timwilliams - 10:41 am on Sep 7, 2012 (gmt 0)
Sorry for getting a little sideways there Tedster, sometimes it's all I can do just to laugh about it.
seems very clear that these zombie or throttling patterns are not timed the same across different sites for different members
I don't think that's as clear as it seems to be. I can predict when we are going to see zombie traffic posts based on how my traffic is converting. WebmasterWorld members are a small subset of the internet and WebmasterWorld members that operate direct to consumer ecom sites are a small percentage of the membership (no facts to back that up, just an educated guess).
For me, conversions/sales are the key to this zombie traffic. I watch my conversions like a hawk, constantly trying to make my site more efficient for my customers with the conversion rate being the gauge of that efficiency.
From what I can tell so far, during times of low conversion rates, google is sending the same traffic (same country, same keywords) to the wrong page.
For example: keyword "Green California Widget"
During normal times google displays the following page in the results: example.com/california/widget/green (conversion rate: 7.9%)
During times of low conversion rate google displays a page like example.com/info/montana/red-widgets-new-for-montana.html (conversion rate: 1.7%)
I don't know why they do this, my guess is it has something to do with geolocation, google trying to guess what the searcher wants based on location + search query.
You don't have to try and catch this happening in the serps, you can see this in WMT, (traffic > search queries > query) gives you a list of the urls served in the results for that keyword/query. Some of the keywords I target have many, many different urls that are displayed at any given time.