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Google penalizing Listing pages and serving Product pages since August Update?

     
12:24 pm on Aug 11, 2018 (gmt 0)

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[a bit of background:]
Our site is a totally legit doctor booking website, in an European, non-english speaking country.
10 years old domain, decent trust, so that's not YMYL stuff - but surely we're in a medical related niche. Site architecture basics are great, speed is top notch, been ranking well for many years and we keep our garden clean.

The August algo update didn't crash our site altogether, but we do have this strange behaviour on some pages, guess what, the ones that bring most revenue....

[the specific issue:]
A sample SERP for eg "Dermatologist in City1", until a few days ago, would have brought a listing result from our site, so the user would be served an useful page with a large list of Dermatologists, their user rating, their prices, etc. Quite a lot of information to make a good choice.

After the update, a few days ago, those listing pages are literally substituted in the SERPs by random "single product" pages from our site, like Dermatologist X Y - which is better than nothing, but are much less useful to the average user, and harming conversions.

These "Single product" pages look like randomly picked by the disappeared category - sometimes they make sense, and they are rich in content, some other times they thin pages - very strange.

I've been searching the Internet for articles describing this phenomena, maybe in the wrong way, but I haven't been able to find anything relevant.

I see some competitors having the SAME EXACT problem, so I think this is a pattern of some type - and it's something that's coming from the August update, for sure.

Is anybody else experiencing this kind of issue?
1:11 pm on Aug 18, 2018 (gmt 0)

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how much % of traffic did you lose overall ?
2:09 pm on Aug 18, 2018 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator not2easy is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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There is no mention of any traffic loss, it is a question about serving ideal content for conversions.

I have seen others mention this kind of change recently in a question about how product pages seem to be randomly selected over product category listings: [webmasterworld.com...] but that was more a question about site architecture.

On a hierarchy that has been well defined it may be more a question about Google's change to Mobile First indexing that delivers a product page rather than a category page. Could be their effort to cut bandwidth usage and deliver personalized results, but I have no definitive answer.
3:05 pm on Aug 18, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Google seems to have rolled back the update? My pages are back to before the August 1 update. The August update was a complete disaster and hit hard working company owners who have worked on their link profile and content for years. Google probably realized that and maybe softened the update?
8:25 am on Aug 21, 2018 (gmt 0)

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A significant update:

1) Traffic loss is severe, roughly 50%
2) Looks like G has rolled back on the specific issue of the thread:

Listing pages are back into the SERPS,
[replacing the temporary single page URLs,
which were ranking instead]



but they have been penalized - at least on our site.

Our pages which were ranking greatly for something like "Dermatologist in City1" in top/page1 results, are now often in page2.

On another side, most competitors are literally disappeared from the SERPs.
9:01 am on Aug 21, 2018 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member keyplyr is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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There is usually some adjustment back after the initial SERP update.
1:08 am on Aug 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Thanks Keyplyr, yes, this is clearly what happened!
And I'm happy it did of course - but as I said, the URLs are back, but
the traffic loss is heavy.... so we're inspecting the SERPs and trying to figure out who are the winners.

I'll try to share my insight. Please don't take this as a rant but as a quite objective (I think!) observation.

[necessary premise:]
Of course I'm talking strictly about our specific market niche,
in my own, unlucky language,
and with still massive respect for the best search engine in the world:

For the first time in twenty years of SEO adventures,
I am really surprised at how "badly" this G update has impacted the SERPs I monitor.

What I do see:
Our competitors as I said are DEAD.
Our "massive", useful, user-beloved website is outranked from loads of small, very low/medium quality, personal sites, which just have direct links from a very well established local web directory.

You know, those small sites bringing you back that Geocities flavour - and many of them are all cookie-cutter sites produced by the same well established web directory, which sells them to the single doctors. And of course they don't look that great, nor content or ux-wise.

It feels like traveling back into time something like 20 years ago.... when backlinks were sufficient....and white on white text was still OK.

My speculation about this situation:

Regarding our market niche, [as I stated, being not YMYL, but health-related]
some kind of filter has to be now very heavily weighted.

So lots of "good" sites are gone, and lower quality / lower relevancy pages are coming up.

Maybe this specific filter is doing wonders to thousands of SERPs - but is definitely causing damage in our niche.

[I hope collected user feedback on these "broken" SERPs will "auto-regulate" things in the future. Someone wake me up :D]
 

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