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Google Updates and SERP Changes - September 2013
diberry




msg:4606585
 2:34 pm on Sep 1, 2013 (gmt 0)


System: The following 5 messages were cut out of thread at: http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4598423.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 1:07 pm on Sep 2, 2013 (PST -8)


I've had two interesting situations lately which are very similar.

(1) One of my pages was #1 for "short widget phrase". Two weeks ago Google replaced me with a Wikihow page which actually took what I did and went a little further, as good competitors should. Last week, that page got an inbound from a hugely popular website (sent me quite a few thousand visitors), with the anchor text "here", as in "find it here". My position did not improve.

(2) Another page on another domain has been ranking well for "short phrase" and "less short phrase". These are competitive phrases. My page had fought its way up to #2 for both, which was exciting. Then it fell back to 5 and 10, and then lower. Then a popular Pinterest user pinned it late last night using "less short phrase" and it's bounced back a few positions already this morning. It's in flux, but it's averaging to 4 and 9 right now.

I'm starting to doubt there's *anything* to the algo but "count the links, check the anchor text." Google goes on and on about various signals, but when you get right down to it, actual ranking changes consistently happen ONLY in response to the addition or loss of links with the anchor text of your keyphrase. All else is a smokescreen, LOL.

 

gadget26




msg:4607469
 8:02 am on Sep 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

15% down here so far, which more than erases all slight gains over the last few months. I wonder who the gainers are?

US. Ecom.

lystor




msg:4607506
 10:49 am on Sep 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

62% traffic down on 2013-09-04

tabish




msg:4607508
 11:02 am on Sep 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

It's nothing new.. we have seen big drop 3 weeks ago and still in the same boat. 90% traffic loss. But i am noticing big shuffle.. and hoping to get good in ranking soon. My site has started coming in .com with few major keywords and i hope its going to get better. Its better to wait than panic.

h5m1




msg:4607514
 12:10 pm on Sep 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

50% traffic down on 2013-09-04 and 2013-09-05

Dymero




msg:4607527
 1:34 pm on Sep 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

We had a big boost at the beginning of August, followed by a sharp drop back to previous levels and then gradual drop throughout the month. This week we seem to be recovering a bit.

scottsonline




msg:4607536
 2:49 pm on Sep 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

For a ton of product searches I'm now getting amazon in the #1 spot but the amazon page is just a paid ad! That redirects to the paying advertisers site. This is a new low for google. Talk about feeding amazon revenue.

Google is redirecting organic results directly to PPC amazon ads and passing them off as "organic"
.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 5:08 pm (utc) on Sep 5, 2013]

EditorialGuy




msg:4607548
 3:11 pm on Sep 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

Maybe whatever happened yesterday (or started happening yesterday) was a targeted update aimed at certain categories or types of sites, rather than a full-blown Panda or Penguin?

martin9325




msg:4607552
 3:26 pm on Sep 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

That's interesting scottsonline. A few months ago I noticed some appalling search results for a town where 51 of the top 100 organic search results for the search I was testing were for one site and 16 were for another similar site. It lasted a few days and then Google obviously realised their algorithm update was not getting the results they wanted and they tweaked it and more sensible results were reinstated. That was in April so part of Panda I guess. I don't think this is the same, and my thinking is that this current problem is actually to do with the overuse of Keywords. We haven't changed anything in our titles in years and so I think they may have lowered the percentage of keywords they allow in Titles and so titles like 'widget sale, 50% off in our widget sale' which got through before may now be being hit. Just my guess, could well be wrong.

scottsonline




msg:4607554
 3:33 pm on Sep 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

@martin but this can't possibly be that because this is basic shell doorway pages that we would all get penalized for yet google gives amazon the number one spot

It's crossing all niches as of this morning. To be clear I cannot buy the item off amazons site. These are just amazon product ads on amazons site ranking first in google organic results. When the user clicks on the organic google results with amazon first they find out its an amazon doorway page for an ad that links out to the advertisers site.

It yet again proves my theory that amazon will rank first in anything. Terrible google, just terrible.

bubba1986




msg:4607567
 4:20 pm on Sep 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

Maybe whatever happened yesterday (or started happening yesterday) was a targeted update aimed at certain categories or types of sites, rather than a full-blown Panda or Penguin?

Maybe, but category by category Google is coming to all.

and my thinking is that this current problem is actually to do with the overuse of Keywords.

I'm almost certain it has to do with Google deciding to simply cut off small sites from the web. The updates (or massacres) seem to be directed at non-brands and small businesses. It could mean advertise or die and the small businesses don't have as much complaining power as Amazon. Imagine if Google cut off 70% of traffic to Amazon, or eBay in one shot? When small businesses complain, Googler wannabees could always find a directory link to say "you see, you violated their guidelines"

[edited by: bubba1986 at 4:25 pm (utc) on Sep 5, 2013]

reseller




msg:4607569
 4:20 pm on Sep 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

@lystor & @h5m1

Welcome.

Would you be kind to post which niche/sector your sites are related to. Thanks.

EditorialGuy




msg:4607574
 4:26 pm on Sep 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'm almost certain it has to do with Google deciding to simply cut off small sites from the web. The updates (or massacres) seem to be directed at non-brands and small businesses.


For the searches that I watch, some of the winners have been tiny, low-quality sites that are ranking solely because of location-based EMDs. And yes, they're ranking ahead of Wikipedia and most other obvious megasites (except for About.com, which seems to have Google's blessing).

reseller




msg:4607579
 4:42 pm on Sep 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

And yes, they're ranking ahead of Wikipedia and most other obvious megasites (except for About.com, which seems to have Google's blessing).


I wouldn't be surprised to read: Google to acquire About.com. Who knows ;-)

Wilburforce




msg:4607590
 5:05 pm on Sep 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'm almost certain it has to do with Google deciding to simply cut off small sites from the web.


That certainly isn't the case in my (UK niche service) sector. The principal common factors in the top couple of pages are:

1. Very low keyword count and density.
2. Weak backlink profile (highest is PR2).

My own site - although not remotely stuffed - has higher keyword density/count than any in the current top 20, and I also have high backlink keyword density (as most unsolicited backlinks use Mybusinessname Business Description as anchor text for the site, and Pagesubject as anchor text for pages). Therefore

my thinking is that this current problem is actually to do with the overuse of Keywords


I am of the same opinion. Incidentally, also, today I found a Google referral in my server log that I checked up on for Misinterpretedword1 Synonym1 Synonym2 in which my site is currently #4: clearly the site itself isn't penalised, it is the keywords.

The result is that my site doesn't show up for highly relevant searches, and my own personal searches on Google throw up increasing amounts of garbage.

[edited by: Wilburforce at 5:35 pm (utc) on Sep 5, 2013]

bubba1986




msg:4607603
 5:35 pm on Sep 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

Wilburforce,
even a few drops or a slight change in display could account easily for 40-75% drops in traffic. Look at the trend from 2011 and tell us what you see. "Trust" or big brands, other sites little by little are getting snuffed out. Some with Panda, some Penguin, some like the 9/4 update and so on. Keyword count and density don't matter for huge sites.

Wilburforce




msg:4607621
 6:20 pm on Sep 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

@bubba1986

even a few drops or a slight change in display could account easily for 40-75% drops in traffic


We need to differentiate between drops in SERPS and drops in traffic. A slight change in display alone won't reduce referrals (although it might reduce conversions). The most significant effect on traffic - at least historically - would come from dropping from page 1 to page 2 or beyond in the SERPS, but that is less clear now as:

1. I think the current results are forcing more users to page 2 and beyond, and
2. Google's ongoing focus 0n geolocation might shift the traffic source from global to local (which would affect locality-based and global businesses diferently).

However, between 2011 and today my own site has fallen from page 1 to page 2 and beyond across a very large number of terms. WMT reported less clicks in the last month than I had page 1 results two years ago. That has reduced Google referrals by around 85% (about the amount that dropping from page 1 would predict). The effect on overall traffic has been a drop of between 30% and 40%, as direct referrals and referrals from other search engines have not been affected (and my site is still on page 1 on other search engines for a very large number of discrete relevant search terms).

I am certain that specific keywords are directly affected by both Panda (on-site) and Penguin (off-site), and it certainly looks as if keyword-based factors that used to have a positive effect on Google position (and still do on all other engines) now have a moderate to stronger negative effect.

On that question:

Keyword count and density don't matter for huge sites.


Site-wide density for Widget1 on Amazon will be tiny, as it is diluted by Widget2 to Widget200000. The same would apply to backlinks. For that reason, any density-based algorithm penalty would miss Amazon completely, but might adversely affect a highly-focussed (and highly relevant) smaller site.

JesterMagic




msg:4607673
 9:45 pm on Sep 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

@Wilburforce same as me though I did see a drop of 10 % from Google last week.

What is scary is that Google bot has been rather steady through my traffic lost this past year except this last month visits from it has dropped by about 50%.

johnhh




msg:4607677
 10:10 pm on Sep 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

some of the winners have been tiny, low-quality sites that are ranking solely because of location-based EMDs


ZERO evidence of that in our necks of the woods.

Martin Ice Web




msg:4607807
 10:14 am on Sep 6, 2013 (gmt 0)

Today we see a loss of about 60% from g*. All other sources are up.
Search for xyz on g* Shows results for abc.
From view of conversions/referals the last 3 weeks have been the worst ever. To compete with plain silly garbage site and whitelisted brands is kind of annoying.



ecom, germany

trinorthlighting




msg:4607824
 11:58 am on Sep 6, 2013 (gmt 0)

The only thing we have seen is Ebay and Amazon pages getting replaced by other Ebay and Amazon Pages. Not much of an update at all. Still all about those big brands.

AlmostHuman




msg:4607846
 2:58 pm on Sep 6, 2013 (gmt 0)

We received a "manual action" notice which said that some of the inbound links were devaluated (affects links). No changes in traffic an rankings until 4th of September so I kinda wonder if it's all due to the manual action or something else. I am getting pretty confused about the whole thing

ChrisWilson




msg:4607887
 5:12 pm on Sep 6, 2013 (gmt 0)

Huge drop on the 4th, ~60% down on visitors and impressions. non-emd, branded site, U.S. targeted dot-com. This site is not my money site so I'm not really freaking out about it, yet it's a totally clean, totally white-hat site, with no external SEO done to it.

So whatever they did, it was way off mark lol.

btransue




msg:4607888
 5:15 pm on Sep 6, 2013 (gmt 0)

Huge decrease in traffic and Ad revenue for us since Sept 1. We have an established major education portal site, 8 years old with consistent 30,000 page views daily. After just having our best month ever, traffic is down 90% since Sept 1st.

reseller




msg:4607911
 7:13 pm on Sep 6, 2013 (gmt 0)

@btransue

Welcome.


Is it a US site?

Panthro




msg:4607959
 8:58 pm on Sep 6, 2013 (gmt 0)

A lot of the posts here are picking out over-optimization factors like high on-page keyword ratio and anchors as a ranking problem, all things that are pretty characteristic of Penguin. Could something inside the new "Penguin 2.0" be going on right now?

I'm seeing a big shake-up too (U.S. professional services), but I wonder if it doesn't have more to do with a change in what's showing in Autocomplete. Any thoughts on that?

It's times like these where I really miss tedster.

btransue




msg:4607964
 9:39 pm on Sep 6, 2013 (gmt 0)

@reseller

Yes, this is a US based .com site.

BillyS




msg:4607971
 10:15 pm on Sep 6, 2013 (gmt 0)

It's labor day, back to school, and Rosh Hashanah this week. Good time for Google to hit the button and mix it up a bit.

Wilburforce




msg:4607977
 10:45 pm on Sep 6, 2013 (gmt 0)

over-optimization factors like high on-page keyword ratio


Current top 10 in my sector have a very low key term/keyword count (and I note in several page 1 results for Key Term that descriptions do not contain Key or Term but Google has emphasised synonyms).

If your business has a common vernacular description and you or anyone linking to you uses it, you are doomed.

JD_Toims




msg:4608014
 4:03 am on Sep 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

...all things that are pretty characteristic of Penguin...

Do you mean Penguin or Panda?

Penguin is off-page -- off-site [inbound links, inbound link text, natural links v. appearing requested / manipulative, etc.]

Panda is on-page [key-phrases -- more specifically co-occuring phrases & density relative to natural writing on a given topic as interpreted by an algo -- ad v. text ratio, ad placement, depth of information presented, etc.]

Mentat




msg:4608035
 6:17 am on Sep 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

3 of my subdomains lost 70% from Google referrer on September 4th...
It's eating me alive.

Mentat




msg:4608054
 9:05 am on Sep 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

Just to let you know...

My site is pretty big (I think) = +800 000 unique visitors/day (for the moment; it was 1.3 mil UV 2 years ago).

Historically, our site was in the "test segment" for google alchemy.

We were always affected 3-4 weeks before the "official big updates".

Those official updates never affected us, only the "secret ones".

So... from what I see now, I can tell you to BRACE YOURSELF for a rough landing in November.


Another paradox is that on the 4th of Sept, big brands got a hit on my segment.
A lot of blogs, forums and new sites are up (as they have links)!

After the links spring cleaning, google devalued the brands now and they are putting a lot of weight AGAIN on links!

The links are very important, even critical for google Algo, but the spam and link networks were too big for Google only to erase => they forced the webmaster to clean the SERPS :)

Now, links have a lot of value (again)!
This is very frustrating for a site with thousand of pages (or millions) , as it's impossible to have even one link/page/product...

Only SUPER Brands are still untouchable.

It can be a new beginning for not very old sites to grow.

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