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Google referrals up again.



9:26 pm on Dec 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member bigdave is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I keep reading rants by upset commercial webmasters that the results are so bad that users are leaving Google in droves. I'm not personally seeing this on any of my websites, and I'm wondering if anyone is willing to show some of their actual numbers?

I am looking for increases in real traffic from the other engines, not increases in percentages. Obviously if your google results are in the toilet, all the other SEs will be providing a lot higher percentage of your traffic.

For example, my big traffic site is a product review site that gets most of it's traffic from what businesses would consider commercial product searches.

It is not in a highly competitive area, so while Florida had some impact, it was not major and the SERPs remained generally relevant. My users may no be searching in the areas that got the terrible results so they aren't switching. I am wondering if searcher in those other areas really are switching.

So here are my numbers for the main search engines:
December (So far)
- Google 34604
- Yahoo 9545
- AOL 1169
- MSN 1158
- Netscape 388
- AltaVista 305
- Excite 86
- AllTheWeb 38
- Teoma 33
- Looksmart 26

- Google 26997
- Yahoo 7446
- MSN 1541
- AOL 807
- Netscape 328
- AltaVista 306
- Lycos 55
- Excite 50
- AllTheWeb 39
- Overture 34
- Teoma 34
- Looksmart 19

From looking at my numbers, usage of the non-google results is flat or even down.

I'm sure that some of it is rankings fluctuation, but it seems to me that if users were going to AV en masse, that I should get more of a traffic jump than -1.

Are any of the real estate or travel sites seeing a jump in real numbers from other SEs? Or are the claims related to traffic percentages?


9:44 pm on Dec 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have a travel site, and I haven't noticed any drop in Google referral since Florida (either in raw numbers or as a percentage of the total).

Three of my secondary index pages disappeared from the Google index for their major keyphrases, but any effect on referrals and traffic has been insignificant (partly because most users are arrive on inside pages, and partly because much of traffic on those secondary index pages comes from internal links).


9:49 pm on Dec 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


I am seeing a higher percentage of traffic from other search engines. Once I received 70-80% of traggic from Google, now it is around 30%. The shift represents the fact that Google has made it nearly impossible to rank well for commercial terms in my industry. I doubt as you do that Google is suffering. The general user takes longer to notice these changes and might not notice the change at all even though results lack relevance.
However, I am hearing more and more from my clients: "Shouldn't we target Inktomi?" "How does one get high ranking on MSN?" as well as "Should I spend money on Adwords?"
So only time will tell.


9:58 pm on Dec 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

>users are leaving Google in droves.
>I'm not personally seeing this on any of my websites

Me neither.

Although there are some crap pages climbing close to my good positions after florida, i don't see any traffic loss for any of my sites (yet). My sites are obviously commercial sites (semi to high competitive affiliate sites), semi commercial sites (directories) and 100% uncommercial sites (petitions, hobby sites). Most of them improved traffic. Erm, ... all ....

Since florida i'm wondering where people get their conclusions. ~3,3 bio different opinions!? ;)


10:11 pm on Dec 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jimbeetle is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Travel site here also with some slight movement. Notable increase in MSN with roughly corresponding decreases in G-supplied referrals.

SE Nov Dec

Google 56.8% 55.4%

Yahoo 20.1% 19.0%

MSN 11.0% 14.3%

AOL 3.9% 3.4%

Jeeves 1.5% 1.2%

Netscape 1.0% 1.0%

Cause? Can't tell. Big MSN marketing push? With very high spike due to Christmas-related traffic will probably have to wait a couple of months to see if trend continues, but by then will be more flux because of upcoming changes at MSN and Yahoo.

(I do know that when I was doing a purely commercial search the other day I had to bail out of Google - SERPs were university filled and didn't do me a darn bit of good, Froogle actually much more frustrating. Teoma - Bingo!)


10:11 pm on Dec 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member bigdave is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member


I think a lot of us with well diversified sites had similar results with Google.

But what I am most interested in, whether you did well in Florida, or you were sunk, is the actual numbers of the other search engines.

If people were really switching engines for travel related searches, you should be seeing an increase in the number of referrals from AV, MSN, ATW, etc.

That is why I was looking for number of referrals instead of percentages. If 1% of Google users went to AV "because of lousy SERPs" you would barely notice the change in Google, but it would probably double the number of AV referrals that you got.


It sounds like your clients are asking the questions that they should have been asking all along. If Y! goes with Ink, they might have found themselves hurting (but not as bad) in a couple of months anyway. Ignoring the larger minor players is even stupider than designing your site for IE only.


10:12 pm on Dec 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Since florida i'm wondering where people get their conclusions.

I guess they're just trying to scare Google into submission. Ha ha.

I guess Google must know from their Operations Centre every last hiccup in usage. Any blip in traffic must be easy to see.

No, I'm afraid it will take more than a few loud voices to get Google to turn back. They are ploughing forward and it's change or die for those of us who go burned.

Learning Curve

10:34 pm on Dec 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

"It is not in a highly competitive area"

BigDave, did any of your keywords trigger the second algo?


10:44 pm on Dec 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member bigdave is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Learning Curve,

That is not really the point of this thread, but to respond to you, yes, some of my keywords triggered the filter if that was what it was. If the filter hit me on any specific keywords (out of the 18,000 keyphrases each month) I did not notice.

But I do not "target" any keywords, and only keep track of my position in a few. With thousands of reviews in hundreds of categories, there is minimal SEO that is possible.

What the filter did do was clean up what little SPAM that there was, while taking a few innocent sites with them.


10:45 pm on Dec 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

According to Alexa it has gone up since Nov 15th.

[edit]Removed url [/edit]

[edited by: jcoronella at 10:48 pm (utc) on Dec. 28, 2003]


10:46 pm on Dec 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

One of my sites and the SERP ranking of all sites associated with its main keyword were not affected by Florida. The pre and post Florida % referals from Google are the same. Can't see any sign of the public dropping Google from here.


11:02 pm on Dec 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

We are seeing a reduction in traffic, and increase in relative traffic from other SEs, and most importantly, a substantial increase in NON-RELEVANT traffic from Google.

This last point is the most significant, in that when someone is referred to our site and then can't find what they are looking for, it leaves a bad taste in their mouth, both about our site and Google's.

Affiliate link spam sites might be overjoyed to get raw non-relevant traffic, but in our case, it just wastes our bandwidth and gets people frustrated when then click over to us and look through our site only to discover that we have nothing to do with what they are searching for.

With regards to people in general starting to get frustrated and move to other SEs, I read that said this was being observed.

"Google's #1 rival, Yahoo! is reaping the benefits of the early Christmas gift Google has given them...has recently surpassed Google as the world's most popular website, according to Alexa's popular monitoring service."


"we are starting to see search engine users moving away from Google. This is more than the wishful thinking that was floating about at the end of November; numbers from the website statistics company, Alexa show that both Yahoo and MSN are increasing in user popularity while Google is showing slight declines."

I just checked, and according to Alexa, as of today, the most popular web sites are Yahoo (#1), MSN (#2), and Google is now #3.

(As an aside, I also just noticed Alexa reporting a HUGH drop in traffic on MSNBC, which seems to correspond to MSNBC's recent change to their new browser-unfriendly layout.)

If you want to read the article about this, do a search for Alexa Google in Google News.


11:04 pm on Dec 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

"the most popular web sites are Yahoo (#1), MSN (#2), and Google is now #3"

So Google have improved - they were #4 a few weeks back.


11:14 pm on Dec 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member bigdave is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I really don't want any hearsay (1.e. Alexa, or an article). I don't want your Google statistics. I don't want percentages.

I want to see some actual numbers (not percentages) from someone, from their own site, that shows a significant increase in referrals from a non-Google SE.

As for Alexa, is it really that surprising that they would rank well for users with the alexa toolbar installed? Yahoo has other services that might draw alexa searchers, but I bet they don't do a lot of searching through them.


11:25 pm on Dec 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


As I said above - all mine have remained the same from Google - I could give you the raw numbers, but am a bit busy to dig them out.

I was just lucky (?) that for one site it was unaffected by Florida. In its main SERPS, the top 20 sites are the same pre and post Floirda - there is no difference pre and post Florida in % referals for all SE's (but there was a moderate decline in raw numbers for all SE's in December).

In another site, affected by Florida, the % from Google is way down (as would be expected) and % from others is up, BUT for raw numbers the total from others has not increased - sorry, just no time to dig out actual numbers.


11:28 pm on Dec 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Wish I could help, BigDave, but google is still the Big Kahuna driving my traffic. There has been no increase in traffic from other engines. If people are switching, it isnt affecting me.


11:32 pm on Dec 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member bigdave is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member


That's fine, "they are pretty much the same" is accurate enough. It is if they are claiming a difference that I want the raw numbers.

What I really don't want is claims based on hearsay or to have this degrade into another "Florida sucks" thread.


12:13 am on Dec 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Not really lost any traffic to our websites as all of the inner pages are well linked with good PR and the doorway er! information pages are targetted well enough for the keyphrases that we have to rank on.



12:24 am on Dec 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Dave, no change for us. The ratio of all the SE referrals is pretty much the same; we rank equally well in all the SE's so there's no selection effect. We weren't affected by Florida. Steady as she goes.


12:57 am on Dec 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Yo Big Dave!

I ain't seen nuthin' change (in terms of percentages Google holds 90% of search engine referals)


interestingly enough my dear Watsons, the conversion rate has tilted away from Google towards MSN (in terms of percentages not in absolute numbers).

This of course could well be because Google has exiled my site for the most important keyphrase...


1:01 am on Dec 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

"a substantial increase in NON-RELEVANT traffic from Google."

Same here.


1:55 am on Dec 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

Certainly no decrease in Google traffic for us. In fact just the opposite, it's ever inceasing inline with the new content being eaten by Googlebot.


2:00 am on Dec 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Yes I am seeing the same and encouraging it in any way I can every day in person and on the net. I Now encourage people on my sites to use alta vista along with a little note and a link to googlewatch. putting links on each email I send that can be forwarded.
The way I look at it I helped build the monster, so I am doing more than my part to put it's grown ugliness and unfairness back down. Only just begun too.


2:12 am on Dec 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Alexa statistics as hearsay?

I brought that Google News listed article to your attention because it addressed this question.

Anyway, the first part of my post was specifically regarding our own observations about traffic to our and our client's web sites.

However, if you want more specifics to confirm our observations, fine.

I went through the #'s for one of our sites for November and December. I assume the reason you discounted the specific observations of another poster was because a reduction in Google % would increase the % of other SEs, and a relative increase in traffic from other SEs was not good enough.

You want an ACTUAL increase in traffic from non-Google SEs.


As I have neither the need nor the desire to disclose actual traffic #'s, the following are ABSOLUTE changes in traffic from that specific SE, not relative to Google or total traffic.

Actual Traffic #'s

MSN - 22.9% Increase
ASK - 11.68% Increase
Comet - 235% Increase
Excite - 34% Increase
Search - 51.57% Increase

Actual traffic from Lycos also went up, IWon, AltaVista stayed about the same, and DogPile went down.

(We're still getting lots of traffic from Google, BTW, the problem is that much of it is non-relevant! This might explain why we are seeing an increase in usage of the other SEs)

So, irrespective of any changes in Google traffic, we are seeing a noticeable increase in traffic from other engines. Note also that the November #'s also include some post-Florida results, so the change is likely more significant than what is displayed here.


2:21 am on Dec 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Ok, here you go Dave. I find it odd that while my ranking hasn't changed for our main two keywords on Google (7th out of 4,500,000) the traffic we're getting from Google has dropped considerably in December. And yet overall site traffic is up slightly but I haven't figured out where it's coming from yet. More in depth log analysis is needed, and it's all your fault, Dave. ;)

December (thru 12/27/2003)
- Google 1489
- Yahoo 1319
- AOL 221
- MSN 348
- Netscape 70
- AltaVista 8
- Excite 11
- AllTheWeb 1
- Teoma 2
- Looksmart 0

- Google 2126
- Yahoo 1768
- AOL 325
- MSN 342
- Netscape 56
- AltaVista 16
- Excite 35
- AllTheWeb 5
- Teoma 0
- Looksmart 0

- Google 2105
- Yahoo 1782
- AOL 279
- MSN 305
- Netscape 62
- AltaVista 24
- Excite 65
- AllTheWeb 3
- Teoma 1
- Looksmart 0


2:39 am on Dec 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

GayK, if you extrapolate your #'s for the full month, it looks like you're looking at about 400 for MSN.

Not quite as big a jump as we saw, but still significant. And if you compare to October to eliminate any post-Florida effect lingering in the later part of Nov., even more so!

We didn't take the hit you did in Google, however, much of our Google traffic is now for non-relevant searches. :(


3:07 am on Dec 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member bigdave is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Yes aspdesigner, numbers provided by Alexa are hearsay in this case unless you happen to be the person that runs Alexa.

1. Unverified information heard or received from another; rumor.
2. Law. Evidence based on the reports of others rather than the personal knowledge of a witness and therefore generally not admissible as testimony.

And all the talk about the relevance of google's results just clouds the discussion. We will not find out if people are actually defecting from Google by looking at the Google numbers or griping about its relevance.

On the other hand, the information you provided from your site is exactly the sort of thing I was looking for.

Now if we could get some info like that from some other people, we might be able to see if there are any trends.

On thing that makes comparing the numbers difficult is that the SERPs in the other search engines change regularly too. Which can easily lead to jumps and drops in the traffic. That's why we need a reasonable sample.

Also, you need to look at the incredibly small number of referrals that some of these engines supply, and you realize how big of an impact having one of their users searching in your area can have.

For example, with my stats, looksmart is up 38%. Sounds impressive, don't it? That 38% only represents 7 referrals. Well within a margin of error.

If everyone came on here and said that looksmart was up 40-60%, then that means something.

So here is my quick analysis on the numbers you gave.

MSN - I don't know anyone that uses this other than people that have MSN and use it as their default search. I believe that if this is up because of Florida, it is because MSN users are returning to the default. This would not be the choice of more advanced searchers. I also note that my MSN numbers dropped around 30%, so with our sample of two, it seems like it is probably the regular fluctuation in the results. More samples might convince me otherwise.

ASK - Hmmm, I had to go look it up, ASK is up 33% for me. It has been climbing at a steady rate since summer, and took a big jump in December. If ASK would cut back on their ads to a reasonable number, it would be the SE that I would suggeat for inexperienced searchers. With both of us up, it would be nice to get some more feedback on this from others.

Comet - Do you advertise with them? I didn't know that they had their own search engine, I thought they just did those annoying scumware popovers.

Excite - You are up 34%, I'm up 72%. There might be something there. But for me at least the numbers are still under 100 a month, which makes it difficult to give it too much significance. Their total referrals were only 0.2% of what I get from Google. Yet it is still worth keeping an eye on.

What I do find most significant is that AV stayed the same. Of the 4 people that I know that switched in the last 4 months, all of them have switched to AV.

It really comes down to the fact that we need more samples to see if there really is a switchover, and not just SERP fluctuation.


3:16 am on Dec 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

google refferals up 19% in dec over oct.


3:18 am on Dec 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member bigdave is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member


One thing you have to remember about December is that the Holidays lead to really weird traffic patterns.

If your increase in visitors has gone up without increasing the number of SE referrals, congratulations on getting good links and making it into people's bookmarks.

And if it is just the page views that held steady with fewer visitors, then congratulations on having a sitckier site with content you visitors find more interesting.

As for your non-Google numbers, they do look pretty flat other than AV and Excite. Looks like they hit you harder than Google did. That gives us 2 up and 1 down on Excite.


3:31 am on Dec 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

>>google refferals up 19% in dec over oct.

Brett, I suspect this is due to more and more of your members discovering it's easier to find stuff on WW via Google than via your own site search. I know it's off topic but I'd be curious if you saw a corresponding drop in the use of the site search. ;)

Dave, further analysis of the number of blank referrers leads me to conclude that a lot more people are either bookmarking the site or typing in the URL.

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