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Google Updates and SERP Changes - March 2013

     
5:18 am on Mar 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

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< continued from [webmasterworld.com...]

I'm seeing daily switching between 2-3 datasets across around 600 keywords. Seeing roughly 10-20 keywords swapping in & out of positions.

[edited by: tedster at 2:47 pm (utc) on Mar 1, 2013]

11:52 am on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Not here. Install a new antivirus program with a "safe web" option?
12:10 pm on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@Wilburforce: WMT data certainly should be historical, but if that is the case in this instance then the averages displayed today are calculated on positions that I haven't held for at least 12 months. This begs the question why Google is feeding me ancient data and updating it so it has just enough "shuffle" to make it appear dynamic.

Maybe this part of WMT is taking data from serps as they are before any algorithmic penalty is applied to produce the serps that are eventually displayed to users. Maybe it's just not worth G's time to update this site-specific adjustment in WMT Search Queries data, especially as (I assume) most people aren't under the penalty.

All pure speculation I admit, but there has to be a reason for these results reaching my dashboard and the historical data explanation doesn't fit in this case.
12:36 pm on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@themaninthejar

Another possible explanation is that your own searches go to one DC, while the WMT report is based on a different one.

"Average position" means average position of all your pages for that term (which may derive from more than one page on a single DC), not average position of your highest page across all DCs.

I don't read a huge amount into individual terms in WMT (there are usually anomalies), but I do worry when - as is currently the case - the number of page 1 results in WMT shows a significant drop.
1:00 pm on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@Wilburforce

I don't feel that that explanation fits as surely the traffic would reflect these positions even if I can't see them?
1:29 pm on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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surely the traffic would reflect these positions even if I can't see them?


Not necessarily.

The Impressions, Clicks and CTR columns will give you a better idea of how a particular term ought to affect traffic, but those data are for the whole period, whereas Average Position could derive from single DC for a single hour within that period. Google are not exactly forthcoming, but the one thing I do know is that anomalies between WMT position data and what I actually see when I search are very common.

There was an earlier thread on it which probably won't shed much more light: [webmasterworld.com...]
1:31 pm on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I've noticed substantial upward movement in the serps in the past week. It's encouraging, yet paradoxically my traffic continues to decline and user interaction remains thin. My weekly GA trend is nearly flat line. Something big is looming just around the corner. I gots a baaaad feeling.

Thought for the day: If I'm getting "stupid" search results, does that mean Google thinks I'm stupid? ;^D
1:39 pm on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Average Position could derive from single DC for a single hour within that period


Not surprisingly I was assuming Google was using the widely accepted definition of "Average"...

What you describe should be be called "Highest position attained in period". And that begs the question if it's good enough to rank on page 1 for one hour, why is on page 47 for the remaining 23 hours...?
1:46 pm on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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And that begs the question if it's good enough to rank on page 1 for one hour, why is on page 47 for the remaining 23 hours...?

Because apparently G OWNS those terms and they need them working for THEM 23 hours of the day. The remaining hour goes to the next best site. Read the handwriting on the wall, organic results are slowly decaying.

This begs the question "why is there not a regulatory agency enforcing a free internet" Google is now the proverbial troll under the internet bridge. [youtu.be...]
2:10 pm on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I was assuming Google was using the widely accepted definition of "Average"


Average is actually quite a murky term.

Most people think it means "mean" (sum of values in a series divided by the number of values). However, it can also mean "median" (the value in a series which has an equal number of values above and below it), or "mode" (the most common value in a series).

Google's "Average Position" isn't clearly defined (we don't know much about the series from which it derives, or how it is calculated), but what they do say is that it is the average of your own pages: if you have one page at #1 and another at #16 the "average position" will take both into account, whichever average is used.

In a series that varies with time (like SERPS), a major factor that can interfere with accuracy is the sample rate. I am pretty certain that Average Position in WMT derives from a small number of samples over the month (possibly a single sample). It is a bit like stating the average number of people in a bus queue when the data might be a single sample that was taken at a rural bus stop at 3:00 a.m.

I don't personally place much weight on it.
2:25 pm on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Seems to me that the Panda flux started yesterday. We have a couple sites negatively affected by Panda see an increase in traffic, meanwhile our main site that has seen mostly positive results during Panda updates/refreshes took a slight dip. My guess is this will flip over the next few days and go back to how it normally is. Probably sometime around the formal announcement from Google that Panda has been refreshed.
2:41 pm on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Average is actually quite a murky term.

Most people think it means "mean" (sum of values in a series divided by the number of values). However, it can also mean "median" (the value in a series which has an equal number of values above and below it), or "mode" (the most common value in a series).

Very true. Just as a brief note in case anyone finds it useful, where you're trying to calculate an average but are dealing with a series of values that may contain "rogue" items (like being on page 1 for one hour but then page 47 for twenty-three hours, or perhaps having one page of your site at #1 but many others far below) it's better to use an average calculation called the Geometric Mean. You multiply all the numbers together and take the nth root of the product, where "n" is the number of values.
2:49 pm on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@@backdraft7

I like reading your posts and agree with most of them. I am in a similar situation as you. In April 2012 I experience a 30% drop and since then ever so slowly Google has clawed another 20% in a little under a year.

In April I lost a number of keywords but for the most part in the past year I have seen keywords move from spots 1-3 to 4-20 in the serps. While still appearing on page 1 is good the loss of being in the top 3 positions has lost a lot of traffic for me.

It hasn't helped things with Google Analytics slowly becoming useless with Apple not passing keywords and Firefox defaulting users to https in search.

I also think localization and mobile is playing a huge roll in things now even in industries were it doesn't make much sense.

The other problem is Google is a business and while they use to champion the small guy, and they still make buckets of money, their shareholders are getting them to squeeze more money out of search which hasn’t been growing as much as it used to. In my niche it is impossible to make money by using adwords for most of the related keywords. All the brands just outbid everybody and take it at as a loss. Plus Google will charge you more for clicks on pages you point your ads to that don’t “relate” as well with the topic. I have done a few experiments and for a page to do better in adwords I have found it will suffer in the organic results and you must throw out the book on Google’s quality guidelines.

I am going to stop venting now … I just hope Google gets their act together or they will slowly find themselves losing ground as people move to other sources for searching
2:53 pm on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I have noticed something in one of the verticals I track, it seems Google is "clumping" related keywords together. For example, a casino game I am tracking has an ESPN result ranking very highly, purely because of "game" in the URL and I am also guessing that "game" or "games" is a term that ESPN auto ranks highly for, even though ESPN has nothing to do with casino's. I'm not sure if any other verticals are seeing the same.
3:31 pm on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@Wilberforce

My Google WMT Average Rankings actually marry up quite well with my actual rankings on Bing...! Maybe that's where they're getting the data.....
4:10 pm on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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pretty quiet today on sites I watch
4:20 pm on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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No change . As i said yesterday: a lot of garbage , scraped , thin , duplicate content , scribd files with vaguely relevant content ( most of them already deleted ) , facebook empty pages


E-commerce , Romania

[edited by: colonelu81 at 4:34 pm (utc) on Mar 14, 2013]

4:34 pm on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@Wilberforce

Google's help section has this to say about Average Position:

"To calculate average position, we take into account the top ranking URL from your site for a particular query. For example, if Jane’s query returns your site as the #1 and #2 result, and David’s query returns your site in positions #2 and #7, your average top position would be 1.5."

Not quite sure what to make of that...
4:37 pm on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@netmeg

Install a new antivirus program with a "safe web" option?


Interesting you should say that since I noticed this morning that my Prevx account has been "upgraded" and changed to Webroot. I've just disabled it and the green ticks have disappeared!
4:43 pm on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Not quite sure what to make of that...


No, that doesn't really offer a great deal of clarity.
4:48 pm on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I think panda is on the way... knock down >90%. After gaining traffic the last weeks. silly this is.


ecom, germany
5:40 pm on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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No more major Panda updates?
Just read that Panda is going to be part of the main algorithm [seroundtable.com...]
5:44 pm on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Nice find Zivush. Think that one almost deserves it's own thread so it doesn't "get lost" back here.



More generally for the Last 3 days, indexed pages have stopped "fluxing" between +/- 10% to 15% so it's starting to look more and more like what we were seeing was some sort of Pre-Panda Main Algo Rollout Testing or something to me anyway.
5:55 pm on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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What was surprising was that the various criteria touched by/ incorporated into Panda were not already in the "rolling algo"..for years past..
6:04 pm on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I wonder if there was a processing power issue or something to overcome keeping them from doing it, cause it's a bit surprising to me too.
6:34 pm on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I'm seeing signs of a Panda update here in the UK. Or Panda everflux. That's going to kill the update talk somewhat isn't it...
7:32 pm on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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so this panda implementation into main algo is the panda update anounced for friday/monday?
7:43 pm on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Matt Cutts announced tomorrow or Monday.
8:04 pm on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Im seeing some movement for my main keyword, go Panda go.
9:43 pm on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Yay, yay, yay, just tried one of my main keyword combinations on Google.co.uk, 9/10 all USA sites, the only UK site was at #9...none of those US sites could supply the UK market, the cost would be prohibitive.
10:02 pm on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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none of those US sites could supply the UK


I know its stupid - just done a search [type of] [place to eat ] in [UK location] 30% of the first page were USA companies !

Don't try product searches 70% of the first page is USA companies on the searches I do, the actual manufacturers get nowhere.

Neither of these are our niche.

Just wondering - is this how they escaped the Senate, nice little words in private - no worries we will support USA companies
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