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Google Updates and SERP Changes - January 2017

     
1:39 am on Jan 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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System: The following 3 messages were cut out of thread at: https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4827670.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 5:19 am on Jan 1, 2017 (PDT -8)


Many of you are familiar with my struggles with Google and our 12 year old site.

After a check of my GA, and noticed tons of referral spam from twitter, reddit, lifehacker etc, I was concerned. Some people told me not to worry about referral spam it doesn't hurt your site.

Well WHERE THERE IS SMOKE THERE IS FIRE!

Couldn't help think about zombie traffic, referral spam, and the current update.

I checked "under the hood" some more and discovered gazillions, yes gazillions of Brute Force Attacks on my wp-login page (we are a wordpress site). This does affect bounce rate, drains servers and who knows what else. It's not good. The December update had to be responding to the Brute Force attacks. Perhaps sites that are being flooded with this type of attack are not welcome very well by the Dec update?

So I installed Wordfence, paid $99 for the year to block countries (sorry this is not meant to be an ad). I blocked the Sh*t out them too, boy did I ever! No Russia, No Ukraine etc.

I redirected the login page too.

Well, I made a few sales last half of December. I really thought I was gonna be at zero when the month started,

So I would recommend to everyone to tighten there firewall. Russia is indeed hacking USA sites. Brute Force Login attempts are through the roof for December. I reckon Google doesn't like it.

Thoughts?

And hope that helps someone....

Happy New Year.

Turns
11:34 am on Jan 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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If the bruce force attacks are significantly slowing down your server, it could potentially affect your rankings, but obviously you are not going to be penalized solely for being the target of such an attack. Google is not omniscient either.
12:25 pm on Jan 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@mboydnv

Interesting, but hackers would have taken your site down by now and would not explain the zombies, plus that you have not had your site down before

Referral spam could eat into your website quota if there is one, or can make your site irrelevant, problem is John Muller is avoiding talking on this subject
3:50 pm on Jan 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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My store uses Woocommerce and have been running Wordfence for years. I block Russia, Ukraine and a handful of other countries and still get a lot of zombie traffic. I don't think you will get rid of zombies with Wordfence, but your site will be more secure and that's a good thing.

Also do some testing for yourself and see how Wordfence handles IP blocks. Put your IP in the block list and visit your site. DB queries, page loads, etc. still occur with Wordfence. If you are having server slowdowns because of repeated attacks, you may want to use a separate service that updates .htaccess with country blocks directly.
9:28 pm on Jan 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@mboydnv

The December update had to be responding to the Brute Force attacks. Perhaps sites that are being flooded with this type of attack are not welcome very well by the Dec update?

Just wish to mention that In a previous post, I asked the following question:

- Could Google Update of 15th December 2016 be the start of Google's war against the Zombies?

(Msg#4830220 of Dec 28, 2016) [webmasterworld.com...]
6:47 pm on Jan 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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If you are getting DDoS attacked, it's likely that everybody is feeling the effects. In most cases your hosting company is deflecting most of them. I use cloudflare to put up a CAPTCHA to countries that I do not want to serve. This can further reduce hits on your server than may be causing bounce due to slow response. December 2016 was particularly bad for DD0S attacks. See: [digitalattackmap.com...]
6:57 pm on Jan 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I wanted to do a followup on December's SERP changes ([webmasterworld.com ]) but it's already closed.

Check out this traffic report on my m.site: [imgur.com ]

Mobile traffic on my www. had a huge drop the following days, but overall the results have been positive, it's like if the traffic is shifting (which Google should've been done by months now).
7:25 am on Jan 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@tedois

Have your site been affected by Google Update of 15th December 2016?
2:21 pm on Jan 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Other than this mobile traffic shift, nope. Nothing else has changed, @reseller.
8:22 am on Jan 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I think Google has been sending productive organic traffic since 15th December 2016. Thanks Google. Keep up the good work :)
4:36 pm on Jan 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Just to check in, We've seen some substantial growth since the 15th December, however, we still see huge changes, especially on competitive keywords. We're also still seeing alot of junk traffic, but it has gotten marginally better. Would be nice if things stabilised _ It would be far easier to measure things!
9:20 pm on Jan 6, 2017 (gmt 0)

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twitter, reddit, lifehacker


A whole bunch of sites got hit with referrer spam a few weeks ago making it look like it came from the sites above.
10:44 am on Jan 8, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I continue to observe a nice increase of traffic (since the beginning of November). Traffic which seems of good quality. Hope it continues like that.
11:08 pm on Jan 8, 2017 (gmt 0)

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No changes in Google traffic for us on or around December 15th. For us, there was a nice boost right around Christmas, but that probably had more to do with user demand than with Google. (We always see a boost in traffic, from Google and in general, as the new year approaches.)

Our Google and non-Google traffic is climbing steadily in January, as it's likely to do for the next eight months or so.
6:01 pm on Jan 9, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@reseller

For me too, however, my AdSense dropped a lot.

I think it's because of the vacation. I'll wait.
9:06 am on Jan 10, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Something clearly going on again over the past couple of days, we've seen drops again in our generic.
10:13 am on Jan 10, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Today, January 10 2017, is the announced date for the intrusive interstitials mobile search algorithm change.
10:23 am on Jan 10, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Yup, we don't use pops etc though and our mobile rankings have been uneffected... just DT :/
11:45 am on Jan 10, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I am seeing less zombies in organic but they are at all time high in adwards

@reseller
are you suggesting that Google turned the tap to allow more real users to our websites? I thought we had the right to compete equally for both real users and "zombies"

[edited by: mosxu at 12:17 pm (utc) on Jan 10, 2017]

12:10 pm on Jan 10, 2017 (gmt 0)

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High traffic + Very low conversion = Zombies again... (I suspect)

That since Saturday 7/Jan
6:55 pm on Jan 10, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Did Google provide any details of exactly what changed in December? My traffic is down 33% compared to last year. I didn't notice the decrease due to the typically Christmas/new years drop. Very sad/frustrating. I worked very hard to get up to where I was.
12:05 am on Jan 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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My traffic also dropped dramatically starting on exactly December 15th and has not recovered at all, very worrisome. The only changes I made were following the recommendations from new trial account of SEMrush. I improved page category and page titles by shortening them and making them more unique, and also updated page descriptions to make them more concise and unique. Not sure if that would trigger something, but it was a sitewide change and all at once. Google is reporting a big drop in duplicate page titles and descriptions now, but it suddenly threw 700 ancient 404 pages at me. Old urls that never got any traffic and Google is suddenly (from around the same date of the 15th) showing 700 out of the blue. Very odd.
1:53 am on Jan 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Okay for the most part this year started off pretty decent. Zombies seemed to have settled down big time and I was finally getting some decent quality traffic. Until about the last 2 days - its pretty much a zombie apocalypse. You dont just go from 25-30 sales a day to 10% of that without something being manipulated.
2:17 pm on Jan 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Exact same pattern occurring here MJ (and others). Another fantastic coincidence where the entire web seems to shutdown in lockstep? I doubt it. Historically this month was the biggest for a particular niche. Funny thing is, I manage dozens of sites across many niches and all are seeing the same drop in traffic and conversion while SERP positions appear static. Q1 harvest underway...or maybe it's just another mysterious statistical anomaly or Russian hackers. lol
4:31 pm on Jan 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I thought maybe their genius AI probably figured something out, but it appears that it can't tell the different between a search term with the word "and" in it (when its practically the same context) for an in depth article. 1 ranks #5, the other ranks #20+ when "and" is added to the search term. Context was apparently the whole point of BankDrain algo wasn't it?

Anyway, the zombies are no doubt out again. Traffic is taking a minor hit but conversions have all but vanished. I was almost too close to turning on an adwords campaign, but it seems like people are having complaints about that too.
4:52 pm on Jan 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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MJ and SW seeing the same thing here. Two days ago conversion and bounce rates took negative steps. I have seen a change in rank for a couple of terms though.
11:06 pm on Jan 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Base on the widespread yet common effects we are seeing, I'm guessing it's safe to say "it's not your site". This is especially true when so many just witnessed a rare ON period and found that lo and behold, YES their site DOES convert and repeatedly...mine was back to every half hour, just like old times, but for oh such a brief window. What this thread has become is not unlike an insanely patient dog just waiting to be thrown a bone...and then saying woof! I got a treat! Right?
3:47 am on Jan 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Yep, as you guys said its the same old. There is just no way all of us had a great start of the year for it to just vanish all at the same time. Anyway, after observing this for some time now I wanted to throw out some thoughts about why this happens when search terms are relatively stable.

Also doesn't seem as coincidental that I got an email saying that my last "chat" with an adwords specialist involved increasing my cpc... firstly, I haven't talked to any clueless adwords reps for 2 years, nor am I going to use the service for useless traffic.
2:34 pm on Jan 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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A shocking number zombies for the past 4 days
2:39 pm on Jan 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@mosxu

I said it days ago.

Zombies mostly in the morning. Something quite strange for my niche.
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