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Google Updates and SERP Changes - September 2016

     
1:18 pm on Sep 1, 2016 (gmt 0)

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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.
7:42 pm on Sept 1, 2016 (gmt 0)

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'my f***ing happy days" over . . . . as suddenly as started. nnnnoooot surprised. at all
3 days of spikes 7-9am mdt full of conversions
zombieland welcome back
anyone else?

@nickmns
true! thought you mean in general
back to your insights noticed this too but what is your point ?
not sure if its 1% or less. very few a day. from th other side i saw some real visitors as not set (both geo and host). well, real visitors? not so sure. however they were moving from site to site
10:49 pm on Sept 1, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Mod's note: I've deleted a post that was an example of the kind of chit chat and minutiae not of use to most members. Day to day traffic or conversion reports are about as helpful as knowing what you ate for breakfast... and this kind of trivia has been making meaningful and constructive discussion on this thread impossible. Going forward, these messages will be removed without notice.

Constant whining about the quality of Google traffic, conspiracy theories, and WebmasterWorld TOS violations will be removed as well. Hopefully, this will give members who have tried to share some observations about things they've noticed in the Google SERPs a chance to be heard.

If you have some observations coherent enough to constitute a topic for discussion, please start a separate thread, in this forum, or in the specialized forums that are appropriate.

We're going to go back to AdWords topics and Google Business topics in their respective forums.


Mod's note: I originally left the post (now deleted) as an example of what we didn't want, but the member was POed that he'd been singled out, and he had a right to be. Member identification removed, and my apologies to the member.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 11:48 pm (utc) on Sep 1, 2016]

8:25 am on Sept 2, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I'm seeing some decent changes on UK google this morning. Are they real or has google lifted the filters to apply some new patch? Interesting to see if we all get a spike in converting traffic as on 1st / 2nd August. Is anyone else seeing anything or is this an isolated occurrence?
8:29 am on Sept 2, 2016 (gmt 0)

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A noticeable move in our vertical over night in the UK. (Classifieds).

Almost all large players including ourselves took a hit in page 1 visibility. We've noticed over time more and more national players are being displaced with strong local sites (eg local newspaper classifieds etc).
10:01 am on Sept 2, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Did anyone noticed an increase of Spam e-mails coming in exactly when the traffic is not converting well? This weird thing has been going on for at least one year for me, but I couldn't find any report about this from other webmasters in this forum. Needles to say it helps me understand when "zombie mode" is ON/OFF, and it seems pretty accurate so far.

tl;dr Spam e-mails and poor conversion rate seems to be strongly related in my case.
11:01 am on Sept 2, 2016 (gmt 0)

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@widetized

Is your spam coming from or related to website contact forms? If so, that could indicate that your website is visible to more spam bots in Google then on your good converting days. Also, a higher percentage of spam bot activity would dilute good traffic and reduce your average page views per user, time on site, etc. The fact that it has been happening for you for a year coincides with the rest of us suffering from Google traffic quality problems. Do you run an ecommerce website? But to answer your question, I don't see any spam email increases or decreases on days with poor conversion rates. However, I do block many bots on the site level and use a reasonably strong CAPTCHA on our contact pages.

Regarding others in the UK seeing rank changes:

No rank changes to report in the USA. Ecommerce website is holding its same ranks its had for a very long time. Traffic quality is the only gauge I trust when Google's AI controls and redirects buyer traffic on a query level basis. It's too early to see if anything changed in those regards.
1:22 pm on Sept 2, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Has anyone seen a large increase in crawl errors and 404s in their Search Console? We did, but they seem to be from older links that are not live anymore.

Thank you.
1:39 pm on Sept 2, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Constant whining about the quality of Google traffic, conspiracy theories, and WebmasterWorld TOS violations will be removed as well. Hopefully, this will give members who have tried to share some observations about things they've noticed in the Google SERPs a chance to be heard.


FINALLY!

Seeing a big shake up overnight in the US. It's hard to tell how the ranking changes are affecting traffic, it is the start of a holiday weekend for us and a lot of kids are headed back to school yesterday and today. See short tail stuff moving +5 spots.
3:49 pm on Sept 2, 2016 (gmt 0)

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In case some webmaster are not aware of this as there was some talk about spam bots in the GA stats: but this is one of the biggest form of spam in your GA stats and this spam traffic does NOT even arrive on your website but is only visible in your GA stats <url removed>

[edited by: aakk9999 at 6:28 pm (utc) on Sep 2, 2016]
[edit reason] Sorry, no links to personal blogs as per Forum Charter [/edit]

4:32 pm on Sept 2, 2016 (gmt 0)

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One observation:

I haven't seen a really deep crawl on our site since June 3. (In the Google Search Console line graph, there have been a couple of reasonable spikes in August--August 9 and 28--but nothing compare to the massive crawl on June 3.)

Does the timing of (or the existence of) a deep crawl have any meaning or implications these days?
4:45 pm on Sept 2, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Everything seems normal from my perspective, no spikes or drops in traffic today or yesterday. Tuesday was a good day, but remains in line with the steady growth I have been experiencing. Information site, mostly US. I did see a small spike in crawling, but nothing unusual.

@ionguy
what is your point ?

If you are getting a large volume the "referrer" spam (not only shown as referrals but also included in the organic traffic) and your are not accounting for it, this could skew your stats. So when you say:
you can 'determine' it by noticing unnatural bounce rate, low conversions

Be aware that this situation can be caused by the referrer spam, skewing things.

I checked my stats in more depth, and the 1% occurred almost entirely in one day, actually in one minute (another sign that it is referrer spam, showing up in organic traffic).
6:57 pm on Sept 2, 2016 (gmt 0)

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With regard to the problem of bots and referral spam getting mis-identified as real humans in various stats reports, I've come to believe that the best, most accurate, and most complete information on google traffic is in Google Search Console (WMT). For example:

-- Search Console has full information about which search terms brought traffic, whereas years ago google stopped providing this information to browsers for most queries, so that other stats packages have no way of getting most of it.

-- Search Console information includes all humans who come from Google while omitting all referral spam and bot activity.

-- I recently learned in another thread here that http sites like mine will eventually be completely shut off from all referral information that comes from https sites like google.

So for analyzing google traffic, I believe that GSC has the best and fullest information. I suspect that some members here don't like it because it's usually about 3 days late in updating. But for my purposes, GSC, Statcounter, and server logs are all I need.

Edit: P.S. Don't be tricked by fake referrals from Google. These are bots.
7:55 pm on Sept 2, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Interesting that there's not more chatter here. Lots of other outlets are reporting significant movements beginning Sept 1 - including Mozcast (FWIW) at 108 degrees (I'm assuming this is Fahrenheit). I've noticed pretty significant movements myself over the course of the last few months in the Local SERPs I watch but nothing that really stands out in the last few days.
10:20 pm on Sept 2, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Interesting that there's not more chatter here.

When people are told by mods that talk about traffic quality, conversions, etc. is "whining," it tends to have a chilling effect on what matters most to a lot of the active posters in this thread (including me). So they go elsewhere to talk about it without being denigrated or finding their posts edited/deleted.

This is the Google SEO and updates thread. We all know an update happened. But what is SEO, especially in this day and age when Google's artificial intelligence is re-arranging ranks on every query? Wikipedia describes SEO as:

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine's unpaid results—often referred to as "natural", "organic", or "earned" results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine's users, and these visitors can be converted into customers.[1] SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, video search, academic search,[2] news search and industry-specific vertical search engines.

What many of us are missing from our great SEO efforts is the converted to customers part, even though we have great ranks. Traffic quality is every bit a part of SEO as ranks are because just like ranks can move up and down, buyer traffic can be identified/controlled by Google and is (probably by means of RankBrain). Enhanced bidding in Adwords, which allows for dynamic bid increases when Google identifies potential buyers, is proof that they are at least trying to maximize revenue from buyer traffic. There's no reason to believe the same technology used to identify buyer traffic would not also be used in organic search.

Have a great weekend.
10:51 pm on Sept 2, 2016 (gmt 0)

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So they go elsewhere to talk about it
No need, just start a new thread , this one is about SERP positions and Google Updates.
Not that we are informed about updates anymore.

The last three months we see about 3 different data sets, within these sets there are small changes. I was surprised to see moz reporting 108 degrees, then of course it depends what you are comparing against, last week, last month, last day ? and what countries, given the top 10 never seem to change.
For us we see mixed results for our daily sample of keywords. Some move up, some move down.

More important if you make a change, not only has Google to re-evaluate your site, it also need to re-evaluate the sites listed around you.

Also important is Google's interpretation of user intent ( brainrank) Google sometimes guesses what user's are searching for, so shows SERPS reflecting what it thinks the user means. This is based on most common queries and clicjk throughs.

This explains why your nice targeted page is ignored and another one is shown instead.
12:04 pm on Sept 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I've had almost the exact same number of visits from organic the last few days, with +-1 difference... my keyword positions have improved a little bit since the "update" people are speculating about right now, but nothing significant. No changes in traffic quality as sales and conversions are nowhere to be found. Just for comparison, when I have a "non zombie" day, my email list converts at a solid 6%, and on other days, it converts at .5, that's one of my main indicators that I won't be profiting any particular day.
1:19 pm on Sept 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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We all know an update happened.

That's news to me. When did it happen? What kind of an update was it? What were its noticeable effects?

Note: Almost every time I look at this thread, people are saying that an update is happening, or just happened, but hardly any details are ever provided.
1:32 pm on Sept 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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That's news to me. When did it happen? What kind of an update was it? What were its noticeable effects?

Note: Almost every time I look at this thread, people are saying that an update is happening, or just happened, but hardly any details are ever provided.


There's been a fair bit of turbulence here in the UK in the verticals I've been watching for the last week or so. It seems to be still going on.
1:33 pm on Sept 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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No updates that I can see. For us, it's been "business as usual" for months, except for the usual seasonal trends (rising into the summer, tapering off slightly after mid-August or so).

EDITED TO ADD:

We just made our entire site responsive (until recently, about 20 percent of our most popular pages were mobile-friendly), so it will be interesting to see how that affects things going forward.
1:36 pm on Sept 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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This explains why your nice targeted page is ignored and another one is shown instead.


Yep, and why your carefully crafted title is ignored and a new one, which Google thinks is more appropriate, is substituted. Dunno what happened to copyright.
2:58 pm on Sept 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Considering my Adsense revenue yesterday I'm tempted to look in stats to see if there has been some type of miracle. However at this point, I'll wait for others to check. I'm tempted to say there has been some type of shake up because some common searches for me are fetching a different looking results page. I have mostly given up on any hope of recovery or miracles at this point so I'm not going to jump anymore. I almost feel like a fool checking in on my stats thinking there is a positive change.
4:30 pm on Sept 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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This is the Google SEO and updates thread.


No it's not. Did you ever even read the title of this thread? It's called "Google Updates and SERP Changes". Unless you are reporting on a Google update (a specifi one, not an inferred one that we are supposed to deduce based on some problems you are having with your website's conversions), or you are reporting on SERP changes, then you are being off-topic. Start another thread.

Back on topic:

Everything's stable as always for my websites, seems like rankings have been extremely static this year with very little movement. Also feels like Google is a little slower than before at registering new backlinks appearing and making adjustments to SERP positions based on those new backlinks.
5:11 pm on Sept 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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some problems you are having with your website's conversions


Who said that, I didn't. Conversions are as per normal
4:29 am on Sept 4, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Well my traffic today and yesterday is horrible. But when checking rankings it is a) same b) little bit better so go figure...
1:56 pm on Sept 4, 2016 (gmt 0)

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In May this year, my site started to rank better for long-tail keywords and worse for short keywords. This increased the traffic ~40%. Now, the site is again ranking better for short keywords; traffic is down ~40%.
4:14 pm on Sept 4, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Not seeing the possible update that others are talking about, but GSC jumped from 9,000 to 50,000 crawl errors on 2nd Sept, all of which are legacy pages from months or years ago. (And the 9,000 was a single jump from <1,000 at the beginning of August.) Never seen a jump of that relative magnitude in legacy crawl errors before, so I'm guessing that something is brewing.
5:57 am on Sept 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Instead of punishing websites with Panda and other "quality" crap, maybe Google should do something about its own "quality".

For one sample search I'm getting the following results:
Pos 1 = Pinterest
Pos 2 = Pinterest
Pos 3 = Pinterest
Pos 4 = Website A
Pos 5 = Website B
Pos 6 = Website B
Pos 7 = Website C
Pos 8 = Website D
Pos 9 = Website D

This means that 7 positions are taken by just 3 different websites!
Also, if I want to see Pinterest crap instead of the original genuine websites, then I'll go to Pinterest instead of doing a Google search for websites. Actually, Pinterest shouldn't be there in the serps because you have to go through an annoying pop-up first and login before you can see the content. A normal website would be penalized and banned from the serps for just doing this.
6:11 am on Sept 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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We need a communication method which can speak to the AI. I want to offer feedback directly to Google because it's growing more and more obtuse. Can't blame people for that. It's the machines. It seems oddly peculiar trying to report a increasingly frustrating search engine to someone when more and more it seems like it's just AI. A: It's the AI. A: It's the AI. Google can't discover something and fetch results on new or obscure subjects because? It doesn't know what it is and that it must be something else that everyone else is talking about. Who cares if one of your two keywords doesn't exist in the top results that you are provided.
1:22 pm on Sept 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Wow, conversions are through the roof today. Is this going to be like the beginning of August and then dry up as fast as it came? Lets see. I'll be a happy chap if this continues I can tell ya!
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