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Google Updates and SERP Changes - September 2013



2:34 pm on Sep 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

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System: The following 5 messages were cut out of thread at: http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4598423.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 1:07 pm on Sep 2, 2013 (PST -8)

I've had two interesting situations lately which are very similar.

(1) One of my pages was #1 for "short widget phrase". Two weeks ago Google replaced me with a Wikihow page which actually took what I did and went a little further, as good competitors should. Last week, that page got an inbound from a hugely popular website (sent me quite a few thousand visitors), with the anchor text "here", as in "find it here". My position did not improve.

(2) Another page on another domain has been ranking well for "short phrase" and "less short phrase". These are competitive phrases. My page had fought its way up to #2 for both, which was exciting. Then it fell back to 5 and 10, and then lower. Then a popular Pinterest user pinned it late last night using "less short phrase" and it's bounced back a few positions already this morning. It's in flux, but it's averaging to 4 and 9 right now.

I'm starting to doubt there's *anything* to the algo but "count the links, check the anchor text." Google goes on and on about various signals, but when you get right down to it, actual ranking changes consistently happen ONLY in response to the addition or loss of links with the anchor text of your keyphrase. All else is a smokescreen, LOL.


4:13 pm on Sep 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@Robert Charlton

I don't recall a famous thing, place, or concept in the earlier examples I reported, although it is quite possible that something in the news stories that I hadn't personally heard of met that condition: the stories were US and I am UK.

Today there is another batch - same search term, same geo-factor, different story - about the police chief. Is that the kind of thing you mean?


2:01 pm on Sep 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

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My traffic is the same, but in analytics, for referrals right now I see all google international rather than .com so I see google.it google.fr google.de all in top 5, i haven't seen that before.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 9:21 pm (utc) on Sep 2, 2013]
[edit reason] spliced threads together [/edit]


9:25 am on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

Starting at around 00:00 CET today (about 3pm-6pm somthing in the US) we have seen a massive decline in visitors from Google, about -48%.

Have anyone else noticed some updates going on or has something went wrong on our part.

Our site <snip> have a huge tail of traffic so it's really hard to go into specific keywords.

I haven't seen anyone else complaining about changes and we haven't got any warnings or indications at all that something is wrong with the site.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 5:03 pm (utc) on Sep 5, 2013]
[edit reason] removed domain name, per forum Charter [/edit]


9:56 am on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Yes we are seeing same in several high traffic sites, about 50% decrease at exactly same time, must be going something very big.


10:20 am on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Yep 25% drop here since Thursday 29 Aug. No WMT messages, no idea why. All I can see is that Google has turned up the preference for brands.

UK info


12:35 pm on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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No changes here - UK information sites.


1:57 pm on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I see a big drop today, site was redesigned few weeks ago to improve usability and so on, working hard at content.

The results are lower quality, something wrong it happens.


2:16 pm on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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We have seen a major loss of traffic here overnight. There was about 10% drop over the last 2 weeks, but with UK bank holiday didn't worry overmuch about it, although did have discussions with colleagues so we didn't totally ignore it, but then today we lost about 90% of Google organic. If anyone has any thoughts on what is happening I would be delighted to hear them. The site is not involved in selling anything and is a pure information site.


2:42 pm on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

Same thing here - all happened overnight.

Today Google traffic down 50-70%

Ours was an EMD which was hit late last yesr - 3 months ago we bit the bullet and 301'd the whole lot to a new domain name.

Was almost back to its former rankings until about 2-3am GMT today.

Now I can only see a few pages in the SERPS

We are an informational education .com site hosted in the UK.


2:44 pm on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

From the sound of it, most (if not all you) reporting losses are in the UK. Anyone outside of that region see any big shifts?


2:51 pm on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Its Intl. not UK


3:02 pm on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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No change here. (U.S.-hosted dot-com information site with an international audience.)


3:30 pm on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I'm seeing changes in one of my informational niches (which rarely sees changes when everyone else around here does). I've actually moved up on a few terms for which I've done some on-page optimization recently, but only in ways that also improved the content's usefulness to visitors.

But I'm suspecting my top competitor, who used to be #1 for nearly all queries in our niche, has just lost some ranking. Suddenly they're not #1 every time, but worse, in a case or two they're being outranked by irrelevant sites.

Additionally, on several queries where my competitor has a good useful page on [search term], they're not appearing at all unless you add their domain name to the query, and then you get a sort of navigational page in which the link to the [search term] page can be found, but not to the actual page itself. Very strange.


3:36 pm on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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We weren't affected but our competitor went from #2 to #10 which is big.

Curious that somebody else mentioned EMD...the only site I've seen get his from this update was an EMD...wonder if that is the focus of this update?


3:47 pm on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member

My competitor and I are both partial EMDs, but I'm doing better and they're doing worse, so I don't think it's that. But I'm in the US and only looking at Google.com - whatever Google.co.uk is doing could be different.

As for what I'm seeing, I would guess it's about either dupe content or on-page optimization. My competitor has a lot of both and I don't, so one of those is more likely the focus IMO. (They got away with the dupe content for years because no one else was offering a more "original" version of pages to address the queries, anyway. Now more and more sites, like mine, are.)


3:48 pm on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Location-based EMDs are still doing fine, at least to judge from my bellweather queries.


3:58 pm on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

As I said, I changed my EMD to non EMD about 3 months ago - 301 redirect old to new.

Just read in the seoroundtable someone mentioned they think sites that have changed names may be being hit.

Anyone else who has lost traffic today recently changed site name?


4:31 pm on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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We have not changed our site name, the name is a generic .co.uk and was obtained in 1993 and the site, trading name and registered company name are the same.


8:07 pm on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Wonder if this is an EMD issue...

Only other major attributes of the site that tanked is that it is somewhat thin (maybe no more than 30 pages without a ton of written verbiage). Other issue might be the commercial outbound link percentage on the homepage.


8:30 pm on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Google traffic down for 75% starting today..

My main website is .com and no EMD site.


8:34 pm on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Its not EMD issue, my sites .com and no EMD


8:41 pm on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I found that recently Google seem to be sending somewhat inaccurate results.

Say you search for "broken corner on widgets" (which is something only a "widget fixer" can sort out). Google will show at least 1 page in the top 5 for "how to fix broken corners on widgets at home". And then when you go to the article, it will just tell you to "go to a widget fixer". So they're just wasting everyone's time. It's not even the term you're searching for.


8:46 pm on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

I just want to add that I am seeing a huge drop in traffic. Visits have decreased by around 75% starting today.

I have a .co.uk domain which has been online 9 years.


9:25 pm on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

Long shot but... Just looked in webmaster tools and noticed I had a message yesterday for my site which said "Increase in not found errors"

I had a supposed link from within my site to /park.js - my site does not have this link but coincidence it was yesterday - anyone else anything similar?


11:12 pm on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Just looked in webmaster tools
The only thing we see is a drop in crawl rate


11:55 pm on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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The only thing we see is a drop in crawl rate

Our site's Google crawl rate has been pretty steady since a record spike on July 11. It's been up a little some days and down a little on others, but for the most part, it's stayed within spitting distance of the daily average. (July 11 was nearly two months ago, so I wonder if something big is brewing?)


1:13 am on Sep 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Am seeing a noticeable (perhaps 10%+) drop in traffic on our UK info site. Its been soft all week but I had thought that had been a result of aftermath of UK bank where people are less likely to be on our site for a number of reasons. But now its noticeable and I think its something else. Serps I monitor I can see an increase in multiple listings for Facebooks/Amazons and Yelps (i.e. brands) usually in top 5. Unfortunately this continues the momentum of a theme I've been watching in my niche now for months. zzzzzzzz.....


7:27 am on Sep 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

wow, a 75%-80% drop on an extremely white-hat site. No link building, no spam nothing, just evergreen content. This makes it a 95% drop compared to last year as Bing and other stay the same.

Another site of mine gets an absolute max traffic each day, in the dozens a day from over 2000 pre-Panda. I almost get the same from DuckDuckGo as I get from Google. I'm positive it's not my site, Bing brings me many times more than Google. My major competitors have also gone down in referrals, so it maybe more ads/ad clicks or Google display changes, not just seo.

We need to get ready for absolutely no Google traffic, unless you're a major brand or you pay for traffic via Adwords. Google controls every aspect of traffic, no SEO is going to help


7:43 am on Sep 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

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It could be the "Monthly Panda Update"

Please fasten your seatbelts and secure all baggage :-)
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