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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Most of the people that are coming to me for help are using outdated SEO tactics that Google has devalued.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.
2:39 am on June 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The reason Bing converts at double the rate is that bing sends mobile traffic at 1/6th the rate of Google. Check your conversion rate for Bing Mobile users, I bet that it will be similar to Google's Mobile users.

According to my stats Bing outperforms Google on all devices, whether organic or paid. The reason why Bing converts better in organic is because there are less distractions. Google has far more domain crowding, more use of the answer box (even in buyer queries), more YouTube videos, has a preference to list big brands at the top, etc. Also with a #1 ranking in Google for a buyer query, chances are it is only viewable beneath the fold. My #1 rankings in Bing can be viewed without scrolling.

I doubt it, Google wouldn't let that happen, I think what is happening is that Google and Amazon are eating from the same pie, but each from different ends. So far, they each have been well fed. The little guy on the other hand is doing the hurting. But at some point in the not too distant future, there will be no more pie between them. What happens then?

There are no doubts - It is happening and there are many reputable reports/studies that confirm this with factual data. Maybe in the short term Google can get away with masking the loss of buyer traffic while webmasters repeatedly assess the performance of the traffic Google is sending in an effort to determine why it's converting so poorly. Eventually these webmasters will come to learn that the majority of the hottest buyers are not going to Google first or even at all. While Google is eating their pie, there is a stampede of buyer traffic departing Google. An 11% loss over one year is quite a bit, considering how well entrenched Google had been in ecosystem. And with more than half of the ecommerce growth going to Amazon in 2016, chances are Google will continue to see double digit losses in first search buyer traffic this year as well.
3:21 am on June 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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A very substantial change in my niche on the past 24 hours. A lazy competitor who no longer maintains his site yet kept holding on to the #1 position for a three word query has finally fallen to a more appropriate position #10. Most others have held their positions. I think they are finally starting to clean house in some areas. It's clear some dial was finally turned in in the right direction. Interesting change.
12:07 pm on June 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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My site went up 10 places 2 days back, just randomly, nothing has changed on our site.

I think we found the problem why it's dropped though so much though (or at least a factor), discovered that there are hidden H1 tags saying the same thing on every single page (DOH!), also looks like some content we were getting for our blog section seems to be distributed to other websites/print media... Great, once we've sorted the H1 tags out and rewritten 70 of our blog posts i'll let you all know if our site starts crawling up the rankings again. - Fingers crossed!
1:31 pm on June 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I stand corrected. The changes mentioned above quickly reverted, but it shows something IS brewing. In the past, I've seen data sets toggle back and forth right before a major SERP shakeup, or as an A/B test. They can bring back that other data set because we did have several days of "regular" sales conversions earlier this week.

When a #1 result sends you to pages with SSL "NOT SECURE" warnings, then there is something very wrong with the algo.
1:48 pm on June 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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...edit, never mind. I suggest we discuss WHY it seems that both Google and Amazon seem to eat our lunch from two ends in another topic...

But I digress and am returning back to the "Algo changes". Our ecommerce has been sliding down throughout May and June. Periodic very small ups but the trend is clear cut.

So, I am investing heavily into B2B and 2 non web-only startups .The ones that don't rely on traffic on the website only, as this is clearly a "down, never to return" trend.
12:42 pm on June 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Could the zombies actually be Amazon bots that are retrieving data on products so Amazon could come back to its sellers and tell them to lower the price to get more sales. I know I get amazon emails saying get more sales by lowering your price.
12:55 pm on June 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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^ That's probably not outside the realm of possbility. Amazon takes up answer boxes as well as a number of organic results constantly the niches I monitor. I file complaints and have done so for months with nothing changing... my friends also help me out with this but they continue to prop it up like all the "quality content" they want people to create isn't enough. They scrape it and shove as many ads as possible.

Also, they now show shopping widgets a lot more often, when this wasn't even a thing before for mildly related products (as in, they have similar names but are not specifically what my visitors are searching for with certain keywords). The keyword has trended upwards in the past 2 years, so it's not surprising that they are trying to take a bit more of the cut.

Another thing - they also hit some large hotel/flight booking comparison sites in the last few weeks IIRC. Is it because they are trying to improve the "user experience" or take a commission for curating these comparison sites themselves?
1:03 pm on June 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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[webmasterworld.com...]

Mods Note: Link is to thread on Websites Affected By Zombie Traffic - Observations & Analysis

[edited by: goodroi at 1:26 pm (utc) on Jun 17, 2017]

12:35 am on June 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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It does not look like AI has control over their on rankings
6:34 am on June 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Yes, there was a algo updated happened, we lost 10% traffic on 14th June and next day +10% added, total we lost 20% traffic by 16th June. Seems we effected suddenly with in two days we lost 20% traffic and its still continuing.
2:41 pm on June 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@Awarn:
Could the zombies actually be Amazon bots that are retrieving data on products so Amazon could come back to its sellers and tell them to lower the price to get more sales. I know I get amazon emails saying get more sales by lowering your price.

Not in my experience.

I am very aggressive in blocking every AWS IP block I can find, on one pretty large and one ecommerce site. Nothing but rouge bots come from it.

In doing this, I accidentally blocked actual Amazon development department's IPs , while being a merchant on Amazon. They contacted me several times and asked to open specific IPs for their bot. It has a very small footprint, comparing to other AWS and zombie bots.

AWS bots would periodically be so bad that a dedicated server would start choking on their traffic, including lost conversions as people who try to order would leave faster that you can say 1-2-3 when your site isn't responding all of a sudden for minutes.
3:01 pm on June 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@glakes:
Google does not have the buyer traffic it once had. At best 25% of shoppers go to Google first to look for a product, while the lion's share (55%) of buyer traffic goes to Amazon. Google has lost a lot of ground in ecommerce and is losing more relevance in ecommerce every year. This does help to explain why both organic and paid ads in Google are not generating results (conversions) for many online stores. I'm all over page 1 for organic serps too, and sales from Google are few and far between. Meanwhile, Amazon keeps sending order emails all day and night

This is an interesting observation.

Anecdotal evidence in myself. For about 4 years now I can't find ecommerce websites I used to order from.

For instance, we print tons of paper and I use 3rd party laser cartridges. Which I forget every time where we ordered from, either that or the last place I've ordered from 2 sets turns out that 1 is broken and I'd have to go back and find merchants I ordered from a few years back. Obviously nobody in their right mind would own laser printers that require you to purchase branded cartridges ,as you'll lose your shirt because branded, both laser and ink, (which should be VERY cheap) is more expensive than gasoline.

So periodically , as Google keeps shoving their big brand friends in front on every SERP, have to do this:
"blue widgets -amazon -walmart -staples -bestbuy -otherbigbrand -andotherbigbrand -thirdbigbrand" etc.

I can very quickly construct that and save somewhere if all of a sudden this works. Which sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't.
Periodically I'd have to include wiki , .gov and few other sites I know isn't something I need in there. It would be great if a Firefox came up with a plugin to filter out certain websites I don't want.

For other searches, I just check Google to see if I hit anything immediately on front page, or if it is full of crap. If it is full of crap (30-50% of the time now), go to Amazon and eBay directly, to see if something's there and cheap. Only after doing all that and not finding an item, I'd go back to Google and try filter out fluff from Google - big sites I'd never EVER would buy from like Walmart - to get better SERP results for what I'm looking for.

And now that I think about it... half of my browsing isn't even in Google now, it's on DuckDuckGo. Which more and more often works better than Google, other than image searches.
3:43 pm on June 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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And now that I think about it... half of my browsing isn't even in Google now, it's on DuckDuckGo. Which more and more often works better than Google, other than image searches.


Funny you mention ddg. I see a lot of referrals from them and every time I do, it converts. That's really odd and begs the question why Google traffic (both organic and paid) no longer converts or goes in spurts while duckduckgo traffic converts at a much higher rate. Forget Googling it, just Duck it!

Just not having to see that irritating "Shop for [search term] on Google" block and sponsored ads packed on top and bottom makes it worth switching to ddg.
3:47 pm on June 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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i have now learned, this battle is fruitless and a waste of my limited mental capacity.
5:00 pm on June 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Anecdotal evidence in myself. For about 4 years now I can't find ecommerce websites I used to order from.

So periodically , as Google keeps shoving their big brand friends in front on every SERP, have to do this:
"blue widgets -amazon -walmart -staples -bestbuy -otherbigbrand -andotherbigbrand -thirdbigbrand" etc.

Which is why when I need a product, I go to Amazon first and do use Bing too. Digging through Google to find something that is not sold by a huge retailer, that often does not even stock the product, is a waste of my time.

Considering Google is the leading search engine by a long shot, and claims to have the ability to identify buyers more likely to make a purchase, why must they fill the serps with nonsense info pages when a potential buyer performs a search? Google can determine buyer intent, but can't use AI to construct search results that are products only? It seems odd that someone has to click on the shopping tab to exclude info pages, when Google claims to have pinned down buyer intent with some degree of accuracy. Not that this really would matter anyway. Searching for a product in Google may return 18-20 results, with just a handful of pictures. On Amazon, a product search produces more than 30 results all with pictures and ratings. Anyone that values their time will go to Amazon first. And if they don't, the way Google crowds Amazon listings at the top will help to teach them where to go first in the future anyway.
6:23 pm on June 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Anyone that values their time will go to Amazon first. And if they don't, the way Google crowds Amazon listings at the top will help to teach them where to go first in the future anyway.


Bingo! Again, they moved the cheese. If you keep sitting on Google waiting for the cheese to reappear, you will starve to death. Many have already. Guess what...in a few years they will move the cheese again, so the moral of the story is............
6:43 pm on June 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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so the moral of the story is............
- Diversify!
2:16 am on June 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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^ yup!
2:55 am on June 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Looks like my non zombie day is now monday instead of tuesday. Had EXACTLY the same amount of traffic (and traffic that converts) last week when I chimed in.

Today is back to zero.

Rankings seem to be jumping around but nothing substantial. I have moved up for a 1 word keyword (which one if my sites is all about) from result 60+ to 20s. In the spaces between there are mentions of this keyword from the likes of Huffpost, a few amazon products (which are scams), a knowledge box, a questions box that expands if you click an answer (which as I mentioned before were scraped from a page on my site, with all my sources being linked to from the box). Also a few web 2.0's which have been spammed with the intent of using it as a filter to crappy GSA/pbn links to a competitor.
5:45 am on June 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Anyone that values their time will go to Amazon first. And if they don't, the way Google crowds Amazon listings at the top will help to teach them where to go first in the future anyway.


The same applies to Pinterest. In my niche page 1 is often crowded with 2, 3 or more Pinterest listings. Happily teaching people to search on Pinterest (after being forced to sign up for a Pinterst account ... good user experience ...) instead of Google.
5:51 am on June 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Pinterest


These sites that force a popup signup after a few seconds or a few scroll downs are the worse (Pinterest, LinkedIn, Facebook), they shouldn't be in the search results.
12:29 pm on June 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Page 1 results galore + no traffic = Google is no longer being used by many. It's a pretty simple conclusion.

I was counting up my page one results then adding up the term volumes.Unless the global population has suddenly dropped to less that 1 billion, the only explanation is that people are no longer using Google anywhere near they way they did in 2010 or earlier. It's mathematically impossible that we should be seeing hours of zero runs. Oddly enough, their quarterly report will indicate the opposite. Youtube must be booming. This is just the perspective over many diverse niche sites that we manage and monitor in the SERP's. Yeah, YMMV.
1:40 pm on June 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Are you experiencing some users reporting unusual slow loading speed? We are talking 5-10 times slower than average load speed?
2:12 pm on June 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Are you experiencing some users reporting unusual slow loading speed? We are talking 5-10 times slower than average load speed?


GTMetrix grade = A / A with a 1.9 second page load time. That's the first thing anyone should look at when seeing irregular drops in traffic or zombie behavior. As far as what "some users" see, that's a mystery. As you know, users don't typically report it when you have a slow site, they just leave and go back to their old trusty and comforting facebook page.
3:03 pm on June 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@sam

"they just leave and go back to their old trusty and comforting facebook page."

we do not have a slow website, can you identify any users with a lot higher loading time than 1.9 seconds in analytics ?
1:22 am on June 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@mos - haven't really looked and not going to start, in fact, today marks my official last day of fretting over all the games that are being played out there in Google's SERP land. The feeling of liberation from this mess is wonderful. I finally took a full time job with a good company that pays a decent wage again. It's been real folks. For me this marks the end of a beautiful era that had a tragic ending. Good luck to everyone out there. I wish you all success and prosperity in your future endeavors. I found my cheese again. Cheers!
1:42 am on June 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Good luck Samwest!
7:53 am on June 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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As expected, today was also a complete zombie day. Not a single newsletter subscriber or a sale. I forgot to turn down the budget on my adwords account (I only turn it on when I know there will be a non zombie day), and they still managed to drain it completely with useless traffic.

Ranks are jumping around a little due to some update and probably a few "authority" links in the last 2 weeks to my sites. Nothing has changed for me except the "quality" of traffic I get was far superior earlier this year than it is now.
9:17 am on June 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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This reminds me of the classic advice, everyone was pushing some many years ago:
"Don't put all your eggs in one basket"

Though that was related specifically to not monetize solely with Adsense.

I wonder is Bills' post on "100 pages site" still valid?
10:18 am on June 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@samwest

I wish you all the best,
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