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Google Updates and SERP Changes - April 2017

     
12:21 am on Apr 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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System: The following 5 messages were cut out of thread at: https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4838449.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 12:55 pm on Apr 2, 2017 (PDT -8)


We had a noticeable improvement in average Google rankings on the 29th (the most recent date in Google Search Console). Google organic traffic has also been up 6.0 to 9.7 percent for each of the last five days, compared to the same days last week. Another mini-update, maybe? (The changes definitely fall outside our normal week-to-week variations.)
3:47 pm on Apr 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Easter Sunday was down a bit for us, especially during the hours where people in the U.S. (still a churchgoing country, by and large) were eating Easter Dinner.

Monday more than made up for the Sunday dip, though, with the biggest spike in traffic (and in Google organic traffic) of the year to date. What Easter taketh away, Easter Monday giveth.
4:57 pm on Apr 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Also saw a spike on Monday, though Sunday wasn't down as much as expected here in the UK (it was raining though) - I am hoping that it will keep going into this week.
5:52 pm on Apr 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Hi there, i saw on Google Analytics a better performance on Sunday and Monday. Traffic has increased bwin 5% and 25%.
Maybe has Google rolled back an update?

<very competitive> sectors.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 12:17 am (utc) on Apr 19, 2017]
[edit reason] Removed niche descriptions as too specific. [/edit]

7:01 pm on Apr 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@reseller @atomic @Halspike = Rollback of keywords?
10:07 pm on Apr 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@Jhurwith , March 29th - 30th was a much more significant shakeup than now.
11:47 pm on Apr 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@Jhurwith What I first thought was a rollback turns out to be hitting different data centers. One set of results looks like what I was seeing prior to Saturday. The other set has some different rankings. But what really sets the newer results apart from what I saw last week are the knowledge boxes with text from one site and images from another. And these results keep swapping back and forth all day long.

But I would have to post images of these results to "prove" it and I am pretty sure that's against site policy.
12:34 am on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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masterjoe, regarding the cascades of drop-down answer boxes....
@Robert, I am seeing that too, it's not a test....
I think that a very high percentage of what Google does is likely to incorporate testing of some sort. They are always evaluating and re-evaluating user response... and clusters of results, where Google is essentially inviting choices to be made among closely-spaced links, generally suggest to me that they're testing.

Conjecture here... but I think of these as similar, eg, to inline sitelinks that we've seen in the past, particularly in early Panda days, or even to domain clustering... except that now AI is playing a larger part. Here, my guess is that Google has come to see a potentially undesirable similarity between these answer lists and what was once presented by Content Farms before they were weeded out.

These answer lists have been selected by RankBrain and the 'answer-box algo', and Google now is using AI to evaluate them qualitatively. I'm assuming that Google is showing us "too many" results for now, to look for patterns that indicate relative usefulness of these answers, and perhaps even in how they're organized.

Chances are on certain kinds of questions that those further down the lists are going to be crappy for a while.

6:40 am on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Of course its possible that the folks at Google don't like the results of Fred Update. Therefore the current roll back!

If that is the case, we should expect an update or a refresh soon.
9:14 am on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Whatever they did yesterday has already been changed. Tuesday was a good traffic day, today's has been switched off across multiple sites both local and global ... wtf?
10:36 am on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I am in the middle of switching from http to https (because a multi billion pound company has some how not figured out how to just let us change the letter s, merge www and http and have the one account), but outside of those changes, I'm with Redbar, where did the UK internet users disappear to today? Mars?
11:12 am on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I am seeing a lot of shortage being artificially created:

3 listings of eBay , 2 amazon and few locals for a product search

The pictures and content of these eBay and amazon pages are a joke

The local websites are taking me back to 1990 no site is responsive and as user I am only left with the ads on top

The free search is over
11:31 am on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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We were heavily affected by two major updates in March (US ecommerce).

March 6th was, I believe, a standard algo update. We gained a lot of ground in it.
March 8th was when I believe Penguin/Panda ran and beat us on the head with a club.

But we managed to have enough leads in those 3 days to make March one of the best months for the company.

March 30th was another date when an algo update beat us with a club, in a Google whack-a-mole style, whack-a-small-bus.

In April I am down 10%-15% comparing to March. We are slowly cropping up, and I am yet to see a hole in Google kill-a-small-bus algos for us to stick our head out enough to make a great month. So far a month is an ok, but I am not looking to hire anyone, not a single person.
11:43 am on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Mozcast is showing on average two 100 degree shake-ups per month.

Since 2013, when Google introduced Penguin and negative weights to links, assuming they had two whack-a-small-business updates per month, that's a total of 100 updates that are designed to knock small sites out. Because , basically, small sites are the ones who either don't know they need SEO or can't afford one. Or have weak link profiles to be significantly affected by negative link weights. Their top dog, Amit Singhal, who is probably responsible, is fired (clearly when you cover up your mess with webmaster tools such as Disavow, it was a call from the very top). And he's already fired from Uber (how a mobile app company who owns no cabs is losing $2.8 Billion per quarter is beyond my understanding, other than a money laundering operation or a "tech visionary" unicorn fantasies).

That's why I am claiming they killed 10,000 small online businesses since 2013. Because I saw people around me drop like flies, even who have SEO skills to pull a site out of 100 updates.

Google finally needs to admit it was overall a bad idea for the internet as a whole and stop the madness of negative link weights.
1:57 pm on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@smilie We have seen a casual decrease in keywords since the middle of March. However, I am seeing somewhat similar trends across businesses in my niche.

Regarding your idea of killing small businesses, my theory is Google is providing much more SEO juice to authoritative companies (which is like killing small businesses). How can we prove authority is playing a bigger role?

PS, how you reply directly to a message in a thread? Not a personal message. It's annoying type out a user's name.
2:06 pm on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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10+ year old .com niche widget price comparison website targeted at users in the UK.

Big surge of visitors from Google on Sunday 17th April, in-fact it was the best day in over a year for this particular website. Many happy visitors who obviously found what they wanted as many sales were made.
Monday around 16:00 UK time it went dead. Since then just a trickle of visitors from G from various countries around Europe and the World.

wtf is up with that Google? C'mon, give me a break for once and fix your stupid search engine :)

Personally I think they roll out so many updates without testing first that they have got their search engine into a big mess that they can't find a way out of.
2:53 pm on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I got the same at the same time.

17th the best day over a month.
18th 50% less.

My traffic is almost from Europe (French , German, Swiss and Spanish).
3:21 pm on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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A relevant post from Search Engine Roundtable of Apr 19, 2017:

Was There A Google Algorithm Update On April 17th & 18th?
So, while I was offline, there seems to been a Google algorithm update. Not at Fred, Penguin or Panda levels but an smaller but yet significant update that caused both a lot of chatter in the community as well as set most of the automated tracking tools off.
[seroundtable.com...]
3:47 pm on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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smilie + Slim pickings here. Pretty much wiped out. Woke up to 4 Google visitors since midnight. Will be looking to close down servers etc the next couple weeks. What a shame after 12 years. Competition woke up to 20,000 google visitors since midnight. Kinda disproportionate eh?

Regarding Fred update, here' some thoughts I can concur with (from the statcounter blog):

- "by far, I think google is moving faster then it probably should, in a few years, and probably not that long, I suspect google will only allow authority sites, and sites with content written by someone with high level of writing education, and setup like a pro. I have seen pages setup to the level of a skilled webmaster, and the content probably took days or even weeks to write, and if google continues to go in this direction, then there is no reason getting involved with a site if google has such high exceptions from every site, and I suspect 99%+ of site owners do not have website skill level, much less the skill level to create high quality content, or the content that google is looking for. The content you write today, even if you think it is good, may not be good enough for google tomorrow."

- "Google is trying to “redirect” webmasters to use adwords, to pay if we want traffic, google getting smarter, is about google making money. Why do u think googlr is changing the algorhytm all the time? Based on what? Spam? C’mon, if u have low content site and you use adwords, guess what? Google is more than happy to send traffic if u pay"

- "Just make sure you don’t have any links from expired PBN domains. That gig is over and now auction only is what works."

Good luck everyone
5:43 pm on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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3 months ago, one of my websites 5K users a day. No links.
2 months later, 800 users a day. No links
I never was #*$!ed before,

After 7 years in this world, i am leaving. Dont be stupid, its time to leave this #*$! world. Its time to stop depending on Google.
I see the rankings and i want to cry. The quality is #*$! and Pinterest sometimes has the 1º,2º and 3rd position with crawled content but its normal because they have drinks together in San Francisco. Who is going to hit them? Nobody.

Try to search for a coupon and you will find www.retailmenot.com(Google ventures) in all the searches in the 1st position.

Google is a private company and i understand they can do whatever they want but the quality of the search is not the priority of the company. They have played with us, asking for good content to make business with our work.

Sorry for my english but i had 5 minuts and i am spanish.
6:11 pm on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@lefrontal I understand your frustration. I too am sick to death of jumping through hoops for Google only to get battered after each new 'quality' update. In my opinion there is a total abuse of dominance by Google in search and there is nothing anyone can do about it. They will #*$! us all in the end, it's just a matter of time.
6:30 pm on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I too am sick to death of jumping through hoops for Google only to get battered after each new 'quality' update.

Why jump through hoops for Google? Just stick to Google's quality guidelines (which are essentially a list of best practices) and focus on building a site with intrinsic value for users. Relying on SEO guessing games and gossip is just a recipe for indigestion.
6:44 pm on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Just stick to Google's quality guidelines (which are essentially a list of best practices) and focus on building a site with intrinsic value for users.

That is exactly what I have been doing for the last ten years.......I was going to write some smart reply to you but I can't be arsed.
6:58 pm on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@MrBlack did you ever hear the joke about out running a bear. I don't need to run faster than a bear, all I need to do is run faster than you.
Ranking in Google is kind of the same thing, you do not need to create high quality content, you need to create content that is of higher quality than your competitors'.

Following guideline, not engaging in black hat tactics, having unique content. All great things to do, necessary but not sufficient. These actions, specially the first two, will prevent you from getting penalized. But these actions in no way ensure that you will be able to rank. And just because you were able to rank in the past doesn't mean you will be able to in the future.
8:25 pm on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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That is exactly what I have been doing for the last ten years......

Yet you said you were "sick to death of jumping through hoops for Google" Maybe all that jumping has been counterproductive.

Remember when people were slashing pages right and left after Panda? And disavowing links en masse when the disavowal tool became available? (I'm not saying you did either of those things, but some of the site owners who "jumped through hoops for Google" certainly did, and they hurt themselves in the process.)
8:31 pm on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Back to the business of "Google Updates and SERP Changes" :)

I expect some of the websites which have been hit by Fred would recover after a possible data refresh in near future. Please sit back and fasten your seatbelt and enjoy the next data refresh :)
8:41 pm on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@MrBlack

An obsession with rankings is what most webmasters do have, but they do not know how much of those rankings convert or are those rankings sending bots or real humans to their websites.

So it is not all black if rankings go
8:45 pm on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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My site has been performing better over the past few days, fingers crossed it sticks. While my children are on school holidays and I'm feeling a bit mentally burned out the only changes I've made over the past week or two is to add more images and make sure they have alt tags.

Back to adding content from Monday.
8:57 pm on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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No, its not about not to want to fight for that first position,
My website is ranking number 1 without any #*$! link because the content is really good and people love the content but in two month its not like that. Dont people like now my content?
9:29 pm on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Although the search results I have are pretty good right now, but that doesn't mean that business is good. It's really not where it should be. I have noticed that the rankings don't equate to customers which I think some people called zombies. But there's another phenomenon when it comes to these algorithm changes they make. Invariably when a lot of changes are being made to the algorithm, that's usually when conversions go down. When the churning stops, the conversions go up back to normal levels. It's also interesting that I get a lot of zombie phone calls during this time as well as very little interaction with customers who normally are quite active. Furthermore, I also noticed that less problems or customer service issues come up, they go down as well. All these things go hand-in-hand. But the most interesting thing to me is the type of phone calls I get when we're seeing this kind of problem going on online. I get phone calls where nobody is on the other end and then I call them back and I find out it's some kind of marketing group or somebody that wants me to stay on their call list, but it's a machine. There is an abundance of those kind of calls but those only occur to a great extent during this time of a rifling of search results. Another interesting thing I saw in the search results are subdomains as the keyword and no actual website that sells or provides and services. It's a single page that is said to be advertising, they don't even hide it. How is that quality? or fit within any SE's guidelines? I'm afraid that Google has lost its way and there's no way to find the path back to having good results ever again. It's a little like taking a fork in the road of life and it opens up a bunch of other possibilities, but once you take that fork in time, there's no way to undo it or go back. They are in a difficult position, because eventually somebody's going to come up with something that has a better user experience. And for all their talking down to webmasters about having a good user experience, I can't think of anything worse than some of their tools, their algorithm and their general attitude. There are other search engines out there, I just wish people would use them instead. I think if they tried something else they would find it to be much better.
9:36 pm on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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GooseLake + I will NOT use Google Today with you. That's two people.
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