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Google Updates and SERP Changes - February 2013

     
9:12 am on Feb 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

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< continued from [webmasterworld.com...]

Not just location screwing things up... all web browsers are now using your history to distort results, even with Web History switched off. Only way to check the real results now is Chrome Incognito.

That and the location issues are really screwing things up. If I type in weather, G gives me weather for Windmill Hill, UK... I don't even know where that is. I looked and its 200 miles away at the other end of the UK!

[edited by: tedster at 2:08 pm (utc) on Feb 1, 2013]

9:29 am on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

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backdraft17, nice to hear from you again. We see high amounts of traffic, conversion rate is going down, pageviews/User is going up?! This changed somehow last week. Before that conversions where at a very high level.
Keywords seem to change within minutes and it looks like the go a loop the whole day.

sitenote: Do we have a googleer in this forum, because we got 1 on google+ ;)
2:57 pm on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Well my 12 year UK ecom has had the same slide - and its a nice clean site - best of breed - much respected. But my nasty Indian link buying competitor (and BS content creator/buyer) has retained their near top positions with NO social activity. Nice bit of research from Wilburforce... at least we are all p1ssing in the dark (for now).
3:05 pm on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

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One of our ten year old EMDs which has never been lower than #3 on page one is gone for the keyword...


Happy to announce it has returned to #3 on page 1 <whew>...
3:27 pm on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@Convergence - when did that happen? The date?

We saw a dramatic drop in traffic that many were reporting in the US starting in the afternoon of Feb 12th and lasting exactly one week; now UK site owners are reporting seeing the same thing in the time frame that an update usually takes to reach the UK SERPs, when it ends here it starts there. The last time I saw this behavior was in Nov 2013, the week BEFORE an announced Google update. I'm expecting an announcement soon. Barry Schwartz says no unannounced Penguin updates [searchengineland.com...] and there isn't really any indication outside of here about other updates.

I have to say that it seemed like an algo update at first but there was no level off or bounce back during that week, nothing but shortfalls. AdSense was paying horribly low EPC during that week as well. Over the last couple of days traffic is normal again starting Tuesday the 19th afternoon/night.

Can't say exactly what it was that caused it but will say that one of our sites that gets NO traffic from Google showed a similar behavior in the same time period and some others that do rank on Google showed no effects at all during that week. It almost seemed like it was EMD related, please read on....

In the SERPs we were surpassed (not buried) by both new and existing sites which explained the shortfall in traffic; 70% of those sites have one thing in common, I won't say what that one thing is but it can be seen right in the SERP without visiting the other sites. Another thing they had in common was domains that did not contain keywords at all, some with synonyms but not many.
4:09 pm on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@Convergence - when did that happen? The date?


Wednesday morning (February 20th) it was gone. Checked this morning and it's back.

On our other web properties we had weird traffic yesterday as well. None to speak of all day. Yet conversions were higher than normal. Went to bed early last nite quasi-satisfied that our conversion rate was very good. This morning noticed that traffic picked up in the evening and conversions dropped slightly but were still higher than normal. Overall traffic was still low. Today traffic seems better and conversions are still good.

Hate to say it as am no fan of the Google, but traffic "appears" more targeted.

See what this weekend will bring...
4:58 pm on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Now it's gone, again...
5:36 pm on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

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And back, again.

Deffo multiple sets of SERPs being returned...
6:26 pm on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I reckon someone's playing a game with you Convergence:-)
8:01 pm on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I reckon someone's playing a game with you Convergence:-)


:) Think we can guess who...
8:32 pm on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Still very little movement in a highly competitive vertical I watch. I'd be very surprised if an official announcement was made. Still some shaking up left to do... come on G shake those results!
8:45 pm on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Still very little movement


In my sector Australia and the US have come and gone in UK SERPS, but the top half-dozen pages are otherwise relatively stable (although I don't count my own 70+ page drop as "little"!).
2:06 pm on Feb 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Somebody's playing games alright!

The past few days have exhibited very strange patterns of low, yet highly convertible traffic vs. high traffic levels than don't convert at all. The biggest differences on the two group are the referrals. It's the casino wheels spinning again, now in real time.

When everything stated going TU in 2010, these periods stretched for days or weeks, now it seems they've go it down to "minute by minute" if not nanosecond to nanosecond.

On a good day, we convert multiple times on the hour, all day. Now our pattern of conversions is very, VERY flaky. one in the morning, always around the same time (7am), then nothing for hours, then BAM! three in a row, separated by only 2 minutes each. All the while our serps look unchanged. Google remains a riddle wrapped in an enigma.
4:18 pm on Feb 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I had a problem with one of my sites a while back that affected many of my pages but I won't go in to the problem in detail again here (visitor comments from 1 page were appearing on the wrong pages) but I fixed the problem and a few weeks later my top pages returned to where they were before.

Since the 14th Feb, I've been seeing these pages (with the wrong comments) appearing in the serps again if I search for them, even though they were all fixed ages ago. They returned to normal the 17th but have since returned and my pages have been buried again.

No idea what's going on, but I'm seeing strange results for a number of other keywords I search for daily also.
4:33 pm on Feb 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

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On a good day, we convert multiple times on the hour, all day. Now our pattern of conversions is very, VERY flaky. one in the morning, always around the same time (7am), then nothing for hours, then BAM! three in a row, separated by only 2 minutes each. All the while our serps look unchanged. Google remains a riddle wrapped in an enigma.


Seeing a very similar thing. From 10 days ago had the best seven days we have had for a long time in terms of conversions (double average conversions). Then the last 3 days have been the worst for a while by quite a big margin, and I'm not exaggerating - we are down to about 20% of average conversions in the last 3 days which is very unusual! All the while our SERPs are the same.

On most of the good days in the last couple of weeks we convert traffic really well for about 12 hours a day (usually from about 10pm to 10am Australian time) then NOTHING for 12 hours or more - then back on. We have many sites all over the world so seems unlikely this is just because of the time of day. And in the 12 hours on we are getting 30-40 transactions / conversions on average so seems very hard to believe it is pure coincidence... I just don't get it.
4:39 pm on Feb 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

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seeing these pages (with the wrong comments) appearing in the serps again if I search for them, even though they were all fixed ages ago


I strongly suspect "historic" elements in all this. My own pages have experienced sudden massive drops, then slow recovery, followed by sudden massive drops (...) even though any potential reasons for such a penalty have been long removed, and similar experiences have been reported by several other posters here. It is as if a penalty arising from an earlier state of the page (or of backlinks to it) is being reapplied.

What you report is consistent with my suspicion that historic data are still cached somewhere in Google's massive data-crunching machine, and are periodically reintroduced to current SERPS.
10:53 pm on Feb 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Ok, here we go. Seeing significant movement now in the UK on highly competitive niche. The Panda shuffle has started...
11:09 pm on Feb 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Something very odd in one of the SERPS I check in Google.com (English).

3 of the Top 10 are using spun/nonsensical text both on the page and in the meta descriptions which are appearing in SERPS
1 of the sites is .pl and has Polish meta text appearing in the SERPS
1 of the sites is .ro and has Romanian meta text appearing in the SERPS
4 of the sites have virtually identical content/templates but with nonsensical text added.

Of the Top 10, only 3 are "genuine" websites and 2 of those are brands (ranking 4th and 5th).

This term has alwats been targetted by dodgy sites but I've never seen it this messy.
11:59 pm on Feb 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I've seen a lot of Local 7-packs being added to the SERPs in the past week for queries where that did not happen before. Not a surprise, but interesting.
9:33 am on Feb 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Has anyone ever drilled down the results recently? All I see is pages and pages from the same 2-3 websites. No variety at all.

This search engine is now amazing at answering questions and a shadow of its former self when you want to find something business related. I know many more companies exist - I simply can't find them.
9:34 am on Feb 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Repost due to site hang. Apologies.
2:49 pm on Feb 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Petehall, indeed for some keyword search, I noticed this scenario. I also found several sites in top 10 using webs.com subdomain eg website.webs.com etc... whereby you can make your free website same as the old geocities. These pages offer nothing much, just garbage. I wonder how can Google tolerate that. If Google is asking for quality in-depth content, then it's completely missing the boat here. Can't understand how Google can rank these free websites for a highly competitive keyword. There should be at least 5 of these in top 10, just 1 page stupid garbage site. Then for another highly competitive one-word keyword, Google is ranking a page with nothing on it, go figure. Seeing all this makes you stop working hard for your content as all this crap doesn't make sense anymore.
3:05 pm on Feb 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

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A new record, 50% of my traffic this morning is MOBILE! Needless to say, zero conversions.
One page and they are gone...no interaction whatsoever.
5:21 pm on Feb 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Needless to say, zero conversions.


Is that for your own products or AdSense type of conversions?

FWIW so far in 2013, my AdSense conversions for Tablets and Mobiles is 18.8% of total earnings and with a much higher CTR rate.
1:55 am on Feb 25, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I would be interested in hearing if those who have lost traffic have set up mobile versions of their website to see if that helped or hurt or had no effect on traffic
2:28 am on Feb 25, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I thought the Penguin updates hit those websites with spammy backlinks, my website is ranking #10 last week and now it is in #20 for the target keyword and I check the competitors backlinks most of them have backlinks from clients that is not relevant to the services they offer and backlinks from spamming the blog comments.
9:15 am on Feb 25, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Just to correct my own quote;

Ok, here we go. Seeing significant movement now in the UK on highly competitive niche. The Panda shuffle has started...


False alarm - only one Panda affected site moved which I can now see was a false alarm. Still see quite stable results.
9:34 am on Feb 25, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@Lorel

I set up a (js-based device-detecting) forwarding service (mobile.mysite.com) in October last year.

There were some inconsistencies in the way the mobile version rendered (both between handsets, and between handset browsers). Also, I was reluctant to include the js outward link on all pages, so having trialled the forwarding version, I abandoned it in favour of adding more mobile-friendly css to all pages. I have retained the js version on my home page.

My own css version works fairly well, and the js version works for anyone who just wants a phone number or email address.

There has been a slight (and I mean slight) improvement in mobile-based traffic/enquiries, and as far as I can see no effect whatsoever on Google (or other search engines). I was/am more concerned about the possible negative effect of having some hidden elements in the mobile css version, but so far this hasn't had any apparent effect.

All the new css pages were spidered and indexed before Christmas, so I imagine any effects would have been noticeable by now.
2:25 am on Feb 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Smelling a Panda refresh / update rolling out starting at approximately 7:00 PM EST. US site.
8:01 am on Feb 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Yesterday was an after panda/penguin all time high referals, unfortunatelly conversions have been ZERO. And it seems like it will last this day, too.

ecom, germany
9:14 am on Feb 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Interesting that a site that used to toggle with mine for the #1 slot is now at #456 with mine at #457.
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