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Google Updates and SERP Changes - November 2018

     
9:14 am on Nov 1, 2018 (gmt 0)

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System: The following 18 messages were cut out of thread at: https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4922186.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 3:04 pm on Nov 1, 2018 (PDT -8)


Facing with big changes. Something is happening again? I'm pretty tired of Google updates for the last few months... Niche: IT how-to's, technology...
3:54 pm on Nov 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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+2 with @aristotle . I said it weeks ago, that it's a matter of trustworthy, or at least attempt of focus on how a content can be trusted. And this is why, health related sites are impacted more than others, because this is touching to subject which are sensible.

I take great care to mention "attempt", because I am sure that you can find plenty of example, of sites ranking first, which can't be trusted.
4:59 pm on Nov 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Do people here honestly think keyword over-optimisation isn't a trust factor?

What do you guys think trust factors are? Give me a list of things you think are trust factors and things you don't think are trust factors. Let's brainstorm.
5:34 pm on Nov 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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things you don't think are trust factors

Everything SEO :) . Seriously, the keyboard density, the use of variants of keywords, everything like that, doesn't account to make the content more trust. It just means the author is good in mathematics, statistics, word distribution.

I don't know how Google can measure the trustworthy of a page, certainly a matter of "IA".
5:42 pm on Nov 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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"ideally", Google should look at "signals", such as identifying the author of the content, evaluating the author trustworthy in the domain . Google should also check if the information provided are accurate, and recent, by fact cross checking things.

I don't know if Google is wasting so much resources at running this kind of evaluation.

From a "technical" point of view, other signals might be :
- How long a visitor stay at a page. The longer the better (?)
- How often a visitor is returning to the page / site.
- How many times the page is shared.
- How many other sites are referring to this page (quoting, sourcing, etc...)

Keeping in mind, that Google has plenty of way to collect this kind of information, tracking users with cookies, but also (certainly) from Google Chrome, GA, Adsense, etc... anything which is calling or passing by Google's servers.
6:17 pm on Nov 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Okay, that's all Panda related user experience stuff. In my case I'm certain I don't have Panda issues.

So what about the on page trust signals Penguin might use when assessing backlinks? We know Penguin has an on page element, Google have admitted it.
7:01 pm on Nov 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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What do you guys think trust factors are?

I can suggest a probable NEGATIVE signal for trust-- making repeated changes to your articles.
8:46 pm on Nov 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Sure,

and freshness is probably a positive factor,
and not changing your website for 5 years is probably a negative factor,

but what ON PAGE factors might be considered trust signals?

You know, the kind of stuff that might allow Google to give corporations a free pass with their backlinks, but take away the power of backlinks from a) small websites, b) SEOs, and c) individuals with popular blogs?
9:38 pm on Nov 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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but what ON PAGE factors might be considered trust signals?

None.

You know, the kind of stuff that might allow Google to give corporations

Companies built and developed their brand. And Brands are trustworthy more than no-name.
9:46 pm on Nov 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I repeat. Google have admitted they use on page factors to determine trust when assessing backlinks.

Go to a corporate website. Scroll to the bottom. What kinds of things do you always see there?
4:16 am on Nov 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Trust factors as I see them
A. Content
1. Original content relevant to the search query
2. Original images relevant to the content.
B. User Experience
1. Low bounce back to serp rate.
2. Time on site and user engagement with the content.
3. Page views
4. Site speed.
C. Citations, Mentions, and Links
1. Links that drive traffic (both dofollow and nofollow) I have an untested theory that links are now rated by amount of traffic that is driven over whether or not they are dofollow or nofollow.
2. Social signals. Although there is are many social platforms that Google can use, there is only 1 that is shown in GSC. (Pinterest) This means that Google can use any of them but we know Google uses one of them.
3. Mentions across the web. Usually brand mentions.
4. Brand social profiles with real followers and real engagement. Buying followers, likes, shares, ect. doesn't move the needle and doesn't build trust.

So that is my 2 cents worth for free. And you know what they say about something being free. :)
7:13 am on Nov 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Mainly because of the Halloween update there is a drop in the organic rankings or i would say change in the seo positions.
11:36 am on Nov 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Links that drive traffic (both dofollow and nofollow) I have an untested theory that links are now rated by amount of traffic that is driven over whether or not they are dofollow or nofollow.


that is something that makes total sense (so google probably doesnt do it!) . Seriously though, it seems like an obvious test for link relevancy when combined with bounce rate / time on site.
11:51 am on Nov 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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after a drop in traffic Wed through to Sat I saw a return to normal levels yesterday - as expected must have been an effect of thanksgiving , black friday etc and many are back to work they are wasting company time by internet browsing again (thankfully)
10:18 pm on Nov 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Thank you for the great suggestions.

I have a theory about Panda that Google takes a word count of your page and estimates a typical reading time for the page, then compares the estimated reading time to the time users actually spend on the page. It isn't about word count per se, but how users interact with the word count.

So if I was trying to determine trust, here are some suggestions for on page signals.

When I go to corporate websites, I tend to see a lot of the following:

privacy, cookies, GDPR
terms of service
about us, mission statement, company directory
help/faqs section
contact us form
email address, physical address, telephone number (or even two)
registered company number
disclaimer
sign up to our mailing list
follow us on social platforms
reviews
industry specific trust seals/awards e.g. ABTA for travel websites
...there are probably many more.

I don't know which of these are the ones Google use, but I know they must use some of them.

What on page factors might look like DISTRUST factors to Google, that might make you get confused with spam? What do spammers typically do on their web pages?

heavy keyword repetition compared to the rest of the serp
repeated keywords in the domain and url
is the page ad heavy or affiliate heavy ("Fred")
anonymity, no contact details, no privacy or legal notices
manipulative or malicious code or popups

There must be more on page signals, but I'm unfamiliar with the world of black hattery.
10:43 pm on Nov 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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after a drop in traffic Wed through to Sat I saw a return to normal levels yesterday - as expected must have been an effect of thanksgiving , black friday etc and many are back to work they are wasting company time by internet browsing again (thankfully)


Expect that, and much more, during Christmas/New Year.
12:47 pm on Nov 27, 2018 (gmt 0)

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On trust, not just on web pages but also with filtered email.

Most of my domestic email spam currently uses silly characters in the from and title and thus is easy for gmail to filter out, and filtered out it should be.

But there is a business mailing me at work which also now falls into the spam folder. They are a list marketer, someone I want to receive emails from but for some reason their communications all end up in spam.

Could Google be using similar techniques to decide which web pages to trust?
4:00 pm on Nov 27, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Google actually closed my Adwords account without notice. They finally gave up with the endless robo calls too.
Guess they've finally hit the point in making massive profits where they don't need us anymore.
Traffic is still flat and declining....no surprises here.
The plan is nearly complete.
[youtu.be...]
4:09 pm on Nov 27, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@samwest,
I think I read not long ago that Google was going to be closing AdWords accounts that had not shown any recent activity.

Google traffic was up yesterday, nearly back to what it was at its peak in September. Today is looking even better. A nice surprise before it all goes away at Xmas.
4:11 pm on Nov 27, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I bet they donít like SEOs using them to get keyword info.
1:44 pm on Nov 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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My traffic took another dive last night starting at 9pm EST. It is hard say exactly how bad the effect is as this has mostly taken place in the overnight low traffic hours but it is looking like I have dropped anywhere from 25 to 50%.
1:57 pm on Nov 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Further to my previous post. Something is seriously wrong of the remaining traffic 80% is to AMP pages, where as typically it would be only 30% AMP. I fear that the only reason I'm even seeing the AMP traffic is that the pages are still in the cache and once those are purged I'll be proper F#$@#%.
2:14 pm on Nov 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@samwest

Maybe the numbers of buyers to a site is related to the spend in the adwards account!

If you open a new account I assume with zero history you will get even less buyers.
2:33 pm on Nov 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@NickMNS Seeing a similar type drop on our site.
3:26 pm on Nov 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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It's been months now and I've still seen no growth of my site, despite putting on new content. It feels as if I'm being penalized or lowered in the rankings. I'm not gaining traction on my main keywords or longtails over time like I used to.

I still have no idea if I'm being affected by Panda or it's these frequent adjustments. As I've already mentioned previously, the content that I exported from blogger was awful, and I wonder if during the core update I got hit, as I had more posts which were thin, bad grammar, bad spelling and not formatted well, than the high-quality posts that I had written this year. Back in 2006+ I treated blogging more like someone would treat a Facebook post or Twitter.

Maybe I just need to wait for another core update.

Here's the traffic growth over 3 years.

[imgur.com...]

The point at which I started working on the site is obvious. I had already worked on another site before this and better understood what to do.

During the growth, I never built any backlinks. It was purely basic on-page SEO and writing content between 2000-5000 words long. I ranked between 1-3 for most of my articles. I still rank mostly #1 on other search engines, except Google.

[edited by: whoa182 at 3:40 pm (utc) on Nov 28, 2018]

3:33 pm on Nov 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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If I added a rel=canonical to my Blogspot site to refer to my main self-hosted site, could this negatively affect me? I cleaned everything up on my self-hosted site, but haven't touched the Blogspot since 2014. Obviously, all the bad content is still on the Blogspot, but my main site is all cleaned up now.

One other issue I spotted the other day was that the mobile version of Blogspot was NOT redirecting. I had to go into Blogspot and change a setting for mobile to show desktop version for it to redirect.

I have a few decent links pointing to my Blogspot, which is why I don't want to lose the intermediate link.
3:41 pm on Nov 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I'm seeing similar drops and it just keeps getting worse. I have several sites covering different niches, usually when one update hits some would lose ranking while others would gain. That was my whole purpose for diversifying my domain portfolio.

Most of my sites have lost rankings straight across the board. The only exception is two expired domains that I snagged a few months ago. I have kept them simple with about 8 pages of content very targetted KW and they have maintained their rankings, the sad part is that in spite of the traffic volume, conversions are terrible.

I figured after a couple of months things would get ironed out, but there seems to be no relief in sight.
5:58 pm on Nov 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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No sign of a change here. Still 80% amp.

I really don't understand this, as I think is the case for most in this situation, the drop is so dramatic at this what one expect from a manual action. No manual actions reported though. I don't have any expectation to rank number 1 for every keyword but but I don't see how my site can be relegated to the tail of serps. This would suggest that there must be some thing technical going on that I am not seeing or noticing.

The only flagrant issue I see is that I have thousands of links reported in GSC from spammy hot-linking sites. So far I have assumed that Google would simply ignore the cruft, but now I have my doubts. With nothing to loose, I have blocked hot-linking outright with Cloudflare's hot-link protection and once I have time I will replace the image tags with object tags which will take a load of the server as well.
6:16 pm on Nov 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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That could well be your issue. I know you donít believe me about Penguin but Iím certain theyíve made it hugely over aggressive and theyíre hitting innocent sites and giving them severe algorithmic demotions.

Iím in the same situation as you, I shouldnít be ranking 70 on the short tail query for my niche when I invented the entire niche in 1999, and for years Iíve been on page 1 and currently ranking 4-5 in all other search engines.

They are holding sites to an incredibly high trust standard for their backlinks. I believe they will not only take away the power of your backlinks but also actively demote you and remove your inexact match query visibility if they think your trust signals are too low. Iím sure now thatís what Iím dealing with and I will report back if I find ways to fix it. I have already made some progress.
6:57 pm on Nov 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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So @broccoli in one of my niches I have one competitor who is ranking #1 for thousands of keywords, the content is terrible much of it spun, yet he snagged a bunch of high power domains and is redirecting them to the main sites along with a lot of other BH type redirects. The 301 domains have sites like Princeton, Harvard, medical links all from high authority sites etc, thousands of them. before this update, the site was nowhere.

Should we be looking at those kinds of manipulations to show trust? I can't see how this would be so simple, the hard part is coughing up several thousands of dollars to buy a few of these domains that have huge trust authority and redirect them back to a site.

Any thoughts?
7:32 pm on Nov 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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the hard part is coughing up several thousands of dollars to buy a few of these domains that have huge trust authority and redirect them back to a site.

I must not understand what you mean. How are you going to find domains with "huge trust authority" that you can buy? And if you did somehow buy them, why would you want to re-direct them?
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