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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]
5:22 pm on Aug 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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The problem is the content is never updated but they update the title and change the published date.

I've seen the same, but also recycling the same worn out ad filled aggregation over three domains....about, thebalace thebalanceeveryday
pathetic. In this case, moving the same content to a different domain never produced any gains....so far.
5:46 pm on Aug 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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You are not going to believe this:

One company with about five sites and all same products and each site ranking with 2-3 urls each taking over first page and results and half of the second.

The funny part is that there is one meta description for the same product across all five sites...

All 5 sites cross link each other

Just in case you are thinking of creating a farm you know how is done
5:55 pm on Aug 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I operate an in a service based industry where nearly all our keywords are geo targeted. For example, "Cheapest widgets in Chicago". Most of the major players in the industry have a single brand and domain name, and then have individual pages for each city in the US that is serviced, e.g. "cheapestwidgets.com/illinois/chicago". It's been this way longer than I can remember, nearly 15 years. Some of the sites in our little corner of the world are better than others, where some have unique content on each page and others have the same content on each page with just the city/state replaced. In fact, I am just wrapping up an 18 month long project on my site to make sure ALL of our city location pages are unique, high quality, and value adding.

In the March update, and then again in August, all of a sudden Google started ranking one competitor who took a different approach. Rather than one website they have over 100 individual domains there were all registered around 2013. e.g. "cheapwidgetschicago.com". I had never really seen them rank anywhere before march. All of a sudden nearly all 100 domains are ranking in the top 3 for their target keywords, it's absolutely insane! The domains have nearly zero links pointing to them and the content on each one is just copy pasted with the city and state changed. I am nearly sure the only reason the domains rank at all is because they are aged, they certainly are not high quality. It also seems that having your target keyword "Cheap Widgets Chicago" on the home page is an extremely powerful ranking signal to Google now, where it may not have been before.

The worst part is it's basically a checkmate for many of us because you can't just go registered 100 domains, throw up some content, and expect them to rank well. All indications seem to suggest they would need to age for many years before even Google even considered them.

This has been the most frustrating part of the March and August updates for us. So here's a tip: Forget what Google's webmaster guidelines say about "doorway pages" (They clearly don't enforce this) and go registered an exact match domain for your keyword, some halfassed content, and let it sit for 5 years. You don't even need to worry about link building!

The bonus is that each domain name has a fake Google My Business listing attached to it that are filled with fabricated reviews. They are using addresses for vacant land, run down apartment buildings, and residential homes (they don't have any real physical locations). Google loves those too as they show up in almost all of the local packs at the top of SERPs.
8:51 pm on Aug 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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lostshootingstar this has been going on since March?
9:01 pm on Aug 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Yes, it started happening with the March update, and was then ramped up a bit in August. In fact, the last week or so this competitor has skyrocketed even more. I've been doing this a long time and never seen one organization able to infiltrate SERPs like this so quickly. It's mind boggling how much Google seems to love these small 3-4 page (homepage, about, contact) doorway page sites with little to no useful content on them, simply because the keyword is on the homepage.
9:16 pm on Aug 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@lostshootingstar I know of these websites and think it's just shameful that they can rank the way they do. They are of very low quality with some of the worst usability and design ever. This is so big an operation that surely Google should be able to detect and end it.
9:18 pm on Aug 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Yes, I can find all 100+ of their domains by simply googling (with quotes) one sentence off their homepage that is copied across all their sites. Surely Google has more sophisticated tools at their disposal.
11:31 pm on Aug 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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This current zombie run is like "drip" or "turnstile" traffic, 1 to 2 visitors on site all day, never more...not sure how they manage to whittle down good volume key phrases and page one results to this slow walk. "Visitors" hit a page, sit there for 5 min, go nowhere else and leave. zero conversions. What's so maddening is that it can be working great one day, then totally off the next.
12:09 am on Aug 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@sam

This update was not friendly towards those who cannot co-exist with robots
5:54 am on Aug 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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lostshootingstar all I can say is WOW Google has lost it. You know once this gets out this has stuck for 5 months every spammer in the world will be doing it. Google serps will be done. I use to see this type of activity all the time after an update and within a week or so the sites were gone. Past updates brought up the trash for team members to study and tweak the algo. I guess since ole Al has come along this is no longer the case.
8:52 am on Aug 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I think today there is a new algorithm update. My traffic dropped for last 4 days and again today dropped. I checked semrush, and it shows 6.4 high range signaling a possible algorithm update.
1:50 pm on Aug 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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The mess that the Yoast SEO plugin update created is now showing up on Console. 3000+ blank pages are now 410.
2:43 pm on Aug 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I just completed checking a dozen dissimilar websites under my management. Every one of them is showing a large drop starting August 1st. In some cases, traffic was previously robust is now non existent. Bread & butter key phrase positions on all sites seems unchanged, so until I dig further, I can only imaging that long tail has taken yet another hit across the board. That or the AI has found a new and highly efficient way to redirect nearly all traffic. No buyers in three days which is a new record low point. I predict Alphabet gain will now exceed 30% for the quarter. All that traffic had to go somewhere, and that somewhere is likely in their back pocket.

My real question is: if my B&B phrases are still on page 1, why zero traffic?
3:15 pm on Aug 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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The mess that the Yoast SEO plugin update created is now showing up on Console. 3000+ blank pages are now 410.

@MayankParmar were your rankings affected by the yoast bug? If yes, has your rankings recovered?

I'm currently watching a site that was affected by the yoast bug, in May the site's organic traffic dropped by 70% & till now it hasn't recovered even though the yoast search index purge plugin was installed on the site since May.
3:45 pm on Aug 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Why zero traffic?

Because what you see as a result is not what all the searchers see.

I see less zombies after this update but also rankings dropped
4:19 pm on Aug 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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My real question is: if my B&B phrases are still on page 1, why zero traffic?


I'll not go into localisation, we know that is having an enormous effect, however what also needs to be recognised is mobile and depending whose figures one uses we can conclude the following:

1. Mobile traffic is more than 50% of traffic plus 60+% of searches are being done on mobile, it's probably higher.

2. Android is 85+% of the OS on mobile, it's probably higher, and what does every Android have as its browser? Chrome, 66+% of tablets are Android and what browser does it have? Chrome.

So, what's my point? Take an Android smartphone and make any search you like however try a popular product for the best example. It is an horrendous experience even on a 6" smartphone, there are ads, images and links everywhere, in fact at times Google tries to compact the page length of the results and there are actually zero organic results until the second page at the earliest.

Interestingly I use a 6" Windows phone and G's SERPs are far better on that using the MS Edge browser, doing the same search I see one ad at the top of the page and three ads at the bottom of the page, the results also look clean and usable.

Is it Android plus Chrome browser using the Google SERPs which is raising so many questions?

Why do my Windows Google SERPs look so much better that my Android Google SERPs?

Oh, and I'm not even go into Joe Public never clearing cache, history or even re-booting their devices.
5:19 pm on Aug 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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RedBar..what we have both been saying for along time now :)..and said again a few days ago here
[webmasterworld.com...]

If people looked at other threads ( not just the adsense ones and the update ones ) around here..they'd see a lot more information..
and "wonder" a lot less..
6:05 pm on Aug 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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That is because Windows Phone's Edge browser is still getting the old classic Google. For example, Top Stories is still "in the news" on Windows Phones. Old Google look was plain, simple.
6:08 pm on Aug 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@Halaspike Not a very drastic drop but the traffic decreased over time. Google is slow when it comes to deindexing the pages.

It's quite obvious if a site has thousands of thin blank pages, the traffic will drop.
6:30 pm on Aug 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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It's quite obvious if a site has thousands of thin blank pages, the traffic will drop.

Then the question is, why does a site has thousands of thin blank pages.
6:43 pm on Aug 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@Dimitri This happened because of a bug in a version of WordPress plugin Yoast. Basically it created pages containing one single image, title and blank content. By the time the bug was addressed Google indexed all images page.

[edited by: MayankParmar at 6:45 pm (utc) on Aug 26, 2018]

6:44 pm on Aug 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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That is because Windows Phone's Edge browser is still getting the old classic Google.


Really ... please don't upset me and say that Edge will be getting the "new" messier Google?
6:46 pm on Aug 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@Dimitri This happened because of a bug in a version of WordPress plugin Yoast. Basically it created pages containing one single image, title and blank content. It was fixed within fairly quickly but by that time Google indexed all images page.

Ok, I see. One more reason for web masters to think twice before using CMS / Plug-ins / etc, which are doing everything for them, but on which they don't really have a control of what is going on and happens.
6:49 pm on Aug 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@RedBar Not happening ;) Be it Microsoft or Google, nobody gives a damn about Windows Phone ;)
7:10 pm on Aug 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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nobody gives a damn about Windows Phone ;)


Awwww ... The best phones in the world, I have half a dozen:-)
9:02 pm on Aug 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I wrote this not long ago but I will write it again. Google penalized websites,you got zero chance of recovering unless they tweak the algorithm. I doubt there is any other solution to this to get the lost keywords back.
10:09 am on Aug 27, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I agree with that. If worse websites are now performing better, then how can you recover? Build an even worse website? This update is still a very big mistake.
11:25 am on Aug 27, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Build an even worse website?


That somehow is funny. The competition to become worse? What else is yet to unfold!
11:58 am on Aug 27, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Google penalized websites,you got zero chance of recovering unless they tweak the algorithm. I doubt there is any other solution to this to get the lost keywords back.

If worse websites are now performing better, then how can you recover?

This is simply the proof that the lost of ranking is not related to a penalization, but just change in the way the algorithm computes the ranking. A penalization is when the algorithm gives you a given "score", and then deducts from it a penalty of some kind. Here, it's just a matter of scoring, no penalty. It's just that other sites are scoring higher, with the new algorithm, it's not your score which is downgraded because of a penalty.

That being said, it also shows that anything can happen anytime, this month, the wore the site is, the higher it ranks (according to your conclusions), but then next month, the algorithm can change again and reshuffle the SERP. So it doesn't make sense to say that you can't "recover". May be next month, you'll rank again first, or the month after. The Internet and the Search engine SERP is a living eco-system which is in perpetual evolution.

So just do your site the way you think it should be done, and happens what happens. If you try to find out how to rank higher with the actual algorithm, you'll always loose, because what works for today's algorithm, may not work the next time the algorithm changes, and you'll always be one step behind.
12:13 pm on Aug 27, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Well the new algorithm is all wrong. There are now numerous crappy websites outperforming our site, which was in the top 3 for many years. Putting someone out of business in one day is just awfull without giving any reasons.
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