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Google Updates and SERP Changes - September 2018

     
2:08 pm on Sep 1, 2018 (gmt 0)

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System: The following 4 messages were cut out of thread at: https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4913603.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 12:54 pm on Sep 1, 2018 (PDT -8)


It's a holiday weekend in the USA, I don't think anyone should really worry about traffic volume until next week.

However, I did see some negative ranking shifts yesterday that are concerning and can't be explained by a holiday.
2:15 pm on Sept 1, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@lostshootingstar

Yes, I know that during the holiday season the tendency is to decrease in traffic.
 
But the decreases of this year are much greater than in other years. My site has been running since 2009 in my niche.

Anyway, let's see if it picks up next week.
4:31 pm on Sept 1, 2018 (gmt 0)

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It's terrible today. Traffic worse than the worst days.

Someone else?

Tourism, USA


I actually facing further increase in traffic (and that's very unusual, because in past years in this holiday period the traffic was always decreasing for my websites). So I guess that the fluctuations is happening again (the period of holidays is the best time for Google to roll out updates, so it can only confirm the possible update or algo tweak).
6:30 pm on Sept 1, 2018 (gmt 0)

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It's terrible today. Traffic worse than the worst days.
Someone else?
Tourism, USA


Yep terrible, all this last week was terrible but seems to have got worse as the week goes on. Unless you trip advisor or viator or booking.com type sites then tourism sites are really struggling now - pity as those sites just mean overpricing for customers and offer very little in the way of quality content - they are essentially directory services.
8:53 pm on Sept 1, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Everyone I am talking to is seeing traffic losses, not one has had any gains therefore where the heck has that traffic gone?

that is indeed the question de jour


[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 9:05 pm (utc) on Sep 1, 2018]
[edit reason] Cleanup after thread split to new month [/edit]

10:31 pm on Sept 1, 2018 (gmt 0)

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We were actually up a bit today, compared to a week earlier. That was a pleasant surprise, given the fact that it's the last gasp of summer vacation in our two biggest markets (Europe and the U.S.) Still, I suppose it makes sense: Two of our major topics are cities that are popular in the fall, so we're probably getting visitors who can't wait to finish planning their September and October trips.
11:57 pm on Sept 1, 2018 (gmt 0)

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My test site traffic is up too, instead of single file traffic all day, it's now two abreast traffic all day. It's an incredibly unnatural traffic pattern. Zombie Traffic still reigns. Very few hits to the home page, all traffic is going to obscure sub pages that are not cornerstone content and usually rank poorly. Once the "visitor" arrives, "it" just sits on the page forever and times out. I'll count those as bounces, although bounce rate remains relatively stable. It's a head scratcher.

Haven't been too concerned with the web these days, since the booming economy has us back to doing real world projects around the country and burning up loads of fuel on our other business's private jet, We're certainly not starving. MAGA is definitely working.

For many out there the web is in a dying phase, it may rise again, but in the mean time, we are building value in the real world again. The cheese really moved this time.

Oh, regarding the SERPs'. whatever the very recent update was, it removed our top competitor for the B&B focus term and put us back in the #1 and #2 position....yet hardly any traffic, guess everyone else is back in the real world too...and Google is still fiddling the SERPS for maximum alphabet profits. That in part may explain the poor traffic to your sites...or the weather...

Have a Happy Labor Day weekend!
4:54 am on Sept 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Those seeing a traffic drop during Labor Day should see a surge after when everyone goes back to school/work and business commences as usual.
7:22 am on Sept 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Those seeing a traffic drop during Labor Day should see a surge after when everyone goes back to school/work and business commences as usual.


Guys from US:

Can you, please, provide some details (I can't get some concrete info on that) - when does the school year starts in US (in a major part)? I'm seeing traffic decreases year per year at the beginning of September (mostly from EU and US). Is that a time when children go back to schools in US too? Thanks!
10:24 am on Sept 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Cyril, in the US, the date that school opens depends on the state, and there are fifty of those. Generally, it's the end of August or the beginning of September, after the Labor Day weekend. Agricultural states likely differ from urban states. Labor Day is Monday, but in some places school doesn't start until Tues or Wed.

Note that it's not as simple as holiday weekend. Travel bookings are of course down after summer vacation season, but laptop computer sales (if they haven't peaked already) and school supplies are likely to be up. Hard to say about clothing. It's a major seaonal transition in lots of areas.

There are some major distractions going on in the world besides seasonal buying patterns, which could well be affecting traffic and conversions. I see it as a time of great uncertainty, with everything from political scandals to trade wars to housing costs affecting lots of people I know. Medical costs are uncertain. Drought is clearly affecting food costs, and other changing climate patterns can't be helping. Stress is palpable.

I'm curious about the economic effects of the extreme heat waves in both the US and Europe. I can't believe that this is helping business.

10:33 am on Sept 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@Robert Charlton

Thanks, Robert. As I understood from your message - there is nothing to wait until the end of the next week (I mean some good patterns). I'm working in IT niche and facing the drop every beginning of September, now I do believe that this is happening due to fact that all parents are busy with their children + Labor Day in many countries. So why so many guys are complaining about low traffic levels? :) I think everything is OK, we just need to wait until the normal work week will start. Relax and keep enjoying life! :)
8:37 pm on Sept 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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now I do believe that this is happening due to fact that all parents are busy with their children + Labor Day in many countries


labour day is in may in most countries and only Canada and the US have it first Monday september as far as i am aware which would disprove the theory for people with non US or worldwide customer bases that are experiencing drops. It will depend on what your niche is aswell I suppose as to what thing might be purchased , visited etc but personally I dont buy that holidays should cause too significant a drop in traffic for most businesses. Its not like people on use the internet from work , most use it from their phones any way which they will have with them always, and just because its a holiday doesnt mean that will stop looking /buying etc - in many cases it might mean they are more likely too be on the internet simply because they are not working.
Something has changed this last week imho.
For me this has resulted in less traffic around 30 to 40% and the traffic I am getting less like less quality and as landing on strange pages and im alot less conversions (so prob zombies)

As an aside , i have found in general in my day to day usage of google that it seems harder to find the correct information Ive been looking for now - a lot of my searches are tech related, trying to find out how to do X or fix / configure Y and I usually can find solutions in one or two searches but recently it seems to be taking more different ways of searching and much harder to find suitable answers. Google has made things worse from both the my point of view as a merchant and a consumer.
4:44 am on Sept 3, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Is Panda still site-wide?

I've had a website/blog since 2006 A lot of posts were like a paragraph or two long, poorly formatted and plenty of spelling mistakes. It was only since 2017 that I started making quality content and saw a huge growth in traffic because of it. I published close to 100 articles that provided detailed information, referenced and formatted well. Articles are usually between 2000-5000 words long.

I did abandon the site for a long time as I had no idea what I was doing years ago. But I managed to make a full-time income from my blog in the last year until 1st August. I focused mainly on content, not link building. And although I do have quite a few decent links, some of them are to my old blogspot pre-2014, and so I used a canonical tag.

Anyway, I deleted over 100 posts that were of poor quality. Bad enough that they are embarrassingly bad! I fixed up about 30 posts over the last 3 weeks.

Unfortunately, it seems that I had a higher number of poorer quality posts on my site than good ones. I had no idea until recently that Panda was site-wide and can bring down rankings of the whole site.

I'm trying to think "broadly" as Google says to do. I'm still going through all of my content to improve it before I start adding new content.

If I do benefit from these actions, how long could it take? Would I have to wait for another panda update?

The last thing, I just noticed a huge spike in the number of pages crawled by Googlebot. Happened on the 22nd and 25th August.
6:36 am on Sept 3, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Yes, Panda is site-wide and Google, from appearance, seems to be doubling down on it with each update. The days of casting a net far and wide, hoping something will rank is pretty much over, I think. Google now expects high-quality over high-quantity.

Panda, in effect, forces us (or at least those who are aware of it) to ensure anything that gets indexed is of a high standard if we don't want our website to get marked as low or average in quality.
11:10 am on Sept 3, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Panda, in effect, forces us (or at least those who are aware of it) to ensure anything that gets indexed is of a high standard if we don't want our website to get marked as low or average in quality.


That is not true in this way. If you are a brand and big enough you can push anything you want. Current serps proof this.
Amazon for example needs only the title and h2 tags to be #1 in my vertical for many items. No description and hundreds of links to other not related items.
11:39 am on Sept 3, 2018 (gmt 0)

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That is not true in this way. If you are a brand and big enough you can push anything you want. Current serps proof this.
Amazon for example needs only the title and h2 tags to be #1 in my vertical for many items. No description and hundreds of links to other not related items.


yes exactly - a lot of the sites that win in travel are just like that , as I have mentioned previously, just essentially directory listings on sites like trip advisor, viator and others - the pages indexed are not quality content if you are to apply the google guidelines to them. This is since the august 1st update - before they would on the serps but not dominating the number one spots. Also I have competitors that win out above me with thing content that is not good (better than the tripadvisor stuff but not high quality) but have lots of paid links so they get to the top or first 2/3.
2:06 pm on Sept 3, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Still seeing fluctuations.. when will this end. This morning i pulled reports for both myself and our competitors. One of our competitors has taken an absolute taking... and judging from what they have been doing, they dont deserve it. The are actually the longest serving outfit in our industry, so much so that the people who have left that company to go set up on their own, have surpassed them. Crazy....
3:07 pm on Sept 3, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Yes, Panda is site-wide and Google, from appearance, seems to be doubling down on it with each update

I thought that google claims that Panda updates in real time now.
3:30 pm on Sept 3, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Very low traffic and only zombies
4:24 pm on Sept 3, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I thought that google claims that Panda updates in real time now.

Well, yes and no. If you are working hard to improve your website based on Panda guidelines, you should see very incremental improvements until the next update where you will then see a spike, assuming you've done everything right.
4:50 pm on Sept 3, 2018 (gmt 0)

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This is my first post here, I have been following this thread closely since the Agust 1st update.

I have been doing Internet marketing part time since 2000 and full time for the last year and a half. I have a mix of websites different niches in the fitness, bodybuilding, and some beauty. I was doing pretty well with the sites I considered good and conservative. I wanted to keep them for the long term.

The sites that I took good care of with very few links and good content and a good internal linking structure were ranking well until this update. I had another mix of sites that were very spammy but I had them sitting maybe for possible PBN use etc. Since this update, those spammy sites are ranking extremely well and I am so thankful I do have them they are keeping me alive

So, when someone says good content rules I beg to differ. In this update, I am not seeing it.

I can only imagine the frustration of the people doing things the right way and having this kill their traffic. It seems right now blackhat spammy sites are doing well.

In my niche there are a lot of 3-4 page sites with 50,000 plus links and many of those links are coming from 301 redirects with good DA. Those seem to be ruling right now.
5:00 pm on Sept 3, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@southernguy, I mentioned it in the August thread, but starting in March and ramping up with the August update, those 4-5 page "microsites" have skyrocketed even if they have almost no links at all. It seems that a) domain age and b) target keyword on the home/index page is the only thing they need to outrank well established, authoritative, and high quality sites.

There is one site in particular that is an exact match domain. The entire site is ONE PAGE and that page has ONE SENTENCE on it with an image, and it has no links. It shot up from oblivion to #3 for the target keyword in August.

It's very, very frustrating for us.
5:34 pm on Sept 3, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@lostshootingstar Yes very frustrating. The one thing that is frustrating me right now is not knowing how to move forward. I am still toying around with throwing up a few more sites (expired domains) that are older or waiting to see if the dust settles with this update to see if my other sites recover.
6:01 pm on Sept 3, 2018 (gmt 0)

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im getting further convinced today that google really has broken itself - im having real trouble finding things that I have search for before and found easily. For example I was just trying to find the dog grooming salon that we use as I wanted to book an appointment and I cannot find it in any results and I have tried searching with +thephonenumber and the area name with lots of different relative keywords - this used to get me the result but now im getting nothing of any relevance at all.The serps are full of pinterest and facebook pages (not even for places in the same country as me) I have also tried searching for ones "near me" on my phone and get nothing at all , no results , when in the past there used to be several.
The end user experience is now terrible and frustrating , and I guess that is a big part of the reason so many of us are losing traffic
7:33 pm on Sept 3, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Scenario of Random page indexing and random display of results.

I suggest that a random factor is actually embedded in the indexing procedure and SERP algorithm, as follows:

1.- Random crawling of a site's sitemap, if available, at a percentage of total site pages. If sitemap is not available, random crawling of estimated site tree
2.- Evaluation of pages crawled and discarding of pages deemed of no specific relevance.
3.- Indexing of the remainder of pages deemed of specific relevance.
4.- SERPs generated by algorithm with an embedded random element, among other multiple parameters, altered at will over time.

Why would this be so?
Because of rationalization and cost savings. It is not possible any longer to crawl & index the whole web and store/retrieve an immense amount of data. This has to be limited to manageable volume. If organic search results are not optimal in this manner, so be it. Ads will more than compensate!

.
9:39 pm on Sept 3, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Is there anything else about google update without google rank brain?
2:18 am on Sept 4, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I have lost 50-60 percent traffic since Aug 1 came and traffic stabilized after 3-4 days of the update.
Since then it is more or less the same.
But my keywords are dancing every day.
Massive jump today and massive downfall tomorrow or day after.
The pattern is random. I mean the keywords losing and gaining position is not in groups.

One day some keyword is at rank 4 and it would go to 100+ in next few days, only to return at 5 or 6 or 2.

Another interesting pattern I did note.

Suppose I edit an article today. The keyword would jump to the first page. Only to move down later.
[Please do not relate two things. Not all the keywords which dance are after editing]
3:35 am on Sept 4, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Best sales conversion day all year. Zombies disappeared and beat last weeks total in the first two days this week. Traffic pattern looked natural for a change. Now why can't this happen every day? Looks like "rank" brain took a vacation day too. [urbandictionary.com...]
10:35 am on Sept 4, 2018 (gmt 0)

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[help.gulshankumar.net...]

It looks like the Google webmaster website now opens new console by default :( I still prefer the old interface :/
2:26 pm on Sept 4, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Definitely a bad first 3 days. Just hoping it is from Labor Day. PS, lots of school in Illinois start Sept. 4.
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