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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]
5:28 am on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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My traffic dropped 70% today. Its all over.
6:42 am on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@Halaspike Google ignores spammy link tho. Always use Semrush and Ahrefs to monitor backlink spikes. Semrush's audit is a great way to keep things fine.

Some people say disavow is dead but it's really not. It still works.
8:22 am on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I do not agree that "less is more". Where are people suddenly getting this idea?

Google any query where you need a reasonably in-depth answer and chances are you'll get a long-ass, but very helpful, blog post or something from one of the question/answer sites (Quora, Stackexchange, etc).

That said, writing a long article just for the sake of writing a long article is probably not going to cut it either. At the end of the day, you have to answer the user's query, not just ramble on with useless information just to make up your 1,500 or 2,000 words you're targeting.
10:24 am on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@Isa_Al

Very strange for an established account I would have thought and for others to be experiencing the same is very worrying. Are they targeting the same countries?

Bearing in mind that Google were sending out payment confirmations dated June/July 2016 yesterday, nothing would surprise me as to what they have fubard now!
10:26 am on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Hi, turkey news sites also came to the meeting by making all spam. We live in great loss, we are Turkish webmasters.
12:38 pm on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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So seems like health and medicine are the main targets. [seroundtable.com...]
1:15 pm on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I'm still able to compete with big health sites due to my queries being more relevant, but I guess it's only a matter of time before the big sites take those keywords too.

Is there any point in competing in the health space anymore?

E-A-T: Expertise, Authority, Trust.

So, what is the solution to recover? Do we need to get a 4-year degree from a university which gives us the credentials to tell people to eat some broccoli or take a supplement for x y z?

If we run a site that falls under YLYM. I would expect that for giving advice on serious diseases like cancer, you would need to tick all the boxes. And that's fair, I can understand that. But what if you are just giving advice on acne? Surely it doesn't require the same degree of authority and expertise.

What is an expert? Do you need formal education? Or can you have years of experience in the area and show your expertise by writing good content.

Can we simply build authority and trustworthiness by getting relevant links from places and making sure we don't go into trying to promote 'unproven' treatments? Citing credible sources and satisfying users by giving them what they need.

If the criteria are getting so high, it's obvious what's going to happen. All the little bloggers, their experiences, will get completely drowned out by these huge health websites. They have certified nutritionists, doctors etc on their advisory boards, but many don't even write the articles themselves, they just hire writers and sign the articles off after reading them (or do they bother?)

I'm starting to wonder if it's worth carrying on putting all my effort into my site now. Those of us in the health niche, maybe we should start planning to move on. I don't want to be all doom and gloom, but it seems like it's going to be a losing battle.

Here are a couple articles you should check out:

[mariehaynes.com...]

[semrush.com...]
1:28 pm on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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If you actually have a trusted authority health website, wouldn't your rankings go up with all the other websites going down?

Anyway, back to my point on subtle nuances in the English language that non-native speakers exhibit that WILL get picked up by a native-English speaker. Here are some examples from the home page of a health website which recently got penalized:

"Advice from best doctors and top medical experts from India, US, UK, Australia"

"Get diagnosis and treatment plan from doctor on chat, phone or video call and make better and informed decision"

"Connect one on one with online doctors to get answers and opinion on reports anonymously"

See the grammatical errors? I do. They are not glaring, but they are definitely there.

How do you expect someone to trust a website for health advice that either doesn't proof-read their copy, or cannot formulate a sentence using correct grammatical structures?

That would be like me creating a French health website and writing, "Le counseil de les meilleurs docteurs qui viennent d'India, Londre et Australie." I might be proud of my French, but a native Frenchie would probably cringe.
1:38 pm on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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As I mentioned earlier, there's a lot of spam and quackery in the healthcare sector. Google wants to purge it from their search results. But some of it may be so cleverly presented that it's hard for an algorithm to identify.
1:53 pm on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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so after a few days whereby traffic and conversions recovered a bit for me , yesterday and today it has fallen off a cliff again. Looking at the serps and google has kindly cemented most top results wiith multiple entries from the same big brands tripadvisor and viator (and often with ads by both of them above the top 3 to 5 serp entries they also have). Their pages are all just lists of tour with essentially no content what so ever.
It is clear that branding is vastly more important than content now after this update and for the small guy you simply cannot compete. Unless there is a another change / recovery then fairly soon then I will likely have no choice but to close the business.Ive no idea what I will do but it wont be an internet based business as im tired of working 15 hour days and destroying my health/life for this. Having a bad day and its just the morning
2:06 pm on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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There seems to be another update now rolling out.
2:09 pm on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@Milchan

You put it very well,

It is a process of small businesses suffocation process for the sake of CPC value. AI has access to your bank account and will allow fat accounts to access quality traffic while the rest of us are competing for whatever is left.

Nobody knows what is being displayed and to whom!

We need laws to make the algo public and authorities to be allowed to inspect it.
2:16 pm on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Sure, that's true.

So you build trust by having good content and positive signals to Google. These include things like 'time on page' and whether or not the user returns to the SERPs to find the answer. Many of my articles have a 20-25% conversion after they arrive on Amazon, so people are finding the articles helpful.

I don't know what are good metrics, but the average 'time on page' is around 6 minutes for my site (it contains about 70% info and 30% affiliate content).

I feel fortunate to not have experienced the same drop as many people, but the future in this niche does scare me a little. I'm seeing some recovery for some articles now, but things still haven't settled.

The grammatical errors in those are obvious. I must admit, my older articles that I wrote on Blogspot (I went over to self-hosted in 2014) were poorly written. They were migrated to my WordPress site, so I wonder if I should go back and improve the quality of the 100 + posts that I had written from 2006-2014.

They don't really get any traffic (they are embarrassing anyway!) because I didn't know about SEO at the time and I wasn't a very good writer. Maybe I should go back and improve all of these posts and delete ones with very thin content? I hear they can affect the whole site and how other pages rank?

All that being said, I still rank above WebMD, Healthline, Dr Axe, Livestrong etc for many keywords... So it can't be that bad (yet). I try to just go for long tail keywords and stay within a specific sub-niche within health.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm sure that some people want to hear personal stories, information from the little guy, and how they recovered from their condition and so on. Soon almost every small and big keyword is going to be taken by these big brands.

It just seems that Google is going to make it almost impossible for anyone to break through. And I'm not talking about someone is talking nonsense and quackery. But someone with well-researched and good information.
2:54 pm on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Re metrics: Ezoic, a company that does multivariate ad and layout testing (not unlike what the big kahunas like Google and Facebook do), has interesting blog post on the difference between "engagement time" and older, simpler metrics such as "session time" that might be interesting:

[blog.ezoic.com...]

[Addendum: Instead of using "interesting," I tried to use the word "i-luminating" (substitute an "l" for the hyphen), but Webmaster World thought I was using an expletive. Strange.]
2:57 pm on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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The update didnt affect just health sites, it affected everything. I am not in health at all, far from it. The odd part is that out of most of my competitors only me and and another site got hit, all my competitors are flourishing with this update. The diagnosis is going to be easier for me, the first thing that comes up in my niche is shorter content (around 800 - 900 words) with precise info. Thats why I wrote 'less is more.' Remember that google said there is no fix for it so i wouldnt waste time trying to fix it, it is what it is unless they revise the update. Get a new strategy for content and pray.

My rank for the the major key words is continuing to deteriorate, I am no longer in the top 100 pages, just noticed now. It means something might be happening again.

[edited by: yollo03 at 3:07 pm (utc) on Aug 8, 2018]

3:06 pm on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Maybe it's because I'm a newb but I see no way to quote a post.

In response to @whoa182 - I feel like I could have written your post. Agreed on all fronts. The advice I'm getting from experienced people is just sit tight right now and don't do anything. Marie Haynes keeps saying that recovery "may be difficult" if you're in health and can't prove E-A-T.

Interestingly, there are multiple reports around about fluctuation up and down in the last 24-36 hours. I'm saw a 37% increase on the 7th compared to the 3rd (when I dropped 73%).
3:25 pm on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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We sell products for elderly and people with a disability. For many years now. Always good rankings, unique content, good reviews, good code, etc. etc. We put a lot of effort in our site to serve these type of clients.
Now with this new update, we lost rankings everywhere. Itís insane. Cheap sites are now ranking higher than ours. And they donít show any signs of E-A-T.
Really donít know what to do at this point. Sales have stopped completely. What to do? This seems like a big mistake from Google.
Just sitting tight and don't do anything does not seem like something I'm comfortable by, because I'm losing business every day now.
3:30 pm on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I also have ecommerce website. Lucky for me I have affiliates so I am still getting some traffic from them. Google has literally butchered my website and its not over, it got worse in the past several hours. I checked for manual penalties and I have none. If you got hit the worst is not over.
3:31 pm on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Maybe it's because I'm a newb but I see no way to quote a post.


@HammerDown Highlight the text you want to quote, then click the Post Reply button below the Quick Reply box. Click the Quote button above the text box, and then paste the text between the opening and closing quote tags. Or you can just paste the text into the Quick Reply box and add the opening and closing quote tags manually. Either way works. Hope that helps.
3:37 pm on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@HammerDown Highlight the text you want to quote, then click the Post Reply button below the Quick Reply box. Click the Quote button above the text box, then paste the text. It will appear between opening and closing quote tags. Or you can just paste the text into the Quick Reply box and add the opening and closing quote tags manually. Either way works. Hope that helps.


Good grief, what is this 1996? Anyway, thanks for the help.
3:41 pm on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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#thinktwice - im the same - just "sitting tight" is not easy when youve lost all sales and have various staff and other expenses to pay. After all the google related issues in the last months ive experienced Im now in debt and simply cannot afford to be accumulating more debt at the current rate. It looked like things had started to recover for a few days and I had a glimmer of hope. But yesterday was bad again and today its worse. Im just lost now and don't know what to do anymore. It seems pointless trying to do anything. It shouldn't be like this. Im meant to be going out tonight for a meal for my anniversary, the first time ive actually done anything but work for about 8 months now , yet right now i just feel like hanging myself and being done with it all.
3:47 pm on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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#thinktwice - im the same - just "sitting tight" is not easy when youve lost all sales and have various staff and other expenses to pay. After all the google related issues in the last months ive experienced Im now in debt and simply cannot afford to be accumulating more debt at the current rate. It looked like things had started to recover for a few days and I had a glimmer of hope. But yesterday was bad again and today its worse. Im just lost now and don't know what to do anymore. It seems pointless trying to do anything. It shouldn't be like this. Im meant to be going out tonight for a meal for my anniversary, the first time ive actually done anything but work for about 8 months now , yet right now i just feel like hanging myself and being done with it all.


So sorry, my friend. The good news it that you've hit bottom. Now you can only go up. Keep scouring for something actionable and try not to worry too much. Worrying about what you can't control won't help. You'll have something to "do" about it soon enough. I'm down 73% and in the past would have worried myself sick but now I'm looking at a silver lining in this that I WILL recover and take a big part of all those who don't. Try diligently to think positively and enjoy yourself tonight. Make the most of it.
3:51 pm on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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right now i just feel like hanging myself and being done with it all


I felt like that a year ago when Google took away 50% of my traffic, for reasons I have yet to understand. Thought I was finished for good. But somehow, I'm still here and still going. Things were bad but didn't get any worse, and this latest update has suddenly increased my traffic by nearly 20%. As long as you stick with it and don't give up, there's always hope.
3:56 pm on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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The handwriting has been on the wall since April, 2012 for me when I got nailed 60% overnight on an ecommerce term I was #1 for. Since that time I went from averaging $340/day on AdSense on 565 niche sites to averaging less than $10/day. About 6 weeks ago I bought a health content site for a considerable sum and now this. I'm going to try to recover but either way, it's way past time to admit that Google will only continue to arbitrarily decide to send traffic to the big guys. My advice since 2012 has been to exit cleanly but I'm so smart I thought it'd be a good idea to get back in the game and stand to lose considerably.
4:02 pm on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I can deal with it if it's fair. If all of my competitors have a better website, better product descriptions, etc, then yes, let them rank higher. Then the deserve it and I need to do a better job.

But now, it all seems so unfair. The websites that now rank better, they look like sh*t. What does Google want me to do, redesign my site to also look like sh*t? I can't see anything from those sites, that makes me want to do the same and be able to fix this.

I would have never thought that Google could break a business like this.
4:36 pm on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@TT - of course it's not just looks. It's back link profile, domain age, reputation, trust, meta use, keywords, readability and dozens of other shadowy factors. (sorry, preaching to the choir)

Provide real takeaway value. I found over the years that while my own work looked great in my eyes, it wasn't providing what users were looking for in their search. I've since changed my view, revised my work and have seen positive results....granted G's algo is still missing the target with a lot of spammy garbage. It also takes time for you to rise above that garbage. Not gonna happen overnite.

From what I see in these forums, it looks like a lot of the pain is in the informational areas where every author is the self proclaimed expert. In unique brands and product related areas, it's better, but still some sketchy areas. It's probably always going to be that way.

When I see dead verticals these days, I don't waste time there, I look for new opportunities because they are always moving your cheese.

[edited by: samwest at 4:37 pm (utc) on Aug 8, 2018]

4:37 pm on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I have a theory why my competitors are up and I am down, they chose a different category for their website so if they are about health they chose adult or product / software, thus getting away with this update. Does it may sense to anyone?
4:40 pm on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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^ [youtu.be...] ;)
4:47 pm on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I am actually serious, search the topic of the websites that suddenly ranked higher, the spammy or the trashy ones and you will see they chose a different topic than you like business, society etc. If this is the case this is how the algorithm is penalizing those that chose the correct topic while those that chose a different topic weren't hit by the algorithm. I am not saying this is the case for all websites but for most of them.

Please check this in your niche and tell me if you see a pattern? I use this to get the topic <snipped out link to junk tool>. If im right then we are all permanently screwed. This is a penalty for the new quality guidelines.

Can someone tell me how to change the website topic? I will do this right now and tell you the results.

If it cant be changed the only way around if (if im right) is to start a new website. THANK GOD I didnt launch my second website yet. I will implement those changes there but if anyone knows how to change the topic please help.

[edited by: yollo03 at 5:10 pm (utc) on Aug 8, 2018]

Mod's note: New users do not have linking privileges. Additionally, discussion of specific SEO tools it not allowed except under special circumstances. Specifics are not allowed.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 12:34 pm (utc) on Aug 10, 2018]
[edit reason] Removed link to tool of very dubious quality. [/edit]

5:09 pm on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Can someone tell me how to change the website topic? I will do this right now and tell you the results.


For real? I hope this is a joke.
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