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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
1:01 pm on Dec 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I wasnt affected by the Dec 12th change that much but since the last 2 months traffic is decreasing daily.
After I read what @billygg + said, I checked my WMT. My domain is key-word.com. For that search (key word), I have totally disappeared from serps, from one day to the next. Say that search had 6K impressions a day on monday, tuesday it had nearly 0. Most of the searches are long tail, so that keyword is not that important but maybe for someone it is.

Site is not https, it has AMP enabled for around a year, its a multilanguage site, pretty good content.

I also checked the mobile vs desktop version of Google bot activity and in January 2017, Google bot for mobile is crawling the site (90% of the crawler hits are for mobile)
1:38 pm on Dec 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Site is not https, it has AMP enabled for around a year,

How does that work? Valid AMP must be served from https.
2:20 pm on Dec 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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AMP cache is served from https, but your site doesn't need to.
3:30 pm on Dec 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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but your site doesn't need to

True, but not exactly true. Yes there are some basic AMP features that can be served without https. See snippet:
USE HTTPS — When creating AMP pages and content, you should strongly consider using the HTTPS protocol (vs. HTTP). Although, HTTPS is not required for the AMP document itself or for images and fonts, there are many AMP features that require HTTPS (e.g., video, iframes, and more). To ensure your AMP pages take full advantage of all AMP features, use the HTTPS protocol. You can learn more about HTTPS in "Why HTTPS Matters".

from: [ampproject.org...]

It seems strange that one would go through the effort of converting ones site to AMP but not take the time to convert to https. Just sayin'

And a site without, videos, forms, and other common functionalities may make you vulnerable to competitors providing sites with more dynamic and interactive AMP content. This would largely depend on your niche.
3:33 pm on Dec 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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So schema affecting it?
4:19 pm on Dec 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@NickMNS Maybe mirror.co.uk with around 100M P/V Month, the telegraph.co.uk with more than 150M P/V month or even foxnews.com with 300M P/V are wrong also.
Anyway there are several validation methods, where you can check if you code is OK.
5:07 pm on Dec 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Google said in google first index you have to serve pages with the same url in desktop and mobile, but with AMP this is not happening, you serve pages with different url into devices.
I have seen mobile google bot is crawling AMP pages... so can this be hurting my seo?
6:16 pm on Dec 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Looking at my live view over the past 12 hours or so, my traffic is down by 80%, I have absolutely no idea why.
7:26 pm on Dec 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@dani566
Google said in google first index you have to serve pages with the same url in desktop and mobile

No this is not what Google says. They say that in the very near future they will begin to use the content displayed on your mobile page as the basis for indexing and ranking. So, if you have separate m dot page, it is this mobile page that will be used, whereas if you have a responsive page where the same content is being served to both desktop and mobile users then there will be no issue.

Now in regards to AMP pages, these should have the same content on them as the non-amp canonical pages. That is assuming that you have an amp and a non-amp page, the content on the AMP should match relatively closely to the content on the Non-AMP. That is the page to which you point the canonical tag. Google has mentioned recently that it will penalize sites that have AMP pages that for example only show a small portion of the content with a click here to read more button.

Again if you have only one version, an AMP version that is served to both mobile and desktop then there is no issue here either.

In summary, if your mobile page are not he same as the desktop pages, this could cause you problems in the very near future. I recommend reading this post:
[webmasterworld.com...]
9:50 pm on Dec 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Relying from page 1....about there being no seasonal changes...
I can't agree with that. My major site is most definitely seasonal both in page views and earnings. The lowest compared to the highest season must be a factor of 8 or more.

@nomis - that is no surprise...imagine if every website were affected in the same way...it just does not happen. I'm just giving my observation, that's all.
In the past, it was VERY seasonal, like a roller coaster...not anymore....other than today when traffic was 0,1,0,1,0,1,2,0,1,0, then suddenly 65+ for 5 minutes then back to 0,1,0,2,0,1,0,1,0,1.... a pattern I call "binary traffic". What's with the surges?...they happen randomly every few days / weeks.
10:23 pm on Dec 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Is anybody else seeing weird stats in their live view? My Adsense is down, but not by the 80% drop my live view is showing (maybe down 10%) and my Adsense page views reflect the 10% not 80% drop.
10:35 pm on Dec 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@jmorgan Are all your competitors including the spamming junky sites monetized for profit? Are any of the educational sites you speak of real EDU's?
10:56 pm on Dec 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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My travel website has fallen. I have been overtaken by inferior sites. I can not find the reason Fallen since December 12

The average descent is 7 positions
1:12 am on Dec 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Strange algo targeting content providers, I guess the knowledge block fulfills that need for Google users so the rest of the sites are no longer necessary. And as EG pointed out those content sites never advertise so Google is getting rid.
5:05 am on Dec 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@penitentman No, they're all for profit. In fairness, most of them are fairly decent sites, except for the spammy site. I'm guessing it's only a matter of time before Google wises up and demotes it, but who knows.
9:17 am on Dec 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Searched for a keyword and there were; top stories and wiki. That's it. No other results :/
10:09 am on Dec 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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So it's a lot worse for me than I first thought. Just checked my search console again and I've dropped down yet another full position in the rankings from 8.4 to 9.3.
10:39 am on Dec 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Yep continued poor results, a slight uptick over the weekend but I'm seeing duplicate serps all over the place on desktop and mobile doesn't even resemble a google search anymore.
11:56 am on Dec 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Houston, we have a problem!

[imgur.com...]
[imgur.com...]

We are online store. keyword positioned in the first three positions go to position 18 and down.
Whithout ads
without bad practices
Original content

what's going on?
8:42 pm on Dec 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Do you have any other redirection from another web to yours?
9:52 pm on Dec 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@jmorgan. I'm still 7.5 down to 8.4. How have your conversion rates been since the update? Traffic down 25 to 30 percent and conversion rates almost 50% less with the traffic I have left. Lots of zombies.
11:03 pm on Dec 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Lots of phantom direct traffic and zombies here as well .
11:19 pm on Dec 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@penitentman My revenue is mostly from ads which are down on average on mobile and stable on desktop.

The problem with Google doing it at this time of the year is that it's hard to figure out how much of it is due to the Christmas/New Year period and how much of it is actually due to a demotion in rankings.

But there definitely has been some changes happening on Google's end.
2:36 am on Dec 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Our Google traffic was up 12 percent today over a week ago (December 12). So maybe whatever happened on the 12th was just the beginning of a process.
4:25 am on Dec 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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One of my site is getting liquidated ... so far ~ 70% traffic down

I re-directed old website to a new one with mysurname.something and started adding content thinking this would increase authority as the previous was anonymous and not updated for a long time.
5:57 am on Dec 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Based on what I've seen these two posts here sum it up for me:

Nothing crazy on Algoroo but I definitely think a content related update occurred around December 11-12. Giving- authority, big brand, and not for profit sites priority.

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.
6:18 am on Dec 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@mdotk: Not sure if this paints the whole picture.
@those who are affected: Have you seen a massive number of spam links in search console during the past 12 months?
2:50 pm on Dec 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Big traffic decline started today at 10 wet, Location germany. Looks like a + 50% drop again ( several sites, all different niches ).
Good traffic comes in surges for 15 minutes and disappear for 45 minutes ( only zombies ). Mobile traffic cut off.

Amazon is a big winner in this game, maybe because yesterday i saw the first time amazon in google shopping ads!
Maybe the handled something in the background... who knows
4:03 pm on Dec 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Maybe you visited Amazon.de the days before? Huge crawling activity at the moment. I just get a coffee and wait three weeks until end of holidays in Germany. Seos and webmasters should read Seneca, Marc Aurel or Epictetus during holidays:-)
4:05 pm on Dec 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@jmorgan in my vertical there is very little seasonal fluctuation. My conversion rates in the second half of December 2016 was 0.5% which is good. This month since the 12th it's 0.2%. Adsense is consistent. I'm talking CPA conversions. I don't completely understand how google can dictate sending me good converting vs bad converting traffic. But that is what happens. Another observation I see during zombie periods is almost the exact same number of visitors per day. In "normal" periods I see differences of 200-300 visitors per day. Zombie periods the differences is less than 10 visitors. So Google is picking and choosing and sending me exactly what they want. My traffic is 77% mobile. Desktop traffic went down slightly but not as significantly as Mobile since the 12th. So I've considered this being a mobile related update. But then I look at the serps and nearly everyone above me isn't mobile friendly. What they have going for them is that they are non monetized.

@mdotk sounds like there is a correlation in our verticals.
4:19 pm on Dec 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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So I've considered this being a mobile related update.

Of course this is mobile related update this is part of the mobile first index roll-out. What part? Who knows, it could be a test or part of the final implementation, and to confuse things more nothing is preventing them from throwing other algo changes into the mix at the same time. I think we should follow Sweih's advice sit back and wait for the end of the holidays.
4:38 pm on Dec 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@NickMNS I take that back under further analysis.. All traffic was affected the same. 25% mobile and desktop. 24% tablet. Bounce rate and pages per session have improved however. Comparing 6-11th to 13-18th.
7:09 pm on Dec 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@penitentman I am not sure that the change traffic type is necessarily relevant, when Google changes the index new sites can take new position simply from the mixing up of the results, all results, not just on mobile. As an example, a site that ranked poorly on desktop could rank better now because it is being judged on mobile content.
9:37 pm on Dec 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Some analysis of the traffic changes here. [seroundtable.com...]

Here's the rub, I have no idea whether my site falls into the pitfalls mentioned.
9:44 pm on Dec 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Yes. This algorithm definitely targets sites with "doorway pages". Didn't see the video with Mueller until this morning. [youtube.com ] It makes sense since webmasters have been referencing travel, ecommerce and automotive. All with location based pages presumably or keyword targeted pages. Google has had 3 "examples" of doorway pages up for years that are extremely vague. [support.google.com ]. Maybe google all of a sudden changed their definition of a doorway page or decided to enforce it on Dec 12. What I'd like to know if is unique content on these pages helps.
9:51 pm on Dec 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Traffic we gained last Wednesday we are losing today (10 - 15%). We have not lost anything compared to two weeks ago.
10:00 pm on Dec 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@penitentman right. I'm 90% sure that's why we've been hit by this same thing as most of our big traffic pages were category pages. As you say it's incredibly vague as what's too far and what's just right.

The video you mention John even concedes that some doorway pages provide good navigation experience and helps people find what they want which is the whole point isn't it?
10:22 pm on Dec 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Well I am still analysing why but I'm up, up up. Definitely seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. Across all sites. The new site I was working on has seen the most gains.
10:46 pm on Dec 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Regarding doorway pages:

I have a site that relies heavily on targeting keywords like "<awesome service> in <city>, <state>". The problem I've found in my 10+ years in the industry doing this is that, regardless of what Google says, it works for the most part. With that said, I did get hit heavily by that latest update but EVERY SINGLE one of my competitors does the same kind of thing, so it seems to just be a random draw from the hat of who gets to rank #1.

I would LOVE nothing more than to provide a single page, or much smaller number of pages that talk about our service and somehow tell Google, "Hey, we service nearly every city in the country with this same awesome service". But it doesn't work. If you don't have the words "<awesome service> in <city>, <state>" on the page, there's no way in heck you'll ever rank against sites who do. Until Google fixes this (I doubt they ever will) you have to stick to this strategy and try and do it better than others. The reality is that geo targeted landing pages actually provide a GOOD user experience to people looking for "<awesome service> in <city>, <state>" even if the page for a different city/state has the exact same content on it. Anyone who's ever used adwords will testify to how much better relevant landing pages convert and fill the needs of the user.

I've spent a lot of time and money trying to make all our destination pages not just unique, but value adding, but it doesn't really seem to matter. We still get killed by thin affiliate sites that have completely useless content across thousands of pages (city and state targeted).
12:40 am on Dec 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I think this doorway pages thing could be part of it also. Having thought about it more, the site of mine hit by this could be considered a doorway page (necessary for user navigation) but because of the peculiarities of the niche (there are "subtle" differences that mean the actual content is different but Google may not see it as substantial enough and is seeing it as a doorway page).

I am going to try and work out to have all the info on one page.

BTW I am referencing a small subset of the pages on my site, but they make up the bulk of the traffic.
7:35 am on Dec 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Can many "tags" in one wordpress post can be consider a doorway pages ?
11:52 am on Dec 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I did say in my "analysis" post that the bulk were of the category of "doorway" pages but as I mentioned there were other types as well. Plus, my sample size was 105 URLs from webmasters who said they got hit. So just keep that in mind.
12:03 pm on Dec 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I checked some of my "doorway" pages. They are down but not that much down than the content pages are. Something is going wrong here. I am running a directory for a special niche (can be compared with yelp). My doorwaypages are <niche> in Berlin or <the best italien food in germany...> and so on. Yelp does the same. Must be some sort of combination of several factors.

Some years ago we had excellent engineers at google. Hope that this is still the situation and they will fix it.
1:24 pm on Dec 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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All, i have a update --- follow up --- from my previous initial hit report.

So our client that saw major drops in they're two biggest keywords "key word" and "keyword" have come back. "keyword" is back to #8 in SERPS and "key word" is back to #31. This was at roughly #28 before all this happened. A few additional things to note. It was the homepage that was affected by this keyword, not a interior page. Seeing all the comments here, i questioned the doorway theory as this client of ours is a national ecommerce client that sells a lot of variations of their main product. That means we have tons of category pages "black key word", "blue key word", "pattern key word", "sports key word", etc. They are legit pages with unique product though. I'm not sure that i would classify them as doorway pages, but i guess someone could make a case. We're working hard to break them out of your traditional category page feel and make them each unique specific to that product type.

With that said, none of those rankings were affected. Literally 0. All those keyword phrases stuck firm. The only keyword phrases that had tanked were the main "keyword" and "key word" for the homepage. So we've basically seen our rankings for those 2 just about come back to regular rankings. It's almost as if this update did affect us, but our criteria was good enough where it started coming back at they tweaked things.
2:15 pm on Dec 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Sorry for post it again but i need some advice for expert here..Can many "tags" in one wordpress post can be consider a doorway pages if the return to the same post?

Exemple: post title: (Benefits of Travel) --> tags: Travel benefits, Travel good choice, Travel for beginners, Travel easy, Travel with friends "all this tags page return to the first one" (Benefits of Travel)

Can this tag page consider doorway pages?
2:23 pm on Dec 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@skynet84 in that instance I think probably yes but as I'm quickly learning, I'm far from an expert in SEO.
2:30 pm on Dec 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I missed to mention a regular post in "Wordpress" cms. "Benefits of Travel" with so many tags return to this post.
@KaseyM thank you for help waiting for an expert answer :)
3:09 pm on Dec 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Google's Danny Sullivan said of the SERPs update, "We released several minor improvements during this timeframe, part of our regular and routine efforts to improve relevancy."

Matt Cutts thinks we should just call it a Fred update, lol
I dunno, the SEOCast calls for a 72.5% change of SEO weather, and the mercury is rising at 12 SERP parsecs per keyword density. Seems like we should call it Update Fred to be safe.


[twitter.com...]
4:09 pm on Dec 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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My main search term ranking is officially nuked. This is the snippet that outranks my site by 40+, it is on page 3 for that term, meanwhile i am all the way in .....
“search prase”. $7 $2. $40 $4. $22 $1. $45 $2. $16 $3. $30 $4. $30 $2. $28 $1. $3 $1. $10 $2. $32 $1. $8 $1. $19 $1. $6 $1. $1. $6 $1. $20 $1. $30 $1. $2 $1. $1. $1. $15 $1. $15 $1. $10 $1. $22 $2. No More Products. No Products Found. Loading Products... Scroll to Top. Need Help? Contact Careers Privacy Policy Terms ...
4:41 pm on Dec 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Is everyone affected using wordpress?
This 200 message thread spans 4 pages: 200