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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.
7:53 pm on Dec 14, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I think for many queries only the number 1 position is important. The second position only appears after the YouTube Asteroid Belt.
SERPS on mobile devices is now overcrowded with ads, boxes, videos, borders, which only leads to an increase in the use of ad blockers, that really block Google Ads in those pages.
9:05 pm on Dec 14, 2018 (gmt 0)

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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.


I am experiencing exactly the same. Things had begun to tick over bit by bit and I had hopes that we might start to get into making a monthly profit at least and then everything fell of a cliff Dec 12th, even worse 13th and just as bad today.
I honestly dont have any hope in running the business anymore as hard work and following googles advice doesnt work. I dont care what anyone says. Paid for links, blog networks and lots of scraped content seems to be king.
12:52 am on Dec 15, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Traffic is inevitably going to keep dropping as we approach Christmas/New Year.
3:50 am on Dec 15, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I think for many queries only the number 1 position is important. The second position only appears after the YouTube Asteroid Belt.
SERPS on mobile devices is now overcrowded with ads, boxes, videos, borders, which only leads to an increase in the use of ad blockers, that really block Google Ads in those pages.


@Milchan. I don't know what is Google trying to do. But it seems that the second positions in the SERP's like being in the second or third page of search results.
1:58 pm on Dec 15, 2018 (gmt 0)

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The answer boxes do not convert to me. Its sole purpose is to keep visitors on Google SERP pages. Most people do not like to read too much and when they have a glimpse of the response, then they will not continue to visit the site.

Now the first video on the carousel is blinking an eye to visitors.
Google is desperately promoting Youtube. After scrolling to the next results button and clicking on it, very often the same video is presented again.

All of these changes lead us to believe that Google is getting more revenue this way. This can be a disaster for many websites, even those that are performing well for now.
4:14 pm on Dec 15, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Here's the info on the algorithm update I mentioned that would have hit a lot of entertainment/quiz/tools sites, directory and information lookup sites, travel sites, and sites targeting local.

In mid December 2017 there was an update Barry Schwartz (HI THERE BARRY!) called the Maccabees update.

[seroundtable.com...]

The analysis suggested it targeted "low quality sites with lots of keyword permutations" i.e. doorway pages, and "ad heavy sites." It could have been several different updates.

Anyone with a site with keyword permutations got hit. It hit the biggest site in my niche really hard (they are not at all ad heavy). They do have an excessive amount of long tail keyword permutations. I didn't notice anything at the time, but I was in the middle of a huge viral traffic spike. I only started to feel a drop off on the 3rd/4th January 2018. I don't have sensible search console data from that time because my site was distributed over subdomains, so I can't really see what was going on.

I'm not in a content niche, I’m in an entertainment tool niche. The name of each tool is literally "genre of tool" + "tool type name." It's legitimate to have a site like this with multiple keyword permutations of this nature since each page serves a very different purpose. It's also how people search for pages in the niche! What am I supposed to do, talk in euphemisms and hope Google guesses what my pages are about?

I think this is the reason a low quality EMD was able to take over my niche and dominate all the super synonyms searches. Everyone else in the niche is under an algorithmic penalty! I think the EMD avoided the penalty because they only have 20 pages (the 20 highest volume pages - which means they've taken a lot of my traffic).

I think this algorithm update involved a cranking up of the keyword cannibalisation penalty (no, I don't believe Google gets confused, I believe it's an algorithmic penalty that happens at the re-sorting stage of serps ranking). Have you noticed how some authority/quality sites can get away with having several spots at the top of the serps, and everyone else gets their related pages hidden and sometimes their primary pages are pulled down by secondary pages? That's exactly what's happening in my niche.

It makes it really difficult for a site with the typical profile of my niche to rank on the short tail. For example, in an unrelated niche – if you search for "baby name meanings" you will get a completely different set of sites to if you search for "specific name" + "baby name meaning."

Since I'm a medium sized site it seems I can't rank for the short tail and I don't have the hundreds/thousands of pages I need to get enough traffic from the long tail. I have no idea what the best strategy is to fix this.
5:45 pm on Dec 15, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I am in the health and fitness niche (bodybuilding) the first update in August nailed several of my sites hard, the ones that popped up above mine were ones with heavy and good link profiles from powerful sites. It has gotten worse for me, for example, the same people that are already ranking have bought several expired domains in the medical field with a ton of backlinks from high authority medical sites, this site is plugging supplements and bodybuilding as well. They continue to buy 10 year + domains that cost $$$ and I guess will continue to rank.

I'm pretty sure its an agency with deep pockets, because they have several domains in the same niche that I'm in and those domains, are ranking on page one and two, so, even if one site tanks they have others ready to follow its just a matter of doing their link magic and 301's.

I know a few have commented on 301 redirects not working very well but for these sites, they are doing a wonderful job. I'm about ready to throw in the towel in this niche( for a while at least) and have started a couple of other sites in less competitive niches with different affiliates that seem to be picky about who promotes their products.

In the meantime from what I'm seeing on this forum and others spam is ruling, don't get me wrong I don's expect my site or pages to all be on page one but this is ridiculous, especially when you do a search for different KW variations and the same sites keep dominating page one and two, user intent? I think not.
7:36 pm on Dec 16, 2018 (gmt 0)

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There comes it again. Semrush showing moderate chatter across categories
2:50 pm on Dec 17, 2018 (gmt 0)

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For some time today, site webmasterworld showed Godaddy notice that site is not renewed. Glad it is up.
2:52 pm on Dec 17, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Recently every site took a major hit. This in the middle of what was traditionally the holiday "rush". Nice sneaky greed move G...again.
6:15 pm on Dec 17, 2018 (gmt 0)

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This is odd.
There is a video-producing company that sells the videos it produces, it's a legitimate business. Then two different entities buy the videos and publish on Youtube and end up occupying the first and third place of the carrosel for a main search expression.
One of the videos has ads (the least seen ~150k) but both are promoting private buisness in different countries.
The most seen (~350k) was published two years ago and the other one year ago .

Thus, the visitor is served twice with the same result (video) in prominent places of the SERP video carousel. But that's not all. In this search on the desktop, above the video carousel there is only the picture box with several images. The first image is a snapshot of the 1st video with a link to it. Then come the results with text. The second text result has a review widget with 5 stars and two votes. I visited this website and there is no way to vote.
On the second page of the SERPS we have thumbnails from the videos featured on the front page, what luxury. What a mess, there is no way to fight this chaos. Imagine in a mobile search with all those ads above results. This is outrageous.

In the video-producing company FAQ page there is the question ¿PUEDO PONER LOS VÍDEOS EN MI PÁGINA WEB O EN UN CANAL TIPO YOUTUBE? which can be translated as Can I put the videos in may webpage or Youtube channel? The answer is Desgraciadamente no es posible esta opción en la actualidad... translated to Unfortunately is not possible this option for now... They are intended to be used internally within the company's premises and be presented solely to clients. They even say that if any video of them appear on the web is piracy and will take legal action.

Conclusion: Is this the E-A-T that everybody is talking about? Or the explanation to "There is nothing you can do... we are just rewarding sites that were underrated".
7:53 pm on Dec 17, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Am I just out of the loop, or has anyone else seen Google sticking ads in the middle of organic results? I did a search on mobile this weekend and it was the top 3 organic results, then 3 or 4 ads (not local pack, actual ads) and then the rest of the organic results. I've never seen that before.

It's gone now, but it was interesting.
9:29 pm on Dec 17, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I haven't seen ads in the middle or organic results, but I've been seeing ads at the bottom (rather than the traditional top or side) for some time. It stands to reason that they'd be testing other positions, too. With automated multivariate testing, it's easy enough to do.
4:55 am on Dec 18, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Seems that an update brewing. The ranking is very fluctuating.
5:50 am on Dec 18, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Can anyone help me in understanding what update is rolling out since last week?
10:35 am on Dec 18, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Definitely seen a drop over the past 7 days of ~20%. Coincidentally when we lost a lot of traffic in December 2017 around the same time. We only partially recovered back in March.

Hoping it's not going in a similar direction!
3:54 pm on Dec 18, 2018 (gmt 0)

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My traffic is doing better than expected this week, given that it's the last week before Christmas. Google traffic was up nearly 30% yesterday over the same day last year, and still going strong today.
2:42 am on Dec 19, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Our traffic and earnings have been up in the last few days, too, but that may have less to do with Google than with seasonal factors. We usually see an upturn in late December, and it's nearly three weeks into the month.
4:22 am on Dec 19, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Can anyone help me in understanding what update is rolling out since last week?


Dude we are trying to understand it ourselves.
5:17 am on Dec 19, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I noticed some modest improvements in rankings the other day and they've maintained... But at the same time, my traffic has fallen off a cliff this morning and was unusually low for Monday and Tuesday. Is this normal for a health/diet website in December? I'm guessing that people would be less likely to be searching for supplements and more so gifts right now...
6:54 am on Dec 19, 2018 (gmt 0)

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My traffic is down by around 20% from this time last week. I didn't notice because an article went viral and sent my traffic into overdrive (on that one article), jumping from a lousy 5,000 visitors a day to 80,000. Now things are slowing down I went to check on everything else and most of it is down. I've decided that I'm no longer going to add content to the site. It takes hit after hit. It isn't worth it anymore.
3:14 pm on Dec 19, 2018 (gmt 0)

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For some reason, my traffic has been up considerably this week from what it was last year. Yesterday alone, Google traffic was up 43% from the same day last year. It's still down overall from the beginning of the month, which is normal as it gets closer to Christmas. But compared to last year, this year's seasonal drop has been much less than expected.
6:43 pm on Dec 19, 2018 (gmt 0)

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"a lousy 5,000 visitors a day . . . . It isn't worth it anymore."

Really, now, with this kind of traffic I would be making millions! Probably you're doing something quite right while at the same time doing something very wrong.
.
7:45 pm on Dec 19, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I used to have 20,000 visitors a day so 5,000 is pretty low, especially as I've doubled my content since the highs.
9:53 pm on Dec 19, 2018 (gmt 0)

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People who keep creating more and more content could eventually end up with what google's algorithm judges to be a "content farm". This is Panda territory.
12:42 am on Dec 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

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It just keeps getting worse and worse...

We also seeing a daily decrease in all aspects from September and now we've lost the ground we made up in 10 years. High volume traffic, several million users and no support, no emails, no inquiries from Google, nothing. Most likely in the 2019 we will moving from this company away and we will strongly not recommend to use Google Chrome, AMP and all related products and services - the tools for controlling the web and world. It's time to stop moving all developers, publishers and end users to the Google Sandbox.
1:07 am on Dec 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Are you suggesting adding new and fresh content is Panda? Is it better to stop publishing new posts?
1:30 am on Dec 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

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G is totally borked, it has absolutely no idea where any original articles/text or images were created.

I have a specific site which for many years ranked #1 because I have the registered trademark, I have the EMD domain, I have the de facto information for this ONE specific exclusive product.

This year I have lost 80% of my traffic to scrapists with BS sites, G prefers to believe that MY TEXT on their crap-assed sites is of higher value.

No wonder my global industry is giving two fingers to G as an advertising medium!
3:09 am on Dec 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@aristotle,
There is a big difference between a quality site and a "content farm". Most sites need to publish regular new content in order to stay fresh and relevant, and keep visitors coming back. Google does not punish reputable, trusted sites for publishing too many articles. If it did, I'd be in big trouble. Instead, most of my traffic gains over the past year are because of the new articles I've published.

Now, if my site was full of articles like "How to eat red M&M's", "How to eat blue M&M's", "How to eat green M&M's", and so on, that would be different. But I doubt that is what browndog was referring to.
6:10 am on Dec 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Does Google's crawler not following the robots.txt? In a crawl error, many of the pages which I have blocked in robots.txt showing under "Not Found". How?
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