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Google Updates and SERP Changes - July 2012

     
4:36 pm on Jun 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

A lot of my keyword SERPs dropped a page today - totally out of the blue. They have been going up and up in SERPs steadily all this year with no panda or penguin impacts. I havent changed anything on my home page and no new spammy links, so I *guess* it's a google algorithm change?! I doubt its a penalty as the drop would have been even more severe.

Anyone else in the UK seen something similar today?

[edited by: tedster at 1:14 pm (utc) on Jul 1, 2012]

12:50 am on July 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Google told me something like, "we are always experimenting." But no update.


I'd normally say that it is probably another "big" ADWORDS experiment. But not this time. In the last few days Adwords referrals are kind of bad as well.

Checking SERP keywords positions. I see that it is all there where it should be and doing well... yet it is quiet, dead quiet... + junk mail galore...very weird!

P.S.
Traffic numbers +/- the same across all channels... minus the conversions.
8:22 am on July 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I saw a bit of a recovery from the June 30th update, but again today it has dropped already. That didnt last long! Was there another Panda iteration yesterday then?
8:34 am on July 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

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yet it is quiet, dead quiet... + junk mail galore...very weird!


Ah, not just me then, I reckon about double the amount of junk mail and a quiet weekend level of traffic, very strange.
1:25 pm on July 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Experimentation or not, I truly feel sorry for the 1,000s of google users who bounced off of my site yesterday. They must have all been wondering "how did i get here?". Now they will have a negative impression of my site and of their google search experience. I guess progress comes at a cost?

Btw, for us, the worst of the experiment seems to have ended at about 11pm eastern US time - conversion rates of google organic referrals have returned to normal. I am sure the data from that experiment spoke for itself and we won't be seeing that dataset again soon!
1:52 pm on July 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

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OK, Thursday in the U.S., conversions way down, traffic normal. Back to ok today (friday) so far.

Don't know if we can discuss any specifics here but lets talk about what else it could be that is causing this.

1. google experimenting with the traffic they are sending.
2. payment gatway errors (we have the same gateway on all of our sites, authorize.net)
3. merchant account errors (we have several different merchant providers so not likely the issue for us)
4. server issues (none of you are on my server so that probably not the issue)

so, those of you that saw slow conversions on thursday, do you use authorize.net?
1:57 pm on July 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Several of my clients use authorize.net, and no problems yesterday.
2:22 pm on July 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

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normal conversions for you yesterday (thursday) Netmeg?
2:31 pm on July 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I've read that website speed directly affects conversion rate:

According to the Aberdeen Group, a 1-second delay in page-load time equals 11% fewer page views, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and 7% loss in conversions


Could a connection issue with a server or an isp issue cause a decline in conversion rates? Yes. Our servers are located in southern California.
2:43 pm on July 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

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There are changes in the wind... One of the sites we manage is ranking for terms it's never ranked for in the past. (not a bad thing, but very noticeable) Terms it's always converted well with are still there as well, just not the same quality visitor. (aka not converting)

In my opinion (and its just that) this change feels like a classifier difference. (for example: seeing us as an info site, versus transactional)

[sigh] Another week, another change in the level/type of traffic coming from Google. Business Continuity is way over-rated[/sigh]
2:56 pm on July 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@timwilliams, our conversion rate problem with google organic referrals has nothing to do with our payment gateway because we know that all of our non-google organic traffic (thankfully over 2/3 of our traffic) converted at normal levels - and yes, we were freaking out there for a while - placing test orders, checking server logs for errors, slicing up advanced segments of GA reports... - poured myself a big rum drink last night, then woke up this morning and everything was fine!

so, this wasn't about us - it was about google - some experimentation gone horribly wrong. further, it wasn't even about the quantity of google organic traffic - for us this was normal yesterday, so i don't think we were penalized in any way, though, who knows anymore - its not like all webmasters have been piling on to this thread about bad conversions yesterday...
3:34 pm on July 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I'm seeing US results in SERPs - last time I saw it this bad, I woke up the next day to find Panda 3.8 had been officially announced.

My guess is official word tomorrow... Monday at the latest? Just a guess!

Seems almost too soon but all the signs are there.
4:34 pm on July 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Seems almost too soon but all the signs are there.


I'm seeing some of the usual signals before an update but they are far weaker than they've been prior to other Panda updates so I'm not sure what that might portend.

Also, Googlebot has been very, very quiet on my site the last 24 hours. The last big crawl I had was July 5 - and with previous Panda updates big crawls on my site came about 7-10 days prior to the update so something might be brewing.
4:41 pm on July 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

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normal conversions for you yesterday (thursday) Netmeg?


Normal; one site better than average.
5:37 pm on July 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@petehall

5x normal Googlebot activity the last day or two, I would say an update is very close. Only other time I've seen this level of crawling is right before Panda updates.
10:28 pm on July 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Do google sometimes test on a particular set of keywords then revert back?

I ask because I keep getting de ja vu with the serps. For a few days this week serps were different then it seemed to revert back.
11:48 pm on July 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Normal; one site better than average.


That's what leads me to think that it is a local (website) issue when the periods of poor conversions come. It would be nice to be able to blame it on google but there's just no real evidence for me. I can come up with reasons why they would do it, just no evidence that they are.

We average around 250 transactions (sales) a day across 4 sites.
monday: 258
tuesday: 263
wednesday: 255
thursday: 124
last thursday: 251
thursday before that: 249

Just no rhyme or reason that I can nail down.
12:10 am on July 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@timwilliams - I am also seeing very different sets of users coming in from Google, so you are not alone. For once, yesterday finally helped me and conversions were up, back to normal for the first part of today, and seem to be picking up in the past few hrs. In addition to sales, I notice a big difference in the user metrics such as time on site, bounce rate, etc.

My theory is Google shifts the SERPs around and sometimes you end up with better keywords driving traffic than others. I get mostly long tail since my site was hit by Panda 1.0 so it is not as easy to notice the good traffic from the bad but maybe one of these days I'll actually figure out a way to trend this data better.

Note: I am US ecommerce affiliate site, hit by Panda 1.0, and have been making a TON of changes since I was hit by Panda so take all this into consideration w/ my comments above. Since I was hit by Panda my keyword set is in constant motion and I too have noticed trends of recurring sets of keywords that come and go in phases.

Tom
11:19 am on July 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@Krisolin.

Im having a simialr issue, people are searching for "keyword" and they are seeing a post of mine. In the snippet it mentions "keyword", however its creating the snipper from the bottom of the post that uses a related post feature.

So to get to the page they want they have to go to the bottom of the post they click on. Very strange. GOOG, just use my meta description PLEASE
3:17 pm on July 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Since I was hit by Panda my keyword set is in constant motion and I too have noticed trends of recurring sets of keywords that come and go in phases.


This sounds like something else that's been reported for some time: Traffic Shaping/Zombie [webmasterworld.com ]
3:51 pm on July 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I am just guessing like everybody else but it seems like SE's now and not just Google for some reason, are not using the META tags anymore. They are trying to come up with some sort of intelligence of their own to decide what the page is about. I reported a while back in a post that disappeared that I had a page with widgets in Montana and the only thing Google had in the title was "Montana - Domain.com", the description was a mash-up of things on the page. It was weird.
What I am seeing now is that most of the time I get hits from a 3-4 word search. The words can be in different order and they can have synonyms but that's it and that's not what I am expecting. There should be other at least long tail searches that my site shows up for but it seems like Google have decided that my site should be within those 3-4 keywords and nothing else. Weird.
1:32 am on July 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Did Google release the monthly list of search updates for July ?
1:56 am on July 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I assume you mean for June - and no, if the pattern holds we'll see that list in early July.
2:00 am on July 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I have been trying but has anybody compiled a list of Panda and Penguin updates with dates? I think it would be a good thing to have and to try to compare ups and downs to.
If anyone has one, can you post it here?
2:28 am on July 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

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SEOMOZ does a good job keeping up to date with all of the algo changes Google informs the public about.

[seomoz.org ]
3:13 am on July 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Here's our Webmaster World record. Each page includes the dates plus links to our forum discussions for that particular update:

Panda Updates [webmasterworld.com]
All Update History [webmasterworld.com]
4:16 am on July 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@tedster

Sorry, didn't realize that was on the site! :)
1:03 pm on July 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Thanks! I did a search but didn't find any time line :( I'll check the ones on WebmasterWorld too and compare to Seomoz.
What I find amazing, and a lot of people has seen this, is that you think you'll have a good day if hits are a little bit higher in the morninhg, but at the end of the day, you end up with almost the same hits anyway +-5% or so. What I don't understand either is why my 3-4 word "keyword search" goes in spurts? It is so common so it should show up all the time but it seems to be on a rolling schedule.
1:07 pm on July 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I assume you mean for June - and no, if the pattern holds we'll see that list in early July.
It's mid-July. I guess the pattern is broken.
5:53 pm on July 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

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You're right - and I wonder why Google would give up on that regular monthly summary of search changes. We notice some changes here, but it's hard to know what's going on in the bigger picture, so I appreciated the summary. Let's hope the article is just delayed by vacations.
11:24 am on July 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Might be due to the slower summer months and vacations?
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