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Zombie Traffic from Google and Traffic Shaping/Throttling - Analysis

     
4:24 am on Apr 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

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



We need a dedicated thread to look at this odd phenomenon being reported by a subset of our members. It really isn't about any particular "update" because the apparent signs have been reported since 2008.

I have personally seen just a few examples of traffic shaping and nothing I could really call zombie traffic, but I think it's time for all of us to take the reports seriously and at least give advice on how to analyze what these webmasters are seeing.

To truly make sense of this, we'll need to pull in many areas of Google that we rarely talk about. This ain't your daddy's SEO! Here's a pretty good overview, from 2010: [webmasterworld.com...]
9:42 pm on Dec 7, 2012 (gmt 0)



What the hell is wrong with this traffic. All hitting one page and leave. Absolutely no interaction. No new forum sign ups or further browsing. I am simply baffled.

Real time stats, last 6 Minutes:

96.254.107.146           [Microsoft Internet Explorer]----[Screen Size: 1280x720]----[Color Depth: 24 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; MSIE 9.0; Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; Trident/5.0)
Referrer: Direct entry

69.208.77.120           [Netscape]----[Screen Size: 1280x800]----[Color Depth: 24 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10_6_8) AppleWebKit/534.57.2 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1.7 Safari/534.57.2
Referrer: [google.com...]

94.174.76.182           [Netscape]----[Screen Size: 1366x768]----[Color Depth: 32 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64) AppleWebKit/537.11 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/23.0.1271.95 Safari/537.11
Referrer: [google.co.uk...]

81.108.179.70           [Netscape]----[Screen Size: 1366x768]----[Color Depth: 24 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; rv:16.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/16.0
Referrer: Direct entry

63.85.50.241           [Microsoft Internet Explorer]----[Screen Size: 1024x768]----[Color Depth: 32 colors]
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 5.1; .NET CLR 1.0.3705; .NET CLR 1.1.4322; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; .NET CLR 3.0.4506.2152; .NET CLR 3.5.30729; InfoPath.1; MS-RTC LM 8; .NET4.0C; .NET4.0E)
Referrer: Unknown

67.8.248.135           [Microsoft Internet Explorer]----[Screen Size: 1280x1024]----[Color Depth: 32 colors]
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; BOIE8;ENUS; GTB7.4; SV1; chromeframe/23.0.1271.95; .NET CLR 1.0.3705; .NET CLR 1.1.4322; Media Center PC 3.1; AskTbBLT/5.14.1.20007)
Referrer: Unknown

108.89.174.38           [Netscape]----[Screen Size: 320x568]----[Color Depth: 32 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 6_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/536.26 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/6.0 Mobile/10A525 Safari/8536.25
Referrer: Direct entry

98.64.218.95           [Netscape]----[Screen Size: 320x480]----[Color Depth: 32 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9B176 Safari/7534.48.3
Referrer: [google.com...]

68.54.247.4           [Netscape]----[Screen Size: 768x1024]----[Color Depth: 32 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (iPad; CPU OS 6_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/536.26 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/6.0 Mobile/10A523 Safari/8536.25
Referrer: Unknown

108.13.72.109           [Netscape]----[Screen Size: 1024x768]----[Color Depth: 24 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 5.1; rv:12.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/12.0
Referrer: [google.com...]
10:50 pm on Dec 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



@xcoder, I am seeing the very same thing. Anemic traffic and most hitting one page and bailing out. The other day sales were hitting every 15 to 30 minutes all day, now I'm back to one token sale in the morning and on just before midnight and nothing in between. Considerable increase in bounce over the past two days.
8:18 am on Dec 8, 2012 (gmt 0)



Last 6 minutes... interesting cluster. All hitting the site at very close proximity.

141.0.8.239           [Opera]----[Screen Size: 290x116]----[Color Depth: 4 colors]
Opera/9.80 (Android; Opera Mini/7.0.29530/28.3234; U; en) Presto/2.8.119 Version/11.10
Referrer: Unknown

99.250.87.48           [Netscape]----[Screen Size: 320x480]----[Color Depth: 32 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (iPod; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_5 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8L1 Safari/6533.18.5
Referrer: [google.ca...]

96.55.205.251           [Microsoft Internet Explorer]----[Screen Size: 976x549]----[Color Depth: 24 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; MSIE 10.0; Windows NT 6.2; WOW64; Trident/6.0)
Referrer: [google.ca...]

98.239.109.75           [Netscape]----[Screen Size: 320x480]----[Color Depth: 32 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 6_0 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/536.26 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/6.0 Mobile/10A403 Safari/8536.25
Referrer: Unknown
8:27 am on Dec 8, 2012 (gmt 0)



@backdraft7

I can now watch them live. My next step is to start challenging them with a basic quiz channeled directly to suspected ips and gauge their response/behavior (in real time).

Lets try separating man from machine.
4:13 pm on Dec 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



Great idea xcoder, but I already suspect most of those are mobile devices just based on screen size. Keep in mind, people who actually browse the web using a mobile device with a postage stamp sized screen already have the IQ and attention span of a flea. That or they can't afford a real computer.

In talking to my 30 year old daughter, the trend is that young people today have turned OFF their ISP accounts in favor of internet service for their phones. This creates new opportunity for some businesses and kills off others. My business relies on being able to view larger documents and not through a straw.

If a website doesn't initially POP with some viral video or photo album, them you'll quickly lose your mobile visitors.
5:31 pm on Dec 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



@xcoder
In your message #4525775:
There is an IP 166.205.68.44
There is an IP 166.205.68.48
Six minute span, user information is the same. When I see things like that, I tend to think bot.

If you have the option of doing so, it might be interesting to take a day's worth of "short visitors", sort them by IP and look for patterns both in IP address and other fields.
10:46 pm on Dec 8, 2012 (gmt 0)



Last 6 minutes. Slight improvement to script, reverse DNS....Lots and lots of mobile devices (smartphones in particular)...

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

71.176.32.231 [pool-71-176-32-231.nrflva.fios.verizon.net]----[Netscape]----[Screen Size: 320x480]----[Color Depth: 32 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 6_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/536.26 (KHTML, like Gecko) Mobile/10A523
Referrer: [google.com...]

202.89.156.178 [202-89-156-178.ue.woosh.co.nz]----[Netscape]----[Screen Size: 320x480]----[Color Depth: 32 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (iPod; CPU iPhone OS 5_1_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/534.46.0 (KHTML, like Gecko) CriOS/21.0.1180.82 Mobile/9B206 Safari/7534.48.3
Referrer: direct entry

92.41.21.160 [92.41.21.160.threembb.co.uk]----[Microsoft Internet Explorer]----[Screen Size: 1821x1024]----[Color Depth: 24 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; MSIE 9.0; Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; Trident/5.0)
Referrer: direct entry

68.171.231.82 [68-171-231-82.rdns.blackberry.net]----[Netscape]----[Screen Size: 640x480]----[Color Depth: 24 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (BlackBerry; U; BlackBerry 9900; en) AppleWebKit/534.11 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/7.1.0.391 Mobile Safari/534.11
Referrer: [google.ca...]

108.242.164.39 [108-242-164-39.lightspeed.stlsmo.sbcglobal.net]----[Microsoft Internet Explorer]----[Screen Size: 1280x800]----[Color Depth: 32 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; MSIE 9.0; Windows NT 6.0; Trident/5.0)
Referrer: [google.com...]

213.205.233.219 [ No Reverse DNS record ]----[Netscape]----[Screen Size: 320x480]----[Color Depth: 32 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_1_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9B206 Safari/7534.48.3
Referrer: [google.co.uk...]

166.137.100.45 [mobile-166-137-100-045.mycingular.net]----[Netscape]----[Screen Size: 320x480]----[Color Depth: 32 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_1_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9B206 Safari/7534.48.3
Referrer: [google.com...]

99.242.252.138 [CPE20c9d013c42c-CMb89bc9d16fbd.cpe.net.cable.rogers.com]----[Netscape]----[Screen Size: 768x1024]----[Color Depth: 32 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (iPad; CPU OS 6_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/536.26 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/6.0 Mobile/10A523 Safari/8536.25
Referrer: direct entry

70.199.105.106 [106.sub-70-199-105.myvzw.com]----[Netscape]----[Screen Size: 540x960]----[Color Depth: 32 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 4.0.4; en-us; DROID RAZR 4G Build/6.7.2-180_DHD-16_M4-31) AppleWebKit/534.30 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile Safari/534.30
Referrer: direct entry

71.60.49.100 [c-71-60-49-100.hsd1.pa.comcast.net]----[Netscape]----[Screen Size: 1366x768]----[Color Depth: 24 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; rv:17.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/17.0
Referrer: [google.com...]

93.186.16.244 [c16-244.blackberry.net]----[Netscape]----[Screen Size: 320x240]----[Color Depth: 24 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (BlackBerry; U; BlackBerry 9300; en) AppleWebKit/534.8 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/6.0.0.668 Mobile Safari/534.8
Referrer: [google.com...]

68.49.48.184 [c-68-49-48-184.hsd1.md.comcast.net]----[Netscape]----[Screen Size: 1366x768]----[Color Depth: 32 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64) AppleWebKit/537.11 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/23.0.1271.64 Safari/537.11
Referrer: [google.com...]
10:59 pm on Dec 8, 2012 (gmt 0)



Well, i am starting to get the picture. Most of the traffic to this website is now mobile based. Smartphones in particular.

It is like Google are now sending mostly mobile users (while maintaining +/- my daily quota as it was before the "switch"). Question asked what are they doing with my PC based viewers? I think we all know the answer to that by now...

This carp all started around mid August and its down hill ever since. It was not gradual. It was like a switch was flipped. Our good traffic is being monotised elsewhere while we are being sent the non converting junk...its as simple as that...

p.s.
Adwords advertisers have a setting (in control panel) to display ads on non mobile devices only ... Bingo!

[edited by: xcoder at 11:24 pm (utc) on Dec 8, 2012]

11:07 pm on Dec 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



...its as simple as that...


I don't know if it's as simple as that but I think you're right to bring it up as something worth seriously considering.
6:15 am on Dec 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



Could this just all be a massive test?

--Google throws mobile users onto sites where it expects them to be a good match, and takes notes on the results.
--As a control, Google occasionally throws mobile users at sites where they don't expect good results, and takes notes about that too.

The big problem I have with this theory is that surely it's been going on too long for that. It seems like as long as some people have been seeing this on their sites, Google would have learned everything they needed to know.
10:36 am on Dec 9, 2012 (gmt 0)



The big problem I have with this theory is that surely it's been going on too long for that. It seems like as long as some people have been seeing this on their sites, Google would have learned everything they needed to know.

I've been suspecting this for all results but in my mind it was more like Google temporarily rearranges the SERP to test if the lower ranked sites perform better (to them). With the way changes have been in the last 2 to 2.5 years Google still has a lot to learn. SERPs fluctuate for us between one set of long-tailed phrases and another that is effected mostly by locations; this is weekly. There are other times that it happens with more stable, higher traffic phrases but only for a few days then everything settles back down.
1:43 am on Dec 10, 2012 (gmt 0)



Last 6 minutes... Some interesting developments. Check out entries 1 and 2. Also check out entries 5 and 6. The close relationships are a little weird...
---------------------------------------------------

1) 98.18.105.14 [h14.105.18.98.dynamic.ip.windstream.net]----[Netscape]----[Screen Size: 320x480]----[Color Depth: 32 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 6_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/536.26 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/6.0 Mobile/10A523 Safari/8536.25
Referrer: Unknown [12:32:44] Reloads: 1

2) 174.131.20.245 [h245.20.131.174.dynamic.ip.windstream.net]----[Netscape]----[Screen Size: 1600x900]----[Color Depth: 32 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64) AppleWebKit/537.11 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/23.0.1271.95 Safari/537.11
Referrer: [google.com...] [12:34:28] Reloads: 1

3) 166.137.209.152 [mobile-166-137-209-152.mycingular.net]----[Netscape]----[Screen Size: 320x480]----[Color Depth: 32 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8F190 Safari/6533.18.5
Referrer: [google.com...] [12:35:49] Reloads 1

4) 204.210.246.4 [cpe-204-210-246-4.columbus.res.rr.com]----[Netscape]----[Screen Size: 720x1280]----[Color Depth: 32 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 4.1.1; en-us; SCH-I605 Build/JRO03C) AppleWebKit/534.30 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile Safari/534.30
Referrer: Unknown [12:34:08] Reloads: 1

5) 108.252.98.224 [108-252-98-224.lightspeed.jcvlfl.sbcglobal.net]----[Netscape]----[Screen Size: 320x568]----[Color Depth: 32 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 6_0 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/536.26 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/6.0 Mobile/10A405 Safari/8536.25
Referrer: [google.com...] [12:32:02] Reloads: 1

6) 99.40.76.112 [99-40-76-112.lightspeed.cicril.sbcglobal.net]----[Netscape]----[Screen Size: 320x480]----[Color Depth: 32 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 6_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/536.26 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/6.0 Mobile/10A523 Safari/8536.25
Referrer: Unknown [12:34:02] Reloads: 1

7) 70.192.0.119 [119.sub-70-192-0.myvzw.com]----[Netscape]----[Screen Size: 540x960]----[Color Depth: 32 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 4.0.4; en-us; ADR6410LVW 4G Build/IMM76D) AppleWebKit/534.30 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile Safari/534.30
Referrer: [google.com...] [12:35:49] Reloads: 1

8) 60.225.118.154 [CPE-60-225-118-154.hhui4.ken.bigpond.net.au]----[Netscape]----[Screen Size: 1680x1050]----[Color Depth: 32 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.2; WOW64) AppleWebKit/537.11 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/23.0.1271.95 Safari/537.11
Referrer: Direct Entry [12:31:52] Reloads: 1
8:41 pm on Dec 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



It is like Google are now sending mostly mobile users (while maintaining +/- my daily quota as it was before the "switch"). Question asked what are they doing with my PC based viewers? I think we all know the answer to that by now...

This carp all started around mid August and its down hill ever since. It was not gradual. It was like a switch was flipped. Our good traffic is being monotised elsewhere while we are being sent the non converting junk...its as simple as that...


xcoder, that could not be, becuase i have the same results on my phone as on my pc. Then serpos should be different?
8:51 pm on Dec 10, 2012 (gmt 0)



xcoder, that could not be, becuase i have the same results on my phone as on my pc. Then serpos should be different?
Mobile SERPs are different at times. I can see a couple of our target keywords doing it now.
10:11 pm on Dec 10, 2012 (gmt 0)



xcoder, that could not be, becuase i have the same results on my phone as on my pc. Then serpos should be different?


You'll change your mind after spending a few hours watching the reports as they refresh in real time. I am seeing mobile users coming in large clusters and at certain times of the day. As if it is all part of someones plan (not random!).

What you see on your mobile SERPs is Geo related and does not necessarily reflect what the rest of the world sees. Today's SERPs are a major moving target on both platforms and across countries... one minute the serps are the same and different the next.
10:31 pm on Dec 10, 2012 (gmt 0)



hello hello....MSN bot executing and responding to javascript just like a normal browser would, coughing referrer, page titles and current URLs... (omitted for obvious reasons).


65.52.108.222 [msnbot-65-52-108-222.search.msn.com]--[Microsoft Internet Explorer]--[Screen Size: 800x600]--[Color Depth: 16 colors]
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 5.2; SLCC1; .NET CLR 1.1.4325; .NET CLR 2.0.40607)
3:34 am on Dec 11, 2012 (gmt 0)



@xcoder - I get your meaning better now, my Geo targeting is off though, best it can be on a phone and the preferences are set to United States rather than a state, city, etc.

Back to your real time analysis, how are you seeing it in Analytics? The numbers I "suspect" the most are "(not provided)". That's not the sole source of traffic I think is throttled/boosted but it has been an accurate predictor of losing/gaining in long-tailed terms for the day - we're gaining in searches I would not be researching in a regular day so wouldn't know if SERPs are moving or not, I do know they can move and can be different from non-mobile browsers SERPs at times for high traffic competitive terms..

One other, possibly unrelated, question; are many of the incoming mobile IPs on the same network? I wouldn't know the purpose or methods of someone sending traffic to a site using cell phones or if they could be set it up to appear in log files the way you describe them. The IPs you put in your posts don't look related.
5:08 am on Dec 11, 2012 (gmt 0)



Now that my eyes have adjusted, I can see the networks. Sorry, had been looking at text too long already today.
5:58 am on Dec 11, 2012 (gmt 0)



Back to your real time analysis, how are you seeing it in Analytics?


I don't use Analytics. I've got so fed up with this "zombie" phenomenon that i decided that we must all thoroughly investigate it. So i sat down and spent a number of good hours writing my own real time tracker.

I'll be more then happy to share it and let you test it over your own pages so you can have a better understanding of that crappy non converting traffic we all see lately. PM me and i will send you a link. It is a great free to all tool that i want to make available to webmasters so we can all get to the bottom of this problem once and for all.

The more webmasters analyzing their real time traffic and comparing notes the more information we can all have, share and discuss. And the better we can investigate this "phenomenon".
11:42 am on Dec 11, 2012 (gmt 0)



Str82u i've sent you a pm let me know if you have any questions.
6:11 am on Dec 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



two definite ON periods today between 3am and 9am CST, then off for 6 hours, then on for about an hour (3pm CST), then off the rest of the day. just more unnatural patterns. Now we're popping in and out of the serps like Mexican jumping beans, so it's not just zombies at work, now it's serp throttling too.

I can't believe how finely they have me clocked. My site is so flat line that they clamp me to nearly the same numbers week after week. At the same time the total of my daily site traffic is hardly the daily variance in the comment and keyword spam slingin' photo site that has domain crowded many out of my niche.
I can't believe what Google passes for quality these days.
12:31 pm on Dec 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member themadscientist is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



The big problem I have with this theory is that surely it's been going on too long for that. It seems like as long as some people have been seeing this on their sites, Google would have learned everything they needed to know.

That's exactly where my theory about sites (pages) 'getting stuck' came from ... One thing we need to keep in mind with these type of things is it's a heuristic, not people, making the determination and there could be a some 'threshold' (for lack of a better word) somewhere in it that's causing sites (pages) with certain characteristics to be 'retested' even though to someone looking at stats it seems like there shouldn't be any need to 'check again'.

IOW: They 'get stuck' in the 'test mode' of the algo for some reason.

That would also explain why some people like Shaddows are not seeing it any more ... If at some point there were changes to the site (or even visitor behavior WRT the site) that removed the 'need to test this' trigger inadvertently, the 'zombies' would 'disappear' from the stats.
4:21 pm on Dec 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



IOW: They 'get stuck' in the 'test mode' of the algo for some reason.


This makes sense. Because there are only two plausible theories I can buy at this point, knowing what we know, and one is that this is all some form of testing (which, as you point out, may be functioning in a way that makes sense to machine learning rather than humans).

The other theory is that Google is trying to push certain people to buy Adsense, and we'd need more evidence to reach that conclusion. I mean, there's no ROI in them for just targeting Backdraft7 and a few other people in hopes they will notice, care and elect to buy advertising from Google rather than other sources. It would have to be more widespread... or maybe there would be a pattern if we looked at how many ads pop up on zombie queries, or something like that.
10:25 pm on Dec 13, 2012 (gmt 0)



Last 6 minutes
-----------------------------------------

1) 50.45.98.206 [50-45-98-206.dklb.il.frontiernet.net]--[Netscape]--[Screen Size: 1280x1024]--[Color Depth: 24 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; rv:17.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/17.0
Referrer: [bing.com...]
Reloads 1

2) 216.137.135.125 [216-137-135-125.glwb.net]--[Netscape]--[Screen Size: 320x480]--[Color Depth: 32 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 6_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/536.26 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/6.0 Mobile/10A523 Safari/8536.25
Referrer: Unknown [09:16:16]
Reloads 1

3) 24.147.187.4 [c-24-147-187-4.hsd1.ma.comcast.net]--[Netscape]--[Screen Size: 320x480]--[Color Depth: 32 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 6_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/536.26 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/6.0 Mobile/10A523 Safari/8536.25
Referrer: [google.com...] [09:10:55]
Reloads 1

4) 86.181.209.95 [host86-181-209-95.range86-181.btcentralplus.com]--[Netscape]--[Screen Size: 320x480]--[Color Depth: 32 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 6_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/536.26 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/6.0 Mobile/10A523 Safari/8536.25
Referrer: [google.com...] [09:10:19]
Reloads 1

5) 24.128.153.215 [c-24-128-153-215.hsd1.ma.comcast.net]--[Netscape]--[Screen Size: 768x1024]--[Color Depth: 32 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (iPad; CPU OS 6_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/536.26 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/6.0 Mobile/10A523 Safari/8536.25
Referrer: Unknown [09:14:41]
Reloads 1

6) 149.135.145.24 [ No Reverse DNS record ]--[Netscape]--[Screen Size: 320x480]--[Color Depth: 32 colors]
Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9A405 Safari/7534.48.3
Referrer: [google.com.au...] [09:12:57]
Reloads 2
11:50 pm on Dec 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



@diberry -
The other theory is that Google is trying to push certain people to buy Adsense, and we'd need more evidence to reach that conclusion.



Here's proof, go file a re inclusion request and see what Google tells you....up your bids!
3:08 am on Dec 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

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



So you're actually talking about Adwords and not Adsense. Well, that just doesn't hold water for me and it never did. It would only hold up ubder scrutny if it was increasing Google's ad income on highly desirable keywords - but those phrases are already maxed out with advertising. And there are just not enough reports of zombie traffic to make this relevant to the topic at hand.

------

So enough about the standard (since 2002) Google conspiracy theory. This thread is about ANALYSIS of zombie traffic and traffic throttling. Please, hold your comments to that topic - thanks.

[edited by: tedster at 3:49 am (utc) on Dec 14, 2012]

3:34 am on Dec 14, 2012 (gmt 0)



So enough about the standard (since 2002)Google conspiracy theory.


Can we really continue calling it a "conspiracy theory" when SERPs & traffic monetization are now an active part of Google's business plan, AND was duelly noted in their last market call?...

Look what they did to the traffic in one of my (quite popular) websites. Traffic numbers remained +/- the same (fine throttling and active quota management in action) but the traffic now consist of more then 59% mobile devices (small screen smartphones in particular). Where did all my PC users go? ...

I think we are way beyond a "conspiracy theory" here...
4:05 am on Dec 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

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



What you've understood - and it is a good analysis - is that in your case mobile traffic has zoomed extremely high and desktop traffic has vanished. It does not follow that this pattern is an intentional and strategic goad to pay for Adwords.

I currently work with scores of websites in various markets, and I can't even find a single example of zombie traffic or throttling in the whole group.

This thread itself, along with the earlier one on the same topic, has only attracted a handful of people posting - and some of them were not talking about the same thing. Surely if this were an intentional strategy we would have seen more contributors by now.

So while I am convinced that there is a real phenomenon here, duly noted and painfully analyzed by now, it is not an "analysis" to jump to a conclusion that it's all about increasing Adwords income.
5:09 am on Dec 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



I'm not going to doubt or support any theory, they're all good but none hold any water yet. The serps just keep flipping as designed, but I'll share a little fact...
Today at about noon, out of desperation, I submitted a re-inclusion request. I figured now that I'm down > 50% that's a pretty good sign I'm being penalized for something and maybe, if I'm lucky, they'll reply and explain it to me (lol).
Well, not more than one hour later, I get a call from the Google Adwords team offering to get me a #1 spot in Google. Coincidence?

Remember the precept of Occam's Razor? The simplest explanation is likely the correct one? I see money as the most logical motivation for any serp position policy at the Big Box search engines (or any other venture on this planet), so that's my choice. It's currently the quickest and most reliable (not to mention expensive) way to improve your traffic. Oh, and if you think they're out just to improve "user experience", I'll get the smelling salts to you.

I think we've had enough correlation between members in the US and UK to know that "something is up" and it's some type of throttling for sites within a specific "goldilocks zone". We really haven't compared traffic volume on the affected sites, but I'd take a stab that the zombie zone is between 500 to 3000 uniques per day. Below that, it doesn't matter, everything is practically dead (barely trips the 2% rule), above that, smaller fluctuations don't mean as much. The heavy hitters are getting around 30k uniques per day and small fluctuations affect them like a mosquito hitting a semi truck windshield.

The rest of you who don't see zombie or throttled traffic periods, be thankful.
Over longer periods you may be experiencing content dilution, mobile infiltration and this thing called "diversity" that dilutes your positions further. It's all part of the continued monetization of the serps.

About 5 years ago, I took a motorcycle ride in the middle of the week, business was booming and on autopilot. I stopped at a bar in northern Wisconsin and it was empty except for some young punk bartender (who I found fixed PC's on his off time). He asked me what I do and I gave him the shirt version. We started discussing Google organic and paid listings. He insisted you could NOT get into G for free, you HAD to pay. I disagreed. It almost got ugly. Anyway, looking back it seems that kid was from the future! It's definitely moving in that direction.

BTW - regarding the number of contributors...I think many more are reading this and covering their hand. Others have just given up. If a tree falls and only one person sees it, does that mean it never fell?

I'm getting on the phone tomorrow to drum up some VC to kick start my Adwords campaign.
7:52 am on Dec 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



it is not an "analysis" to jump to a conclusion that it's all about increasing Adwords income.


Whoa, there. I didn't jump to that conclusion. I actually said pretty much what you're saying and offered falsifiable reasons why I doubt the Adwords theory.

I remember a lot of people on this board over the years calling it a "conspiracy theory" when people suggested Google wanted to become a one-stop shop so you didn't have to click through to our sites anymore, but now Page has more or less said that very thing. Sometimes theories we can't currently verify or falsify do turn out to be correct.

The Adwords theory is no more conspiracy than the one-stop-shop theory - but it does have a fatal flaw. While it was obvious how Google might profit more by being a one-stop-shop, that's not the case with the Adwords theory.
Until someone can show me how Google expects to make significant money from their perspective by using zombie traffic to hopefully push a few webmasters to buy Adwords and not, heaven forbid, one of its competitors.

As for backdraft's phone call, as luck would have it I did submit a reinclusion the other day. I'll let you know if I get a similar call, but I'm not holding my breath: I don't use Adwords.
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