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Google Updates and SERP Changes - August 2014

     
10:38 pm on Jul 31, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Continued from July 2014 thread at: http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4684131.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 10:43 am on Aug 8, 2014 (PST -8)


i think to mention that traffic is down and some other WM agree to it will help webmasters see that it is Google changing the system again and not the a Problem with the site


My point was simply that changes do not impact all websites at the same time, generally, but instead appear to roll out in phases across topics, site-types and/or localities. As others have pointed out, if there are 500+ algorithm updates/tweaks/whatever every year, that's over one per day. Question is, is the current tweak rolling out in your neighborhood on the same day (or even the same month) it rolls out in mine.

All I'm saying is that if the changes were more carefully monitored here by location/niche/etc., it might be easier to see what is actually changing at any given time and the scope to which that change applies.

It's pretty apparent that not everyone experiences the same algorithm changes at the same time or in the same way. Maybe there's a regional aspect to some of this e.g. a change rolls out in America today so expect it in the UK a week from now or whatever. I think there needs to be an effort to differentiate what's happening in this niche or in this neck of the woods from other places and/or topics.

It takes time to rebuild indexes the size of Google's and it's expensive which should explain index shuffles that only impact small segments of the index. Test it here today, if it seems to be right, roll it out elsewhere tomorrow. What's happening in the US today may be completely irrelevant in the UK at the moment. What anyone sees at any given moment could be a pigeon in the coal mine (a warning of things to come) or a red herring (just an experiment that never gets fully implemented).

One can choose to track it in a scientific fashion or just site back and watch. Not sure one path is better than the other but if you want to make sense of it, then applying a little differentiation to the observation process seems like a sensible approach. Bird watchers can count birds 1,2,3... or they can identify them by type and then count them (birds of prey, songbirds, migratory birds, etc.) Simply counting them doesn't seem that useful to me but I'm no bird expert.
.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 6:56 pm (utc) on Aug 8, 2014]

7:45 am on Aug 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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@samwest, and then finally you will rank on #1 again through amazon.
8:43 am on Aug 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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and then finally you will rank on #1 again through amazon.


Not unless he is "out of stock"!
10:20 am on Aug 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Domain crowding is at high rate.


This has re-appeared in my vertical. It is mainly big brand sites with more than one page of fluff selling exactly the same product. How this improves the SERPs is beyond me.
11:26 am on Aug 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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WF - how do you run out of stock on digital content - lol ;)

BTW - looks like another high churn day which makes 9 days in a row (according to algoroo).

I thought MC previously said future updates were going to be smoother and have less impact? This one is a 9 on my Richter Scale.
12:57 pm on Aug 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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A forum we run (~3 million posts) virtually disappeared from SERPs on Wednesday and returned 2 hours ago. The only thing anything was ranking for during that time was URLs.

Some background: There were no technical failures (we're redundant anyways). The site has zero ads and every link posted by users is nofollow. Spam is usually removed within 5 minutes to 2 hours. We've never seen a traffic drop like this in 12 years running the forum. Anyways, it's back. Nothing in WMT.
2:27 pm on Aug 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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my forum traffic is also back to normal levels after 2 weeks.
hope it stays.
9:08 pm on Aug 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Good to see at least some are recovering - after 14 years, looks like I'm close to being out for good.

GA refuses to give up any more than 1 or 2 visitors at a time. Used to be 30 to 50. Upgraded to CMS, better looking site, basically all same content. 301'd everything. Maybe that wasn't such a great idea, but the crawl goes on and slowly they are adding new pages. I think I have a long haul before I see any "normality".

Adwords seems to be doing nothing. More funds going out than coming in.

It's ironic how G tries to make the biggest pile of cash it can, then sit on it, all at the cost of their own content creators.
8:41 am on Aug 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

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There's talk of a Penguin update


What I am seeing in my sector (UK niche service) has the hallmarks of Penguin. The top 10 positions for key term in my sector include a "website coming soon" page at #6, and a keyword-stuffed Frontpage site that hasn't been changed since it came and went during Penguin 1, so it cannot be based on current content freshness or quality.

Also, none of the sites can have much in the way of backlinks: #1, #5 , #7, #8 and #9 are PR2, and the rest (with the exception of #10, which is PR0, are PR1). I appreciate that Pagerank says less about importance than it used to, but is still an indicator of backlink profile. What this says to me is that the page 1 sites are in that position because don't have enough backlinks to look unnatural.

It looks to me like a very much softened version of Penguin: my site has dropped 13 places (not 130+, as it did with P2) and a couple of other page 1 sites have fallen a couple of pages. It isn't clear to me at the moment whether my own or the other sites that have dropped have lost position, or whether they have simply been displaced by "cleaner" sites.

Again - as the holding page and FP relic suggest - there is the faint impression that historic data have been factored in: I assume the SERPs do not result from the displayed version of the holding page.

Are similar patterns showing in any other sectors?
10:53 am on Aug 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Iv never seen so many bad results one of my sites gone even though it only had 188 natural links and very new site....

Im seeing tons of keyword stuffed garbage and just pages that are appearing probably because they dont have any backlinks so look natural but shouldnt be there...
Also seeing pages that are displaying things like

{meta title} for there title.

Also emds are back.. everywhere... probably because they are so finely tuned towards that particular keyword that google gives them so much weight and sees them as a authority now.

Results are such a mess... it was hurting my eyes with so many highlighted keywords everywhere from the keyword stuffing. so I switched to bing. :)
11:01 am on Aug 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

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pages that are appearing probably because they dont have any backlinks


Have you looked at PR for these pages?
11:07 am on Aug 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

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pr1 and 0s are the most spammy ones.. very old looking sites. I think maybe this is some kind of update to improve authorities in a niche but has backfired because now about pages and other pointless pages are appearing and I am seeing a lot of repeated results.
12:37 pm on Aug 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

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@philgames

Yes, that is consistent with what I am seeing. Are you also UK?
1:08 pm on Aug 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

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yep from uk (private browsing mode on)
9:44 pm on Aug 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Pagerank has not been updated since last year. I would not count on this metric having any real value.

I'm not seeing any of the emds coming back. In fact, for a product search the first non corporate result was a blogspot page sitting at #60. Many repetitive listings and domain crowding though.
11:03 pm on Aug 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Pagerank has not been updated since last year. I would not count on this metric having any real value.


If PR made no difference at all, we would expect to see a random distribution of PR values in the SERPs. "Random" does not mean "even", so in a random distribution there will be clusters which might be found in any sector or section of the SERPs, including page 1 in mine.

Knowing whether that effect (high SERPs = low PR) is seen by others in other sectors helps to establish or discount my initial impression that what just happened is backlink-based. Either way, the metric has real value in addressing the question, although I agree that on its own a page's PR is relatively meaningless.
7:07 am on Aug 18, 2014 (gmt 0)

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My niche is upside down. In some cases the dominating brand ecom shop has lost 8 places. It is a mix of pretty silly sites to good sites.
We gained a lot of positions jet traffic seems loss about 50% again, sales this weekend have been very worse though.
Somes queries produce haevy domain crowding, very amazon biased.
I see ebay small ads all over the serps ( useless ).
8:38 am on Aug 18, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Iv never seen so many bad results one of my sites gone even though it only had 188 natural links and very new site....


188 links already for a very new site? That's probably why it's disappeared.
10:55 am on Aug 18, 2014 (gmt 0)

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188 links already for a very new site? That's probably why it's disappeared.


yeah that doesn't make sense. The site is a new site by a couple of months... not a week old site. That doesn't make a site spam.

I dont think this is penguin now anyway.

[edited by: philgames at 11:10 am (utc) on Aug 18, 2014]

11:08 am on Aug 18, 2014 (gmt 0)

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One of my clients' site traffic goes down badly during 13th & 14th August 2014. (Screenshot is below)


[t.co ]


To me it can't be penguin because we don't do external backlinking. Site have good Domain authority and already high quality natural backlinks. Our backlinks came from EDU, ORG, GOV sites without targeting any kind of specific keywords.


Note: Just one section/directory of that domain lost traffic or got penalty from google. rest of the site working fine.
12:41 pm on Aug 18, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I think a lot of this talk of a Penguin update emanates from Barry's recent blog post which is rather sensationally titled "Is Google Launching Penguin 3 Today?"

In the post Barry goes on to say that John Mueller hinted that the update is coming very soon in a recent Hangout session however, when I actually watched the hangout, I have to admit that to me at least, it definitely did not sound like Mueller was hinting at an imminent Penguin update at all. In fact, it sounded like it was not even on the cards for the foreseeable future or that he just genuinely did not know anything about it.
1:21 pm on Aug 18, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I think a lot of this talk of a Penguin update emanates from Barry's recent blog post which is rather sensationally titled "Is Google Launching Penguin 3 Today?"


I don't know whether what happened in the SERPs a couple of days ago had anything to do Penguin (if it did, it was nothing like as draconian as P1 or 2), but the current SERPs have a hint of Penguin-flavour, served with a faint suggestion of link-juice-remover.

I'm still looking at result patterns for some of the keywords I follow, and there is nothing highly conclusive, but as far as personal searches go - I had started using Google again more frequently in the last couple of months - they seem to have taken a step backwards.

There's been some minor shuffling in my sector today, however (e.g. the directory and FP relic I mentioned in an earlier post have dropped from page 1 to the bottom of page 2), and Mozcast is showing another fairly warm day yesterday, so either a bit of tweaking or some recursive element is probably involved.
5:10 pm on Aug 18, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Seeing some nice traffic spikes today, some of the highest hourly traffic from google that we've seen in years. Also seeing some sitelinks (10 packs) returning for sites that were hit by the original penguin.
7:27 pm on Aug 18, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I am sorry for guessing wrong, really. :-(
8:09 pm on Aug 18, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I am sorry for guessing wrong, really. :-(

There's no reason to be sorry Barry. In fact, a lot of people should be thanking you (I am) for keeping some attention on Penguin not being updated for ten months and the suffering it is causing.

Maybe the flux people are seeing is because of that German link network getting taken down? I don't know, but I do know that many of the businesses we supply goods to are still in limbo for whatever reason. And when they suffer, they buy less of our product and we suffer too.
8:30 pm on Aug 18, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I am sorry for guessing wrong, really. :-(


I wouldn't say you've guessed wrong, I have seen a significant improvement to one of my niche UK sites plus an increase in traffic across all sites at a time of year when many in my industry are on annual shutdown...September will be a better indicator for me.
3:27 am on Aug 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

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To me it can't be penguin because we don't do external backlinking.


I've told this story on here before, but I'll tell it again.

A friend of mine had a site decimated by Penguin 1.0. I helped him try to figure it out.

1. He had MAYBE 15 backlinks. It's been years so I don't remember the exact number, but was in that ballpark. He never built a link on his own. They were just the standard links that all sites get -- whois, SEO tool spam, etc.

2. His internal links tended to be fairly spammy. For instance, he'd link to his homepage with 'keyword he hoped to rank for,', rather than more natural text.

Like always, it's impossible to say for sure, but in his case, I would have put money on it being internal link 'spam' of his own doing that did him in.
3:45 am on Aug 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I'll add some observation:

Starting last Wednesday (the 13th), I started to see a moderate lift in search referrals. Compared to the last four trailing Wednesdays, organic traffic rose 8-13%, and that pattern has continued to hold so far.

For me, August is usually a down month that gets a little worse each week as the month goes on. So it's definitely unusual.

Edited to add: This site does have some history with Panda.
8:19 am on Aug 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

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The one sector on my site that I would say is possibly still tinged with Penguin has dropped from page 2 to page 3. I would say Penguin for sure. Not sure what it means though. All a bit weird so far.
9:31 am on Aug 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I am sorry for guessing wrong, really. :-(


I was not saying you got it wrong Barry. Penguin might well be under testing right now on some datacentres as far as we know. Certainly not been calm on the Google seafront over the last few days. Just that I could not see how the connection was made from what John said in the hangouts session to the conclusion made. Maybe I missed something?

My input: We are currently helping three Penguin affected sites. All local businesses here in the UK. One we moved to the new .uk tld after making sure the underlying problematic links have been dealt with and a 301 redirect is in place. This was done on the 16th of July. The site has come out of Penguin and remained that way. Early days to declare complete success yet but looks promising. I have some notes on this which I blog about when I get the chance.

The other two sites have shown no significant movement.

Kate, who has over 150 penalty removals under her belt, is also not reporting any change which can clearly be segregated into a Penguin / No Penguin sections. i.e the changes we are seeing are random and not specific to Penguin affected sites.

Hope this helps, Shai
9:36 am on Aug 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I would say Penguin for sure.


To me it looks like a very slight nuance of Penguin. More like a note to the ambassador than a declaration of war, but the same quarrel.

I would expect P3 to have more impact, so either this isn't it, or they have turned down the heat from nuclear to just above freezing.
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