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Google Updates and SERP Changes - Mar 2012

     

Hissingsid

3:39 pm on Mar 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



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

Something very odd just happened. I searched for my top keyword term. We have been at #3 since Panda, previously #1. My listing had disappeared completely, nowhere down to page 10 (in 10s). I did the same search on a different browser with no history on it, same result. Other terms were where I expected them.

Then 2 minutes later I'm back at #3.

What's going on?

Sid (In UK)

[edited by: tedster at 3:28 am (utc) on Mar 2, 2012]

scottsonline

7:39 pm on Mar 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



I can confirm here in the US something went haywire.

This is not a specific search but do a plain English search like how much does xyz cost and see what happens. Xyz can be a service, product or anything else. The results are not even close especially if the product or service can have other meanings or is a brand.

graeme_p

9:23 pm on Mar 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

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One search term is always at 5 when I search for it not logged in, 3 if I am logged in (used to be always 3 till Jan :( though!), but according to Statcounter other people in the UK using Google UK are seeing it everywhere from 5 to 12. No other terms seem to be doing the same

wingslevel

9:50 pm on Mar 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



For me, the big fluctuations in traffic quality are in the longtail results. These are really tough to track because some of these queries might not even get typed in to google twice in a week. But clearly there are lots of sitewide trust factors that affect longtail results - I call these voodoo factors because most of us and probably very few google engineers can even understand them.

My two-word keywords that go to the home page, class pages and category pages have been relatively stable and they don't seem to move when I am experiencing swings in quality of google referrals.

As for today, we slipped back into voodoo zombie land a couple of hours ago. Today's better converting swing, though, wasn't quite as high quality as some of the highs that we have been seeing. Someone, or possibly some machine, is still assuredly busy turning dials.

ohno

8:35 am on Mar 24, 2012 (gmt 0)



Just one point, & I've seen this a few times now. When the switch flicks to good traffic we get a cart add from Googlebot! It doesn't actually add anything to the cart so I guess for whatever reason it's hitting the view cart script on a page. Last night we also had a visit which claims to be Google on a smart phone?



Last Visit : New


ISP: GOOGLE INC


Country: UNITED STATES


Region/State: CALIFORNIA


City: MOUNTAIN VIEW


Type/OS: Smartphone/Mobile - Android 2


Domain: US Network


Language: Unknown


Browser: Android Webkit Browser [Android 2]


Screen Res: Unknow 16 Millions colors (24 bit)


Javascript: Enabled

petehall

12:20 pm on Mar 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Some of the long tail searches appear to have recovered today, but not all - not by a long shot.

Interestingly this site advertises around 6-7 brands of widgets, and the ranking issue is isolated entirely to the 2 most popular brands of widget.

For these two brands Google definitely prefers the small, specialist sites over a single site that offers multiple brands (not in all cases - sites which offer all brands are thrown into the mix at random).

Even the industries biggest site is now struggling to achieve consistent rankings.

The results are very random, and very messy.

wingslevel

4:37 pm on Mar 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Some of the long tail searches appear to have recovered today, but not all - not by a long shot.


we are seeing this too, for about the last 12 hours. we are US ecom site.

scottsonline

4:45 pm on Mar 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



1. A week ago if I searched for my alma mater and the word tumbler in an attempt to buy the one advertised in the alumni magazine I found one of the approved university resellers or used items on eBay. Searching yesterday and today I get tumblr microblog pages that may talk about my particular university but that have nothing to do with the item. So google has bumped up the authority of tumblr and now assumes via some tweak that I actually wanted joe publics blog post about someone receiving tenure at said university versus the item I specifically triggered. That's a big change in the last 2-3 days.

2. Sites previously demoted as duplicates are rocking. A week or two ago if I searched for "brand product xyz" I'd get the manufacturer and a bunch of resellers. Maybe a YouTube video and the onebox. The organic SERPS contained mostly independent sites. Thursday thru today? In many cases the first five spots are occupied by the same business running sites selling the same item at the same price but using different keywords as described for the meta title and URL. "custom cut product xyz" on one site, "product xyz customized for you" on another times a thousand products. Google will rank them 1-2-3-4. If you add to cart and the check out you are dumped to the parent site. If you need assistance online chat dumps you to the parent site. Scripts all over the pages point to the parent site. This is a very recent change again. These sites had been demoted in most verticals.

People are telling us about long tail. #1 may explain how longer tail is being hit as google misinterprets what people want in plain English and promote keyword rich sites upward. #2 can also explain the long tail drop on less frequently searched terms as effective mirrors dominate the top results.

Combined with the display changes to the SERPS with the onebox and product ads we are probably able to explain the periods of zombie traffic.

[edited by: tedster at 5:29 pm (utc) on Mar 24, 2012]

scottsonline

5:58 pm on Mar 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



I should add you can see the tumblr effect by putting almost any word in front of the version with an e (mug). It will return some version of a tumblr blog. I could list about 50 other examples of domain names that are close approximations to everyday words suddenly ranking very highly for perceived missed spellings by google. Apply that out to all of our verticals and we have all been shuffled down. Apply it to the tens of thousands of near spellings and we can easily see how spot 2 is now spot 4 or 5 on longtail that is impossible to track.

This example is particularly relevant because the same search in bing returns actual products without the tumblr blogs.

Ted would better understand why this is happening, trust ranks maybe? All I know is it also comes into play with the duplicate sites as I notice it is triggered most often when the domain name being used by the merchants running keyword clone sites relates to the keyword search.

petehall

6:56 pm on Mar 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Wow! I am seeing huge shifts in search suggest.

Now when I search for widgets, I'm being suggested to search for these widgets in India, Singapore & Europe, with a new I'm feeling lucky link added into the mix!

Also my site is 'bouncing back' on some of the suggested terms (in the dynamic / ajax results). All very strange!

Is anyone else noticing a huge shift in search suggest?

Perhaps our zombies / foreign traffic have been receiving suggestions for search for widgets in the UK for quite some time... this would explain the foreign zombies!

mark_roach

5:49 pm on Mar 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



In the UK I am seeing searches having additional local pages injected into the listings. These additional pages are local to me.

For example google has my location as from Leeds, and the extra pages either have Leeds or West Yorkshire in the title even though I have not specified any location in my search.

It is not triggered for every search, but when it happens 3 or 4 extra pages are added which has the net result of pushing my what was the 5th result down to position 9.

I first saw this for myself on Friday 23rd, but judging from my stats it probably started happening on Tuesday 20th.

garyr_h

2:14 am on Mar 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



< moved from another location >

Very, very odd for me.

Started seeing increase crawl on 3/16 until 3/21 and not much since. Traffic went down on 3/21 and has slowly risen back up to pre-3/21.

Seeing completely different rankings. Some pages are listed to where they were pre-panda 1.0 while other pages fell flat and down the SERPs. Two pages which held the top result are now only top 10 and hovering between top 5-10 only.

But traffic is basically the exact same. Very, very strange! Truly makes me believe that Google throttles traffic to websites.

Does this sound familiar to anyone else? I made a TON of changes since mid-January and am hoping for some sort of panda recovery.

Even the subcategory page I mentioned before which was being taken over in the SERPs by a page it linked to is now back to being listed, only instead of the page 2 it originally had ~6 months ago is on page 5.

[edited by: tedster at 2:26 am (utc) on Mar 26, 2012]

Martin Ice Web

8:12 am on Mar 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Huge hit, -40%. Amazon + ebay + + one big reseller + never ever seen before pages hit the first places.
Some domains have multiple positions in serps.
Many of the competitors are gone. Seems like the new update has hit the ecom sites?



loc: ecom germany

ohno

8:25 am on Mar 26, 2012 (gmt 0)



Traffic continues to drop here (UK). Weekend was poor but the weather was very good. Sio far today, dead. SERP's look the same as Friday to me when we had a massive traffic blip late on!

petehall

10:44 am on Mar 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Some domains have multiple positions in serps.


I have seen on several occasions a site with three listings, not from sub domains but the home page + two sub folder pages.

This surely can't stick? It's horrendous!

tigger

10:49 am on Mar 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tigger is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



This surely can't stick? It's horrendous!


its been like this for months but I agree its horrendous!

I'm waiting for G to update again very soon as the serps are a mess ranking sites that have not been touched for years or just full of doorway pages

petehall

10:54 am on Mar 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



I'm now ranking for terms that I've never optimised for and that aren't even anywhere on the page...

Widget 'deals'. I have never in existence phrased the brand as a deal and yet there are the rankings.

If you want a deal it looks like I'm your man... err... ok! Ha!

ecmedia

1:57 pm on Mar 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



When I search for "Cathay Pacific" airline (I am planning a trip to Hong Kong and rather than type it I just wanted to click on the link), one of the largest in the world, my first hit is a Yelp review for a restaurant by that name in my area.

tedster

2:26 pm on Mar 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Let's not go on listing specific bad search results - they have always existed and posting each new discovery really doesn't help this thread offer something useful to the community. Thanks.

[edited by: tedster at 2:50 pm (utc) on Mar 26, 2012]

mhansen

2:40 pm on Mar 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



I've noticed over several days now that the longer-tailed serps I pay attention to, seem to be filled a bit more with "big-brand-names" and quite a bit more "nearly-exact-match-domains.tdl".

Our main business seems to have steady ranking of our main keywords, but like many others are reporting, search referrals seem to be off about 15-20%.

We're hopeful that the traffic/demand dip is weather related since spring is really in full bloom in most of the USA. I assume by the crowds at my local big-box-hardware store this weekend, many others are spending time in their yards also.

reseller

3:46 pm on Mar 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



I think Google Hong Kong [google.com.hk...] is showing much different (maybe better) SERPs than Google.com

rlange

4:01 pm on Mar 26, 2012 (gmt 0)



ohno wrote:
A SEARCH engine should connect users with the sites they want, not what Google THINKS they want(littered with adverts).

Frustration makes people say strange things, but that's one of the strangest I've seen; it makes absolutely no sense at all. If the user knows what sites they want, why are they using a search engine? Also, search engines aren't psychic.

--
Ryan

backdraft7

4:20 pm on Mar 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



Let's not go on listing specific bad search results - they have always existed and posting each new discovery really doesn't help this thread offer something useful to the community.


What's more useful than everyone agreeing that they are seeing identical issues. I for one love the reports and it makes me feel somewhat better knowing that's it's not just my site. I guess misery really does love company.

Why do I get the feeling that these discussions are groomed to be more for SEO benefit of WebmasterWorld than to the benefit of the users?

ohno

4:21 pm on Mar 26, 2012 (gmt 0)



If I want to buy apples I'd search "apples". I don't expect Google to serve up links to places that sell oranges with adverts for apples, oranges & bananas all over the place.

ohno

4:34 pm on Mar 26, 2012 (gmt 0)



I also get that feeling backdraft. I made a post regarding the current state of Google with a link to a good artical yet it wasn't published. Running scared of Google?!

reseller

4:46 pm on Mar 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Running scared of Google?!


Personally I'm running scared of all those Panda data refreshes things.

Dear GOOG! Pleaaaase no more Panda data refreshes :-)

HuskyPup

4:54 pm on Mar 26, 2012 (gmt 0)



I think Google Hong Kong


Very interesting results, I expected to do reasonably well since I do have Asian, Chinese and Indian domains but I was amazed at how "clean" they were.

It certainly makes G.co.uk look messy.

Anyone with any other examples?

tedster

5:46 pm on Mar 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Why do I get the feeling that these discussions are groomed to be more for SEO benefit of WebmasterWorld than to the benefit of the users?

Err, because you're a generally suspicious person these days? Seriously, we have always asked members not to list specific search terms. The reports about what people are struggling with can be helpful, I agree - especially when they're about trends over time,

This particular thread is intended to track the SERP updates and changes to the ranking formula Google is using. In the past, our members have sometimes been able to identify updates and ranking tweaks well before the webmaster community as a whole noticed what was going on.

The recent UK changes mentioned above are particularly interesting, because something seems to be going on there that google.com isn't demonstrating. Maybe Google's own blog post about March Search changes will shed some light on it, but I'll bet out members can share more than Google will.

scottsonline

6:16 pm on Mar 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



Google hong kong has all of the duplicates that plaque the verticals I monitor demoted. Additionally the non cart enabled sites google US ranks at the top are demoted.

They are incredibly clean. I'm actually shocked how much better they are. Google at googles best.

rlange

6:47 pm on Mar 26, 2012 (gmt 0)



This is going way off-topic, I think, so I'll leave it at this:

ohno wrote:
If I want to buy apples I'd search "apples". I don't expect Google to serve up links to places that sell oranges with adverts for apples, oranges & bananas all over the place.

How is Google supposed to know you want to buy apples when all you type in is [apples]? Whether Google hits the nail on the head or is wildly off target, it's only ever returning what it thinks you asked for.

A little deeper thinking and a lot less ranting about these issues would be a benefit to everyone.

--
Ryan

ohno

6:55 pm on Mar 26, 2012 (gmt 0)



I'll make it REALLY simple for you seeing as playing smart seems your game. The search term wasn't apples, I used that as a simple example (lost on you it would seem). The search term is/was a model number. Prior to the latest "quality" updates this search term would net great results-product search results, reviews, images etc etc. It is now way off the mark. Is that easy to understand? & you'd be bloody ranting if their latest smart ass updates were going to put YOU & your family on the streets.
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