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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]

1:34 pm on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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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.


Ted - are you supposed to get a webmaster notification for a manual penalty? One of my sites has dropped 200+ places for all keywords and there is nothing i can see to warrant that except a sitewide link on another site i own and that is it almost a EMD.

It is not a spammy of low quality site at all but the name i wanted was taken to i got widget-s instead (with a hythen).

Now i show nowhere for widget agency when i used to be first page.
1:45 pm on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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In reference to the reports of sites being hit on Oct 4-5th...

We have seen a few sites drop in G* referrals on 4-5th as well, however rankings seem fairly static in serps, at most 1-2 position drops, that are done by some kind of customization (even when tracking settings and cookies are blocked)

To me, this Oct 4-5th change, looks like an auto-complete change, possibly mixed in with more local signals.
3:34 pm on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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are you supposed to get a webmaster notification for a manual penalty?

No - not "supposed to" in every case. But it is very common these days, especially when a site is considered to have a good history at Google.
4:17 pm on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Thanks tedster was thinking the same thing myself.

I suspect and hope that this update may just not have finished and the rankings will go back to a decent state.

And yes it was around October 5th that my site got dumped.
4:20 pm on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I cant work out if ive been effected or not today, how much of a holiday is columbus day in the states?
4:27 pm on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Should i start a new site in the same niche? because one of my sites has been hit very hard, it doesn't show in G, only in Bing and Yahoo, same rankings on this other search engines.

Should i start a new one? or try to remove bad backlinks? i'm a bit confused, tough the site only had 50 UV / day.
4:29 pm on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Actually could this be related?

My site that got dumped had an email sent from Google a few weeks back complaining about DNS issues.

Over the last 24 hours, Googlebot encountered 1 errors while attempting to retrieve DNS information for your site. The overall error rate for DNS queries for your site is 33.3%. You can see more details about these errors in Webmaster Tools.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Recommended action

If the site error rate is 100%:
Use a WHOIS tool to verify that widgets/ has a proper whois record and that nameservers are configured for the site. If not, contact your domain registrar to update your whois records.
Using a DNS lookup tool, verify that the nameserver's name can be resolved to an IP address. If not, either update your whois record to contain an IP address for your nameserver, or update the DNS records for nameserver.
Using a DNS lookup tool, verify that widgets/ can be resolved to an IP address. If it can't, update the DNS record for widgets/ on your nameserver.

If the site error rate is less than 100%:
The most likely explanation is that your nameserver is overloaded. Contact your hosting provider and discuss the configuration of your DNS server and the possibility of allocating more resources to your DNS service.


I asked my host and got this response:

That's a rather silly blanket suggestion from them, and that is not likely to be the first cause of any timeout. No, the nameservers are not overloaded. Were they, you would encounter issues getting to your own site, checking your own mail, and so forth. What is much more likely is that one or more of their queries triggered a firewall block that kept whatever IP was in use for that query from accessing the server temporarily, or there was some kind of issue between whatever server was controlling that check and the NOC.


Notice - firewall block, maybe Googlebot was checking something unusual on the site to do with these updates in an non standard way and was blocked, causing the drop in rankings (Google thinking site is offline or broken)?

Could this have happened?
4:33 pm on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@ financialhost

You should try the fetch Googlebot function in GWT's and see if it can fetch the index page.
5:24 pm on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@financialhost

Funny that you mention DNS error warnings. I just got that warning from my money site. I never seen anything like it.

The funny thing is that it was reported during a time of the week where I have little to zip traffic. I have real time monitoring, google analytics, and my host has real time monitoring. All sources showed zero irregularity during the window they specify.
5:34 pm on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@pjman

Did the site that got the dns warning drop in this update?

@snowman68

Fetch googlebot function works fine, however I did not the cache date has not updating past the dns warning in the serps
5:55 pm on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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With regard to the reports of sites being hit on Oct.5, wasn't that the day of the recent Penguin refresh?
6:01 pm on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Yes it was. Sorry for the confusion on that point.
See Matt Cutts confirms Penguin Data Refresh - Oct 5, 2012 [webmasterworld.com]
6:05 pm on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@financialhost

I just got the DNS warning Oct. 5.

The error was on 2.33% of the URLs googlebot tried to visit that day (24 hour window)

The last updates actually resulted in a slightly better G traffic for that site though.
6:32 pm on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I started a adsense campaign today. My own homepage was located at #5. Guess what. 8 hours after starting the campaign my site is on #1 !
8:52 pm on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@Martin Ice Web

That's some coincidence that isn't it. Would this not be illegal if Google is giving a boost to domains that use adsense?
9:43 pm on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@Lady_K

I am certain they won't do that, probably some other sites moved down or there is a shuffle occurring.

Anyone else get DNS warnings (see my previous post)?
10:38 pm on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@financialhost

What is a dns warning?
10:55 pm on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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The DNS warnings are messages in google's webmaster tools. The just say g bot was unable to connect to your site.

The are pointed out in you messages section. I got one 2 days ago. My infrastructure never noticed any errors though. I monitor with 3 independent source all saw no change in performance at all 3 days before and after the Dns warning period.
12:51 am on Oct 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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For a very brief moment today, I noticed that Google was rewriting the domains to be more readable. So instead of showing the domain in the URL as redshoes, it was rewriting it as RedShoes (yes, even if it is one word).
12:59 am on Oct 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Has anyone figured out few recovery steps for this crazy update ?
1:07 am on Oct 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@skweb, that's interesting. Bing has been doing that for a while.
1:38 pm on Oct 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I just ran one of my searches, and Google showed me 7 results per page on page 4 and 5, then on page 6 it showed me 6 results. Back to 10 results on page 7, then 7 results on page 8 and 9. This is new? I've heard it mentioned for situations when sitelinks were shown, but none were being displayed in this case. I've never heard of only 6 results showing on a page.

Added: Just hit pages 13, 14, and 15 which each show only 5 results! Page 16 shows ten. I have never seen this before.
1:54 pm on Oct 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I just ran one of my searches, and Google showed me 7 results per page on page 4 and 5


I have noticed fluctuations in the number of results per page in the last few days (mostly confined to page 1, and usually 9 results, but a couple of times it has been 10, and a couple of times 7).

I haven't seen it before either, and have no idea whether it has any wider significance.
2:22 pm on Oct 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Seeing a lot of flux late lastnight through this morning in the US serps. Anyone else noticing the same?
3:36 pm on Oct 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Back a few months ago (I forget with which update exactly) Google started identifying official websites for towns, courts, etc. Third party sites that contained information about these types of searches, but that were not the official website of the municipality, were still displayed but not in the top spot(s).

Today I'm noticing that that has been undone. There is one particular site with strong authority in this niche that has gained a lot from this (they lost positions a few months ago) and is being displayed for these local searches as if the query was a navigational search (with the sitelinks).

Interesting development and I'm wondering if this is just stronger brand bias.
6:48 pm on Oct 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Update to Page Layout Algo via @MattCutts:

[webmasterworld.com...]

[edited by: tedster at 7:23 pm (utc) on Oct 9, 2012]
[edit reason] link to our discussion [/edit]

6:57 pm on Oct 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Same for me, it started September 28th, couple of my sites took a 60-70% dip in traffic, at first I thought it might have been server problems.
7:13 pm on Oct 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Update to Page Layout Algo


Is this informed by what they show in their Browser Size tool? If so, anyone with a scalable site (like mine) is in trouble.
6:53 am on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Looks like another update is rolling through, seeing TONS of foreign traffic starting last night (USA & India mostly).
9:04 am on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Ohno, I see it, too. From France and Swiss.
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