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Google Updates and SERP Changes - December 2018

     
3:13 pm on Dec 1, 2018 (gmt 0)

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System: The following 7 messages were cut out of thread at: https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4926691.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 4:47 pm on Dec 1, 2018 (PDT -8)


It just keeps getting worse and worse... I was seeing a slow daily uptick from November 4th until day before yesterday and hoping I would finally start to recover from September's massacre. Now I've lost all the ground I made up in two days and back to where I started. No calls, no emails, no inquiries. Meanwhile the huge corporate competitors keep ascending. Google is just determined to kill us all off.
6:15 pm on Dec 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@southernguy,
My earnings come from AdSense and site memberships, so in general, as traffic increases, AdSense earnings and memberships increase as well. I don't spend much time doing article-by-article analysis. I just see that more traffic = more earnings.
6:31 pm on Dec 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@SouthernGuy I saw the exact same thing over the past summer. My traffic shot up around early June and stayed high until the end of September. During that time I did not see any increase in inquiries or sales, which I found very odd. Even before that three month long spike in traffic I was noticing odd patterns like inexplicable inversions of impressions and CTR and periods of very low inquiries followed by a 12-24 hour period where I would suddenly be bombarded with numerous inquiries. We are all just the lab rats in Google's constant algo experiments now...and always were really.
6:57 pm on Dec 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@ichthyous @southernguy Thatís probably A/B testing. I believe they have a Panda algorithm that notes the percentage of conversions you get and also how long people spend on your site before converting. I think itís dreadful, but what do I know.
10:11 pm on Dec 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@broccoli It strikes me that this forum is very quiet for the last two months, and that the moderators and other top level posters (who usually have far more insight than the rest of us) have very little to contribute to this discussion now. That's because Google has successfully managed to mystify everyone and nobody really has a clue what is going on anymore. It's going on more than two months and I keep looking for solid answers as to why 35+% of my traffic has slowly been drained from my site and there are none to be gleaned, just more hypotheses.

Yes it could be the quality of links, or the user interaction, the conversion rate, age or length of the content, or all of the above. But I have seen a lot of very large competitors get hit hard by this, and only one is recovering somewhat. One has escaped entirely and continued to increase traffic strongly...that one site happens to run the most ads simultaneously on Google's ad network too. Hmm...

Everyone keeps telling me to forget Google traffic and start marketing in other ways. Well, I've tried those other ways and frankly they don't work 1/100th as well as search for my business. So I do not see turning this ship around so easily after 15 years of building a business on Google traffic.
10:38 pm on Dec 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I often wonder if the people who regularly predict Google's demise, because they are unhappy with their personal website rankings, have actually started using other search engines other than Google.

Because if you hate Google, and even you still use their search engine, that doesn't really bode well for the likelihood of your prediction eventuating, does it?

By the way, I do think more people should diversify, if for no other reason than the fact that I'm outranking my competitors on Bing, DuckDuckGo and other non-Google SEs.
10:39 pm on Dec 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@ichthyous Yes, Iím seeing the ďone site to rule them allĒ phenomenon in my own niche and many others, including very big corporate niches. I think theyíve done something to unbalance the page scoring versus the site scoring.

I probably sound like a stuck record. :) Maybe if I complain enough someone will start to listen. I think attitudes might be changing. When I started posting here in September anyone who complained they had a good site and didnít deserve demotion got sneered at and told ďcontent is king!Ē
10:43 pm on Dec 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Yeah, "content is king" is a bunch of BS. With no disrespect intended to Cralamarre or others, the content that ranks in our industry is trash. Exact match domains and thin affiliates rule the land now, putting actual service provides below the fold.
1:06 am on Dec 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I just need a healthy environment where 25% of my visitors are from Google, 25% from DuckDuckGo, 25% from Bing and 25% from Others (Lilo, Ecosia).
Still remember the time when Yahoo was the only search engine I knew, then Google got clean and organized and I loved it. I've never looked back, but now ...

I do not want Google to perish, I just want other strong search engines to compete, it was obvious from my words.
The power of each search engine comes from the people who use it.
1:59 am on Dec 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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You all have your heads in the sand or something. Stop trying to decipher Googles algorithm like it Fort Knox. Every singe niche I look at is dominated by websites with backlinks. I donít care if they earned them organically or have #*$!ty networks. Backlinks is how you rank and everything else is secondary.

You want to rank? Build a network and unless youíre an idiot building exact match KW you WILL rank very well. Itís not rocket science and never has been. You think itís not about backlinks? Build a website with your awesome content, no backlinks and see how far it gets you.

Also itís hilarious seeing someone get offended by a ďGoogle is brokeĒ comment , lol.
8:45 am on Dec 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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We got hit again yesterday in the evening. This one was severe with about 95% of traffic cut off.
9:18 am on Dec 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Yes, We have dropped 10% and 20%, we still dropping. We have used AMP but gave up now
9:30 am on Dec 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@Martin Ice Web @AliceChen123

Iím so sorry to hear that. Thereís definitely something going on AGAIN because changes I made arenít being indexed promptly.

If itís any consolation I can see some massive semantic/intent A/B testing going on at the moment in the serps I monitor.

It seems to be AI/super synonyms/hummingbird stuff thatís being tested for user satisfaction. Whole serps where queries are ambiguous are swapping and reverting in meaning. Itís stupid because itís query deserves diversity stuff where people donít even know what they want until they see it. So it might be temporary.
9:36 am on Dec 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Our niche is now brands only.

conrad mercator, wuerth, amazon, buerklin.... first non brands entrie is on second page.
9:40 am on Dec 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I see a hit website that keep rising, but our website didnít have any problems, but it was hit and dropping.
10:25 am on Dec 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Same here brands and a big map, local small businesses still show on a map but most of users want to shop online not to meet a small business owner.

Amazon is too strong maybe and small businesses only chance to convert would be if someone visits their shop. But that canít be helpful cause 1 in 2 shop visitors only go to see the product and after buying online.

Still canít see the purpose of that map
1:26 pm on Dec 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Do any of you calculate how much money you spend on SEO and compare it to how much you would have to spend on PPC to get the same quantity and quality of sessions?
1:41 pm on Dec 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Pay no attention to other people's speculations about google's algorithm. Don't keep changing your site willy-nilly to try to please google. Stick with your original plan. If you see a way to improve your site, do it not because of google but to serve your visitors better.
2:34 pm on Dec 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@aristotle

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain?

With respect, whilst it might be noble to concentrate solely on pleasing your visitors, people need to feed their kids and keep a roof over their heads.

There's a lot more going on with Google's algorithms right now than user satisfaction, although that's certainly part of it.
3:23 pm on Dec 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Yeah our niche is a disaster now. A number of brands have discovered our niche and have pumped out articles like crazy. This gives them multiple listings on the first page even though the articles are not very informative and usually very similar. Thanks to their backlinks they rank high. Everyone is putting the year in their articles titles and you see things like multiple top or best of articles (ie The top 10 Ö, The best 5 Ö, The top 6, etc...).

Also one niche site out of the blue has started to rank like crazy even though they have almost zero back links. This started with the March update and since then every little update has given them a few more keywords and allowing them to rank on the first page, while we slowly drop.
3:30 pm on Dec 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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i saw a bit of a rise throughout November but still low numbers and conversions 50% of what they used to be, It is not 100% because of google but that is a significant factor. Ive been reducing costs , creating a completely new web site that will enable further reduction of costs plus also try to better separate things to target informational and transcriptional queries better. I have also started my exit plan as I cannot see this getting better but only worse in the future and im tired of the stress and feeling of helplessness that is par for the course. My exit will take around 10 to 12 months if things go to plan so hopefully I can earn enough to keep my head above water during that time.
3:42 pm on Dec 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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A couple of days ago I published an updated version of an article I had written close to a decade ago. Last night I did a search on Google to see how the updated version is doing in the rankings, and noticed that directly below my article in the SERPs was an article with the exact same title and description as mine. I clicked on it, and it took me to someone else's website with my article published on it, word for word. The only thing missing from the page was my name as the author.

Now, this was not the updated version that I published two days ago. This was the original version from years ago. But still, someone took an article from my site, copied and pasted it onto their site, and Google is ranking it directly below mine. My article is #1 in the SERPs, and now my own article, with my own words but on someone else's site, is competing against it in the #2 spot.

It's funny, I've never noticed that stolen version in the SERPs before. I'm wondering if it's because I updated my original article, largely with new content. So now that the updated version on my site is no longer identical to the stolen, original version on the other site, Google no longer sees a problem. Maybe I should have published the updated version as a completely separate article and left the original alone.
5:38 pm on Dec 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I've been reading this thread for a long time, and have seen quite a few reports about people making changes to their site solely to try to improve their google traffic, but more often than not, it backfired and their google traffic took another drop.
6:04 pm on Dec 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@aristotle,
I didn't update my article to try to please Google. I did it because the information was outdated and needed to be updated. Oddly, even though this article has been online for years and was already ranked #1 for its keyword, traffic for the article has doubled since I updated it. Is there a rank higher than #1 that I don't know about?

[edited by: Cralamarre at 6:55 pm (utc) on Dec 7, 2018]

6:29 pm on Dec 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Cralamarre -- In my post I wasn't referring to you or the type of change that you made. Simple examples of what I meant would be someone who shortens most of their articles, or adjusts keyword densities, or changes navigation.
8:59 pm on Dec 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Get your Android smartphone. Perform a short tail keyword search in Chrome. Watch the results page. Imagine is your website. Do you think you would follow Google's webmaster guidelines or Adsense policies?
9:56 pm on Dec 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Yes, We have dropped 10% and 20%, we still dropping. We have used AMP but gave up now

Could it be that as we approach Christmas, traffic will gradually tail off until the after the new year, when it starts gradually rising again?
9:59 pm on Dec 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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A couple of days ago I published an updated version of an article I had written close to a decade ago. Last night I did a search on Google to see how the updated version is doing in the rankings, and noticed that directly below my article in the SERPs was an article with the exact same title and description as mine. I clicked on it, and it took me to someone else's website with my article published on it, word for word. The only thing missing from the page was my name as the author.

I think this is everyone's nightmare (I was going to say worst nightmare, but there are things worse than getting your article copied, I guess).

And it's only going to get worse. There are some very smart people in countries like Russia, China and India (just to name a few) with great technical/programming skills, but maybe not so great English skills. And the easiest way for a lot of them to make money is to scrape and copy their way to richness (comparatively of course, based on costs of living in their respective countries).
1:36 am on Dec 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@Cralamarre I have had this happen several times through the years, some would copy my entire site. Though it was maddening, it was never much of a worry because they never climbed the SERPS. Until August. Two sites have now copied my headings word for word, changed a few words in the paragraphs and reordered the bullet points and are now outranking me on many keywords. The difference? Their "articles" are reviewed or written by doctors. Though I am certified and have 12 years of experience in my field which can be verified, they have more "expertise" as MDs. What is worse, these sites have copied other articles from other sites related to health that have information that is wrong and could cause harm. Again these articles claim to be reviewed or written by doctors. It is depressing. I have worked for 10 years building this, following the rules, providing searched for and needed information. I am at wits end.
2:14 am on Dec 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Hey guys! You can file a DMCA takedown request with Google to remove your copied content from the web. If your content has since changed you can point them at archive.org. Itís also a ranking factor. Sites with valid DMCA takedowns against them have lower trust and will get demoted with enough requests.
2:44 am on Dec 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@broccoli,
Thanks for the advice. I've contacted the website that's publishing my article without permission and "kindly" asked them to remove it. I'm not terribly worried about it as this other site is not very popular overall. But if they do not remove the article and I wake up in a bad mood one day, I may file the request with Google. I hate doing that kind of thing, and always worry that the other person is going to claim that I stole THEIR content.

I just checked archive.org. My article (on my site) is from 2007. The other website published my article 10 years later, in 2017. Is that what Google would need as proof?
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