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Google Updates and SERP Changes - August 2013

 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.



 9:25 pm on Aug 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

@Robert Charlton

Are the stories that you're seeing in any way high profile?

I wouldn't say so (and they are not high in the results, either: it is just the fact that they are in a cluster that drew my attention to them).

And, what's your default results per page setting when you look at these?



 10:04 pm on Aug 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

@JM, this is scary.
Do you loose constantly old keys or other, jet not touched, keys take the way down ?

I established my site in 2003 and it has improved in traffic every year. When penguin hit I lost 25% traffic right away. One word keyword for major brands was hit and my site was gone completely from the serps for these single words.

Almost every month after that it was like they targeted each brand in my niche separately. I have lost 2 keyword rankings for brands going from page 1 top 5 to page 2, 3 or 4. Every month a different brand would be hit for me and my site ranking would drop while the other brand keywords stayed constant until they were hit. I just lost my last major brand this month. I have slowly seen the keywords slip away. Long tail still seems fine but 2/3rds of my traffic has been lost in a year and a half along with 85% of my income. I have a few people on contract I pay and these last few months I haven't taken any wages and I have taken another job to try and keep things a float.

I am not the only one it has happened to in my niche. It has happened to my other quality competitors as well. The serps in our niche now are filled with fluff magazine pieces or sites that are 2 or 3 years old that haven't been updated. About dot com hasn't been hit (there rankings have improved) along with information sites that have little content but cover a lot of brands in different niches.

I have done a number of things to fix this including a new template that is mobile friendly, redesigned layout and categories, updating content more frequently, and adding in Google Authorship.

I have had a few traffic spikes along the way but nothing has helped and the overall pattern has been about 5-10% per month in traffic loss.

We still rank well in Bing and Yahoo.

Robert Charlton

 8:06 am on Aug 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

Dymero and Wilburforce - Thanks. One further question for now... are the queries that produced this clustering for you geo-targeted as nsauser's searches were geo-targeted (ie, with "placename" in the query)?

Martin Ice Web

 8:26 am on Aug 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

@JM, you run an ecom?
What do you mean by keyword for brands? You sell "XYZ" brand and Prior to penguin you have been ranked for "XYZ" brand but now you are gone for "XYZ" brand?

If so, it is what i see in my niche. Probably we could hold because we are independent of brands. In our niche searching for brand widget shows Google paid Shopping and Amazon/ebay. Nothing else.

All the smaller ecom have been vanished/pushed to paid shopping.
Further more it looks like g$$gle looks even for non direct brand ecom searches for a brand name and shows only brand results.
Google slowly moves from a search engine to pre-minded suggestion app. There is no space for free choices.

ecom, germany


 9:40 am on Aug 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

@Robert Charlton

are the queries that produced this clustering for you geo-targeted

One of the words in my two-word search term is a US state abbreviation, and the news story was about that US state, so in that sense the news items could be said to be geo-targeted.


 11:41 am on Aug 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

@MIW no it is an information site about brands in a specific niche (more services than actual physical products).

Before Penguin I held keywords for the brand names, after penguin they were gone. I then started losing month by month 2 length keywords with the brands ie "XYZ keyword2". Each month it seems like a different brand was targeted. Meanwhile, my other brand related keywords remained strong until they to were targeted.


 2:35 pm on Aug 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

Just seen a 3 month old news story rank #4 for one of our key-phrases in the form of [model name] [widget type].

The story was hardly news (celebrity gets once-in-a-lifetime scientific/adventure opportunity), but did get quite a few shares/likes, etc.

The [widget type] keyword appears nowhere on-page, while the [model name] keyword appears on page several times in what G. obviously considers to be a close variant (but really isn't).

All other results on page 1 relate to the product in question. Pages 2 and 3 are full of more up-to-date news stories relating to the scientific achievement, but not the celebrity.


 11:18 pm on Aug 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

The following 2 messages were cut out to new thread by robert_charlton. New thread at:

Google wants feedback on small websites you think should rank higher
google/4605576.htm [webmasterworld.com]

3:58 pm on Aug 28, 2013 (PST -8)

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 3:40 am (utc) on Aug 29, 2013]


 1:38 am on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'm seeing a huge European switch for the one site I still had decent placement for worldwide - basically ranks decimated across all European countries for the root domain and a deeper page ranked much lower instead (several pages down in most cases). Looking at a 35% loss of traffic so far. Site is hosted in the US, but it covers the world, albeit in English. Looks like the screw has been turned up on country localisation, at least in my niche.

Slightly lost for words now. This one is the final nail in the coffin for me. Ah well, I had a good decade I guess. Life changing. Anyone else seeing this?


 2:01 am on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Forget my European theory - it's rolled out worldwide now. Site gone. Worse than I even thought 20 minutes ago.

So I have 3 sites I work really hard on, each different and unique and (obviously I think) great, all completely wiped out in the space of a month and 2 days. Been doing this since 2001, didn't ever want to spread myself too thinly, nor bank on just one site after so many scary penalties. Never bought/sold a link, or done anything black hat. I thought I had got the balance just right.

Obviously reliance on organic results is not the way to conduct a business - what can I say, over a decade of doing so perhaps makes one slightly stupid in the head.


 2:59 am on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)


i hit first time in nov 2012
from that time i lost every month like you
now from 65K to 17K

i created all optimize you can imagine but nothing help
i will try using disavow tool now


 8:04 am on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

My traffic started dropping slowly in January 2013. Every month was worse than the last. Same happened to a friend of mine, who runs a site on the same topic. I checked two of my competitors in Alexa and could see their traffic ranking dropping, while one major site, which just seemed to be no. 1 all the time rose significantly.

This Sunday, traffic increased by 25%. I checked my stats and it was across the board, not just one article (I sometimes get a boost if a large media site links to an article). So this was good. My friend emailed me on Monday/Tuesday, her site had started picking up too. She didn't say what percentage, just that traffic has picked up.

What is interesting is that I have spent this year working my tail off. I increased the number of new articles by 50%, I re-wrote duplicate content (had about 20 articles provided to me, that were possibly duplicate/plus a couple of freebies). I can now say that every article on the site is unique, and written by me. I did what Google recommended, I took a critical eye over my articles, and some of the older ones did need improving. So I probably edited a further 25-40 articles, taking them from average to very good (IMO).

I added the authorship, I really worked on the FB page, added social buttons.

My friend did NOTHING. She took the attitude that if her site was dropping, she wasn't going to spend her days working her tail off. I am not upset, but it's interesting that we both had a traffic boost on the same day, I really worked hard at "improving" my site, she just waited it out. Same result.

I could have been reading a few books instead ;)

My site is .com.au, but not actually targeted for Australian users specifically (long story there), her site is .com, but has australia in the name. Don't know if Google are just showing more love to Australian sites this week but whatever they've done, I'm not complaining.


 11:26 am on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Is it international traffic? I sometimes see .com.au pop in and out of my niche in the US and Canada.

On another note there has been a Dutch language website showing for a while on Google.com on page 1 for a number of major keywords in our niche.

The domain is made up of English keywords ending in .nl and only a few English keywords are presented on the site (it looks like there is no real equivalent word in the Dutch language). The rest of it, images, ads, etc.. is all in Dutch.

The site looks okay and could deserve page 1 in their languages but I have no ideas why it is on page 1 in Google.com for the English Language.


 5:08 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Yes, international traffic. Even though I'm a .com.au, most of my traffic comes from the US anyway. I'd switch back to .com but am scared it will cause a penalty/drop in traffic etc. But it really should just be a .com site.


 9:15 am on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

@patc My website with 100K pages, targeting 10 languages (no English) had 50% drop in traffic on August 14th. Site had healthy rise in number of visitors before that day.

GWT says that new pages are getting indexed normally, but there is constant decrease in number of queries. There are no manual actions message or any other message.


 2:29 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

@Robert Charlton

are the queries that produced this clustering for you geo-targeted

No, but I need to clarify. There was no clustering of a site or certain type of site. This was one news story. Maybe that sounds like pointing out an issue where none exists, but this is very unusual for this type of SERP, which has been pure ecomm for a while.


 2:44 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

There was no clustering of a site or certain type of site. This was one news story.

I would say the same thing, except that as far as type of site goes they were in my case all newspaper/media sites.

Oddly, there is a repeat of the same phenomenon with the same search term today (again, a long way down in the results), but with a different news story.

Robert Charlton

 4:51 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

There was no clustering of a site or certain type of site. This was one news story.

I understand that. What I'm trying to determine is what identifiable characteristics of the news story trigger the clustering. The factors that initially came to mind were...

- a geo location component to the story
- a famous person in the story
- perhaps a freshness component

These may not be present in all clustered stories, but that's all I had to go on. I haven't been able to come up with a search myself that triggers the clustering.

Without getting too specific, is there anything you can add about what characteristics like these are present?

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 4:56 pm (utc) on Aug 30, 2013]


 4:55 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

@Robert Charlton

On the latest cluster there is the same geo-location factor as before, but neither story featured a famous person.

Martin Ice Web

 4:57 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

It seems like zombies have returned. Surges of traffic für 1-2 hours are followed by traffic drops down to 10% for 1-2 hours.
Bounce rate is up again, conversions ZERO.
What me realy wonders is that we gained again top positions for many terms. But they seem unrelated to the searchers query.

ecom, germany


 1:54 pm on Aug 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

Well percentage wise August was not a good month (even compared with our other bad months). Traffic on Friday was down over 10% compared to the Friday before. The slippage continues. Most of my keywords are now on page 2 now which is basically a death sentence. I peg our continual slippage to spam bots posting links to our site all over the place, everyday. Traffic is down a bit in part to Labor Day weekend and the upcoming school start but it doesn't explain the beginning of the bad week.

There has been a fair bit of change in the serps in our niche this month and surprisingly it has been for the better. Google still has their favorite info brands that can do no wrong but I have seen a number of low quality sites disappear and other niche sites move up (now I just need mine to move up :-). Still the site is loosing money now even if I don't take a paycheck so I will have to drop 1 or 2 of my writers.


 3:32 pm on Aug 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

Brand dial turned up again in my sector. Facebook, Amazon, Ebay all top 5 with often 2 or 3 listings consecutively. Maybe I should just move my sites to Facebook?

Robert Charlton

 7:37 pm on Aug 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

On the latest cluster there is the same geo-location factor as before, but neither story featured a famous person.

Wilburforce - Instead of a famous person, how about a famous thing, place, or concept... essentially anything very well known?


 9:39 pm on Aug 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

um, something going on in the UK over the last few days ?

info UK


 2:34 pm on Sep 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

The following 5 messages were cut out to new thread by robert_charlton. New thread at: google/4606861.htm [webmasterworld.com]
1:07 pm on Sep 2, 2013 (PST -8)

This 265 message thread spans 9 pages: < < 265 ( 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 [9]
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