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Google Updates and SERP Changes - August 2016

     
8:05 am on Aug 2, 2016 (gmt 0)

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System: The following 11 messages were cut out of thread at: https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4811319.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 9:11 am on Aug 2, 2016 (PDT -8)


It seems to me that whatever happened over the weekend / last week has now rolled back. My positions were quite mixed up with some gains and some losses but traffic up overall. And sales were great. I am now seeing the results I have had for months again. It's too soon to tell is sales / conversions are on or off yet. Is anyone else seeing that?
12:52 pm on Aug 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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i'm definitely not sticking up for google (no way!) but analytics might help in other ways.

lets say they visited your site through non-Google means, like social media, and you have analytics installed. the next time they visit google search your site should get a rankings boost because of personalised search. if you never had analytics installed then it wouldn't, because google wouldn't have a clue they visited your site.

something like that might help explain samwest's drop in traffic (at least for a couple of visitors ó obviously not all of them).
1:25 pm on Aug 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Whatever happened to the monthly "Google update and SERP changes" topic? Wouldn't it make sense to split this off into a "Zombie e-commerce traffic" thread or something similar, just to keep the main topic from being overwhelmed by a subtopic?
1:36 pm on Aug 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I'm another looong time lurker...
I pulled GA on 8/9 after reading the post on here from Dooku
My opinion is that I was wasting time looking at GA stats. It was a daily routine for years, but there hasn't been any helpful information in GA for me in many years. Same 'ol same 'ol. After reading Dooku's post, it was just the push I needed to change my routine.

Today in webmaster tools I see the biggest spike I've ever seen for pages crawled on 8/15, just as Dooku predicted -
[anonmgur.com...]
1:39 pm on Aug 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Strongly agree with EditorialGuy. We really need a Zombie thread to divert all zombie related discussion to so that those of us who are unaffected don't need to trawl through all of these posts. It would be much more helpful for those who are experiencing the phenomena as they can then analyse it properly and in one focused location. An anti Google thread would also be good. Completely irrelevant to this thread.

Just for the record, we use GA and GSC on all of our and our client sites and never had any problems with rankings or zombie traffic. There is a lot of untested/unproved theory's banded about here lately with no substance or proof which in my opinion reduces the reputation and standings of the forum as a whole. Still remember how Tedster (RIP) used to demand proof for any definite claims made on here or softening/retraction of said claims.
2:08 pm on Aug 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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@shai

Are you collecting customer reviews? If you do can you add the numbers and compare it with your competitors numbers? I mean you know how much you are spending and your rankings compared to competitors or try something like similarweb or so. The difference is actually the amount of zombies you get compared to your competitors or the other way around your competitors may get more zombies and less real people.

Have fun!
2:27 pm on Aug 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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No, I rather spend the time dealing with our clients when I have time left over from wading through posts on here checking for any relevant update information.
2:37 pm on Aug 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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@Shai & @EditorialGuy No disrespect, but an anti-Google thread would be useless. Questioning Google's tactics and anti-Google aren't the same thing. Even if there is some speculating going on here, others may have suggestions as to how to test which I think can be helpful. Personally I can't take the risk of removing GA on our site, but I certainly appreciate those who have and reported their findings.

I would argue that these comments that just say we're off topic again without redirecting the conversation or contributing something are just as annoying to wade through. If we're off topic, what should we be talking about?

"If you donít like whatís being said, change the conversation." - DD
2:45 pm on Aug 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Talk of zombie traffic isn't clogging up this thread. It's the conspiracy theories around Google Analytics and the 'Google is evil' stuff that's taking up 90% of posts. They should be elsewhere.

And we need to stop demonising talk of zombie traffic (no pun intended). Zombie traffic is simply where people are noticing a decrease in quality of traffic vs volume of traffic. Those observations belong in this thread, although some of the minutia ("today I had 1 conversion, yesterday I had 2 conversions") get tedious.

Nowadays, every SERP is individually generated for every user query based on the user's search history, CTR history, geo, device, time of day, etc. For every individual search, Google determines which widgets to show within the SERP, and what content to show within each widget. Every widget on the page has an effect on the others. Trying to restrict discussion to just the organic results is meaningless. SEOs need to understand that changes in their clients' organic traffic often have nothing to do with Google releasing some organic algo update. It's just as likely (if not more likely) to relate to something else, e.g. change in competitor paid activity. We need to be able to explore those type of things here.
3:01 pm on Aug 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Anybody else willing to add the customer reviews numbers?

We are currently getting year on year around 10% compared to similar size competitors.
3:11 pm on Aug 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Whatever happened to the monthly "Google update and SERP changes" topic? Wouldn't it make sense to split this off into a "Zombie e-commerce traffic" thread or something similar, just to keep the main topic from being overwhelmed by a subtopic?


What editorial guy said makes sense too...

An anti Google thread would also be good.


another good idea... I think talking back and forth here is getting us nowhere...more action needs to be taken to get Google to work with us...we need a representative from Google to work with us. It would be in their best interest...a separate thread could go a long way to organizing us as one voice.

[edited by: ecommerceprofit at 3:19 pm (utc) on Aug 17, 2016]

3:13 pm on Aug 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Traffic seems to have started off somewhat decent this week. Conversions have a "normal" pattern, much more random but lower than what it normally is. However, it is much better than the usual zombie traffic. Sign ups, interaction and sales have improved. Can anyone else confirm?
3:16 pm on Aug 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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masterjoe...I think everyone's zombie traffic is different. My zombie traffic tends to come in one block over several days each month...others are on and off...mine used to be on and off every few days...now on and off once every 25 days or so.
4:05 pm on Aug 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Whatever happened to the monthly "Google update and SERP changes" topic?

It went out the door with how Google ranked websites. Each query is now dynamic and is based on many other factors then just merely ranking websites for keywords. I guess you will have to evolve like the rest of us and appreciate that the many factors that go into producing a set of search results is far broader then it was even a year ago. As such, the discussion of SEO needs to evolve too.
6:06 pm on Aug 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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@glakes Perfectly put.

In addition to conversion rate, I've been looking at average order value to better understand zombies and Google's ability to identify user intent. AOV is consistently lower for organic and direct channels YOY but somehow paid search is up. I would expect that if AOV is on the decline in general, I would see it across all channels. This in itself isn't necessarily suspect but then I saw that AOV for paid search is up by exactly the same amount organic and direct are down despite the fact AOV varies by nearly $100 between each channel. One could argue that the PPC campaigns are better this year than last, etc. but I work closely enough with paid to know that they are using virtually all the same landing pages as organic and direct, so what explains this trend? Would love some feedback.
7:28 pm on Aug 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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LOL - people ask for you for feedback then others complain. Just can't win around here. So come on, share your August SERP observations gripers...or just keep watching. I'll start the new thread.
8:12 pm on Aug 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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OK, then, how about a "conversion rate" thread for those who want it? Right now, we have one subtopic (zombie traffic that doesn't convert for e-commerce sites) overwhelming a thread that's at least nominally about "Google Updates and SERP Changes - August 2016."
9:58 pm on Aug 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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New thread started by samwest here....

Does Removing Google Analytics Help Your Conversion Rates?
https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4815793.htm [webmasterworld.com]

I added some comments to explain the evolution of the submitted title and description to my edited version.

While it's simply not possible to move some excellent comments from this thread to the new one, I'm hoping that members who had some good observations will join in that new discussion.

For this thread, the topic is Updates and SERP Changes - August 2016.
2:06 am on Aug 18, 2016 (gmt 0)

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OK, then, how about a "conversion rate" thread for those who want it? Right now, we have one subtopic (zombie traffic that doesn't convert for e-commerce sites) overwhelming a thread that's at least nominally about "Google Updates and SERP Changes - August 2016."

Sorry to break the news to you, but Google updates and SERP changes are happening all the time and possibly on every query. RankBrain is the new overlord, or so we are told. This is well beyond simple search results that have been influenced by personalization or localization. And understanding how RankBrain influences the search results and traffic quality is every bit a part of modern day Google SEO as a core algo change. You are going to have to evolve and be a little more understanding of others who are trying to understand Google's new technology and how it impacts search results. While we can use tools to see rank changes, we can't modify it for every query like RankBrain is doing. If anything, you and I should be happy when people talk about their traffic quality (page views, time on site, conversions) because that is something that we can monitor with some degree of accuracy and possibly determine when minor updates occur - whether in Google's core algo or RankBrain. As it stands, Google traffic or ranks that we check don't have much bearing on modern day SEO as it relates to productive traffic when RankBrain is arranging search results on the fly.

If you don't like people talking about modern day SEO in this thread, don't comment or comment on the posts you like. Like any forum, there are going to be useless posts. But don't follow up useless posts with useless comments about starting new threads. If you want a new thread that discusses old school and yesterday's technology about Google Updates and SERP Changes, create it. Many of us are evolving with Google's technology and are engaged in subjects about it in an effort to better understand how it impacts on our sites.
6:40 am on Aug 18, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Ok I think we all need to take a breather (including me).

I don't really think anyone is bothered with discussions about conversions in this thread. It's very valuable info, even for those who are not suffering any issues (in my opinion). What I think bothers some is that the posts that talk about conversions in this thread are, more often than not, filled with a little too much emotion, making them difficult to read / draw conclusions from. People's businesses are at stake, so it's kind of understandable, but it's not conductive to a good helpful discussion.

So I guess what I'm saying is: maybe it would be possible for us to keep discussing conversions as part of this thread, but just tone down on the emotional charge of those posts? Just a suggestion.
9:58 am on Aug 18, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I think conversions and traffic aside, this forum has become a haven, for me in particular, to share changes in rank only. I'd like to see more discussions about what webmasters are trying and gaining lifts from - not the zombie phenomena. SEO is everything digital, but regardless, this forum is about SERP changes. It should be a place were we can share commonalities and spot patterns that ultimately work towards helping us all.
12:20 pm on Aug 18, 2016 (gmt 0)

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This thread has become more of a place for people to commiserate over their loses and blame it on Google. The reality is that - take your pick:
1. The landscape has evolved - mobile kills conversions.
2. IMHO, Google is relying too heavily on BL profiles.
3. Not as many people are using Google anymore.
4. Google is broken.
5. Tell me YOUR reasons....

My biggest question is how can a website with one page of thin information on a topic rank across the board for just about every related term while a site with hundreds of pages on the same topic that used to rank #1 is now on page 6.
It's become a simple popularity contest rather than a quality of information contest.

I'm back to 20-30min outages then a surge, then and outage, then a surge...and nary a conversion...it's maddening.
1:23 pm on Aug 18, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I'm back to 20-30min outages then a surge,


i know you are located in US, but i can confirm this for germany.
1:26 pm on Aug 18, 2016 (gmt 0)

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^ Fantastisch
2:21 pm on Aug 18, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Obviously affected business owners are a bit more passionate but it does not mean that their views are not relevant to the post.

I suspect that zombie traffic is affecting a lot of sites but in our case it goes to extremes "collateral damages" so to speak.
2:32 pm on Aug 18, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I am seeing broad traffic increases for the sites that I operate. I read on blackhatworld that google seems to be picking up their speed on taking out more PBNs. Perhaps some of my competitors sites were hit.

I have tons of competitors in my vertical that all really copy from one another (straight copy paste MFA ad laddened kind of sites), and it's hard to stand out from the pack because of the massive content dilution, it's for sure that some of them use less than legit ways to rank their sites. But I gotta say that over time, the "real" sources with speedy updates or sites with the best layout / navigation usually rise above against the pure copy-pasters. the time frame is 6 months to an year.

Or it could be that the start of school season this week had helped me.

I do no link building with the exception of connecting my related sites that visitors might find useful. Information sites.
3:03 pm on Aug 18, 2016 (gmt 0)

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google traffic now on an alltime low. Bounce 100%.
We now get tons of sales through amazon and ebay. Thank you google. That made my day.
3:10 pm on Aug 18, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I dont want to jinx it, but over the last 48 hours, things have improved for me significantly. It's not been without significant amount of hours on indexation though.
3:21 pm on Aug 18, 2016 (gmt 0)

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For the people that see their shift from site to Ebay and Amazon, do the visitors know that the orders are filled by the same seller? Via the same company name, address, unique model numbers and such?

As a buyer personally, sometimes I visit Ebay, see a listing, I use Google to find and browse the seller's website to see if I can get more information. But I eventually place the order through Ebay or Amazon because I feel that the purchase is better protected through their umbrella policy. If the price listed is the same, it is a no brainer that I will place the order through Ebay or Amazon.

This habit is from a bad experience of getting my CC information stolen by 1 scam ecommerce sites years ago. It was a pain to get new cards, report the fraud and such.

My behavior would result in pretty bad bounces and very zombie like behaviors on the said sites. And sellers will only see sales coming through Ebay and Amazon.
3:15 pm on Aug 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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@ Bushhie - I just stopped in to report the exact same pattern. For me it's been the past 24 hours with the hottest period early on Thursday... as myself and MIW have reported in the past, these "hot" times coincide strangely enough with spam email volume. It's as if the entire web has a throttle applied. That or some major routing issues.

Not sure how relevant the ITR internet traffic monitor site is anymore...but it say US network is only 64% Up. Lots of router issues..allegedly.. [internettrafficreport.com...]
4:03 pm on Aug 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I can confirm that too. Conversions have improved significantly over the last few days since last week which was practically charity mode (for me). Whatever they are doing is good at the moment, SERPs look decent, results aren't all over the place (and not just including my own sites). I monitor a number of health related queries and it seemsto be much better than the usual big brand garbage with thin content, which ranks solely on the domains authority.
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