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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]


6:59 pm on May 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Has anyone else seen pages added (returned) on 18th May? Or maybe due to changes I have made to my website...


7:42 pm on May 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

@getcooking & @Bill_h,
My referrals from Google is almost GONE and it's been going down all week :( I just can't figure out WTH is wrong because I look at sites in the SERP that I have never seen before and they don't have anything significantly different than what I have. There are still 3-4 old sites on the first page but then after that they are all unknown to me. There's another site that has been up there but it is also nowhere to find. I wish (don't we all!) I could figure out what is different from my site compared to the ones that are still there. Domain age? Mine is older. Inbound links? They have more and better.


11:50 pm on May 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Seeing a steady drop in traffic for one of my sites which is susceptible to holidays. Are there some people already on their summer break by now?


7:25 am on May 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

@Gemini there was definitely a change basically all last week. Normally when there was some sort of change going on, I'd see traffic high in the afternoon and then dip at night when it's usually the other way around. It was like that from Tuesday all the way to Friday and has since settled down.

And not in my direction. Looks like some minor tweak, but it took a big bite out of my traffic once again.


7:59 am on May 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Is there some kind of search term categorisation going on?

Some of the sites that have appeared in the serps I follow are a kind of review site. They've not been there before in my micro niche because specialist micro sites have been able to out compete them on specific seo. Now they have been given a boost and it doesn't make logical sense when you analyse them unless someone/something has categorised them as "the type of site users are looking for when the search for widget service.

In other words Google is saying "ah we understand what your hidden meaning is behind that search so rather than just give you results from our algorithm that shows you sites that rank organically for that we are going to also show you some sites that we think are better".

If this is right then review sites, wikiwhatsits, price comparison sites, broad topic blogs etc are being given an "unfair" advantage because Google thinks you will like them better and you'll explore them a bit before, perhaps, going to the micro site that actually answers your question.

If this is right then Google is becoming more of a search augmented directory than a search engine.


8:00 am on May 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

Some have suggested deleting your meta keyword tag altogether.

I don't see the value in "going commando" just for the sake of it. Indeed many of the sites that are now on the first page for my targeted phrase have a well-stuffed keyword tag. What I've chosen to do is reduce the tag content to a single word or two-word phrase that succinctly describes the page.

To take a made-up example, if the page is about "Underwater Exploration" I would use that as the tag and remove references to "Submarines", "Snorkels", "Scuba Diving" etc.


6:14 pm on May 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Monitoring continues...
Noticing some of the e how pages disappearing (joy) but now it seems localization is broken. As an example, if I search for pizza, it gives me results for restaurants in California and New York, when I'm near Chicago.


6:23 pm on May 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

You should try living in Europe, for google.co.uk searches in my vertical (fashion), I'm getting .nl, .de, .be and even .com.au results ranking on page one and two above pretty much every UK site that I normally see there, looks like a mess to me.


2:01 am on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

The traffic from Google keeps getting worse and worse while Bing and Yahoo's traffic is picking up steam. That in itself should speak volumes on how poorly Google is being managed.


2:31 am on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thanks @backdraft7 and all


5:41 am on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

The traffic from Google keeps getting worse and worse while Bing and Yahoo's traffic is picking up steam. That in itself should speak volumes on how poorly Google is being managed.

My traffic from Google is getting better and better since Penguin and I see less spam in my niche.


7:07 am on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

"The traffic from Google keeps getting worse and worse while Bing and Yahoo's traffic is picking up"

Though is some searches I rank better in Bing or Yahoo my traffic from Google is over 78% while Bing and Yahoo cover a 3-4%


12:30 pm on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

@chrisv1963, it has definitely not improved for me. I do plenty of searches daily and Google loves to single out one word out of a phrase and show results for that single word instead of trying to return results relevant to the phrase.

Furthermore, my statement is talking about the reports where Bing's traffic is up worldwide.


7:37 pm on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

There's a significant adjustment underway since about the 18th. I see more bad results while our own traffic has been hammered downward.


7:51 pm on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Our brand websites are still doing fine, but our eShops are bouncing all over the place. Sometimes the longtail starts to come back and then it goes again. Tonight we've been slammed for the first time on money keyphrases :( Looks like these changes hurt the eshop's most

menntarra 34

9:18 pm on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

i have the same experience like garyr_h. I'm over the top in Bing from day to day, while in Google i'm loosing traffic every day. Also what caused this rise in Bing is the 1000s of changes since January, which made my website 4 times faster, i removed all duplicate content, and also removed any possible keyword stuffing/spammy content. While in April i've been punished by Google (i assume by panda). I've been highly rewarded by Bing. I have the data from pre panda for my important keywords, and results on first page are getting worse and worse(nearly all of them are spam). While before me and my other competitors(who i also think are good sites) were on first page, now all of them are new, "just made for spam" sites.


9:30 pm on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

My traffic is all but gone so I'd say Google sucks big time for me. When I do personal search i also see crappy results for whatever I search for so what's going on with Google? I see just a few people here posting what they have recovered a little bit but most of us have lost a lot of hits/money/interest.
@BillyS, I did check and it's all over the place just anything else you try to find. Is it their algo that's "broke" or is this soemthing we can expect from Google from now on. To me they don't seem to be able to get it together. They have their faorites/brands that they show and that's it. After that it's just crap if you ask me.
I am not saying my site is the best in the world, but it doesn't deserve to be on second/third page after spammy sites, scraped sites and whatever else Google have found to be important enough that they should be high up.


9:47 pm on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

am seeing .net and .info sites with keywords in the domain - very thin sites

love Chrisv63 - rank and traffic goes up and all results are not spammy? ok but are they thin and possible scrappers

menntarra 34

9:59 pm on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

What i see in several results that google is rewarding same-name domains, dispite the fact that there are more relevant results...

example: if i search for "domainname" first result is the actual domain: "domainname.com" , and the results afterwards are like "domainname.su" and so on . The first page results seem to be on the first page just because they contain the same name as the domain. The funny thing is that actually there are a lot of resultsets, where the site in the second place is the same site under these different domainnames...

So someone bought a lot of similar named domains but all these domains drive traffic to the same site, and google rewards it. Crazy.

Maybe i'll go around and buy a couple of alternative domainnames and redirect the traffic to my domain, showing google as if these redirects were to different sites.


10:00 pm on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I was just looking at my Internal Links in Webmaster Tools and I have over 211,000 links to me home page? How is that even possible? 137,000 links to my contact page? Have they gone crazy? Anybody else who suffered a major setback that sees the same?


10:04 pm on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

gehrlekrona - do you have a Wordpress blog? if you have links on there, or tags, categories etc this can cause your internal links to 'explode' in quantity!


10:23 pm on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

@Gemini23, nope, no blog. I saw your other post :) Site loads fine from here.


10:46 pm on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hmmm... more from Webmaster Central... it seems like google can't keep track of www.domain.com and domain.com
When I want to change my setting to a preferred domain then they want me to verify one of them. really weird. It's the same site, isn't it? They seems to have different stats so in t=one site the internal links are over 200,000 and in the other one its 2 !
One has crawl errors, the other one doesn't, one has HTML "errors" the other one doesn't.....


12:07 am on May 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

No. example.com and www.example.com are not the same site. You might choose to deliver the same content on both or redirect one to the other, but you don't have to do so - and Google doesn't assume that you have either.

Google treats example.com and www.example.com as separate entities. You should register both of them, whether or not one redirects to the other.

The crawl errors report for the non-canonical version is especially useful as it can show some incoming links that you might have otherwise overlooked and can recover. You'll also see separate crawl stats for each, but many of the other reports (such as HTML suggestions) will be blank for the non-canonical redirecting version.

On another note, Googlebot has been completely off the throttle for the last 24 hours. Hardly visited, after several days of being rather busy onsite.


1:03 am on May 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

@g1smd, thanks for the explanation. I changed in WC to the www version and I also changed .htaccess to redirect to www to see if that would help. I have seen that the bot must have been booted. Maybe it got exhausted finding my hundreds of thousands of links that doesn't exist :(


5:56 am on May 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Trying to search for a major regional news story that broke 15 hours ago 2 results in google. Bing has 15. Can never remember that happening.

One keyword that normally gets 50 hits got 700. Time on site was terrible the bounce rate was terrible. Each day we get more traffic on that term?


9:25 am on May 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

The UK index is still a bit bonkers. I've been pushed down to page 10 for my main two-word key-phrase as of last night, which the worst position I've ever held. I've seen a competitor page (which is relevent to the key-phrase but is part of a site that isn't) oscillate from mid-page eight to the second or third position on the first page. So while that sort of thing is going on I'm fairly sure the disruption is not yet over.

I spent the last two days removing unhelpful (and potentially spammy) alt-text from thumbnails on picture-rich pages. I was also horrified to find a title attribute using my key-phrase attached to the company logo at the top of each page - I know Google doesn't necessarily pay heed to title attributes, but it was one more element that didn't really need to be there. Finally I conducted another sweep of internal anchor text looking for superfluous key-word usage.
Now I'm waiting for Google to index and update my Content Keyword count in WMT (all the time trying to resist backlink paranoia...)


9:56 am on May 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think that penguin suggests that do not go for unnatural links and the main focus of the penguin is looking for quality content because its new algorithm points towards the uniqueness and freshness of the web page content.


10:16 am on May 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member


I was also horrified to find...

That sounds very familiar, and a useful reminder that very often what seemed like a good idea at the time can often come back to haunt us later, and little 'forgotten' things on a site can cause havoc a year or two later when our SERPS suddenly change for 'no apparent reason'.


10:42 am on May 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Rasputin - I had a designer update the site 18 months ago. I kept a very tight leash on her but I'm still picking up on little things like this. Thing is, I wouldn't have looked this hard had Google not forced me to... so maybe they know what their doing for long-term quality at the cost of short-term chaos...

I'm picking stuff up by looking at the text-only version of Google's cache (picked up four not-quite-deleted-properly links on a page that could have been interpreted as hidden). I'm also running searches for keywords in my source code. I want to know that every use of keywords is useful and necessary.
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