:04 am on Aug 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

I work in very competitive spaces, so maybe Google has paid a little extra attention to the results.


I think it goes further than paying extra attention: I think the algorithm changes are modelled on the areas where traffic volume is greatest (i.e. very competitive spaces).

Google's changes are probably most effective in those areas, as there are much larger bodies of data - both in general and from specific sites - from which to derive predictions about what is spam and what is not, and about what searchers are looking for.

In niche and less populated sectors, however, the current results appear to predict spam and/or manipulation very poorly. They return relevance and quality for short-term searches much less effectively than they did two years ago, and much less effectively than Bing does now. Approximately 1/4 of the content of the current #1 page for SpecificClass Service - anonymity of product/service/location aside, it is exact - is as follows:

If you need:
SpecificWidget1 Service Mytown
SpecificWidget2 Service Mytown
SpecificWidget3 Service Mytown
Brand1 Model1 Service Mytown
Brand1 Service Mytown
Brand2 Model1 Service Mytown
SpecificWidget4 Service Mytown
Brand3 Service Mytown
SpecificWidget5 Service Mytown
Brand4 Model1 Service Mytown
Brand4 Model2 Service Mytown
Brand5 Model1 Service Mytown
Brand6 Model1/Model2 Service Mytown
Brand7 Service Mytown
Brand8 Service Mytown
Brand9 Service Mytown
Brand10 Model1 Service Mytown
Brand11 Model1 or Model2 Service Mytown
Brand12 Service Mytown
Brand13 Model1 Model2 Model3 Model4 Service Mytown
Brand11 Service Mytown
Brand1 Service Mytown
Brand10 Model2 Service Mytown
Brand14 Model1 Mytown
SpecificWidget6 Service Mytown
Brand15Misspelt Model1 Service Mytown
Brand15 Model2 Service Mytown
SpecificWidget7 Service Mytown
SpecificWidget8 Service Mytown
Brand15 Model3
Brand15 Model4
Brand16 Model1 Mytown
Brand16 Model2 Mytown
Brand11 Model3 Mytown
SpecificWidget9 Mytown
Specific Widget9 Mytown
Widget Activity1 Mytown
Widget Activity2 Mytown
Widget Activity3 Mytown
SpecificWidget10 Service Mytown
SpecificWidgetActivity1 SpecificClass Service Region
SpecificWidgetActivity1 SpecificWidgetClass1
SpecificWidgetActivity1 SpecificWidgetClass2
SpecificWidget11 Service Mytown

It is hard to believe that this comes from an algorithm that is fulfilling its intended function, and even if Google is currently returning a lot of similarly poor sites in good positions it doesn't signal to me that I should apply the same style to my site. Good and bad quality haven't changed at all. Google has just spun all the signposts.

JesterMagic




msg:4603540
 10:51 am on Aug 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

For those who have reported increases since penguin and panda (or not effected at all), how old are the sites? In my niche most of the older sites +4 years have pretty much disappeared (page 4 or beyond) from the serps. I am only talking about sites that are not major brands or news outlets.

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