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Google Updates and SERP Changes - November 2012

     
11:23 pm on Oct 31, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

Today has just been a miserable day.


For us this whole week has been miserable.

Traffic numbers more or less unchanged but hardly any sales, online enquiries or phone calls...(except for loads of spam emails). The only sales we did get came from paid ads.... organic visitors all seem to be dead beats.

It is like someone or something is cheery picking all the buyers and sending our way only the crap. I wounder who it is...

Off to reducing our ad spend again... the till is simply empty!

[edited by: tedster at 4:05 pm (utc) on Nov 2, 2012]

1:25 pm on Nov 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

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As long as we're already off topic and October is over - regarding "Whiners vs. Professionals" - anyone arrogant enough to call valued situation reports "whining" and themselves a "professional" better start coming up with some solid "professional" explanations and facts that hold water before they discount our observations. No professional would omit conversion rates from their analysis. If they know it all, why are they even reading these forums?

Keep in mind, Google is a complete mystery BY DESIGN! The day we figure it out is they day they'll change it up again. All we can do is report what we observe. I for one find it of great value to know how algo updates are affecting the rest of the community. Speculation is fine, but don't pass it off as fact.
1:39 pm on Nov 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Todays "professional" is just tomorrows "whiner" but really there is such a broad amount of feedback here, from MFA types to pure product types, to SEO sellers and PPC managers chasing whales that it can be a bit difficult to suss out who is real and who is just promoting their services (beating down others to elevate themselves).

On the algo, I do believe different markets are subject to different thresholds so what makes sense for the webmaster selling hyper competitive products may not make sense for the person running 60 MFA sites looking for ad clicks.

Google quality raters and spam team members are assigned to "markets" so "different strokes for different folks" definitely applies as well.

[edited by: TypicalSurfer at 2:06 pm (utc) on Nov 2, 2012]

1:52 pm on Nov 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I've seen a big change in the search terms reported in WMT Search Queries. For months these have been phrases that certainly appear on my site but are not targeted. Over the last two days I've seen them replaced with more relevant and desirable phrases that bear some relation to the targets of the site. In particular my main two-word key-phrase is actually now recognised as being associated with my homepage again. Rank and traffic is still way down, but I take this as an indication that my de-optimisation work (completed in June) is taking hold and Google is slowly removing its "blind-eye" to my websites targeted keyphrases and I'm a step closer to re-connecting with a meaningful audience.
2:06 pm on Nov 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

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The infuriating thing with google is that people look at the sites who ARE doing well and emulate what they have done. Copy methods, backlinks etc and get penalised for that all the while, the site that they emulated sits pretty and does not get touched.


I believe this is where some people got in trouble with Penguin in particular. The sites you copy may be doing spammy stuff, so now you are too. And whatever's keeping those sites ranking well despite their spammy methods may not be in place for you.
3:22 pm on Nov 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

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regarding "Whiners vs. Professionals"... If they know it all, why are they even reading these forums?


Many of the data-led professionals, the ones who enjoy collaboration and thrive on informed dissent, have left. Some around MayDay, others around Panda. Mostly those left are recent losers (who may or may not be whining, and who may or may not have learnt SEO from fora and ebooks) or those touting for business.

Collaborators, who by nature and convention shun extreme language and positions, are routinely cast as fanboys or drinking the Coolaid. Take the disavow tool, or the "mod pagespeed" module. In the past, there would have been two discussions- mainstream use, and "power" use (tending towards the blackhat)- in both cases, it would be about making the tools work for us, the SEO community. Now, there's no "power" discussion at all, I assume because very few do testing. The "normal" discussion is hijacked by the self-evident proposition that there must be something in it for Google. Of course there is, but that doesn't mean its not useful- or can be made useful through clever use.

Anyway, everyone can exercise their right to whine. Just as people are actively exercising their right to leave. If you don't want a community composed exclusively of whiners and touts, it might be a good idea to do a bit less of both- even if you have every right to do either.

Like others have said, I personally have no problems with "whining" - and I have even got used to hourly traffic reports. I'd rather people "info dump" than not contribute at all. I have a good handle on what's happening just by WHO is making the most noise. But I contribute less, both because there is less pay-back, and because the warm glow you get from helping people is rather spoilt when personal insults start being chucked around.
12:13 am on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Wow, this thread has turned to garbage.

On topic: Traffic was down 24% yesterday (Nov 1) compared to the week before, however it seems like this might be due to the hurricane and other items out of our control.
2:01 am on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Hi all, First time poster, long time lurker.

I run an informational website. I got hit huge last March and April, with a 70% loss of traffic. I made the mistake of having all my eggs in one basket. 90% of my traffic came from Google. I changed things up, read everything I could get my hands on, removed links I was in control of on some niche related but old directories ect. Nothing worked. So I made a decision to switch focus. I switched to focusing on social networking. It took 6 months to make the transition and stop the slowly eroding slide of traffic. Last month we were up 14% even though search was down 4% from the previous month.
The last 2 days, we have been up, but not from search. Today, even though it is Friday, which we always seem to be down, we are up 6% even though search is down 13%. 6 months ago I kissed Google goodbye, I kissed link building goodbye, I kissed off page SEO goodbye. I focused on courting a new girlfriend called Social media. Today she is treating me pretty good and in another 6 months she will be my #1 traffic referrer. Guys, I am not trying to be rude, but the game has changed. Either play ball or go find a new job.
BTW, so you understand what type of site I am talking about. It is a 800 page site related around a large niche. It gets over 1,000 uniques per day.It is 1.5 years old. It has 10 contributing authors who are mainly bloggers in the niche with their own blogs as well. The only thing we do is light handed on page SEO and social networking primarily with Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
I don't know if any of this will help you guys, but you can recover from Google. You just have to kiss them Goodbye and go for other traffic sources.
(edited to give you approximate traffic numbers)
2:56 am on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Another big loser day. I've finally taken steps to upgrade my old outdated html site to CMS based. No better time than now, since nothing else is happening.

SERPS have been taking a beating, so not much else to lose. This is starting to feel like the finality of a pink slip. I doubt we'll ever recover, but we'll try.

[edited by: backdraft7 at 3:18 am (utc) on Nov 3, 2012]

3:06 am on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

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The tension in regards to google and it's motives is really just what Matt Cutts has been marinating for some time now; the notion that a person who gets up in the morning and wants to pay their bills, feed their family, be productive in their chosen endeavor is somehow "bad" for trying to "manipulate" a search algorithm. Some here are all too comfortable in adding to that particularly heinous meme when a member has a ranking issue. I assume most posting here are providing a market worthy good or service and like any other business person is in need of getting the word out, there is no "bad" in that. That is simply what we do.

Maybe webmasterworld members could take a kinder tone towards other webmasters instead of adapting the us vs. them mentality fostered by industry mouthpieces. Google has always been a social success, the problem they have now is that their core discipline has morphed into something that is at odds with most webmasters, it's probably time to recognize that.


Yes, wise words and as diberry pointed out, well said, too. Also - if/when you guys are seeing weird/bad SERPs, since we can't post search terms and the like here, why not post a screenshot for us all to enjoy?
3:27 am on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Like others have said, I personally have no problems with "whining" - and I have even got used to hourly traffic reports. I'd rather people "info dump" than not contribute at all. I have a good handle on what's happening just by WHO is making the most noise. But I contribute less, both because there is less pay-back, and because the warm glow you get from helping people is rather spoilt when personal insults start being chucked around.


Hear! Hear!

Those who are info dumping traffic reports are giving good analysis or at least more data to analyse (there may be some whining if those traffic reports are showing a negative increase since last month - but I'd rather have that than no information.)
9:14 am on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Guys, I am not trying to be rude, but the game has changed. Either play ball or go find a new job.


I agree the game has changed but its still the same players.

For what it's worth, my experience is Google's userbase has grown. I see referrals and sales growing across all my websites - as much as 150% increase since 2008.

Google is referring more traffic than ever. This is with the same level of exposure, and very little change in actual SERPs.

If you really believe that Facebook is a replacement for THE Internet search tool then good luck to you, however I believe you are missing out on a huge audience and the biggest potential out there.

I think it's a fantastic achievement that you've built an audience outside of Google, but this would be far more powerful as an addition as opposed to a replacement.

Let's face it the whole world now knows that to look for something on the Internet you "Google it". This isn't going to change very easily, therefore G is here for the foreseeable.

Back on topic... UK SERPs are very stable, no change since last Tuesday.
1:14 pm on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@petehall - can I ask, is your site CMS based or hand crafted html? From all my observations, I'd say that CMS base sites see less impact on updates. They are easier to tweak for seo and easier to integrate into the social scene. I've come to realize that my site has become an unmanageable mess and using a CMS will only be a benefit in the end. I'm basically moving my sub dir blog into my root, then consolidating my 70 page main site into the blog CMS. It's a bold move that will either make me or break me.
1:54 pm on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Hi Pete,
Thanks for responding. I hear what you are saying about the believing I am missing out on a huge audience. I guess that all depends on the business model you are using. Mine depends on raw traffic. I sell advertising and fill the empty spots with other ad networks.

Google is still my largest referrer but it will lose that spot shortly. Chasing Google is like chasing the wind. They are like a bride that promises to meet you at the altar if you will rise up to a certain standard and as soon as you do, they change the standards. I can't base my business on fickleness.

3 times I watched my impressions in WMT rise to 50k per day (week?) only to see my rankings drop and impressions back down to 10k regardless of an update or not.

You guys have talked about throttling. I believe they have set a metric on how many "free" impressions they are going to give a certain site based on who knows what. Thus the insane everflux we all see in the serps.

I have also noticed that after the March/April plummet I experienced, that prime time for my site switched from evenings in the US being the prime time to mornings in the US being prime time. I can only assume that this is caused by Google expanding adwords targeting to include time frames. More ads in the evening means serps are pushed down the page or have more competition.

Is Google a traffic source and a player. Absolutely! Are they a profitable traffic source both in time and money? That is questionable. This is seen by major news organizations in other countries demanding that Google pay them for their content now. Google News has become unprofitable for them.

Will Facebook replace search? No! Can Facebook build a loyal following of readers, customers and eventually buyers who are already interested in your niche? I believe so. The difference is that with social media, you are in control. With Google, they are in control. That is why I stopped courting Google.

Ended up yesterday up 4% with search down 14% from the day before. No noticeable change in serps. Typical Friday except increases in direct traffic and social media.
2:07 pm on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@backdraft7 - All my sites are essentially CMS based but they are 100% bespoke. I do all of the development myself, from a very basic shell which I then build on depending on my clients requirements.

The architecture of each site is essentially very similar as they are built with the same theory / methods, however the html output (code and content) which Google sees is always different across each site.

I am able to re-optimise and re-structure the sites very easily because I'm not running on a platform I haven't written / do not understand fully.

I've never been a believer in buying an off the shelf package to then try to manipulate it to rank, although I know this can be done and it does work well for people. I do feel more so in emerging markets where searches aren't as competitive.

Instead I've always constructed websites using my own knowledge of what I believe works in search engines, a thought process which evolved since late 90's and is still continuing to evolve... I never seem to stop learning.

I think if you do move to a CMS system it will be a good move, providing you pay extra special attention to 301 redirecting before you launch the new site.
2:20 pm on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Will Facebook replace search? No! Can Facebook build a loyal following of readers, customers and eventually buyers who are already interested in your niche? I believe so. The difference is that with social media, you are in control. With Google, they are in control. That is why I stopped courting Google.


Very wise words!

By the sound of it your business really works well with social media, but I do not believe it's for all businesses. I actually think the same can be said for Google! Used correctly they are both very powerful tools in their own right.

SERPs still very stable here in the UK, I'm starting to get bored of waiting for Panda now... where has the big furry animal got to? Has he finally gone back to chomping bamboo instead of websites?!
4:48 pm on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

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For what it's worth, my experience is Google's userbase has grown. I see referrals and sales growing across all my websites - as much as 150% increase since 2008.


Also for what it's worth; my best performing sites which I checked today still show more than 95% of the clicks from Google (I'm in the UK) and these sites are mostly nowhere in Bing/Yahoo for decent money phrases. On the other hand these two produce worthwhile business for some sites that G has kicked into the dustbin.

Long live all of them, says I.
6:48 pm on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Anyone else noticing a huge dead spot the last two days? Looks like it's time to kick the Zombie thread again.
7:20 pm on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

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A good tip since panda..... when you do a search with more then 3 keywords use BING you will get a lot more results you can use, I tested this all day today.
8:41 pm on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

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The previous few days have been very bad, revenue wise. Conversion sucks, while the traffic remained the same.
9:56 pm on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

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My traffic has been occasionally dropping by large chunks over the last year or so. I experienced another drop around Oct 20th as did a lot of other websites I manage.

I believe the recent drop around the 29th is due to the Hurricane (and this is a long term problem in the NE), the 30th due to Halloween, Nov 1st is due to a catholic holiday and we have the election coming up on tues so this recent slump is not likely to improve anytime soon.

Yesterday, I checked to see which keywords rose in rank compared to last month and they were allllll related to recent social networking. Where there hasn't been activity from social sites the ranking was the same or had dropped. So I think there is some validity in focusing more on social traffic.
12:55 am on Nov 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Well the switch from Google Shopping over to it's own section of Google and will not be showing in the general search is going to have a HUGE impact on those that relied on it for traffic paid or unpaid.
7:27 am on Nov 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

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It looks like WebmasterWorld's traffic have been dropping in the past few weeks as well. I wonder if it's because of what was mentioned earlier or something has affected them.
5:25 pm on Nov 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

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our site is seeing a but of a surge in Google traffic today. taking into account the additional hour in todays analytics, it still looks like we are at our 5pm levels of traffic and it's only 1:20pm.

I should note, we are currently fighting back against panda, rewriting product descriptions, etc. Was there an update possibly? finally?
12:06 am on Nov 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I'm seeing a surge from Google too. Started early this afternoon (Pacific time). I've made some changes to the placement of my advertising blocks (moved them down a lot) and some internal linking structure. Is Panda pleased? Knock on wood!
1:22 am on Nov 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

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My traffic has more than doubled today... Started about 9am central.
1:45 am on Nov 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Our traffic jumped about 20% on Saturday in the USA. All long tail traffic. It has stuck today. Curious what the update may have been, especially with others seeing an uptick as well. We are definitely due for a Panda refresh.
1:54 am on Nov 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

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10 year old site just lost its main keyword. Something happened over the weekend not sure what but oh well. one down others to go. Luckily I don't count on Google anymore. My social traffic well and truly outstripping my google traffic. Made the decision to work on social a year ago and glad I did!
2:01 am on Nov 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@viral

when you say lost, did it drop a few spots or a few pages? I'm curious because I didn't see very much change on the short tail in a few industries I follow.
2:27 am on Nov 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

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This site is an EMD that I registered in 1999 but really started developing in 2002. It has 10 years of content and has been in top 3 for it's main keyword for 7 years and has been pos 1 for last 3 years. Around this latest Panda/EMD update it lost all google image traffic and most of it's non USA traffic. Which in my niche non USA traffic is lucrative. Also it lost all of its longtail. at the same time. However if anything its EMD keyword was stronger.. stronger than pos 1 you say? trust me it can be stronger than pos 1 in my niche! not going to elaborate!

Anyway this morning the EMD keyword gone. What happened? not 100% sure.. but in the last month or so I was scrambling around a bit trying to get some of my longtails back. content strategies etc. The funny thing is believe it or not lots of schools use this site in examinations! and if I shut it down they are going to have to re-write their exams.

My social strategies for this site have gone well and social traffic is really nice, but the problem I am having (and it is a good one to have) is that now that i know how to work the social traffic there are much more lucrative niches that I have been working on. So I will continue with this site (in a social sense) for a while longer but like I said the other niches I am working on are already providing A LOT better ROI.

So if things don't improve I will flip it and forget about it and move on with my better ROI niches.

Not sure if Google has thought through what they are doing.. They are forcing us to educate ourselves in generating other traffic. If they keep forcing us down these paths they might find themselves in a situation where they are no longer relevant to webmasters? Is that what they really want?
3:13 am on Nov 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Not sure if Google has thought through what they are doing.. They are forcing us to educate ourselves in generating other traffic. If they keep forcing us down these paths they might find themselves in a situation where they are no longer relevant to webmasters? Is that what they really want?


There is no "want". Only short term drive to do better on next market calls. We are history as far as they are concerned, fair game... and i am yet to see evidence to the contrary...

P.S
They've got "Android" to secure and ensure their long term future...don't worry.
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