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Google Updates and SERP Changes - October 2010

     
8:22 pm on Sep 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

There are many different kinds of ranking disruptions being reported right now - dropped domain roots, unexplainable traffic spikes and dips. These things often come right before some kind of algo shift. What do you think - is something brewing?

[edited by: tedster at 12:38 pm (utc) on Oct 1, 2010]

3:56 pm on Oct 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

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The net effect of these two factors is to concentrate the traffic into highly competitive short (one - two word) phrases

I'm seeing the opposite change on some sites. There's a slight increase in some longer phrases that extend beyond the longest suggested query. So it sounds like the SEO community needs to study things a while longer to come to a solid understanding of what traffic changes Instant is creating.

There's a complex change here because Instant also involved a re-working of Google Suggest. Only 5 instead of 8, and a lot of filtering out of suggestions that used to appear.

I also think that general usage of Instant is not yet fixed. It's a new characteristic of search, and user behavior is still adapting.

[edited by: tedster at 5:56 pm (utc) on Oct 5, 2010]

4:14 pm on Oct 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Tedster,

I hope that the trend that you have observed is the norm. Usually, I prefer to be right...but not this time.

I think that it is also interesting to note the fact that Google have not rolled out Instant Search on all their regional domains. For me it works all the time on .com but only when I am logged into my account does it work for google.ie or .co.uk

I have also seen major changes in serps which are hard to rationalise.
7:40 pm on Oct 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Our company is based just east of NYC on Long Island. 9 to 11 is usually very quiet. We've been online since the mid 90s and have a pretty good feel for what we're doing. From 9 to noon today we had fantastic traffic - record traffic actually. For an hour we had almost no google visitors after lunch and nothing has really restored since. It doesn't time out with normal lunch cycles or anything else but the pattern seems to be repeating day to day.

There's a couple of clear patterns emerging. The tweak to the branding aspect is too sensitive or not sensitive enough. Keywords in the URL provide a reasonable boost but even disclosed interlinking between sites doesn't seem to prevent identical pages from ranking. Worse in the last week we are noticing 4 or 5 copies of the same page on the same site but with different keywords in the URL for the product ranking as sub pages. At one time that would be considered duplicate content, right now it seems like it's the thing to do unless it's all a trap. Google seems to be encouraging the creation of branded sites which I don't understand. The more duplicate content you can create the better.

Sites with keywords jammed into the meta title win. Brand Z Product A Part 12345 shipped to your door free will out rank an exact search for brand z product a. We now put the price in the meta title, some other keywords and even though it makes no real sense those new pages are indexing in spots 1 and 2.

Each day we check adwords, each day more of our keywords are turned off by Google. We had one keyword that generated 24 clicks and a lot of orders in the last two months. It's turned off now because of "low volume." Squeezed from all ends. The keywords we're allowed to use are all high volume, non descript and high priced. This roughly corresponds to particular longer tail organic going dead. IE we will see 5 keyword longtail go dead, within a week or two the ads we were runnign along side are now "not enough volume." Chicken meet the egg, organic results are being culled back to generic terms costing sales, then the ads we were running on those long tail terms go dead because very obviously the keyword traffic isn't there because those results no longer show in Google. It's a little scary to me how the whole thing is playing out, manipulation comes to mind. So by killing long tail they are effectively killing off low priced ads with their "low volume filter".
11:20 pm on Oct 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

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My site has taken a dip today, from position 3 to 9 for my main keyword. Been like this all day. Is this the big SERP update....I am curious....
11:33 pm on Oct 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

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@Forbin001, I believe a major update took place at about 12 ET today.

We had roughly 290 visitors per hour this morning. That dropped to zero Google visitors between 12 and 3 at which point traffic from Google returned but at a much diminished level. Bing, Yahoo and direct traffic remained the same. We went from the busiest three hours to the slowest three hours.

Either there was a major system error somewhere along the line or there was a significant change today.

There's never been a time in the 10+ year history of this site that traffic ever fluctuated to that level. Google turned off our site for a few hours today or I suppose there's a potential outage somewhere that blocked traffic but that doesn't seem to be carried through with the others.

I should add nothing seems to have changed in the SERPs. I use a bunch of different network connections and computers during the course of a normal day and I never post publicly from the same computer that I use to check analytics for clients. I usually use entirely different devices depending on the client. That said I cannot see an explanation for the drop unless there was just a belch this afternoon or that whatever they turned on they turned back off.
1:27 am on Oct 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I saw the same dive on my biggest site scottsonline, never seen anything like it before. Unfortunately I only have google analytics for the site so don't know if it's an analytics problem or if the site just went *poof* for a few hours.
1:46 am on Oct 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I hope its just temporary....back on August 3rd there was a minor hiccup in the SERPs. Then the next day they went up and down like a yo yo for the update.
2:01 am on Oct 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Things went south May 18th, then slowly improved right up until September 1st. September was a terrible month, but now as of October 3rd, traffic levels are the same but conversions have gone through the roof/ Just in time! Thank G, Go, Google! (and knock on wood)
4:10 am on Oct 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Let's make note of this comment in another thread:

scottsonline: We had roughly 200-225 Google visitors per hour on the main site I work on out of NYC, it spiked this am and then fell to zero for 2-3 hours. They either rolled something out that they rolled back, there was an outage up the pipe or they're about to roll out a new update which a lot of us will end up calling "the end of the line."

I called a competitor we're friendly with and spoke to the webmaster about an hour ago. They're in a different State and are a much smaller business. They had a great morning and then traffic went to zero during the same period so I'm guessing it wasn't our site that was having problems.

[webmasterworld.com...]
6:59 am on Oct 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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UK based here... my SERPS are up and down again today... they seemed to stable out by last Thursday but seing the same patern again today!
10:43 am on Oct 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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we also witnessed something similar to what scottsonline has noticed with his site... traffic declined
12:05 pm on Oct 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Ya I have also noticed.
Ranking is fluctuated day by day through real time search implementation by Google.
1:43 pm on Oct 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Something happened yesterday; we experienced a 20% dip across the board. Not just the sites overall, but just about 20% reduction in visitors for each individual keyword.

No change in rankings.
1:50 pm on Oct 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Randle,

Do you use only Google Analytics?

We're seeing something similar across about 10 sites that I've checked so far - 20% and no obvious drop in rankings.
1:56 pm on Oct 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Justing thinking: if Google had managed to trim 20% of traffic from their top 10 organic rankings, without changing those rankings, it'd worth buying Google stock and waiting for an enormous bounce in Adwords revenue.

For the record, the sites on which I'm seeing a 20% drop, are almost all vertical themed sites with geotargeted pages, i.e. blue widget sales in california, green widget sales in idaho.
2:25 pm on Oct 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Unfortunately I only have google analytics for the site so don't know if it's an analytics problem or if the site just went *poof* for a few hours.


i am not sure what is happening...but the traffic has declined this month (october) without any change in rankings for the keywords i monitor...the revenue too has declined to the same extent...

1) Something is wrong with GA (but revenue too has declined)
2) So it could be a deliberate attempt by G to shave off a bit from traffic and revenue
3) G is succeeding with its efforts to increase its own revenue (through the more prominent PPC ads), by introducing Google Instant in more countries.


It could be some other reason too and I am keenly following webmasters reports here this month...
2:27 pm on Oct 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Something happened yesterday; we experienced a 20% dip across the board. Not just the sites overall, but just about 20% reduction in visitors for each individual keyword.

No change in rankings.


i too saw a similar thing and am sure that there would many more webmasters who would have noticed this yesterday...
2:36 pm on Oct 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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20% and no obvious drop in rankings.


Have you tried searching using different proxy services or aol or comcast to compare? I am seeing two different sets of results that are floating around. Just because you do not see your site ranking differently, if your traffic drops off then many parts of the web are most likely seeing your site in a much lower position.

This is the same thing that happened in the spring when google updated except that I was seeing 3 different sets of results bouncing around in the spring and now I can only see two.
2:41 pm on Oct 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Do you use only Google Analytics?


Yes, certainly a possibility its a reporting problem; our conversions were fine, no drop there.
2:47 pm on Oct 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Just because you do not see your site ranking differently, if your traffic drops off then many parts of the web are most likely seeing your site in a much lower position.

Kelowna, I usually monitor ranking across all parts of the web from which i receive the traffic...and it has remained the same everywhere...

Interestingly, a third party traffic service that i use is reporting higher traffic numbers for this monday and the revenue from an ad services other than adsense are showing more number of impressions and earnings...

This makes me believe that there is something wrong with Google properties...It could be a glitch or a deliberate shave off...I hope that it is a glitch...
2:48 pm on Oct 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Not seeing much change in UK & US sites here, the UK site had a surprisingly busy last weekend given that it is a B2B. Other than that I am not yet seeing much change.
2:55 pm on Oct 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Not seeing much change in UK & US sites here, the UK site had a surprisingly busy last weekend given that it is a B2B. Other than that I am not yet seeing much change.


The third party traffic monitoring service and other ad services seem to suggest a busy weekend than normal...I notice the decline only on google properties...
3:00 pm on Oct 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Traffic took a dump yesterday and all my rankings are the same as well.
3:06 pm on Oct 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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20% and no obvious drop in rankings.



Have you tried searching using different proxy services or aol or comcast to compare? I am seeing two different sets of results that are floating around. Just because you do not see your site ranking differently, if your traffic drops off then many parts of the web are most likely seeing your site in a much lower position.

This is the same thing that happened in the spring when google updated except that I was seeing 3 different sets of results bouncing around in the spring and now I can only see two.


Our ranking is checked against two US proxies, and from here in Spain.
3:09 pm on Oct 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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This may be an analytics problem. I saw an apparent significant dip in traffic yesterday, about 10% lower than expected, with the loss coming almost entirely from Google referrals. That's not completely outside the realm of normal variation, and I thought maybe it was just a bad day.

Then I checked my server-side analytics and it claims I actually had _more_ traffic than the previous day. Adsense impressions were also up from the previous day, not down.

I think GA had a glitch.
3:10 pm on Oct 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I usually monitor ranking across all parts of the web from which i receive the traffic...and it has remained the same everywhere...


What do you use to monitor?

There is no way that your traffic can just stop... your serp position must be changing to make this happen.
3:17 pm on Oct 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Our ranking is checked against two US proxies, and from here in Spain.


I sometimes have to go through 10 proxies to find the different results as the results seem to be bouncing around. Right now I get different results on comcast compared to aol as well... that can change back in just minutes. This bouncing around is enough to drop my traffic by 20%. I have been able to research the new set of results a little that had shown my site 9 spots lower and have got it back up to just 6 spots lower. The new algo/results seem to be a little fussier with the on page stuff.
3:19 pm on Oct 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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How do folks monitor rankings? I was under the impression this is impossible with personalized search? Proxies do no good. The results you see there are just personalized for the proxy or ip. Clearing cookies does no good, the results are still personalized to your ip. Taking a sampling of results across various regions does no good, since you are taking a shot in the dark. How are folks able to see there rankings besides using the reports in Googles WMT?
3:19 pm on Oct 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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no kelowna...I am seeing several others reporting the same problem on this thread...

@freejung, you may be right. as i just checked the adsense impressions and they seem to be as good as it was during the last week of september...the revenue drop may be coincidental...

So it looks almost certain that yesterday's dip may be due to GA glitch...
3:28 pm on Oct 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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@indyank I am seeing 20% drop in traffic but a 50 to 70% drop in orders. Somehow I am getting slightly less traffic but it its less qualified. I can't work it out from my stats. All I can imagine is that google are dropping the paying SERPS from all but my own view and promoting the non paying useless traffic ones (also out of my view)
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