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Why are my SERPs better in the evenings?

     
9:17 am on Jul 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Every day I check my SERPs, and every day they are about 25% better in the evenings than they are in the mornings.

Why is that?

Is it possibly because I am in the UK and the majority of my backlinks are in the US, and the SERPs are traffic driven? ie. the US wakes up and my backlinks get stronger?!
3:44 pm on July 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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You're not signed into different locations are you? Some searches receive a 'boost' if you're in a similar geographic location.
5:02 pm on July 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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.co.uk domain, geo,location meta tags, and localised to uk traffic in google webmaster. Is that what you meant?
5:56 pm on July 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@Alex997, do you see a boost in traffic in the evenening?

My site faces the same problem. I think it is something like throttling but in a different way. Maybe google categorizes some sites into relevant to business or relevant to privat poeple. Privat poeple search in the evening.
6:06 pm on July 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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>>Privat poeple search in the evening.

i don't think so, most private people are searching during the daytime while they are at work!
6:11 pm on July 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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i don't think so, most private people are searching during the daytime while they are at work!


Yes, b ut they are searchning not for private information/widgets but for their job/business. Most employers will tolerate privat internet use.
6:55 pm on July 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I can't imagine that most SERPs would benefit from being different at different times of the day. Maybe if the query is "furniture" and google wants to highlight office furniture during the day and home furnishings in the evenings. Even that seems like a stretch to me. Seems like home furnishings would be so much more popular that switching the SERPs up would be counterproductive, even during the daytime.

Alex, are you checking on two different computers, work computer at the office during the day, home computer in the evening?
7:55 pm on July 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Maybe you're doing a simple Google search and the results are being customized to you.

1. If you're using Google Chrome, try the search in an "Incognito" window, to see a more generic result.
2. If you're searching from different computers, the results will be personalized to the history and location of those computers... a laptop can also expect different results at different IP addresses.
3. Maybe Google's resources are limited, and processing is different based upon demand. The results might become different if personalization or testing resources are limited. (Google is constantly running tests, which cause changes in their results) In your case, the U.S. waking up and doing searches might decrease the resources which are used to customize your results or test variants upon you.
4. Maybe your ISP or employer is caching, and you're seeing the results which someone else generated. This seems unlikely.
8:16 pm on July 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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.co.uk domain, geo,location meta tags, and localised to uk traffic in google webmaster. Is that what you meant?


Look to the left side of the screen on your search results - your location will be displayed. I have had this default to different locations at work/home and the location DOES affect some organic SERPs.

Not all of them of course... but it does affect some.
8:51 pm on July 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Yep, for me the same. My view is that G is trying to confuse SEO attempts, and you know it works a treat! For your site evenings may be good in the SERPS, for mine it may be good in the morning, for others weekends are good et al et al. Next week the rules will change.
8:54 pm on July 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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This is using Rank Tracker v6 tool (and selecting google.co.uk) - so no personalized results.

I work from home - so this is the same PC, same application, same settings and the tool is not restarted every day, just the SERPs refreshed.

Traffic is not up in the evenings, just SERPs.
9:53 pm on July 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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There is a Google patent about varying the rankings by time of day, day of the week and part of the year. I've seen this with certain commercial searches in the past and commented on it here.

One example was an EXTREMELY competitive commercial phrase (many hundred millions of daily searches) where one site would rank at #4 between 10am and 3pm local time - and then fall to the second page. This was a consistent pattern for about 8 weeks, bu only on week days.

Why wouldn't Google do something like this and test it? They are not running a "ranking contest" - they are hoping to direct their users to results that match their intention. It certainly seems to me that there could be significant variations in intention by time of day.

If you're used to the old school SEO approach - where you make changes and inch your way up the rankings, tracking what specific changes had what effect - then you may be out of luck today. It still seems to work a little bit like that right now, but not really all that much any more. Google uses statistical sampling, and we are pretty much in the same boat - we've got to look at the big sweep of things.
9:54 pm on July 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Alex,

so you donīt see any more traffic although the serps are better for you?

@deadsea, i think you got me wrong. What i meant, is, that some ( ecom ) sites are rated for business or privat users.
-> my site seems not bee good enough for business but is good enough for private users, so it gets more traffic in the evening. I know it sounds crazy, but this is what i see since a few weeks and i can set my clock after this.
9:59 pm on July 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Yes, b ut they are searchning not for private information/widgets but for their job/business. Most employers will tolerate privat internet use.


We run a travel site and mostly people are using it for private use. Most of the traffic is during work hours. This is a trend across the travel industry that is well documented. I doubt it's different for other leisure industries. The reality is that people slack off at work.
10:28 pm on July 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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edit: I meant: Most employers wil not tolerate private internet use.

I diīdnīt say that all site are affected. Prior to penguin we were selling 80% business 20% private. After penguin this has change to 40% business 60% private although we are more business related.
11:04 pm on July 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Whether the employers tolerate it or not doesn't seem to make much difference. I don't see any evidence that it is heavily enforced. There's plenty of people using the internet heavily during work hours.

Also, not everyone is in fact working during work hours - students, part-timers, people staying at home, etc. all contribute to working hours being the most active online. To say that "private people search in the evening" just does not ring true at all.
2:26 am on July 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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If you're used to the old school SEO approach - where you make changes and inch your way up the rankings, tracking what specific changes had what effect - then you may be out of luck today. It still seems to work a little bit like that right now, but not really all that much any more. Google uses statistical sampling, and we are pretty much in the same boat - we've got to look at the big sweep of things.


@tedster,

When you say statistical sampling, does that mean looking at the user engagement of websites and using that as a ranking factor, instead of just the technical aspects.
3:09 am on July 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I've been noticing this trend as well for the past couple weeks. It may be correlated with summer, hot days in the US, or similar. Or it could be Google. I am an ecommerce affiliate and some days there will be a trickle of sales until after 6pm Eastern when the conversion rate goes way up. I haven't dug too deep to see if Google keywords / demographics are different during this time since I've just gotten used to fluctuations in keywords since I was bitten by Panda 1.0.
3:39 am on July 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@gouri, no, that's not what I meant. I was talking about Google's continual statistics based tweaking of the search results, not their measurement of our websites. They are testing and testing again, overlapping various tests for different types of user satsifaction, and so on.

They use statistical sampling to make sense of all those results, to see which types of results are most pleasing to their users. They are not offering some standard or objective "measure" of where a website should rank.

The result for those website owners who are trying to "track their progress" up the search results can be very frustrating, especially if they are not yet on page one for their chosen query phrase. In many cases there is absolutely no way you can say "I rank #16" or any particular number - because you rank at many different spots for different users.

Webmaster Tools gives you that statistical picture for various keywords - and you'll notice that you rank over a sometimes very broad range of positions. If you are on the first page for a relatively competitive query, you may find things more stable and then it's somewhat accurate to say "we rank at #5 today" or something like that. But it still can be different between morning and evening at your local time!

Recently I've heard a lot of complaints about the whole domain jamming thing and Google dropping their conventional host crowding scheme. In many cases, people are complaining about the number of results from one domain on pages 2 and 3. Down there in the depths, where impressions are low and CTR even lower.

When I look for the same results, I would say that a good bit oif the time I don't see the same domain repetition. Clearly, more testing and then some more.

I'm also sure that Google has tested query terms and their related SERPs for various times of the day - and any variations we see are the result of their ongoing statistical work.
1:04 pm on July 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the great explanation about statistical sampling.
2:49 pm on July 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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They use statistical sampling to make sense of all those results, to see which types of results are most pleasing to their users.


Statistical sampling of what? All I can think of here is "user metrics", but as we've discussed elsewhere, they have pretty limited access to those. How else can they measure how pleased searchers are?

I'm thinking of the announcement that people were searching more than ever, therefore recent tweaks were a success, and how we all immediately read it differently: more searches could mean people aren't finding what they want.
10:30 pm on July 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Google's business absolutely DEPENDS on their ability to measure user satisfaction. And so does our business depend on our ability to know the same about our own sites and businesses. In fact, being a public company, this is almost a legal mandate.

With just a bit of consideration I can come up with a lot of approaches to measuring user satisfaction for the SERPs - especially with the immense search volume Google enjoys. A few years ago, when I was watching Google's job advertising for PhD types, it seemed that over half of the openings were for degrees in statistics.

It's not smart for us to underestimate how savvy Google can be on the topic of user satisfaction, or how well they can measure user data. They can and do make that measure - and so does Bing. Duane Forrester at Bing has been discussing this rather transparently in interviews and at conferences for more than a year. What Bing does, you can bet Google does. Heck, before Yahoo Search went to Bing, Yahoo was doing it.
12:00 pm on July 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

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They are testing and testing again, overlapping various tests for different types of user satsifaction, and so on.

and...
Google's business absolutely DEPENDS on their ability to measure user satisfaction.


Perhaps Google needs to rethink their testing methods, since user satisfaction seems to be at an all time low. I am hoping that a review of their stock trend since March 25th prompts some rethinking of their definition of "user satisfaction". [marketwatch.com...] - (set chart to the 6 month range)
1:44 pm on July 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

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user satisfaction seems to be at an all time low.

Not really an all-time low - I re-set it to 3 years and see a significantly different perspective. Also note, this chart is about investor sentiment. That's not the same as user sentiment.

I love the chart - it's a nice resource. Thanks for sharing it!
2:52 pm on July 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

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How else can they measure how pleased searchers are?


By whether searchers continue searching. If they stop searching, they might have found what they are looking for.
 

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