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Google Updates and SERP Changes - December 2017

     
9:00 pm on Nov 30, 2017 (gmt 0)

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System: The following 4 messages were cut out of thread at: https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4874973.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 10:29 pm on Dec 1, 2017 (PDT -8)


Now I am seeing some light at the end of the tunnel I have a ton things that need doing, writing content, social media, more backlinks but can't seem to get focussed... I end up on some wikipedia journey or writing cr@p in forums, I saw a video on youtube called "How to stop Procrastinating", I clicked Watch it Later
12:00 am on Dec 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Interesting, so you don't mind "other" thin content appearing in search just affiliate ?

I don't know where you got that idea. I don't like useless duplicate content, period.
12:10 am on Dec 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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So we agree ?
Content should be evaluated on a page by page basis
Google should eliminate their trusted domain algo that see's thin content rising to the top because of the domain the page is on
12:58 am on Dec 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Mozcast says 101 degrees yesterday and SEMRush reporting massive SERP changes in both News and Entertainment.
1:56 am on Dec 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Google should eliminate their trusted domain algo that see's thin content rising to the top because of the domain the page is on

Yeah Google should do a lot of things. First by communicating better with webmasters so we aren't blindsided by serp changes that greatly affect our lives. And divulging what these updates are and what they are looking for... But no. They continue to test their beloved algo, ranking broken pages and loren ipsum whilst making our lives a constant state of fear. Google has wayyy too much power. Their decision-makers should be electable! It's so bad.

SEMRush reporting massive SERP changes in both News and Entertainment.


Can you share a screen shot or link showing this?
2:50 am on Dec 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Seoskunk: We agree on some things but not on others. We don't agree that a "conflict of interest" is involved, for example. (Google doesn't index and rank its own ads in the organic results, so by that standard, it shouldn't index and rank thin affiliate pages, which you've defined as "advertising.")
4:12 am on Dec 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Seeing a lot of what others have said. Also in the entertainment space and if you watch real time it seems like an obvious test. Sometimes 50 ppl on 100% mobile. Sometimes the opposite. Sometimes a ton of direct traffic that is obviously from Google. Also noticing patterns in day vs night as someone mentioned. Started about 8 weeks ago along with constant 90 degree moscast days. Think this madness will end? Lurkers speak up we need to hear whats happening. Seeing some terrible SERPS (5 of the same da99 domain, literal malware etc) right now and not just because we're in them less often :)
5:59 am on Dec 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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One of my sites has taken a big hit on the 12th, I can actually pinpoint pretty much the exact time of the update, around 6am GMT. Google traffic fell off a cliff (down 50%, an effect exaggerated by my top keywords dropping onto page 2) while Bing and Yahoo are stable.

I have a similar site that wasn't affected at all - difference between the 2 was that the affected site wasn't yet transferred to https (it is now!) and had an extra adsense ad (it doesn't any more). Will see if these changes make a difference but I'm not optimistic.

Both sites are events based, where the SERPS are massively dominated by big sites, often with 3-4 listings per domain, which with the addition of structured data can now also show 3 links per listing, so I'm seeing results where there are up to 10 clickable links for the same site in the top 4 listings, followed by a "people also search for" box - leaves very little room for anyone else.
11:23 am on Dec 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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- My site is on https for more than 2 years. Don't think that this is an issue. I have both the http and https-version verified in webmasters console.

- Maybe it is related to blacklistet python-urllib, wget or similar in robots.txt?

- I started adsense userfriendly BETA last weekend.
11:36 am on Dec 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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My website is fresh website and i am working on it for the past three months. I am facing these issues since October 2017 and now I know it is something that Google does each year. My keywords are stuck now at 50-100 positions.
5:22 pm on Dec 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Just chiming in myself, down about 20-30% since about the 7th (it seems we got hit earlier than most?). Automotive services industry. Week over week traffic: [i.imgur.com...]

It never ends for us. It's been a near continuous decline since Feb. 2017 with some spikes here and there; just enough to give us hope and get crushed again.
7:01 pm on Dec 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Hey all, I run a internet marketing agency and we had a client that was impacted by the change a few days ago. Here's what we saw:

established domain, been around quite a long time (10+ years). no bad backlinks or anything weird. They own a generic term domain, ie https://keyword.com. They were ranking #10 for "keyword" and #21 - #23 for "key word". Note that "key word" is there core industry searched phrase "keyword" is as well, but not nearly as common and produces probably half the volume.

After the change "keyword" went to #18 and "key word", main keyword here went to #70. What's even more interesting is that no other keyword phrases were impacted. They have tons of 3 keyword phrases like : "red key word", "pattern key word", "handmade key word", etc. All these remained the same in the serps. Fortunately we're not seeing much loss in traffic or conversions because they weren't ranking in the top 5 for these phrases. It's all the longer tail phrases that generate business right now.

This is quite a bit of detail, hopefully it sheds some light on what changed. This makes me believe it could have something to do with anchor text / links. There brand anchor text is "brand keyword" with the main keyword written that way. Ironically "key word" is used WAY less in anchor text.

Let me say that their link building is extremely clean and mostly all organic with very heavy branded anchor text. I don't suspect anchor text penalties per say.

[edited by: phranque at 11:41 pm (utc) on Dec 15, 2017]
[edit reason] Unlinked URL for clarity [/edit]

7:34 pm on Dec 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I'm trying to prove that monetized websites got dropped in the SERPS in favor of non-monetized. Regardless of content, page quality, link profile. In my niche this is what I'm seeing. Old sites, poorly done sites, or institutional/organizational sites that are not monetized and not particularly built well are getting multiple links on page one now. My informational blog and my competitors in the same niche which are monetized but built much better are now page 2.
8:34 pm on Dec 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Penitentman, I have other monetized sites that are untouched.
8:44 pm on Dec 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Scottb. Of the sites that were affected... Of course I'm not implying that all monetized sites were affected.
9:37 pm on Dec 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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It is the season again apparently and all competitors are treated fairly.
11:28 pm on Dec 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Fun observation on google results from my business side (ADULT internetz...)

Google is "mixing up" results like crazy. When you do a search for something xxx or even more specific xxx xxx (two or more word query), you'll almost always get a big mix of "mainstream" results as well. I'd give more specific examples but I don't want to put such stuff here as I was already indirectly warned about it.

So in short, you search for xxx xxx... and along BAD adult sites, google will serve you with following results mixed in top pages (further pages got even more mainstream)

- history of xxx xxx
- who got arrested because of xxx xxx
- wikipedia on xxx xxx
- xxx xxx star tells his life story

Call me crazy but.. unless google thinks that HALF searchers for xxx xxx are actually writing a sociology essay about it, those results are illogical all the way.

It also explains why it is impossible to rank an adult site in long tail - because those spots are reserved for "mainstream" results about xxx xxx.

Would be funny if it wasn't hurtful for me or any adult webmaster out there :)
1:09 am on Dec 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Glad I'm not the only one seeing a bit hit although it doesn't help me sleep at night. I'd rather it was just my site that got hit so I could fix whatever was wrong.

Lesson learned : all your eggs in one basket.
1:24 am on Dec 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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KaseyM be thankful you weren't manually reviewed. I've been given thin content manual spam actions before. Those are a death sentence. An algo hit can be figured out with patience, data and testing. Sometimes there is even a correction. I'm on here fishing for information so I can sort out a plan but no one is really giving me anything to research. I tried the adult industry example but my searches bring up #*$! sites.
2:08 am on Dec 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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So a heads up to anyone using Wordpress and Yoast - I try to keep sites up to date and at some point during this update process on one of the sites all the posts and page meta descriptions got removed. I know Google claim they have no value but in my experience meta descriptions can help indexing. So I am not sure if this is an isolated case or not but it may be worth a manual check if your working with the same setup.
4:57 am on Dec 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I don't think Meta descriptions help us rank better but it can help in getting more views as the CTR depends on meta,
5:45 am on Dec 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I got hit by update on 7 september 2017 and now on 12 december 2017. Since last year i have lost -75% of my whole organic traffic, I have a better blog about health, never spam, never full of ads, always respect users and always make good quality content that kept me awake hours and hours to write it in 5 years. I got https on december 2016. On march 2017 i got 16.500 visitors a day i was really happy because i do the best work. My website is old 5 years and 6 months. Now the total decline from the stars to the stables. Low quality website is on the top and I'm out. I think to give up. I work alone, im passionate on my blog. I have all original image, all original content, no spam, no W3C errors, only 2 plugin in wordpress, i have submitted my sitemap to google search, bing ,yandex, no manual actions just algorithm change and my full quality content It's disappeared from "ITALIAN" serp. More info: i have .com, https, dedicated ip, 1000 quality content articles most 1000+ words, one adsense ad at the top above the fold and other adsense ad at the end of article. get hit by google from 16.500 visitors day to 4000 visitors day. It seems to me unfair and absurd that an algorithm can make mistakes. Thanks to this unfair method google, you have destroyed my family life. Your adsense motto was turn your passion into profit and your google motto was don't be evil do not respect any of your mottos only lies.
10:33 am on Dec 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Searchmetrics data was available this morning for my website:
- 2% drop in Mobile Visibility
- 29% drop in Desktop Visibility
Maybe something related with mobile first index or the data is weired...?

Some more data:
- Before update: 48% mobile, 35% desktop, 16% tablet
- After update: 44% mobile, 42% desktop, 13% tablet
3:29 pm on Dec 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@Sweith Maybe you are pushed down because of top stories?
3:34 pm on Dec 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@MayankParmar I don't think so. Smaller Webshops and poor old websites are now on page 1.
5:20 pm on Dec 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Guess I haven't noticed until today, but has Google increased the displayed meta description size? I have been using 180 chars and now it looks like they are displaying at least DOUBLE that for some sites...if so, Yoast has yet to update their SEO plugin to green light larger entries.

After a little self research I found my answer: SELand and Rank Ranger report that Google has (officially since Dec 1st 2017) increased the displayed meta description snippet from 160 to 230 characters: [searchengineland.com...] my sincere apologies if this has been reported on already.

Wonder how that might affect the SERPS, if at all. My guess is that the improved description, if properly tuned, will entice humans directly. Since Zombies can't read, they don't care ;)
5:55 pm on Dec 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Guess I haven't noticed until today, but has Google increased the displayed meta description size? I have been using 180 chars and now it looks like they are displaying at least DOUBLE that for some sites

Noticed this myself yesterday. It's recent and Barry had a piece on it. [searchengineland.com ] You might be right SamWest. However, anything declared "useful" by Google gives me pause.
8:09 pm on Dec 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Wonder how that might affect the SERPS, if at all. My guess is that the improved description, if properly tuned, will entice humans directly. Since Zombies can't read, they don't care ;)


Maybe the more real estate in the description means there is a greater chance the user will find their answer in the description and no longer have to visit the site.
10:01 pm on Dec 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Pretty soon they’ll start increasing the length of the scrapped text in the answer boxes. I’m sure that’s why they’ve done it. They want to give themselves more opportunity to provide the answer at the top
11:38 pm on Dec 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Not seeing any significant change in rankings in about a dozen major finance brands and about a dozen more competitors. But it's summer in the southern hemisphere and people take a month off, so sales traffic will drop a little.
8:32 am on Dec 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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My site dropped from an average search result position of 7.2 to 8.4 on Tuesday. Needless to say traffic is down.
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