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Google Updates and SERP Changes - October 2012

     
7:21 pm on Sep 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

Hi All - First time poster long time lurker.

The sites I run have been decimated by this last change (or changes). All affiliate sites, many with good articles, great product browsing, responsive design etc. Traffic is down 90% overnight - conversions on whats left are terrible! Never ever seen it this bad. If Google are trying to eliminate affiliate sites they did a pretty good job on mine.

I have lots of EMDs which were hit hard, but also many non EMD sites that were also hit hard.

Almost seems like Google is trying to confuse us by giving us a Panda update 10 or so days ago, closely followed by EMD destruction and Image update... Now its really getting tricky to figure out what actually caused the drop in traffic, let alone recover.

I'm still sorting through the debris trying to figure out why some sites survived and the majority didn't.

[edited by: tedster at 4:37 am (utc) on Oct 1, 2012]

4:32 pm on Oct 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

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There's nothing criminal about spamming and there are plenty of people who achieve good rankings without any artificial means and regularly survive Google updates.

The thing that's common between those two groups of people is that they know SEO very well and probably have spent many years researching, testing and refining their approach.

And FYI - good rankings, good sales, good conversions = all perfectly achievable without "bending the rules".
4:44 pm on Oct 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

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There's nothing criminal about spamming and there are plenty of people who achieve good rankings without any artificial means and regularly survive Google updates.

The thing that's common between those two groups of people is that they know SEO very well and probably have spent many years researching, testing and refining their approach.

And FYI - good rankings, good sales, good conversions = all perfectly achievable without "bending the rules".


Rubbish. Some of the people I see in my SERPs are there by bending and smashing apart the rules and not getting caught. Most people, living in the real world, are not getting great SERPs by simply putting up a website with amazing content that instantly goes viral and everyone wants to link to. FYI.
5:01 pm on Oct 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

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And FYI - good rankings, good sales, good conversions = all perfectly achievable without "bending the rules".


Exactly...and have a product, content or brand that you own.
Don't try hanging someone elses good content on your site and expect success.
Google will sniff it out eventually and either you'll rank or you'll tank.

The gyrations we are currently seeing should be considered "normal" now, the new everflux.
I think Google's finally getting a hand on keeping us all thoroughly confused, which appears to be the goal.
Adapt or die. I'm finding that it is doable.

[edited by: backdraft7 at 5:09 pm (utc) on Oct 3, 2012]

5:05 pm on Oct 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

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there are plenty of people who achieve good rankings without any artificial means and regularly survive Google updates


Including me, until Penguin. Penguin has identified and penalised two key terms on my site, one of which had ONLY unsolicited backlinks using the page subject as anchor text, and the other of which appears to have been the subject of succesful negative SEO.

I am certain - the threads on WebmasterWorld alone are pretty good evidence - there are plenty of people who achieved good rankings without any artificial means and who did not survive Penguin.

Similarly, there are plenty of people who achieved good rankings using artificial means and who did survive Penguin.

I don't think Google owe me anything, but that doesn't make Penguin a Good Thing, either generally or in its stated objective.

Having successfully used organic SERPS results as my primary marketing for new business from 2002 to 2012, my present view is that - even if current loss of ranking can be reversed - it has now become too unreliable to fulfil that role.

It doesn't really matter what Google's motives are or whether that outcome was intentional, but the fact is that good SEO today can be penalised tomorrow.
5:45 pm on Oct 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

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If they are doing 500 algo updates a year (2 to 3 per day, according to MC), and we've only been told about the two Penguins, some of the Pandas, and the EMD update, that's, perhaps, 5% of all algo updates that we get confirmation of.

Surely 1% or 0.6% :D
8:38 am on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Checking through stats this morning I find one of my key terms has dropped 90 places.

It must be the EMD update: the top 4 places are EMDs.
8:47 am on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

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If they are doing 500 algo updates a year (2 to 3 per day, according to MC), and we've only been told about the two Penguins, some of the Pandas, and the EMD update, that's, perhaps, 5% of all algo updates that we get confirmation of.


Yes, but not all updates are created equal. I've always considered the "500 changes a year" sorts of numbers to be a marketing thing, not an algo thing. It reminds me of the days when search engines fought about who had the biggest index count.
9:41 am on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Agreed - it's not 500 algorithm updates, it's 500 SEARCH QUALITY updates, and that includes things like the layout of the SERP and relatively small bug fixes.

It's all the things we see in those monthly Search Quality Highlights that Google publishes. For example [insidesearch.blogspot.ca...]
1:39 pm on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Is see that domain spamming is completely back but has moved to page 2 and greater, it is again amazon and ebay dominating the serps. Amazon results have 90% nothing to do with the query itself but there is somewhere on the page one of the keys.
If i search with "+" then google finds nothing! 0 out of 0.
Bing has 13.100 results, this is the better engine now.

All the 500 Search quality updates are complete nonsens.
1:54 pm on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Not a lot of people here complain about the serp's anymore so my best guess now is that they are OK, except for me. It keeps getting worse so it must be a "personal thing" against my web sites.
What people here don't talk about is if they have made any changes at all,if they did make changes what changes they made and things like that. This is important to be able to see if it is an algo change or a "dummy change". I must say that I have made changes. I have been looking at Bings webmaster tools and they have a lot more of direct tips how to change and what to change. The things they said I should change seemed pretty obvious so I did that and this is whee the SERP drop-out from Google came. The biggest change I made was to change the header tag layout, i.e. I had several H1's and to me it looked spammy. Not sure why Google didn't catch it before, not until I removed them/reorganized them. Maybe there was something in this algo change that was looking at that sort of things? I think when Google wants to "inform" us they send out their best "dis-informer" then have, Mr Cutts.
3:17 pm on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

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The SERPs state is unbelievable, it's not about relevancy anymore. In a competitive niche, the number 1 site has nothing on it apart a few shopping links and it doesn't relate to the search query. Is this what we call Panda update along with that EMD? Google got it all wrong. A perfectly relevant high-quality authority site has been totally wiped out. Hope that update is not over and still rolling out because it's a total mess. When I think about how the SERPs look like before, it was a pleasure to browse, now it's horrible. Don't fix it when it ain't broken, this is what Google did.
5:05 pm on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

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great my site is still in panda hell, but a domain place holder site ranks before my site, a page with just external links, no internal pages.
4:48 am on Oct 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Not sure where to slot this in. This could be part of many different threads. That said, this is what I'm noticing.

I've just done a bit of looking at results for searches that I'm very familiar with. I know what sites are usually ranking where. What I see is that the "authentic" or "brand" or "source" of the search is turning up at the top. In other words, that space the niche smaller site once occupied, have now been clobbered by those giant originator/rights owner/brand name websites. I'm speaking to an area where I'm familiar with so it's evident the change.

My sense is that this same situation is starting to apply to images. Not definite, but it appears to me from where I stand that Google wants to change how this worked in the past, and simply put those images and content to the rightful owner. I suppose that's terrific but it means the death of many that once were.

I mention this here because I have solid proof in the place where I know what I'm looking at. The brand is at the top, taking over at least the top 3 spots whereas before there were a number of niche sites which utilized keywords in their domain. Take keyword matches out? Then what you have is only the brand. That's my take right now at least in one small area of the web.

I really believe that this minor tweak of EMD has far greater impact than what might have been assumed. I'm starting to believe that whatever value Google placed in EMD was one of the few remaining variables that allowed for the average webmaster to rank in the areas of the web which see a decent number of searches.

The shift in results I'm seeing on one particular keyword phrase is a real eye opener for me. It appears that the pretenders are out right now. The brand in this case rose right to the top. Perhaps that's the way it should be I'm not sure.

I'm going to do a bit more looking in areas where I'm most familiar and see if this is across the board or not. My guess is that it is.

I'm wondering if there is a big philosophy change going on with who the rightful owners are of brand names, content, images, etc.
8:42 am on Oct 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

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All my sites are fine. But one site I did only ONE article marketing run on about 5 sites got totally nuked, gone.

I recommend NOT to build any links anymore, actually I recommend getting out of SEO altogether, this is what I have been doing since June.

I abandoned all SEO efforts and am concentrating on my new food processing business in SE - Asia.

Working on getting FDA certification for my main product and then will get in supermarkets nationwide.

Get out of SEO while you can guys;) It's a dead end!
11:47 am on Oct 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Get out of SEO while you can guys. It's a dead end!

It is not dead, it changed. SEO = optimising site to achieve the best possible ranking in SERPs.

So to get ranking, you still do SEO, just it employs different strategy and tools, such as more focus on content that brings good user signals, work on on-site quality, good IA, work on building a brand etc, etc, but also fixing technical issues the site may have which may prevent a good site from ranking higher.

I think SEO is easier if you have a real business behind the website as your focus is different.
6:23 pm on Oct 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I just finished all necessary tests on my side.
I am tracking hundreds of keywords (and variants) and now I'm pretty sure... something is wrong (I cannot say which side, mine or G).

For many keywords, ranking on G does not match targeted page.
Just an example...

Page TOT - Product TOT

Test result: Yahoo, Bing, DuckDuckGo, Blekko, Ask, G referrals, G custom searches and many other "minor" SE -----> targeted page, ranking very good (also in G custom searches).

G mainstream (every domain) -----> ranking poor, and total unrelated (to kw) page.

Panda? Penguin?

.....

Getting crazy...
11:55 pm on Oct 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Content...engagement? Yeah right!

I created a tool to dissable Google instant with instructions and so on. Tons of traffic, #1-3 then gone...

I created tons of original content with very good traffic, then gone...

It doesn't matter what you do, with Google you are not in control of your destiny.

SEO is dead indeed unless you enjoy running your business like a lottery...
12:30 am on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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big recovery on one of my sites hit on the 27th. I had lost around 50% of the traffic with no changes until around 30 mins ago. Will be interesting to see if it sticks.
12:32 am on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Mine is down 100% from Oct 5, not a single Google visitor since then.
1:21 am on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Ok... the most obvious change that I can see is that since the weekend there are a lot more sites that at least look halfway legitimate suffering from -950 that used to rank. The number of sites sent to the end of results has at least doubled - if not tripled in the past week.


Some sort of penalty is definitely being applied to legit sites. My site just got pushed down to top of third page for an important term that I was ranking top of 1st page for years. Suddenly my site has been banished overnight...very strange. First noticed the change on October 1st and no improvement since. Overall WMT reports a drop in impressions of 32% and drop in clickthough of 35% in the last week, so lots of terms were affected. I thought it was due to changes I made on my site over the weekend (i.e. shortening page titles, adding canonical url tags, etc. but now I see it's a Google algo change
1:27 am on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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It doesn't matter what you do, with Google you are not in control of your destiny.

SEO is dead indeed unless you enjoy running your business like a lottery...


That's been the case for a while, but it's getting really unstable now. Could it be that Google is placing much more emphasis on social media indicators such as the number of Facebook likes and especially Google+ followers? I definitely see that site owners with lots of Google+ followers seem to be floating to the top...
12:28 am on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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< moved from another location >

On Friday Oct 5th 2012 I got hit by Google update! my site almost stopped getting any organic traffic after it has been growing by 30% every month.

Haven't done any black hat SEO or anything against Google guidelines! everything I do is around users!

Any advice would be highly appreciated?

[edited by: tedster at 1:29 am (utc) on Oct 8, 2012]

1:40 am on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I'm not sure, but it sounds like we need a webmasters down and out club. I think membership would be stellar for that right about now. I'm focused on staying positive through this, but in reality I'm feeling the pits. Thanks Rick so posting some encouraging news! You made me look, but I can't see any movement where I'm sitting right now.
2:12 am on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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It was short lived. About an hours worth of triple pre update traffic levels. Now appears back to post update levels. At least gives me hope that someone is still adjusting the knobs.
3:25 am on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Things are pretty volatile at the moment for the one site that had a brief recovery. I am getting close to pre-update traffic levels at the moment overall, but for slightly different keyword phrases compared to pre-update and in strange bursts. When I look at the phrases I am no longer getting traffic, the results are a real mess at the moment. For the first time I am seeing complete garbage domains on the first few pages with completely spun content. When I say garbage domains, I mean domains made up of random letters, with random letter subdomains too.

Maybe my segment has a botched data set being processed that they are trying to clean up. Hopefully when all is said and done I'll still have some traffic. If what I am seeing is the start of another update that will hit other segments, then people are in for a real rocky ride.

This domain is not an exact match domain and I assumed I was hit by Panda 20. It had not been previously affected by Panda or Penguin.
3:54 am on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Welcome to the forums, nabeez.

Yours is the first report we had of a change on Oct 5. Do you have WMT set up for the affected website? And if so, did you get any messages in there? I'm thinking that just maybe you weren't affected by an algorithm change but instead some kind of manual action.
5:14 am on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@tedster

I noticed a negative change on a small number of sites about the 5th also, most had already been hit around the 29th and were further pushed down on the 5th.
9:51 am on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I also saw some movement around 5th - additional EMDs hit and a further push down for two that were hit on the 29th.
10:20 am on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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The latest quality uppdates killed the germany serps. Domain spamming is back on #1 page. Total unrelated results with "ERROR 404 Pages", amazon from #1-#30, price compare engines. THIS IS NOT QUALITY.
Naturally our pages has been not hit again but gets unrelated non converting traffic. Finally google got me where they wanted my to be, i just put my adsense account up.
12:02 pm on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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The SERPs state is unbelievable, it's not about relevancy anymore. In a competitive niche, the number 1 site has nothing on it apart a few shopping links and it doesn't relate to the search query. Is this what we call Panda update along with that EMD? Google got it all wrong. A perfectly relevant high-quality authority site has been totally wiped out. Hope that update is not over and still rolling out because it's a total mess. When I think about how the SERPs look like before, it was a pleasure to browse, now it's horrible. Don't fix it when it ain't broken, this is what Google did.


I can't agree more and only hope this update is still being rolled out.

To be honest i think it has got to the point where they have tried to do too much and i can't see this being easily patched up.

Bing is now showing far superior results, i never thought i would say that.
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