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Google Updates and SERP Changes - March 2017

     
9:55 am on Mar 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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System: The following 3 messages were cut out of thread at: https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4834186.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 11:19 am on Mar 2, 2017 (PDT -8)


CTR and position going up on the 28th, not to the december and january levels, but slowly up. Was doing an average of 6000 clicks from search, and on the 28th it got past 1000 for the first time since early feb.
1:01 am on Mar 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I haven't had much movement on my site since all thia fred rubbish started happening. But now I have moved to page 2 for a good chunk of my keywords while the front page is full of absolute rubbish. Spun nonsense, affiliate sites that are clearly ripped or ghostwritten by someone who doesnt have a clue, and another spam competitor who has non stop blasted my website with exact match anchors for the last year. I did move from from http to https a few days ago and had some technical issues but I hope this has to do with that rather than being slapped for anything.
1:06 am on Mar 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Dismissing any idea that a publicly traded for profit company would make algorithmic changes to increase their profits as a conspiracy theory goes against the law of business. We all make adjustments to increase profits and Google does as well. It's not a conspiracy, it's just business. The sooner some quit thinking of Google as a charity fairy, the sooner real conversations can take place that don't dismiss the obvious because it may not be politically correct.

@EG

On Barry's site he quoted you as a source saying your site was hit by this update?
2:52 am on Mar 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@EG

On Barry's site he quoted you as a source saying your site was hit by this update?

Are you sure you aren't (or he isn't) confusing me with someone else? I haven't said anything about this update's effect on us. (Still, since you brought the topic up, we did gain noticeably from the Phantom update, and I haven't seen any negative effects from "Fred.")

Dismissing any idea that a publicly traded for profit company would make algorithmic changes to increase their profits as a conspiracy theory goes against the law of business.

You mean, by improving the quality of its product over time, so that users will keep coming back (thereby increasing profits for the company) and competitors will find it harder to gain a foothold?
7:47 am on Mar 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Saw an increase in all properties as of 13th of March, more or less returning to the traffic before the update. Yet to confirm, if it is related to outside factors since I mainly operate in the B2B space but still, happy to see the return to normal, as I was getting worried about the link-tweak update (cause yeah Phantom V update did not hurt me in any way for sure) that happened.
7:52 am on Mar 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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In my industry I do not see any quality results update, all update is about driving sales to certain sites.
8:37 am on Mar 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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All of this is very good. Google are a business & google need to make money etc etc. The problem is that google is the internet, that's the problem people and because of that saying "they are a business they can exploit how they want and so what they want" does not really make sense.
9:45 am on Mar 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@Vantelli

Google include me in "Google News", more and more visitors are coming, everything looks perfect, I think that I finally managed to create quality sites that will live for long time and BOOM! From the page 1 to position 50 for all search terms without any explanation.


Could it be that part of Google's update was to tackle fake news? even if your site wasn't publishing fake news. Google may have mistakenly decided it was?

[webmasterworld.com...]
10:33 am on Mar 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Well, I thought I had escaped the 'Fred' update on my UK based widget price comparison website, but yesterday it looks like it rolled out in the UK and dragged my favourite site down with it.
I am now seeing loads of auto generated product feed based websites where mine used to be. Nice one G!
12:30 pm on Mar 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Are you sure you aren't (or he isn't) confusing me with someone else? I haven't said anything about this update's effect on us. (Still, since you brought the topic up, we did gain noticeably from the Phantom update, and I haven't seen any negative effects from "Fred.")

Barry posted a list of sites that were negatively impacted by fred and yours was one of them. I didn't think it was you that posted the reference Barry quoted, but just wanted to ask.

For me traffic is up quite a bit though conversions from Google traffic remains in the cr@pper. I'm not too concerned though, while this fred update did reduce sales from Amazon for a brief period of time those sales have since rebounded with a vengeance. This backs up what I see in Google for product queries, nothing but big brands and domain crowding that Amazon benefits from, leaving no room for the smaller players. As long as Google places emphasis on ranking super affiliates like Amazon, that's where my effort and marketing dollars will be spent at.
1:25 pm on Mar 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Whatever they started with Fred took a new round today.
Traffic took a deep dive today. All from what is left is foreign traffic or rubbish.
User engagement is Zero.
google promotes ebay , ebay affiliates, big brands and manufacturer sites ( where you canīt buy the widget ).
g serps look like a walk through the city.

By the way: google shopping has a new message that i should increase my budget because it could drive more traffic to my site. ( Sorry google: i totally stopped any spending on you but put it into amazon marketing )

ecom, germany
1:49 pm on Mar 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Because there is less to no competition, Google own monopole. I hope in one day Apple will release a good search engine even if they actually have Spotlight.
2:38 pm on Mar 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Because there is less to no competition

What universe do you live in?
Classic Search engines -> Bing, Yahoo, Yandex. (admittedly these account for small share of the market but are still present in the market)
Ecomm Search Engines -> Amazon , EBay
App Search Engines -> Apple App Store
Personal assistants -> Amazon Echo, Apple Siri, MS Cortina
Social Media Search Engines-> FB, Twitter, Snap etc...

I think (not sure) it was MartiniBuster who posted a thread, that basically showed that the biggest threat to Google is not a new search engine, but the app-ification of the mobile-web which is essentially rendering search less pertinent. Which is not only bad for Google but also bad for any webmaster that has his/her head stuck in the sand.

One can hate on Google all one wants. In fact I guess I should encourage it (less competition). Those that are spending their time complaining about how Google is treating them unfairly are simply stagnating while the web and world around them changes.
2:44 pm on Mar 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@NickMNS i was refering at a real search engine that gives you a lot of direct traffic and sales. How can you tell me that Cortana or Siri can give you more sales that a real search engine like Google or Bing. Yandex? We are not russians.
2:51 pm on Mar 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Could it be that part of Google's update was to tackle fake news? even if your site wasn't publishing fake news. Google may have mistakenly decided it was?


I don't think so. One of my sites was included in Google News only, but 5-6 sites were penalized. Some of them were in completely different niche. At that moment I felt that G actually penalized me as a webmaster. Quality of my sites wasn't important. Since 2012 I'm avoiding link building and trying to post the best content I can. So there's no any special reason for Google to go against me. Also I don't have any affiliate sites (gave up on that after G destroyed all my affiliate sites several times), just adSense sites with 2-3 ads per post.
3:11 pm on Mar 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@andyNicky89 you have understood it clearly. Google currently provides you with a stream of traffic, but that traffic is a percentage of users that use Google's services. As things are progressing fewer users will need those services as they will be shifting to services such as Siri and Cortana, or Amazom echo.

Now take for example an Amazon affiliate website. Its only role in the web-ecosystem is to drive traffic to Amazon. If users are now using Amazon Echo, the affiliate website no longer serves a purpose.

How can you tell me that Cortana or Siri can give you more sales that a real search engine

My point is not that the traffic you see coming to your site will shift from Google to another service. The point is that the traffic will simply dry up as users get pushed into a web of walled gardens. If you sell a product you will probably need to pay to play, if you don't sell a product, you better have damn good value proposition.
3:35 pm on Mar 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Just a theory

but I think this might be what has happened:

1. Fake news site attack - devalued info sites that could be fake news sites now or in the future.
2. Affiliate site attack - the usual devaluation from google to keep us guessing.
3. Ad heavy attack - devaluation from google to keep us guessing.
4. Slight link devaluation - just to keep us guessing.

4 updates in 1 to keep us running around like headless chickens wondering what has happened.

I think they have only hit a percentage of sites with this update, some will be hit slowly and the rest will be allowed off this time but will be hit next time.

this way they have more variables to use on the next update to keep us guessing again. Smoke and mirrors from Google.

just a theory guys!
4:12 pm on Mar 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@nonstop

"Slight link devaluation"

This definitely is happening to one of my sites. It is like Google has turned off the boost coming from the links.
4:17 pm on Mar 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Re affiliates: We have a lot of affiliate links on our site, and we do quite well in Google. But ours is an informational site (not an "affiliate marketing" site), and the affiliate links are subordinate to the content.

IMO, people using affiliate links should ask themselves, "If I removed the affiliate links from this page, would the page still be useful?" Intrinsic value for the reader is what makes a page attractive to Google (and to searchers).


In the past: yes.

At present: no. I know of very many first class sites that have been labelled 'thin content' purely because they contain affiliate links. This has been happening for years but Google is currently turning the screw very hard indeed.

In the future: I'd make sure I had a Plan B if I were you.
4:39 pm on Mar 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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each article was 1000-1300 words long .


If i ran a search engine, a site with all the articles so closely tailored in size would seem unnatural and contrived.
4:44 pm on Mar 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I know of very many first class sites that have been labelled 'thin content' purely because they contain affiliate links. This has been happening for years but Google is currently turning the screw very hard indeed.

I just checked Google Analytics, and our Google organic traffic was up 8.3 percent for the week of the "Fred" update, compared to Google organic traffic during the previous week.

We also did well in the "Phantom" update, gaining about 9.3 percent in Google organic traffic that week.

(Just to provide some overall perspective, our Google organic traffic for the week of March 5-March 11 was up 32.2 percent over the week of Jan 29-Feb 4, right before "Phantom.")

Google may well be turning the screw on sites that exist to profit from affiliate marketing, but if our statistics are any guide, the screw is being turned counterclockwise on in-depth editorial sites that use affiliate links like ads: i.e., as a way to monetize pages that exist to deliver information.
6:24 pm on Mar 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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If i ran a search engine, a site with all the articles so closely tailored in size would seem unnatural and contrived.


That makes sense, but G is going to mark you as thin site if you're under 800-1000 words. In the same time, 1300 words is more than enough for the topic we cover. From time to time I would like to publish some quick updates, breaking news etc. No need for those to be longer than 500-600 words, but I do not dare to publish short content even if such articles could be interesting for visitors.
7:40 pm on Mar 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@Vantelli have you received a manual action for "thin content with little or no added value".

A key part to understanding this type of manual action is "little or no added value", not the amount of words on the page.
8:07 pm on Mar 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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but G is going to mark you as thin site if you're under 800-1000 words.


where does this come from? I find it hard to believe that a 300 word article that covers everything it is supposed to is going to get penalized. Likewise, a 1300 word article that should be 300 words seems like it is asking for a penalty.
9:01 pm on Mar 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I do not dare to publish short content even if such articles could be interesting for visitors.


Me neither. What I have done to get around this, but still be able to answer questions with a quick answer is make a page called...

Why do widgets...? It has a good 20-30 questions with short answers on it. Some questions you just can't devote hundreds of words to. So that was my solution.
11:35 pm on Mar 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@thejimster Yes, it was "thin content with little or no added value" penalty. I think I understand what you mean, but webmasters which are visiting my sites every day to steal my ideas are still around with their sites. Those guys don't even know to noindex tags and categories and such things. When I make a change on my site, they make the same change tomorrow. Sometimes I add a completely useless element to my site just for fun to see if they'll do the same. They're not penalized for "no added value" but I am.

@toidi there are many analyses which shows that articles 2000-2500 words long ranks the best. Back in 2010-12 I had sites with 300-500 words long articles. Guess what happened to them? These days I usually outrank competitors with short content. We're not trying to stuff posts with nonsense sentences just to have long articles. Instead we're trying to cover the topic from many angles, to provide many information about a product etc.
12:13 am on Mar 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I do not dare to publish short content even if such articles could be interesting for visitors.

"Thin" content isn't "thin" because it's short, it's "thin" because it reads like filler material.

IMO, it's more important to focus on value to the reader than on word length per se.
12:19 am on Mar 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@toidi there are many analyses which shows that articles 2000-2500 words long ranks the best. Back in 2010-12 I had sites with 300-500 words long articles. Guess what happened to them? These days I usually outrank competitors with short content. We're not trying to stuff posts with nonsense sentences just to have long articles. Instead we're trying to cover the topic from many angles, to provide many information about a product etc.


This is me too. Definitely no fluff or filler words, that would just annoy my visitors. Whereas I used to do something like this...

What is the sign of a broken widget?

Cracks in the side...

I would now expand on that and say...

Cracks in the side, which are typically caused by dropping the widget or storing it below X temperature which causes expansion.

I now pay much more attention to the amount of time spent on a page. If it is under 3 minutes (for a reasonable article) I go and look at why and see how I can improve the content. Obviously on some, people aren't reading the entire article, just the section that is relevant to them. But it's definitely a red flag for me and I investigate.
1:06 am on Mar 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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This is a money grabbing attempt from Google at getting people who rank for buyer keywords to get onto adwords. Considering G is spamming up their own serps with scraped answer snippets and 3-5 ads above the fold this is rich isn't it.
8:23 am on Mar 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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its still doing damage to me, last two days have been lowest USA traffic in 2 years, it gets worse week on week.
8:38 am on Mar 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Im still down by around 500 visitors a day.

I was just researching an important keyword which I apparently rank 9th for. My article contains many many photos (which the other articles don't) and extremely detailed instructions on how to deal with this issue, yet I rank 9.

Out of the 8 articles that outrank me, only one contains 1 single image of the topic, my article has 11. One of the top ranking ones is for a product which is unrelated to this particular situation.

Just feeling really frustrated.
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