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Google Updates and SERP Changes - December 2014

     
11:01 am on Dec 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

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System: The following 16 messages were cut out of thread at: http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4712477.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 5:04 pm on Dec 1, 2014 (PST -8)


I have several sites from May's Panada which received good boosts and have retained their positions but I also have a few new, unique, widget-specific sites that seem to be floundering and getting no traction whatsoever.

Since there were only two Pandas in 2013 and we've already had two this year, do we assume that it may be another few months before we see another Panda update?
2:50 am on Dec 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

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visitors can see your products

Of what possible use is that if they cannot buy them because the Google frame breaks the cart that they then try to use to purchase the products..?

The visitors could see them just as well, and actually be able to buy them, if they were not iframed..

I take it that you don't run an ecom site..

2..because they don't care about how what they do affects webmasters
3..sneaky retaliation for "problems" that they are getting in Germany ( and maybe other countries )


I don't think so, I think it's the opposite.


BTW you can't have an "opposite" to two things..

You also appear to have missed the part that for along time the images that G served from "cache" were not costing them any "bandwidth" as they were hot-linked directly from the sites..so the sites were paying the bandwidth , not Google..this may still be the case..I don't know about "now"because now all my sites were set to "no hot-linking" so long ago, they are also all set to "no cache" and use framebusters..OH..and I don't let Google use them in Image search ( unless they are using the ones with watermarks )..the ones with easily readable watermarks Google does not like, because they don't want the visitors to go onward to the site that G took, them from..

[edited by: Leosghost at 3:01 am (utc) on Dec 20, 2014]

3:00 am on Dec 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I think that having to click twice to get to a site makes (first click in image, then click on visit site) makes a lot of people not visit your site and google just ends up with a lot of useless bandwidth usage.

I'm not sure I understand either -- Visitors don't have to click twice if the page isn't framed or if someone uses a framebuster to break out of the iFrame. Either way, visitors only need one click to visit and can actually make a purchase instead of getting frustrated and abandoning their cart because the site they're visiting is "broken" by Google's iFraming.
8:43 pm on Dec 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

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@Leo, pretty cool check up.
I know that germany is a pretty important market for google. Monetization on keywords is very heavy compared to other languages.
I only could think of one reason why google is doing this,is that image search takes/took away many possible users from GSA. Maybe germany has more pic search buyers than other countries?
1:43 am on Dec 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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This iframing smacks of desperation, Google is a useful resource but its no longer the place people shop. They have killed there ecosystem IMHO.
5:08 am on Dec 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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While Google did not do themselves any favors by promoting big brands for so long, especially with excessive host crowding, the average shopper is much smarter now. The internet brings convenience to those that want it, and for many it's a lot easier to just bypass Google and go to the source. Google helped to educate these shoppers and skipping Google is the next step in the evolution process. Speaking as a consumer, I can say that I don't need Google to find the products I am looking to purchase.
11:06 am on Dec 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Since friday we have the biggest drop for a Long time now. And this is not due to Christmas Holiday. Compared to the years before it is -50%. Weekend was lowest i have seen ever.
ecom , Germany

@glakes, i think you are right. And when i am honest, i never did use Google to find a ecom.
11:19 am on Dec 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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@martinIceWeb, is your traffic drop also a noticeable ranking drop?
11:53 am on Dec 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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yes and no. Some Rankings dropped ( -4 places ) some stayed. But i notice that an old competitor, who has done a lot of link buying and who has 3! times the very same site online ( on different Domains, same layout, same Navigation, same items -> full DC ) is back again.
Sometimes my site has multiple entries ( Domain crowding ) again.
I think something big is up again.

ecom, germany
9:09 am on Dec 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Leosghost:
I take it that you don't run an ecom site..


Not every eCommerce site uses on-site cart, some eCommerce sites link to other stores, like Amazon etc.

OH..and I don't let Google use them in Image search

my bad about images on Google servers, I forgot. But not allowing Google for images in search is not a good idea IMHO - one of the sites we have gets traffic boosts and more orders once the (new) images start to rank on Google images.

TheMadScientist:
I'm not sure I understand either -- Visitors don't have to click twice if the page isn't framed or if someone uses a framebuster to break out of the iFrame. Either way, visitors only need one click to visit and can actually make a purchase instead of getting frustrated and abandoning their cart because the site they're visiting is "broken" by Google's iFraming.


Not sure if I understood you reply. I meant right now if you search for an image on google image search you get a list of images. If you want to visit the site you have to first click on the image - that is one click. Then if you want to visit the site you have to click on "Visit page" button- second click. On google.de you simply click on the image and the site is already loaded.
9:32 am on Dec 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Not every eCommerce site uses on-site cart, some eCommerce sites link to other stores, like Amazon etc.


I think itīs pretty widely accepted that ecom sites have their own carts and sell something themselves and those linking out to other sites selling stuff are called affiliates.

Itīs never a good idea to try to confuse the 2 as they are totally different.
12:08 pm on Dec 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

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On google.de you simply click on the image and the site is already loaded.

Google.de images loads those images in a frame and it breaks ecommerce shopping carts causing abandoned sales. Most shopping carts require that the ecommerce domain be displayed in the browser address bar during checkout, not google.de images or any other domain. It's a matter of security and the way google.de is handling those images is resulting in a poor user experience for shoppers (unable to checkout) and lost sales for ecommerce stores that don't use a script to break out of google's frame.

Hope that makes more sense as it applies to ecommerce.
1:03 pm on Dec 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I think itīs pretty widely accepted that ecom sites have their own carts and sell something themselves and those linking out to other sites selling stuff are called affiliates. Itīs never a good idea to try to confuse the 2 as they are totally different.


That's a generalization to be sure. In my case, I sell original digital content but also link out to related product pages (mostly Amazon since most other referral sales programs are dead or dying). My site is certainly not strictly an affiliate site and anything we link to is in support of the DC we sell.
I'm just following the lead of all the big name, top ranking serp sites who have up to TEN ads on their pages....although I limit it to no more than three per page. No need to be greedy and browser crashing obnoxious.

Not all business models fall into Google's idea of what your site should be. If that's the case, what's the point of thinking outside the box?
12:22 am on Dec 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Not sure if this is just flux from the holiday season but my site went from -25% to +10% today. Has anyone noticed any other changes today? (23rd)
10:02 am on Dec 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I wish you all a Merry Christmas!
10:32 am on Dec 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I wish you all a Merry Christmas!


+1
9:02 pm on Dec 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Christmas Eve and I'm sad enough to be searching.... seeing some quite significant shifting here in the UK. Positions which haven't moved in years.
1:26 am on Dec 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Not sure if this is just flux from the holiday season but my site went from -25% to +10% today. Has anyone noticed any other changes today? (23rd)


Sadly, all I see is quite huge traffic drop. Weirdest thing is that webmaster tools and my searching shows major keywords are still ranking in top positions. Yesterday was also the worst adwords conversion day for this month, which is independent of organic traffic so I am thinking it is something else.

How can one rank #1 for several keywords but traffic is quite lower? Even for more specific 3 keyword phrases we rank top 3 but for the last week traffic has dropped to zero to that page. I usually make 3-5 new posts per day but I was busy and didn't do an update from 21st to 24th. Could it be that Google is already taking this into account? They can't be that unforgiving, can they?

I don't think that Google did any index refresh on 23rd, did they? I am really hoping that it's simply people stopped buying stuff and searching for it because the Christmas is here, it is too late to buy stuff, they bought holidays gifts already, people are traveling etc.

Are sales usually down for everyone as the year comes to an end? It was fantastic December though, the penguin update brought a lot of new visitors. But for the last few days the traffic got back to pre-1.December update.

Also, off topic, but what happened to WebmasterWorld? I came back after few years and discussions are so slow. I remember few years ago when Google updated you saw threads like this growing to 20 or 30 pages withing hours. Now the entire Google update thread has 6 pages in 1 month?
10:54 am on Dec 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

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... and back to normal.

Happy Christmas fellow webmasters :)
5:07 pm on Dec 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Now the entire Google update thread has 6 pages in 1 month?


It's happened to several of the sections, AdSense is also noticeably quieter. I have a few ideas about this:

1. Many have thrown their hands in the air and admitted they can no longer do anything to alter/change/try and manipulate Google's various algos and animals.

2. Those who do know ain't telling any more so as not to give any clues to anyone, white or black hat.

3. A lot of smaller sites have shut down, those who actually need assistance (free) no longer require it.

4. Because of #3 the larger and growing sites do not need to come here since their budgets are, generally, larger and use AdWords to generate traffic and business whereas many smaller sites cannot afford to. One look at the SERPs and there is your answer to the top, Pay For Inclusion.

Of course there are other reasons, most boards I visit these days are quieter, however many people have just moved to other areas like social and prefer to be more passive rather than active and, let's get something right, getting things right these days is a darned sight more difficult than it used to be.
8:03 am on Dec 26, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Sadly, all I see is quite huge traffic drop.


Is your site mobile-responsive?
4:03 pm on Dec 26, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Now the entire Google update thread has 6 pages in 1 month?


I would probably use the site more if it was responsive. I cannot read the threads very well on my iPhone. Text is too small. Have to flip to landscape. Which is awkward as well.

Seems simple enough to do on a mostly text site like this. Not sure why it hasn't been done.
4:35 pm on Dec 26, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I cannot read the threads very well on my iPhone.


I have a Lumia 920 and have no problem plus old eyes however only wearing glasses for paper small print, screens no issue.

To be honest I wouldn't want to interact with this site on a phone, ok for reading but I certainly wouldn't want to start composing a long response.

Actually I've just had a quick look at some other forum boards snd none of them were very freindly on a small screen and the ones that were responsive were horrible to use.

Is there a really good responsive forum programme out there?
5:14 pm on Dec 26, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Now the entire Google update thread has 6 pages in 1 month?


Google no longer has a monthly "dance," so monthly update threads aren't as relevant or interesting as they used to be.
6:52 pm on Dec 26, 2014 (gmt 0)

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It's happened to several of the sections, AdSense is also noticeably quieter. I have a few ideas about this:


5. Too many discussions degenerate into the "shills" vs the "conspiracy theorists" and since not one person has ever changed their mind as a result of it, and every single thing that could be said to each other has already been said multiple times and in multiple threads, and bottom line it doesn't matter because bitching never makes bank, even the passionate are tired of it.

6. People are busy with holidays.

7. People are busy doing their thing instead of talking about doing their thing (not because they don't want to share but because it's time consuming)

8. People are working on other channels in addition to organic search (or even paid search), discussions of which don't really go here.

9. We were waiting for you to come back, MichaelP, and now that you are the conversations can begin again.
11:20 pm on Dec 26, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thanks everyone for your reply about WebmasterWorld.

Is your site mobile-responsive?


No. Any indications that this is of importance in the latest Google update? I am planning to make a complete Twitter bootstrap redesign soon though.

Weirdest thing is that we got a nice boost on 1.December where everyone was saying that Google did an update. Then from 21.December or somewhere there it slowly went down. Google images referrals went down, traffic to terms that we still rank #1 are down and what is the weirdest part - adwords campaign, that had great conversion, is also down for last 3 days - yesterday even 0 conversion. Same ad,nothing changed. So this is really a weird combination. All the major keywords still show as #1 in webmaster tools, it;s just less volume. I guess shopping season is over for this year. Still, I think there is something more going on than just this.

Here is what I have been suspecting - Google sends visitor to your site in bursts. So in some cases you are number 1 and in some cases Google doesn't even show your site. Not that you don't rank, you are just not there. In a way they distribute traffic to other sites to so 'everyone gets something'. You still rank, it's just you are not included in the search results query so when we check webmaster tools it still says we are #1. How else to explain less interest in keywords you still rank good? I font think they are seasonal. I usually have a smartphone with analytics app on (real time tab) and it seems that visitors in Google seems to come in bursts - more visitors, then some time not then some come again. It just doesn't look like a real browsing patterns. Its like either you have several visitor or none. Any merit to this or does this fall into 'conspiracy theory'? :D
1:53 am on Dec 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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MichaelP, I suspect that "burstiness" can depend on any number of things, including a site's total traffic, the topic, and the nature of the content.

Our site's traffic has followed the same seasonal patterns for years. From hour to hour on a given day, traffic usually follows a pattern, too. That stands to reason, since our topic and most of our content are "evergreen." I just don't see any evidence of the tap being turned on and off by Google.
3:28 am on Dec 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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It just doesn't look like a real browsing patterns.

It's not real browsing patterns, which are influenced by locality and user intent (where the user came to Google from, what prior queries they searched for, etc.) and other variables. Google's interpreted intent of the user, along with other variables, is what produces the data set that is displayed. That's why ecommerce sites tend to do better when they have more than a storefront. Because it's the content that supports the product in the storefront that will help to drive traffic, albeit such traffic is not as qualified. But at least it gets you in front of your audience.

If you do some testing yourself, you will see what I mean. Manually check keywords from some different IPs, different browsers, different screen resolutions, after a few other queries, etc. and you will likely find you are not always #1.
4:22 pm on Dec 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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FWIW, holiday season flux can affect certain kinds of sites for a couple of weeks - at least in the US. If what you sell or publish isn't holiday-related or seasonally related in other ways, it's not unusual to see a drop starting a couple of days before Christmas and while the traffic may go up a little the week after Christmas, it may not return to normal until the first or second full week in January. The only way we've found to see what's going on with sites that fall into that category is to compare them as best we could to traffic patterns at the same time of the year in previous years.
4:28 pm on Dec 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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So in some cases you are number 1 and in some cases Google doesn't even show your site.


Don't forget to have a cleared cache and, definitely depending on browser, that your location is set to country level and not your own regional area or use the SEO Global plug-in for Firefox when checking.
8:06 pm on Dec 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Here is what I have been suspecting - Google sends visitor to your site in bursts. So in some cases you are number 1 and in some cases Google doesn't even show your site. Not that you don't rank, you are just not there.


Until a few days ago, when viewing real-time "Right now" visitors, usually (maybe 80% of time) the number was a multiple of 5 (i.e. 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 etc).

Now it is a multiple of 3. I can search for my site using one of the most popular keywords and it is always there and if I click on the link in the SERP page the real-time rises. Then usually within a minute it will re-adjust. Perhaps it is the "long-tail" search terms which are being demoted in the SERPs as a mechanism for this throttling.

My homepage uses ajax and uses the Analytics ajax event tracking. I've mentioned this behavior here before and some have said the maybe Analytics real-time was unaccurate. I'm not so sure.
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