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Google Updates and SERP Changes - April 2015

     
12:34 pm on Apr 1, 2015 (gmt 0)

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System: The following 4 messages were cut out of thread at: http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4739952.htm [webmasterworld.com] by aakk9999 - 2:27 pm on Apr 1, 2015 (gmt 0)


My guess is: Google changed something when referring a visitor, not showing were they originally came from.


I saw this too. Freaked out big time when I saw the percent drop in Google referrers. I also noticed pages missing from the SERPS - but not consistently. Sometimes a particular page would be there and sometimes it wouldn't. And I don't mean just not ranking, I mean not indexed at all. Odd thing was, our traffic was up overall during this.
12:51 pm on Apr 1, 2015 (gmt 0)

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My guess is: Google changed something when referring a visitor, not showing were they originally came from.


Masked referral data (so referrer and search-term are not recorded in server logs) often seems to accompany more important algorithm changes. I don't know whether this is some sort of deliberate obfuscation - it certainly invites that suspicion - or whether something else accounts for it.
2:00 pm on Apr 1, 2015 (gmt 0)

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My guess is: Google changed something when referring a visitor, not showing were they originally came from.

If this is actually happening, that would be a major development that would deserve a separate thread of its own. But offhand I don't see how you could know this. Unless you could test it by clicking pages from your own site in Google's SERPs, then looking at your logs and finding that the referer information is blank.
2:27 pm on Apr 1, 2015 (gmt 0)

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a major development that would deserve a separate thread of its own


As far as I can tell, it's not still happening. It was short lived, less than 24 hours - but i noticed it starting March 30 very late at night and into the 31st. By mid-day it didn't seem to be happening anymore.

I don't see how you could know this


My method is far from scientific but I track the % referrers from the major search engines every day (actually, hourly). When my stats showed me that Google was far below normal (and the other search engines were fine) I knew something was up. It wasn't like I wasn't registering any traffic from Google, just not as much as usual. I don't think there really would have been a way to verify it since it wasn't happening 100% of the time. Also, I didn't look to see if it was mobile vs desktop referrals - so maybe it was something to do with the upcoming mobile algo update?
2:47 pm on Apr 1, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@aristotle

I often find Google referral data missing in my server logs for a few days during major updates. It has never been completely absent, but I am talking about a very obvious difference (like a 80-90% drop in recorded Google referrals, but no substantial drop in overall traffic). Also, it has never persisted for more that two or three days, but it certainly does happen.

I have actually tried exactly what you suggest, and have always found the data for my own search, so I haven't been able to provide a known instance by that means. However, I usually ask telephone enquirers how they found my site, and there have been a number of instances where a known Google search hasn't shown up in the server log.

If Google had started to implement this as a long-standing policy, it would no doubt generate a thread of its own, but I only ever see it temporarily around the time of major updates, and last noticed it on 25 March:

[webmasterworld.com...]
4:10 pm on Apr 1, 2015 (gmt 0)

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"It sounds like a strange coincidence, but are you sure it wasn't just the "processed date"? I think Google just changed what they display in Webmaster Tools. I just checked ours and it's from today but I vaguely remember it used to display submission date instead."

i didnt even pay attention to those - what i was constantly checking was how many of the urls were indexed. it was showing total number of urls submitted in the sitemap in blue (20k~) and on the right showing the number of indexed urls in red graph, which was 300 at that time. then all went away.

today that one came back. shows 20k~ urls submitted, 5k indexed, BUT another site's sitemap went away - which was much older, and had all its sitemap totally indexed.

the traffic seems to have gone back to its earlier levels (not all sites tho) just like that today. talk about daily quotas.

but the sitemap disappearance and reappearance seems to tell that there is some major stuff going on there.

"On your universal drop in traffic: Do you run common software (like WordPress?!) on these sites or do they share any commonalities?"

yes a decent number of them are wordpress, but there is non wordpress ones too.
4:39 pm on Apr 1, 2015 (gmt 0)

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mozcast showing back to back days of 80
7:25 pm on Apr 1, 2015 (gmt 0)

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As far as I can tell, it's not still happening. It was short lived, less than 24 hours - but i noticed it starting March 30 very late at night and into the 31st. By mid-day it didn't seem to be happening anymore


That's exactly what I saw and the same time scale.

The way I track this is by using search engine wars in statcounter.
It tells you the % for each search engine.

Google is always between 70% - 85% but suddenly dropped to 50%
I initially though it was the Doorway filter kicking in and my site had been hit, but my actual visitors figures weren't saying the same.

It appears that for some reason visitors were not being seen as coming from Google when in fact they were.
8:00 pm on Apr 1, 2015 (gmt 0)

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It seems a good way to rank well in Google now is to copy some good content created a few years ago, insert a fresh date, and voila - Google thinks the scraper site is 'better' (because it shows a newer and fake publication date). The host (original publisher) has been eaten by the parasite (scraper sites).

.. unless it's just temporary until the update is completed ..
11:32 pm on Apr 1, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Hallelujah! in one day our sites have recovered from all penalties and traffic is up over 1000% with conversions every few minutes! It's a miracle!
1:03 am on Apr 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Good news, samwest. Hoping it sticks and that yours wasn't an April Fools post. Were these linking penalties, content/quality penalties, or a combination?
2:45 am on Apr 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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RC - of course it was an April Fools post. ;)
6:09 am on Apr 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Oh come on @samwest...and here I am ready to hit the "I TOLD YOU IT WAS PANDA UPDATE!" Gong because of your post :)
6:58 am on Apr 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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You were so convincing, sam. :(

Nutterum was convinced too. (See bottom of the last full page of the March thread) [webmasterworld.com...]

(Anyway, it's no longer April 1st here... though the system clock is of on the server, so it appears that it is. I am sorry it wasn't really good news.)
9:00 am on Apr 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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We have back about 20% of traffic, also it is on full throttle. I can estimate hourly traffic from google. Conversions plumped like a stone again. I guess the guys at the plex are sitting there and reading our post and think: Ha, u little guess, yes that is what we want to read. While we get our poket full of money, u will get only the window shoppers from us.

There are again two sets. One that gives traffic and one where traffic is non existent.

ecom, germany
11:45 am on Apr 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Sorry folks, I was having a blast hitting everyone yesterday, my mother, wife, dentist, they were all victims hit by my April Fools antics...the dentist probably wasn't a good idea...I paid for that one.

The reality is MUCH more grim. Traffic down over 50%, bounce rate through the roof, nearly every visitor is one and done. It's a cruel joke that Google plays.
This appears to be sticking. Main keywords have not disappeared, but they trimmed more long tail.

I figure it's two weeks from the end of the quarter and they are running short on profits...remember, they have to do 20%+ in gains each quarter, so when we see 20% + losses, the math is pretty easy to do.

This is a pretty sad world where the rich just keep getting richer through the golden rule: He who has the gold, makes the rules. At the same time, we've spent the last 5 years continually downsizing our lives, cutting back and going insane trying to fight off this evil monster.
3:26 pm on Apr 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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For an entity with a "Do no evil" motto, sure can produce a lot of pain...
3:39 pm on Apr 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I'm going to spend the Easter break days mulling over, after 20+ years, whether I want to continue with this interweb farce any longer. I've already decided to leave AdSense on autopilot and may simply do the same with all my sites...I'm not enjoying what I'm doing and the rewards are nothing these days compared to the effort.

My B2B sites will continue with, or without, Google interference, it's back to good old traditional marketing methods which we know do work...oh what a tangled web you have woven G!
3:58 pm on Apr 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Hallelujah! in one day our sites have recovered from all penalties

@samwest, thou ought to be moved to the FOO section of this forum, methinks, for this is where jesters like thou belongst! #frown #frown

I noticed an unusually high crawl activity on several sites around 26th March. In some cases an increased crawl rate may be an omen. I don't think this is related to the new mobile requirements, otherwise why only part of the sites I monitor experienced an increased crawl rate? Anyone else noticed it? We'll see what happens.
5:00 pm on Apr 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@adder - smile, life without humor is no life at all.
@redbar - I'm feeling the exact same way.
@mentat - +100
5:27 pm on Apr 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Traffic down over 50%, bounce rate through the roof, nearly every visitor is one and done

@Samwest You are left with "referrer spam" (Google it, you should be able to exclude with htaccess or in Analytics's)
---
@all Back to the topic... I presume we have not had a single animal named update in 2015. I hope not that all Google resources are on a mobile update and Panda like updates are on hold because I am waiting for Panda after a year of clean-up of syndicated press articles.
10:15 am on Apr 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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If we stay with the letter P then this update looks like a pig to me! For what it's done to my UK SERPs then pit bull would be relevant however since they've successfully squeezed most UK companies out of these SERPs in favour of their US buddies then maybe python would be a good one.

I repeat, my UK SERPs sector is the biggest mess I have ever, ever seen, 2 x Houzz, Gardenweb, Pinterest, 2 x YouTube, Amazon and Alibaba dominate 90+% of my widget keyword searches and then when they do show a realword company result it is again American!
5:04 pm on Apr 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I'm afraid many more bad days are ahead. Years ago I figured they'd have their growing pains, then eventually cultivate an environment of prosperity for all, but boy was I wrong.
10:23 pm on Apr 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Our Google referrals were up 19 percent today over the same day last week. They've been climbing nicely in the last few days.

An update? No, probably just Easter week.
12:26 am on Apr 4, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Easter week has typically been slower, but we're below slow...one sale at 6:30 am. It's now 7:30pm and there has been zero action all day. Breaking into new low territory.

This all started on the 30 of March and appears to be sticking hard. I suspect G is not meeting earnings goals so some of us are paying the price as they dial in their ad network partners and dial us out.
1:29 am on Apr 4, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Editorialguy,

We are seeing the same % increase as you and also attributed it ito Easter - but when I look at easter weekend 2014 (it was later in april last year) do not see the same increase. In fact easter 2014 seemed to have no impact on visitors at all.

Do you see it last year?
1:47 am on Apr 4, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Rasputin, I checked just now, and on Good Friday 2014, our Google referrals were up about 9 percent over the Friday before. Today the Friday-over-Friday increase was 19 percent, or roughly double that.

Easter weekend was a couple of weeks later in 2014 than it is this year, for whatever that might be worth.
4:59 pm on Apr 4, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I'm still seeing ups and downs across all portfolio sites. However it is less chaotic than it was on the 3rd week of March.

Guys, how's US traffic during Easter? I opened a new thread to ask about this but are any of you seeing drops or rises due to Easter? I ask because I don't know how big of a deal is the Easter vacation period in the USA. Is it common to travel during Easter (similar to Christmas or 4th of July) or is this the type of holiday where people just stay at home relaxing?
5:09 pm on Apr 4, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Kratos, Easter Week isn't as big a deal as it is in Europe, for a couple of reasons:

1) Americans typically have less vacation time than Europeans do, so fewer working people take the week off to go somewhere.

2) In many cities and states, the traditional Easter school vacation has been replaced by a spring break that may or may not (and typically doesn't) coincide with Easter. (University "spring break" weeks aren't necessarily at the same time, either.)

For what it's worth, our U.S. traffic yesterday (Good Friday) was up slightly over the previous Friday, so it would appear that some Americans aren't hiding Easter eggs or playing beach volleyball in Florida this week. :-)
5:49 pm on Apr 4, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I presume no major updates are ever done during Holiday periods... so take the time off to spend with your loved ones!
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