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Google Updates and SERP Changes - May 2017

     
8:21 am on May 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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System: The following 5 messages were cut out of thread at: https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4842918.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 4:18 am on May 2, 2017 (PDT -8)


Last month April 2017 hasn't been a nice month to webmasters as far as Google Algorithm Updates and SERPs fluctuations are concerned. There are several WebmasterWorld friends who have lost big portions of their organic traffic. If you just take a look at RankRanger's Google SERP Fluctuations chart you would notice dates of medium to high levels of fluctuations on April 17th, April 20th, April 25th, April 29th and April 30th. Those are just indications of the "volatile SERPs environment" of April 2017.

I'm just wondering what would the current month brings us of Google Algorithm Updates surprises :)

Personally I wish to see on this thread happy posts reporting recoveries and the return of at least parts of what have been lost of Google organic traffic during the latest few months. Let's hope so :)
11:31 am on May 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Is title meta tag no longer relevant just like the keywords meta tag?
For some popular keywords for our site, we noticed websites with only the company name in Meta title and around 35 chars in description getting top 1 & 2 placements.
3:20 pm on May 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I have taken a hit to my wallet, not my organic traffic for the month of April. I have had fairly stable rankings and traffic, however, I am back to square one with pure zombie traffic. It is simply not productive and I have no idea what's going on with it. I actually re-created a very small adwords campaign when things were going great, but it has also stopped converting traffic in any decent way. The last few weeks have been terrible, with a handful of days actually sending productive traffic (methinks this may have been when their filtering stuff was off during some "quality update" they were running).

I just have no more energy to put into a proper website anymore, all the time and research I spend on it since I am just going to be overtaken by a page or a mention on an "authority" site anyway. I've got 2x as much content as I did 6 months ago, and I still have less than the original traffic I used to get. The fake news (aka knowledge boxes) get the most prominent placements on the page and I believe its taking up a lot of traffic that I would otherwise get. They pull results from mediocre websites ranked 6-9 for whatever reason and give them the best place on the page. Just ridiculous.
4:27 pm on May 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@masterjoe

I am seeing less zombies in organic in the last month or so but it looks like adwards has got worse, if you are under a quota probably your spend will conflict with your organic traffic
9:19 am on May 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Did you guys check for Bing ? I was hit but Fred at 02/10, and now, by whatever it is on Bing, on 04/21
When I say hit, it's like traffic divided by 4, in both cases.

And of course, nothing shows up on the webmaster tools / search console, everything is fine for Bing or Microsoft.

What can I possibly do wrong?

Buying some facebook ads, trying to see if it's a user engagement issue, and it is not, in my point of view. My only hope : negative SEO, or a huge lack of really good backlinks, wich I never care about. Or, issues with my content : way to big, it's best, maybe, to cut it in half or in three, as the "instant" web or "instant" answer as I called it like.

But divided by 4 in 4 months, with no manual penalty? Come on...
2:45 pm on May 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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>> @reseller: Personally I wish to see on this thread happy posts reporting recoveries

I would not hold my breath on that one. Arrogance and hubris runs high in the Plex. They'd have to step on their own throat and admit they effed up. Not gonna happen with all the brilliant minds and millions of stock options in sight.

They are building next AI, you know, not expect them brilliances to answer to us lowly folks.

Lost about 15% of traffic in April comparing to March. US ecommerce.
3:18 pm on May 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Last April $7200 profit

Money spend on site for the past year around $20,000

This April $2400 profit.

I would of achieved the same by not spending the 20K


For ranking...

Content is not king, content does not matter

Amp does not matter

Https does not matter

mobile friendly does not matter

Proved.

ok so whats the next bit of propaganda you have for me google ?
3:53 pm on May 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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#30K_a_month:

- Content certainly matters for us, in terms of both our core business and our search traffic (from all search engines, not just from Google).

- Google has been sending us a LOT more mobile site since we made our site mobile-friendly.

YMMV.

Side note: The word "content" is often used as a synonym for "filler." Professionally-written and edited content of real value doesn't come cheap, and $20,000 a year (even if it were spent solely on content) is chicken feed.
3:55 pm on May 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Spending $20K does not make your site better, it makes you $20K worse off.

If you buy some magic beans, or get someone to cast some spells, your $20K is not going to get you very far.

Unfortunately, it is hard to say whether that $20K was well spent. Your possibilities here include:

- $7200 was due to a methodological error. Some poor site with excellent content was temporarily suffering collateral damage, but is now working
- A bunch of other sites each spent $50K
- Some of $20K was spent ineffectively (no impact)
- Some of the $20K was spent counterproductively (negative impact)
- Your niche shrunk
- A competitor nailed returning visitors, so less people search Google
- A big brand published incidental content on your niche. Name recognition has created a CTR differential

I know there are a lot of smaller publishers, but Google really does not care one way or the other for sites making >$100K annually (probably even 100x more)- there are hundreds of sites that statistics tell Google make their users just as happy. If your site went and a similarly successful site took your place, it would make no impact on Google Rater statistics, so there is literally no reason why your site would not randomly rise and fall with the vagaries of the algorithm.

While I know there is a risk that this will come across as heartless, but $5000 (your profit delta) is not even a rounding error to some content producers- you could be absorbed into their numbers and they would not even know it. As such, listing out things you do, and claiming it "proves" something is just not a realistic analysis of the situation. (Similarly, $20K will just about cover the coffee budget for some content producers, so it is hard to really gauge if that is a significant spend for your niche)

To be fair, I think AMP and HTTPS are not significant factors for info, while Mobile is context dependant. Content does not stand alone either- it needs navigation internally, and signposts (links) to be discovered
4:08 pm on May 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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thanks for your posts guys...

The money was spent on content, graphics, video, pictures, themes, redesign of site, custom work etc etc The money was not wasted , I am not a fool..

your list does not apply to me...

it does prove that all of this stuff amounts to nothing, I know for a fact I could of not bothered with any of this and still been in the same situation as I am now.
4:25 pm on May 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I'm getting the same reward as 30kamonth : improving my site by going https, mobile friendly, updating content where it needs, speeding up everything and even get a big webserver. For what?

I have a portuguese website, wich a never touch, performing exactly like before. No new contents, no improvments (but to be honest, very few earnings too).

I'm searching for a real work right now, hoping in the meanwhile that Google likes me again (I'm learning from my competitors : small articles for mobile is way better than long articles for desktop : those, I can always split and expose even more my users to ads).
5:29 pm on May 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Typically what happens during these times of an update is that traffic could go up or down, but it's conversions that's really the problem. I can almost guarantee that as soon as the updates are completely over, which they are eventually, conversions go back to normal again. And for a lot of us with improvements we do see that some of our results are actually better, but we are getting poor backend results with nothing else changing. This is what happens through an update. I have seen it for several years now when I see lackluster performance, I check to see if there's been an update and there always has been. The updates that the search engines are doing right now have been going on for about a month at least. What I think is strange about them is that there seems to be some SE collusion, not intentionally, but it's like birds flocking together. I think there is a monkey-see monkey-do thing going on. Even though you might disagree with mozcast on volatility, it does seem to follow what I've been seeing. Were getting some good search results, some really high and normally that would equate to conversion. But while the update is going on, it does not. It's almost like they shut off buyers or interactivity during an update. There's something about that part of the algorithm that has to be stopped in order for the rest of it to be updated. It's no longer viable to try to do any one thing. It's messed up for sure and it has to do with engineers in a bubble who only talk to themselves. It's a circular gratification experience.
7:24 pm on May 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I had a record April for both traffic and earnings. Things are running about 30% over last year and 100% better than 2015.

Significant investments were made to both content and site architecture. From where I am standing, the investments paid off handsomely.
1:34 am on May 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I had a space of aboit 2 hours wherr I had conversions today. No surprise here, zombie traffic is at it again.
2:16 am on May 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Google is fu-cked been here and there your only going to get X amount of traffic in your nitch the rest will be zombie.
6:22 am on May 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Recent Google Algorithm Updates might require us to think in new ways to boost our websites share of Google organic traffic. Maybe something like:

Ask not what Google can do for you, ask what you can do for Google users :)
6:47 am on May 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Ask not what Google can do for you, ask what you can do for Google shareholders :)

My traffic recovered April 29. What's funny that my another website selling a digital product and getting occasional sale here and now got 3 sales within 4 hours that day.
7:01 am on May 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Users, shareholders- same difference. Users are ultimately what gets shareholders paid.

Serve the users, and the shareholders are happy.
7:55 am on May 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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In a return to the regularly scheduled program- we're seeing traffic disruption today, and a big change to sitelinks on a number of competitors we monitor
8:01 am on May 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Serve the users, and the shareholders are happy.


According to that logic, bars should also give away free beer to make the owners happy?
8:09 am on May 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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ATomic "I had a record April for both traffic and earnings. Things are running about 30% over last year and 100% better than 2015.

Significant investments were made to both content and site architecture. From where I am standing, the investments paid off handsomely."

And thats the problem my friend, no consistency with the algo.

Also can you be more specific about what handsomely is ?

if its $50 a month to $300 thats not really anything is it ?
8:14 am on May 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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According to that logic, bars should also give away free beer to make the owners happy?
Eh?

Bars should make the customers have a good time, which makes them BUY more beer, which makes the owners happy.

If you can't see the difference, good luck to you!

And thats the problem my friend, no consistency with the algo.

Money in = ranking out

If that is the consistency you are after, you are absolutely crazy. Amazon spends BILLIONS in architecture. You want to have to match that to outrank them? I don't!
8:19 am on May 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Bars should make the customers have a good time, which makes them BUY more beer, which makes the owners happy.

If you can't see the difference, good luck to you!


If you own the only bar in town, you will charge a price per drink that will give you the maximum profit. Customers may grumble, but they have nowhere else to go.
8:20 am on May 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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unfortunately shaddows thats where the big money is and before the last update i was successfully hammering big brands thank you very much.. and before long i will be back there, I will let you know when.
8:36 am on May 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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If you own the only bar in town, you will charge a price per drink that will give you the maximum profit. Customers may grumble, but they have nowhere else to go.

I see, you are mistaking the drink for the punter.

Bars curate drinks and present them to punters, with the intent of covering a range of preferences. The drinks may be selected on merit, or they may pay a fee to be included.

Since Diageo are unlikely to supply the bar for free, your analogy is going to break down at this point (or the bar is going to be insanely profitable, hmmmmmm).
8:42 am on May 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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before the last update i was successfully hammering big brands thank you very much.. and before long i will be back there, I will let you know when.
Great! I hope it is sooner rather than later, all I was saying is that money in cannot result in ranking out, as big brands outspend everyone else.

Similarly, it is impossibly to correlate effective spend with actual spend- otherwise big brands would again automatically win through expenditure.

Bandying about monetary values is not very useful, except as an indication of your competitive environment.
8:47 am on May 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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We did run some A|B tests with offers on users inside non converting hours and no offer has been taken.

You my offer gold not a free a beer and that tells you what you are dealing with.
12:22 pm on May 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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You can offer the visitors coming from google to your site $100 and nobody will care because it's pure zombies most of the time.
2:27 pm on May 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Were seeing a lot of zombies and from what I can tell it's coming mostly from foreign mobile traffic. It's one page with an identifier and out. Being none of this is working properly during this update I have taken steps to do completely opposite of what everybody would tell you is true. If something's not working consistently with the same effect, then the opposite must be. So as far as best practices go, you can put them all in the toilet, because there is no best practice. And as far as what any search engine says that you should do to make them happier, you should do the opposite. What have you got to lose?
2:54 pm on May 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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For us, May is looking like April so far.

We're not in the online bar business, so YMMV.
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