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Google Updates and SERP Changes - May 2013

     
1:20 am on May 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

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

Sunday traffic sucked, Monday was the best Monday in months, now today traffic sucks again. I'm talking a difference of 25K pageviews a day.

What I don't get is that our keyword rankings have been quite stable. How can that be? I mean, ok, so maybe every keyword that I don't track suddenly tanked... but that doesn't seem likely. Are those DDOS attacks on Wordpress sites still going on? (my site isn't Wordpress nor have I noticed any access issues but I know webhosts and ISPs were experiencing bog downs). I just can't figure these fluctuations out. I'm seeing very unstable traffic patterns lately.

[edited by: tedster at 12:41 pm (utc) on May 1, 2013]

4:18 am on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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The big one is still rolling through. Typical 2-3 spot placements of random pages as a test. Many of these are non functioning ecommerce sites that google is testing for value. I've only seen it to this degree a few times in the last 10 years. This was big in our vertical.

The winners are a few. Two major link buyers who's footprint could be spotted by a toddler and two large multinationals who are new to the vertical, offer no value, have few reviews and those they do have are poor...yet they are dominating. The moral of the new G is:

1. Be amazon if you sell products or Wikipedia if you peddle info
2. Buy lots of links especially high pr links even if its blog spot and word press.
3. Double or triple Adwords spending to make up the gap so that you can get placement above amazon

Using seo moz I'm shocked at how much link buying still goes on and how little G seems to be doing about it. Absolutely looks like some high pr 5/7s can be bought long as they are mixed in.

A clearer picture post 4/15 is that search behavior changed for a time. We can now see it clearly through other channels. Yet the return to normal business was faster with bing. Bing is also picking up new pages faster. Alternate referrers are increasing. Comparison engines are way up. I think this is the first time I can say in our vertical user behavior may be changing.

G has slowed the ingest or at least release of pages into the main SERPS which is reminscent of what happened with caffeine. I'm also seeing sites show as IP addresses again which last happened I think during the first penguin.

One question I have still? How hard/ why can't g detect and not display defunct amazon pages that indicate the product will never be back in stock? IE a brand forced someone off amazon? Why does that shell page still rank 1 or 2 and why does everything from amazon rank near the top? Don't people just go to amazon? Why must G give them the bonus bump?
4:35 am on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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A clearer picture post 4/15 is that search behavior changed for a time. We can now see it clearly through other channels. Yet the return to normal business was faster with bing. Bing is also picking up new pages faster.


If I'm understanding you right, that suggests that people who primarily use Bing behaved differently than people who primarily use Google. That is, Bing users returned to using their preferred search engine more quickly than Google users. I wonder why?

Alternate referrers are increasing. Comparison engines are way up. I think this is the first time I can say in our vertical user behavior may be changing.


You're seeing evidence of people finding your site/vertical through means other than Google? If so, that's what I've been seeing in a couple of my niches.
6:23 am on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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That is, Bing users returned to using their preferred search engine more quickly than Google users. I wonder why?


Probably because Bing results are better and cleaner. They look a bit like Google results before Panda.
9:00 am on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Our website was hit 15th May with the latest G update too.
10:25 am on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Maybe we are too loyal to google.

Maybe it was the webmasters that made google number one and not google that made the webmasters.

Now it appears that google has turned its back on the ones that helped make it.

We do have a choice as to the search engine we build for.

Matt has a cheerful look and sinister smile when talking about the coming changes.

He talks about quality and authority but results returns shallow and weak.

Maybe its time for us to move on.

I miss the old google.

Its growing old trying to please the big "G" to keep having them change the game and smile about it.

I am hearing bing it instead of google it more and more.

just saying
10:31 am on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Maybe it was the webmasters that made google number one and not google that made the webmasters.


That's been a well-known fact for years, it's up to us now to try and educate people away from this extremely faulty thing, I nearly wrote search engine however it isn't any more, and then maybe, just maybe, someone at The Plex may take notice and ask what's going on ... yeah, in your dreams HP!
10:55 am on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Has anyone noticed a lack of 'index' pages in the serps since Saturday 18th May? Talking in particular about .co.uk.
11:12 am on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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One question I have still? How hard/ why can't g detect and not display defunct amazon pages that indicate the product will never be back in stock? IE a brand forced someone off amazon? Why does that shell page still rank 1 or 2 and why does everything from amazon rank near the top? Don't people just go to amazon? Why must G give them the bonus bump?


Don't forget that Google and Amazon are partners in the Internet Association. I hate to toss out a conspiracy theory, but it is a fact that this Washington D.C. based lobbying group is working together. That may explain Google's "cozy" relationship with Amazon.

Amazon has a long history of holding products hostage. I worked on a number of sites where manufacturers pulled their products from Amazon, only to be outranked by their own "not available" Amazon listings even years later. What Amazon is doing is unethical by knowingly and intentionally allowing such a large number of doorway pages to exist. Why Google does not take action against these doorway pages leaves open to speculation that Amazon receives preferential treatment in the serps because of their existing relationship with Google.
11:38 am on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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For anyone fretting over traffic today, In Europe it is whit monday.. Bar UK and Ireland it is a public holiday
11:40 am on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Maybe it was the webmasters that made google number one and not google that made the webmasters


Google is now in direct competition with independent webmasters:-

1. Google are now also hosting content (notice I didn't say creating content), therefore are in competition with other websites hosting content

2. Google's big threat is a balkanised web - a fractured web where people bookmark and directly visit sites instead of using a search engine to navigate (keyword, navigate). Google want to "unify" us and have us use Google to navigate, not just search. Google don't want your bookmark list to be your "start page". Google don't like the idea that there could be hundreds of thousands of small business sites out there gaining reputation and regular returning customers - each represent a threat to Google by being the starting point for an e-commerce purchase, rather than Google being the starting point for an e-commerce purchase.
1:31 pm on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I've seen a big movement overnight in G.co.uk SERPs, one EMD I have is ranking first or second for 85% of its phrases (two and three keywords) and has already surpassed an average day for uniques and pages.

Must check .com SERPs to see what's been happening there.
1:54 pm on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I worked on a number of sites where manufacturers pulled their products from Amazon, only to be outranked by their own "not available" Amazon listings even years later.


That is Google "quality" after Panda! All that pep talk about quality, good content and thin pages is a joke. In reality Google can't detect the difference between original quality content, scraped stuff, auto generated text and other crap. These days you can rank pages with a title, 5 words and a photo.
2:05 pm on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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HuskyPup - wish I could see the changes on .co.uk - SERPS in my sector are still poor! So poor I don't even recognise them.
2:05 pm on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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All that pep talk about quality, good content and thin pages is a joke.


No, it really isn't. Give me 800 words written by an expert, and I'll crush your page with 5 words and a photo.

Here's the problem. I see it a lot on this board. Too many people expect that all they have to do is write good content and follow the guidelines and Google will bless them will tens of thousands of visits a day. It doesn't work that way, and it never will.

After you write good content and after you follow all the other guidelines, you still have to market your website. Your content should be attracting links / mentions, and you should be doing everything you can to become a brand. Or at the very least, *look* like one.

What you have to understand is that the webmaster guidelines are not baking instructions -- meaning you aren't guaranteed any kind of result if you follow them to the letter. They're simply a foundation. It's up to you to take it from there. And if you're just going to follow the rules and then sit on your hands while you wait for something to happen, you're going to be sitting for a really long time.

It's a copout to say, 'oh, Google can't tell the difference.' It's your job to make the difference painfully obvious.
2:45 pm on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@Sand - I don't know which version of the www you're working in however I agree with chrisv1963 and especially insofar as image results are concerned:

These days you can rank pages with a title, 5 words and a photo.
2:53 pm on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Well, sure. All you need to rank in image results is a big image in a standard aspect ratio with the words on the page.
3:21 pm on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Sand, you're correct about what a webmaster needs to do (what any business needs to do - just being "good" has never been enough in business). But the "joke" in this case is that Panda was supposed to reduce content farms and thin content, and Penguin was supposed to reduce spam, and both of these problems have actually gotten worse - from a searcher perspective, not a webmaster. Either both algos were incredible failures, or Google's stated purpose for them was incomplete or misleading.
3:48 pm on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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All you need to rank in image results is a big image in a standard aspect ratio with the words on the page.


However it never used to be like that and Bing recognises this fact and rewards image pages that also include factual information.

Why have I wasted several years of constructing pages about my widgets plus all the relevant data only to get blown out by nothing?
5:25 pm on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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But the "joke" in this case is that Panda was supposed to reduce content farms and thin content, and Penguin was supposed to reduce spam, and both of these problems have actually gotten worse - from a searcher perspective, not a webmaster. Either both algos were incredible failures, or Google's stated purpose for them was incomplete or misleading.


diberry, this sums everything up concisely. It's an accurate description of all of our concerns with regards to Google. Perhaps Google have simply lost control, perhaps Google know what they're doing. Shareholders are happy though, and Google have done well in terms of increased revenue regardless of the quality drop in the organics. In that respect, I expect to see more of the same from Google. If it works for them, why would they change?
6:01 pm on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Hahaha ... I have to tell you this one from this afternoon in my logs. A search in Google.com for Saudi Arabia Keyword1 Keyword2 and I am at #2 with a 12-13 year old evergreen page.

At #1 is a 2011 Indian blogspot site that has scraped my site and even hotlinked to my images except, of course, I don't allow hotlinking therefore all that is there is the relevant text and several X boxes for missing images.

Congrats Google, superb quality!
9:33 pm on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Is there anyway of actually finding out why my website was demoted on 15th May 2013. I am talking a 200% drop in SE traffic and random keyword reductions. Some have moved down 2 or 3 places and some have moved 2 or 3 pages. There had been a steady increase in traffic over the last two years and then in one day its dropped off. Shortly after this my webmaster tools indicates a large spike in the crawl stats.

There doesnt seem to have been any majoy update and I was not touched previously by the Panda or Penguin updates or any of their refreshes. For the last six months I have been doing a small amount of link building. I am talking around 10 - 15 high quality, niche relevant guest posts on blogs with a high DA and a solid social following.

Does anyone know how I can find what the problem is or where I should turn to for advice. I am pulling my hair out on this one.
9:35 pm on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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It just gets worse. Searches today show the #1 with site links and the #2 another site link for #1, lol google.

Google down 45% today. Bing up 130%
cpc down 5%
As usual cpc conversions are zero today. If its close google fires the profit making ad. Bing organic are 1/6th of google cpc but convert 2x more.


Google is losing people fast I think. For the first time in the 15+ year history of this site Microsoft is taking a significant share of organic. Up to almost 1/3 vs 1/6th pre 4-15.

Google is breaking bad here. Not sure what's going on. Bad SERPS or had bing reached a critical mass?

Our choices are burn more money on mostly useless google cpc ads or hope bing continues to gain.
9:44 pm on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Further to my last. The drop was the 16th and the crawl stat surge happened prior to it ?
11:21 pm on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@rossell123 - I share your pain. On May 7th, after a busy sales weekend, my traffic dropped over 70%. Since then, no phone calls, no sales, etc. This is depressing. I type in the #1 keyword for my industry <three-word productname> and who is showing up on the 1st page? <Six major retailers>, etc. It reads like an advertisement!

What frustrates me is that I never engaged in spam, link exchanges, etc. My site is well optimized with over 400 pages of professionally written, unique content. Most inbound links come from quality sites, and many are from related niches.

I can't imagine what is happening to us. Hopefully, we can get a solution soon.
.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 12:28 am (utc) on May 21, 2013]
[edit reason] removed specifics, per TOS and Charter [/edit]

2:25 am on May 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Today Google placed a spam site in position 3 of my most important search term. I had never seen this site anywhere in the first 100 results, ever. The site is an obvious spam/PR manipulated paid links site, ranking with a page of new, very thin content.

Really weird, Google. I can't believe you would fall for it. Meanwhile, great content sits below the spam at position 4, but you prefer to rank obvious spam crap. Way to go.

[edited by: tedster at 2:29 am (utc) on May 21, 2013]
[edit reason] No specifc domain names, please [/edit]

2:42 am on May 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

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My site was hit May 13 after several months of positive gains. Now we are back to pre-gain levels (maybe even below it?).

Ridiculous.
3:49 am on May 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I'm curious how many other people who have seen big drops in traffic this month, have also had a lot of content stolen -- either entire articles stolen or individual paragraphs of copy taken and used on other sites. I'm seeing a lot of that happening from one of my sites.

I'm also wondering if content in our partial RSS feed could be causing duplicate content issues.
4:28 am on May 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I'm also wondering if content in our partial RSS feed could be causing duplicate content issues.


For that very same reason, I've switched from partial to title&link only feed.
6:16 am on May 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I see something happening today on my sites. 2 of them seems to have vanished from serps beginning about 4 hours ago.
7:31 am on May 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Google is losing people fast I think. For the first time in the 15+ year history of this site Microsoft is taking a significant share of organic. Up to almost 1/3 vs 1/6th pre 4-15.


I've noticed a definite increase in Bing referals across a number of sites over the last 5 days or so. Very refreshing. On the keywords I focus on Bing offers a variety of vendors for buying keywords. Google's results are very poor - clusters of the same domain, useless info pages (e.g. "the history of the widget") ranking high for transaction/buying keywords - you need to dig deep on Google whereas Bing gives you a variety of on-target vendors on page 1. From a buyer's perspective, Bing is simply easier to start your e-commerce search.
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