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Share Your Theories on SERP Shake Up

     
1:03 pm on Sep 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Think you can explain the recent Fall Follies in Google Serps? Then step right up and share!

Ideally people posting theories & guesses will back it up with hard data but if you can't then please be careful to properly label it as your personal theories & guesses. We don't want to confuse unproven ideas with proven facts. Life is hard enough without misinformation leading people down dead ends.

Let's also remember that correlation is not the same as causation. For example just because many top ranking sites still have a legacy meta keywords tag in their code does not mean their top rankings are caused by meta keyword tags.

So what do think caused this latest SERP shake-up? Is it one update or multiple?
7:09 pm on Sept 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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In the current Google Updates and SERP Changes thread, some people are saying that spam and worthless content have gotten a rankings boost recently.

But I just checked some keywords for seve Google Updates and SERP Changes ral of my sites, and didn't see much change from a week or so ago.

What I did see is a lot of cases of http pages ranking higher than https pages. For the keywords I checked, about 60%-70% of the first page results are http pages.

Edited to make a correction for the name of the thread in the first sentence
10:01 pm on Sept 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Intriguing observation about http. I'm usually seeing the opposite for most of the searches I've tested - about 70% of first page results are https for me.

Are the keywords you are checking in one industry or various industries? Are they more informational or e-commerce keywords?

I do think Google has adjusted more than one knob on their secret formula.
10:08 pm on Sept 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I actually have 2 theories and would love to know if anyone else who was negatively affected by anything within the last 2 weeks can let me know the answers to the following questions...

1. Does Google show a date in the SERPs for each of your pages? And, if so, does it show the original post date of the page, or the "last updated" date?
2. Is your site HTTP or HTTPS? (Like aristotle, I'm also seeing something interesting in this regard.)
11:03 pm on Sept 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Yeah, I'm leaning towards the HTTPS Migration theory. Lots of G's recalculation and eating up new protocols (HTTPS).

In my sector tons of webmasters waited until the last minute and just switched to HTTPS before the October 1st Google Chrome "Not Secure" hits us in the face. I know that I just converted my 2 bread winner sites over yesterday. I'm part of an ad network for my sector almost all of us waited until this week to switch over.
11:05 pm on Sept 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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goodroi -- My keywords related to information on three different subjects.

Most e-commerce sites have been https for some time. So for that type of search nearly all of the results would likely be https pages.

So I agree with your views. But just wanted to make the point that many http sites are doing as well as ever now
12:12 am on Sept 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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This is not a rant, it is the reality of what this company is doing.

<snip>

Hmmm ... Maybe that was a little rant:-)))

[edited by: goodroi at 12:31 pm (utc) on Sep 29, 2017]
[edit reason] Rants will be returned to sender, let's stay on topic in this thread :) [/edit]

10:18 am on Sept 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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My hosting is in USA my domain .com I have lose -50% of my organic traffic in just one day on the 8 th September and now after 21 days nothing changed. I have respected all guidelines always have minimalist and perfect user experience website with full of self made content. I have a blog and working hard 3 years and lost traffic from 5000/visitors/day to 2500/visitors/day. This practice sincerely is not correct.
10:25 am on Sept 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I work in a highly competitive niche that has been 100% https for some time, and our website is country targeted through the domain extension (co.uk).

My website has primary 5 landing pages - 1 main page, and 4 others. The 4 others were devastated by the latest Google update, while the main landing page didn't suffer anywhere near as much damage.

I'll use some codes to help describe the 4 pages - SD, TM, SM, OY.

Let me quantify 'devasted'. TM ranked at position 3 - after the update it fell to position 300. It's a similar story with the other 3 pages.

It seems like Google completely devalued these pages. When searching for mywebsite.co.uk, the pages no longer appear in the main page group - replaced by contact, terms etc. When I type 'site:mywebsite.co.uk', the pages appear on page 6 or 7, whereas before they were firmly rooted on page 1. In fact, 1 of the pages is omitted from the results completely. When I look in the ranking tool, the keywords still rank but for the main landing page.

I started to look for patterns.

The main landing page is accessed via the main menu, while the other 4 are 'quick links' towards the foot of the page.

The quick links are randomly ordered, with randomly selected anchor text. The links are outside of the footer and are repeated on approx 10 pages.

That is where the similarities end.

SD - around 3 years old with lots of established links, TM, SM and OY are approx 6 months old with just a few links.

SD has had no link building done in the past 3 months, whereas, TM, SM and OY have had 4 or 5 links built with varying anchor text.

I first noticed a problem on the 14th September - all of the these pages nosedived overnight. Two days later they were back. On the 19th, it happened again, this time for good.

I've started to make changes:

    One anchor text variant instead of several - no change
    Encase the links in a 'nav' element - no change
    Moved 3 of the 4 links to the main menu - all 4 pages back in main page group, ranking for keywords - although no significant ranking improvements yet.


Could it be that Google is devaluing groups of internal links?

I'm still not sure if I'm dealing with more than one issue here.

UPDATE

Rankings have more or less recovered - main keywords back at position 6, 9, 9, 14.

Not sure whether it was the last tweak I made to the menu structure, or it's a Google rollback, but I'll take that for now.

Anyone else seen improvements today?

[edited by: lennythegrass at 11:00 am (utc) on Sep 29, 2017]

10:58 am on Sept 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I'm not really clear on the wider context.

Do your pages have links from sites that you do not control? How did those links come into being?
What else is on the site, besides the 4 pages?
You call them landing pages. Are these Adwords targets, or some other campaign? Or just your money pages that rank well?

Some advice though: stop fiddling. Analyse and commit. Google sometimes gets fairly draconian with constant tweaks in SEO-sensitive areas, because it smacks of manipulation rather than user-focus.
_________

On Topic.

I'm pretty sure this it not triggered by widespread HTTP/HTTPS site changes. It doesn't stack up- there just are not enough people making changes to cause an algo meltdown.

So, this must be a Google-triggered change. It feels pretty significant, because we are seeing multiple traffic patterns- many more than the usual 2 or 3 we detect during "normal" updates.

The ongoing disruption makes it very difficult to make any sensible guess as to the purpose.
11:07 am on Sept 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I've never been really impacted by Google's changes, but this week was very odd.

For example, for a given hour, I will not receive a single visitor from Google search, for 45 minutes, then all of a sudden in 15 minutes there will be tens of visitors from North America / Europe. Then all of a sudden no body.

Some hours I am at 300% increase of traffic compare to the previous week, then the next hour it will be down by 50%.

So I guess results are served from different indexes, may be to test things, or may be the time rebuild the main index. I hope that at the end of this,I will not stay in the 50% down of traffic.

At Google Search Console, I see no significant changes. Position, CTR, Impression are rather constant, so I do not understand.
11:11 am on Sept 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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We do have links from sites we do not control - mostly from bookmark websites. We also get a lot of spam in our niche - if you're on page 1 for something, someone, somewhere will scrape your data and regurgitate it. Most of these sites are churn and burn so I used to disavow them.

The site is approx 20 pages with an additional blog containing around 50 pages. Aside from money pages, there are standard pages, such as terms, privacy, FAQ, contact etc.

The landing pages are money pages - no ads on site whatsoever.
8:04 pm on Sept 30, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Glad to see you guys catching up -

12:46 am on Sept 13, 2017
"There is I believe a filter you go through when you 301 links to https, not all of the links make it through and this causes a drop in rankings. They encouraged everyone to go secure but omitted to tell people there links could then be filtered in the process. Whats rather bizarre is that those who haven't converted to https are enjoying above average serp results due to unfiltered links. Look at ebay for example. And tell me I'm not mad but wasn't Wikipedia more prominent before switching to https............... I am reminded of Admiral Ackbar in Star Wars - "It's A Trap!". However this one has no way out, the non secure banner on results is going to be disastrous for those sites that stay put."

11:52 pm on Sept 13, 2017
"Nope I wasn't thinking of chained redirects, I am talking about a filter on links applied currently to https that does not seem to apply on non https sites. Based on observation and years of hearing one thing and Google doing another. Note I said "I believe....... " in original post."

9:14 pm on Sept 17, 2017
"I'm calling bullsh@t here ! Google are filtering inbound links to https and thats why people are seeing their sites fall. You can mock me, bully me, say what you like but truth always wins :)"

12:28 am on Sept 22, 2017
"I have to say I have been following this update and I think its great, some good quality content has been removed but I can see what there trying to achieve. Its a much more positive approach to ignore and deindex spam than to reward negative seo, of course Bing have been doing this for a while and thats maybe why there results are cleaner. I'm no Google fan but hey guys I think this is a positive update, yes your seeing some sites rise to the top that shouldn't be there but I believe thats temporary and most of them will get filtered when they change to https."

11:21 pm on Sept 22, 2017
"He,He, Now if you walked in on a surgeon in the middle of things it would look kinda a mess and you would be like "whats going on" , same thing with Google, they have boosted non ssl sites whilst they cleanse the index, many spam sites rising to the top but its only temporary my friend as all filters are off for non ssl sites which is where the spam lays. "

1:39 am on Sept 24, 2017
"UPDATE - Google now enforcing the same algo on non https sites - watch them fall... There is no longer a boost for non secure sites."

9:27 pm on Sept 26, 2017
"You know I was going to update as to current status of http vs https as there has been another change but I can't be arsed, after reading some of the mods comments on disinformation and other comments I think I'll not bother."
9:57 pm on Sept 30, 2017 (gmt 0)

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After all, I feel like it's the "answer box". Today, I see answer boxes for nearly everything. This would explain why my traffic is down, while my position remains unchanged.
11:14 pm on Oct 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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So google reverting to old skool now pushing up edu,gov sites as well as non http and static content, They have created one big mess right now, I see no sign of the supposed warning in Chrome for non https sites, Google Shopping results fail to comply with EU regulations. I think the wheels are falling off.
4:04 am on Oct 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Mostly nailed on the mobile side. Mobile: Down ~12% MoM at peak. Recovered to down ~4% MoM this week.

I'm not certain, but the traffic loss looks more extreme as you get deeper into the website. Pages in the universal navigation generally INCREASED in traffic, while pages multiple folders deep (locations which are effectively .com/locations/state/location-name, and blog posts which are blog/year/month/title) are doing worse.

The site is legit, nothing sketchy. A little bloated perhaps between an active blog and 200+ locations.
It *does* seem to be recovering.

My main priorities I have queued are:
--Further mobile optimization, including site speed.
--Removing bloat from navigation.
--Cleaning up the blog URLs to potentially remove subfolders

TBD. A stressfull couple weeks, we made a lot of gains in the early summer, and were riding high...those were the days.
11:38 am on Oct 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I see no sign of the supposed warning in Chrome for non https sites


I think that will appear with version 62 of Chrome which is scheduled for 17th October.
1:25 pm on Oct 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@nomis5 You are correct. Anyone that is looking for Chrome 62 today is not the best informed SEO person. To clarify even further, Google has never said the change to the Chrome 62 browser display will coincide with a change to their ranking algorithm. So there is no guarantee a big ranking shake-up will happen on October 17. Chrome browser display & Google ranking algorithms are distinct things.

If you think usage metrics are part of the algorithm, then the change to the Chrome 62 browser display for http sites could have an indirect ranking impact. Of course, Google can secretly adjust the ranking points they give to https sites and/or http sites at any time.
3:21 pm on Oct 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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As a group, http sites are still going strong. Most likely they are benefitting from the traffic losses reportedly occurring for some of the sites being switched to https. As these https sites lose traffic, some of it could go to http sites.

Even a temporary loss of traffic for an https site could do permanent harm, because of the lost opportunities to get sign-ups and attract backlinks. Meanwhile http sites continue to benefit
7:30 am on Oct 4, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I have no idea, but all of a sudden, a site I've never seen before is ranking for everything. I checked SEM and it went from 50,000 visitors to 500,000 in the space of a month or two. It's linked to my niche loosely, but not directly in my niche (say a car site with motorbike articles).
11:41 am on Oct 4, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Google is deindexing my images, I have 5 sites with 10k indexed images, but after oct 1st now they are all at 2-3k, which means they are deindexing around 70% images from all my sites, and the sites are unrelated to each other (different niche). Maybe this is a server penalty? Forgot to add, sites are http, mobile friendly.
7:19 pm on Oct 4, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I migrated my site to https a few weeks ago and I was negatively affected by the latest algo tweak. If you were negatively affected last week and you think it is https related, perhaps not.

FYI: I never received any sort of positive improvement from switching to https. It was negative right off the bat. Has anyone else been affected negatively initially after switching a large site to https?
2:17 pm on Oct 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Yeah, I'm leaning towards the HTTPS Migration theory. Lots of G's recalculation and eating up new protocols (HTTPS).


I think everything right now is Google making a big push to force everyone into https. I converted on the 25th of September, and the execution was flawless. However my search traffic has dropped about 10% since then. I see in Search Console that the number of links reported back is half of what it was for http version of my site. Does it take a while for search console to count the links again?

I migrated my site to https a few weeks ago and I was negatively affected by the latest algo tweak. If you were negatively affected last week and you think it is https related, perhaps not.


I was wondering about that, but it coincided exactly with the date I switched, and my competitors have not been as affected

FYI: I never received any sort of positive improvement from switching to https. It was negative right off the bat. Has anyone else been affected negatively initially after switching a large site to https?


Me either, but we don't know how Google will tweak its algo moving forward. I think a stronger boost for https might be in the works, but I am not seeing much of a speed boost after converting either. In fact my site got slower and has a much higher TTFB.
 

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