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Google's Phantom Update Hits Websites

     
6:20 pm on May 13, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Google's "mobilegeddon" update last month, which was designed to favor mobile-friendly sites in search results, had no impact on HubPages. But a secretive algorithm tweak soon after was disastrous.

HubPages, a collection of more than 870,000 miniblogs covering everything from the "History of advertising" to "How to identify venomous house spiders," saw its Google search traffic plunge 22 percent on May 3 from the prior week. Of the company's 100 top pages, 68 lost visitors over that stretch.

Unlike some previous updates that hurt HubPages' lower-performing sites, this one was indiscriminate, said Paul Edmondson, founder and CEO of the San Francisco-based company. Furthermore, Google refuses to provide any details.

News At: [cnbc.com...]
6:38 pm on May 13, 2015 (gmt 0)

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So far, my google traffic improved during the phantom update a couple days ago. Looks like a lot of the big / rich companies are complaining about this update.

cool...nice to see them give back for once...to the ones they destroyed in years past with the panda / penguin updates.

Incase people are unfamiliar with the 'phantom' update -

[cnbc.com...]

[edited by: goodroi at 7:05 pm (utc) on May 13, 2015]
[edit reason] Spliced threads together [/edit]

7:17 pm on May 13, 2015 (gmt 0)

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It's cute when mainstream media tries to cover SEO news. This article is hilarious.

"One site loses 22 percent of traffic overnight" LOL sites win and lose traffic all the time. Experienced webmasters also know that Google likes to release multiple changes at the same time so it shouldn't be shocking that Google released other changes with their mobile update.

"the algorithm is ruthless" The crazy unpredictable algorithm is nothing new to anyone that has half a clue in the SEO world. The article talks about all the lost traffic but it doesn't mention that other websites gained that traffic. I also have a hard time having any pity for Demand Media, the parent company behind the website that wrote a page about how to pour a glass of water just for the adsense money.
7:41 pm on May 13, 2015 (gmt 0)

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So far, my google traffic improved during the phantom update a couple days ago.

Same here. Of course, it's hard to know what's a gift from a "phantom update" and what's just the result of everflux.
8:09 pm on May 13, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Google's unsuccessfully tried to hide this phantom update alongside/underneath/behind their supposed mobile gradual release...once again we've caught them out:-)
8:18 pm on May 13, 2015 (gmt 0)

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What mobile algorithm?
8:25 pm on May 13, 2015 (gmt 0)

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heh, looks like me and mrengine posted the same thing at the same moment.. (threads were held for moderation )

I agree goodroi, mainstream media is hilarious at missing details with things like this.

Same here. Of course, it's hard to know what's a gift from a "phantom update" and what's just the result of everflux.


It'll be nice if it lasts, but the rich / bigger companies generally cry louder until their voices are heard. Lets see if Google gives in or not..

Another thing....is how these media sites get away with having a million ads / video ads that freeze my browser every time....yet they still stay at #1 on google. Hopefully this update addresses such matters.
11:01 pm on May 13, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Where Google used to drive traffic to other sites, it's now keeping people on its own properties, even though the information being displayed comes from other sources. The egg frying instructions, for example, are from foodnetwork.com.

"This is a critical first step towards building the next generation of search, which taps into the collective intelligence of the Web and understands the world a bit more like people do," Google said in a May 2012 blog post.

This begs the question, what is the next step? More space devoted to the knowledge graph, possibly with multiple sources? Transferring domain ownership to Google? We've already been riding down this slippery slope for a while.

His suggestion to Google: Provide the equivalent of a credit score for webmasters. That way HubPages and others can monitor the health of their sites relative to Google's expectations and pinpoint problems before it's too late.

Sounds like a good step towards transparency to me.
11:22 pm on May 13, 2015 (gmt 0)

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It's cute when mainstream media tries to cover SEO news. This article is hilarious.


Devil's advocate...

Those outside the SEO world might expect that after 20+ years and billions of dollars in investment, that the changes in traffic from Google to a well established website might be more subtle than an overnight 22 percent swing. Constant huge swings in observed behavior, coupled with all the secrecy, probably seems newsworthy to a layperson. If we assume Google's tweaks were on the money, it implies that the algorithm, the night before, was 22% wrong :)
12:03 am on May 14, 2015 (gmt 0)

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The article is hilarious to me because for a "senior tech writer" it is written with a heavy bias and lack of SEO knowledge. The company that is complaining about a 22% drop is part of Demand Media which is well known for arbitraging low value content into ad dollars. They are constantly striving to provide the cheapest product that will still rank. The article doesn't mention that their loss is a gain for some other website. I am not expecting the average person to know the finer details of SEO but this article which is supposedly written by a "senior tech writer" does a poor job explaining the situation.

Let's be honest no algo is ever perfect and there is an army of webmasters that are trying to exploit and manipulate Google rankings. It is simply a cat and mouse game. After 20+ years of search engines and webmasters dueling with each other it would be nice for mainstream writers to be able to cover SEO better.
1:04 am on May 14, 2015 (gmt 0)

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The company that is complaining about a 22% drop is part of Demand Media which is well known for arbitraging low value content into ad dollars.


I do see your point, and I'm not trying to argue that the writer is a genius.

But, a 22% all-at-once drop (or rise, for that matter) for a "well known", top 1000 type site does imply that Google is struggling with some basic issues, at least to me.
1:50 am on May 14, 2015 (gmt 0)

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His suggestion to Google: Provide the equivalent of a credit score for webmasters. That way HubPages and others can monitor the health of their sites relative to Google's expectations and pinpoint problems before it's too late.

Google's guidelines say to "build sites for users, not for search engines," so why would Google want to help third-party sites (especially content farms like HubPages) "monitor the health of their sites relative to Google's expectations"?

As goodroi pointed out, "The article doesn't mention that their [HubPages'] loss is a gain for some other website."

IMHO, Google's attitude should be "You do your job, we'll do our job, and may the best pages win."
2:26 am on May 14, 2015 (gmt 0)

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why would Google want to help third-party site

What about Google Webmaster Tools.
2:48 am on May 14, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Google's guidelines say to "build sites for users, not for search engines,"

There's a interesting snippet from an older article linked to from the original mentioned article...
Shivers' best guess as to why his traffic dropped, based on what his team has observed, is that sites with more content and more ads are being bumped up higher in search results. Shivers said he has to compete for better placement, even if he disagrees with how that placement is determined. "It's not necessarily the site we want to design or that our users want to see—it's what Google's algorithm wants to see," Shivers said. "Higher search placement gets the traffic."

Which sounds like a case where having the site designed to satisfy users is at odds with ranking well on Google.

That's one reason why I hate little Google sound bites like "design for users". Works in a world where their algorithm is perfect. It's not.

Similar for the whole HubPages thing. It if the site is truly crap (e.g, not designed for users), then why is getting any notable traffic from Google at all?

System

2:31 am on May 15, 2015 (gmt 0)

redhat

 
 


The following 3 messages were cut out to new thread by robert_charlton. New thread at: google/4747442.htm [webmasterworld.com]
1:11 pm on May 15, 2015 (PDT -8)

Mod's note: Split off-topic comments to new thread, and moved the thread to another forum, as it's not a Google topic as currently phrased...

Heavy media sites that freeze browsers
https://www.webmasterworld.com/search_engine_promotion/4747452.htm [webmasterworld.com]

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 9:42 pm (utc) on May 15, 2015]

 

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