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Google Updates and SERP Changes - May 2012



1:50 am on May 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

"TRADE_PERSON Knoxfielld"

Google *insisted* on presenting me with nothing but results for:

I've tried the same search 12 hours later and now i do get what i was actually trying to search for, "TRADE_PERSON Knoxfielld". Obviously different servers, constant flux...

Zombie traffic anyone? ....well heres one of the main reasons. Google trying unsuccessfully to second guess its users and present them with wrong results. User ("used to" getting the best results from Google) automatically click the link but oopes...it is not what he/she was looking for. Click back.

On both occasions Adwords ads for "TRADE_PERSON Knoxfielld" was spot on. Coincidence?... ya right!...

I wish they'll get it over and done with already and move to "paid only" results. Maybe the broadening of exact match and phrase match (Adwords) are the first signs of them heading down that route...

TRADE_PERSON = insert "doctor", "painter"...etc

[edited by: tedster at 3:43 am (utc) on May 9, 2012]


9:41 pm on May 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Maybe we should establish a baseline. What is the consensus on a 1000 profit page website in terms of visits per day from the engines?

My perception is that it would be about 250 visits a day from google, 50 from bing and less from all others. When I hear people talk of 5 figure visits from google surely that's not spread out over only a 1000 product pages, these are larger sites?

When we say bad conversion rates? My perception of good:
100 visitors. 3 carts. 10 carts 1.5 orders.

There are times in the last month where it will go to 100 carts per 30 orders. A few days later 100 carts per 1 order.

What ratios do you all expect? Somewhat OT but it migh help us define a baseline and help us to determine how the economy may be influencing things.


11:46 pm on May 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I think Google is up to something today but not exactly sure what. Everything was normal up until early afternoon when traffic really slowed down.

Was on an Ecomm site today and saw a message on it "We recommend bing for better quality search results" followed by an explanation about Panda. I may follow suit. It's time for a revolt against Google.


12:08 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator ianturner is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

@scottsonline - we see about 40 visits per 1000 pages and about 4.5 carts per 100 visitors with 10 carts equaling 3 orders.

We don't think our conversion is good enough - but we are not a major brand name - and it is difficult to compare with those kind of sites.


7:39 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

3 carts per 100 visitors
5.5 orders per 10 carts.

We have spent a lot of effort on checkout process, and are pleased with completion rates.

We also have a lot of "non-money" pages that drive traffic, which increases your sales-per-product metric by quite a bit (it's not one we've ever tracked, so can't give you historic). If we count ALL Google refferals (whether to product pages or info pieces), we're at about
1000 visitors per 1000 product pages
350 visitors per 1000 indexed pages


7:47 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Our conversion rate now, both on-line and real world, is just under half what it was before the recession. IMO people are doing far more shopping around and where in the past they would be prepared to pay a little more from an established name in the niche now they just keep trying to get a cheaper price. I think they visit more sites call more 800 numbers and shop around far more than they did.

Interestingly though repeat orders and therefore customer loyalty is up for us. Overall business is stagnant with the level of repeats we have we would be growing strongly if conversion rate for new customers was what it was for many years previously.

I think we just need to get used to it because even if the economy improves this behaviour is learned and a significant wedge of the market will continue to do more shopping around for the very best price.

Martin Ice Web

10:14 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

Yesterday I though it would go up, some more referals some conversions. But boom, today: off.
Everday I see the same pattern. At about 15 pm thereīs some switche turned and referals are going up. Witch is quite the time 7 -8 am in us. Over night it returns to low traffic.
I wonder I they switch between to sets.
-one for daily business research
-one for customer in the evening research

Forget to say itīs thursday - update time.

ecom germany.


10:26 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

@Martin I've been finding the exact same thing (UK). It's really unusual as evenings used to be busier. I've stopped myself from looking in the evening as it was making me feel ill (lol?), so couldn't comment if the results are any different.

During work hours though, I am quite happy with the results and conversions are now better than ever. That was until today... they just hit the floor again! Number of visits appear to be normal.

SERPs look relatively stable, although they do flux a bit - I know on a few of our affected brand searches we are up 5/6 places on last week. The rest of the site is, as ever, relatively unchanged.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring...

Martin Ice Web

10:41 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

@petehall, u are right. It was getting a little bit better.
When I checked the queries from yesterday, my site is located on smae position or better. But no visitors are coming or looking for something different.


12:59 pm on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Huge showing of foreign domains in G**.com this morning. I ran a few searches on a semi-legal topic, and the top 20 results are filled with .au, .uk, .in websites.

My location in the left side of G is correct (although I can't change due to not being logged in and blocking cookies)

Very odd (for me anyhow) to see this high percentage of foreign results.


11:59 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Today on key trophy terms in Australia, I see that only strong brands and real "brick and mortar" business' occupy the organic listings. Some of the brands and even the bricks and mortar business' occupy 2 positions. Couple that with the usual Google Places. Everything else has gone.

What's happening in other regions?

Matt Cutts says that we do not hear from the "winners" in these updates, but truly, brands don't talk. Are we moving towards a brands /Google places based search engine?


3:48 am on May 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

@whitey it's all over the globe. There are sites a month old with only a few blog links ranking on key terms. Or the sites are dinosaurs but rank well because or expertise in another area. Amazon is everywhere again. Add a new store to amazon, you dominate for a week or two.

I've been doing medical searches all week. The SERPS have changed 2-3 times this week. Earlier today I found a great site I've never seen before that was old. So the dance never ends now.


11:04 am on May 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

This is realy sick. Just search "keyword 1 keyword 2" 60.400 results

1 Wikipedia
2 Domain 1
3 Domain 1
4 Domain 1
5 Domain 2
6 Domain 1
7 Domain 1
8 Domain 1
9 Domain 3
10 Domain 4

Never seen Google serving such bad SERPS.


4:03 pm on May 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Our SERPs look good... but traffic is poor and conversions are terrible.

I don't understand looking at the results, unless this is now a delayed web history knock on effect of having bad search engine positions a few weeks ago.

The results to me seem really quite stable. I suppose there will be another Panda update around the 20th, which I'm actually looking forward to this time round.


5:50 pm on May 12, 2012 (gmt 0)


We're seeing a massive improvement in local results within single word searches. Keep it up Google :-)


6:28 pm on May 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Our SERPs look good... but traffic is poor and conversions are terrible.

Mother's Day tomorrow in the States and many other countries. Maybe this has an effect (people shopping for presents, special activities, ...).

Our SERPS look good too, but traffic is weaker than usual. This started yesterday afternoon.


2:27 pm on May 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'm still having a bad user experience when searching on Google for personal reasons, for things that are unrelated to my site. I find Blogspot sites that have been removed ranking on page one. YouTube videos also show up, but when you click on the video, it has been removed or the account has been closed.

I'm not seeing sites that really have the information I'm seeking on Google, but a search on Bing returns several, without the closed Blogspot sites or removed YouTube videos. Perhaps many of the typical searchers haven't noticed this yet, but they will if this continues.


6:15 pm on May 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Our SERPs look good... but traffic is poor and conversions are terrible.

Still seeing the exact same thing. It's a paradox that many of us are experiencing.
Long ago, when I first started out, if I would have seen serps like this, my first thought would have been - "Man!, we're gonna be bangin' out sales!". Today, when I see good looking serps, I just wonder how badly broken Google must be and how frustrated end users are becoming. So much for the superhighway. It's more like a billboard on a back road.


6:48 pm on May 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

We've got allot of different Uk websites in different niches, thought it might be interesting to share our experiences of the big changes so far. All sites have seen some change, more than we'd expect in a normal couple of months. All in all the serps have evened out. To be fair to Google the phrases where we were punching above our weight have dropped and those where we have been undervalued have risen. Two of our sites have fallen, the first had poor quality content (lazy client) and the second was an ecommerce store again with lazy content (client underinvesting). All in all I'd say that whilst the changes haven't completely favoured us I'd say that they are fair. What we are noticing is that having links is no longer enough. Having links gives you the chance to rank but unless you've got great content it doesn't count for much. On the flip side, if you've got a poor quality backlink profile, it will put you in Google's cross hairs, but currently, if you have good content and more importantly strong brand signals it's not pulling the trigger.

In my opinion Google is as culpable for the mess that's out there as much as anyone. They made the rules and turned a blind eye for so long that they forced people to do what they dont always want to do to make ends meet. It seems to me at the moment that they've taken a mature step to fixing it. Dont penalise the rubbish, reward the good because at the end of the day Google is the single most cupable party in encrouaging the rubish in the first place.

I pick-up that most people on here have ecommerce shops. What I've just said doesnt completely apply to you guys. Googles clearly screwed up with the over optimisation filter and is grabbing all similiar products as duplicate content. that cant go on for ever, I'm sure Google will fix it for you, otherwise they're going to look a little silly :)


1:39 am on May 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

Anyone notice a big drop in G traffic this weekend to US sites?


2:59 am on May 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

@SnowMan68 yea 20% drop here but that could have caused due to motherday on weekend..but drop during weekend is usual.


3:40 am on May 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

True , around 20-25% drop since friday .


3:42 am on May 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Yes on the "drop" but on our site it is now a few phrases generating huge google referrals that have no site relevance. That number was 2-5% after penguin. It hit 30% of referrals today. Picture it this way we are Honda and we sell a lot of stuff. The car division is getting 30% of their traffic for lawnmowers because on the corporate page they mention mowers. Total mess.


3:42 am on May 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

i didn't notice much chg for fri/sat, but sunday today is down by 20%. Perhaps due to mothersday.


4:30 am on May 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

Interesting thanks.
unless you've got great content it doesn't count for much

I agree. How do you think Google recognizes great content?
Social signals? Browsers signals? Google analytics? the # of good links?


4:55 am on May 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

All of the above, plus lots more. More and more, it's easier to actually create and market good content than to just generate the secondary signals of good content. Hopefully we're not far from the day where we barely need to think about what signals Google is using.


7:54 am on May 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Zivush, I'm no expert but I'd say brand signals. Lots of credble sources linking to you by your brand name, clear contact details on the website, good natural traffic for your company name, mention of your company in social media, low bounce rates. I think it's harder for eShops to generate brand signals and thats why they seem to be the most hurt at the moment


11:05 am on May 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

One thing I have noticed... generating a website image preview no longer creates a hit to my website.

I was worried about this a couple of months back so I tested the preview - sure enough it created the same Google referral as if you clicked the link. This no longer seems to be the case.

I don't use WMT but I do have my own stats. Possibly this never showed up for WMT users but I am certain this did on my own system.


12:21 pm on May 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the responses.

I just thought it was odd seeing our traffic have a 10% increase Friday, followed by a 10-15% decrease Sat and Sun. These are not differences from day to day, but Saturday compared to the last 5 Saturdays. Same for Friday and Sunday, with comparisons to the same day from the past month or so. Seems to be coming back to normal today, so it must have been a mothers day weekend drop.


12:35 pm on May 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

In the niches I pay attention to, Google seems to have a clear ranking order:

- authority site
- if no clear authority exists, big brand site
- if no authority or big brand available, smaller brand site
- if none of the above, anything goes

Since most of my clients are B2B and in some cases go up against Amazon and Staples and whatnot, I am telling them to work on authority first. We've been successful against the big guys by doing that for a few of the product lines, and we need to go bigger.

Unfortunately,this is NOT an overnight, one week or even one month process.


12:46 pm on May 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

A massive drop on both Saturday and Sunday, in fact my two lowest impressions days of the year barring Easter Sunday.

Interestingly my AdSense CTR was its miserable self on Saturday however Sunday's was one of my best of 2012 and already today I have had more traffic than yesterday but my CTR is non-existent!

Crazy Spring days with Google and almost pointless AdSense.
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