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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]

10:23 pm on Oct 20, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Nevermind - Sharing is a bad idea..

[edited by: isellstuff at 10:40 pm (utc) on Oct 20, 2015]

10:27 pm on Oct 20, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@isellstuff thanks for the insight but I am not referring to an ecom site. My conversions are basically form submissions, consults.
10:52 pm on Oct 20, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Has it been a correct prediction so far ?


Unfortunately no. Just the inverse.
1:20 am on Oct 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@ isellstuff
I'm in the same boat as others. Zombies in both paid (including Google Shopping) and organic. Days go by before the zombies disappear and good traffic comes back. If Google is bucketing traffic and spreading the good traffic around, they lost a top bidder (me) in Google shopping. The negative ROI from Adwords was enough to pause the campaigns and stop the bleeding. And as an added benefit of being out of Adwords I had more time to plan, expand and deploy marketing campaigns on more reliable platforms that don't rely on trickery to earn their money. And it's working out better than expected.
1:28 am on Oct 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@isellstuff
Need you here. You did hit the nail on the head on some points. Keep sharing. ADW Support reached out to me in Aug. I dropped 50k on paid, first two quarters. Blitzed it. I throttled back in June, ADW called and asked WTF. I shared that I was concerned about the conversion costs last couple years and I was researching alternative traffic methods. I was offered the "game-changer" plan after I educated ADW on my current concerns and my market persona. Part of plan implemented was the shopping attack to intercept the amazon, ebayers. I have the pricing. It was a beeeoch to get all set up. By the time I got all approved for launch, I was in the middle of email campaigns and doing quite well and enjoying healthy organic traffic. My numbers looked much better on paper when the tick(big G) was removed or paused. I am still paused and have not tested the new shopping setup yet. Scared to un-pause now, but have no choice. Organic is drying up now. Got 25 at 8pm central and should of been 79+ conversions. There is other factors such as economy, site changes and or? Again, I was questioning my latest designs and landing pages. I know I got traffic and had traffic for 11 years. I found posts here that are experiencing same down-trends. We all want answers. Keep digging, we will find it. Big G knows there is chaos. They are especially monitoring the big accounts very close for several months now. They have stepped up their support efforts to find our reservations. I have not seen that happen in previous years. They are concerned about something or they would not be coming out of their cubicles. Obviously, the pause button has gotten quite popular recently.
1:41 am on Oct 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@glakes
This top bidder is getting ready to try out the G shopping plan. Let me know what reliable platforms you have found. I might need a fall-back or plan B? I got kids to feed. Please share.
2:13 am on Oct 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@glakes - I think a lot of it is an indirect bucketing. Its just what happens when you tie shopping widget display to the certainty that the widget contains exactly what the searcher wants to see. So you know "cool widgets" is ambiguous... Maybe show a shopping widget with some products in a smaller box at the top of the page. "Blue 6GB Widget Manufactured by Widget Company" is a very narrow search. You know what the searcher wants to see, so show a huge shopping widget down the right hand side. Make it dominate the SERPS page.

Think about this... There is a correlation between searches and conversions. High conversion rates on specific shopping products signifies that the search term used is tightly coupled to the product. It gives Google confidence that the big widget on the right hand side should be displayed. So, without a doubt, Google is trying to figure out when to display what shopping widget such that it matches up with what the user expects.
2:28 am on Oct 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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How about this train of thought, building on my previous post. The Google Shopping Widget is killing the long tail for e-commerce. When merchants give Google normalized data from their entire product catalog, that gives Google more data to process and enables them to understand and capture the long tail searches.

Ambiguous search terms are how Google drains Google Shopping PPC budgets. Strong targeting of the long tail is how they keep merchants in the shopping program. I think the only winner is Google and Google stock holders.
2:48 am on Oct 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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We've had enough with this. I just shut down all of our adwords campaigns while sending Google a very nasty feedback report. Explaining them precisely why we did, and complaining about their poor state of the index and never ending BS updates. How they've been simply putting us in the red and killing our business over the last 2-3 years. Insisting on sending us poorly targeted carefully measured traffic while constantly penalizing our eCommerce product pages (5 domains).

I suggest we all do the same. Non converting junk traffic anyway. Your money is better spent elsewhere.

Probably the only way to get Google to listen.

[edited by: goodoldweb at 3:14 am (utc) on Oct 21, 2015]

2:56 am on Oct 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Today was an "All Zombie" day...plenty of traffic but no conversions, in fact, hardly any hits on the signup page. Most visits were "one and done", but they sit on the page for 2 or 3 minutes, never going to any other pages. The prior two days seemed just like the old days of on the hour or better conversions. Then just like that, it's "boom boom, out go the lights!" it really is ridiculous. It's enough to drive you to drink.
4:16 am on Oct 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Think about this... There is a correlation between searches and conversions. High conversion rates on specific shopping products signifies that the search term used is tightly coupled to the product. It gives Google confidence that the big widget on the right hand side should be displayed. So, without a doubt, Google is trying to figure out when to display what shopping widget such that it matches up with what the user expects.

Google figures it out 2-3 days a week then mysteriously forgets it the remaining 4-5 days every week over the course of two months. If machine learning takes this long, especially at this stage in Google's existence, something is definitely wrong. You have some good points isellstuff, but if Google is attempting to learn anything it is not where to display our shopping campaign ads but rather how to empty our wallets as fast as they can. As more people realize it is financially unsustainable to get excessive junk traffic from paying to be in Adwords (welcome to the paused campaign crowd goodoleweb), it will impact Google's bottom line.

Traffic from Google today was crap. It started out that way and finished that way. The bright side is that I am not paying Google for it.
8:19 am on Oct 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@glakes @samwest @wgchris

Based on your feedback I'm updating my Google Zombie Traffic 7 days prediction. Has updated prediction of "Tuesday 20th Oct.: Healthy traffic" as follows

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---------> Zombie traffic
Wednesday 21st Oct.: Healthy traffic


So it seems there have been 5 Google Zombie traffic days out of the last 6 days. That doesn't look good at all ;)
8:34 am on Oct 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@glakes
As more people realize it is financially unsustainable to get excessive junk traffic from paying to be in Adwords (welcome to the paused campaign crowd goodoleweb), it will impact Google's bottom line.

Maybe we should suggest to AdWords customers out there:
Pause your AdWords campaigns - Stop wasting your money on Google Zombie Traffic :)
9:32 am on Oct 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Something definitely seems not right. Someone mentioned Amazon sales were slow yesterday and I just a big thread saying how poor eBay sales have been this month. WTF's going on? Anyway, it's not just us that are experiencing a crap month. If eBay and Amazon aren't getting the sales. I ask again; who is?

[sellercentral.amazon.co.uk ]

[community.ebay.com ]

Hope it's OK to post those links. I felt it pertinent that people are experiencing the same as us.
10:15 am on Oct 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Something definitely seems not right. Someone mentioned Amazon sales were slow yesterday and I just a big thread saying how poor eBay sales have been this month. WTF's going on?

Amazon has a healthy presence in Google's search results. eBay not so much in my industry. It's possible that Google is sending them zombie traffic too. I will say that my sales on Amazon are fine.

My ranks in Google all appear good. One theory of what is happening can be Google is attempting to monetize traffic they know has no buyer intent and that our stats/conversions reflect this change. Advertisers would see more impressions/clicks and Google would earn more money. This would explain why zombies don't buy, but there are other variables like what pages they visit on our sites, how long they stay and the countries they come from that are still up in the air. These zombies don't act human at all, but maybe we are all spoiled from a time when Google tried to accurately match buyer intent with ecommerce websites? Google would then cycle through the good traffic with buyer intent to players within the industry as part of the bucketing/throttling/quota that others have spoken of. More players within the industry means more days between good and bad traffic and why we experience the zombie on and zombie off days like a light switch being flipped.

The above seems like a good possibility I am coming up with since my ranks remain steady throughout the good and bad days. Two months is too long for this to be flux from any update. I see these zombies as a core algorithm change and something Google will try to stick with as long as they can. Shoving ads down a broader range of people's throats, with a known lack of buyer intent, will make Google more money in the short term which all active Adwords users will bear the burden of.

@reseller

Indeed, we should warn Adwords users of zombies. But I have a hunch many people are pausing campaigns after seeing their wallets getting emptied. Google should take notice and hopefully release some sort of public statement. The lack of a public response to the poor performance of their top earning program would produce a long-lasting blow to the confidence advertisers had/have in Adwords.

My morning stats point to the possibility of a zombie free day from Google. We'll see how things turn out.
12:54 pm on Oct 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I still think there are forces beyond Google, Amazon and EBay that are affecting sales. I will say no more.
2:03 pm on Oct 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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IF the zombie conspiracy theory has any substance, I will speculate, adding in the mix my own strictly personal experiences, as follows:

1.- Greed at G initiated a vicious cycle by discrediting organic e-commerce results to channel users to ads.

2.- Discrediting organics (by devaluing credible e-commerce sites) brought to extreme prominence alternative shopping search engines (ex. Ebay, Amazon, Alibaba, etc).

3.- Channeling users to ads was partially successful, G profits improved by the quarter, share price up.

4.- But, meantime, a majority of users, faced at G with low-relevance organics and 30 relevant ads, were gradually educated to opt and prefer the specialist shopping directories (ex. Ebay, Amazon, Alibaba, etc) that offer thousands of relevant shopping results at a time in a substantially better format. User considered this : if I am going to get paid ads anyway, I much prefer, say, the Ebay format rather than the G format : thousands of relevant results at a time, with images, feedback, reviews, AND buyer protection in the bargain. Personally I use G for shopping queries reluctantly, only in rare & extreme cases - when the specialist shopping channels cannot deliver. This, in my case, is very rare. Even then G is a pain : I need to waste a lot of time searching tediously for what I need. Hoping : never again!

5.- Shoppers are moving away from G, and spreading the message for "marketplaces". For general shopping marketplaces as well as niche marketplaces. This flow is absolutely *irreversible*.

6.- This irreversible flow will be the end of G as we know it. They are aware of it. Their income model, sustaining all other operations, is in grave danger. They are in panic. Their panic is generating panicky reactions, making things worse. Seems a matter of time when income will plateau, and eventually decline. The bubble will burst, the share price will collapse.

IF my personal shopping experiences are anything to go by and IF the zombie traffic observations are valid (my own webmaster observations are similar to those expressed here) THEN I speculate that we are in for violent developments.

.
2:28 pm on Oct 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@heisje : what if the increase in mobile traffic is the reason for Google's hyper aggressive moves? I personally don't perceive mobile traffic to be as valuable because it is frequently in the front end of the purchase funnel. Does the increase in mobile traffic create an unwanted (from Google's perspective) segmentation of shoppers?

Put another way, prior to the rise of mobile traffic, people would window shop on Google and get lumped in with valuable desktop traffic. Now they window shop from their phone when they have a few spare minutes and we can automatically flag them as being less valuable and pay less for their clicks. Google has to offset this reduction in PPC revenue, so they get more aggressive.

Just to be clear... Google's trying to maintain its revenue growth, but mobile is where all of the search growth is and the profit margins on mobile aren't as good. Yes, desktop searches are still growing, but they aren't growing as fast as they used to.
3:11 pm on Oct 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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At this time all is speculation - but no smoke without fire. We'll wait & see, provided we survive. There will come a time when we'll know more. We now learn that G have succeeded pushing their services to Yahoo. I suspect at big discount off past offerings. More (but questionable?) revenue to cover up the toxic undercurrents?
3:27 pm on Oct 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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heisje + ....I never thought about this in great detail but you are right. I hate Amazon big time and ebay as a merchant but as a consumer I am a huge Amazon customer...I try to buy elsewhere...first I research on Amazon (not Google..like I used to back in the day) and then look at other major web sites then sometimes I will take a look at Google shopping to compare prices to be sure Amazon is giving me a good price.

Everything you say makes sense...it's time I really make a big push to find other places to advertise than Google...organic search results are becoming useless for ecommerce...I think this is the beginning of the end for Google. I know a lot of webmasters hate them...they have been good to me but in the last couple of weeks strange things have been happening to my site with conversions...I have analyzed and can only conclude they are doing something crazy.

Google was not smart in promoting major sites and killing the little guys...especially building up ebay and Amazon...they were way to friendly...Jeff Bezos is about to become the richest man in the World (look at the Forbes list) - I say in 3 years...Google helped him get there and killed themselves over the long term...I still remember when Yahoo killed themselves by allowing Google to become their search engine...super dumb on Yahoo's part (I'm talking about the late 90s...not now) or when Netscape allowed all of the search engines to advertise on their site in 1995...dumb...

I was spending more and more with Google - why are they killing the small merchants...don't they know they will grow and spend more...I started small 20 years ago and built a huge company with Google's help - I spent a TON of money on ads... and this company is growing...but if this keeps up I will always advertise on Google but now my focus is searching for new places...luckily Google is no longer the only game in town...I will find other places (no way I will ever sell on Amazon again)...necessity is the mother of invention.
3:37 pm on Oct 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Google should take notice and hopefully release some sort of public statement. The lack of a public response to the poor performance of their top earning program would produce a long-lasting blow to the confidence advertisers had/have in Adwords.

To help Google to take a notice and possibly release a public statement about the financial damages which Google Zombie Traffic causing AdWords advertisers, I suggest we spread the word on facebook and twitter inviting people to visit this thread at WebmasterWorld.
3:49 pm on Oct 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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We too have severely cut back on AdWords spending over the past 3 weeks. Haven't added any additional advertising. Conversions are up a little while on pace for spending $40k (24% budget) less this month. Traffic is relatively flat while slashing bids.

On a few smaller ecommerce sites I manage we saw conversions go through the roof (13 yesterday), while we have been dealing with 0-2 conversions each day for the past 2 months. Traffic is flat.
5:53 pm on Oct 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Might as well go ahead and mark Wednesday 21st as Zombie too.
Not healthy traffic even with ads on.

jimster - we saw traffic go through the roof on Sunday...tons of hits on specific and obscure pages, not site wide. All from Google.
7:22 pm on Oct 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I spent 200 on ads and got 2 conversions... that's 10 profit for me and 180 for google. Never again. Google ads are useless. I m having a lot more success with far superior ad techniques that have a far greater impact which I know are being shown to real people!

Bloggers and non eCommerce website probably do no realize that most of their site visitors are zombie bots because they don't sell things?
7:31 pm on Oct 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Ding ding ding ^^^ @jambam. I am one of those non-ecommers. How many poor schmucks are paying for traffic and have NO IDEA that the numbers they are seeing are not humans that they can convert to actual business. *SMH*

Getting more play from other sources right now that expected, time to move funds for good.
8:21 pm on Oct 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Hi folks

Final update of my Google Zombie Traffic 7 days prediction. Has updated prediction of "Wednesday 21st Oct. from Healthy traffic to Zombie traffic.

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---------> Zombie traffic
Wednesday 21st Oct.: Healthy traffic -----> Zombie traffic


I.e during the last 7 days there have been 6 Google Zombie Traffic days. Congrats, Google :)
8:50 pm on Oct 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Ding ding ding ^^^ @jambam. I am one of those non-ecommers. How many poor schmucks are paying for traffic and have NO IDEA that the numbers they are seeing are not humans that they can convert to actual business. *SMH*

And with the announcement that Google will now be serving up to 49% of Yahoo's paid ads, this cancer is growing rather aggressively. Just be warned to keep an eye on your Bing and Yahoo traffic. Chances are what Google displays on Yahoo could also produce expensive bad traffic too.
9:27 pm on Oct 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Google is fast appraising fraudville by selling "targeted traffic" that amounts to nothing but cloak and dagger snake oil. They don't even show traffic sources as "paid" anymore, just mix it in with "direct". No reliable way to track it (unless you strip down naked for their inspection and add goals), so I give it no value. And here i always thought bottled water was a scam. For sale "Fresh Mountain View Air" to the highest bidder.
10:36 pm on Oct 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Was conducting a search on google yesterday and noticed an "how do you rate these search results" pop up survey box. "Extremely dissatisfied" was my selection.

Anyone else seeing this survey popup lately?
2:16 am on Oct 22, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Interesting, I received a survey like that yesterday too and did the same thing. Rated it poorly because it was. In other news... I have seen the same crap traffic come through organically and all adwords campaigns have been paused.

I am taking my money elsewhere, I'm just done with Googles scamming and treatment of webmasters like scum. They shot themselves in the foot by promoting big brands like Amazon and now people would just rather go to where they want rather than search through google. Amazon and Ebay are probably murdering Googles bottom line with mobile apps considering how rapidly mobile has and continues to grow.

That's what happens when you screw the little guys over.
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