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Google Updates and SERP Changes - January 2018

     
6:30 pm on Jan 1, 2018 (gmt 0)

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System: The following message was cut out of thread at: https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4879278.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 2:37 pm on Jan 1, 2018 (PDT -8)


In the past few days I am seeing more search focus on my home page and less on landing pages. Also, the binary or drip traffic pattern seems to have improved to a more natural looking "multi visit" pattern...encouraging, but not converting to help the bottom line. I'll say this, if the bottom line numbers would improve, I'd kick the adwords campaign back in. Google raked a cool 100k + from me in ad fees back when natural, unfettered traffic patterns were the norm. With their odd traffic patterns and poor ROI the past few years, they haven't received scratch from this camp...or many others for that matter.
6:11 am on Jan 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Maccabees update is the latest update of google.
9:15 am on Jan 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Strong first day of the year. Non amp pages are being particularly punished on the mobile serps.

Some keywords are still all over the place and Google seems to be serving up multiple regions in on result. Ie website.com/mx/page and website.com/us/page
5:46 pm on Jan 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Google insights all positive, Users up 25.84%, New Users up 27.15%, Sessions up 29.89%, Session duration up 17.74%, Bounce Rate down 13.81%, Pages/session up 5.96%....yet very few buyers with this new traffic. Total chaff traffic. All these changes while nothing on the site has changed at all in months. This is all Google flux...not related to any actual new audience.
6:13 pm on Jan 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I believe you KaseyM, Google is pushing AMP pages very strong. Happy new year 2018 :)
4:16 am on Jan 4, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Ok I am seeing some very positive results so I'll be concentrating on that from now on, this has been fun but got to go back to work. Cya in the summer maybe :) all the best
9:45 am on Jan 4, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Do you guys nofollow external download link from trustworthy sites like Microsoft, GDrive, OneDrive etc? :/
1:54 pm on Jan 4, 2018 (gmt 0)

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We had a reduction in traffic over the festive season, which I think is to be expected. Not sure when everyone will be back at work after the break, I know some are still on holiday, but I will be watching to see when traffic levels return.
2:22 pm on Jan 4, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Goofgle insights keeps alerting me to more humorous "anomalies" like the following: "ANOMALY DETECTED! - SPIKE IN PAGEVIEWS - For this page, we forecast pageviews of 16-52.6 for Dec 31, 2017 and your actual pageviews of 53 is higher than this range"....really? that constitutes a "spike"? rotflmao
You know when they are concerned enough to report an error rate of 0.4 that they have a tight grip on the situation. Clearly each an every click needs to be accounted for. Very telling on their inner workings.
Seeing as though I've "maxed out" my "quota", site traffic is back to drip level.
4:05 am on Jan 5, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I've seen same big SERP moves today. A site That's been #1 all year for a set of lucrative queries has tumbled 1 to 3 spots.

Mobile SERPs look more volatile. I can't wait till the dust settles.
4:13 am on Jan 5, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@Atomic yeah I'm seeing fluctuations on desktop SERPs today as well, with KWs set flickering back and forth and I've noticed volatility on desktop yesterday as well. Haven't checked mobile much.
5:39 am on Jan 5, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I only see this much movement during a "quality" update. That's what my money's on.
5:51 am on Jan 5, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@Atomic What niches are you seeing this movement in, or is it all across the board?
8:55 am on Jan 5, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@Atomic what quality are you talking about? I have launched a new site 3 months ago and pages were lurking on 7th or 8th page of Google SERP. Today I see them on first or second page of Google. While I got another well established site running from past 3 years and results for that has gone from 1st page to second to third and forth. So much for the quality update.
9:00 am on Jan 5, 2018 (gmt 0)

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The site that has gone down was once badly hit by negative SEO. Quite frankly Google can not differentiate between negative SEO and black hat SEO. For their AI both are same thing.
7:01 pm on Jan 5, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@HereWeGo123 - I saw this movement on finance related SERPs I track. More specifically, auto finance related SERPs. Today I see that the movement was not isolated to just mobile. Desktop SERPs are also looking different.

Like I said, this is interesting because the #1 site has been locked in there for a solid year. I've been very suspicious of that, too. They've been a direct partner of Google's in the past.
7:44 pm on Jan 5, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@Atomic I've noticed the same exact same thing with auto finance and finance related niches. Sites that dominated slipped a position or two after a long time of being rooted in position number one. I am also seeing this on Desktop and Mobile SERPs. Very interesting.
8:39 pm on Jan 5, 2018 (gmt 0)

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after days of dismal traffic and sales conversions, suddenly, like a switch is flipped, site traffic and conversions come back as if it's 10 years ago. Go figure. I'm quite sure we've all seen this type of pattern come, and just as quickly go.
2:21 pm on Jan 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Over the past 24 hours traffic seems to have reverted to the performance of 10 years ago. The week started out with zero or 1 conversions per day, but friday (as explained above) things opened up and now seeing very nice natural conversion pattern. Coincidentally, during that same time, Google analytics seems to have been going wacky...frequently freezing and dropping out...right now GA is giving me a "site can't be reached" error. No detectable changes in SERPS. This points to some control mechanism being out of service and the natural flow of traffic being restored...temporarily I'm quite sure.
4:01 pm on Jan 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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hmm. May be this update is good for ecommerce but not for sites falling in downloadable contents niche. In my niche, at top there are sites that just use "download" keyword in SEO titles to grab traffic and when you enter the site you just do not find what you are looking for. Also I have seen sites that just keep taking you to next-next-next page until you get tired of their bullsh*t and go back to search results to get to another site. There is one site which when clicked on download link a page appears that tells there is malware ahead and so does my antivirus. Despite of that this site has been on first page for very long time probably a year. What these sites really have solid backlinks profile. So they are ranking well.
5:33 pm on Jan 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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On the contrary Neap...the site that is seeing this action IS a paid download content site. The site also runs adsense, but over the past year, I've been diligently blocking those download ads as they appear...it's like trying to plug every hole in the dike...and there are many. Using the adsense plugin, but adding ads selectively per page with the widget, not on general blanket pages and posts (WP site of course). Only reporting this because it is indeed an "anomaly". However, if it does keep up like this, I will start sharing with Google again in the Adwords program. The operative word is IF. Traffic and sales continues to be "natural" and robust, just like the good old days. I would sure love to know what has suddenly changed.
6:42 pm on Jan 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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the more i dig into the sites in my sector the more i'm seeing that backlinks are everything now -- even more than they used to be. if you have a huge number of backlinks then it seems you can put up whatever you want, whether it's good content or not, and still have it rank. if you don't have as many then it doesn't matter how good your content is it will never compete.
i know that's pretty much the same as it has always been, but they seemed to have ramped it up in the last year.

another thing that's making it harder with every passing year is that you don't get anywhere near as much traffic from positions below 1 or 2.
you used to get a decent amount for being in the top 10, but now you only get a decent amount for the top two
7:38 pm on Jan 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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you used to get a decent amount for being in the top 10, but now you only get a decent amount for the top two

I'm not sure if that is true, because I have many top 2 listings and I get only a fraction of the traffic I used to...of course the loss of longtail is a big reason for that too.
Over the past 8 years, traffic has trickled to a crawl on almost every site I manage. There will become a point where Google will hit the wall with ads as users will no longer patronize a search engine that is nothing but ads. We may have come to that point already. The other day I was doing a search and was delivered a page of all ads, except for three organics way below the fold. BTW, note to Google, I NEVER click the ads. Too many times the ads are just link bait to a totally unrelated or scam page as they don't check quality or relevancy on those very well, if at all.
8:57 pm on Jan 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@londrum well that's what happening in one of my sites niche now. The sites with thousands of backlinks are now on first page pushing all other sites down. I think this recent update is niche based because I do not see much chattering and cries about it.

Top 1-5 results get majority of the traffic. People often click the Google ads on top and that also decrease click through rate for natural results. And why would Google not do that? After all click on ads on Google search will result in 100% profit for them. That's more profitable than sharing with publishers.

I have learned another thing during my past few months experience that never rely on just 1 or 2 sites. Make multiple sites to make sure you do not have to suffer greatly due to Google's experiments. That's why I have started working on 2 new sites to make sure that my monthly income from AdSense remain enough to keep running all my sites, pay for hosting and other expenses.

Also Never put all your eggs in Google's basket. Google can break your eggs without throwing the basket. Start something else alongside to make money. May be freelancing or real life work......!
8:18 am on Jan 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I'm still heading in an upward direction, which is good. I still see a lot of domain clustering though.

Somebody said something on here a few weeks ago about a star rating. I can't remember who, or why, but I decided to give it a shot. I personally don't like it, just looks a bit crass, but I have decided to keep it going for 2-3 months to get feedback on my content. I accept I may not always be objective and an article I pride myself on gets lots and lots of 'awful' stars, it's time to look at why. It's just a trial way to get a bit of feedback. Thankfully it's mostly excellent, but when I get those ' average' or 'poor' it makes me look at why.
1:55 pm on Jan 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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We continue to grow our organic traffic. As mentioned in previous posts, we have focused on providing the most in-depth content in our niche. It has really paid off. Our organic traffic has grown +420% since January 2017. Sales have followed as well. Educating the consumer makes it so much easier to convert them into customers. Even when they don't buy from us, they trust us and recommend us to friends.
1:57 pm on Jan 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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We saw a decent bump on Friday for about 15%. Carried through Saturday. We will see if it sticks next week. All appears to be coming from long tail.
7:01 pm on Jan 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Looks like the changes I saw late last week were rolled back.
8:25 pm on Jan 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Just curious...along with those short lived traffic improvements, did anyone notice that Google Analytics would go on and off line more than usual? Things have slowed a bit but still converting...and GA just went offline again.

UPDATE, I simply mention GA being down and I get another conversion. I mean really? BTW - GA is still down.

[edited by: samwest at 9:14 pm (utc) on Jan 7, 2018]

8:39 pm on Jan 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Yes. Google Analytics was very, very slow on Jan. 3 and 4. It made me expect something big. Anytime they need all that extra computing power, something's up.
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