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Google Updates and SERP Changes - November 2017

     
8:35 am on Oct 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

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System: The following 2 messages were cut out of thread at: https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4870905.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 3:13 am on Nov 1, 2017 (PDT -8)


I am seeing amazing conversion rates since Saturday night / Sunday morning. Traffic remains fairly normal but conversions are through the roof! I have never seen anything like it yesterday. Is this coincidental or has something changed? Is anyone else seeing anything like it?

UK ecomm.
9:32 pm on Nov 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@sam

I wouldn't trust my mother with the traffic these days. You tell me that the traffic you had for 5 hours was real and it was just not converting because your site is not well optimised.

This is like the "foolishness of the crowd" too many of us having the same zombie problem but try to find a miracle internally to solve it. It is not going to happen.
11:19 am on Nov 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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While I am firm believer zombies do not exist, I can confirm that for some keyword niches my sites were "bumped" to the information category user intent. Sure the traffic jumped by 20-30% but the intent there is information so the sales dropped like a rock. So I had to employ a totally new section of the site aimed at buying intent customers so that I can monopolize as much of the customer journey as possible. That extra spend on content and website development combined with landing pages and google ads to keep relevancy even if paid, drained my budget, but that is the cost of trying to reach more traffic. Usually, that same traffic might not be of the converting kind.
1:11 pm on Nov 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Hi there,

I cam accross this forum and read that some of you got the same problem like me. It's good to know I am not the only one noticing an inmeddiate drop.

I got the same problem with my keywords ranking. Since end oktober we dropped for a certain keyword (which is mainly stable) from #4 to #7, we mostly rank #3 or #4. I am also using the SEMRUSH campaign tracking, which involvs tracking your ranking status on multilple keywords, such as top 10 keywords or online visibility compared to your competitors. For all the competitors I followed, I saw a massive drop in visibility in the week of 1 - 8 november 2017. So this confirms my thoughts about changes on the side of Google. Till when will this mobile roll out be? Can there be any other factors which caused a drop for my online visibility?
10:38 pm on Nov 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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A relevant post from Search Engine Roundtable of Nov 15, 2017
Mid-November Google Algorithm Search Ranking Update
Yesterday I saw signs of a spike in webmaster and SEO chatter about ranking changes in Google. That chatter has built up over the past 24 hours and the monitoring tools, most of them, have spiked as well. It looks like a more significant Google search ranking algorithm update was pushed out over the past 36 hours. It is hard to say exactly what happened but this is not at the levels of a major Penguin or Panda update but it is more significant than the daily Google updates does throughout the day.

Mid-November Google Algorithm Search Ranking Update
Nov 15, 2017 - by Barry Schwartz
[seroundtable.com...]

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 10:44 pm (utc) on Nov 16, 2017]
[edit reason] fixed broken link [/edit]

4:11 am on Nov 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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While I am firm believer zombies do not exist, I can confirm that for some keyword niches my sites were "bumped" to the information category user intent. Sure the traffic jumped by 20-30% but the intent there is information so the sales dropped like a rock. So I had to employ a totally new section of the site aimed at buying intent customers so that I can monopolize as much of the customer journey as possible. That extra spend on content and website development combined with landing pages and google ads to keep relevancy even if paid, drained my budget, but that is the cost of trying to reach more traffic. Usually, that same traffic might not be of the converting kind.

Changing a site just to appease Google in an attempt to extract some relevant converting traffic may work in the short term, but is not sustainable. Google is not stupid, they know exactly what our websites are about and the desired user actions we seek. Plain and simple, Google could care less. If Google can serve mediocre results and increase profits, they will. And they have. Moving beyond Google was the best thing that could have happened to us. For much less than what we spent on Adwords, I can mail a postcard directly to businesses that will buy our products. We can purchase advertising on websites that consumers who need our products frequent. Having been in the zombie land for a couple years, and not just surviving but growing, I can say with absolute certainty that all businesses need to move beyond Google. While I realize there will be those that think they can succeed in Google's rigged environment, the reality is that Google will continually change to extract more profit out of each query. The only way to truly beat Google's rigged system is to exit an environment that is designed to benefit them and not us.
7:38 am on Nov 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@glakes - thing is, I did too good of a job. I managed to get some popular niche vloggers to review the service and products and put up a good word and my content link building was successful. This however not only made my search results better. That made my site an authority, which did not play well for me because I started ranking better for broad informational search queries with more traffic and perform subpar for the actual money queries I am after. So now, that I have "everyone's attention" I need to change up my game in order to convert that informational traffic into leads and down the line to sales. The process will take time and money, which I will have to pay extra for.

What I am saying, in a nutshell, is that most "zombie" traffic comes from people who use your webpage and content for informational purposes only and need a different type of user journey to convert.
12:51 pm on Nov 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Whatever changes I saw at the start of the week have been completely reversed.
1:20 pm on Nov 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@Nutterum

It's definitely wise to use your popularity in informational searches to build your brand. I've done the same. But there is a ceiling on its effectiveness. Maybe it's just my industry, but I'm more inclined to think otherwise. The people that visit my site for information definitely get their questions answered plus are exposed to other related information about the product/solution they seek. For many it can be an eye opener and it solidifies our expertise on the subject matter. When it comes time for these same consumers to make a purchase, some return back to Google and do another search. Google detects the buyer's intent and omits our website from the query or buries us well beneath the fold and under multiple Amazon listings. If we can somehow build name recognition while the consumer is in the research stage of the buying cycle, where they can remember our business name months/years down the road, that would help to overcome this hurdle. A signup form may work for some businesses as well, though in my industry it would not work. Regardless, it's all about branding. Though for a highly specialized business, in a narrow industry, it is quite difficult to build a brand where it becomes a household or at least memorable name.

I don't see information queries leading to many sales - at least not enough to overcome how Google suppresses our website for buyer queries. Google loves to give their users Amazon crowded listings, and that prompted us to sell on Amazon a couple years ago. That decision has worked out well as it exposes consumers to our products whether they use a search engine to find/research/buy products or not. And from all that I've read, only a small percentage of consumers actually enter the purchase cycle at a search engine. Most consumers go directly to Amazon, eBay, etc.

The problem I see with Google is that once they have suppressed an ecommerce website in buyer queries, there's no coming back. Adding additional information pages may help to drive more traffic, but strays away from the ecommerce core of our website - possibly making Google think our website is more informational than transactional. Meaning adding informational pages may be counterproductive when our goal is to have Google send us buyer traffic.

Having been in in Google's zombieland for a few years, I look back at all the adjustments we made to get out of that zombie hell hole as mostly wasted time. Instead I should have been quicker to pull the trigger on moving beyond Google. At least on other websites I can spend X amount of time/money and generate results that come in close to a reasonable ROI. With Google, it does not seem to matter much - whether organic SEO or paid ads. Google has already chosen the very few winners that appear above the fold and they get the lion's share of buyer traffic. It's those websites that we need our products to be found on, while also reaching buyers on other channels and mediums.
2:45 pm on Nov 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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How does bounce rate just change 28% in a month with no site content changes? Again, it doesn't, Google just sends us different traffic.


It's not just Google traffic. But Google did suggest what you're saying (different traffic).

If there have been changes in the traffic sources to these pages...


More than Google. It can be Bing or Yahoo is sending you additional traffic. Could be Images (including Pinterest), too. Could be bots. It's not just Google that sends traffic. Which is why I said you're kind of repeating what Google suggested to you.

Might be worthwhile to figure out the traffic source (as Google suggested, btw) and see if it can be improved like this:

...have you made sure the content is relevant to that traffic?


And if it's not relevant then block it or do nothing, up to you. For example, if it's traffic from images (including Pinterest), then it might or might not be useful. Depends on your site and strategy.

Good luck.

Roger Montti
3:45 pm on Nov 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@mb - so you're suggesting I change the content to fit this non converting junk traffic they (yes GOOGLE) are sending. I say Google because the lions share has always come from them. Rather than take these goofy insights seriously, I consider them nothing more than anomalies (as do they). When they start flipping switches, nobody, not even Google knows exactly what will happen across all sites. Niches always take the brunt of their experimentation it seems. I opt to do nothing and just watch the changes as they roll by. The changes are very telling in themselves. No amount of floundering with content adjustment is going to make a difference anyway. You should know that by now.

BTW - they are NOT sending more traffic, just more poorly targeted traffic. No changes on site, just on incoming traffic. BTW, nobody is getting upset, just reporting the ongoing craziness. My best solution is to not post my observations here.
10:33 pm on Nov 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@samwest
My best solution is to not post my observations here.

Please keep your informative entertaining posts coming :)
10:42 pm on Nov 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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so you're suggesting I change the content to fit this non converting junk traffic they (yes GOOGLE) are sending.


No.
I suggested that the most profitable and reasonable use of your time was to check where that traffic is coming from then take the next steps (re-read my post for those steps).

I say Google because the lions share has always come from them.


Which means you do not know where your traffic is coming from, you're only guessing.

Good luck with that.
;)
11:03 am on Nov 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I have a keyword that I have been following closely. For weeks now it's been rotated between pages 1, 2 and 3. I have not noticed this with any of my other keywords.

Was google testing my phrase in different positions or was it mobile first testing with random positioning? It's certainly seemingly stopped now but tied in with the start of the mobile first roll out or tests.

The rotation seems to have stopped with whatever changes happened on the 15th or 16th November - obviously with the phrase at the lowest of its rotations.

Did anyone else observe anything like it?
11:27 am on Nov 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@Jez123 - yes! I have one or two keywords that fluctuate between position 5, 11, 17 - changing nearly hourly!
11:35 am on Nov 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@lee_sufc - are they still fluctuating? Mine has settled down for the last 2 days. Obviously in the worst position!
11:41 am on Nov 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@Jez123 - yes, like you, after an initial bit of excitement seeing them increase, they seem to have settled in a much worse position.
11:58 am on Nov 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@lee_sufc any idea what it was or why?
12:05 pm on Nov 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@Jez123 - Nope. Other than moving to HTTPS a couple of months back, nothing drastic has been changed my side? For my niche, this time of year always seems to bring uncertainty in the SERPS and keeps reminding me why I need to stop putting all my eggs in Google's basket.
2:14 pm on Nov 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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"Google has already chosen the very few winners that appear above the fold and they get the lion's share of buyer traffic"

Yes but the rest of us are still getting a lot of both paid and organic traffic that never converts and actually that traffic should not longer exist because the conversions have already happened above the fold. No one keeps researching after buying.
6:53 pm on Nov 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Which means you do not know where your traffic is coming from, you're only guessing.

Really? I know exactly where my traffic comes from. I'm simply reporting and I'm not asking for advice.
Anyone using GA is not "guessing"....unless of course GA is guessing.
8:24 pm on Nov 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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my keywords fluctuate between page 2,1 or 10. Can't understand the logic
10:38 pm on Nov 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Non-Converting Google Organic Traffic!

Thats all what Google is offering webmasters and SEOs!

Take It Or Leave It :)
11:45 pm on Nov 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@reseller

You can throw in the mix Adwords
My best guess is that every card transaction is being reported to big G and based on this data quotas are spread to advertisers but not to spread the love as it has been suggested but simply to make money to a few players.

Keep a few players happy to keep the click value high. This has serious legal implications and all we need to do is to prove it.
5:14 am on Nov 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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This week, my traffic dropped as well!
2:17 pm on Nov 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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What on earth have they done now?

I'm in the UK and I've just done a a couple of keyword1/2/3 searches supposedly using Google.com and all the first page results are all .co.uk results! The results are precisely the same when using Google.co.uk and even changing the settings to USA it still gives me UK results.

Adding USA to the search gave me what I was looking for however I do not ever remember having to do that before.

Not at all impressive ... Is anyone else seeing similar in their widget sector?
2:26 pm on Nov 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@RedBar That's a new feature. They will show you local search results regardless of the settings.
2:27 pm on Nov 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I have discovered that I'm not appearing on the Google search Android app since 3-4 days and this is why my traffic dropped.
2:30 pm on Nov 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@RedBar Does that apply to information sites? That would explain why my site's traffic has dropped for pretty much every part of the world except the US (where my site is located). I just can't believe Google would ignore sites that offer the best answers just because they're not located in the same country as the user. If I want to learn how to knit a sweater or build a computer, what do I care where the site that's going to provide the best answer is located?
2:38 pm on Nov 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@MayankParmar My traffic has been down this week as well. Another update, another loser. Doesn't matter what I do. Visitors to my site always tell me it's the best site of it's kind they've ever found. Schools all over the US use my articles to teach their students. I've had university professors and technical engineers tell me they've never found anyone who can explain the topic like I can. Not bragging, just pointing out reality.

But Google? Google apparently doesn't agree. Google would rather send my traffic to sites with a couple of sentences surrounded by ad banners.
3:25 pm on Nov 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Does that apply to information sites?


Certainly in my widget sector. I've just tried searching again to see if it was a quick test however they're still showing all UK results using .com.

If I change my region to USA I do get a couple of USA sites but that's it. I'm going to experiment a bit more using proxies and different browsers but what I don't comprehend is why I am ranking in the top 3 with my .com regardless of which setting I am using, why am I getting so little traffic?

Fubard again G?
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