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Google Updates and SERP Changes - Mar 2012



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]

Marketing Guy

3:42 pm on Mar 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Could be querying different datacentres running slightly different sets of data. Have you seen any signs of traffic drops? Next couple of days should paint a clearer picture.


3:51 pm on Mar 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

Deffo something going on, 3 sales in a few mins then dead, then the same again. Something "blowing" through again?

Dead all morning then three sales @ 13:32, 13:33 & 13:35, then dead again until 15:14, 15:19 &15:19!

[edited by: ohno at 4:00 pm (utc) on Mar 1, 2012]


3:51 pm on Mar 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Visits are down about 20% since the start of this week.

I have Google currently open on 3 browsers. I'm #1 on one, #3 on another and nowhere on a third. If this is 3 data centres and one is going to become the norm I'm hoping its the one where we are #1 rather than nowhere.

Not logged, in cookies dumped.




4:04 pm on Mar 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

2 more just come in too! Something deffo on test here me thinks......


4:12 pm on Mar 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

Now another two, traffic spike on two sites now! Anyone else seeing this?


4:24 pm on Mar 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

The effect I reported earlier seems to be something related to my home page. When I search for <<company name>> I previously saw the home page listed with a block of 4 inner pages. Now I don't see my home page just 4 listings for inner pages.


4:40 pm on Mar 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

I'll tell you in 6 hours Dave...your patterns usually take that long to hit me. Pretty slow this morning again, but mornings have been slow in the last few days, with small spurts in the evening.

My Apache volume right now looks like it's midnight, when in fact it's mid day.

This is so different than in 2008 and prior years. It seem each year the pattern is more broken with many more lows than what used to be considered "normal". A typical week's sales numbers used to be 25, 20, 18, 19, 18, 17, 22. Now it's more like 18, 4, 17, 15, 8, 6, 15. So much for progress...seems like that's their M.O.


4:52 pm on Mar 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

Good luck, we were dead until that spurt @ 1.30ish. Will be very interesting if you get the same. TBH this constant flipping seems to have become the norm. Monitoring the SERP's rarely reveals anything mind(I'm still seeing a lot of forums for some search terms).


5:13 pm on Mar 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

For one of my long time, single four letter word, bread & butter terms, I am flipping from #1 on page #1 to #1 on page #2. That's crazy!


6:20 pm on Mar 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I figured out the direct visits. It's something Pricegrabber.com is doing for a hour everyday. From 1:00 P.M. to 2:00 P.M. I'm slammed with 200 to 400 visitors.


10:34 pm on Mar 1, 2012 (gmt 0)


Whatever they play with now seems to be affecting business for the entire web. I am once again experiencing a dead week (had a number of sales over the weekend but absolutely nothing since). It is dead!... my ecom sites, my ebay (two) stores, my ecrater and bonanza stores. Simply no sales! .. traffic levels +/- the same with some channels actually seeing an increase. But no buyers.

Everything seems to be going quiet at once lately and i have no doubt it is a direct result of Google shenanigans. Seems that whatever you do online nowadays, Google are always at the top of the food chain. It is becoming impossible to run an online business like that anymore.

Lately I see wild fluctuations over my affiliate channels as well, with too many days of "Hardly any" to "No sales". These channels used to be consistent in producing sales day in day out for year$. Not anymore!...

The advice of not having all your eggs in one basket seems to be worthless nowadays. The G virus is everywhere and have tight control over the web food chain.

When will this nightmare end?


8:27 am on Mar 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

How would Google affect eBay though? Product search results feature eBay, I guess they could tone that down? Surely most people visit eBay direct though? Then again these days I really do not know, people's mindset is to visit Google for everything I think! The SERP's look the same to me but for some reason one of our sites has lost some of the +1's we had?


8:36 am on Mar 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Traffic also down this week for me. That seems to really be the norm now. Every two weeks, lost another thousand visitors. Soon there won't be anything left to take.


9:06 am on Mar 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Traffic down slightly across the board for my sites. Do you think it's related to concerns over the new privacy policy?


9:13 am on Mar 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

Good point, it's been all over the news this week hasn't it! Did I hear the EU are looking into it?


9:40 am on Mar 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Ref Privacy Policy

I don't think EU will win except if they show that Google is using data collected before new policy was published or they can show opt out is not easy enough. If you tell people that their data will be shared and they don't opt out of that then it is OK to share.

The issue is that they didn't tell us previously and they don't make it easy enough to opt out. If they just start collecting data now and make it easier to opt out they will be OK.


9:49 am on Mar 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

How would Google affect ebay though?

Ebay is affected by this like any other ecom site. The changes in the algo greatly influence the quality of traffic they receive and their pages (product) visibility/position over the SERPS.

True, many users search ebay directly, BUT many (many) users find the products on the SERPS to begin with and only then go on to purchase. Thats how it used to work before anyway. Ebay, ecrater, bonanza, etc. ...same story with all lately. Dead, dead and dead.


2:45 pm on Mar 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

I think that "like it or not", we all nee to get used to this new Google "EvErFlUx". Since MayDay, one pattern has held true throughout: We get a minor upset and juggle of the serps, then traffic takes a dive for a day, maybe two, then everything pops back to "normal"...only to have this same cycle endlessly repeated week after week.

I just recovered from a nasty Zeus Banking Trojan infection (from a fake BBB complaint email, stupid me!) and the perp actually got into my server and started sending fake IRS emails stating "Your tax refurn was rejected"....the IRS notified my hosting service....so, I suppose I can expect an audit this year...long story short, we got everything cleaned up now...I hope.
Anyway, I do have a point in here somewhere...
My point is that our fragile footing in the serps should not be taken for granted, G owes us nothing, so it's our responsibility to keep our sites as white hat as possible. After all, all the "quality updates" are designed to circumvent the slime ball scrapers, black hatters and hackers who have spoiled things for us all.

Can you imagine what the serps might like be WITHOUT all these algo updates?


4:36 pm on Mar 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

Not sure how helpful this is, but yesterday was the first time I've seen a marked drop in traffic for one of my sites. Not an ecommerce site, went from about 100/day to 1 yesterday.

SERP results today look a little lower than usual for long tails, but my main 3-word keys are good.

The site is informational, built using WP with very little modifications, but two days ago I did update it to new version and switched the them to default 2011 theme as a test.

I've now switched back, waiting to see what happens.


4:52 pm on Mar 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

Today has been bad for a Friday, not helped by the fcat that our hosting dies at 3:50 until 4:40! We had a spurt of sales like yesterday but no where near as many.Visits are UP though which suggests it's a quality issue again....

Knowing my luck Google slap you with a penalty if your sites are unavailable!


4:55 pm on Mar 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

Not exactly a true penalty - but they certainly might cut off traffic for a while until their confidence in your site's availability is restored. They don't want their users to have a bad experience if they can avoid it.


5:14 pm on Mar 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

It was down for 50 mins, traffic is straight back. Last time this happened some items in product feed were flagged, will keep an eye on it. SERP's still seem to have far too many forums & posts appearing to my eyes?


8:27 pm on Mar 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

SERP's still seem to have far too many forums & posts appearing to my eyes?

Add parked domains to that list. Google is broken, wish they would fix it. I've never seen the results as bad as they are right now.

At first I thought it was me... I was looking for very hard to find information. I tried the same query on Bing and the answer was on top. Google's first page was littered with parked domains, forum posts that contained like one word of my query and other junk.

I also noticed that over the last two months, Google has sent me to a bad guy (virus / download this...) website at least three times. I'm a white hat guy, so I'm concentrating on quality. I don't know how these guys are doing it, but they are playing Google right now.


12:55 am on Mar 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Totally out for the last 7 hours...12:30pm to 7:30 pm, these are business hours (we did more sales in the middle of the night last night)...how can they shut us down like this without making any changes to our sites? What? Google loved us for the past 15 years, now suddenly we are not worth listing, yet the garbage sites continue to prevail.

I'm watching Realtime Beta right now and I've got visitors from India, Indonesia, Africa, Australia, EU and yet I am set to get traffic from only the USA. This is just another perfect example of these algo upsets at their worst. Still seeing my four letter keyword formerly at #1 on page 1 now sitting at #1 on page two.
Come on Google - get it right!


4:35 am on Mar 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm watching Realtime Beta right now and I've got visitors from India, Indonesia, Africa, <b>Australia</b>, EU

I would love to take your Australian traffic anytime, a highly converting traffic over my sites, when i do get enough of it.

Come on Google - get it right!

Too late I'm afraid. They seem so far up their A*&$ with all them latest changes and complete ranking system overhaul, i see no way back from this mayhem.

We should all prepare for a life without Google (as we know it), it is no longer a search engine. Even their CEO is saying that.


9:18 am on Mar 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Having looked through my portfolio of websites this afternoon, I see some changes in ranking that look significant....exactly how or why they are significant is harder to analyze.

I cannot find any simple explanation for these changes, though the websites cover several fields, so that may not be unexpected just because of different factors being applied differently to different areas of search....

My intuition says:
Medical type sites: the site authority factor required for good ranking has been increased again to exclude "amateur" sites or those with a sales pitch.

Travel sites: I sense there has been some adjustment to the on-page keyword density or link anchor text keyword density factors. I find it hard to believe, but it looks like the on-page keyword density now needs to be higher on one of my sites.

But as always, things are unclear. In a chaotic algorithm with so many factors, how could it be otherwise?


11:57 am on Mar 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hello Guys,

It seems there is another G update running...

Check here G confirms Panda 3.3 update...


[edited by: tedster at 5:04 pm (utc) on Mar 6, 2012]


1:22 pm on Mar 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

That page was published 27 Feb 2012 and it looks like a huge update.


3:05 pm on Mar 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Call them algo updates, data refreshes, tweaks or whatever. 2012 has started off with a flurry of these -almost weekly it seems.

We may not all agree with these changes, but, I think there seems to be a consensus here that the implementation of them has been really sloppy. There are so many signals crossing each other and then different indexes (like primary and then longtail) - that so many of us are seeing periods of obviously low quality traffic. The whole algo has just become so complex that it just may not be manageable for google engineers anymore. Imagine a panda team, other old quality score indices, oop, -50, toolbar data, GA data and then all of the on page stuff (which seems to matter less and less in my experience). So when a team changes one of those dials, it sends shockwaves through the serps. I can't imagine anyone could be smart enough to get their arms around all of these signals and teams and coordinate sensible SERPS.

I think another thing might be at play too. Imagine the processing required to run what must be hundreds of thousands of lines of code through billions of pages of data in separate indices.

Whatever the reason, the engineers at google are seeing the same garbage that many of us are. They are aware of those huge swings in conversions and traffic quality. I think it has just spun out of control and they are just lost.
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