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Google Updates and SERP Changes - July 2017

     
1:43 pm on Jul 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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System: The following 4 messages were cut out of thread at: https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4851947.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 6:51 pm on Jul 1, 2017 (PDT -8)


Seeing a lot of changes even on a daily basis specially with new URLs and pages that have got new backlinks. Some pages appear on top 5 and after a few hours they return back to page 2.

On the other hand, I haven't seen any movement on pages that have been already ranking on top 3 for months.

It seems to me like an algo refresh not related with Panda or Penguin which has not finished yet.
3:09 pm on July 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Strange observation: In my niche


We're fairly closely related and I'm seeing all sorts of 4-7 years old, never updated sites with, frankly, totally useless pages, unless one calls a small image with keyword1 keyword2 useful ... has there been some sort of weird rollback?
4:39 pm on July 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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It's mid-day and I'm crushing it with Amazon. Although I can't tell where the buyers are coming from, I can't help but feel that Google gave their buddies at Amazon another boost. No need for Google organic SEO or Adwords so long as this environment holds steady. :)
5:48 pm on July 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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More negative moves. Over the past 3 to 4 weeks my main keyword, that was at #1 for 17+ years has suddenly dropped to position 5.
Replaced by Pinterest, Pinterest and now a huge "Top Stories" block that display news stories totally unrelated to the search query. Isn't that what the "News" tab is for?

Page one has become real garbage, Is this an attempt at forcing users to search beyond page one? That begs the question, "what happened to great UE?"
7:09 pm on July 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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"More negative moves. Over the past 3 to 4 weeks my main keyword, that was at #1 for 17+ years has suddenly dropped to position 5. "

Same. Our 22 year old site was #1 for 21 years. Suddenly a few weeks ago we plummeted to #8, and now bounce around randomly in the 5 to 10 range depending on the day.

The sites above us are all new (last 2 years) template type sites with 1/100th of the backlinks we have, 1/1000th of our content, etc. Most of them were clearly coded in an afternoon and thrown up, and now rank higher than us daily.

None of this makes any sense at all. It seems clear to me that our site has some massive, invisible penalty applied to it that grows larger with every passing year.

One of my theories is that google has a bug in 301 handling of very large, old sites. Over the last 22 years our site has reorganized a number of times and each time we have responsibly set up 301s. It seems to me like google never forgets these 301s, as it still occasionally crawls 301 URLs we set up 20 years ago. You can also tell that Google "doesnt forget" old 301s or URLs because in the google webmaster 404 reports if you click "links to this 404 page" it will list URLs that are decades old and long dead.

Our site thus has had a few MILLION 301s in its long history (our site has 700k pages or so today, after noindexing of thin stuff) and it has seemed to me that every time we have put in place new redirects our site loses authority DOMAIN WIDE. So seems like google has applied some massive penalties on us because of our 22 year history of 301s.

It is my theory that google is counting "the historical footprint of all Urls from a domain" in some of its calculations, and counting urls extinct decades ago in a negative light. Perhaps counting them as thin content, or duplicate content, or something. It is the only dataset that large sites like ours have collected over the years that could be messing with their algorithms.

I wish there was someone at google to discuss this with, because it seems to be an issue that a lot of older sites are having to deal with year after year. They have never answered my queries though and offers to help them debug these unintended issues with old, large websites.

Unfortunately the only way out from this "old, large website" data corruption/bug at google is to start over with a brand new domain. When tossing aside your brand and thousands of backlinks to your site to move to a new domain name becomes a solution you are seriously considering, you know the bug is pretty massive indeed.
8:32 pm on July 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Strange observation: In my niche, for the past 24 months an abandoned non mobile responsive site that hasn't been updated or maintained for years with expired security certificate, outdated scripts, secure page warnings and fewer back links ranks #1 for a competitive three word niche term.

Did you see this using a desktop or a mobile device? I do wonder if this is how the mobile index will work. Meaning, if ones site is mobile friendly it will rank well in that index and get demoted in the desktop index as a way for Google to spread traffic around. With the vast majority of my sales coming from desktop users, that would not be a positive move. Regardless, one can't help but think such a scenario could happen in light of what you are reporting if you witnessed this from a desktop device. My guess is we will experience a lot of volatility as Google tests their mobile index in the coming months, and what you may be seeing is just that - a test. At least we can hope that's all it is.

Some of the serp trackers are still reporting volatility. My hope is samwest and westcoast will see their ranks return once things settle down. I'd also like to see better pageviews and the rare conversion from Google return as well.
9:24 pm on July 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I just noticed via mobile search, each listing getting an image and huge amount of real estate. Not sure if there were more than 4 results but big blocks for results complete with image. Looks just like a blog post front page. Just like a website. Every result with image. Small site? Not a snowballs chance in hell being inside page 10 on this search. Nauseating.
10:43 pm on July 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I was wondering if Google was still using the canonical tag. Because for me, it's seems broken, Google is indexing old comment pages with the canonical for the main article on it.

widget.com/articleA/comments (with canonical widget.com/articleA) is indexed. In the google cache, in the code, I can see my good canonical.

This is maybe causing thin content > panda ?

What's going on, Google, are you completely bugged?
4:33 am on July 30, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I just noticed via mobile search, each listing getting an image and huge amount of real estate.

It's been that way for a while for my keywords. The funny thing is my site ranks #1 but the image is from a competitor. I probably should try addressing that one of these days, not so much that I care how badly Google steps on their you know what, but I don't want my site associated with cheap Chinese knockoff wannabees.
2:55 pm on July 30, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Today I saw a search query in my niche return a staggering FIVE consecutive Pinterest results.
I had to double check my URL to make sure I wasn't stuck on the Pinterest site. Incredible.
That is one major bug on Google right now.

People are seeing this and spamming the daylights out of these Pinterest pages. Gotta admit, I added a little self promoting commenting myself, but at least it was relevant. These pages go on forever and most of the content is nowhere near or very far at best from the original query.
It's just become a new spam channel. Time to nip it in the bud G.
3:48 pm on July 30, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I wanted to know how these download sites rank so good with insufficient and illegal content

I searched to download pirated movie on Google. I was surprised to see first 3 results had domain name 'google.com'. I clicked on them and the Maps app opened on my phone! Then at the bottom of the screen in Map app, I saw a link to the site and that shows the download link!

Smart brains.
6:19 am on July 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Yes, a lot of these blackhatters are using Pinterest and Google Maps to rank their parasite web pages. They just blast them with spam because of course they'll never get penalized. I noticed this because I was trying to get around some ridiculous country restriction on YouTube. Way to go Google, just keep plugging away with these "authorities"!

Respect ma authoratahhhh!1!
8:38 am on July 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I have been reading all your reports, and id like to comment what I see in my niche as a contrast. I don't see Pinterest ranking higher than anyone, no big brands like that. But what I do see is purchased links. Not PBN, but PUBLIC blog networks. I can locate almost every single domain name linking to my competitors on sponsored reviews(dot)com. I mean, its free to make an account and anyone can see they are paid reviews. I lost my rankings as well. I personally believe the slow death I have been experiencing is an algorithmic change google made so people don't talk about updates anyone. You die a little more every day, little by little, over a period of 5-6 months. They may push out additional updates in that time, which also take 5-6 months to roll out. Its to disguise the updates.
8:46 am on July 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Today I saw a search query in my niche return a staggering FIVE consecutive Pinterest results.
I had to double check my URL to make sure I wasn't stuck on the Pinterest site. Incredible.
That is one major bug on Google right now.


I'm seeing this in my niche too and it has been like this for months. Pinterest shouldn't even be listed in Google search. It should be heavily penalized. It's full of spam and duplicated content. Also, Pinterest should be penalized for a form of cloaking and misleading people. You have to sign up and login before you can view the Pinterest content. If the content is not there without log in, then it should not be listed on Google!

Anyhow, Google's "love" for Pinterest and it's inability to penalize the real spammers (while at the same time punishing sites of hard working people who follow Google's guidelines thoroughly) is a perfect illustration of how crappy Google has become. The good news is is that my website is gradually getting more visitors from alternative search engines like duckduckgo, ecosia, ...
10:47 am on July 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Seems new blackhat tactic is build tons of niche websites that list 5-10 "best" products ie what ever pays the most commision, make sure content is 1000-3000 words in length but doesnt matter if the grammar is really awful. Seems to be tricking rankbrain as google credits these sites as though that is what user wants, even though the whole point should be to list the best products/websites themselves?
1:05 pm on July 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Google's "love" for Pinterest and it's inability to penalize the real spammers (while at the same time punishing sites of hard working people who follow Google's guidelines thoroughly) is a perfect illustration of how crappy Google has become. The good news is is that my website is gradually getting more visitors from alternative search engines like duckduckgo, ecosia, ..

It's reassuring to see you and other long time members here describe how offensive Google's search results have become. If nothing else, it confirms what some of the newer webmasters are seeing in Google (crap) and what they can expect from Google (not much).
2:24 pm on July 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Could having content duplicated on Pinterest cause problems for the site that's the actual host of the content? We have more links from Pinterest than any other domain, by a large margin. The content links to us (or, at least, it often does), but if Google prefers Pinterest, could we be penalized as if we're the ones duplicating the content?
3:33 pm on July 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Could having content duplicated on Pinterest cause problems for the site that's the actual host of the content? We have more links from Pinterest than any other domain, by a large margin. The content links to us (or, at least, it often does), but if Google prefers Pinterest, could we be penalized as if we're the ones duplicating the content?


I'm not sure. Years ago with the "good old Google" there would not have been a problem because back then Google kept track and always gave priority to the original owner of the content. What I'm seeing now in Google Images Search with my own content is that Google sometimes shows the Pinterest copy instead of the original. On top of that the Pinterest copy sometimes links to a website that scraped my content => no link with the original URL. I'm afraid that with this ongoing mess of scraping, pinning, ... Google will loose track and penalize people for "duplicating their own content".
5:07 pm on July 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Could having content duplicated on Pinterest cause problems for the site that's the actual host of the content?


If that is the case then it would blow a hole in the hull of social media. That would mean that stuff posted on Facebook, G+, Twitter and all other SM sites would be considered punitive content duplication. I think that's pretty far fetched, but who knows what lurks in that evil code..

I know WordPress can be set to spread posts to social pages upon publishing. Maybe that's why WordPress sites are particularly hard hit. Holy #*$! that would be bad. Who's using WordPress and sinking fast? Me!

This would sure explain why a dead site (as described a few posts ago) with no social media play would be outranking an active site and SM participant.... If this is even remotely true, then Google's got a real tangled ball of string on their hands. Hard to believe that could be true, but makes some sense.

More of that "hey do this", then a few years down the line making it punitive. I think we've seen that before.
5:22 pm on July 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

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If this is even remotely true, then Google's got a real tangled ball of string on their hands


Google has more problems than just that I'm afraid.

Two days ago I added a new page/article to my website. A page about an important event in my niche. An event/subject a lot of people in my niche are searching for. The page is nowhere to be found on Google. Google didn't index it yet. The two "smaller" search engines Ecosia and Duckduckgo and also Bing are already listing my new page (first spot on the 3 search engines). This means that the indexing power/speed of Google is weaker than the smaller engines. Important: Google is listing 2 irrelevant Pinterest pages on page one of the serps when I search for the subject my page is about.
6:48 pm on July 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Google has more problems than just that I'm afraid.


The other issue on Google is age...it seems they are stuck 4 to 6 years in the past...at least in my niche.
Every time I try to find something current, the best they give is 2011 - 2014.
Did a wheel fall off somewhere along the way?
8:30 pm on July 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

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It would not surprise me that Google is hacked. They have seemed messed up for some time. The last week I have no idea where some of these sites are coming from. Some of these sites have never been there before. Notice how page 1 rarely moves. If your system was hacked what would you do? You plug the first page and page 2 and beyond float until you can figure it out. And what do you see?
9:01 pm on July 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I love it when google talk about Rankbain and AI, because if their SERPs are an example of artificial intelligence then I think humans are safe for the time being.
11:00 pm on July 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

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the indexing power/speed of Google is weaker than the smaller engines


Those smaller search engines you mentioned supplement their results with Bing and Yandex so it may be those results you are seeing. Google has no problem crawling sites, googlebot goes everywhere but it is selective in its indexing, I think thats an area pagerank still factors. Google claim that history of the site and user experience play a part in ability to index. I just think add some links at it and it will rank fine. Google are mass deindexing content right now, they are removing thousands and thousands of pages so your article is most probably collateral damage.

Google will say that webmasterworld always say the sky is falling in but the results are in my opinion outdated and declining in quality. Largely the have become backfill to ads but even on non commercial terms where Google excelled I have noticed a drop in quality. It takes me five searches now to find what I want. And the outdated data is extremely frustrating, just spent an hour coding a varnish vcl file with a rewrite rule for https and couldn't get it to work - when I finally checked the page Google had returned at the top it was for a version three years out of date.

I think companies go through cycles and Google are too fixated with promoting brands and a stupid war on spam that sees everyone loose, the user, the webmaster and eventually Google themselves.
1:39 am on Aug 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Maybe the AI is experiencing the "HAL effect". It wants to do the right thing but that line of code that says "must improve ad revenue" makes it act psychotically and spit out these wacky results.;)
2:19 am on Aug 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The "HAL effect" too funny, wasn't HAL Kubrick's joke anyway or is it a coincidence if you take the next letter in the alphabet then HAL=IBM, Jeez I wonder what Kubrick would have done if Google were about back then.
4:06 am on Aug 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Right, but Dr Chandra says HAL = 'H'euristically programmed 'AL'gorithmic computer...sounds a lot like what Google does, except HAL takes out astronauts while Google, well, I digress. :)
6:16 am on Aug 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Kubrick's joke anyway or is it a coincidence if you take the next letter in the alphabet then HAL=IBM, Jeez I wonder what Kubrick would have done if Google were about back then.

"Fnnfkd"

7:01 am on Aug 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I'm not sure if I'm allowed to post the link, but yesterday there was an interesting article about Google's new autoplay experiment on Wired. [wired.com...]

The end of the article says a lot:

"Perhaps the changes at Google aren't enough to send you into the arms of a competitor quite yet, or to get regulators to take a second look at Google's search dominance. But it means that the time is ripe for more competition."

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 8:25 am (utc) on Aug 1, 2017]
[edit reason] Added link to Wired article [/edit]

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7:14 am on Aug 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

redhat

 
 


The following 12 messages were cut out to new thread by goodroi. New thread at: google/4860963.htm [webmasterworld.com]
8:21 am on Aug 2, 2017 (utc -5)
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