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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]


8:35 pm on Mar 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Do any of you know if it's against their TOS to be directly copying articles from a book.

Technically, if it is copied without permission from the copyright holder, it is. However...

If the author of the book entered a DCMA complaint it might have some effect, but even they might experience resistance if the content hasn't obviously been lifted from an online source.

I have had several run-ins with Google over copyright and trade mark issues, and their response has varied from instant removal (over content on blogspot obviously plagiarised from my website) to "Nothing to do with us: sue us and we'll fight it all the way" over trade mark infringement on Google Places.

If you were thinking of complaining as a third party, don't bother.


8:46 pm on Mar 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Thanks Wilburforce. I suspected as much.

So Google make the rules but they don't enforce them unless it suits. I might be a bit sneaky & see if I can locate the author of the book ;) Who knows, she may be okay with it.


2:13 am on Mar 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Do any of you know if it's against their TOS to be directly copying articles from a book.

Seriously? What do you think Google books is?


2:22 am on Mar 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

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What Google says you can do & what Google does themselves are two completely different things. Do as I say, not as I do.


4:46 am on Mar 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

I am seeing a 20% drop in traffic for my 4 websites which have more than million dynamically generated web pages. Has anyone else seen any changes in search results or change in traffic.


7:38 am on Mar 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I'm just looking at my top articles and comparing them from two months ago. Drop of 50%. I'm Googling all the keywords for those articles and 100% of the time, the same website is no. 1. How can that be? I get that sites chop & change, but this site is now no. 1, 100% of the time. How on earth does that happen? Something is not right :(

This is the site who's "sister site" is copying articles from a book. I just don't get how one site can get no. 1 spot with every keyword. It's so dodgy.


9:12 am on Mar 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

From Tuesday, Wednesday, and now Thursday of this week vs. same days last week I'm seeing a 7%,10% and now 30% drop in Google traffic across all geo's for my 2 main websites.

I'm hoping this is Spring break and Easter related. A nice percentage of my Website visitors are students. As far as I can tell I haven't lost any rankings for top keywords.

Anybody seeing something similar?


9:53 am on Mar 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

I have minor drop in traffic on wednesday and thursday. I saw Major drop(nearly 20 to 30%) in traffic yesterday in all my websites.


11:55 am on Mar 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Seeing something similar yesterday on our main site in the US. About a 10% drop, but I checked a ton of our major keywords and nothing moved.

I have a strong feeling that this is related to Spring Break, Easter and Passover. A lot of major cities have spring break this week and it is during the same week as Easter and Passover this year. Good Friday is today 3/29 as well.

I just looked at 3 major cities school calenders. Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. All of them have Spring break this week. Even if you aren't affected by student/teacher traffic, parents may be traveling with their kids for a long weekend because of how this all fell in 2013.


1:58 pm on Mar 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Same deal here. I don't see any noticeable shift in rankings, but my traffic followed the same pattern as you. I'm pretty confident that it's seasonal for my niche -- but with that said, my stomach still drops each time I look at my analytics:)


2:50 pm on Mar 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'm hoping this is Spring break and Easter related.
I hate to ask but no one has checked last year or year before's Analytics? The percentages are almost the same here for the last two years for the weeks leading up to Easter, the same sites are up - the same sites are down, just more traffic. (2011 was April 24th and 2012 was April 8th)

@SnowMan68 I mentioned those schedules on the previous page and can see by the precious years numbers noted above that it probably won't go back to normal until about Tuesday/Wednesday.


2:52 pm on Mar 29, 2013 (gmt 0)


Sorry! I must missed it.

I also noticed the dip in 2011 and 2012. Same thing, overall numbers were smaller, but the trend line was very similar.


2:53 pm on Mar 29, 2013 (gmt 0)


It would make sense that some might see an even bigger drop this year with Easter falling so close to spring break for a lot of major cities.


3:09 pm on Mar 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

It would make sense that some might see an even bigger drop this year with...
Indeed. I noticed that with a couple sites and that would also explain another site that is doing better than the previous years.

EDIT: I'm hopeful the previous years are reliable; one site has record days the week before for all three years (2011-2013) but no one likes to see the dips while they're happening.

[edited by: Str82u at 3:13 pm (utc) on Mar 29, 2013]


3:12 pm on Mar 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Do you get mostly US referrals?


3:15 pm on Mar 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

@SnowMan68 mostly, yes. Only a couple sites are set to US only but we cater to English and Spanish languages.


3:38 pm on Mar 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Personally I get a bump during the Easter season. However today I am seeing something unusual. I am getting the same amount of traffic as last year but it is divided between 2 pages. One page is an older page that I moved to a subdomain about 4 weeks ago. I placed a canonical link to the new page and placed the "no index" tag on it. The other page is the new page on the subdomain.

I can only guess that there are 2 data sets being served to searchers and somehow I have one page on one data set and the other page on the other data set.

This is different than Christmas where my one page had half the traffic than the year before.


4:23 pm on Mar 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Personally I get a bump during the Easter season. However today I am seeing something unusual.
One thing to consider in this "part" of this discussion, site modifications aside @taberstruths, is that this year Easter is before the 1st of the month when many people get paid, last year was the week after the 1st.

EDIT (another?): All things being equal, one could say that Easter baskets this year may be lighter than Easter baskets last year.


4:34 pm on Mar 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

@str82u I should have mentioned. I am an informational site. I don't sell any products.


4:39 pm on Mar 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

@taberstruths I could have mentioned the same, we only have one site that sells anything. People's online habits are affected by money regardless of the sites they visit so assuming you have ads on site, people may be more/less likely to "window shop" by clicking on ads.... on that note we see that advertisers are paying more per click even though our CTR is strong which tells me they are fighting over sales themselves.


4:48 pm on Mar 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

My site is partly service based with a major portion of tech info which is the reason for drop during spring break. However I have 2 unrelated folders (which I should have turned into their own sub domain) that are focused on Easter and Spring topics which explode with traffic this time of year so overall traffic for the whole site doesn't go down.

based in US.


5:51 pm on Mar 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

A buddy of mine was was a car salesman for a while and I never got this str8 till he went over it again a minute ago; The best selling day is the last weekend of the month UNLESS it's too close to the end of the month, like this weekend. The best time to buy a brand new car is the last day of the month at the end of a quarter.... add a Sunday on that, like this month, and you might buy a car under cost.

The analogy is just that from the non-predatory user's standpoint, this might not be a good conversion weekend for site owners.


4:52 am on Mar 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

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The day started out great and kept going steady until about 4pm CST when sales stopped dead. Coincidentally the amount of spam I received also stopped about 4pm. Makes me wonder if this DDOS problem is still echoing around the web.

@Str82u - Whatever is happening, we're experiencing the same as you. Half of last year, or less. Not sure how much longer all these affected sites will last...that's OK, G has it's corporate interests to keep lobster thermidore and caviar on the break room table.

ADDITION: I posted the above about 15 mins ago...and I was telling my wife about the odd patterns, but I also predicted a sale either 5 minutes before or 15 minutes after midnight, simply because I see this pattern over and over. Guess what? 12:13am and I'm off to bed when my cell phone goes "kaching" indicating a new sale. So 4pm it shuts down, then 8 hours later I get a midnight reset...incredible in it's predictability.

I know more than a few folks here think I'm a nut case who sees UFO's, Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster on a daily basis, but after watching this (using .au audio cues on pages) the way I have done for over a dozen years and always looking for patterns in the chaos, I feel expertly qualified to divine these anomalies. I'm grateful for the sale, but I'm almost infuriated that it seems so manipulated, predictable and quite possibly throttled (excuse me, day parted).

The good news is that the 15 after midnight sale usually portends a decent day tomorrow.

Anyone else notice this type of pattern?

[edited by: backdraft7 at 5:30 am (utc) on Mar 30, 2013]


5:29 am on Mar 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

@backdraft7 No loss of spam here but I'm not saying that it's not a valid point. Half sounds bad but it's a matter of user habits. Perhaps the "car sales" analogy above applies to you.

What I wanted to convey was that we can see a trend in sites the week leading up to and right after Easter in the past, positive and negative depending on the type of traffic.

Do you normally get sales around midnight on Fridays? It would be interesting to see if a week at home with the kids doesn't drive people to spend money after bedtime.


5:34 am on Mar 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

@Str82u - I just updated my previous post, take look as it reports the exact "midnight sales" anomaly. I see this all the time and it is usually preceded by at least 8 hours of dead zone. It may mean something or nothing at all...it's just one of those strange patterns that has evolved (for me at least) since May 2010.


6:09 am on Mar 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

Timing is everything, wish that made me feel smart but that's a bigfoot-print if ever there was one; "Bedtime" was much more broad range, calling it 15 before or after is pretty exact.


8:46 am on Mar 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Came in tonight just to see what the consensus was. We'd been hit hard by Panda 1.0-x.x (not so much Penguin, though it's hard to tell since Panda pretty much knocked us totally OFF G before Penguin came by.) We were still in the top 10 for most KWs on B/Y. We've been gaining page ranks on G steadily every day for the last week. Not entirely impressively yet, but considering we sank from top 10, 2 years ago, to OUT of the top 1000 in some KWs to top 100 now (even top 20 in a couple), either the algo is changing drastically, or we finally managed to trigger a recovery from Panda.
Any other similar reports this week?

Martin Ice Web

12:44 pm on Mar 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Has there been a update ( downgrade ) today? We now have the worsest traffic ever. Never seen so much stupid serps like today. Strange ( !) google shopping is again on the point.


10:27 pm on Mar 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

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suddenly traffic on my money site is zero...


10:41 pm on Mar 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

same here...nice natural pattern started after midnight last night, continued up until about 10 am then BAM! everything shut down with hardly a trickle of traffic all day. Looks like we got day parted again. Looks like two distinct data sets are cycling. I'm sure the day cycle is filling G's coffers.

I'm wondering how I can have more traffic at 3am than at 3pm. Answer - because traffic is being highly manipulated to maximize profits.

I received a reply from my recent re-inclusion request and again, no manual penalty, so is this an algorithmic penalty or a deliberate day parting diversion of traffic away from my site so they can maximize ad impressions through sites with more adsense units? I'm wondering if I place two more ads on each page if I'll recover my day time traffic. I know one thing for sure, it will degrade my user experience.
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