Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from 18.206.168.65

Forum Moderators: Robert Charlton & goodroi

Message Too Old, No Replies

Google Updates and SERP Changes - September 2016

     
1:18 pm on Sep 1, 2016 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Apr 1, 2016
posts:2412
votes: 641



System: The following 4 messages were cut out of thread at: https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4814310.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 3:01 pm on Sep 1, 2016 (PDT -8)


I agree with you that features such keyword, location, browser type and so on (not set) may well be someone blocking the info for privacy reasons.But @ionguy my understanding is that whenever the hostname is set to anything other than your domain name then it must be a bot, this includes (not set). In so far as hostname specifically is concerned (not set) is always a bot and not a privacy issue. Filtering out the hostname (not set)s and other foreign domain from your data is essential to getting accurate stats.

This is applies to piwik and other analytics tools as much as it does to GA.
11:00 pm on Sept 18, 2016 (gmt 0)

New User

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:July 14, 2015
posts: 23
votes: 2


@masterjoe, are you using text ads or product listing ads?

For June/ July / Aug / Sept to date I'm seeing conversion rates of:

Google Organic: 1.6 / 1.33 / 1.31 /1.36
Google CPC: 3.4 / 3.3 / 3.91 / 9.52

So maybe the Vampire* update is an algo change that puts lots more ads including product ads on the SERPs based on commercial intent detection? That would explain a decline in converting traffic, without a decline in ranking, that some people are reporting if it also coincides with a spike in ad (especially PLA) conversions. Anyone else noticing an increase in conversion rates (or traffic) of product listing ads?

* If Google declines to name an update, we get to name it. I'm calling it "Vampire" because it sucks the life blood from small businesses. :)
10:41 am on Sept 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Nov 2, 2014
posts:668
votes: 329


If your conversion rate for September is 9.52% so for, I'm not sure how that translates into sucking the life blood from small businesses. That's an excellent conversion rate. I saw a 7% conversion rate on 9/1 PLAs that gradually dropped each day to near 0%. The pattern was far different then the zombies I had seen before which would produce one good day of conversions and the next four or five days being near 0%. While I do not know what your keyword bids are, it looks like you are doing good.
5:53 pm on Sept 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

New User

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:July 14, 2015
posts: 23
votes: 2


@glakes: Conversion rate doesn't tell the whole story. Total revenue from Google organic is much higher than our PLA revenue, even at organic's lower conversion rate.

With a low PLA bid, we don't get many clicks or sales since we are hidden away. We have to keep the bid low so the few clicks we do get are actually profitable. To get more visibility and traffic we would have to bid more, but bidding more on PLA's (based on experiments we've conducted) doesn't produce more traffic *at the same conversion rate*, it just wastes money because you get more window shoppers. You do get more traffic and more sales, but you spend more than you make to do so.

But staying on topic, my suggestion was that perhaps a lot of the odd behavior people are seeing with recent updates is a new algorithm that is better at detecting commercial intent and showing the shopping widget, which "blocks" organic traffic from likely buyers by shoving organic listings further down the page.
9:57 pm on Sept 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

5+ Year Member

joined:Apr 11, 2011
posts:91
votes: 14


I just noticed a large 20% loss of traffic from over the weekend starting Sept 15 ONLY ON MOBILE both in GA and GSC.
The strange thing is I can't see the any drop in rankings, it's like I'm seeing a different data set than everyone else.

Actually lots of strange numbers.
Here's the data from an important phrase
Sep 15 - Sep 17 vs. Sep 8 - Sep 10
Clicks: 1,692 vs. 4,078, Impressions: 16,380 vs. 17,035, Avg. CTR: 10.33% vs. 23.94%, Avg. position: 1.1 vs. 1.1
I guess this could be explained because I was ranking #1 and #2 for lots of phrases, maybe over the weekend I lost my #2 spot?
Has there been a decrease in domain crowding?

It's surprising to see so little discussion here on Webmaster World when seoroundtable and the rest have so much discussion.
Where is everybody?
10:38 pm on Sept 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

Full Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

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


@thedonald123 Sounds like Google started showing something above your organic results on Sep 15 - 17. Maybe a competitor campaign started resulting in more mobile ads, maybe Google just started showing more of the Shopping widget on mobile. Something like that. Impressions would stay the same (it counts as an impression of you're anywhere on the page, even if the user never sees you) but most users would never make it to your link.

Best not to look at any part of the SERPs in isolation, especially organic results and rankings.
11:02 pm on Sept 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

5+ Year Member

joined:Apr 11, 2011
posts:91
votes: 14


Sounds like Google started showing something above your organic results on Sep 15 - 17.

Could be mobile ads, I wouldn't necessarily see them, but I've tried Incognito mode and a VPN and I'm just not seeing anything different..

Also, this was just 1 example, I'm seeing an overall site-wide drop of 20% on Mobile.
Interesting, that very recently, this weekend or a bit earlier a lot of my pages started being displayed together with an image in the Mobile SERPS. I would have thought that would have increased CTR.
7:17 am on Sept 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

Full Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

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


@thedonald123 Have you tried viewing your GA data both by hour and by location? Would be interesting to know if the disparity is happening evenly across all times of the day and locations, or whether there are certain times and locations affected more. That may explain why you're not seeing them, and could also tie in with ad scheduling or geo filtering on a competitor's paid campaign.
9:47 am on Sept 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

New User

joined:Sept 16, 2016
posts: 4
votes: 0


I'd really love to know if this change is over for you all?
10:18 am on Sept 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

Moderator This Forum from US 

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Nov 11, 2000
posts:12232
votes: 364


...or whether there are certain times and locations affected more
Times are usually easily explainable and often fascinating. They have less to do with Google, and more to do with the searchers and the niche.

12:38 pm on Sept 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:July 26, 2016
posts: 86
votes: 5


Traffic/conversions absolutely horrendous today.

Spikes in Google Bot activity.

Also @donald123 I saw a massive traffic loss about that time too and again, it was desktop and mobile, but the loss was more substantial on mobile. Only difference is that i have seen a visible drop in rankings. We saw about a 20% lift on the first, followed by a 15% decline on the 15th. But that could be worse after today!
12:46 pm on Sept 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from GB 

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

joined:July 1, 2004
posts: 866
votes: 19


@BushieTop. Same here. Conversions didn't happen yesterday or today so far. Monday is usually very busy or the busiest of the week. I have had some drops to page 2 for a couple of important phrases and some rises to mid page 1 from page 2 / 3. It's still jumping around and seeming to test different positions for different segment of the site. What are you seeing now?
2:46 pm on Sept 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:May 27, 2016
posts:68
votes: 22


Best traffic yesterday since I started this particular site 4 years ago. Conversions are happening as usual.

Ive seen a 20% increase in organic traffic, the last few days.
2:49 pm on Sept 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

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

joined:Feb 3, 2014
posts:1302
votes: 385


Seeing an update on mobile results layout. Listings now include a thumbnail.

[edited by: samwest at 3:27 pm (utc) on Sep 20, 2016]

2:54 pm on Sept 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:July 26, 2016
posts: 86
votes: 5


Just a horrible day today @Jez123 - worst i've seen it. Conversion is down 62% currently and traffic down by about 32% - and that's DAY ON DAY! No changes to SERP changes over the same time frame, but like i say, we saw a substantial drop on the 15th...

Its becoming increasing hard to explain to my boss. I'm having to talk him down from building EMAT
5:21 am on Sept 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

10+ Year Member

joined:Sept 10, 2005
posts:72
votes: 0


@ Bushie Top - Are you based in Australia? Yesterday (Tuesday) and today I have lost about 35% of my traffic. No change in SERP either. Today's traffic looks like it will be worse actually!
10:17 am on Sept 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:May 27, 2016
posts:68
votes: 22


Right so after 3 days of +20% Traffic, today it has dropped down 25%.

Also most of my main keyword ranking have not changed position at all during this boost and reduction.
10:21 am on Sept 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:July 26, 2016
posts: 86
votes: 5


@renomart, No, Ecom, UK
10:36 am on Sept 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

Full Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

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


Mozcast is showing a massive jump in ads above organic results over the past week or so, and also some big jumps/oscillation in Google Shopping. We've seen a jump in traffic from Google Shopping (poorly converting) which correlates with this.

If Google has indeed recently dumped a load more ads (search ads + Shopping) above organic results, that may explain what people are seeing. Your organic rankings would remain unchanged, but your traffic would fluctuate.
10:49 am on Sept 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:July 26, 2016
posts: 86
votes: 5


@Simon_H i think that's a sound theory, but there are still some huge shifts happening amongst organic results too. Generic phrases in particular are all over the place. I'm beginning to doubt whether the 1st September was a roll out that was then rolled back and infact the adverse was actually the case. On the 1st we saw much cleaner results and domain diversity. Now the vertical is littered with webspam and none Ecom results for money phrases. Its a complete mess. EMAT rules - so if you have nothing to lose, read up on 2001 SEO.

I've been speaking to alot of my friends in the field, who have seen drops (mainly because we share the same practises) but are no where near as substantial as mine. The amount of times I've heard "you can get away with alot at the moment" - makes my blood boil. We've been in this situation now since late June. We work in the Automotive industry, so September is a key month for us.

I hate to be that type of guy, but do these groups of people who assume that Google is actually making the quality of organic worse, so that they drive users to PPC have a point? Has it really come to this? Have we gone full circle?
11:06 am on Sept 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

Full Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:May 3, 2015
posts: 291
votes: 125


The weird thing is that I finally had a day of somewhat converting traffic after you guys have been having more serious zombie issues today. I have also seen an uptick in ads + over a few different niches I am in and monitor.

This looks like the end of any meaningful organic SERP listings for commercial traffic. Sure, you may get a trickle every now and then, but even just pure organic traffic was making more money than my paid campaigns last year. Has my PPC spend gone up? It did, until they got way too greedy and started sending too much useless traffic. If other webmasters are dealing with the issue, I can only wonder how long this can continue until it implodes.
12:42 pm on Sept 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Nov 2, 2014
posts:668
votes: 329


I hate to be that type of guy, but do these groups of people who assume that Google is actually making the quality of organic worse, so that they drive users to PPC have a point?

Google is a business and every business exists to make a profit and grow. Google is just in the unique situation where their desire for growth is not restricted by industry or geography, which is why many of us feel each and every change Google makes to the SERPS in a negative way. It will be hard to top Google's last quarter's profits without digging deeper into advertisers wallets and pushing organics further down is the path forward for them. Lowering CPC costs for advertisers is the best way to deal with it in the short term. Those that are overly dependent on free Google traffic should have been planning for the day that the SERPS will return nothing but paid ads on the first page if Google has enough advertisers to support it, leaving organics as simple fill material.

If other webmasters are dealing with the issue, I can only wonder how long this can continue until it implodes.

Google makes these profit driven changes in very small steps so they can gauge the reaction. Will user satisfaction drop, will the CPC drop, etc. Providing the changes meet profit expectations, it will continue. Everyone's long term growth strategy should either include participating in Adwords or a plan to grow without Google.

The quantity of traffic I have been getting from Google this month is above average. No new/additional ads are displayed with main buyer keywords, though nobody is bidding on text ads. User engagement is down as well as conversions. As a business the changes Google made this month provide no real value to me and actually made the zombie traffic problem worse.
7:30 pm on Sept 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

Administrator from US 

WebmasterWorld Administrator goodroi is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:June 21, 2004
posts:3443
votes: 335


Mods Note: Please remember this is the Google Updates and SERP Changes thread and to keep your posts on-topic. If you want to discuss Google's business model and profit margins please head over to the Google Finance and Business [webmasterworld.com] forum.

Off topic comments will be deleted unless they are so entertaining that they make your overworked volunteer moderators laugh really hard :)
8:47 pm on Sept 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

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

joined:June 28, 2013
posts:3375
votes: 716


No changes for us, as far as I can tell. Google Search Console shows a slight uptick in rankings, but organic traffic from Google looks pretty steady. (Mind you, "steady" is equivalent to a modest increase for us at this time of year, when the traffic trend is downward.)
10:40 pm on Sept 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

New User

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:July 14, 2015
posts: 23
votes: 2


I'm noticing that lots of people are having good/bad days at the same time, but some people are having positive experiences at the same time as other people's negative experiences, and vis-versa. For example, yesterday some people said traffic was crap. We had a good day yesterday. Some days, people are saying "best traffic ever!". On those days, our traffic is crap. (Our Google traffic is usually crap).

It is my opinion that Google is probably testing a filter on those weird days, and some people are winners and other are loosers. Since our company is expecting a Penguin recovery (due to recent NSEO disavowels), and since Penguin is imminent, and since we have good days when others report bad days, this behavior is most likely Penguin testing. About a year ago, Google said Penguin was coming soon. That's about the time "Zombies" started getting reported.

Of course, Google doesn't want you to know what they're doing so they are probably also running A/B/C/D tests on number of results per page, number of ad slots, shopping and image widget placement, etc at the same time. They probably threw in a Panda tweak too.

But I think the kid under the bed sheet is Penguin, which would affect people without bad link profiles too, due to the addition and removal of Penguin-hit competitors that are now recovering or being smacked.
11:08 pm on Sept 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

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

joined:June 28, 2013
posts:3375
votes: 716


I'm noticing that lots of people are having good/bad days at the same time, but some people are having positive experiences at the same time as other people's negative experiences, and vis-versa.

And some of us are just seeing the status quo. For us, 2014 brought significant changes in Google traffic (for the better, I'm happy to say), but 2015 and 2016 haven't produced any surprises.
12:27 am on Sept 22, 2016 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Nov 2, 2014
posts:668
votes: 329


Of course, Google doesn't want you to know what they're doing so they are probably also running A/B/C/D tests on number of results per page, number of ad slots, shopping and image widget placement, etc at the same time. They probably threw in a Panda tweak too.

Ranks are a moving target with personalization and rank brain. Add a core update to the list and everything goes haywire. I will say the vast majority of my sales from Google (when I do see them) come in during the day, which is odd considering I serve a substantial retail market. But during the day I do get orders from commercial and government customers, which may send a signal to rank brain that those are the only customers I serve. However, a PM set of search results may be built into rank brain which ultimately buries my site. The only consistency I see is poor traffic from Google - not even the one or two good days a week anymore. It's kind of odd considering I can count my competitors on one hand.
8:51 am on Sept 22, 2016 (gmt 0)

Full Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:May 3, 2015
posts: 291
votes: 125


The last days have been record breakers in terms of traffic stats, however, my conversions simply do not reflect anything remotely close to it. Are you guys who saw significantly reduced conversions over the last 2 days seeing similar things? This is on organic with a few test keywords on Adwords.
9:00 am on Sept 22, 2016 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:July 26, 2016
posts: 86
votes: 5


@lightnb i think you're absolutely spot on and those are my thoughts exactly. I think they were punctuated on the 1st September and the 15th September, where we, and the vast majority of other webmasters saw significant changes. We rose rapidly on the 1st, earning a tonne of extra traffic, to only lose out again on the 15th. Traffic since then has been utterly horrendous - and this is a peak month for us in our business.

Whilst i agree with you points entirely, i worry about how long this is going to take. Obviously, these massively turbulent patches, that seem to have been going on since late June for us, aren't helping anyone. And my arguement still stands, currently in our vertical, EMAT rules. How do I explain that to my client who is a business owner (not a SEO specialist) that i'm unprepared to change my ethics because the practises that his competition are adopting are 'bad'. The very same 'bad' practises that sees his competition out ranking him based on that strategy.

I know alot of you will say, "we'll you're doing the right thing... persevere... and it will come good", but my clients losing money as a result and the longer this goes on, the less likely I am of keeping him as a client.
2:11 pm on Sept 22, 2016 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from GB 

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

joined:July 1, 2004
posts: 866
votes: 19


The date for Penguin 4 is 9-23-16.


Place your bets for tomorrow :-)
2:44 pm on Sept 22, 2016 (gmt 0)

Preferred Member

5+ Year Member

joined:Jan 10, 2012
posts:489
votes: 29


Place your bets for tomorrow :-)


Seems highly unlikely. I would welcome it though....i think!
This 293 message thread spans 10 pages: 293