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Google Updates and SERP Changes - February 2017

     
11:07 am on Jan 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

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System: The following 8 messages were cut out of thread at: https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4830556.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 4:05 am on Feb 1, 2017 (PDT -8)


Here's something I found happened at the start of January across smaller, medium and massive websites, across verticals, within my GSC account.

I will write down the exact steps you can take to check if this happened with your properties as well.

1.) Timespan last 90 days, select all metrics, group by countries (there is no possibility to write in a country you're looking for so you need to find it manually in the next step)
2.) Sort by impressions descending
3.) If I'm right, most likely you'll see "Unknown Region" within the first 30 results for larger sites (in terms of organic traffic), first 10 for smaller ones
4.) Click on the Unknown Region to filter by that, what you should see is a 10x drop in impressions and a 2x spike in avg. position at around January 4th-5th -> clicks actually remained the same (so CTR rose also through the roof)
5.) This change is maintained and steady for the data I have so far (last day for which I have data is January 29th, because of the GSC delay of course)

Just sharing this 'cause it looks like a wide-spread phenomena, so hoping to get confirmations from others, feel free to report if you found something similar.

One of the questions arising from this observation is: could this be related to the general observation about country of origin traffic shifts that other members noticed (at a later date though, January 24th if I'm not mistaken)?

Another hypothesis that leaped to mind is maybe a SERP tracker or some other major bot that Google started counting out of the equation since this date. I based this on the fact that most of those impressions were evenly spread across queries and the number of impressions per specific query was the same each week.

But let's see if others see this same pattern in GSC
1:54 pm on Jan 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The zombies are gone for a few days. With them organic traffic too.

My main keywords remain very well ranked, but the traffic has disappeared. Everything is on average 40% below normal.

This 25/January update, in my opinion happened. But it was not possible to identify what the filter was.

Weird.
2:35 pm on Jan 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Renatovieira I think we have similar traffic patterns. Traffic was great for the last few days... average hits, but conversions went absolutely bananas... I had excellent conversions, until it shut off completely about 12 hours ago. Not a single conversion since then, whereas the last few days I was getting conversions every single hour.
2:42 pm on Jan 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

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As of today we've seen a major competitor completely drop out of serps. From dominant positions on page one to page 5. Glum day for those poor marketeers.
4:35 pm on Jan 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@Westcoast We have two very old sites, too. One never gets updated, and has never been optimized for mobile. That one has dropped pretty much with every Google Update. The second site is mobile optimized and regularly updated. Older pages are updated with new material or removed if they are no longer relevant. That site bounces up and down with Google updates but when traffic goes down, it seems to come back up with future updates.

Besides updating and mobile optimization, you should also check out what other sites are showing up for the questions people come to your site to get answers for. How are those sites different from yours? Or, if you show up first, are the questions you answer on your site still questions a lot of people want answered?
10:02 pm on Jan 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

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all zombiefied sites have dropped in rankings this January and notice less number of zombies however for us is no change in a good way,

any idea if zombies relate to top rankings or more specific to a website ?
3:52 am on Feb 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Don't know what happened, but I have been having a good time removing one of my competitors backlinks. This guy negative SEO'd me earlier last year, so this is what happens... my rankings have been surpassing him once again as he had links from old educational resources which were very high authority, but now seems to have made his website a pure money grab and using his "research" for selling fake products.

Also, zombies seem to be having a rest day today. Rankings remain relatively stable although i have obtained some very good quality links from news websites in the last few weeks.
11:32 am on Feb 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@sench - I see the same happening with my website, what does this all mean?
12:20 pm on Feb 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Organic traffic keeps dying everyday. Before the December 15th update, i was getting about 3000 unique visitors daily. After the update, it dropped to about 1800, now am barely reaching 1200 unique visitors daily. Site is responsive, no interstitial ads or pop ups, unique content added daily.
2:42 pm on Feb 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Is GA funky for some people?
4:08 pm on Feb 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@masterjoe - A new one occurred. Some keywords are falling. Some old sites passing in front of me. That from two days to now.

@Halaspike - Same here.

@Jhurwith - Same here. The GSC also. But there is an alert that the data will get "confused" because of maintenance.
7:53 am on Feb 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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How is it possible that our competitors get 10 times more reviews and we advertise as much?

Does it mean that we get the bot traffic and competitors get the human traffic?
10:09 am on Feb 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@mosxu please ask adwords related questions at the adwords section, thank you.
10:26 am on Feb 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Not just adwards,

As we all know traffic comes from adwards, search and referrals all go together
4:08 pm on Feb 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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My traffic is steadily declining a few days.

Since yesterday I have noticed great activity in the algorithm tools.

Someone else?
4:26 pm on Feb 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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We're seeing two distinct traffic patterns since Wednesday 1st, neither of which resemble traffic patterns from last week. Could be an update rolling through - one of the sets are hugely advantageous, one mildly worse.

@mosxu
We have a competitor who is the same size as us, and gets 10x the reviews despite having a smaller consumer mix (b2c being more likely to generate reviews than b2b). We have 90% 5-star reviews, but they score marginally higher than us. We believe them to be fake reviews.
4:43 pm on Feb 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Today 2nd February 2017: You may wish to see possible changes of today to the countries of origin of your Google organic traffic. Some of you may like what they see :)
4:54 pm on Feb 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@Shaddows, we're seeing the same thing with two different sets of search results while looking at different rank tracking tools. One with large increases (page 3 to page 1). Another one of our sites in the same niche is moving from bottom half of page 1 to top half on our main KWs. The other search result is mildly worse, like you said. This started two days ago.

We did make some pretty big changes (link cleanup and improving quality) to the site moving from Page 3 to 1, so hopefully this is Google recognizing this work that was done about 5 weeks ago.

I almost never look at the SERP flux tools, but SERPmetrics is at a 30-day high of 68, whatever the heck that means.
5:30 pm on Feb 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I think in the new age of changes in Google search algorithm (which includes all birds and animals signals) one shouldn't focus too much on ranking of main keywords. Instead you may wish to focus whether your websites are receiving productive organic traffic resulting in conversions!
5:32 pm on Feb 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@reseller am seeing changes and I like it : )
5:38 pm on Feb 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@Halaspike - I'm exactly on the opposite side. :(

Clearly some test, or indeed an update in progress. Let's wait.
7:09 pm on Feb 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@reseller of course.
7:30 pm on Feb 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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last two days a crazy amount of zombies, nothing to do with geolocation all are from same country of the website
7:40 pm on Feb 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I hear some reports of an algo update, you guys noticing shifts?
8:24 pm on Feb 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I'm noticing shifts in rankings from yesterday to today. Even from 12 hours ago to now. I'm monitoring many industries in Canada. Some moved up, some moved down. Not huge drops or increases - just minor tweaks
8:26 pm on Feb 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Real estate USA its complete opposite of last week. Tourism NA, nothing coming in here anymore.
8:39 pm on Feb 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@Reseller We're seeing a return of traffic today from the countries that had gone down in traffic last week.
9:00 pm on Feb 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@shadows

Is there any chance you can compare your competitor turnover as well? Like asking maybe reps selling same products to you and your competitor?
Cause right now I am feeling the worst, actually the close competitor's turnover reflect the number of reviews and the reviews may not be fake at all.
I looks like the competitor had the human traffic while we were getting only bots?
10:12 pm on Feb 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@LuckyLiz

@Reseller We're seeing a return of traffic today from the countries that had gone down in traffic last week.


Thanks for feedback and sharing.
10:41 pm on Feb 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I hear some reports of an algo update, you guys noticing shifts?

It must be the Ground Hog update
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