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Google Updates and SERP Changes - September 2010

     
11:06 am on Aug 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

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< continued from [webmasterworld.com...] >

For the last 10 days or so I am not seeing any "fresh bump". It's almost like the days of old where sites just stick in their current positions. This is radically different from what I have been seeing for 2 years and across many sites.

[edited by: tedster at 3:26 pm (utc) on Sep 1, 2010]

9:59 am on Sept 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Sounds interesting, what/where is "auto-optimisation"? In G WM tools?
1:38 pm on Sept 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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has anyone had experience of the following scenario:

Our site was de-ranked for all of its keywords and this morning bounced back to where they were.

Is this Google warning us that something is not right with the site and that it plans to permanently de-rank in the future or is it just one of those strange occurances that not even Google can explain?

Cheers in advance.
2:41 pm on Sept 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Another dead day in the making...one sale at 2:09 am from Australia, which is very odd since I am in the US, and nothing so far this morning. Did they mess up the time zone? All time zones in my scripts and on my server are correct. The majority of traffic seems to be from foreign visitors, just like it was back in late May, early June.
2:46 pm on Sept 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I've seen more foreign traffic but have had a good MORNING! Up until now mornings have been dead & afternoons really good.
3:21 pm on Sept 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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@speedshopping

How long were you de-ranked for ?
4:12 pm on Sept 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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@ohno, have you been able to connect your sales patterns to changes in the Google SERPs?
4:27 pm on Sept 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Not really Tedster, the SERPs seem stable when I check them, the only thing I noticed was we were dead when we dropped out of the onebox shopping results. Today has been the first day since the latest changes where we have had sales throughout the day(and a better am!). Another thing I am noticing is our product feeds update at midnight yet we only get confirmation emails at 5.30pm (stating the feed was processed at 12.15am!), these used to come though at 12.15am. Only other thing is our .com site which "targets" long tail more (which was dead all last week-only ONE sale!) has picked up as of yesterday with a sale yesterday & two today.
5:15 pm on Sept 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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If you're going to be proactive, then you're first going to need an accurate diagnosis - the root cause. Your sales changes may not even reflect a change in the Google SERPs, you know? And since this thread discusses SERP changes, it's hard for anyone to offer you any insights if you only know the sales changes and not the ranking changes.

[edited by: tedster at 9:32 pm (utc) on Sep 16, 2010]

5:44 pm on Sept 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I know sales patterns and traffic source/keywords etc. AS above we have seen lots of junk traffic, the problem with trying to analyse SERP's is what I see is not going to be what my customers see! Tghe fact remains, post Instant(& an algo change I am sure) things changed just like May Day. I could see no change in SERPs with May Day either apart from short periods where we disappeared totally.

Anyway, I'll leave this thread until I can pin SERP's to sales patterns ;)
8:19 pm on Sept 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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@steerpikegg we were down for just under a week - we were de-ranked at time of instant release, and came back this morning.
9:37 pm on Sept 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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@ohno, can your analytics split split out only the traffic that has a Google Search referrer? and then allow you to drill down deeper - for keyword, landing page, time and geo-location?

That's the kind of data I'd want to start with. Also connect your sale or conversion data up with traffic source.

From what you describe, you may be getting "dayparted" - good rankings for just some part of the day. You also may be getting a heavy duty geographic filter. But those are only my initial suspicions and it takes some digging to see if either of those are really in play.
3:17 am on Sept 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

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In the past couple of days I've been seeing some movement on SERPs that previously seemed "stuck." I'm not sure if this is a change on Google's end or if I just got a nice hit of link juice, but it does seem encouraging.
3:34 am on Sept 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I'm hearing a number of reports that backlink anchor text is dialed down a good bit.

I've almost never tried to mandate anchor text in any backlink - I wanted it to be normative or natural. So I can't verify this from the sites I work with. However, it would make a lot of sense if G is convinced that other relevance signals are strong enough.
3:50 am on Sept 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

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What I can verify tedster is that Page Rank still is the primary factor for the number of URLs which will be indexed and which will stay in the index.

I think this will not change soon. I did extensive testing since the MC stonetemple interview and it's true:

"... the number of pages that we crawl is roughly proportional to your PageRank"

Example:
I launched a xx million URLs site which is based on Google Base content, the number of URLs in the index increased up to 1 million, but dropped to about 100K .. the URLs simply do not have enough PR to stay in the main partition or the main index
9:10 am on Sept 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Sounds interesting, what/where is "auto-optimisation"? In G WM tools?


I am really not sure... don't use G WM tools and never have done. G simply chose a title etc for me, I did nothing!
1:03 pm on Sept 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

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If you're going to be proactive, then you're first going to need an accurate diagnosis - the root cause. Your sales changes may not even reflect a change in the Google SERPs, you know? And since this thread discusses SERP changes, it's hard for anyone to offer you any insights if you only know the sales changes and not the ranking changes.


Having looked at my stats and assessed the situation this week, these are my guesses at my problem.

I think that either Instant or whatever tweak was made before that went live has diminished some of my important long tail traffic.

Traffic is definitely down but not down so far that I should notice such a change in amounts of orders / enquiries so I can only assume that the quality long tail has been replaced with non quality long tail traffic. Though I don't see that in my stats. Though long tail is very difficult to track and quantify.

My main search term has actually improved from mid to bottom of the first page to number two (probably only temporary rise but I'll take it!). So that tells me there is not a fundamental issue with the site per-se. Also note that that rise has not significantly boosted sales either.

Maybe it's more to do with UK spending and recession (double dip, dare I say it) than google. But who knows.

I think that Tedster is right that it might not be a SERP change though. I certainly can't prove that it is.
1:14 pm on Sept 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

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If it's a UK spending issue then backdraft(in the USA) has seen the same thing in the same period! I can't pin it on SERP's either looking at keywords/traffic etc. Dead today but traffic looks "normal" apart from the high bounce rate and singular page views.
1:28 pm on Sept 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

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@ohno, This is my worst day this week too. Single page views etc. It's like my site stood in dog excrement.
3:48 pm on Sept 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

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BBC this morning had an article where an Internet security 'expert' was calling for search engines to control fake branding sites. I wonder if the topic has been on the agenda and that is why many are seeing brand traffic draining away.
4:22 pm on Sept 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

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@ Spencer - That doesn't apply to my situation. All my stuff is totally bespoke
10:44 pm on Sept 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

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"... the number of pages that we crawl is roughly proportional to your PageRank"


That's interesting after all the discussions regarding PR. Now Cutts has revived the scenario saying this. So now back to jockeying for PR in Google's rat race. Meanwhile Google tweaks the filters and algo and out drop more pages for some reason only known to them.
4:21 pm on Sept 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Am I correct in assuming those of you who have experienced a large traffic drop are all affiliates of larger Brand Name stores?


Correct in my case. I own a few affiliate sites and the rankings are down for all "brand widgets" type of keywords.

I can understand why Google wants to get rid of affiliate sites in this type of queries, yet the current SERPs are much worse than before. It is a total disaster - I have never seen so much domain name spam.

The 1st page is dominated by brandwidget.org, brandwidgets.net, brand-widgets.org domains - all are spam, none should have made it into the index whatsoever.
5:46 pm on Sept 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

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oh, and now I see some spammy pages hosted on EDU domains ranking high for casino related keywords. Parasite hosting rules again.
5:54 pm on Sept 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

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The two largish web shops that I manage are today showing an increase in indexed pages, strangely both are up by approx 10%. We haven't added any new pages for a while, so I can't see what would suddenly cause this increase.
6:10 pm on Sept 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Yeah, I'm seeing a lot of domain name spam too. I thought this had gone away after Mayday. :(
7:47 pm on Sept 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I suppose that the good news is that, given that there are still a few members of this forum left that haven't been wiped out by the antics of the past few months, it doesn't seem that Google is just hurting Webmasterworld members in particular ;-)
9:49 pm on Sept 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Spence - It's getting close to the point where I throw in the towel. My rankings still appear to be at the top, and I ranked for about 8500 keywords per month. My traffic to my main and key pages seems to way off or Google is sending me visitors who do not speak English. I am getting a LOT of foreign traffic even though my geographic target country is set to the United States.
Google is an enigma wrapped in a riddle...and there's no real point to this thread because nobody will ever figure it out and I think that is by design.
12:02 am on Sept 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Backdraft- do you know if you are seeing personalized results which could explain why you see you pages ranking so well? I stopped looking at where my pages rank since you can't really tell any more accurately beyond the stats we get in Googles WMT.
12:37 am on Sept 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

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max - no, it's not personalized results, I have that turned off and I am signed out of my Google WM account. I was on the road this last week and did some searches on a Best Western wifi network about 300 miles from home. I show the same high listings there too. I also use audio "doorbells" on my key pages, my home page, order page, and other main info page of my site. Those doors bells are very active at some times, then very quiet at others. I have been using this system to monitor my sites for nearly 10 years and I can tell what my site is doing without even looking.
As far as using sales frequency to represent SERPs, I respectfully disagree with another post that ties sales to something else. I think SERPS and sales are very closely tied. Yes, we are in a bad economy, but for 10 years I could tell the time by my sales klaxon. Sundays were usually 1 or 2 sales per hour all day. Now I get these "windows" of sales only minutes apart, then hours of nothing. It's as if Google can turn us on and off while still showing our site in the SERPS. That is very strange and an experience shared by other sites over in the UK. I am in the US.
1:49 am on Sept 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

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For us, we developed somewhat of a brand name, and a leading product for an industry. There are some important keywords we don't rank for but the brand searches far out weigh the keyword searches (which rank lower). I don't like seeing the keyword searches lower, but because of the recognized brand and the repeat customers we still manage to keep growing.

Google is getting pretty stagnant as a result of trying to protect themselves from spammers, making some parts of their result set extremely consistent and/or boring.

On the other hand, places like facebook and leading portals are grabbing up some of the search traffic. People are basically performing other activities besides search.
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