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Google ZOMBIE Traffic Observations

1:39 pm on Oct 4, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Mods Note: Split out of the October 2015 Monthly Observation thread into a separate Zombie Traffic Thread
Sunday morning, usually banging away, but nothing but slow moving Zombie traffic, one or two at a time and sitting on the same pages for several minutes. Switch is currently OFF.
Still in decline. No sign of any seasonal upswing, which is way overdue.

[edited by: aakk9999 at 7:08 pm (utc) on Oct 19, 2015]

2:21 pm on Nov 11, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Hello--I'm new here, but I am experiencing some curiosities in sales and traffic, as well. I am a small seller on both eBay and Etsy, in antiques and collectibles. Good rep, good listings, good pics, longevity on eBay (2003), Etsy, since last Dec. Just added GA to Etsy a few months ago, and eBay last month (not even a full month yet). But, I glean the forums trying to figure out what's going on with sales and visibility, and sellers are up-in-arms over the unexplained drops in sales, etc, and a lot of them are saying that the traffic and favs are same, but no or lower sales. (I experienced the spike of sales on Nov. 1st on BOTH eBay and Etsy at the same time, with the same inventory mix--how's that for coincidence!) On those marketplaces, especially eBay, there are so many manipulated variables to their search algo, but Etsy is starting to do the same thing, that we sellers are being manipulated within the marketplace, which are then being affected by Google search, so double-whammy.

I have 350 items listed, same items and same descriptions on eBay as Etsy (I also have my own website, which is a dud, though, but with the exact same inventory items).

From reading this thread, @Yukko (or similar, sorry:), I went to GA and looked at the benchmarking segment, I'm noticing a curious graph with my benchmarking stats, that appear are showing when I'm having the most views, the other sites (ranging anywhere from 170-450 sites, depending on our level of traffic) in the benchmarking pool are having the least views, and when I'm having the least views, the pool is having the most views. I was wondering if somehow my "interests" or my own categorization of my site is setting up my parameters, with which Google is throwing me and all of the other GA participants who agreed to their stats being used, and who set up their own parameters, and which Google is now using our chosen descriptive interests to now in Google search use "us" as our own little bucket to "share" the traffic with....?

Sorry for the run-on, but my mind goes off on a tangent when I'm trying to describe my theory (which I have to say I know very little about).

I wanted to show a picture of my graph here, if that's allowed, so those of you who are knowledgeable might be able to explain if normal, or use for theorizing.

(I know I'm small potatoes, too, so pardon my low stats, but I sell in big marketplaces.)
2:24 pm on Nov 11, 2015 (gmt 0)

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eBay and Amazon, the corporations, would probably not notice.

Individual sellers might - especially as some of us see quality traffic displaced from one are of our site to another.
2:49 pm on Nov 11, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I figured out (Thanks to @Nutterum) how to post pic, re: curious GA benchmarking graph for my little antique shop on Etsy:
3:47 pm on Nov 11, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I'm guessing there's a process in between the 'redeem coupon' and 'collect candy' that you're not mentioning. It may not involve paying, but does it, for example, involve the user entering their address or phone number in order to collect the candy?

No. Definitely not. They get a welcome email and they can immediately pick up the candy. There are several ways to pick up the candy. One does not require anything but using the details in the email and login to the customer panel on the website. It is not hard to do if my dad is able to do that...

I have a plan to engage these people as well, may be I'm still doing something wrong.

Anyway. Let me show you my internal conversion stats from one site I manage [imgur.com ]
My organic traffic on this website goes down and conversions rates from organic traffic decrease as well for the 3rd year in a row every week cutting 80-90 visitors. Having these facts try to explain this: [imgur.com ] After I started to remarket the audience using Google Smart list it started to grow for this website. The main source of traffic for this website is organic traffic from Google.

Manual drop on the first image is shifting the traffic from one Goal to another, but then you see the spike with no organic traffic spike and no spikes reported by customer support, just almost silent conversions increased for one week. payments went up as well.

Still saying it is 'no evil' and no traffic management applied? )))
4:00 pm on Nov 11, 2015 (gmt 0)

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If merchants leave Google, the competition reduces, the less people bid, the average CPC drops and Google loses money. Google *needs* as many people as possible bidding on the same products/ad space to maximise profit. Not debatable!

this assumption is wrong. I live in the country hit by crisis. When all companies in the country stop bidding in their niches neighbor countries start to take over the traffic and try to convert it. Google lost nothing at the end. 20-30% drop for 5-6 months is peanuts for them, they can survive while the business look for the ways to convert the traffic which exists regardless of if someone is bidding or not!

[edited by: Yukko at 4:53 pm (utc) on Nov 11, 2015]

4:10 pm on Nov 11, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Otherwise, what are you alleging? Are you saying that these *aren't* real people, i.e. they're bots or users paid by Google to fake clicks? Or is the issue that these *are* real people (which is what you've maintained throughout), but you're frustrated because you can't understand why they don't collect the candy despite redeeming the coupon? If it's the latter, the issue plainly isn't with Google as Google is sending you real people interested in candy. The issue is some barrier on your website to users collecting the candy.

These are real people. These people are divided by algos into groups. Groups have value, buying intention rating from 'interested customer who learns the info' up to 'will by immediately, just show a payment form'.

Websites are divided into groups as well. the quality algo for website can be similar to Panda or be the part of Panda or predecessor of Panda.

The higher your buying rating as a website user the higher chances you get a quality website.

but you're frustrated because you can't understand why they don't collect the candy despite redeeming the coupon?

I do understand what is going on. Occasionally I have knowledge to explain the numbers I see in my GA and in my admin panel.

And having all figures and data in our hands we are ready to fade out our e-commerce activities and close the business in 1-2 years, at least retail division. We are not going to pay Internet tax to Google, because there is no clear deal about the quality of the traffic we get and the traffic is getting worse and worse.

[edited by: Yukko at 4:50 pm (utc) on Nov 11, 2015]

4:37 pm on Nov 11, 2015 (gmt 0)

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If merchants leave Google, the competition reduces, the less people bid, the average CPC drops and Google loses money. Google *needs* as many people as possible bidding on the same products/ad space to maximise profit. Not debatable!

The thing is merchants are not leaving Google, or at least not all of them. I see competitors leave for brief periods of time and come back. My CPC does not drop when they leave. I've always wondered why, and maybe it has to do with them not being the high bidder. So if this does not impact the top bidders, it would only theoretically influence the bids on those at the same level or below. And if they are low bidders, they probably are not getting many clicks anyway so why not sock it to them with zombie traffic and make money? This does not explain why as a top bidder I had zombies. Maybe others bidding in my industry have more compelling ads that produce more clicks. So taking me out with bad traffic would lower the CPC and be made up with more clicks to the other ads? I'm grasping at straws here, but it's hard to believe these zombies are anything but a way for Google to pad their pockets. If it weren't, then we all would be seeing some large credits in our Adwords accounts, and I've not see that happen (but believe a large refund for bad clicks is fully justified).

I think these two theories that should be retired:

1. Zombies are not from algorithm flux or rank brain learning. No algorithm I've ever seen has resulted in such high and low sales for so long. And if rank brain is to blame, Google would have seen their brain having a stroke and would have pulled the plug a long time ago. That is, if Google cared to fix a problem and some of us believe in Google's eyes this is intentional and not a problem to fix.

2. Pop up blockers are not to blame either. With millions of people using them, they will not all turn them on and off at the same time to explain what was accurately described as waves of zombies followed by a good day of sales.

I think the two theories above should be retired in this thread. I would like some thoughts on solutions, if anyone has them. With zombies hitting paid and free traffic, I see no remedy from my side as this is more of a Google quality issue than SEO or PPC optimization.
4:49 pm on Nov 11, 2015 (gmt 0)

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why they don't collect the candy despite redeeming the coupon?

one more guess from my colleague, may be not a perfect one, but very interesting and funny.

This behaviour can be explained and considered to be natural for only one group of visitors. assessors and quality testers from Google and also competitors. They follow your website links. Click all buttons possible. They subscribe, they redeem coupons. But they do not need the candy. Their aim is to test the website.

Do I see the waves of assessors when I see fake the waves of fake conversions? Why so much attention to my website then?
And then there is a question about true conversions! and waves of high quality traffic.
5:28 pm on Nov 11, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@Yukko @mrengine Regarding the impact of merchants turning off paid campaigns, yes, competitors and neighbour countries will indeed 'step in' and take sales they never had before, but that's BECAUSE the average CPC will have dropped. (Although some competitors won't notice a CPC drop if their bid is not close to the bid of the merchant who left.) Because the number of customers wanting to buy is independent such that clicks are unchanged, the average CPC drop means that Google loses money, which is why I don't believe that Google would want to do this.

I need to get some work done (!), but will comment more in a bit. @Yukko, now I see what you're saying and thank you for posting those graphs!
1:16 am on Nov 12, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Thanks everyone for contributing to this thread. This thread has grown to touch many different topics. By covering so many different aspects it is becoming hard for some people to follow the conversation. We are going to lock this thread and invite you to start a new thread that will focus on one specific aspect. We hope this makes it easier for people to understand and engage with this subject matter.

If you want to talk about PPC issues please head over to Google Adwords forum [webmasterworld.com].
If you want to talk about Google business decisions please head over to the Google Business & Finance forum [webmasterworld.com].
If you want to vent some frustration then head over to Foo [webmasterworld.com].
If there is something new and specific you want to discuss about zombie organic search traffic please post a new thread here in Google SEO.
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