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Google Updates and SERP Changes - September 2013

 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.



 3:16 pm on Sep 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

I think that there was some type of update on Sep. 19.


 6:01 pm on Sep 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

Did something happen today? My traffic has taken a nose dive!


 6:37 pm on Sep 21, 2013 (gmt 0)


What is your niche?


 6:54 pm on Sep 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

<Loosely "technology"> forum. Had a great week, but today is uncharacteristically bad

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 4:30 pm (utc) on Sep 22, 2013]
[edit reason] made described niche less specific, per charter [/edit]


 11:07 pm on Sep 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

There was an update on the 19th and 20th.

We are seeing weird behavior across multiple unrelated sites. Single pages are accounting for 75% of google organic traffic. Pages that normally got a couple of visits a month are getting a thousand a day. Clearly an error in the update.

Other traffic is not good and not converting. All preceded by epic days.


 11:22 pm on Sep 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

Was just looking at ad spend. Tripled today to record levels for a Saturday. For 3 years we have had the same Saturday budget. Today we paid for 3x the number of clicks we have EVER seen on a weekend.

Not sure what they did but they are winning and we are losing as an advertiser and consumer. I can only think the organic results are so bad today people are clicking on ads.


 7:38 am on Sep 22, 2013 (gmt 0)


Have you noticed changes in the pattern of the origin of your organic traffic as to countries/stats ?


 1:01 pm on Sep 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Not sure what they did but they are winning and we are losing as an advertiser and consumer.

Our budgets are being exhausted faster than ever with decreased return.

Anyone else seeing this?


 3:14 pm on Sep 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

No significant changes here. I've seen an uptick in WMT average rankings over the last week and boosts in traffic for some pages, but overall, it's been business as usual.


 3:20 pm on Sep 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Seeing more than usual mobile traffic again. Just bought a smart phone and I can see why they make for dumb users...you can't read diddly squat on a smart phone unless you zoom, then it's like trying to read a dictionary through a straw. Time for more videos and an develop an app for mobile users.


 5:07 pm on Sep 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

you can't read diddly squat on a smart phone unless you zoom

Depends on the site and the phone. Our pages and text look small on an iPhone, but they're easy to read on my son's Nexus 4--even with my my middle-aged eyes, and even in vertical view.


 5:34 pm on Sep 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

you can't read diddly squat on a smart phone unless you zoom

I can read my (alternative css) site quite easily on a Blackberry (i.e. tiny) screen.

The technology hasn't settled yet - if it ever will - and individual preferences mean that some people carry around phones that are effectively tablets, so there isn't really a right answer to the question of where you put the division between "large" and "small" css versions, but anyone who hasn't already developed an adaptive "mobile phone" version of their site should get on to it without delay in my view.


 8:02 pm on Sep 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

In google analytics we see that google.* / referrals (not organic! i mean the referrals from google forums etc, see GA ) dropped to almost 0 on September 18, staying there till now. Any idea why?

While it is a small part of our traffic sources, it may still indicate something...


 9:06 pm on Sep 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Getting slightly off topic I personally prefer sites that have a lot of information to remain the same on my smart phone so my viewing experience doesn't change. I rather zoom in and out as needed instead of having the interface change on me.


 10:12 pm on Sep 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

About a 10-15% traffic drop this last week. Any significant world event that might be linked to a drop in internet usage in general? Or is it just a Google update of some sort?

Martin Ice Web

 10:52 am on Sep 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

Our niche has been shaked up again. And, yes, it got worse again. Brands, manufacturer first page second page: sites that only have the key on it but donīt even have the topic.
Poeple that are still finding us, are telling us that they are searching since ours and now they finaly found us. - Happy poeple now after 3 hours of search, great UE from google.
I tell everyone to use bing. Happy poeple within first page.

ecom, germany


 11:35 am on Sep 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

Under Google Analytics
under traffic sources->all traffic

Google.com/referrals are ZERO!

(I do not mean Google.com/organic, I mean "referrals" from posts, forums, etc...)

We used to have 1% from our traffic from Google.com/Referrals and 60% from Google.com/Organic.

We don't care about the 1% traffic but it is a clear indication that Google's homepage has changed in some way

If we do a drilldown, we can see that the referrals dropped to 0 from the root page of Google.

Does anyone know which update on Google's own homepage may have caused this?

PS: The dropped happended September 19!

[edited by: guggi2000 at 12:03 pm (utc) on Sep 23, 2013]


 11:37 am on Sep 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

>>>I tell everyone to use bing.<<<

Clients will/do listen to what your saying, had a property company round the other day who have multiple branches around the world, we talked about SEO and I showed her how bad some of the SERPS were where over half the page (6 slots) are taken up by a single directory. She said all her office used google as a home page but she was now going to put out a memo and switch to BING as home pages.

Same goes for my kids, none of them will use google anymore and use DDG, most of their friends have also switched.

The results in BING/DDG are more encompassing than GOOGLE and diversity is important to a searcher, this is sadly lacking in Google these days!

I only use Google to check client positions, my personal searches are taken elsewhere as will be the add money I pump into my personal project (probably buy adds on BING).

Working in this area you do have influence and if you tell all your clients and family members/friends that other search engines are better they do actually listen....


 12:20 pm on Sep 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

Captain, how I wish we could get people to move away from Google. Looking at some of our logs I notice that whilst we are a .co.uk site and only have content of interest to people in the UK our traffic from outside the UK has not dropped as much in percentage terms as our UK and Ireland traffic has. I guess because people in the UK are so fixated on Google that our drop in the Google SERPS has a disproportionate effect on UK traffic. Anyone else noticed that?


 1:04 pm on Sep 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

Google search works very well, on a smart phone. I think they are geared more towards mobile users than desktop. I speak my query into my phone and it produces accurate results (almost) every time. If you're site is not on page one however, or even below the tiny fold of the smartphone sized screen, you're losing the game of "King of the Hill". I'd say G is better for smart phone users, Bing is better for desktop.

Focusing on just desktop is a sure fire way to die in the current search world. I'm hoping to hit PUBCON in Vegas next month to compare notes on this and many other topics. Anyone else going?

Martin Ice Web

 1:26 pm on Sep 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

backdraft, we are more B2b related. I donīt think that any Business uses an Smartphone while on work? I think they still use 24 Inch TFT Displays.
In my niche mobile and desktop searches are the same! And complete worse.
IN the Moment i think it goes all through prices.Poeple are searching like hell to get the best price/shipping free/ extras ++++.
I donīt think that the brands on top, that are very expansive in my niche do sell so much. I see most is coming from adwords and only if you have the lowest price.
this is what Google wants and make Money of.

ecom, germany


 2:13 pm on Sep 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

Backdraft, our experience is that during the UK working day 70% of traffic is from desktops, but mobile has taken over at weekends and in the evening. Naturally our site delivers the page that fits the device being used and since this recent update we have not noticed traffic has dropped more for desktops than for mobiles. As one of the sites that was affected by this change early, on September 4, we have had two weeks to try to work out what it was that Google suddenly decided it didn't like about us, and have made some changes and will wait to see what happens next. Having been on-line since 1993 we are maybe more philosophical about these things than others.


 2:39 pm on Sep 23, 2013 (gmt 0)


Our good friend Barry has posted today:
I have sources that tell me that Google has hit two large link networks over this time period (i.e around 19th September 2013).

Has anyone here noticed the same?


 3:07 pm on Sep 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

Still seeing fluctuation, up and down spot or two, every page refresh gives 3-4 sets of results, nothing major though, normal flux really.

Side note, just curious, recently there was talk about someone contemplating suicide from google changes, do any of you in the USA ever have the urge to get into your cars, drive to google HQ and camp outside until you get to see Matt Cuts to present your personal case? It would certainly be extremely desperate but defiantly worth considering before you end your own life!

I’m surprised we haven’t seen this reported ever, desperate webmaster pleads at matt cuts feet at some convention or whatever?

From Matt’s point of view it must be a bit of a scary job to know any changes he makes/contributes to have the potential to make and break companies and lives? When you see them photos of Matt hugging a soft cuddly animal on his desk I keep thinking that 10 minutes prior to the photo op he was probably hiding under his desk and hugging the cuddle toy in a very different manor! My hats off to him in some ways as I certainly wouldn't like to have my finger on the button (or be the public face of said button pusher), he must have some serious %A%%s


 4:16 pm on Sep 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

R.I.P. organic keyword data.


 4:50 pm on Sep 23, 2013 (gmt 0)


Feeling the same, keyword data totally helped. I started the business only a little time before they started the privacy push. Sad that they're goal is to totally remove it in the long term.

I think it's Google's way of pushing us to use webmaster tools by Google. The only way for us to get any meaningful information is by signing and looking there. Even then, what we see is what they want us to see when that happens.

The blackbox is becoming more blackbox.


 5:13 pm on Sep 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

The long term is now the short term. It's actually the now. As of today, it looks like they're going for 100% not provided. I created a post for that but it hasn't been approved yet.


 8:28 pm on Sep 23, 2013 (gmt 0)


it looks like they're going for 100% not provided

Would you be kind to elaborate more?


 7:13 am on Sep 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

My discussion board got hit on 19.10.2013

Webmaster tools reports 47% decrease for "board name" - WTF ?

On the other hand, it seems that my subdomains have a slow and painful traffic increase since 4th of September "secret update", but nothing to be happy!


 12:19 pm on Sep 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

Just fired up google, never seen this before on google home page

[img845.imageshack.us ]

is that new?


 12:32 pm on Sep 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

I have never seen it before either, but I am not getting it on google.co.uk (I am in UK).

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