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This 170 message thread spans 6 pages: 170 ( [1] 2 3 4 5 6 > >     
Google Updates and SERP Changes - March 2014
Wilburforce




msg:4650283
 8:54 am on Mar 1, 2014 (gmt 0)


System: The following 2 messages were cut out of thread at: http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4642316.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 3:04 am on Mar 1, 2014 (PST -8)


@advaith

Embedded video was discussed a couple of pages ago in this thread [webmasterworld.com...] (pages 5 & 6), and focus on news has also come and gone in the SERPs - and in discussions in earlier threads - a couple of times.

My guess is they are still testing these in the results, probably with a view to rolling them out at some point.
.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 6:12 am (utc) on Mar 3, 2014]
[edit reason] added link [/edit]

 

advaith




msg:4650301
 10:29 am on Mar 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

Thanks @Wilburforce

I read this thread too - [webmasterworld.com ]

I think Google keeps testing several variants of SERP designs to improve the user experience. I am thinking how many million dollars they invest on tests and user acceptance testing. That's too big I believe. From my POV, it looks like "G" is all set to turn the search aesthetics into a complete human intuitive which makes the search experience a lot more easier for users. Hoping to see the newer interface soon...

Mentat




msg:4650377
 7:17 pm on Mar 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

Hmmm I do not taste this roller coster.

penalty - 3 weeks up - Penalty (14.02) - 27.02 recovery 50%...

Robert Charlton




msg:4650395
 8:31 pm on Mar 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

I'm also seeing multiple interface variants, including various combinations of...

- larger serp font with no underline on linked titles
- yellow "Ad" labels
- "card-based design" Knowledge Graph type results for various queries, ranging from large corporation names to weather results... clearly moving toward a mobile-friendlier interface
- and the "traditional" serp layout (of the past several months), but with some or none of the above

Worth noting that these are most likely to be seen late night/ early morning in your local area... or so it seems after limited anecdotal observation.

Mentat




msg:4650405
 9:00 pm on Mar 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

What?
I've just read something and verified on my site. I have the same problem.
Seems new!
[goo.gl...]

I've searched in WMT for my main keywords and nasty surprise
It's latin, default text lorem ipsum

I searched for my site name + latin and I get Lorem Ipsum text!

I cannot find anything on my source pages.
I tried old and new pages!

I've tried with other sites name + latin word!

Same problem...

https://www.google.com/search?q=incididunt+softonic
https://www.google.com/search?q=incididunt+usatoday



6.lorem
7.incididunt
9.consectetur
10.dolor
11.eiusmod
12.set
13.amet
14.ipsum



What is common? All the sites have adsense ads!
I presume that the iframe created for adsense contains this text!

ColourOfSpring




msg:4650437
 10:05 pm on Mar 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

Mentat, who on earth would make a search for "incididunt softonic"?

ibeau




msg:4650446
 11:14 pm on Mar 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

Back on the issue of the Feb14 drop in serps (refer here [webmasterworld.com...] I'm actually starting to look at this as a duplicate content issue.

All the sites I'm comparing use the same manufacturer product description and the fact the shopping comparison site just grabs the same description from each relevant site means that it is susceptible also.

Matt Cutts recently acknowledged that 25-30% of all content on the web is duplicate however when ecom sites have thousands of pages with similar content to other ecom sites, could it perhaps be seen as spam? - [youtube.com...]

Perhaps Google is starting to see that as rss spamming/auto blogging. Thoughts?

ColourOfSpring




msg:4650450
 11:51 pm on Mar 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

Matt Cutts recently acknowledged that 25-30% of all content on the web is duplicate however when ecom sites have thousands of pages with similar content to other ecom sites, could it perhaps be seen as spam?


Many e-comm sites (AND sellers on ebay and Amazon) use boilerplate titles/descriptions for such commodity products. Yet their service (the USP) is different in quality. This is the problem Google have with valuing content on the page, rather than what the seller actually has to offer. It's judging the seller by their brochure, not by their service.

Mentat




msg:4650461
 1:06 am on Mar 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

I believe that Amazon affiliates stores were hit by duplicate content pre 2010 :)

Duplicate content at a large scale = big no-no.

EditorialGuy




msg:4650481
 3:09 am on Mar 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

Many e-comm sites (AND sellers on ebay and Amazon) use boilerplate titles/descriptions for such commodity products. Yet their service (the USP) is different in quality. This is the problem Google have with valuing content on the page, rather than what the seller actually has to offer. It's judging the seller by their brochure, not by their service.


No, it's judging the seller's brochure by the brochure.

Google Search indexes and serves up search results for the brochures, not for the businesses.

ibeau




msg:4650512
 11:00 am on Mar 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

After dropping from page #1 for many of my key terms, I decided to run a small test on a term that I have never targeted before. The current #1 position is held by one site inparticular (new site with zero backlinks) who has managed to take the #1 spot for about 20 key terms used by myself and competitors in my industry.

48 hours ago I changed the h1 tag on my homepage to include the new term "cheap blue widgets". This morning I start noticing click thru's for that term so I do a search in incognito and there's my site is in #2 position.

So what conclusion can I come to from this? Well I'm not entirely sure. First of all ive lost 75% of my traffic since Feb 14 and these "new" sites with zero backlinks and hardly any content have taken up prime positions in serps. I then add 3 words to my homepage and I jump to the top of page 1 in a highly competitive industry, and I should mention the adwords average cpc for that keyword is $1.80 so it is highly competitive!

Does anyone else think somethink is askew here?

goodoldweb




msg:4650601
 1:41 am on Mar 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

I just can't understand and predict the Google's behaviour.


Very predictable behavior for such a large commercial company actually.

Obscure exposure to as many websites as possible so they must turn to Adwords...that's exactly what they do!

You can safely predict it to intensify year on year...even bet on it!

ignatius




msg:4650626
 4:22 am on Mar 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

< moved from another location >


Just noticed some changes in the way search results are displayed in google.se

Have a look at <removed search terms>

Except for the new "Ad" yellow label already reported, I'm finding the titles much bigger especially when bold is used to highlight the search terms.

I've noticed this on google.se only, has anyone seen this elsewhere?
.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 6:21 am (utc) on Mar 3, 2014]
[edit reason] moved post from another location and removed search terms [/edit]

Robert Charlton




msg:4650659
 7:00 am on Mar 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

Hi ignatius. I've just moved your post from another location, so you probably haven't seen the discussion that's come in the first four posts in this thread.

Yes, many of us are seeing tests similar to what you've seen. As mentioned above, I have seen the yellow "Ad" label, as well as the larger font.

While I removed your search terms (since the temporary relaxation of our posting guidelines [webmasterworld.com...] does not apply to new members), the different types of displays are sometimes Knowledge Graph type results for entity-based queries, sometimes not.

I didn't see the tests happening on the commercial search term you suggested, but I can confirm that I've seen other commercial terms being tested. The tests are occurring in many different combinations on different queries at different times, and locations of testing are likely to be IP-related, probably hyper-local.

ColourOfSpring




msg:4650675
 10:13 am on Mar 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

No, it's judging the seller's brochure by the brochure.

Google Search indexes and serves up search results for the brochures, not for the businesses.


For commercial searches, people ultimately search for products / services, not the brochure that describes the products / services. Just because Google has a hard time discerning between a good company and a bad one (which is hard problem to solve), it doesn't change the fact that the ultimate purpose of a commercial search is to seek out products and services, not the brochures that describe the products and services.

Put it this way, is it better to give more visibility to a company with a good brochure, but offering a lacklustre service....than a company that has a less-good brochure, but provides a great service?

I can pre-empt the answer to my question: the quality of the brochure indicates quality of product/service. If that were true, then you're opening up the possibility of companies investing all their time and effort into mimicking great products and services by creating great brochures. Hey, the product/service must be great....because the brochure is. Reality is not that simple.

aakk9999




msg:4650676
 10:20 am on Mar 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

Except for the new "Ad" yellow label already reported, I'm finding the titles much bigger especially when bold is used to highlight the search terms.

I think that the SERPs part (after ads) might be the same as the test done three years back, which was discussed here [webmasterworld.com...]

EditorialGuy




msg:4650725
 2:56 pm on Mar 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

I can pre-empt the answer to my question: the quality of the brochure indicates quality of product/service.


No, it indicates the quality, popularity, authority, etc. of the brochure (Web site). And Google Search--more specifically, Google Web Search--is a tool that's designed to index and rank Web sites.

To borrow a phrase that Netmeg likes to use from time to time, Google Search "is what it is." If you expect Google Search to be Consumer Reports or the Better Business Bureau, you're just setting yourself up for disappointment.

goodoldweb




msg:4650842
 1:18 am on Mar 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

@ eCom webmasters,

Are you still wondering why sales died?.... Well here it is directly from the horse's mouth. The Adwords connection... (Received this email from Adwords this morning).

"We recently introduced Shopping campaigns, a new way to manage your Product Listing Ads (PLAs). Shopping campaigns allow you to browse your product inventory directly in AdWords, streamlining how you organize and bid on your products. Also included are new, powerful reporting and optimization features like impression share to help you measure and improve performance."

Say goodbye to free SERPS (for products)...

EditorialGuy




msg:4650850
 1:47 am on Mar 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

Are you still wondering why sales died?.... Well here it is directly from the horse's mouth. The Adwords connection...


I don't see an "AdWords connection," I see an improvement to AdWords.

I also see plenty of commercial results in the SERPs (sometimes in results where they don't belong, such as e-commerce or corporate sell pages in a query on "[keyword] reviews").

turbocharged




msg:4650852
 1:51 am on Mar 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

Say goodbye to free SERPS (for products)...

They've been gone for products for a long time in many different industries. With search results loaded with multiple Amazon listings, eBay auctions, YouTube listings and of course the non-competitive Wikipedia definition listings, it's hard to find any other logical reason for Google to do this other than to drive up Adwords revenue. Many legitimate smaller retailers don't have the margins to give Google their ransom, which is why small businesses are on the decline in my opinion. A digital presence is required and when margins don't support paying a toll to be seen, these small retailers simply fold.

It's getting harder for Google to make these small and incremental changes to the search results without it being noticed. Even information recyclers are starting to feel the squeeze. Regardless, I believe you will find the majority of eCommerce business owners/managers mostly in agreement that unless you pay up, you will not be seen in Google. This of course excludes those companies that have exclusive relationships with Google as members of the Internet Association and Google Ventures.

If there are people out there still trying to discount Google's pay to play business model, it only makes them look like fools to those that have a much larger data sample to draw similarities from.

What's terrible is that Google is giving greater importance to free blog sites than those that have purchased their own domains, filled their online stores with products with unique descriptions, are paying for fast dedicated servers for hosting and staff a telephone number to support pre and post sale inquiries. Forget about the Internet Association boost Amazon, eBay, etc. get. Why would Google rank a free blog above a legitimate business that has their own SSL certificate? I'll tell you why... Those free blog sites probably won't spend a dime on Adwords, but the legitimate businesses are more likely to do so and that's why they have been booted underneath free blogs.

EditorialGuy




msg:4650871
 3:07 am on Mar 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

Why would Google rank a free blog above a legitimate business that has their own SSL certificate?


Maybe because Google's mission statement is about organizing the world's information and making it accessible?

(And in quite a few cases, it might simply be due to the fact that Google sometimes screws up. As I mentioned earlier, it isn't uncommon to see e-commerce pages and corporate sell pages in Google search results for informational queries like "[keyword] reviews." That strikes me as a bug, not a feature, and it certainly isn't going to sell more AdWords.)

turbocharged




msg:4650874
 3:31 am on Mar 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

Maybe because Google's mission statement is about organizing the world's information and making it accessible?

On an information query I could see the possibility of this happening. But I'm looking at keyword sets that easily distinguish buyer intent. There's too large of a pool of websites suffering from this to be an anomaly. I'm 100% convinced the reason why Google does this is by design and not a random occurrence.

Google strays from its mission statement in making the web accessible by displaying multiple Amazon, eBay and other big brand listings on the first page of the search results. I suspect the mission statement Google publishes for us to see varies greatly from the mission statement they talk about in the boardroom.

ColourOfSpring




msg:4650943
 8:34 am on Mar 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

What's terrible is that Google is giving greater importance to free blog sites than those that have purchased their own domains, filled their online stores with products with unique descriptions, are paying for fast dedicated servers for hosting and staff a telephone number to support pre and post sale inquiries. Forget about the Internet Association boost Amazon, eBay, etc. get. Why would Google rank a free blog above a legitimate business that has their own SSL certificate? I'll tell you why... Those free blog sites probably won't spend a dime on Adwords, but the legitimate businesses are more likely to do so and that's why they have been booted underneath free blogs.


I've been looking at a LOT of commercial keyword result sets over the last 15 years or so. Many such keywords used to return the equivilant of a market town street full of boutique independent stores: small businesses who are serious enthusiasts offering niche products/services. Now? Google's top SERPs look like a carbon-copy of the modern-day high street - a handful of chainstores. Now, it might be argued that the latter is better - it offers better value and customer service (highly arguable, but I get the point - you know what to expect). But then....I look at the physical high street today and 30% of it is empty units. The odd small business dares to make its presence there, but all-in-all, it's a flat experience. Even the chainstores are suffering with huge sales on, yet footfall has declined year-on-year for over a decade now.

I thought search engines would give you the best results - results you wouldn't have ever discovered without that search engine. Now I'm not seeing that. I'm seeing a kind of version of Google - a custom search engine version - that returns the results of the top 1000 branded shops that sell commodity products (for the large bulk of commercial searches).

Dymero




msg:4651052
 5:02 pm on Mar 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

It's judging the seller by their brochure, not by their service.


Hypothetically, links should be able to take care of this problem. If a service is that great, it should see an increase in editorial links. That way, even if a small business owner has no time for content writing, people still see the site because lots of people have made a reference to it.

In practice, this hypothesis isn't that great. If you're a small business owner, you likely only cover a certain geographic region that is easily accessible by people from that region, and depending on where you are, maybe tourists. So for linking to be a good indicator of quality service, you need people who know you to link to you.

The trouble is that this has always been a problem as it requires a place for people to link from. So what do we have? Comment sections, which are almost always no-followed these days. Social media, which is often no-followed or, in the case of Facebook, completely inaccessible by Googlebot. Maybe the social platform or comment section doesn't even allow links.

So this leaves the burden on people who know you having websites which, even before the advent of social media, was a minority of the population. Or maybe you can get a mention on a local news source if you have that much popularity, of which maybe you get a few links at best, and probably more likely only when you're newer.

So the only option small business owners have is producing great content and trying to get it noticed and linked. Maybe brand mentions also play a role in the algo, but that is still speculative at best.

ColourOfSpring




msg:4651059
 5:33 pm on Mar 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

Dymero, I agree with your view, and with your final comment:-

So the only option small business owners have is producing great content and trying to get it noticed and linked.


True again - and great content is no indicator of a great product or service. In fact, it's often cheaper to invest time on a great brochure than a great product or service.

EditorialGuy




msg:4651077
 6:10 pm on Mar 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

So the only option small business owners have is producing great content and trying to get it noticed and linked.


Better yet, find an underserved niche and then produce great content that will attract links.

When my wife and I wanted winter dog booties for our [breed of dog], we searched on "[breed of dog] booties" and found a site that had products of all kinds for that dog breed--all hand-picked, and many unavailable anywhere else. The site's owner wasn't just selling the same stuff that Amazon, PetSmart, and every other big retailer was selling. Just as important, she wasn't competing with those vendors for breed-specific search rankings, and her site attracted organic links from dog clubs, dog blogs, etc.

Similarly, when I needed a part for a [kitchen appliance], I found it--and another useful accessory that I bought on impulse--at a niche mom-and-pop site that ranked high in a Google Search on [appliance name and model number + part].

In each of these examples, the key to the vendor's success was offering a hand-picked selection of items within a niche where the big guys couldn't compete. Sure, Amazon may have offered dog booties or appliance parts, but they couldn't compete with [breed-specific pet site] or [appliance-specific parts site] in the same way they're able to compete in categories like "Linksys routers" or "iPhone cases" or "George Foreman grills" where there are thousands of vendors selling the same products with the same boilerplate pictures and text.

Kelowna




msg:4651867
 11:26 pm on Mar 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

Anybody hear news of some sort of update rolling out? I am seeing some screwy results that are showing wrong locations... what I mean is my Canadian sites are getting traffic from all over the world. My USA sites are showing up in Canadian searches. When I search google.ca and put in "searches from Canada" it is full of USA sites. Seems really screwy right now so all I can think it that they are testing something.

And I did test on search.aol.com and search.aol.ca as well with the same results so it is not personalizations... my stats are showing visitors from crazy locations, it not just me. Something must be up, anyone have some info on whats happening?

ibeau




msg:4651909
 6:31 am on Mar 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

@Kelowna Yep, I'm in Australia and as of 2 days ago I'm seeing a lot of international traffic. Mainly from the USA and for one of my landing pages inparticular. On the 5th March I received 86 uniques from the USA and then 40 on the 6th (previously this page was receiving 0 international hits per day).

Apart from these major serp fluxes, my home page is still missing from results for my #1 key term. It was in #3 in serps but now I can only find a category link about 3 pages in. What the?

ibeau




msg:4652571
 2:20 am on Mar 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

WMT has recently updated for me showing a massive jump in impressions. Clicks however have stayed the same - [i.imgur.com...]

Anyone else seeing similar flux's?

Shai




msg:4652611
 7:23 am on Mar 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

One site is showing a large spike in phantom crawl errors again. Anyone else?

This 170 message thread spans 6 pages: 170 ( [1] 2 3 4 5 6 > >
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