Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from 54.81.71.68

Forum Moderators: Robert Charlton & goodroi

Message Too Old, No Replies

Google ZOMBIE Traffic Observations

     
1:39 pm on Oct 4, 2015 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Feb 3, 2014
posts:1223
votes: 304


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]

7:15 am on Oct 23, 2015 (gmt 0)

New User

joined:Oct 14, 2015
posts:2
votes: 0


Great information....thanks to all...
7:50 am on Oct 23, 2015 (gmt 0)

New User

joined:Apr 30, 2015
posts:37
votes: 9


ALL pay per click is a racket, do you really think any business that goes to great pains to avoid paying its fair share of corporation tax has the moral ethics not to rip YOU off?

Smell the coffee.
11:14 am on Oct 23, 2015 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Feb 3, 2014
posts:1223
votes: 304


@FD - You got THAT right!
I just removed all Google tracking and adsense nonsense from my site. Now using PIWIK only. Pages were taking 2.7 to 3.5 seconds to load. Now pages loading in 0.4 seconds.
12:15 pm on Oct 23, 2015 (gmt 0)

Preferred Member

10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:June 26, 2004
posts:379
votes: 33


Piwik....excellent idea.. I'm moving to privacy and ownership of my data
12:23 pm on Oct 23, 2015 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Oct 5, 2012
posts:814
votes: 113


Pages were taking 2.7 to 3.5 seconds to load. Now pages loading in 0.4 seconds.


You know, it's funny you mention that since page load times have a HUGE affect on conversion rates.
2:33 pm on Oct 23, 2015 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Feb 3, 2014
posts:1223
votes: 304


Kinda makes me wonder if the latency is something Gorg can control or if it's just a symptom of their broken system...possible that the ON periods are when latency improves temporarily. But, now that I'm not "playing their game" by using analytics, adsense and adwords, will my organic positions disappear? Guess it doesn't matter because they have been in slow decay for years. I'll simply concentrate on other NON Google promotion methods.
3:30 pm on Oct 23, 2015 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Feb 6, 2005
posts:1858
votes: 106


Thanks to WebmasterWorld member Barry Schwartz who has brought some attention to the current thread. Barry has posted today on SER:

What's Up With The Google Zombie Traffic [seroundtable.com...]
3:40 pm on Oct 23, 2015 (gmt 0)

Full Member

5+ Year Member

joined:July 29, 2012
posts:251
votes: 12


This zombie traffic do you see it specific to certain browsers? or across the board?
5:20 pm on Oct 23, 2015 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from GB 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member redbar is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Oct 14, 2013
posts:2933
votes: 396


I wonder if this Zombie traffic is also affecting AdSense earnings? The past 3 months has seen mine totally collapse to the point where I shall most probably remove it altogether on 31st October.

My traffic is consistent yet just like zombie traffic hardly anyone is clicking...maybe purely coincidental, maybe not?
5:51 pm on Oct 23, 2015 (gmt 0)

Full Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Sept 28, 2015
posts: 273
votes: 171


@Awarn It's across the board - all browsers, all devices.

Guys, can I propose a theory for the cause of zombie traffic that I just put on SER...

My original theory was that Google may be matching low-confidence search queries (i.e. where it has a low confidence it understands user intent) with sites that it considers low quality. Hence low quality sites gets low confidence results and vice versa. Or more specifically, sites are allocated a certain amount of low quality/confidence vs high quality/confidence traffic within its quota, where our sites seem to get a much high quota of crappy traffic than others.

Here's a new theory. Google is already believed to classify search queries by intent, e.g. informational vs transactional vs navigational and then match to sites as appropriate. And it is already believed Google revises this for multiple searches within the same session, e.g. a user may firstly look for information on a product (and hence be shown informational results) and search again with the intention of buying (hence shown transactional results). Could it be that the on/off switch we're seeing is Google switching our sites to being considered as, say, informational instead of transactional? It may be doing this as part of the Panda 4.2 rollout as it's going to be playing with this sort of stuff as it crawls sites.

This doesn't explain why zombies are being seen in paid too. Unless there's something I'm missing or that it's entirely cooincidental we're seeing these in both?
5:55 pm on Oct 23, 2015 (gmt 0)

Preferred Member

10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:June 26, 2004
posts:379
votes: 33


In response to: hasek747 +

** "Shopping" tab? **

I was not debating this but now that this has come up I gave the topic some brain power. It may be worse for smaller merchants and for Amazon...but yes, this is appropriate for the users of Google.


** I was not referring to Jeff Bezos alone. I specifically referred to "man-hours" **

I don't care how long they have worked. I am for capitalism...not my point though. It's not fair to the users of Google to be shown the same web site over and over and over. One web site per product so Amazon would be shown a bunch but only once per product. I keep seeing the same web sites multiple times for one product. Lazy on Google's part not to make their engine better.


** Randomize sites...low quality results...not true **

Not going to do Google's job for them but it's simple. If the results are bad Google would know...I could easily fix this with a small team of programmers


** to give newer less powerful sites a chance **

Same as above...I have a lot of experience in this area and guarantee fixing this is super easy


** don't get the feeling that Google is being paid by Amazon for anything **

I think you are right here. I think it's just Google being plain not smart. As I mentioned in my previous posts...eventually all businesses die...either a fast or slow death. As soon as Jeff Bezos leaves his company (he's super ambitious) that company will "begin to" die (may take 50 years but it will die or become rather small). Google is dying from lack of focus and because the people running the company are thinking short term profit over long term growth. When is the last time Googleguy showed up on webmasterworld? They are too good for us small merchants...
9:07 pm on Oct 23, 2015 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Feb 6, 2005
posts:1858
votes: 106


Hi folks

Here is something which might be related to Google Zombie Traffic.

I have been reading "Google attacks Brussels antitrust case in 100-page response" including a statement by Google general counsel Kent Walker:
Google’s response, which runs to more than 100 pages, is confidential. But the company’s general counsel Kent Walker outlined his defence in a blog post published on Thursday, saying that far from harming rival shopping price comparison services, the Google had increased traffic to their sites.

“The universe of shopping services has seen an enormous increase in traffic from Google, diverse new players, new investments and expanding consumer choice,” Walker claimed. He said that over the last decade, the company had delivered 20bn free clicks to rival price comparison sites, with free traffic – as opposed to traffic acquired by paying for adverts on Google – increasing by 227%. [theguardian.com...]
(Thursday 27 August 2015)


My question: is it possible that Google has been delivering to its rivals free clicks from Google Zombie Traffic?
9:20 pm on Oct 23, 2015 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Feb 3, 2014
posts:1223
votes: 304


The questions is: was there a corresponding INCREASE or DECREASE in sales from those so called "free" clicks. I'm guessing the latter. Zombie bots don't make very good customers. Also funny how they monetize thin air referring to "free" vs PPC. Typical.
1:00 am on Oct 24, 2015 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Sept 14, 2011
posts:1045
votes: 132


I have to say I see contradictory evidence across several websites. I am not convinced after re-examining traffic and conversions over the last month that the zombie exists. It would seem futile to extract short term profit by allowing non converting traffic through as people will switch off adword accounts. I have to say I am now sceptical over the whole thing.
1:28 am on Oct 24, 2015 (gmt 0)

New User

joined:Oct 19, 2015
posts: 3
votes: 4


It is not time to push the nuke button. Chill, previous posts talked about ebay and amazon whiners also. I have confirmed and seen those posts. There is other forces out there such as economy or more. I have seen this same scenario before when sept and oct died and about mid Nov, things exploded. Ebayers are blaming some new app or changes there. Amazoners are blaming whoever. The happening ecom consultants always start off by saying "never count on one kind of traffic source". Because when it, or its platform changes, you are dead in the water. I have un-paused on 6 domains. I have conversions and some are cheapest conversions ever. I have appointment with my ADW guy next week. I will share my results from this weekends campaign sometime after Mon unless I have too many orders/conversions. Fingers crossed. I will share my conference with ADW towards the end of next week. Don't burn the bridges yet. I am optimized for responsive, pricing and more. I have mega competition and I am the most copied sites in my market. They even steal my pictures, part numbers, titles , product descriptions and more. I did not start the newly set up google shopping yet. Blowing the cobwebs out of normal campaigns first and testing the market or waters. I will share my results. Take your fingers off the triggers. Don't shoot. Give it some more time.
3:27 am on Oct 24, 2015 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

joined:Oct 24, 2015
posts:41
votes: 14


I signed up here just to write my experience here... its that bad:

So in the last few days the conversion rates have been all over the place and that is literally the first time in years that it has been that way.

One day I get normal conversions, normal pages per session, normal time on page...
...then suddenly conversions drop to 20% of the normal, the time on page drops by 40% and pages per session drop by 30%.

This has been going on for a few days now and I get enough traffic per day that usually everything stays constant.... NOT ANYMORE!

I cannot explain it. I try to improve the UX to get pages per session up and it seems to work... then stats literally fall down a cliff again.

This makes it impossible for me to figure out what's wrong and improve my user experience. I can't figure out what the reason for the bad stats is, since google seems to send me DIFFERENT KINDS of TRAFFIC that BEHAVES IN DIFFERENT WAYS.

It is literally driving me mad.
5:53 am on Oct 24, 2015 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

joined:Oct 24, 2015
posts:41
votes: 14


Time on page is now down 50% with no apparent reason compared to 3 days ago. Conversions are 0. Page speed is normal. Mobile visits are normal. No server problems. Same traffic numbers.

It's maddening.

I visited the site in 6 different browsers to find any malfunction... nothing.

I dont understand :(
6:35 am on Oct 24, 2015 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

joined:Oct 24, 2015
posts:41
votes: 14


I have the weird suspicion that people are now using bots to fake usage data and drive real visits to their own sites.

If I had to guess then most of the people seeing zombie traffic are probably in niches with a bunch of black hatters that would not shy away from running bots to ruin the competitions usage metrics.

The problem is: it's easy to do too... any hacker with a couple thousand RATs can do it. (and believe me there are many that want to monetize their RATs)

All one has to do is make the RAT use google to search for $termuwanttorankfor, click and bounce the competition, then click and end search your own result.
that way you optimize your whole site while deranking the competition.

and let's be freaking honest... we know google is using usage data. They would be stupid not to.

I guess negative SEO has been brought to the next level... thats the only explanation i can come up with at the moment.

And the worst thing is that a random RAT cannot be differentiated from a legitimate searcher.

Would also explain why zombies don't differentiate between ads and organic... just bounce all the results and end search at your own site.

ps. RAT = Remote Access Tool its the most common kind of virus spread through the internet... creating millions of zombie computers every day.

psps. I would also speculate that filthy little black hats like <well-known ethical white hat seo> have been using this technique as a "secret method to get out of panda" for some time. - pulling legitimately good sites down and manipulating user metrics with the help of hackers.

The moral of all this: Anything google uses to rank sites can be spammed. Even user metrics.
Only user metrics spam will probably be much more exclusive and favor the elite that have the money and connections.

And it will be the crack black hat seos can hook their clients on.
Like glorified pimps.

And it probably works even better than links did in 2001, judging by the amount of 0 link #1 rankings I see in my niche.

SEO: Revenge of the Black Hats
begins^^

*grabs popcorn*

use it, share it, call your friends... the sooner it is main-stream seo, the sooner google will have to fix it.

and the best thing: IT LEAVES NO TRACES AND THEREFORE CANNOT GET YOU HIT BY ANY ALGO!

[edited by: aakk9999 at 3:58 am (utc) on Oct 25, 2015]
[edit reason] Obscured a white seo name [/edit]

11:13 am on Oct 24, 2015 (gmt 0)

New User

joined:Oct 24, 2015
posts:2
votes: 0


I have just joined to comment on this massacre!

Over the past year I have been noticing this zombie traffic.. and it seems to be getting worse and worse every time this zombie traffic filter is turned on.

I have stopped using adwords simply because after spending £1000 on adwords I got back £20! The conversion rates for adwords compared to other ad formats that are meant to be less targeted are a lot higher... In fact I get LOOOOOOADS more success out of blindly advertising than I do with scammy adwords so it isnt my fault that the adwords ads are not converting it is simply because the traffic is terrible..

and yes I make sure I set up the adwords ad properly avoiding mobile users and countries I do not deliver to and so forth.

Pile this on with the massacre going on with the organic results and imagine how impossible it is for smaller businesses to compete.
11:53 am on Oct 24, 2015 (gmt 0)

Preferred Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Nov 2, 2014
posts:632
votes: 294


@whitehattryhard

The problem with zombies is not because someone is using a hit bot to make bounce rates jump or any other form of negative seo attack. If it were, we would see a sizable jump in overall traffic coming from Google on days the hit bot is running, and I don't. Increased traffic when zombies are around yes, but not anything that would even come close to suggesting someone is using a hit bot. The zombies are all Google's doing.

I suggested in a previous post that Google may be trying to show people, who Google knows for a fact have no buyer intent, my ecommerce website - driving unqualified clicks to both our organic and paid listings. Bounce rates would increase, time on site would drop and of course people with no buyer intent won't buy. But Google will make money from those that clicked on our paid ads, while we go broke watching our sales drop. That's one theory anyway. If Google wants to earn more, they either need more advertisers to compete or more users clicking on their ads. I believe it's possible we are seeing the latter happening on most days per week. For the record, my Adwords campaigns have been paused for a while now because zombies were draining me dry.
12:37 pm on Oct 24, 2015 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Feb 6, 2005
posts:1858
votes: 106


Hi folks

For more than a month, we have been posting observations and analysis of "Google Zombie Traffic".

Many members of WebmasterWorld have posted that their business and finance have been severely affected by Google Zombie Traffic. This thread has 264 posts and growing.

<snip>

You may also wish to take a look at this relevant article:
Google faces antitrust action from EU competition watchdog
European commission accuses tech firm of skewing search results to favour its own shopping service in breach of competition rules [theguardian.com...] (April 2015)

[edited by: aakk9999 at 5:25 pm (utc) on Oct 24, 2015]
[edit reason] Against WebmasterWorld ToS #26 [/edit]

12:53 pm on Oct 24, 2015 (gmt 0)

Full Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Sept 28, 2015
posts: 273
votes: 171


<snip> provide solid evidence/data, not just anecdotal whining. For example:

* I recall @glakes (?) published a set of daily conversion rates showing Bing vs Google. Bing was consistent, Google varied. Conversion data can be very powerful, especially as Google themselves have stated that individual conversion rates on paid listings should not change with position. So if you see sudden jumps in conversion rate without jumps in traffic volume on the same campaign, that suggests something is being manipulated.
* I can show that even though my shopping campaign is set to include only traffic from my country and exclude traffic from all others, GA is still showing cpc clicks originating from other countries.
* I can also show that my merchant centre is reporting the wrong data. For example, Google is scanning items and reporting the schema data is missing, but if I manually validate with Google's own tools, everything is fine. Google have also confirmed to me that their automated 'policy violation' detector doesn't work properly and wrongly excludes many items. There is no way for Google to re-include those items again! And pages within merchant centre are incorrectly listing issues; the 'current issues' page lists items with problems, but when you click for more detail, merchant centre then reports those items as fine. The point is that Google's paid service is fault-ridden.

Any other similar evidence you have?

[edited by: aakk9999 at 5:30 pm (utc) on Oct 24, 2015]
[edit reason] Against WebmasterWorld ToS #26 [/edit]

3:13 pm on Oct 24, 2015 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member aristotle is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Aug 4, 2008
posts:3381
votes: 270


Members who think they see this "zombie" traffic should start checking their raw logs and examine the IPs, user agents, etc, looking for clues to its source. Just for example, it could conceivably be coming from one or more large botnets, with human-imitating bots using fake Google referals, with the botnet activity being turned on and off or up and down by the operator of the botnet, perhaps paid by a competitor. I doubt that's the explanation, but am just throwing it out as an example of the type of thing to look for.

My sites get fake traffic from botnets all the time -- it's easy to see it in the logs, but I've never understood the motive behind it. Actually it looks like a slow-motion DDOS attack, but far too slow to do any harm. In fact most websites get some traffic from botnets, although it usually isn't sophisticated enough to fake a Google referal or do a good job of imitating humans.

At any rate, I would suggest studying your raw logs to look for clues, in case you do find something, or at least learn what to rule out.
3:33 pm on Oct 24, 2015 (gmt 0)

Full Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Sept 28, 2015
posts: 273
votes: 171


@aristotle Totally agree. We're about to start some advanced bot analysis to rule this out (or in!). And I wouldn't dismiss it too quickly because, however unlikely, it's one of the few explanations that fits the fact this is hitting both paid and organic on a selection of sites that seem to have absolutely nothing in common.

However, if bots are found, the issue would be a combination of bots AND a huge flaw in Google's algo. Because whatever traffic shaping/quotas G is using, the algo appears incapable of dealing with bots such that the bots are allowed to eat into sites' traffic quotas.
3:35 pm on Oct 24, 2015 (gmt 0)

Preferred Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Nov 2, 2014
posts:632
votes: 294


Members who think they see this "zombie" traffic should start checking their raw logs and examine the IPs, user agents, etc, looking for clues to its source.

Already did this. Unless Google is directly working with a botmaster in unison, or are the botmaster themself, it does not explain why good Google traffic disappears at the same time Google zombies arrive. As has been said before, if Google was on the up and up we would be seeing a consistent number of daily sales from Google regardless of bot traffic. This is not the case. When traffic quality plummets, there is a very small increase in total daily traffic from Google and no or very few sales. All my other marketing channels are sending consistent traffic and conversion rates that are within a normal and consistent range. Google is not sending consistent traffic in organic and was not in paid (my campaigns are now paused). There is absolutely no way the zombie traffic is the result of an external force, seasonal fluctuations or overall economic activity in my industry. The zombies are fully controlled by Google without even a sliver of doubt in my mind.
3:57 pm on Oct 24, 2015 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

joined:July 19, 2013
posts:113
votes: 35


Might be a stupid question but... how certain are we that people reporting the problem aren't all from the exact same market/niche, which would make the problem specific to just one market/niche? Definitely a long shot but I thought I'd put it out there.
4:44 pm on Oct 24, 2015 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Feb 3, 2014
posts:1223
votes: 304


^ rest assured, they are not all in the same vertical. Some are in similar, but many are in completely different niches.
5:22 pm on Oct 24, 2015 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

joined:July 19, 2013
posts:113
votes: 35


Ok, thanks.
5:37 pm on Oct 24, 2015 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from GB 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Apr 30, 2008
posts:2630
votes: 191


Mods Note:
I have removed four posts and edited couple of subsequent ones.

Can I remind you all on WebmasterWorld Terms of Service [webmasterworld.com] point 26:
"Claims of action, flames, and calls to action against any company or person will be removed."

Also please note the following from the Google SEO News & Discussion Forum Charter [webmasterworld.com]:
"Webmaster World is NOT here as a way to communicate with Google. If you want to give input about specific details on how your site or any other site appears in the search results, please use the channels that Google provides."

Could we please stick with Zombie observation and discussion.

[edited by: aakk9999 at 5:56 pm (utc) on Oct 24, 2015]

5:50 pm on Oct 24, 2015 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Feb 6, 2005
posts:1858
votes: 106


Hi folks

As to Google position toward the problem of Google Zombie Traffic, I guess there are 3 possibilities:

1- Google isn't aware at all of the existence of the problem of Google Zombie Traffic.

2- The problem of Google Zombie Traffic is of a third party making. Google is aware of the problem but prefer to keep quite because the situation suits Google .

3- Google is keeping quite because the problem of Google Zombie Traffic is of Google own making.

As I mentioned, above are possibilities not facts.
This 580 message thread spans 20 pages: 580
 

Join The Conversation

Moderators and Top Contributors

Hot Threads This Week

Featured Threads

Free SEO Tools

Hire Expert Members