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Odd Behaviour of Non-US SERPs

12:15 am on Oct 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Okay - So I've got some strange behaviour I've recently seen in the serps.

We run a small business and website in Australia. Recently we saw the Google AU "The web" results shift dramatically. The "Pages from Australia" results, are near enough the same.

The results now include a lot more non-Au based websites, with US news/article websites and other US companies creeping into the top 10/20/30. This happened on or about the 20th October, across the board on all kinds of searches in our niche (not sure on other niches). There has been some minor fluctuations since, but fundamentally it has changed the game for AU businesses, and we think that results looks less relevant to Australians, more messy and of less value to the AU consumer.

While it might be good to mix it up, I personally think that the change is not helpful to the consumer as they are looking for products - we've seen in the past that 98% of consumers buy from local businesses, as they trust them more than buying from overseas. So why polute the best search results for an AU consumer looking for products, with non-relevant, non-retail/ecommerce websites? - like a US mens health magazine, or US news website, or US websites that don't sell to Australians at all? - seems pointless and irrelevant!

Also - we've noticed, that some of our biggest competitors have disappeared from the Australian, "The Web" SERPs altogether! The 2 I am thinking of have many affiliates websites, who sell on separate and identical template websites (more fool them!), with differing URL's, but same templates.

So in essence - there are 2 kinds, and distinct changes that seemed to have occurred on, or about the 20th Oct to the present.

Has anyone else seen this kind of behaviour in the SERP's in other non-US regions?
1:50 pm on Oct 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator goodroi is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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Maybe I am not understanding this but it sounds like you are saying that Google has removed near identical content that was not adding value just repackaging an affiliate offer and is now adding other international results that have unique information.

Sounds like it would be a good time to make sure your website offers unique content and value to users. Google keeps rewarding quality signals that correlate to that.

PS Let us all remember this is the Google SEO forum and to keep the discussion focused on the algorithm. If you want to discuss whether it is a smart business decision for Google or how it will impact their stock head over to Google Business & Finance [webmasterworld.com] :)
10:24 pm on Oct 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Okay so I probably did not make it clear enough. 2 distinct things happened on or about the 20th Oct.

1. Websites that had a lot of near identical template websites, with the same set of content on them were all devalued, including the original domain. This meant for the 2 websites in question all of their affiliate websites they setup for people were penalised, and themselves for all having the same content. So I think the original author has been devalued, along with the affiliates. My guesses on this are that G is trying to give other website more of a fair go and that websites which have many, many other websites with the same template, and same products will be penalised. so - yes, affiliate websites + originating website have all been penalised, and yes, quality content matters more than ever!

2. Google Regional "the web" results (e.g. google.com.au "the web") now have more weighting towards US based websites being shown, regardless of them being the most relevant to the searcher. So, in the search results there has been an injection of US news websites, US magazine sites, and US sellers, and generally more variety - whereas previously "the web" would show mainly AU based businesses selling the product. Which imho is more relevant.

Anyway - this is an observation, and this might be something people in the UK also observe. Or it could be a shift in the way the set of keywords is viewed - maybe in the past they were viewed as most relevant to ecommerce businesses, or websites selling stuff - but now, they are viewed as informational relevant keywords, to which showing informational websites seems the most relevant in Google's eyes ..
12:49 pm on Oct 31, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Hi dipper,

Yep we are experiencing the same thing.
In the UK for a particular product range we are seeing US, Canadian, New Zealand and German websites showing up, and the big brands that are there? Walmart, Home Depot and Target - all completely irrelevant to the UK market.

We've been seeing this in another niche for a few months so unfortunately it looks like this is intentional.
The results are bad for users and small businesses alike.

I'm frustrated as I don't really know what to suggest as work to do because I can't honestly say I know how Google are ranking things these days...

Just checked and if you click "Results from the UK" then it gets rid of the foreign sites.
I don't believe that most people click on the filters on the side, so we are fighting an uphill battle if we have to not only compete against UK brands that are getting a boost, but international brands as well (who don't ship to the UK anyway...)
3:08 pm on Oct 31, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I have noticed that search results in Australia are not treated the same as USA.
By that I mean, there are many websites in Australia that have been ranking well using the old tricks. Bad linking, thin content and others. It's as though the Google Panda and Penguin were not applied to many websites in Australia. I suspect this could have been segmented by industry.

I think what you're seeing is Panda and Penguin being applied to that industry. I'm not sure if it's widespread yet, however I think it will be.

So what were seeing is a drop in quality websites from Australia showing up the SEERPs and Google is filling that void with nonlocal listings that have higher quality content and links.

So apparently they have different schedules for the Panda and Penguin rollout. Or they appear to have different schedules for other algorithm rollouts.

In any event, Australia is going to rock 'n roll just like USA did. many sites will be affected.
12:46 am on Nov 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

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yeah I don't think this is penguin update - sites have really only been affected on the 1 top search query, the rest look about the same. The top query seems to be "infected" with US websites, and websites that don't sell items - which based on the search query would seem the most appropriate.

Over the last 2 weeks we've seen 4-5 days of strange results, 4-5 days of better looking results, then 4-5 days of strange results.

So there was a period of about 4-5 days of good looking results in there.

It seems like a re-evaluation on what Google thinks is relevant to the query. Previously it was seen to be ecommerce sites, or websites selling. Now it seems it is informational, and US magazine websites. Basically if that is how it remains then its a lot weaker looking search result.

I say weaker because 4/5 of the industries biggest, and best companies in Australia are no longer in the top 10 search results. Replaced by 2 US websites who don't sell to AU, and 3 US magazines.

Or maybe they are spicing it up, to see how users, and/or websites react! .. these irrelevant search results would turn users off I think.