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Google Updates and SERP Changes - May 2014

     

chalkywhite

1:18 pm on May 1, 2014 (gmt 0)




System: The following 17 messages were cut out of thread at: http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4659095.htm [webmasterworld.com] by brotherhood_of_lan - 11:06 am on May 1, 2014 (utc -5)


I know its Labour Day around the world but my god is quiet today, wouldnt be surprised if an update has rolled out also.

aristotle

6:37 pm on May 29, 2014 (gmt 0)

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wilburforce didn't say anything about sites with "tarnished histories". But getting back to the discussion about Penguin, maybe the best way for Google to fix it would be to throw it onto their garbage pile.

Shepherd

7:12 pm on May 29, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I see the author images are missing again just now.

mrengine

7:15 pm on May 29, 2014 (gmt 0)

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On the other hand, an algorithm that takes a site's overall trust, history, etc. into account could go a long way toward minimizing the effects of "negative SEO"--at least for the truly innocent.

Your statement overlooks the fact that there are many new businesses created each day, many of which will be seeking an online presence. These new businesses lack any history, yet are susceptible to the adverse effects of negative SEO. I concede that my business is also susceptible to negative SEO. Although we have a history of being in business for years, I don't feel Google can accurately gauge trust with anymore precision than they do in finding/promoting quality content. Google's heavy reliance on positive/negative linking signals, for their ranking criteria, has and will continue to suppress quality content. If content is not king, it can be no other way. This is why, in my opinion, we see so many search results from household names and not the small businesses that offer the same product with higher levels of personal customer service, and competitive price points.

Fortunately what we retail can't be purchased anywhere and is manufactured by us. While other areas of our website have rode Google's never ending roller coaster ride in the search results, our bread and butter can't be replaced by Google with Amazon, Ebay and the other household names that have taken over much of the ecommerce world.

EditorialGuy

7:37 pm on May 29, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I concede that my business is also susceptible to negative SEO. Although we have a history of being in business for years, I don't feel Google can accurately gauge trust with anymore precision than they do in finding/promoting quality content.


Let's say, just for the sake of discussion, that your main competitor's site has a history of penalties and is in a "yellow zone" in terms of what Google might consider to be spam factors.

Your site has never had a penalty and is solidly in the spamminess "green zone".

If all other things are equal, then common sense and probability would suggest that Google should rank your site higher than your competitor's. Why? Because you're likely to be offering a better user experience, and in tiebreaking situations, Google might as well favor site owners who practice good behavior.

kellyman

7:53 pm on May 29, 2014 (gmt 0)



We also have to remember not every business owner is a webmaster, so if hit with a penalty it could just be fact of bad judgement on hiring the people that got the site banned in the first time.

8 Months is way too long to wait and a softer penguin should be run on an successful reconsideration taking history into account (of course repeat offenders excluded)

My story was i was a business owner that hired the most prominent seo company in my sector, they were by far not the cheapest and their portfolio was exceptional and ranked first position on google.. needless to say they lost me that business and went bust themselves

There are times when sites are innocent, not innocent of bad links but of bad choices using the people that Google ranked at the time.

Harsh lessons learnt just glad i was not a massive business that had lots of staff to think about

That said i totally agree with the anti spam algo's as the web is a mess but having to rely on a twice a year update is not good for business

[edited by: kellyman at 8:23 pm (utc) on May 29, 2014]

Itanium

7:58 pm on May 29, 2014 (gmt 0)

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@Shepherd: same here. but not all author images are missing. a few still show. not sure what the connection is, since they have different hits, followers and different types of tag-implementation.

ColourOfSpring

7:58 pm on May 29, 2014 (gmt 0)

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On the other hand, an algorithm that takes a site's overall trust, history, etc. into account could go a long way toward minimizing the effects of "negative SEO"--at least for the truly innocent.


Sorry EG, this is just ridiculous. I've reviewed thousands of sites over the years having (and still running) some industry directories. The vast majority (i.e. 99%) of small to medium size business sites are completely vulnerable to negative SEO. When you see their link profiles, you tend to see one of three things with SME websites:-

1. a backlink profile that's virtually non-existant since they didn't engage in any SEO, and most small businesses - however "white hat" SEOs love to hype on about how any site can win pristine-clean and authority links purely with content - do NOT garner links. Most people don't care to link to such sites naturally.
2. they're on a new domain - they haven't even had a chance to even build a history
3. I concede that of course some SMEs will have engaged in SEO practices - of course! But even these sites are still vulnerable to negative SEO since they simply won't win authority links anyway (which would protect them from neg-SEO).

ALL OF THE ABOVE are 100% vulnerable to negative SEO, including 3) - because even if they clean up their own links, they can't stop 3rd parties piling on dodgy links. SMEs are basically vulnerable to negative SEO regardless of their actual history. They don't win authority links in the main, nor display stellar "brand signals" even if they do have a fantastic reputation in the small target market they cater to.

The really annoying thing is that a lot of these businesses have actually been around for years or even decades, and have much better offline reputations. And no, this does not magically translate to a flurry of natural links coming in like tossed roses.

CaptainSalad2

8:59 pm on May 29, 2014 (gmt 0)

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100% with COS, we both deal in the exact same sites and most clients in this area have very few links 'naturally' 10-20 if that, most have none to start out with other than the SEO report crap that builds up naturally over time! Many people forget these are 90% of the sites that make up the internet and I would assume very much prone to a neg attack!

I'm currently testing a few sites I put up and purposely brought negative SEO services for through google advertisers, when penguin refreshes I'll know if it can or can't be done for sure, right now I can only guess and is say neg seo is VERY easy for any site that isn't a pretty well known brand!

ColourOfSpring

9:50 pm on May 29, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Many people forget these are 90% of the sites that make up the internet and I would assume very much prone to a neg attack!


Exactly, and it's laughable when I keep hearing the one-size-fits-all advice of writing stellar content and waiting for links to come in, and being a success online that way. Most SMEs are sought after for their services or products, not their brochures, even if that's the only proxy (the brochure i.e. the website) that Google can measure - and even then, they use a secondary proxy (links) to measure the primary proxy (the brochure); meanwhile, visitors just care about the service/product the SME provides.

Dymero

9:53 pm on May 29, 2014 (gmt 0)



Nice post about SMBs, COS. I've said it before, but linking from websites was never a thing that was widely done among Internet users. Sure, you might get a link here or there from a forum user or later a blog commenter, but most links came and continue to come from website owners and semi- to professional contributors. With the rise of mobile and apps, the situation is even worse.

To even get a high-quality link, you either had to seek it out or maybe do something that would be noticed by local, regional, or national news media. But another problem: I've found getting links from the news media is a highly unreliable thing at best. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. And now, as I understand it, they're starting to no-follow their editorial links, so they're useless for SEO.

Small businesses, by and large, don't have time for SEO since they're too busy running their businesses. So they hire SEO companies to do the work, but as we all know that's sometimes a risky bet that has gotten many sites slapped later on.

It's definitely a tough situation, which I think Google realizes but doesn't have a great plan to address at this time. Maybe in a few years, but until then this is the mess we have.

dethfire

10:07 pm on May 29, 2014 (gmt 0)

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In ten years Google will have perfected their answer machine. Remember, Google is not our friend where they want to please us. Google feels successful as long as Google is making money. That is their agenda, anything else is wishful fantasy.

Wilburforce

11:23 pm on May 29, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Although, of course, small businesses without high authority were/are vulnerable to backlink-based negative SEO, that isn't the only issue that arises from backlink-based penalties.

Sites that in the past fared well in Google SERPs - being found easily by anyone using or testing a key term - tended to generate weak backlinks of three principal kinds:

1. Those who wanted to share their content through forums and blogs or as references in their own lower-authority content;

2. Those who wanted to enhance their own authority by linking to them;

3. DMOZ and directory scrapers wishing to present their own content as valid.

All of these are potential Penguin vulnerabilities, as the backlinks generated are typically of low authority, and look "unnatural" to a number-cruncher because in the first case they are concentrated on the subject matter (and therefore look similar and have a low spread of anchor-text), while in the other two they are very numerous, of low relevance, and typically (certainly in the case of the thousands my site attracted in over a decade) use identical or at least very similar anchor-text.

Tell all the successful black-hatters at the bottom of page 1 that they can remove the top 9 by tipping the balance of doubt against them with a linking campaign, and you add to this the effect of a negative SEO free-for-all.

Ironically, one of my competitors who was least affected by Penguin had self-posted links to his site on hundreds of forums and blogs, covering every subject from Aardvark Rearing to Zulu Anthropology. I suspect the algorithm found "natural" the wide variety in linking sites and anchor-text (the latter intentionally covering all conceiveable search terms). If your spamming fits that model, you will probably get away with it, but if your Home page is titled Wilburforce's Widget-Rendering then you can kiss goodbye to Widget-Rendering.

It is not the case that Penguin was effective against actual spammers, or that it spared ("innocent") white-hat sites with high-quality content.

EditorialGuy

1:23 am on May 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

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It is not the case that Penguin was effective against actual spammers, or that it spared ("innocent") white-hat sites with high-quality content.


Only Google knows how effective Penguin has been, or what degree of collateral damage it caused. The important thing to remember is that, for Google, Penguin wasn't a one-off or even a "two-off." It will continue to evolve, just as Panda has continued to evolve. Google takes a long view, and Penguin (again, like Panda) is a work in progress.

SnowMan68

1:32 am on May 30, 2014 (gmt 0)



Anyone else notice the change in the SERPS today? Seems like the Panda flux continues. Panda starting in March 2013 was supposed to last up to 10 days, I wonder if that is the case now to with the newest version.

We saw a huge boost of about 250% last week, this week we are up about 15% from last weeks boost. Today rankings continued to rise, not sure what the referrals increase will be yet.

EditorialGuy

2:05 am on May 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

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SnowMan68, I'm seeing a similar pattern. Big "Google organic traffic" boost last week, smaller additional boost this week. (Today's Google traffic boost was smaller than yesterday's, possibly because of the Ascension Day holiday in many countries.)

archer0830

4:39 am on May 30, 2014 (gmt 0)



Same pattern here. Way up last week and up slightly more this week. Cutts also said this would act as the groundwork for more to come...

"Think of it like P4 is a new architecture. Brings in some of the softer side, but also lays groundwork for future iteration."

Source: [seroundtable.com...]

Wilburforce

6:34 am on May 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Only Google knows how effective Penguin has been, or what degree of collateral damage it caused.


What evidence do you have that they know?

Jez123

8:29 am on May 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Same pattern here. Way up last week and up slightly more this week.


Mine was up quite well last week but has dropped back to previous levels end of last week / start of this. Longtail has seen an increase (which may have stuck - it's difficult to tell) but my previously stable "main" keywords have all slipped. Is anyone else seeing anything like this? It doesn't seem to fit with everyone else's experience.

Wilburforce

8:45 am on May 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

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my previously stable "main" keywords have all slipped. Is anyone else seeing anything like this?


No, my main key terms seem to be holding for now (and traffic is much better than before 19 May, in spite of the UK public holiday on Monday and current school break).

A couple of people have reported signs of something happening this week, but I'm not seeing it here (UK niche service), and it looks pretty quiet from the Mozcast Weather Report:

[mozcast.com ]

Jez123

8:59 am on May 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Yes, traffic seems to be up (probably due to the additional longtail stuff) but my main KW's have all dropped at least 1 place at most 1 page. My competitors, as ever, are seemingly bullet proof!

dooberry

9:39 am on May 30, 2014 (gmt 0)



Cutts also said this would act as the groundwork for more to come...

"Think of it like P4 is a new architecture. Brings in some of the softer side, but also lays groundwork for future iteration."


Just out of curiosity, but how do you all read into this? Judging by many of the comments on this thread, many have seen the benefits of the softer side of P4 already, but do you think 'lay[ing] groundwork for future iterations' implies that the Panda baseline will continue to soften over time?

Wilburforce

10:10 am on May 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

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do you think 'lay[ing] groundwork for future iterations' implies that the Panda baseline will continue to soften over time?


No, I think it means it will change over time as a result of evaulation and further refinement, and could go either way (and inevitably those sites that benefit will do so at the expense of those that don't).

Certainly the results in my sector (and for my site) look better, and on my own personal searches they generally look better too (although I'm still using Bing by default).

Having said that, I searched from my phone for a specific hotel on Tuesday, and 9 of the top 10 Google results were

1. YouTube, and
2. of no relevance that made sense to me.

Clearly, therefore, the improvements - such as they are - do not extend to all platforms, searches and sectors.

EditorialGuy

12:36 pm on May 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

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What evidence do you have that they know?


Surely you can't be suggesting that Google isn't omnipotent and omniscient?

EditorialGuy

12:45 pm on May 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

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do you think 'lay[ing] groundwork for future iterations' implies that the Panda baseline will continue to soften over time?


Whether Panda 4.0 and its successors are "softer" than earlier Pandas is likely to be in the eye of the beholder. In my little corner of the Web, Panda 4.0 has given a boost to expert niche sites at the expense of broad-but-shallow megasites, making the results closer to what they were before Panda 1.0. I don't see that as a "softening" of Panda: I'd simply call it a "change," with more weight being given to subject expertise (as determined by Google) and less to "big brand" signals.

Lorel

1:50 pm on May 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

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My own author images are still showing. Maybe there is a threshold with those also.

I have a client hit by negative SEO from a competitor. He buys thousands of links every spring (my client's busiest sales period) and points them at my client. However, this time my client found out where he bought them and sent the proof to Google. the negative SEO guy's site is under water now.

besnette

2:39 pm on May 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Huge Mozcast spike for yesterday - 94 degrees.

Pierce_84

4:03 pm on May 30, 2014 (gmt 0)



@Lorel

That's great. How did they get proof the competitor was directly responsible? Negative SEO firm give him up?

Wilburforce

5:04 pm on May 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Huge Mozcast spike for yesterday - 94 degrees.


Possibly something else is rolling through. My site still seems to be holding position on google.com, but international traffic has fallen slightly.

However, I am now seeing further gains on google.co.uk (back on page 1 for main key term, in spite of a relatively distant search location), and a spike in UK traffic.

Again, I hope this holds.

besnette

8:07 pm on May 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Possibly something else is rolling through.



Weird for such a huge spike I can't really tell what's changed, at least in my area. Hmmmm

Lorel

9:36 pm on May 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

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@Lorel That's great. How did they get proof the competitor was directly responsible? Negative SEO firm give him up?


My client found out the neg seo guy bought 10s of thousands of links from ebay and all of a sudden his own site had 10s of thousands of new BAD links. He'd been watching his antics for years and finally caught him in the act.
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