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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]

6:07 pm on Oct 14, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@hasek747 Stripe.
7:17 pm on Oct 14, 2015 (gmt 0)

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What about payment processing platforms (for processing sales transactions), what do you guys use?


authorize.net

Also, Symantec SSL

private dedicated server.
8:02 pm on Oct 14, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I'm asking about the payment processor to see if there's maybe something that the WEBSITES have in common (from a technical standpoint).
8:04 pm on Oct 14, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Yes, all variables should be explored. Site speed is a huge killer of conversions. That's why I added ssl and server information as these are things that can slow a site down.
8:10 pm on Oct 14, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Google won't see the payment processor - all they may see is the gateway. The exception would be if the processor is visibly discussed on the website or if Google uses email inbox data to rank sites, which I believe they do, with confirmation emails sent from the processor side. I don't see to where I can configure First Data (my processor) to send emails to customers anyway. My gateway is authorize.net and they generate batch reports for me.
8:33 pm on Oct 14, 2015 (gmt 0)

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So... it seems we all have different payment processors, all affected differently by Panda/Penguin, all in different niches. The only things we seem to have in common are (1) we're all genuine businesses, not black hat or spam sites and (2) we're all seeing negative impact/zombie traffic.

But, hey, the big news today is that Google is doing everything it can to restore the rankings of all those spammy Wix sites. Nice work.
9:08 pm on Oct 14, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Hi folks

Here is a Google Zombie Traffic Forecast for the next 7 days:

Thursday 15th Oct.: Healthy traffic
Friday 16th Oct.: Zombie traffic
Saturday 17th Oct.: Zombie traffic
Sunday 18th Oct.: Zombie traffic
Monday 19th Oct.: Zombie traffic
Tuesday 20th Oct.: Healthy traffic
Wednesday 21st Oct.: Healthy traffic

Of course I might be wrong :)
1:57 pm on Oct 15, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Back to theories about why this is happening... The chap who suggested I join this forum who's also seeing zombie traffic is also hit by Penguin. So we've got 3 x Penguins. @mrengine, you said no to Penguin/Panda, but have you had any quality or backlink issues or maybe a quality hit a long time ago?

@Shepherd, @Glakes, @reseller, @wgchris, anyone else seeing on/off zombie traffic... Any Penguin/Panda/quality issues?
2:10 pm on Oct 15, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I would say both Penguin/Panda at some point for this site, yes. @Simon_H
3:41 pm on Oct 15, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Wed, Thurs observation...Wed, one sale early am, one sale late night. Lots of referral spam in between and zombie traffic, hardly any was hitting the signup page. This morning, two back to back sales within 9 minutes, then turned back off. Long zero runs are back too now. Whatever the mechanism is, it's clearly quota based. Each week since April 2nd has been nearly identical, with 5 consecutive weeks in June - July coming in at the exact same weekly total sales, EXACT. Since then August saw two higher weeks, but as quickly as the seasonal increase was recognized, it was cut back down and remains the same per week, +/- 5 sales with accuracy improving each week, very much like a PID control loop.
5:15 pm on Oct 15, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Simon, my site is and has been really clean since the start. I never saw any issues from panda or penguin. If anything, we saw some slight improvements with various releases. Nothing on my site is boilerplate, copied or anything I would think panda would hit us for. And with more toes and fingers then links, which have been very slowly acquired naturally over a long period of time, I'm confident that this is not penguin. Like everyone else I can check my main keywords and my positions have not changed. What has changed is the quality of traffic Google is sending and where they are located from. On zombie days I see a lot of foreign traffic coming from Google and fewer USA visitors (where I am located and my primary market).

Today I was expecting Google traffic quality and sales to improve, but it has not. I'm still seeing plenty of visits, just nothing in terms of sales. The same poor bounce rate, page views and time on site from Google applies as if I'm stuck in their zombie state. Assuming these are real people, at some point Google's users will get fed up and do their searching elsewhere. On that topic my Bing and Yahoo traffic has exceeded yesterday's total and the day is only half over. Maybe a Bing and Yahoo update is happening and/or frustrated Google users hopping over to another search engine?
5:35 pm on Oct 15, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Samwest, I also made 2 back to back sales about the same time as you. Things have not picked up again since either. Very strange that several of us have mentioned a few sales coming in periodically rather than on a consistent basis, at roughly the same times... mrengine the evidence does seem to point at Google for blatant manipulation of search traffic.

My thinking is that they are altering search results for people who are known buyers to properties where they will make the most profit. Maybe its adsense sites, or amazon, or shoving more paid ads in peoples faces. Whatever it is, it is extremely noticeable when I have large dips in quality traffic.
5:49 pm on Oct 15, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Hi folks

Talking about Google Zombie Traffic. And for the record.

In Halloween memory of Jeeves, Matt Cutts decided in 2006 to dress as Zombie Jeeves :) [mattcutts.com...]
6:27 pm on Oct 15, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@mrengine I didn't mean to imply this was caused by any single Penguin/Panda thing. I'm trying to see what we have in common because the on/off zombie phenomenon is certainly real, yet only seen by some sites. I know some people are so frustrated that this is deteriorating into Google-bashing, but I'd rather find out what is causing this.

I'm still very much of the opinion that Google is changing the way it applies filters/penalties. Traditionally, Google hasn't differentiated between good (match) traffic vs bad (match) traffic, evidenced by minimal variation in conversion rates from day to day that everyone used to see. Bing still seems to still work like this. Historically, when Google rewarded you, you simply got an increase in overall traffic volume without any differentiation of good vs bad traffic.

But I think what Google is doing now is very very clever. They're not rewarding/penalising by just increasing/decreasing the traffic volume of sites, they're doing it by switching in and out traffic quality at a near-hourly level. I believe they're applying a confidence score to search matches and 'bad' sites are getting a higher proportion of low confidence score traffic and 'good' sites are getting more high confidence traffic. This is brilliant because it makes it almost impossible to track by the usual SEO monitoring, because the standard metric everyone checks is organic traffic volume and short tail rankings. Yet we're all finding that traffic volume and conversions are now completely unrelated. It also gives Google far more granular control, hence easier to implement real-time Penguin and Panda, plus without blackhats being able to easily detect what works and what doesn't.
6:37 pm on Oct 15, 2015 (gmt 0)

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If you're right @Simon_H, what does that mean for "bad" sites moving forward? The thought of this is disheartening because not only will black hatters not be able to see the affect on optimization, which hats won't either without any discernible traffic metric available to us.
7:01 pm on Oct 15, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@wgchris I really don't know. It's only a theory. But unless all of us are either lying or misunderstanding our own stats, then Google is certainly switching in and out good and bad traffic to certain sites, something I'm not aware they've done historically. This is either being done by them intentionally or unintentionally. Given Google's dreadful technical track record, it's always possible this is unintentional, e.g. something during Panda 4.2 is broken or being tested. But I suspect it's intentional as it makes a lot of sense. In which case the only way to 'recover' is to reduce or remove the criteria that make us fall into this bucket, which *might* be related to quality although @mrengine doesn't seem to have this issue.
8:17 pm on Oct 15, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@Simon

I was just trying to be detailed - figuring maybe something within the details may help to hold a golden nugget. I'll share a little more info below,

I don't believe the current zombie traffic trends we are seeing has anything to do with penalties but is instead very similar to how corrupt politicians engage in contract steering. My site is so clean that anyone would be hard pressed to find anything worthy of a penalty. Our product pages contain plenty of pics, detailed descriptions and specifications. As a manufacturer we have patents for the products we sell and UPCs for what we sell. Since we don't resell anyone elses products as a lot of generalized ecommerce sites do, there is not much competition to explain major changes in sales with any algorithmic adjustments anyway.

I believe Google crunches data from a variety of sources such as Gmail, embedded fonts, embedded videos and so on. Anything Google related that is embedded into websites calls home. Data obtained from these sources would be a lot more reliable for ranking websites then what blackhats have exploited. I sell to government agencies, utility companies, large corporations and others who just don't have a history of linking to other websites. I'm sure Google knows they visit, place their orders and leave because of the Google API calls on the site, other embedded Google products and the Chrome browser these people use.

Thankfully I have an existing base of customers that pays the bills. If I relied on traffic from Google the doors would have been shut already. Hopefully others being attacked by the same zombie heard can stay afloat. What Google is doing is really bad.
10:19 pm on Oct 15, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Sales opened up for most of the day...still have tonight to go but so far a record day since April 2nd. Now traffic jumped back to a staccato pattern of referral spam. quota hit.
6:35 am on Oct 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@mrengine - did you have a heap of product sells before the zombies came?To me it looks like you are in the berkshire hathaway website paradox, where no meaningful value can be extracted from a top level website design with all the bells and whistles because what they do as financial trust and investment bankers can't be boiled down to a contact form. So instead they decided to have static one page website linking to insurance and a jewelry website under their control.

In other words, don't you think that the zombie traffic you see are real people who are generally interested in your product/service but who will never buy it? And your product and related patents and all the rest of it is linked enough for enough people to stumble upon it and zombie-walk to your website.
2:19 pm on Oct 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Hi folks

It seems that Friday 16th Oct.:is a Zombie traffic day.

Long Live Google The Land of Zombie Traffic :).
2:31 pm on Oct 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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It seems that Friday 16th Oct.:is a Zombie traffic day

Are you saying that no one in the world is getting traffic that converts? Is your claim that everyone is getting this "zombie traffic?
2:41 pm on Oct 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I have some sites converting @Atomic, what @reseller is referring to is those of us that have sites stuck in the "Zombie bucket".

BTW, No conversions in two days on the most impacted site.
2:52 pm on Oct 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Thanks @wgchris. I have a feeling lots of people out there are doing just fine.

I work on a site that has periods of greater or lesser conversion rates. But the conversions never cease.
3:10 pm on Oct 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@Atomic I think there are many people on here who are seeing on/off zombie traffic. No suggestion this applies to the whole internet and of course conversion rates naturally change, but this is more like a switch that turns on or off anywhere between twice a day and once every couple of days.
3:16 pm on Oct 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I've seen a similar pattern. Conversions spike or fall but never disappear and traffic remains the same but goes to different pages. As far as I can tell it's directly related to ranking changes. And these are usually long tail.
3:20 pm on Oct 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I tend to agree with Atomic who suggests it's long tail related.
I'm done reporting.

[edited by: samwest at 4:17 pm (utc) on Oct 16, 2015]

3:23 pm on Oct 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@Atomic Exactly what I'm thinking. Because there are no obvious short tail ranking changes so it must be in the long tail or other factors such as user location.
3:32 pm on Oct 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@Somon_H: I've noticed interesting behavior when watching Real-Time. I see these regional bursts of activity rotating from one to another. Sometimes I see different rankings when I go check using a proxy.

When things are really going well and conversions are rolling in activity is more evenly distributed across the country (USA in my case) and doesn't look artificial.
4:37 pm on Oct 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I also want to say that I look at the situation this way:

1. I'm not mad at Google. Frustrated, yes. Mad, no.
2. It's now my job to find ways to have my site become the best result for user queries. If I don't, it's my fault not Google's.
7:35 pm on Oct 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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In other words, don't you think that the zombie traffic you see are real people who are generally interested in your product/service but who will never buy it? And your product and related patents and all the rest of it is linked enough for enough people to stumble upon it and zombie-walk to your website.


@nutterum
I've always had a lot of window shoppers, but I've always seen some buyers in the mix. The Google zombie traffic is noticeably different - they don't stay on the site long, they don't view many pages, a large percent are from countries we don't do business in and of course no sales. Most of my product pages have no links pointing to them at all and patent pages (just copies of patent filings and approved dates) don't have any links pointing to the site either. Links in my industry are not as important as I suspect they are in other industries, and I don't have many and neither do the few competitors I have. The product pages are indepth enough to stand and rank on their own merits - Google should not have any reason for confusion since Bing and Yahoo seem to easily figure it out. And Google can figure it out otherwise the 3 or 4 good days a week I see from them the past couple of months would not be happening.

Today is another zombie day with Google sending traffic from India, UAE, Saudi Arabia and many other countries I don't do business in. Some Google search query data pulled from these visits is total nonsense too. One visit was from a Google search with the query string: q=anything It's like Google is sending us traffic from their I'm feeling lucky button. Yet our search positions are the same as they have been since Google let the zombies out of their cage.
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