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Google Updates and SERP Changes - September 2012

     
2:06 am on Sep 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

Historically we never saw drastic drops due to holidays...except this year, when the now daily everflux drops just happen to coincide with a holiday.

[edited by: tedster at 5:33 am (utc) on Sep 1, 2012]

3:23 pm on Sept 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Just started a keyword rank session...so far it's all blood red (down trending). many small moves (-1 or 2) but mostly -4 or better (worse). I have made no substantial changes to the site all month. How can you react to "out of the blue" changes like this?

For the month, I think I could count the conversions we had between 9am and 3pm on one hand.
It's as if this time period now belongs exclusively to Google & the Adsense team.

[edited by: backdraft7 at 3:28 pm (utc) on Sep 28, 2012]

3:23 pm on Sept 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I can't see G leaving this current mess in place


That's what I thought in May!
3:29 pm on Sept 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

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What's the general guess here? Penguin update? If so, my site has not improved. Reckon that's it for me then.
3:32 pm on Sept 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Is anyone seeing any movement in the UK? I am not


My own main key term has been pretty stable for some time. My site keeps edging upwards a couple of places at a time (never higher than page three), then dropping back to the bottom of page 5. There are still a lot of sites with few pages and thin content above me, with the biggest spammers in the business in positions 1 & 2.
3:36 pm on Sept 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I'm seeing more and more "no referring link" visits. No idea where the visitor would be getting the url from.
3:37 pm on Sept 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

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with the biggest spammers in the business in positions 1 & 2


Same here. In fact the spammer at #1 I suspect of doing some negative SEO on my site at some point. I have 90,000 links that came and went recently. Not recently enough for me to spot though.
3:43 pm on Sept 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

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In fact the spammer at #1 I suspect of doing some negative SEO on my site at some point.


You're not in the same business as me, by any chance? I am in exactly that position.
3:47 pm on Sept 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Might have been wilburforce. I don't think I am in any business now
3:59 pm on Sept 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@panthro, I see the same and I am guessing that Google is sending traffic but is hiding the info from us. Logged in users don't send the query anymore..
4:13 pm on Sept 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Recovered from what aster88?


ok...
UK site hit by Panda in Oct 2011 (lost 60% traffic). Recovered to pre-Panda on 4th Sept 2012. 18th Sept back down again. Recovered again 26th Sept...waiting!
4:16 pm on Sept 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@panthro, I see the same and I am guessing that Google is sending traffic but is hiding the info from us. Logged in users don't send the query anymore..

Our stats program tells us if the referer URL is blocked by Google. I also see no referer rather than blocked coming up more & more.
4:35 pm on Sept 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I'm using StatCounter, no GA.
4:40 pm on Sept 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@panthro, same here and I have been wondering if there are things they don't keep up with...
4:45 pm on Sept 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I'm seeing more and more "no referring link" visits. No idea where the visitor would be getting the url from.


@panthro, i'm seeing this alot from visitors on mobile.
4:54 pm on Sept 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@klark0, me too. I haven't sat long enough to think about what that means, though.
4:59 pm on Sept 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

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guessing it's something changed on iOS6.

I use Piwik, and referring links are barely popping up.
5:23 pm on Sept 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I do think we have some hope as I can't see G leaving this mess alone - I just looked for one of my money terms ( 2 word competitive term) and 1-18 is all the same site!

This does nothing for G and assuming they don't give a rats ass about us they must be looking at results like this and seeing its crap ! - it will probably be like it all over the weekend but I bet we see ANOTHER u-turn next week

I'm off to open a bottle of red and put my head in a bucket till monday
5:24 pm on Sept 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Check out a post here om this forum from March..: 4431397
7:14 pm on Sept 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

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google want to encrypt search so only they can see the stats,not seos or other, they started with this maybe 3-4 month ago. Yes it gets on ones nerves, soon they are finished then you can not see any stats, thats what i recall.
8:44 pm on Sept 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Just fyi, we're not talking about not being able to see search queries, but seeing no referring information at all. When a searcher is using Google SSL, you can still see they came from a Google search. Maybe this is related, but not the same thing.
8:51 pm on Sept 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Via Matt:

Minor weather report: small upcoming Google algo change will reduce low-quality "exact-match" domains in search results.

[twitter.com...]
9:13 pm on Sept 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@ rustybrick

Thanks for the info.

My question...what happened yesterday through this morning?!
2:23 am on Sept 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I have seen major changes for some search terms. For "Big Brand Store Widget" the big brand store had a page that has been #1 forever (appropriately) and at times has had multiple listings at the top. Earlier today I noticed the big brand store isn't listed anywhere.

About 2-3 hours ago, I noticed almost all other usual listings for this search phrase are gone (except 1) and replaced with a bunch of crap. The one that is still there is a reasonable result and is first. The second result is a store that sells a similar product but has nothing to do with the big brand store. Then there are a bunch of yelp listings for local branches of the big brand store followed by a garbage exact match domain.

Very strange. I will assume this is some major flux and far from the final result for this search phrase.
10:31 am on Sept 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Dead day
1:38 pm on Sept 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Yeah, I think they got this one wrong [too]! You'd think that when sites like they targeted would disappear then you might get to benefit from thast but NNBHN. If this was a minor change I am fearing the worst for a major update. I'd like to think that this is not intentional what they are doing but it sure looks like it. They seem very happy with what they have accomplished over the last year but their SERP is worse than even in my realm.There are a few sites that hasn't been affected at all it sems, but if I compare what I have then we are equally non-spammy. They might have more back links than I do but some of them have lots of directory listings which haven't affected them at all it seems.
@splugged, totally dead here too. It's like GOOG doesn't exist. In the good old days not very long ago I had tons of traffic every minute from GOOG. The traffic came from different search phrases, not like now when I DO get hits. Now it seems to be almost the same searches for some time and then it changes to another keyword cluster like they have different search cache at certain times. Just weird.....
2:57 pm on Sept 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

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This update is looking quite alright from what I can see. exact match, hyphenated domains, ones with prefixes and suffixes are taking an absolute beating.

It might be too early to call, but it looks to be a smashing success.
3:24 pm on Sept 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

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My websites have not been hurt by the September SERP changes, but my experience as a normal search user has seriously suffered. Lately, I can't find what I want on Google OR Bing - I don't mean I'm not liking the results, I mean for example I'll search for "exact name of uniquely titled Wordpress plugin" in quotes, and get results about all sorts of things, only some of which have anything to do with Wordpress, plugins or any word in my query. This is really, really bizarre and it feels like about 1997, and it's happened many times lately.

Again, I'm not talking about terms I track for my sites, which are doing okay; I'm talking about a huge variety of topics I search regularly for my own personal edification.

This has pushed me to Blekko, which is still able to get me what I want, more or less - it's not as good as the others were until this month, but it's better than they are right now.

So what's happening? Possibilities:

Are they trying to push me to click ads? I don't think so, because the ads aren't a bit more relevant and I'm not clicking.

Google might *possibly* be trying to confuse government probes by making the algo super-inscrutable, if that's even possible let alone plausible. It's the only potential explanation I can't immediately dismiss... but it wouldn't explain why Bing's just as bad. Unless Bing is copying everything Google does? They're not that stupid, are they?

So I dunno. I think this just has to be a big misstep in the machine learning process. It's not the first time I've been mostly unable to find what I wanted from Google - I believe the same thing happened around Caffeine or Florida, one of the big past updates. And if I recall, it took MONTHS for things to get significantly better. Again, I'm talking about myself as a regular searcher, not terms I track for my own business.
3:44 pm on Sept 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Remember, in all of this, we are dealing with mathematical algorithms. The same type of thing that has been causing the occasional stock market "flash crash" (and played a significant role in the 2007-2008 crash). There are now over 360,000,000 web sites online today of which 20% to 30% are estimated as "active". Google's algorithms are failing to produce the desired results because there are so many web sites, each with lots of pages, and the sheer volume of data is overcoming what a mathematical algorithm can deal with effectively. Now bring in the "social" site aspects and things really begin to blur.

There is also the issue of Matt Cutts saying Google's algorithm is meant to identify "quality" sites. They think they can do this with a mathematical algorithm which, when you think about it, is really impossible. It takes a human with a knowledge of the site topics to evaluate (by actually visiting and browsing the site) whether a site is a "quality" site, and even there subjectivity will enter the picture.

In my opinion Google is hitting the "...can't do that, Dave" in it's expectations of what it's algorithms can do.
3:46 pm on Sept 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Worst day for one of my sites.
4:15 pm on Sept 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

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There is also the issue of Matt Cutts saying Google's algorithm is meant to identify "quality" sites. They think they can do this with a mathematical algorithm which, when you think about it, is really impossible. It takes a human with a knowledge of the site topics to evaluate (by actually visiting and browsing the site) whether a site is a "quality" site, and even there subjectivity will enter the picture.


Their original main signal of quality was backlinks. If someone links to your site, at one time that was normally a signal or vote of approval. But because spammers (or linkbuilders) began creating "unnatural" backlinks to game the system, that signal has lost much of its value.

So now Google may have started using other signals of quality in addition to backlinks. For example, if visitors tend to spend a lot of time exploring your site, bookmarking pages, printing out pages, returning for repeat visits, etc, then these are other possible signals of quality that the algorithm can use.
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