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Google Updates and SERP Changes - August 2014

 10:38 pm on Jul 31, 2014 (gmt 0)

Continued from July 2014 thread at: http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4684131.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 10:43 am on Aug 8, 2014 (PST -8)

i think to mention that traffic is down and some other WM agree to it will help webmasters see that it is Google changing the system again and not the a Problem with the site

My point was simply that changes do not impact all websites at the same time, generally, but instead appear to roll out in phases across topics, site-types and/or localities. As others have pointed out, if there are 500+ algorithm updates/tweaks/whatever every year, that's over one per day. Question is, is the current tweak rolling out in your neighborhood on the same day (or even the same month) it rolls out in mine.

All I'm saying is that if the changes were more carefully monitored here by location/niche/etc., it might be easier to see what is actually changing at any given time and the scope to which that change applies.

It's pretty apparent that not everyone experiences the same algorithm changes at the same time or in the same way. Maybe there's a regional aspect to some of this e.g. a change rolls out in America today so expect it in the UK a week from now or whatever. I think there needs to be an effort to differentiate what's happening in this niche or in this neck of the woods from other places and/or topics.

It takes time to rebuild indexes the size of Google's and it's expensive which should explain index shuffles that only impact small segments of the index. Test it here today, if it seems to be right, roll it out elsewhere tomorrow. What's happening in the US today may be completely irrelevant in the UK at the moment. What anyone sees at any given moment could be a pigeon in the coal mine (a warning of things to come) or a red herring (just an experiment that never gets fully implemented).

One can choose to track it in a scientific fashion or just site back and watch. Not sure one path is better than the other but if you want to make sense of it, then applying a little differentiation to the observation process seems like a sensible approach. Bird watchers can count birds 1,2,3... or they can identify them by type and then count them (birds of prey, songbirds, migratory birds, etc.) Simply counting them doesn't seem that useful to me but I'm no bird expert.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 6:56 pm (utc) on Aug 8, 2014]



 9:38 am on Aug 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

the changes we are seeing are random and not specific to Penguin affected sites.

Thanks. That's interesting information.

On another note, I see that ebay is back! They are a lot more visible in my SERP - knocking one of my sites off the top spot for a quite competitive phrase. Obviously their cheque to google has finally cleared :)


 9:43 am on Aug 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

Penguin might well be under testing right now on some datacentres as far as we know.

My previous post refers, but I think there is probably some DC variation/testing involved, as from here

1. Traffic isn't down, but it is patchy
2. SERPs seem to be in constant slight movement over the last 48 hours.


 6:35 pm on Aug 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

Traffic is definitely running in streaks. 30 second everflux?


 7:47 pm on Aug 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

I reported earlier that I got a boost a few weeks ago that came close to overcoming a hit I received on March 14. At 6:00 am eastern today I began seeing a huge surge in traffic. I am now seeing higher traffic than before I was hit with an algorithm penalty in March. I have not only recovered but am seeing 22% more additional traffic. I am crossing my fingers that this will last awhile.


 1:40 am on Aug 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

I see a lot of domain crowding now. For a search I just did, three businesses take six organic positions (3x2=6). Add in YouTube and Wikipedia, and most of the front page of the serps are taken. I did see Amazon and Wikipedia losing positions on this query though, which is a good sign IMO. The first listing of a small business appears on page four of the serps (40+), which I think is terrible.


 2:36 am on Aug 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

The first listing of a small business appears on page four of the serps (40+), which I think is terrible.

Is it? I can't remember the last time I ordered anything from a small business online. I simply don't trust them with my credit card info, because I've developed enough sites for small businesses to know that most never update their software or even have someone on staff to know what's going on with their site.

Martin Ice Web

 6:09 am on Aug 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

can someone please define a small business site?


 12:03 pm on Aug 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

@MIW - my site is small business.
@Sand - this is true. there was more trust in the early days when Amazon was still a pup. Nowadays it seems small business is always overlooked. I find myself doing the same.

It's also kinda hard to survive is a good old boy climate where all the traffic goes to the big guys. I now have 3000 unique pages indexed, pretty good ranking for about a thousand key phrases (used to be 10,000+) yet all I can muster on a daily basis is one or two visitors at a time (per GA Live). Oop, it's zero right now. Must all be over at Amazon or ad network sites.

Martin Ice Web

 1:45 pm on Aug 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

@samwest, yes i can see Google shifting towards companys seeling allmost everything ( ACME ! ) waether they have knowledge or not. And this is not what i think Panda is or should be about. Panda seems more a trusty thing than a content related thing.
My feeling is that big brands and plain unreputable sites rule the serps. All the realy deep Content sites and Shops with detailed descriptions are gone. It is also in the coding world.
There was a time where i solved my Problem reading the snippet of the site in g-serps. Gone, all this is lost. YOu have to dig 20 pages of nonsens till you find something useable.

Current serps Observation:

Today is pretty low, bounce is almost 100% beginning yesterday at 11am serps shifted again towards adwords seeling serps.
Lot of new sites only Scratching the Topic are om page #1. It feels like a rolling Panda tightend again.

ecom germany


 3:18 am on Aug 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

Is it? I can't remember the last time I ordered anything from a small business online. I simply don't trust them with my credit card info, because I've developed enough sites for small businesses to know that most never update their software or even have someone on staff to know what's going on with their site.

I'd like to think of myself as an informed consumer. Big brands don't appeal to me for a number of reasons. On the security side, they are prime targets of hackers. Target ranks really well these days in Google for some products, despite them having one of the largest security breaches in history. Places like Amazon play games with orders. In stock items ship days after an order is placed unless you pay extra for Prime or expedited shipping. Amazon also has a lot of issues with how they treat their employees and most recently publishers, and I'd rather my purchasing power not be used to condone such activity. Then we have the likes of Walgreens, Sears, Home Depot and many other big brands who are using their domain authority to sell third party products they don't have (much like Amazon), can't ship in a reasonable amount of time and do not support.

I've spent many thousands of dollars online with small businesses and never had any major issues. In fact, some of my worst online shopping experiences have been with Amazon.

Small businesses have little to no visibility in Google, though small businesses collectively employ more people and sell the most goods and services in the United States. I'd like to see that change, both professionally and as a consumer, but I'm not holding my breath.

@ Martin Ice Web

I define a small business as having fewer than 50 employees. How government classifies businesses as being small is a different story. Some businesses with up to 1,500 employees can be classified as a small business. See [sba.gov...] for more information.


 4:22 am on Aug 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

I am doing slightly better in serps, more important is that i have constant traffic and i have again the feeling of running a business. I work to add quality and improve existing pages, but also i delete pages (for old site).

To be considered a small business and helped (maybe) by Panda reiterations, i deleted many pages. I have doubts that a site with 1 million of pages can be considered a small business.

Martin Ice Web

 4:27 am on Aug 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

@turbo, agreed. The main reason not to buy from big brands is that they sellling all they can. I doubt that they have any know how of what they sell, in most cases u will not get an answer to product request anything else as the manufacturer information. Smaller business are mostly focused on a niche and speciliazed. I think this is (was) the web about prior to panda algo., small focused websites and shops. I wouldn't sell vegetables in my electronic onlineshop cause i don't have enough background info, big brands do it anyway disregarding this fact and google rewards them for this.

Small business in the real world might be beginning with 50 employees but i think that small online business run with much less employees. I think of some travel compare engines i know they have less than 50 poeple but be considered as big brands.


 10:47 am on Aug 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

In the UK small businesses are considered the "backbone" of the economy. Most often they are more resilient and recession proof. They keep the economy jogging along where the likes of big names flounder. Plus we pay tax, where others, big enough to have the muscle to do so, avoid. Google might do well to take note!


 11:28 am on Aug 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

Just over the past 3-4 days we have lost significant rankings on all of our primary keywords. We were top 3 for all of them and now we have been moved back on the 2nd page after 8 years. I'm very stressed and anxious about this because if this continues, my business and everything I have worked for will be over. Could this be a temporary measure or is this permanent?


 1:34 pm on Aug 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

Anon, there was some kind of update a few days ago that removed rankings for one of our sites that we don't touch much and yesterday the rankings suddenly reappeared the same as before - so recoveries can quickly follow demotions...
... But panda / penguin updates can take months or years to recover from ( or never).
So without more detail it is not possible to know whether or when a site might recover.

If it helps I think recent (last few days) google changes have targetted forums/sites with ugc ( our site that went missing and came back has hundreds of comments on most articles) and a German link exchange program.


 1:56 pm on Aug 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

Could this be a temporary measure or is this permanent?

The changes that took effect on 12-13 August seem to be holding, so you can expect your pages to remain where they are, at least in the short term (certainly for days, probably for weeks).

In the last few days (i.e. since whatever happened on 12-13 August) there has been some minor shuffling in my own (UK, niche service) sector, which has resulted in a couple of sites/pages regaining page 1 (alas, this doesn't include mine, which fell from #4 to #18/19 for main key term, and is currently #16). I imagine that this can be seen in other sectors too. It is possible, therefore, that your pages will return to page 1 before the next significant change, but I would advise against assuming or expecting that they will.

I would also advise doing anything major or sudden about it: don't make changes to the site or backlinks that look like a reaction to the drop, as this could well make matters worse.


 2:07 pm on Aug 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

@WF - We'll sit tight and wait for things to come back, but then they'll just do it all again. What every happened to those "softer" updates Cutt's was talking about last year? Nothing soft about this one!


 2:47 pm on Aug 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

What every happened to those "softer" updates Cutt's was talking about last year?

"Softness" is in the eye of the beholder (and of the person whose pages are being ranked), but for some site owners, the answer to that question would be "Panda 4.0."


 2:54 pm on Aug 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

As a follow-up to my last post, nine-result SERPs seem to be increasing in incidence for my niche. When I checked last week, there were more than the previous week. Although I don't have any formal studies on this, it seems as if the news vertical is becoming the tenth result when it appears.


 2:55 pm on Aug 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

Nothing soft about this one!

Well, my own site has only fallen 12 places. With Penguin 2 it was more than 12 pages.

For a business which is largely location-dependent (like mine), it is quite difficult to gauge the effect, as Google's geolocation fetish makes such a big difference. A friend in the same business as me is currently on page 20+ from here (100 miles from him), but if you search using a server near his address he is above the fold on page 1.

So far, my traffic doesn't seem too badly affected by this one.


 4:38 pm on Aug 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

The traffic to my site has increased about 5% more than last couple months so something is going on. I thought it might be seasonal as I get a lot of traffic from schools (K to college) but this didn't happen last year at this time and school is not open yet in most areas.

If this traffic increase is due to Penguin then they might have finally recognized the disavow file I posted last Nov. My site is not mobile yet and has several sections not related to my business that I need to move to another domain, so it is suffering for other reasons -- I just don't have the time to fix either.

Small service business in US with mostly info


 7:23 pm on Aug 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

If this traffic increase is due to Penguin then they might have finally recognized the disavow file I posted last Nov.

I did a big disavow last year, and followed it up a few months ago by disavowing all the junk directory links that had arrived in the meantime.

I'm not sure how this would be factored in to Penguin, but had assumed disavowal wouldn't have any effect until the next iteration.

If what happened the other day was another iteration - I think it probably wasn't - then I'm not sure how to interpret the effects. Broadly, a couple of key two-word terms have lost a dozen or so places (and there is a slight fall in impressions, which could be seasonal), but traffic has risen marginally since 13 August.

There is still something faintly Penguin-like about the current SERPs, however, but no official comment yet, if there ever will be.


 10:41 am on Aug 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

Did Penguin 3 just land? I am noticing some big swings.


 11:20 am on Aug 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

It seems like it. Seeing big swings here as well! Crossing fingers..


 2:00 pm on Aug 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

Really big churns here in the UK right now across a group of my websites.


 2:58 pm on Aug 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

"Same old, same old" for our main site (which benefited significantly from Panda 4.0), but a newer secondary site has seen big increases in Google organic traffic in the last two days.


 3:18 pm on Aug 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

do you see changes on any query or just brand related?


 6:49 pm on Aug 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

Yep something is up, saw a lift starting friday morning around 7am EDT, still up today. But I'm seeing traffic up across the board though from google, bing and yahoo so no sure if its algo related. Last week or so has also seen a lot of flux.


 9:14 pm on Aug 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

Is Pinterest out of control or what? I'm seeing entire pages of domain crowding...seems this runs in streaks in my niche. First it was facebook post crowding, then eBay, Amazon, Houzz, Youtube and now P. They must be the flavor of the month for G.


 10:46 pm on Aug 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

Is Pinterest out of control or what?

I'm not seeing Pinterest, but I am seeing a lot of lawn care products in the serps for Office Max. I'm sure an office supply company is the first place landscapers look at in Google to find the gear. :)


 12:27 am on Aug 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

lots of fluctuation happening here in Australia since 24 hours ago, websites disappearing and showing back again in the search results. Although results vary if you search from mobile compare to a laptop/desktop with wired internet connection.

Could it be that Google is testing a new algo on some of their datacenters?

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