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Google Updates and SERP Changes - August 2018

     
11:34 am on Aug 1, 2018 (gmt 0)

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System: The following 2 messages were cut out of thread at: https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4909313.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 3:47 am on Aug 1, 2018 (PDT -8)

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HERE WE GO! Get your sit belts on:

Google Search Algorithm August 1st Update Rolling Out Now; Might Be A Big One
Aug 1, 2018
https://www.seroundtable.com/google-search-algorithm-update-26141.html [seroundtable.com]




[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 11:57 am (utc) on Aug 1, 2018]
3:17 pm on Aug 9, 2018 (gmt 0)

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At this point guys I think we have mostly figured out the Medic update(not a fan of this name but whatever). The findings and evaluation from Marie, Gabe, and Barry along with your own research are invaluable. Some of us in the community are probably done in this business now. It's the sad truth. You just realized your whole site needs to be redone. You need content from experts in the medical field to keep up with Google E.A.T requirements. Those of you without the money and resources to do this are done. Start over in a new niche? Sure, you won't have income for awhile and you need income now. Time to get a new career. Get the new career and start something online on the side. That is your best option now. The belly aching at this point is futile. Calls to stand up to google and boycott the search engine and tell your friends to use duck duck go is useless. I have my gripes with Google like everyone else. But if you choose this business, you either play by Googles rules or you fail. Period. Google is only going to get more aggressive and greedy in their priorities. Read the webmaster guideline like the bible and give it hell.
4:35 pm on Aug 9, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@penitentman the update didn't only affect the medical niche, It affected all niches.

My blog is far far away from anything medical & i was affected positively. Got a 80% increase in organic traffic.

About to increase it the more by deindexing thousands of old posts that aren't getting any traffic.
5:06 pm on Aug 9, 2018 (gmt 0)

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The update is weird I am typing in words (3 word search) and getting results for a different set of words I searched. There is a really big problem with the update not being able to distinguish a 3 word search and displaying a bunch of garbage ads completely wrong to the phrase I searched for
5:09 pm on Aug 9, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I've continued to analyze data and can say with reasonable confidence that this rollout has been bifurcated with respect to mobile vs desktop rankings.

This makes sense, given the move towards "mobile-first". I suspect mobile rankings are being processed first and desktop rankings are lagging behind. While I'm still seeing fluctuations and very odd traffic patterns as the update rolls out, changes in one direction or the other seem to appear on mobile first, with desktop patterns changing with a lag. I don't know how useful that will be to anyone, but it does confirm, at least for me, that mobile and desktop versions of a site are now being evaluated quite separately from one another.
5:23 pm on Aug 9, 2018 (gmt 0)

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They're calling this the Medic Update and massive amounts of data show that overwhelmingly health sites were impacted significantly more than any other sector yet everyone outside health keeps yelling indignantly about how this update, in fact, isn't about health sites. Why is this so hard to grasp?
6:16 pm on Aug 9, 2018 (gmt 0)

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massive amounts of data show that overwhelmingly health sites were impacted significantly more

Wow, this is news to me. Where is this data at pray tell?
6:18 pm on Aug 9, 2018 (gmt 0)

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This update again shows how the search rankings are a zero-sum game. For every site that looses position another site makes-up the position.

However, from a purely observational perspective it seems that this update is somewhat different than others (again, this is just my feeling from what I am seeing). It is different in that there are many sites that are in a loosing position, which can only suggest one thing, that there are many "small loser", small in terms of total number of impressions, and few "big winners". The winner is a single (or few) websites that have gained the sum of all the "small" loses of impressions. Which, in turn goes back to the bias towards big and established brands. I assume that the big brands must have benefited the most from this update.
6:24 pm on Aug 9, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I have seen about all the updates you can see from google dating back to the "Dance" this one is by far so far off it makes me wonder. Has Google lost it or is this update just to steer those to make a dollar for their stockholders? I have never seen serps this bad in 19 years in the business presented and displayed by this company.

They have lost it as far as I am concerned and their CORE belief has died.
6:45 pm on Aug 9, 2018 (gmt 0)

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They have lost it as far as I am concerned and their CORE belief has died.

I hear that. The SERPs looks different, not better. And what reason could there be for such a huge shakeup without actually improving things. It really makes you wonder.
6:55 pm on Aug 9, 2018 (gmt 0)

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They have lost it as far as I am concerned and their CORE belief has died.


I agree. I have been in this business for 17 years and these are the worst serps ever. I hate how they talk about "quality" and "great content". They are actually killing great businesses and quality websites with serps like this.
6:56 pm on Aug 9, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@NickMNS Yep. My observations too.

@anyone calling it Medic update, think it affected sites based on GQRG and being aimed at content, author and w/e other nonsense.

1. Open google
2. Type something medical... e.g best cellulite cream
3. Analyze the results

- gettheglitter.com (got the snippet) - no author
- cosmopolitan.com - author the editor (not an MD or anyone qulified)
- bestproducts.com - author with no bio. def not an MD
- prevention.com - no author bio
- cellulite.com - no author
- rankandstyle.com - no author
- harpersbazaar.com - by the staff (not MD)
- amazon - no author

Rinse and repeat with other terms.

Now I am not saying GQRG is not a good thing to follow. I am a big fan and I wrote about my observations on the latest update of the GQRG here <snipping self-link to blog>

However, this update was about something else.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 9:30 pm (utc) on Aug 9, 2018]
[edit reason] New user does not have linking privileges. May yet remove further specifics. [/edit]

6:59 pm on Aug 9, 2018 (gmt 0)

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If Gwyneth Paltrow's "health" site is anywhere within sniffing range of page 1, how much can health SERPs have improved? Not much. Still garbage. Just different garbage. Congratulations Google.

Alex Jones is hanging tough, too. Another feather in Google's cap.
7:30 pm on Aug 9, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I would like to keep the GQRG in perspective. The job of the quality raters is to rate a small sub-set of the SERP's after or during changes in attempt to evaluate the changes for better or worse.

However when dealing with big-data this practice is almost impossible because when drawing a representative sample, the size of the sample must remain big. Big meaning at the scale of being too big to evaluate by humans in any reasonable time frame. Reducing sample size so that it becomes manageable means that it is no longer representative of the dataset as whole. Relying on a non-representative sample can make the situation worse in that changes will be optimized to give positive results for the samples, thus causing the changes to be over-optimized for the sample set and complete rubbish for anything outside of the sample.

To me, it is looking like this is what happened with this latest update. But just as it is impossible for the raters to evaluate the results, it is equally if not more difficult for an individual to make such an evaluation on full result.
9:02 pm on Aug 9, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@george_g - I wouldnt have thought that "best cellulite cream" was a medical search was it? I might be wrong, but it seems more like a health & beauty one to me (which by all reports that is a niche that has been effected aswell) but I would have thought it was less essential to have an Medical practitioner reviewing that than say it would be for "symptoms of cancer" or "blood in my vomit" . Also "best cellulite cream" sounds like it would be very subjective also like "best shampoo" would be.

I just searched for a few medical phrases and pretty much all of them seems to be from reliable sources (the odd blog article entry in there but really not many).

Also most have a turquiose colored snippet bar to the right that I havent seen / noticed before that was google presenting info from certain sources together to answer and give details - hence not requiring the user to even visit the sites. I think it is THIS that is a key indicator of where google is heading - with them presenting the info themselves meaning people dont visit the sites. With the new HowTO, QA and FAQ formats [searchengineland.com ] they are trialing this will become an even more common factor - essentially google is becoming the worlds biggest content scraper!
9:19 pm on Aug 9, 2018 (gmt 0)

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essentially google is becoming the worlds biggest content scraper!


Is?!?!?!

It has been for years, it really made its intentions known with its blatant image theft a few years back however it had been doing the same with the regular SERPs for quite some time before then.
9:59 pm on Aug 9, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Yep. It killed thousands of sites such as currency converter, weather, time. It's a SEARCH engine. It should only show the results from the indexed pages.
11:17 pm on Aug 9, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@Hala @Hammer and everyone else still baffled by the "health" designation to this update I'll break it down for you. No it's not only the health niche affected by this update. I'm in law & government and saw a 40% increase in traffic. This is a content quality update that also touched on location specific websites and god knows what else, but this is what has been figured out so far. Health is a huge YMYL(your money your life) niche and YMYL niche websites must have high quality MC (main content). Google knew that this update would greatly affect the health niche before rolling it out but wasn't targeting health specifically. Core updates aren't niche specific. They were targeting content quality (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness: E-A-T) on YMYL websites. Lots of health websites without content written by doctors or accredited people got hit. I'm sure mortgage and other money related websites were also wacked but health is a lot bigger than those niches and the chatter isn't as high. I have known of YMYL and EAT since 2015 because I read the webmaster guidelines. This is just Google finally getting to it on their priority list in a big way.
11:30 pm on Aug 9, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Some somber words by the @penitentman.

For those who are going to reboot with a new niche, and as an addendum to my previous post about building a website for users, not for Google, I suppose it would be obvious to state that you should choose a niche where you can excel above all others in terms of the E-A-T principle.
11:57 pm on Aug 9, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@jmorgan I didn't choose my handle out of no where. Yes, I like indiana jones but it's basically me asking Google aka God in our business to accept my apology for my sins. Hey Google, I regret all the link buying, kw stuffing, spamming, silos etc etc that I did and I'm a changed man. So I read their friggen guidelines and followed them closely after FRED wacked me for 75% of my traffic back in Mar 2017. Luckily I had enough of a nest egg to start over. With my knowledge of my niche and experience, I've done well keeping it on the up and up. But that can all change in 24hrs as we all well know. So I live on the edge being careful and watchful. This is the business we've chosen as Hyman Roth most eloquently said.
12:11 am on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I am still seeing a lot of less relevant pages on top for many keywords in my field. This update would need an adjustment sooner or later.
12:51 am on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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It has been for years, it really made its intentions known with its blatant image theft a few years back however it had been doing the same with the regular SERPs for quite some time before then.

Has no one heard of noindex or robots.txt?
1:06 am on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Yep. It killed thousands of sites such as currency converter, weather, time. It's a SEARCH engine. It should only show the results from the indexed pages.

Search moves forward, just as other technologies do. There was a time when your DOS computer couldn't access more than 64K of memory unless you bought an add-on memory manager. I can remember spending a lot of money on things like file managers, e-mail clients, winsocks, and backup utilities back in the '80s and early '90s (along with application add-ons such as envelope macros for Microsoft Word).Today, you'd be a laughed at as a curmudgeon if you went around complaining that an OS shouldn't include applications like Windows Firewall or Notepad. Why should search be more static than an operating system?

It's worth noting that other search engines, such as Bing and DuckGoGo, include tools (such as currency converters) in their basic functionality. Why? Because they can, and because users have come to expect convenience.
2:03 am on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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They were targeting content quality (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness: E-A-T) on YMYL websites.


Basic translation: this core update targeted health sites.

I really don't know why the non-health guys are taking this personally. It's almost like they're jumping up and down waving their arms trying to get attention because they're jealous.
2:32 am on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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i think it is better to say that the whatever the core update targeted effected health sites more than any other sector. I dont think they sat there and thought ,ok how can we target health related sites. They made certain changes , they were probably well aware it would effect health sites , but it certainly didnt only effect health sites. I got hit and im not in health.

I do think the AI is messed up though. For example before you could search for "booking a hotel in buenos aires" (Or replace that with pretty much any city) and you would get a list of various sites and hotels. Now , EVERY SINGLE serp on page 1 is from booking.com. How is that intelligent and offering good results for the user?
2:50 am on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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HammerDown, why are you so intent on making this update exclusively about health sites?
3:28 am on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I'm not sure I would say the non-health guys are taking this personally lol. That's a funny way of putting it.
6:31 am on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Just because the update is "over" doesn't mean that your rankings can't return over time. I woke up this morning and saw yet another keyword return to its previous position on page 2 (very recent article). It fell to page 12 after the google update. So even after the update had been 'fully rolled out' I'm seeing some big movements.
7:40 am on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Because they can, and because users have come to expect convenience.


And that's great thing from the point of view of their business model. Users deserved convenience and that's the goal of any webmaster too.

But these changes from search engines are also have a dark side for publishers (webmasters). Search industry makes everything they can to make visitor stay within their interface, so we are forced to gain many new tools and features right inside Google's or some else interface in the next 10 years. But what will happen with webmaster's revenue? How will the traffic should change in case visitors will stay using some Featured snippets just in Google and not visiting your website?
9:53 am on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Just to say that I've been checking sites of web masters reporting huge lost of traffic, and beside health / medical related themes, what I noticed is that, all these sites have in common "excessive ads", especially above the fold, and ads between paragraphs in a way that it makes it hard to identify what is an ad and was is the content of the article/table of content. In other word excessive ads and misleading placement. It might be it that Google has been targeting.

By excessive ads, I mean, when you have 3, 4, or 5 ads above the fold, or/and when ads surface is more than the surface of content.

And when you switch to mobile device, this is terrible, most of times, all these ads end above the content, so you have at least two screens to scroll before reaching the content ... when you succeed to scroll, because since there are so many ads, and so few margins (when they exist), you can't really put your finger anywhere to scroll.

ps: at my sites, I just have two ads, one at the top of the side column (which turns into a 300x50 on top of the screen on mobile) and one after the end of the article, before the comments section.My traffic increased by 20% this month, so I don't have (yet) a problem at this level. I consider that if the content of a page if really of quality, there are not reason visitors will click on an ad in the middle of the content, before finishing reading it ...
12:08 pm on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@Sumeet @arunpalsingh I am suffering from revenue deduction as well, like I make 10$ then I refresh I find them 8$ for example where Google is deducting revenue and clicks
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