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Google Updates and SERP Changes - October 2013

 8:21 am on Oct 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

System: The following 5 messages were cut out of thread at: http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4606861.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 10:47 am on Oct 1, 2013 (PST -8)


I think there is an update on Hummingbird today :-)
Have you noticed today remarkable changes in the volume of organic traffic to your site(s)? Also maybe some changes in the pattern of countries/stats referring organic traffic to your site(s)?



 2:21 pm on Oct 10, 2013 (gmt 0)


I actually have 3 sites

1. Thisone was hit last year by Panda, recovered 2 months ago, but for how long ?
It costs me a lot of time and work

2. A blog with fresh content been doing very well for 2 years, was hit last month
It costs me a lot of time and work

3. An amazon webstore: I'ts just querying the Amazon API and this will generate the pages: so, no original content whatsoever and no effort since the implememntation of the API: well, this one is doing great and generates a decent amount of sales everyday without me working on it at all.


 2:25 pm on Oct 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

I suspect Google knew this would happen YEARS ago as they planed to turn up brand power and that's why "places" was inserted into the main SERPS because without it you would simply have no local sites listed[!

I'd be inclined to go with the simpler and more obvious explanation: They thought "Places" or "Local" would make Google Search more useful and appealing to end users.


 3:46 pm on Oct 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

Especially after they scraped Yelp's content and demoted Yelp in the rankings. (Not a conspiracy theory - well documented that this happened, and the "why" is the only question.)


 4:57 pm on Oct 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

Anyone else seeing this is webmaster tools today?

[img7.imageshack.us ] all my thumbnail photos have been replaced with thumbnails of a website iv never seen b4

Yep! Saw that at 7am UK time, thought it was a browser issue so tried another one. Got the same. Tried zooming in but could not make out what it said. It was gone within 5 minutes. Downloaded a copy but still can't make out what it says.


 11:54 pm on Oct 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

website that recovered from hunningbird just tanked in the last 5 hours. lost all rankings, not in top 64 results. am i the only one?


 7:50 am on Oct 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

Some surprising results observed last night. So I'm watching the World cup qualifier football.

Amazingly England won :-)

England play Poland on Tuesday, I was out of the room but thought I heard Poland lost their game meaning they can't qualify.

No problem, a simple Google....

Results were useless, nothing at all, not even the result from the games being played.

Head to Bing and I get the answer I need! Poland out, can't qualify, in fact the results look exactly like what i expected Google to give me. What has gone so wrong with Google?! I'm sure before all the madness I'd get the answer Bing gave me. One thing is for sure, if Google didn't have the lemmings (me included, Google is just automatic after using it for over a decade!) and search share it currently does have it would be in serious trouble.


 9:06 am on Oct 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

not in top 64 results. am i the only one?

Today there are many thousands of sites providing valid answers to a single topic, even a niche topic. Simple arithmetic says they cannot all fit in the first 10 or 100 or 200 results.

See the point?


Robert Charlton

 9:17 am on Oct 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

ohno... I've seen similar disappointing sports and current event results recently on Google as well. It's also impossible, eg, to find TV times for certain playoff games in the US or events I expect to be televised.

I get the feeling that the official teams or league may be doing this on purpose. Google licenses box scores, so it's possible that the leagues which control the rights to use the scores want a delay. Maybe the sponsors of TV post-game wrap-ups want to hold onto that audience for a while. I'm not sure... just conjecture... but I agree that something has changed.

Compare with this report on World Cup scores from 2010....

Interesting google SERPs for 'world cup'
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4149626.htm [webmasterworld.com]

Hard to say why Bing now has them first. Google generally indexes websites much faster than Bing, but this is a data feed. I'm sure it's got to do with money... maybe also with priorities.

For discussion on licensing arrangements in prior years, see this discussion...

How do I stop Google from poaching data for snippets?
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4370321.htm [webmasterworld.com]


 11:46 am on Oct 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

some of my subdomains have been devastated on 4th of September update, but on some (not all), I saw the first increase in traffic on 10th of October.
It's not much, but I really hope it's a start... ;)


 8:41 pm on Oct 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

I have pretty much the same story as Mentat. My main site was hit hard but on the 4th October. Other sites I own in the same niches seem to be performing better.
Site is showing but for low quality pages rather than the important pages.

I lost over 60% traffic and although it increased a little over the last couple of days. It's taken another bid drop today.

Robert Charlton

 12:18 am on Oct 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

ohno - A PS on the sports results...

Keeping your comment in mind, just after a game ended, I searched on the one-word nickname of a local football team (American football, not soccer). I see that Google is displaying very large box score results for the game up at the top... results and display of the type I'm associating with Hummingbird. From my minimal query, it took quite a bit of disambiguation, IMO, for Google to discern my intent and to come up with that result.

Possibly, I'm thinking, in the move to Hummingbird, this was a feature whose implementation was delayed. I'm curious what you see with soccer in the course of following up on games.

I should note, btw, that nothing on the football score has yet appeared on Bing. No axe to grind here... but since you brought it up, I thought I'd check Bing as well.

PS: In the course of my posting this, Bing is now also displaying a box score result similar to Google's. Hard to say what the difference in time was, but they're clearly very close on this.


 2:42 am on Oct 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

Since the last update I have been seeing something unusual.

I know I am not allowed to mention keywords but <snip: it's a highly competitive term that used to be dominated by authoritative blogs>. While those sites are there, now I see 3 results that are extremely dodgy. 1 is to the site itself and 2 are to articles that link to the site.

I thought this was a keyword that really should not be crackable like this, It is a keyword that I assume Google would watch but it looks like I am wrong.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 7:41 am (utc) on Oct 14, 2013]
[edit reason] removed hints about specific term [/edit]

Robert Charlton

 8:30 am on Oct 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

viral - Sorry for the edit, but we can't post search specifics. I hope my paraphrase roughly describes what you're seeing. To add to what you noted, though, the results are highly localized.

For my location, I'm seeing roughly what you're seeing, as I live on a small island. The results change significantly by location, though. If I change my default location to larger nearby cities, the results shape up considerably... and in fact are roughly what one would expect. If I change to smaller communities, they get worse.

The algo appears to be straining to satisfy the query in slots allotted for localization, and in some cases the results are clearly an attempt to deal with multiple meanings of the term on one page. My guess is that Google is trying out not only new disambiguation routines, but also that it might be testing different localized serp formats, as it did when they first introduced Place pages to the front page... though "formats" might be an oversimplification, as I'm seeing quite a bit of variation in the serps pattern.

Where I live, I'm seeing #4 news - 5,6,7,8 localized - and then some in depth articles at the end of the page. Also, I note, that if I add the community name, results start getting spammy, with localized doorway pages... telling me just how sparse the term is for small locations.

This isn't confined, I should add, to just the keyword you're thinking about. In small towns, the results are extremely thin. What the search suggests, I think, is that Hummingbird might be favoring local, at least initially, more than prior algos. This might also be the reason that a lot of Yelp pages are showing up for some queries.

How would you characterize your location?


 8:51 am on Oct 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

@ Robert Charlton

I performed the same search early Saturday & the results on Google pretty much matched Bing. It will be interesting to see if there is any change for the game tomorrow night. Is it possible to attach images on this forum or do you need to link to external webspace?


 9:43 am on Oct 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

@Robert Carlton I am actually using a proxy that is located in Los Angeles. So why I am seeing results from kissimmee is anyone's guess.

Interestingly coming in through an Atlanta proxy I get the same results.

Robert Charlton

 10:08 am on Oct 14, 2013 (gmt 0)


Not sure how proxies interact with Google's geo-location... but I'm pretty sure it's hyper-local IP data that they use, and that can be overridden by using the default location setting under search tools.

I know that the Location setting has been tested fairly thoroughly by SEOs, and it's reliable for specifying placename. In my use of it, I've been able to walk my way down a freeway and pick up places along the way by proximity.

My guess is that it defaults to city centroid, though, rather than actually picking out a neighborhood within a city, which I've seen IP geo-location do.

Robert Charlton

 10:14 am on Oct 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

ohno - WebmasterWorld won't let you attach images. I think we suggest using imageshack.us to display screenshots. We've disabled some other image sites that serve ads.

Also, do a preview on your post before you submit, to make sure it's working.


 12:27 pm on Oct 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

In small towns, the results are extremely thin.

I don't know whether you mean this in the context of the search term under discussion, or generally.

However, I generally try various terms on localities (Key-Term Town), and for one town local to me Google seems to be prioritising place over term, so - as Townsville doesn't have any Blue Widget suppliers - Blue Widgets Townsville gets results for Green Wodgets Townsville rather than Blue Widgets somewhere nearby.

Robert Charlton

 5:27 pm on Oct 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

I meant in context of the search term under discussion, but also for other terms where Google wants to find local results to satisfy the query when no good ones really exist.

Google seems to be prioritising place over term

Yes... that's roughly what I'm seeing too. The results are localized in many small communities, eg, where most users on the ground actually don't pay attention to where the borders are and routinely shop elsewhere for many goods and services.


 8:18 am on Oct 15, 2013 (gmt 0)


I am the only supplier using the exact description Small Blue Rubberised Widgets. Today, the top two places for that search go to Wikipedia (general pages on Widgets), while the image on my page of the same title is displayed under Images for Small Blue Rubberised Widgets. My page (#1 on all other engines) has fallen to (below the fold) #5.

Unique exact matches are not what they used to be.


 12:32 pm on Oct 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

just noticed something new today and not sure if its been mentioned but if i use chrome and type in "places to visit" and the name of a county in the UK i get a massive black box along the top of the serps full of thumbnails of places to visit in that area


 1:10 pm on Oct 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

@toonarmy Yeah Dr Pete from Moz mentioned this on Twitter


 2:16 pm on Oct 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

Can't see any change in our SERP's but something deffo hit us again today :(

carlos the jackal

 2:24 pm on Oct 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

What makes you think something hit you again today? Is traffic down?

FWIW - two of our main keywords dropped four or five positions earlier but have climbed again.


 2:27 pm on Oct 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

All of last week (baring the weekend, they are a write off these days) was great, yesterday was fine. Today hardly any traffic & zero conversions. Yesterday also had lots of foreign traffic-we see that before every single update.

carlos the jackal

 2:36 pm on Oct 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

Could it be Panda picking over the remains of the SERPs?


 2:43 pm on Oct 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

Only Google knows, we did have a blip one day last week that was very like Panda but recovered in full. For us today the server may as well be off :(


 3:24 pm on Oct 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

Weirdness. One of my sites got a boost after the Penguin update on the 4th. Another had a big search surge yesterday but a huge decline this morning.

It's hard to be sure this is due to Google changes though. I'm seeing definite patterns whenever the news about debt ceiling negotiations in the US sound more iffy - my traffic from all sources takes a dip, and then it comes back when somebody says something more reassuring.


 3:26 pm on Oct 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

UK here, Germany is also seeing the same so my finger of blame is firmly pointing at Mountain View (again).

ETA, what traffic we have had has come from the same geo locations today, coincidence? The UK is pretty small so to get visits from only 3 locations throughout the day is not normal for us.

carlos the jackal

 3:34 pm on Oct 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

Yup, definately something going on (again). Could just be a Penguin afterparty.

Another sleepless night for me.


 11:13 am on Oct 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

Do you see any change? De ja vu here :( Traffic killed off, server could be off it's that quiet. Wonder what we have done this time? Can't be anything big as there's no chatter on here.

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