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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]
1:49 pm on Aug 10, 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?


@HammerDown
The name Medic Update is a typical "Ass U Me" situation without fully looking deeper into the facts and just wanting to come up with a name to be first.

There are a huge amount of marketers in the so called medical (weight loss, pills...) area's, and there are also a lots in the second biggest hit financial area's, (debt, payday...) so yes it makes sense that where the marketers are, there will be movement.

Just before this update Google hit PBN's hard with many getting deindexed, we know first hand of the PBN deindexing. A very large amount of backlinks getting wiped out, and marketers like PBN's cause they work so well.

Then Google rolls out an update and Marketers in the health and finance area who just lost a bunch of backlinks see their sites dropping... Oh No... must be a medical update!

We lost a ton of links and yes medical and finance sites dropped, BUT, because we saw all the PBN's getting hit in early July, we replaced the links right away. Now all of our sites and partner sites are just about right back where they were, not just medical, everything.

With Google it's about the links, the juice, the page rank, always has been. Giants with tons of link juice rise to the top, poor marketers trying to make a living thinking "content is King" keep sinking... every update, rinse repeat...
1:49 pm on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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HammerDown, why are you so intent on making this update exclusively about health sites?


I never said that.

I said "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."

It's pretty simple.
1:52 pm on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Been wondering the same thing @koan. This isn't about just health. It affected health the most by volume but probably not on average. Maybe the Medic name Barry gave it is throwing him off. I've hated the health niche for years tbh. Ever since the Acai berry magical fruit BS that took the world be storm and it blossomed into a monster with different magical cure offers inundating CPA platforms. Then platforms exclusively for health came along like markethealth.com
1:52 pm 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 ...


You must realize this update is much broader than ads above the fold, which we started hearing about in, what, 2013? I have zero ads on my entire site and fell 73%.
1:56 pm on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Agree, has nothing to do with ads. We don't have ads either.
2:01 pm on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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has nothing to do with ads

Declare those that have no-ads...

Ads may well be one factor among several. I agree that ads may not be the biggest factor but that does not mean that one can simply say it is not a factor. That said, ads may be only indirectly related. Stuffing your pages full of ads doesn't really lend itself to building user's trust.
2:02 pm on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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BUT there is a large part in the webmaster guidelines that discusses ads. So the next core update could target ads. Gotta play by the rules or they get you eventually.
2:06 pm on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I would suspect that it is not directly due to the ads but more that they are causing delays in the loading of the page or time to interactive. Highly likely this update has some adjustments to align with mobile first indexing so speed and loading times are probably factors and therefore ad heavy pages could be effected.
2:08 pm on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Declare those that have no-ads...

Ads may well be one factor among several. I agree that ads may not be the biggest factor but that does not mean that one can simply say it is not a factor. That said, ads may be only indirectly related. Stuffing your pages full of ads doesn't really lend itself to building user's trust.


We're all getting bogged down by these anecdotes and opinions. It's such a distraction to have these absolute statements based on personal experience alone. Instead of debating about our personal experiences, let's all be looking for someone who has access to massive data and the smarts to translate it to give us some facts. That seems to be happening now. Did you guys see the guys from Cora posted some (somewhat confusing) data they feel strongly represents ranking signals of sites who lost/gained in this update? THAT is what we need!

That said, as I said earlier, the handwriting has been on the wall since 2012 and no one should feel more foolish than me who had an ecommerce business wrecked in April, 2012 and later 565 mirconiche sites ruined by another algo update and guess what? I'm so f***ing smart I decide to drop major coin on a health site 7 weeks ago.

Beyond belief.

If you're still in the game, devise an exit strategy now because Google is only going to continue to increasingly consolidate traffic and their bottom line has never been more important than it is today.

If I had gotten out at the right time I'd never have to work again.
2:11 pm on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I would suspect that it is not directly due to the ads but more that they are causing delays in the loading of the page or time to interactive. Highly likely this update has some adjustments to align with mobile first indexing so speed and loading times are probably factors and therefore ad heavy pages could be effected.


BUT there is a large part in the webmaster guidelines that discusses ads. So the next core update could target ads. Gotta play by the rules or they get you eventually.


This is all so 2012.

We're talking the August 1 core update here and trying to figure out significant new changes. The experts are calling this the most significant core update EVAR. Ads-above-the-fold and page speed are a decade old.
2:19 pm on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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The only thing this thread proves is that, no matter how well-intentioned our opinions may be, no one outside of Google knows what the update targeted. Filter out all the opinions, guesses and "Someone said it was this" comments, and you won't find any real, actionable information. And after this thread has doubled in size, you still won't find any. This is a support group, not a research clinic.

[edited by: Cralamarre at 2:32 pm (utc) on Aug 10, 2018]

2:22 pm on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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The only thing this thread proves is that, no matter how well-intentioned our opinions may be, no one outside of Google knows what the update targeted. Filter out all the opinions, guesses and "Someone said it was this" comments, and you won't find any real, actionable information. And after this thread has doubled in size, you still won't find any. This is a support group, not a research clinic.


LOL @ "support group"

I'm admittedly getting distracted by all the anecdote. I'm just hoping someone posts a tweet or something from someone who finds something in the data. I'm surprised no one has found something actionable yet, beyond Marie Hayne's "improve E-A-T." We should be able to look at the significant winners and losers in the update and find something if we do it right. I don't have the date, the tools or the know-how to do it. Smart people who do surely must be racing to be first?
2:35 pm on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@HammerDown
These update are all multifaceted there is no single factor that any person can point to and say fix this and you will recover. This is to some extent by design on Google's part and to some extent a result of big-data. The broad conclusion of "improve EAT" is really as good as it is going to get. And now the bad news, even if you improve EAT it may not be sufficient to recover. And now the good news some that don't improve EAT may recover. Yes this is " so 2012", you can ask many webmaster that got nailed by Panda and Penguin and went on to disavow links and trim thin content and still did not recover.

Cralamarre's comment is spot on. If your hoping to find the magic answer, the likelihood of finding it here is pretty low. I would suggest you look for some of the many snake-oil sales people selling SEO services.
2:38 pm on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@HammerDown
These update are all multifaceted there is no single factor that any person can point to and say fix this and you will recover. This is to some extent by design on Google's part and to some extent a result of big-data. The broad conclusion of "improve EAT" is really as good as it is going to get. And now the bad news, even if you improve EAT it may not be sufficient to recover. And now the good news some that don't improve EAT may recover. Yes this is " so 2012", you can ask many webmaster that got nailed by Panda and Penguin and went on to disavow links and trim thin content and still did not recover.

Cralamarre's comment is spot on. If your hoping to find the magic answer, the likelihood of finding it here is pretty low. I would suggest you look for some of the many snake-oil sales people selling SEO services.


I totally understand that.

I'm not looking for a simple fix. What I am looking for is answers from the data. Compare the significant winners and losers and something will emerge. Not a simple fix but a pattern, just like this: [seroundtable.com...]
3:12 pm on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Yesterday i added (noindex, follow) to all my tag pages & 410 error code to over a thousand posts which were old, outdated & weren't getting any traffic.

Felt like they were pulling my good posts down.
3:19 pm on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Yesterday i added (noindex, follow) to all my tag pages & 410 error code to over a thousand posts which were old, outdated & weren't getting any traffic.

Felt like they were pulling my good posts down.


Have you considered deleting the old posts and removing the URL in Google Search Console? If they're not getting traffic, consider taking anything of value on the post and moving it somewhere else, 301'ing the URL to the new and delete the old in GSC. What you're doing is more important than new content.
3:22 pm on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I would suspect that it is not directly due to the ads but more that they are causing delays in the loading of the page or time to interactive.

IMO, it's about user engagement, not ads per se. Google can measure things like time on page, time on site, number of pages viewed, scroll depth, etc. That's a much more useful approach than simply counting ads.
3:25 pm on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Has no one heard of noindex or robots.txt?


Errr, yes, and by using them just how does one get ranked in their SERPs?
3:36 pm on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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IMO, it's about user engagement, not ads per se. Google can measure things like time on page, time on site, number of pages viewed, scroll depth, etc. That's a much more useful approach than simply counting ads.


...all of which they've been doing for over 20 years.

What changes did they make to their core algorithm on August 1, 2018?
3:40 pm on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@HammerDown i can't manually remove thousands of posts using the "Remove url" tool in search console, that will take forever. Best option is using a 410 (gone) error code so Google will deindex them ASAP.

What changes did they make to their core algorithm on August 1, 2018?

This is the most important thing we need to find out.
3:58 pm on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@HammerDown i can't manually remove thousands of posts using the "Remove url" tool in search console, that will take forever. Best option is using a 410 (gone) error code so Google will deindex them ASAP.


Are you sure that a 410 is a good idea if you're not actually deleting the posts? Again, if you're getting no traffic, they're a liability and a 410 might just a bandaid. If there's no good content, delete them all and get googlebot crawling ASAP to discover that the low-quality content is pruned.
4:03 pm on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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They have been deleted & I'm already getting 410 error messages in search console so everything is going as planned. Looks like you don't really know what a 410 is, try doing some research on it.
4:13 pm on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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These update are all multifaceted there is no single factor that any person can point to

That's for sure! but if you look very closely, there are effects operating in lockstep that may point to some factors...

We observe a large number of sites, both for internal projects and clients on diverse hosting and covering a wide range of topics. Funny thing tho, when these "updates" come through, ALL sites exhibit similar changes and most noticeable in user behavior, not B&B rankings. In most of my cases, it seems the cause is deltas in long tail positioning and the ubiquitous random ads that pop in and out of the SERPs. I'd suggest that those two variables alone are factors for a large percentage of the flux many here are experiencing.

One other observational consideration, VOLUME.
In observing and reporting a site that gets 100 hits per day vs. one that gets 1000+ per day, you find a lot more pain watching the low volume site. Obviously the high volume site changes become less significant when you achieve a significant volume of traffic.1000 uniques /per day is a good goal, but I see sites getting as low as 200-300 per day still being profitable..but barely.

On sites with 1000+ per day, you see much more stability. The reason they get so much traffic is either content volume + BLP, trending topic or good authority Site appearance means little, spelling and grammar seem to mean even less, but cleaning it up helps. Unneeded java script can be a killer. Speed is always a plus for users, but I see top rank sites with horrible page load times.

There also seems to be periodic web-wide connectivity issues; slow page load times out of nowhere and frozen pages all across the web, Even Google Analytics gets wacky during the same times we observe changes in our traffic and conversion numbers. Could be related to DDOS, ad spikes, router table updates...or injected by hackers or other agencies? Who knows...but what I do know is that site speed and bounce rates fluctuate on their own with no change on the site, which means it's outside of our control.

Sadly I still watch self-serve clients struggle on sites that get less than a dozen clicks per day...or less!. The bottom line is that they "got no game". When it gets that bad, it's time to change things up in our content structure or find a new niche.
4:17 pm on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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They have been deleted & I'm already getting 410 error messages in search console so everything is going as planned. Looks like you don't really know what a 410 is, try doing some research on it.


I asked you if a 410 was a good idea if you were NOT deleting them. You only said you applied a 410, not that you deleted them.
4:31 pm on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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This is all so 2012.

We're talking the August 1 core update here and trying to figure out significant new changes. The experts are calling this the most significant core update EVAR. Ads-above-the-fold and page speed are a decade old.


the fact that the mobile page speed update rilled out in July [webmasters.googleblog.com ] and that there is currently a process to move everybody over to mobile first indexing means that the point I made about page speed is very much relevent for the here and now.
4:33 pm on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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What changes did they make to their core algorithm on August 1, 2018?

This is the most important thing we need to find out.

Isn't it rather obvious that their main change was to raise the standards for the trustworthiness of the information? In other words, google made it harder to fake expertise and trustworthiness. Most people aren't able to fake what a real expert would say well enough to trick the algorithm.

Undoubtedly the algorithm made some mistakes in its evaluations, but even so, at this point it's probably better at recognizing untrustworthy information than many humans are.
4:54 pm on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Isn't it rather obvious that their main change was to raise the standards for the trustworthiness of the information? In other words, google made it harder to fake expertise and trustworthiness.


I'm terribly afraid you're right, in which case there's no recovery for my main site. They're not giving back what they've taken if it's about trust.
5:44 pm on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@HammerDown
I'm not looking for a simple fix. What I am looking for is answers from the data. Compare the significant winners and losers and something will emerge. Not a simple fix but a pattern, just like this: [seroundtable.com...]

The article is pure snake oil, that is of the finest quality.

One of the first thing one learns about when conducting research is that if you test for many factors simultaneously one will certainly find strong correlation amongst a few and possibly many. This is specially true when your sample size is small. In this case your sample size is small, very small. Feel free to remove keywords from your title tags, I wish you luck

In other words, google made it harder to fake expertise and trustworthiness.

I'm terribly afraid you're right, in which case there's no recovery for my main site.

If you are faking expertise then this is update did its job, and no amount of fiddling with keywords in title tags and hrefs is going to change anything. If you would like your site to recover, you should maybe considering developing an expertise in your domain or changing your focus to a domain for which you have expertise.
6:02 pm on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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If you are faking expertise then this is update did its job, and no amount of fiddling with keywords in title tags and hrefs is going to change anything. If you would like your site to recover, you should maybe considering developing an expertise in your domain or changing your focus to a domain for which you have expertise.


Not faking it. It's just not there. Giving health advice without any perceived E-A-T. As Marie Haynes said "recovery may be difficult" if this is the case. I think that was an understatement.

Dr. Axe is down about the same % I am and they appear rock solid in all respects.
6:52 pm on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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What is Dr Axe doing differently compared to Healthline?

I can't seem to find the "author" of any of the pages/posts on Dr Axe website. Whereas Healthline, the authors appear to be displayed on the top right with their credentials. Whether or not they actually write this content themselves or just sign them off to be published, who knows... but maybe that has something to do with it.

The algorithm may look for off-site signals pointing to your authority on the topic and also site-wide authorship. If that's the case, I really need to go back and sort out my terrible posts from 10 years ago because my grammar and posts were terrible lol.
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