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Using a multivariate dataset, across a range of different keyphrases, user intents and user types, Google exposed our site in marginal but significant ways (putting us up one place, dropping Universal search, above or below shopping results, etc). They did this with (at least) four separate sets.
BIG uplift in traffic since 1st SEPT (20% above trend) with a corresponding drop in conversion rate, so sales were broadly static (on trend). Referrals shifted at precisely the same time. No visible change in ranking.
A referral shift on 16th Sept, another 6th October- both traffic and conversion neutral (relative to the 1st Sept).
Then the biggy. 12th October, huge referral shift. Traffic-neutral, but conversions back at pre-Sept level. In other words, we are now 20% up on sales. The referrals are NOT the same (or even particularly similar) to the pre-September level
Huge opening for programmers to develop "virtual users" using proxies and loading up "test" info to find SERPS with different parameters and "user settings".
An extension of that would be to again use proxies to "shape" web page profiles that the webmaster is seeking. 10000 interval visits a day by a proxied bot performing what the webmaster sets it to do is very easy.
I see this traffic shaping exercise to be totally open to spam and manipulation. I honestly hope big G has a big ACE up it's sleeve that we don't know about yet.
I'd like to call upon adventurous programmers to try develop this bot and testing it to see how it can "shape" SERPS. It would seem that there is increasing evidence from many fronts that traffic shaping is well and truly here to stay. Let's see what we can do with it.