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Google core update August 1st 2018 confusion

     
2:09 pm on Sep 16, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Hi

First of all, this post isn't a gripe, I would just like some help understanding what I am seeing.

I have always ranked well for the niche I target, adding useful content to my website for its users and not just for SEO. The site is mobile friendly, fast to load and user intent is very clear.

Pre August 1st my impressions were hovering around 1700 per day and my clicks were around 150, humble numbers, but I was still happy.

Since August 1st impressions are around 350 and clicks around 35.

It's the websites that have started ranking higher than my website that really confuses me. A couple have reams and reams of keyword stuffed content. 1 or 2 have almost no content at all and is pretty much a dead site with only a few links which are all dead, another has a stack of fake YouTube review videos with equally fake comments from the same time the videos were published.

Even though I used to rank 1 for the name of my website, I noticed that registered users sometimes would Google my site name to get back to my site and log in. Even though there is no other site with the same name as mine, I now rank 5th or 6th for my own site name. I noticed that some of my competitors even use my site name in their own site title tags, luckily I still rank above those for now.

I understand one of the focuses of the update was to expose lesser ranking, missed sites a chance. But this makes very little sense to me.

A friend suggested to me that this update could be a drive to push panicked website owners to use Google's Adword to make up the loss.

Mr A
3:12 pm on Sept 16, 2018 (gmt 0)

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It is very easy to blindly follow the conspiracy theory that Google algo changes are just intended to push sites into adwords. I'm not saying algo shifts don't often have the side effect of driving some webmasters into Adwords. I'm just saying that maybe, just maybe Google needs to constantly improve their flawed ranking algorithms to address spammers & low quality results. If Google wanted to push more websites into Adwords all they have to do is add another Adwords slot on top of the serps further pushing down organic serps below the fold.

I would suggest not to focus too much on the sites above you. That tends to be too limited a perspective. Those sites can be ranking above you for many different reasons including breaking Google rules. Just because a site is ranking above you today does not mean they will be there next month. You don't want to blindly emulate a site without a good understanding of what is happening.

So what to do about your site? If you have always ranked well for your niche, and its content is great, and its technically strong look at your non-Google traffic sources. Do you have strong non-Google traffic sources? No offense, but I'm guessing you don't have strong non-Google traffic sources. If you had so much traffic from non-Google sources, you probably wouldn't care as much for losing 100 clicks. Maybe our sites aren't as great as we think they are. Ask yourself what content do you provide that is valuable and not copied on 100 other sites. What makes your site special? Maybe your content is really great. If your content is really great then maybe it needs better promotion aka traffic generating backlinks. Reach out to relevant blogs, social sites, forums, podcasts etc. Work on your user engagement metrics. Not because Google cares about them but more because they are a possible way to impartially judge how well your site serves its users.

Google tends to prefer ranking popular sites in their serps more than they like making sites popular.
4:46 pm on Sept 16, 2018 (gmt 0)

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If Google wanted to push more websites into Adwords all they have to do is add another Adwords slot on top of the serps further pushing down organic serps below the fold.

That is precisely what Google do in fact do on many SERPs , shopping ( paid for thus ads ) , adwords ( text ) local ( ads )..
Many of us see as many as 12 Google ( properties ) including some adwords ( all of which you have to pay to be in ) plus an "answer box" ( which gives a query answer without anyone needing to leave Google ) ..all this before the first "organic" result..


On mobile, that is 3 or 4 entire screen scrolls before you get to an organic result..

Then they update and shuffle, so as to coerce webmasters who wants stability to buy adwords..

Not a conspiracy theory, a fact..but then I ( like many here ) don't have any Google shares so I /can be impartially objective..
6:52 pm on Sept 16, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@goodroi Thanks, that's a great reply.

You're right, I don't have much no-Google traffic, no offense taken at all. I get a trickle from Bing and Yahoo, which is barely worth mentioning. While you could say some of my content is similar to some sites in my niche (some almost exact copies of mine in fact), most of my content is quite original and angled. While not giving too much away about my niche, it is difficult cultivating links for it .I tried some guest writing on blogs in the past, but saw very little return, even when I put a slant on the content. This iste does have a couple of links from reputable newspaper websites, while they still exist, they are quite old now.

I have a few other sites in niches similar to this. One of those actually gained a little in the August update, but I can guarantee that that site doesn't have 1 single backlink pointing to it and the content is a little dated and flat. That site also isn't responsive and has a separate mobile site with very thin content. I'm a little nervous to update that site, in case my actions damage its new position.

@Leosghost I agree about the mobile organic results being a wee bit too low.

Thanks

Mr A
6:00 pm on Sept 17, 2018 (gmt 0)

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It is very easy to blindly follow the conspiracy theory that Google algo changes are just intended to push sites into adwords.

It's also illogical, unless you're publishing a promotional or e-commerce site and are listed on SERPs that contain a lot of ads. For many (most?) informational SERPs, the number of ads displayed ranges from one or two down to none, even for popular queries. Case in point: Our top landing page had two text ads above it on the Google search results for [popular query 1] and zero for [popular query 2] when I checked just now. And no, it isn't about an obscure topic.
7:11 pm on Sept 17, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@EditorialGuy
Further to your point.
This theory also falls apart because informational sites can't afford to advertise to gain an audience. You can't be both buying and selling ads while still making a profit. If you can then there is a serious problem with the whole system. This is known as ad arbitrage, and some have been successful in the past and likely only for a short time. Success is generally achieved by using some very questionable methods that will likely get you banned from the SERPs and AdSense.

There may be a few informational sites that don't sell ads but it still seems very unlikely that advertising can provide an ROI.
7:43 pm on Sept 17, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Only problem with that "blanket" dismissal is that ecom sites do see SERPs like that..
Thus it is not a "conspiracy theory"..

Btw ..I know plenty of sites ( some owned by members here ) that run "arbitrage"..Google does not like it, but if done well Google does not detect it / has not detected it..Over 10 years income ( in some cases high 5 and even 6 figures per annum ) makes it lucrative..Remember ads not using adwords, that drive visits to adsense monetised sites, or adwords that drive visitors to non adsense monetised sites are very difficult for Google to track..

Risky business model ? Yes , but I know some who have dozens or even hundreds of sites that work in those ways..Google is not the only platform upon which one can buy ads to drive traffic, and even with the almost omnipresence of Ganalytics, it is possible to slalom between Google tracking..

The ROI depends on where one buys the ads and the value of the ads the visitors subsequently click on..
6:28 pm on Sept 18, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Only problem with that "blanket" dismissal is that ecom sites do see SERPs like that..

Could be. But, as has often been said, correlation isn't causation, and just because owners of some types of sites see their organic listings lost in a sea of ads doesn't mean that's true across the board.

If I had to speculate (as many people here are fond of doing), I'd wonder if Google really cares a whole lot about organic "transactional" results. If searchers can find the product they're looking for easily, does it really matter (from the search engine's or searcher's point of view) whether the top three organic listings for a Widgetco router, a Whatsit grill, or a Rug-X carpet pad are from sites A, B, and C or D, E, and F? The order of rankings may matter to the sellers, but the sellers aren't Google's target audience.
6:42 pm on Sept 18, 2018 (gmt 0)

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just because owners of some types of sites see their organic listings lost in a sea of ads doesn't mean that's true across the board.

What makes you think that ecom site owners only look at SERPs in which they figure or in their ( or related niches ? ) ..as an informational site owner, your "speculation" on ecom issues is always at best uninformed..as you are not affected at all by any decisions Google makes in ecom SERPs, except as it affects the price of google shares, when ecom sites buy adwords.

Where you have ( I suspect inadvertently, whilst as usual attempting to defend Google against all evidence, and experience re "transactional" SERPs ) "hit the nail on the head" is..

Google indeed do not care about transactional SERPS except that they need to have some organics on page one in order to avoid being seen as a "pay to play" SE and having "anti-trust" legislation directed at them..

Google do not care who is in what position in transactional SERPS, as long as the maximum possible number of sites ( without drawing legislative ire ) have paid for adwords, or a place in Google shopping..the organics are merely "padding"..
9:16 pm on Sept 18, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Google do not care who is in what position in transactional SERPS, as long as the maximum possible number of sites ( without drawing legislative ire ) have paid for adwords, or a place in Google shopping..the organics are merely "padding"..

Kind of makes you wonder why Google spends so much on search, doesn't it?
9:31 pm on Sept 18, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Not at all..What they spend on search , compared to what they get back in income from adwords etc is a great ROI.. :)
Plus there is also the "look squirrel" effect..added to which the general public cannot tell organics from ads..

I think it is masterful, But I don't try to pretend that Google is anything other than what it has become, and adbroker with a search engine , an OS and a browser as a means of showing the ads..the data gathering part is also very cost efficient..most of teh tracking is done by proxy for them by webmasters including the various tracking codes on their sites.
11:02 pm on Sept 18, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Calling it a "core update" suggests to me that google merely adjusted the values of some of the parameters in the basic core part of the algorithm, thereby shifting the weightings of various signals, but not incorporating any major new signals.
 

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