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Google Updates and SERP Changes - June 2017

     
3:35 pm on Jun 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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System: The following message was cut out of thread at: https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4847200.htm [webmasterworld.com] by goodroi - 10:37 am on Jun 1, 2017 (utc -5)


Happy June! I'm seeing an increased correlation with technical SEO and improved rankings. Improving page speed and site crawl ability makes Google happier with the sites I am working on.

Most of the people that are coming to me for help are using outdated SEO tactics that Google has devalued. The good news is I've been able to recover many rankings for these sites using the old strategies just updating the tactics to 2017. The bad news is Google keeps taking away organic real estate in the serps so even top rankings are generating less traffic for me.


Please remember that off topic comments aka any comment that isn't focused on Google Updates and SERP changes will be split off to its own thread to make it easier for the community to follow the different Google SEO topics.
8:47 pm on June 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Do people who lost traffic are operating plenty of sites ?

I only have one site :">

I think this question from Peter_S is worth emphasizing, as there are some posters who are saying "my sites" or "my network". I notice that the question isn't being addressed.

In my experience, there are many ways that Google might either consider multiple sites spammy, or reduce linking boosts among them. There are also multiple sites operated by one owner where Google might have no problems.

As I've observed it, the independence of inbound linking is a key consideration, and when there are multiple sites, this is one of the first things I'd look at.

8:59 pm on June 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Really? Maybe not in your vertical, but in mine every related query is preceded by a big "Sponsored" ad block with the title "Shop for [search term] on Google" that pushes all but the first two organic results below the fold. I don't see that in the trav** eur*** results which is probably why you enjoy continued positive traffic results. Welcome to my world.


You said "every SERP." I was correcting your alternative facts. :-)

And yes, Google runs ads for pages with commercial topics or intent. What's more, Google has a reputation for being a data-driven company that does a lot of UX testing. If people who shop via Google aren't bothered by an increase in ads, why wouldn't Google give more space to ads? For shoppers, ads can be a form of information.

And now for a data point from the informational side of the aisle: June is starting off very nicely for us, in terms of Google traffic and--even more so--in terms of revenue. For our topic, searchers are getting into "do your research and make your decisions now" mode, and seasonal factors are likely to have more impact than any Google algorithm tweaks.
8:54 am on June 4, 2017 (gmt 0)

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This week I see a lot less traffic in volume and I think that with the last update zombified sites are not allowed to compete for whatever it is left if the preferred accounts and amazon do not convert.
10:40 am on June 4, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I think this question from Peter_S is worth emphasizing, as there are some posters who are saying "my sites" or "my network".


Am I being dumb?

How can an establised site that has been ranked at the top of the SERPs for quite some time with good, regular and relevant traffic still be ranked at the top yet, all of a sudden, its traffic halves or even worse?

I'll give you another example, a friend's site I run has a keyword1keyword2 domain, it has reigned supreme for 15 years, his image for this keywords has likewise been the #1 result for the same amount of time. It's not a money keyword thing, it's humourous, nothing to get excited about.

His image has completely disappeared from Google's results, no matter how far down one searches it is gone, his index page has gone and now his "about.html" page is ranked #1.

This "whatever" update has hit my array of niche trade-related sites extremely hard. They're not interlinked except where necessary when one site has information that another one does not, they all address their niche products from different countries individually.

Am I being penalised for having, for argument's sake, a unique book produced in several different countries simply because they are books even though the information contained within the books are completely different?

That's sheer lunacy.
11:00 am on June 4, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I think this question from Peter_S is worth emphasizing

Thank you Robert Charlton <3
3:02 pm on June 4, 2017 (gmt 0)

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On a May / June SERP change bright note; In my niche, while product sales conversions are at an all time low. modestly higher "post Fred" traffic IS converting better on the Adsense side. Looks like the "data-driven company that does a lot of UX testing" has found new ways to once again improve ad revenue. And here I thought you couldn't squeeze blood from a stone. Hurray, we're rolling in it now.

Think I'll just start giving away the product and living on Adsense pennies. It was always going to be the last ditch option anyway.

The only assumption is that Fred has changed traffic targeting in some way. Wonder what effect adding more ads will have on position and traffic. Might as well make hay while the sun shines.
8:35 pm on June 4, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Mods Note: Your unpaid volunteer moderators would really appreciate if you didn't make them spend time during the weekends to remove off topic comments. Please stay on topic or start a new thread.
9:03 pm on June 4, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Can I ask please RedBar, have any significant inner pages dropped out of the index for the site affected? I have noticed on some of my sites that key pages keep disappearing/reappearing, sometimes very key pages and this leads to overall drop on the site in traffic. I think more likely than an algo change this could be the effect of greater AI on the results. Google also seems to be handling links slightly differently and showing the parent page for the link instead of the target page in my observations.
1:20 am on June 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Just received an Ahrefs email notice that I dropped another position for a long held search term. so I went to check out what is pushing me down the SERPS for that term ...it's really laughable.

On page one, every title starts out with the spammy "89 Amazing Blue Widget Ideas". "30+ Inspirational Red Widget Techniques", "71 Awesome Green Widget Concepts"...you get the picture.

Maybe it's just me but that is immediately a red flag for spammy content. Repetitious content merely intended to rank with key phrases and that offers little to no takeaway. Every one of these so called "articles" looks like it was written by a 9 year old (no offense intended to any 9 year old's out there). The content hardly even aligns with the title. The only thing they all have in common is keyword heavy alt image tags, image title and image descriptions. BTW, if you are missing any of those on your site, you are making a big mistake. Even one missing image element has been known to sink a page. It's the new doorway to spam in my opinion and highly abused in these cases. The only other common denominator is that they are from obvious niche content farms...no authority on the topic whatsoever. The plex needs to check their algo.

My site sits at position #1....on page two. It offers a solid solution, not page after page of keyword loaded photos or rambling bullet lists.

I'd love to sit down and have Google's web spam team (or Matt where he is these days) describe how these articles are a good user experience and useful content. smh
.
.
4:01 am on June 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I agree, these clickbait-y articles on content farms are becoming a huge problem. Facebook was smart enough to atleast try to combat these idiotic articles that (try) to make you click through 20 pages just to expose you to as many ads as possible. I don't even bother unless its a last resort.

There are a few articles that are completely made up in my niches that I target and follow which are full of 500 words bits of fluff on large media/publisher sites. All rank #1 or have featured snippets. Hello ask.com! Or is it ehow? Wikihow? Eh, I can find what Im looking for a lot more easily with bing and ddg these days, I deliberately search for both search engines in Google just as my little slice of FU2 to them haha
6:53 am on June 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I have two websites affected by the May 17th, 2017 update, losing almost 25% of organic traffic. From Search Console (ex-Webmaster Tools), in Crawl --> Crawl Stats --> Pages Crawled Per Day I can see that the amount of pages crawled per day has decreased by 50% when comparing the two periods (before and after the update).

The only technical change we did before that was to move the server from HTTP to HTTP2. Nothing else changed.
7:59 am on June 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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This is getting quite ridiculous. Did Google really break their search for good?

Niche I'm following has a following situation and it's very competitive:

- One company dominates all the main and long tail keywords. 8/10 are their results for whatever you search
- Each of their sites are crosslinking directly to each other from homepage and many of the subpages or even sitewide all the way. Otherwise spammy incoming comment links etc.
- Lots of spammy techniques, overbolding the content with keywords, crosslinking the same site with same keywords over and over again.
- Each of those sites are owned by same company according to whois.
- Each of those sites are hosted on same C class IP's on same host, many of the sites on same ip's.
- Each of those sites are from 1 month to maximum of 2 years old.

I would understand if this was just temporary glitch. However it has been like this all year long, April-May only made it worse by burying us others to almost nowhere to be found.

Is it 90's again or what?
10:21 am on June 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The amount of genuine new user traffic is close to zero now
1:23 pm on June 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Welcome to WebmasterWorld NoArchive

Mysteriously, out of nowhere, my traffic returned to normal on Sunday and appears to be continuing into today.

Googlebot has been hammering all the sites recently, whether that has anything to do with it I have no idea.

I am still seeing horrible SERPs with many totally irrelevant results, has Joe Public realised this and searching deeper/further?

What is really annoying me and I don't know what Google's algorithm can do about it is that I sell natural products yet large corporations are taking over many keywords selling their man-made products using realworld natural product names.

It's really beginning to pi$$ me off that they are allowed to get away with this. We have to produce to exacting standards using precise names where the product is from yet these bozos are allowed to call their synthetic products whatever they like with seeming impunity.
2:18 pm on June 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I wonder how many of us are at the top of page 2? I have been focusing on improving product descriptions. With over 10K products it takes months. While doing this I at times will look at some of the other sites. We are fed all this "good practices: theories". Please realize that we have thinned links, removed anything that can be viewed as duplicate content. We took speed into consideration and mobile friendliness. We addressed structured data etc. Switched hosts... The funny part is if I look at the pages dominating page one I see obvious duplicate content. I see probably 1000 items with the exact same product dimensions which in no way is correct. But it is content, I guess. I see structured data with errors. Slow and non mobile friendly pages. But they stay on page one.

Now lets assume we think Google is focusing on trying to improve the web. In theory a faster, more secure web with accurate and timely data would be great. If it was fast to load quickly on mobile devices sounds good. Unfortunately that is not what is happening.

I have watched this in my niche for a few years now. All Google is doing is killing the niche and I can prove that. I then look at other sectors in the US and I see the same decline. Google is not improving things but more killing businesses. They are killing their own customers. Look at the retail sector in the US. Stores are closing and they focus on online but the overall company is losing and cutting jobs. Is Google the savior or the enemy? I know in my niche it is a major reason for the decline. In our industry we saw a decline in the price of the items sold by all sellers not just me. I question if the people at Google understand pricing? You can cut prices to a point but after a while you need to cut services and inventory to remain in business. I don't think Google gets it and I think a lot of people are paying the price. Is the web better today? Then we say shareholders. In fact I am a shareholder and I am not pleased with Googles direction.
2:40 pm on June 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@samwest - Have you drilled down into the slow page speed spike days? In our case, I can't say with 100% certainty how they do this, but it certainly appears to be negative SEO. I think they have browsers that feed back page speed data to Google and they intentionally load pages very, very slowly.

It makes sense - Google measures page speed from Chrome, toolbar, and other sources. If you can slow down Javascript execution, you can make a page load very slowly, and if you can feed that data back to Google, it can trigger a page speed penalty. My guess is that that metric got a boost with Fred, because it's a quality signal. If you can knock a competitor down in rankings and move up a slot, that's worth a lot of money, particularly if you can do it for a lot of search queries.

In our case, I'll see hundreds of Firefox 41 browsers (pretty outdated, right?), older Chrome browsers, or Safari browsers, hitting the site all in a short time frame and then loading the pages very, very slowly. This isn't real traffic, but it probably does report back to Google, and traffic collapses for a while every time this happens.
2:41 pm on June 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@ Redbar - same situation here. Traffic is back to a very normal/natural looking pattern starting yesterday and holding today. The "drip" control looks like it is turned off.

You can definitely tell when a "live one" human is on your site. Page transitions happen within 5 to 15 seconds and drive deep into your navigation structure...as opposed to zombie page sitters.

I think those of use who are seeing these lockstep patterns should start a new thread for sharing observations on this phenomenon. I find it very had to believe that only a fixed group of sites would all get treated the same and see the same strict "traffic shaping" patterns....but it's clearly happening. I wish Tedster were still around to see this stuff. He was always such a good help from the mod side (no offense to current mods). He had great theories and ideas and encouraged the discussion. Miss that guy.

UPDATE: May have spoken too soon...looks like they may have turned the throttle back on...zero runs are back.
3:54 pm on June 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Not seeing on/off patterns, but we are seeing two distinct sets.

I really like one of them, the other not so much.
4:07 pm on June 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@NYCTech

great suggestion,

google says negative seo does not exist but can we try to do that one of our sites just establish results ?
4:18 pm on June 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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<<< This is getting quite ridiculous. Did Google really break their search for good?

Niche I'm following has a following situation and it's very competitive:

- One company dominates all the main and long tail keywords. 8/10 are their results for whatever you search
- Each of their sites are crosslinking directly to each other from homepage and many of the subpages or even sitewide all the way. Otherwise spammy incoming comment links etc.
- Lots of spammy techniques, overbolding the content with keywords, crosslinking the same site with same keywords over and over again.
- Each of those sites are owned by same company according to whois.
- Each of those sites are hosted on same C class IP's on same host, many of the sites on same ip's.
- Each of those sites are from 1 month to maximum of 2 years old.

I would understand if this was just temporary glitch. However it has been like this all year long, April-May only made it worse by burying us others to almost nowhere to be found.

Is it 90's again or what? >>>

Exactly the same in our niche. All of the older, larger, established sites with large bases of registered and active users have been pushed down the SERPs by a set of new, zero-backlink, nearly zero-content domains. This started happening about 8 months ago, and seems to get worse with each update.

One website in particular, "KEYWORD.FYI" holds the #1 spot for all variations of our main keyword. It has no content, no links, is filled with ads, and has spammed doorway pages for all its #1 ranking variations. It is a new website with no history. It has held the #1 spot for 8 months. It was joined 4 days ago by another almost identical site in the #2 spot, which has equally as useless and meaningless content, backlinks, etc. All of the established sites pushed down further and further...

Bing, Yahoo, etc all show the niche as it should be. Google's results are an embarrassment.
4:24 pm on June 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Zombie traffic here too for the last 24 hours. Weekend was actually a lot better than usual and I also thought they had turned off whatever they do to filter good traffic, but its gone already.

I have gone brute force and started to rank for quite a few new keywords which is helping.

Looks like it is the only way forward from here on out, as well as moving onto pinterest/fb and other platforms as parasites since they are ranking them a lot higher. So much "authority" on everything on the internet!
5:01 pm on June 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@NYCTech - that theory sounds interesting and it would be great to investigate it further, however, I wonder who "they" would be and if "they" are real, if so, they've been at it for many, many years. Maybe it's malware or a virus running on old PC's all over the world. That would be a real mess. I always try to keep and open mind that the is not "all due to Google's algo" alone. There has got to be some other factors involved here. This discussion is great food for thought and further investigation. Keep on the trail.
5:27 pm on June 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@samwest - I just graphed this out in Excel, with time on the Y axis, Search Traffic from Google on the left side X axis, and Site Speed (from the overview) on the right hand side of the Y axis. To clean it up, I set thresholds, so the right hand side would only show up when it was over a threshold (I had it at 15 seconds up until the February update, then dropped it as I think they revised this).

The correlation is very, very precise - every time there was a big jump in Avg. Page Load Time, traffic dropped. Really big jumps meant traffic went just about to 0 (site was temporarily deindexed). It usually recovered quickly, but most of the time the jumps were only a day or two. In late December there were two big jumps within days of each other. Both times traffic dropped, then recovered almost immediately, but that time it stayed lower than it had been. Then, as if by magic, and with no new bumps, it started to steadily climb 30 days after the second bump right back to where it had been before.

We then had another spike on March 10th, and they've been pretty consistent ever since.

I suspect, from looking at this, that if a threshold is hit, the site takes a hit but recovers quickly. If there are multiple big problems in a short time frame, there's a 30 day penalty put on the site. The scary part about that is that it means we are still at least 30 days away from recovery, but we are implementing something now that will, hopefully, take care of this.

I guess I'll hopefully have a positive update in a little over 30 days.
5:55 pm on June 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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One of my pages that sees occasion surges just got the google search / knowledge (whatever they call that) box for about 5 minutes. All mobile and it went from zero to 101 visits on GART almost instantly. crazy! first time I ever saw something like that. I was able to take some screen shots. Now it's dropping like a rock. Won't get a single conversion either. As fast as it came, it's gone. Looks like testing only.
There was also zero page to page transition. test bots perhaps?
7:20 pm on June 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@NYCTech

I do not understand how hackers would slow down the site in their own browser and google would take that for granted
7:24 pm on June 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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"Answer box"...that's what I was looking for but could not remember. I suffer from CRSS these days.
7:37 pm on June 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@NYCTech
isn't it more likely that the pages actually ARE loading slowly, rather than a user coming up with some clever way to load it slowly at their end? if you're convinced it's only happening for old browsers have you tested your site on those old browsers to see what happens?
8:44 pm on June 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@londrum - When 683 users visit an English language website from Romania, all in the same hour, all using Firefox 41, and 100% of them bounce after having an insanely long load time (but wait for it to finish loading), that does not seem like an actual "user". I also can't be sure they're just delaying Javascript execution - it could be that they've set up a very slow connection and are bouncing through proxies, but even that seems unlikely since they're able to look up the site and download the page in under 1 second, so the rest is just the rendering.

I can't tell whether they're just able to tie up sockets, which creates a slow site through an indirect path (slowing it down for other users) or whether they're able to pass that slow load speed back to Google, but since other users still seem to be getting pages quickly and we don't see errors in Search Console, I think they probably are often able to pass that data back to Google. It certainly then corresponds to the site getting hit, and no, it doesn't seem that Google is able to pick up on that as a very unusual pattern, or we wouldn't get hit so hard for it when it happens.
9:06 pm on June 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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users visit an English language website from Romania, all in the same hour, all using Firefox 41, and 100% of them bounce after having an insanely long load time (but wait for it to finish loading)


I have exactly the same thing happening on a website of mine that took a big hit in the May updates. If you manage to come up with a fix please share.
12:27 am on June 6, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@NYCTech - not to wander OT, but did you ever consider trying Cloudflare CDN then adding the offending countries to the Firewall? That way if these are bots, and it sounds like they are, then they would need to enter a challenge passkey to proceed to your site. It's a cheap (free) and easy way to control access from unwanted regions who may be trying to maliciously usurp your SERPs.
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