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Google Updates and SERP Changes - September 2017

     
10:45 am on Sep 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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System: The following 4 messages were cut out of thread at: https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4860963.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 3:25 am on Sep 2, 2017 (PDT -8)


How do you compare your pages with those in the top 10?


User intent.
12:21 pm on Sept 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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There's nothing new about forecasts. How do you think hotels, airlines, and cruise lines calculate "dynamic pricing"? For that matter, smart retailers--even small shopowners--were forecasting sales long before computer software came along to help them do it.
Oh, now I feel better, Google is trying to keep their rooms and seats full making them a direct competitor for traffic with 100% control. This verifies the premise that Google is not a search company, but rather an advertising company, which is indeed nothing new.

If Google can forecast your likely pageviews for a given day, based on the data that it has available, wouldn't you prefer to have Google share that information with you than keep it a secret?
No, I'd rather they not use the delta as feedback to control traffic levels, which they very likely do. If I were a young Google algo engineer, I could whip up a great control algo in 2 minutes using this granular data. To me, this data is as useful and transparent as the "don't be evil" statement. We see the effects, but it's not due to anything they are doing, noo! They keep enough secrets, so this little bit of data transparency is laughable.
12:37 pm on Sept 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Total drop in traffic with sessions down over 20% on the week. Must be that "anomalous" overshoot of 4.3 clicks that triggered the hammer. Over the week, data insights were all sunshine and unicorns, yet end of week tally is a loss. smh - perhaps it was the hurricane murmuration. lol
2:21 pm on Sept 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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-34% here for the week which just so happens to be precisely the same metric v September 2016.

Whatever Google is having a cull of is working beautifully, for them.
3:01 pm on Sept 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@redbar - pretty much the same pattern here too with an apparent annual washout % factor added in. That washout trend (aka "slow death") started about 7 years ago. Prior to that is was always upward trends year to year. Ah, but that was then, this is now. Sorry, I'm preaching to the choir again.
3:21 pm on Sept 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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No conversions from Google in a day and a half. Meanwhile Bing and Yahoo traffic is converting in its expected range. Amazon sales have increased, which may be an indicator that Google has turned up the dial to give Amazon even more visibility in the SERPS.
3:35 pm on Sept 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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One specific thing I have noticed is that my example.co.uk sites have hardly been affected in the G.uk SERPs, the huge drops I have experienced have all been with my .in and .asia sites. My .com sites registered and hosted in the UK have also definitely been affected and one specific site, a .com for an Indian site, has all but been wiped out in the G.com SERPs whereas it's doing fine in G.in.

I have a feeling there is a dumba$$ at Mountain View who feels that .in, .asia, .uk sites should only be shown in their own specific SERPs since they have absolutely nothing to do with international trade and only US .coms are allowed to be exporters across EVERY .tld.

This is not just my feeling, many of the webmasters in my widget trade have experienced the same, consequently they too are wondering what the heck is going on since no matter what they do they continually lose traffic just like myself.

When everyone is losing traffic where the heck is it going? Has Joe Public realised that the G SERPs are so bad they've simply given up looking for my widgets consequently there is no traffic?

And once again, I have to stress that our realworld business is absolutely fine, the lack of G traffic has not affected us.
5:21 pm on Sept 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Getting traffic back that we lost in August (by noindexing category pages). Have actually been gaining +50% since last year. Tip! Don't be afraid to dump or at least noindex useless pages. Works wonders!
6:06 pm on Sept 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Don't be afraid to dump or at least noindex useless pages.


How does one decide what a useless page is?

One that has few visitors but is evergreen with information not found anywhere else yet the product is still in use and demand?

I've got loads of pages like that and I ain't removing them since that information is gold dust for my industry regardless of what G may believe.
9:09 pm on Sept 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I feel they dial up this Local search too much. It strikes me like they pinpoint a center location for a product. Like maybe where the manufacturer is. Then they look at first word in the domain. Then it looks like sites that have locations everywhere (Ebay, Kohls), then the niche sites.
6:05 am on Sept 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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A useless page is a page that does not add anything of value to the visitor, a category page for example that only act as an intermediary page.
8:07 am on Sept 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Traffic down by 30% to 40%
10:07 am on Sept 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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A useless page is a page that does not add anything of value to the visitor, a category page for example that only act as an intermediary page.


And yet this is what googles seems to love about our site. We rank with category pages on several 1 to 5 spots, while the deeper pages with lots of content are burried in the serps.
Lets face the fact that google does all to prevent users from clicking on free links what transactional queries concern. I can easely tell you about 10 more sites that are more "compelling" than what google gives back.
It is no wonder that with every quater amazon gets bigger and bigger as the alternatives are gone or getting wiped out.

Besides this today is a google zombie day. 100%
Amazon is way up.
10:45 am on Sept 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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A useless page is a page that does not add anything of value to the visitor, a category page for example that only act as an intermediary page.


Those are useful if the search query is more general than specific.

So if I'm looking for dry fly tying instructions, I'd expect a primer on tying dry flies in general or else step by step instructions for different kinds of dry flies, in which case a category page would be useful.
10:55 am on Sept 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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A useless page is a page that does not add anything of value to the visitor, a category page for example that only act as an intermediary page.

Not useless for visitors if they can use the category page to refine/locate what appeals to them. Aren't visitors who we are building websites for anyway? A good search engine will not penalize a site for this. But these days, the words good and Google don't belong in the same sentence...
11:48 am on Sept 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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the words good and Google don't belong in the same sentence


i am sorry but this is not right.

Look:

google is good in not showing good results.
12:10 pm on Sept 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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If the page does not add new content and/or answer a question it is better to noindex, follow them in my opinion.

Google dislikes "category" pages, pages that require the user to take an extra step just to get to the actual content. Category/doorway pages most likely produce thin content and they are a lovely source of duplicate content if you use previews (excerpts). Depending on how the categories are structured, there can also be a large quantity of them.

I do agree that it might only be worth to rid them (from search engines) if you have a decent amount of them.

Anyway, it worked wonders for us. Though it is not the only change we made to our content over the last year. But noindexing "useless" content seems to do wonders for us. We have seen substantial growth since we started doing it.
12:58 pm on Sept 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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My site is an education-based site, and I use category pages to group together articles on related subjects. Google indexes all of my category pages and they all do extremely well in the SERPs. In fact, many of my category pages outrank the articles within the categories (which also do very well). I wouldn't know how to structure my site without category pages, and Google seems to have no problem with them.
1:06 pm on Sept 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I think Maximum44 means atergory pages that are just go through pages, full of links just a simple as a site to structure your content. And in this point i am with maximum44.
Whereby i think it is idiotic to punish a website for category pages.
1:40 pm on Sept 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Our articles / Q&As got more traffic after noindexing the go thru/category pages that listed them. I was suprised how well it worked. After noindexing a newly developed category listing and getting lost traffic back i am pretty confident it works.

With category i mean listing pages etc. Just like Martin Ice Web says. I think it is stupid as well. I am just glad it worked for us.
2:09 pm on Sept 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Wouldn't Google decide on its own which pages are worth indexing? I thought I read an article not too long ago where someone at Google said that "no-index" was just a suggestion, not a rule, as far as Google is concerned.
2:20 pm on Sept 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Also, what about all of those "Top 10", "Best 50" and "100 Amazing" articles that do nothing but round up and link to articles on other sites? Google seems to love those, even though they have no original content and offer no value. Most of them just surround the links to the articles with ads. And yet, they're everywhere. My niche is full of them, and many of them rank higher in the SERPs than the sites they link to.

If Google will penalize a site for having category pages for its own content, why goes Google seem to have no problem with all of those useless Top 10 lists?
2:29 pm on Sept 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Ok so my internet connection tests fine at 60mbs yet as I'm doing several Google searches, seemingly random top listed sites time out and never load. Sometimes I think the Google redirection code is whacked out and not delivering the goods on a certain (maybe even calculated) number of searches. That or there is a massive global DDoS attack going on. Either way, something appears messed up...again.
2:32 pm on Sept 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@samwest, no problems here. Google traffic looks normal.
3:18 pm on Sept 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@crala - Yeah, I doubt it is widespread, but happens enough to make an effect. In my weekly insights, the only thing UP is my bounce rate, FNFR.
3:23 pm on Sept 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@samwest i think you're right. My site has lost about 30 to 40% of its google traffic today.
4:42 pm on Sept 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Off topic, but I wonder if Google use overall has dropped over the years. With social media being such a big thing these days, and with more and more people turning to YouTube for answers, is Google still what it once was? Even without the major updates that took away a good chunk of my traffic over the past year, would Google traffic still have dropped?

There's two main reasons why I'm wondering about this. The first is that my Google traffic has been steadily declining over the past few years, even though the topic I cover is very popular and most of my articles rank high in the SERPs. The second is that even though my traffic has been steadily increasing over the past few weeks (thanks to the new school year), most of the increase has not been from Google. Most of it is from direct traffic. So it seems like students and teachers are visiting my site directly rather than going through Google. For comparison, Google traffic is up 10% over last month. Direct traffic is up 70%.

Is it unrealistic at this point to expect traffic numbers from Google to return to what they were a few years ago? Is Google itself declining in use?
4:57 pm on Sept 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@Cralamarre in a recent thread here someone posted a list of the top ten 10 most popular apps and Google was taking up two or three spots, with search, and you-tube and something else. So I think Google is still going strong.

The change you are seeing may have more to do with https. As I understand it Google will not show you referrer data for users that are logged in. So it is possible that the much of the direct traffic you are seeing is in fact from Google but with the referrer hidden. I am sure someone here can do a better job of explaining the specifics (like keyplyr).
5:16 pm on Sept 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@NickMNS, interesting. When you say "logged in", do you mean logged in to their Google account? I don't use https yet on my site.
5:38 pm on Sept 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Off topic, but I wonder if Google use overall has dropped over the years. With social media being such a big thing these days, and with more and more people turning to YouTube for answers, is Google still what it once was?

Google is pretty much holding its own in desktop search, but the real growth is in mobile search, where Google has a far more dominant share than it does in desktop. And don't forget: Thanks to smartphones, people are using the Internet more hours per day than they did in the pre-iPhone era. Common sense would suggest that more Internet usage is going to mean more Google searches, even if users who own smartphones spend more time playing games, watching videos, reading news, or perusing cat photos on social media than they did when computers were the only game in town.

For some numbers, see this February, 2017 article from Search Engine Land:

[searchengineland.com...]
6:05 pm on Sept 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@EditorialGuy that link speaks volumes.

@Cralamarre
When you say "logged in", do you mean logged in to their Google account?

Yes logged into Google.
I don't use https yet on my site.

Exactly the issue (if I am not mistaken) since your site is not https and the user is logged in and thus on https, then the referrer information is not forwarded, so the user appears as "direct". If you were https then these users would be shown correctly as coming from Google.

I think "Direct" is a misnomer, it should be renamed "Direct or Unknown".

I checked quickly in my stats to see if there was a difference between mobile vs desktop users for direct traffic. For all traffic is see more than 60% are mobile users. For direct only traffic it is close to 90%.
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