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Google Updates and SERP Changes - July 2010

     
12:50 pm on Jul 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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@john1975 the search term I posted weeks ago showed how bad Google was messed. For a year or two that search returned a real product, for a few weeks/month it return gibberish. It started to return real results a few days ago and is once again accurate or close to it. My guess is millions of other semi-long terms are now also snapping back into line.

The traffic pattern is evolving back towards normal. Google was up again yesterday but only 8% from a week ago. Bing was up 17% but Yahoo was down 35% which only confirms what the studies show - most people will go to Yahoo 2nd if Google fails. What's so clear to us is that it's that 5%-8% of total clicks that Google had filtered off that were the ones converting at probably 80%. Highly targeted searches by informed consumers that didn't need the magic intervention of Google trying to divine what it was they really wanted.

Thanks to MC and Google for slowly figuring it out. Like everyone else I was a bit harsh at times but it's tough to spend years reading the WMGL, reading everything the people from Google wrote and following it within the rules and then viola a major change happens that devastates our business and pretty much everyone else we knew in favor of spammers, scammers, mirrors, mashups etc. The filters still aren't weeding out those results and I'll say it again instead of trying to tinker with the end result why not hire/invest/spend more time looking at actual spam reports when legitimate sites report the ones running 45 sites selling the same item under different keywords which actually really DOES degrade user experience and user choice?

[edited by: tedster at 5:22 pm (utc) on Jul 1, 2010]

7:50 pm on July 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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My traffic also went up during the same time period as PhotoLight then back down but it has been doing this for months. I am positive there are at least two sets of data in my niche.
7:00 am on July 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I want to know what G uses to decide how many visitors a site will get, I could draw the graph for next weeks analytics and be with +-5 visitors for each day(unless there is the zombie traffic spike!).
7:52 am on July 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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BTW, I'm now seeing the purple background colour on Adwords for .co.uk.
10:08 am on July 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Noticing some significant movement in UK results today.
10:16 am on July 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Up or down? We seem dead today which usually means one thing since Mayday.......
10:59 am on July 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Some of my sites are up, others down slightly. I manage considerable volume of website so generally have mixed variety of success or failure.

What I notice are new players appearing on long tail searches in some industries.

What's very noticeable is the new sites (new in terms of appearing in the top 10) may rank for one particular phrase but then not seen under any others despite being optimised for all phrases.
11:01 am on July 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Just checked two of our sites, well down. Just gone back further and seems to be a repeat of last Wednesday! 12 months ago Thursdays were dead, now it's Wednesdays......
1:36 pm on July 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I have to say overall it looks very messy, despite the shift being both good and bad for myself.

One site's enquiries are certainly dead today in comparison with the norm.
3:13 pm on July 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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What's very noticeable is the new sites (new in terms of appearing in the top 10) may rank for one particular phrase but then not seen under any others despite being optimised for all phrases.

I've noticed this kind of thing, too. Some sort of "spread the traffic around" program from Google?
3:33 pm on July 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I don't understand anymore either, one of my site juse got bumped to the top of search engine results about 2 weeks ago without any PR update or anything and the other site I have hasn't moved anywhere since january ... go figure...

don't know what is going one don't think anyone knows... I just hope that some day google is going to talk to the world and tell us what has been going over in the last 8 months ... because soon I might start using a different search engine...
6:31 pm on July 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I've noticed this kind of thing, too. Some sort of "spread the traffic around" program from Google


Exactly my thoughts; perhaps they monitor bounce ratios on these temporarily 'promoted' sites to gauge user response?

Anyway yesterday's blip seems to be gone, I think!
6:40 pm on July 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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spreading the traffic around might be a deliberate thing. it kind of makes sense if you think about it.

imagine if someone was searching for the weather. if he's searching during the day then he probably wants today's weather. but if he's searching in the evening then he probably wants tomorrow's weather. so you'd give him two different sites depending on what time he did it.

i know that's a lousy example, but i can't think of a better one. but you can imagine that it might make sense for google to give different serps depending on the time of day.
if that's the case, then it might be impossible for our sites to stay at the top all of the time.
6:45 pm on July 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I think you could be correct... we can hope to be in the top five 75% of the time for example.
3:27 am on July 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Spreading traffic (keeping quality and relevance intact) should not affect our traffic the way it has. This is because now our sites also stand to rank high for those keywords for which they are not exactly optimized for. So, the traffic loss and gain should have evened out.
4:49 am on July 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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perhaps they monitor bounce ratios on these temporarily 'promoted' sites to gauge user response?


My guess is that it is more likely they are monitoring click-through rate, but that is just a guess...
4:58 am on July 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Over the last couple months we've had reports here of several oddities with Google traffic that we don't really understand yet - at least I don't:

1. Rankings go up but traffic goes down
2. Traffic cycles between poorly-targeted and well-targeted, even though the total stays level
3. Rankings are lost after a template change, even though textual content and URLs do not change
4. Traffic fluctuates wildly during the day, or from day to day

The challenge is that we don't have much in-depth to go on with these reports. Has anyone seen any of these things on their site who can offer a bit more detail?
6:53 am on July 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Tedster, we have really noticed (1) (2) & (4). Lets take this week, traffic has looked normal but this is when looking back over the week, if we look at Wednesday we were dead until 1pm, then bam! Last we we noticed we were dead until 3-3.30pm then bam! I have been checking the SERPS using in private browsing which I ***think*** should give what a user with no search history sees? Yesterday we had our best day in ages but when I checked the SERPS they looked a complete mess! Up until Mayday our traffic was constant throughout the day and from day to day, this was mirrored with sales conversions. What we see now is sales conversions tracking traffic on a good day but on others we see spikes in traffic but no conversions, a quick look at the traffic sources reveals a lot of foreign traffic and hits from terms we really shouldn't be ranking for!(which explains why no sales conversions, G is sending people to us for things they do not want!).

To sum up, at the moment I can see no way to change your site to take advantage of what is happening, it's obvious it is still in progress & maybe for some time yet. Of course this maybe the new G-constant changes which mean massive fluctuations.

What I would like to know is how some of the big players have been affected but I doubt we will get their IT departments posting on here!
1:00 pm on July 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Has anyone seen a -950 OOP recently? I haven't, and none seem to be reported any more.
1:25 pm on July 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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My guess is that it is more likely they are monitoring click-through rate, but that is just a guess...


Perhaps, but my theory is a bounce ratio is a more accurate guide for whether or not a site is relevant / quality for a particular search phrase.

If a large % of users click back the chances are the site is garbage or not as useful as other sites listed.

If you think about it click through rates aren't going to change that much really.

Titles may affect rates but I'd expect them to remain fairly constant with no1,2,3 getting x click through's per month regardless of the actual site that's listed in those positions.
1:39 pm on July 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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But bounce rate is affected by click through rate? When G sends us junk visitors they will click away as it wasn't what they wanted!
3:19 pm on July 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I see your point, but do you not think Google can tell if the user has clicked back to the same set of results rather than searched again?
6:14 pm on July 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I see you're talking about bounce back to the SERP, not a pure Analytics bounce rate - that's an important distinction. At any rate, several Google employees have stated that bounce rate is too noisy a signal for them to use - they feel they've got much better ranking signals on hand.

Has anyone seen a -950 OOP recently? I haven't, and none seem to be reported any more.

No - and I've been keeping an eye out for it, because I also noticed that there were no more reports coming into the forums about it. Wonder what took its place, eh? My suspicion is yo-yo rankings (dayparting) because THOSE reports have gone way up.
8:12 pm on July 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Bounce rate in GA is too noisy? I wonder if site speed has been implimented yet as that shows worrying fluctuations. IIRC some members upgraded servers when MayDay kicked in & saw improvements?
8:32 pm on July 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Too noisy to use across trillions of URLs as a ranking factor, yes - just think about all the reasons that a bounce might be registered!

According to Matt C, site speed is implemented in a minor way for just a few searches. It's more of a tie-breaker in close call situations. Did you see this discussion? [webmasterworld.com]

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