iamlost - 7:53 pm on Dec 16, 2012 (gmt 0)
I've been following this topic not so much because I believe that there is site specific targeting by Google rather that I'm looking to see if the described affects are symptomatic of something else ala the 'sandbox effect'. I am seeing interesting points mentioned:
* switching from mostly desktop traffic to mostly mobile and back again.
* switching from mostly desired target traffic, i.e. US, to mostly undesired, i.e. Asian, and back again.
* switching from highly purchasing traffic to highly informational traffic and back again.
* switching from 'money' query terms traffic to 'non-money' and back again.
* switching from traffic mostly landing on product sales pages to landing on info pages and back again.
I don't have an ecomm site so I am primarily relying on parsing what others have shared.
There does appear to be overlap in the above list and yet sufficient distinct elements to remain separate. And the pattern/frequency of such switches is intriguing.
If a site is strictly a sales outlet then traffic in any pre-buying mode is certainly a miss on Google's part. However, if the site also provides pre-buying, informational pages then lumping the two types of traffic on the two types of pages into one conversion metric is a miss on the webdev's part. Similarly, if there are no micro-conversions on the info pages, i.e. the only conversion is the 'big' sale on the sale pages, then that too is a miss on the webdev's part. I'd be interested to know if there is any reason, if your site is simply come, buy, and go, for Google to believe that traffic in research mode would find value there.
Similarly, if a site is quite specific in it's area of business, i.e. selling only within the continental US, and Google sends significant traffic from well outside that market area then again certainly a miss on Google's part. I would be interested in knowing if there is any (other than off-shored Google quality testers :)) reason that Google might pickup that would indicate otherwise.
When the traffic switches... how do the associated query terms change? What connections or disconnections do you see between them. Are both sets of terms appropriate for the pages involved?
Etc. Far more questions than answers I'm afraid.
One thing that I have been wondering for a number of years that may well be part of this puzzle:
* we know that when one inputs a query into Google if there are few or even no full matches that the query return is often for some 'similar' (in spelling or meaning) term and not that asked; or with results for various partials from the query. Google appears to prefer padding results to having to say oops, can't help.
* does Google treat traffic in a similar fashion? Is what has been described in part due to Google simply running out of quality 'A' matching traffic and substituting quality 'B'?
* we also know that Google has it's 'main' site list and some number of supplemental site lists. Is it possible that when Google has a query that really doesn't match well with it's main index list it still returns from that list rather than dip into some other 'lower' list?
Must say that it has been a fascinating read to date and wish to thank all, especially those that have shared data.