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Google Updates and SERP Changes - February 2014
samwest




msg:4642091
 1:45 pm on Feb 3, 2014 (gmt 0)


System: The following 8 messages were cut out of thread at: http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4634995.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 1:01 am on Feb 4, 2014 (PST -8)


On February 2nd, our site experienced a huge drop in traffic. Anyone else see this? My first suspicion is that G figured out a way to collect as much Superbowl related traffic as possible. Our 10 years of traffic and sales records show no drops on previous Superbowl Sunday's. Looks like a big update was unleashed.

 

mrengine




msg:4643923
 5:03 pm on Feb 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

But serps are so bad, that it looks like every second site was in this network and be punished directly or indirectly. Meanwhile is see ebay/amazon affiliates rise to the top.

I don't think there are any logical quality related explanations to why Amazon and Ebay rise to the top. It's a major frustration for smaller retailers. For example, a search I just performed had three Amazon placements above the fold - 1 paid and the two top organic positions. A Youtube video came in at #3 and the actual manufacturer in 4th. Positions #3+ were beneath the fold. Ebay was #5 and the rest of the listings were for national merchants like Sears. Page #2 of the search results had a mix of profile spammers (Facebook, Tumblr, Slideshare) and some other Wordpress powered websites. At least one of the sites I checked was a splog using what appears to be auto-generated gibberish. OK, I checked another site and the page is also using some sort of auto-generated gibberish. Looking at these two sites closer, they appear to only have a handful of links pointing to various pages on their domain and reside on recently registered domain names. Page #3 of the search results has an Amazon UK listing (I'm in the United States), an archive listing (archived copy of some page), a listing pointing to an IP address and more gibberish sites.

Nobody looking at what I am seeing would judge the results as having much to do with quality. Splogs popping up in the search results is nothing new. But there was a time when they were pushed back by smaller sites that were operated by people who had some sort of motivation/passion to produce topically relevant content. The small topical sites are gone in this search, for the most part, and that apparently makes it easier for the garbage to rise up as well. The garbage I'm talking about are pages that reside on new domains with few external links pointing to their sites. Therefore, I'd say the rankings are representative of who is the least punished behind Amazon who seems to benefit from being whitelisted, artificially boosted, brand weighted or whatever one wants to call the top search positions and domain crowding that they enjoy in Google across this and many other product queries.

I will say that the gibberish pages do not have the exact match three word keyphrase I searched for in their titles, meta or text. All the words from this keyphrase are reordered and used in a density that ranges from 3-13% per word. It appears how they are auto-generating and mixing their text is what is helping them avoid the punishment many others are coping with. For example, I searched for a "large red widget" and they ordered it "widget red large." To a human this would make no sense, but Google is giving them a lot of love.

The problem with penalizing websites that use exact match terms is that it deviates from how human beings ordinarily communicate. If that is why many of the small but quality topical sites are gone from my search query, I'd hate to see what it would take for them to recover. Judging by what I viewed, they might be able to recover by throwing all their text into a blender and posting it to their pages. Sad it is, but what other lesson is Google teaching us in this case?

ohno




msg:4643925
 5:44 pm on Feb 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

For example, I searched for a "large red widget" and they ordered it "widget red large." To a human this would make no sense, but Google is giving them a lot of love.


That's very intersting as a guy posted on here (his post was deleted as he mentioned his own blog!) and he showed images & what he did to recover & it was as simple as what you have stated above!

The problem with penalizing websites that use exact match terms is that it deviates from how human beings ordinarily communicate. If that is why many of the small but quality topical sites are gone from my search query, I'd hate to see what it would take for them to recover. Judging by what I viewed, they might be able to recover by throwing all their text into a blender and posting it to their pages. Sad it is, but what other lesson is Google teaching us in this case?


Couldn't agree more. EMD update punished those who made niche domains. eg, www.redwigets.co.uk just may be about red widgets. But no, in Googles eyes that's spamming the system. More like it meant that site ranked way too high for the likes of Amazon & eBay. Think about it, if YOU were eBay or Amazon would you be happy about spending so much on advertising with Google only to see small mom & pop sites ranking page 1 with zero spend? They sold out with Google Shopping & they are doing the same now with the organic SERP's. I think the mess we see is because they constantly mess with the algo to give the results their share holders want NOT the best results from an impartial web searchers POV. That would also explain why we see so much flux. To be fair to Google there are loads of junk spam EMD's too so they (or the algo) have an impossible job but that shouldn't mean default to Amazon & eBay for just about every search term. They never used to & Bing doesn't.

IMO new Google is just a money grab & the reason why the Intetnet should not be controlled by a share holder driven private company. It's too important, we wouldn't entrust the offline economy to them,online should be no different. Maybe it's time for regulation to get hold of this before it's too late.

ohno




msg:4643944
 7:24 pm on Feb 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

I see cutts has tweeted about an update that went live on the 6th of feb! Many saw a traffic drop then. Claims to be an above the fold update.

deadsea




msg:4643957
 8:35 pm on Feb 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

Search Engine Land is calling it the "Top Heavy" update. [searchengineland.com...]

It is almost certainly what hit my site and why I'm down 20%.

These Ad updates are very frustrating for me. I've been hit by them before. Nobody has to "scroll past ads" to see the content on my site. My content is mostly powered by JavaScript. Google is evidently having a hard time recognizing that my content is all above the fold. It seems to be looking for text, image, or flash content, but not "functionality" content.

Wilburforce




msg:4643963
 8:53 pm on Feb 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

Meanwhile WMT is still frozen on 6 February. Tbey have done this with a couple of updates lately, so I assume it is now policy.

ColourOfSpring




msg:4643964
 8:58 pm on Feb 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

Sad it is, but what other lesson is Google teaching us in this case?


Excellent post mrengine. I think your question can be answered by : why bother? Google is fomenting apathy and despondency, where once there was enthusiasm and motivation. Why bother creating a wonderful website full of great content when 95% of your market will never hope to see it?

Robert Charlton




msg:4643981
 9:15 pm on Feb 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

Discussion of the "Top Heavy Update" here...

Matt Cutts announces Feb 6 update of its "Page Layout Algorithm"
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4643972.htm [webmasterworld.com]

mike2010




msg:4644052
 1:15 am on Feb 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

It's starting to get to a point, where we all might need to team up and promote Bing on our home pages.

I've always appreciated Google as a company over the last decade. But the last couple years, they've made unacceptable changes in their search algorithms...and it's becoming borderline disturbing. Especially how they listen to nobody, and do whatever they want. Like an autustic kid playing with his legos.

ohno




msg:4644111
 6:53 am on Feb 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

It is almost certainly what hit my site and why I'm down 20%.

These Ad updates are very frustrating for me. I've been hit by them before. Nobody has to "scroll past ads" to see the content on my site. My content is mostly powered by JavaScript. Google is evidently having a hard time recognizing that my content is all above the fold. It seems to be looking for text, image, or flash content, but not "functionality" content.

Snap! Our cart system uses snippets of JS for things like the add to cart buttons & stock status. I wonder if GB is seeing this as some kind of link to ads?! Our site has ZERO ads. Ironically we changed all site pages (back in September) to have a much reduced header so next to no scrolling is required to see all of the content on a page.

ohno




msg:4644112
 6:56 am on Feb 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

It's starting to get to a point, where we all might need to team up and promote Bing on our home pages.

I've always appreciated Google as a company over the last decade. But the last couple years, they've made unacceptable changes in their search algorithms...and it's becoming borderline disturbing. Especially how they listen to nobody, and do whatever they want. Like an autustic kid playing with his legos.


Again couldn't agree more. Remember the early days where people would promote the Firefox browser? (& before that you'd see "this site is designed for IE!) Perhaps Bing should come up with a site logo. It's not the long term answer, as I've said before something as important as the online economy needs regulation from government.

Martin Ice Web




msg:4644116
 8:00 am on Feb 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

Again a 49% drop in traffic over night. Many pages dissapeared from page one to nowhere. Many new silly Kids pages with no trust signals, layout or information are coming to the top. This smells like a panda update.
We donīt have any ads or big Banners over the fold, so the heavy layout update shoulndīt have effected our site.

Wilburforce




msg:4644120
 8:03 am on Feb 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

Our site has ZERO ads.


@ohno has your site been affected by this?

It is difficult to see how the algorithm determines what an ad is. Outward links? It couldn't possibly tell whether a background graphic advertised anything.

The significant aspect of this update, in my view, is that is is another penalty factor. If there is anything that is rewarded now, I have no idea what it is. They have thrown out all the carrots and are using lots of big sticks.

chalkywhite




msg:4644124
 8:06 am on Feb 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

Almost back to original pre Panda levels on my tech site. This was a positive update.

ohno




msg:4644125
 8:11 am on Feb 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

@ Wilburforce. We saw a hit on Thursday the 6th. Traffic nose dived & has not recovered. The info from Google is that algo went live that day. We have no outward links on our pages, only links to other products. Prior to this we had ups & downs but our traffic was mostly on the UP for a change (after a dire December so it could really only go one way!).

ohno




msg:4644126
 8:12 am on Feb 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

Almost back to original pre Panda levels on my tech site. This was a positive update.

Tech info or tech ecom? When did you see the improvement? Actually on the 6th?

Martin Ice Web




msg:4644128
 8:19 am on Feb 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

Chalkywhite
Almost back to original pre Panda Levels


isnīt this interesting? Panda? Didnīt they say ist a german Network and a over the fold update?

chalkywhite




msg:4644129
 8:23 am on Feb 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

They most likely roll out multiple updates at the same time. To stop people back engineering.

Wilburforce




msg:4644130
 8:32 am on Feb 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

@ohno

What you say could be describing my site's position through the same period.

Like yours, it has no ads, although it does have Facebook and Twitter links at the top of the page. Could Google be trying to kick social media links off the field?

It is difficult to get a clear picture of the situation after 6 February. WMT is still frozen and it isn't possible to see what is happening to Impressions (which is a very good barometer of how visible your site is across the range of possible searches).

In overall traffic, it doesn't look too bad since last Thursday's nose-dive (and I am also happy to say that Bing/Yahoo referrals are still slowly increasing).

CaptainSalad2




msg:4644180
 12:36 pm on Feb 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

(and I am also happy to say that Bing/Yahoo referrals are still slowly increasing).


Same, month on month since G put out Penguin 2.0, every "quality update" pushes bing/yahoo up a little on my logs, strange but true! In a way I kinda hope they keep it up so G destroys its own monopoly from the inside.

I can see the movie now, who could play Mr cutts? Probably not vin diesel, jonah hill maybe? :)

[edited by: CaptainSalad2 at 12:43 pm (utc) on Feb 11, 2014]

ohno




msg:4644183
 12:43 pm on Feb 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

lol, anyone else who was hit on the 6th seeing an uptick in traffic today?

Oh, & I never really used to see Bing in the referals but I sure do now :)

simonmc




msg:4644189
 12:54 pm on Feb 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

Iīm seeing Bing up 16% on last year. Everything is down.

EditorialGuy




msg:4644267
 4:46 pm on Feb 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

My Bing referrals have been way up for quite a while. Google referrals have also been up since December, too, but not by as much.

As for growth in Yahoo referrals, it's been lagging behind Bing's, which isn't surprising when you consider that Bing's gains in market share have been at the expense of Yahoo.

Wilburforce




msg:4644279
 5:05 pm on Feb 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

anyone else who was hit on the 6th seeing an uptick in traffic today?


Yes, so far.

ohno




msg:4644280
 5:13 pm on Feb 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

Interesting, keep us posted. I'm only seeing it on one site but I'll take that thank you very much! My data seems to have an issue annoyingly so I can't compare 100% to last week just now but we are up on yesterday. As for the SERP's I've seen various layouts at various times of the day today. The only difference for the same searches has been ad position & whether image results are appearing to push organic down. Organic position were static.

deadsea




msg:4644292
 6:13 pm on Feb 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

I'm still down 20% at this point. Here is my anonymized Google Analytics compared to the previous week. It shows a clear break on Friday Feb 7th at 8:00 AM Eastern and down 20 since. [i.imgur.com...]

Mentat




msg:4644302
 7:22 pm on Feb 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

@deadsea, this is a typical Panda result :(

goodoldweb




msg:4644377
 2:24 am on Feb 12, 2014 (gmt 0)

Funny how so many of us still call these crap loads.. "Updates".

Call them by their real name... "Algo systems for suppression of free traffic to businesses".

I'm experiencing total business annihilation over 4 of my websites and 3 sites that i run for clients. My ebay stores are also dead quiet for the past 5-6 days, this after a really good/unusual January.

IMO These "updates" will just get more and more severe in-order to match or better G's last earning call(s).

Absolutely pathetic what they've been doing to the web the last few years...absolutely #*$! pathetic.

P.S.
mostly ecom (Australia)

ohno




msg:4644398
 7:27 am on Feb 12, 2014 (gmt 0)

That's interesting as over here eBay features big in Google Shopping. Infact since Shopping went paid it is around 99% eBay!

SERP's this morning are back to ad saturation & image results. Just about anything & everything is being thrown at the page to push organic into insignificance.

Our traffic switched off again on the 11th @ 4pm (after traffic blips at 9am, 12pm & 2pm).

Seems like what hit on Thursday had some tweaking yesterday then reverted back.

In any case I give up with this bull#*$!. It would be easier running an offline business in the most expensive high street spot possible through the worse recession ever.

Zero stability, too many "updates" and too much preaching from the self appointed Internet police.

Martin Ice Web




msg:4644406
 8:27 am on Feb 12, 2014 (gmt 0)

guys, please add your Country and your site subject ( ecom, informational ), because it is hard to make some clue out of it when we donīt know what update did hurt our site and if this update is world wide.

So after ohno is located in uk and we are in Germany is suspect that we got hit by the OTFMMMKASB update (over the fold make more Money kill all small Business update).

Traffic picked up, but conversions are close to Zero. Again we have a high bounce rate.

What i see is, every time they change something big:
- we are flooded by bots.
- it seems like we donīt get visitors from a whole range of ISPs ( e.g. german Telecom )


ecom, germany

goodoldweb




msg:4644415
 9:47 am on Feb 12, 2014 (gmt 0)

That's interesting as over here eBay features big in Google Shopping. Infact since Shopping went paid it is around 99% eBay! 


Apparently google shopping is not enough. Good SERPS exposure is a must inorder to get good consistent shoppers traffic. I'm getting some sparodic sales now from the wrong countries and loads of window shoppers, obviously getting the wrong SERP results. Check the ebay store owners msg boards and you'll see what i mean. These BS "updates" are killing a lot of businesses around the world.

goodoldweb




msg:4644417
 9:48 am on Feb 12, 2014 (gmt 0)

That's interesting as over here eBay features big in Google Shopping. Infact since Shopping went paid it is around 99% eBay! 


Apparently google shopping is not enough. Good SERPS exposure is a must inorder to get good consistent shoppers traffic.

I'm getting some sparodic sales now from the wrong countries and loads of window shoppers, obviously getting the wrong SERP results.

Check the ebay store owners msg boards and you'll see what i mean. These BS "updates" are killing a lot of businesses around the world.

This 213 message thread spans 8 pages: < < 213 ( 1 2 3 [4] 5 6 7 8 > >
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