Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from 54.196.208.187

Forum Moderators: Robert Charlton & goodroi

Google Updates and SERP Changes - December 2018

     
3:13 pm on Dec 1, 2018 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Oct 24, 2003
posts: 671
votes: 20



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.
6:50 am on Dec 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

Full Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Mar 10, 2017
posts:294
votes: 113


Peak traffic was late 2012, with around 450 articles. I have since added about 450 more in 6 years, which works out at 75 articles per year. I am the only person who creates content for my site, and I have been very clear that I have no interest in guest posts. Last week a professional in my niche asked to create content, and I turned him down (he has a medical degree, I don't). I still don't farm out my content to anybody but myself.

I do the very best I can to create content that is useful for my readers. My top post has hundreds of comments thanking me for the post, because it helped them so much. I don't understand how one author trying to create engaging content to help my visitors (and me, I'm not going to deny that I need visitors to earn a living) means my site is a content farm. I have never participated in any black or grey hat techniques, I just want to have a good and engaging site. I've never heard before that that equates to being a content farm.
10:18 am on Dec 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Sept 10, 2018
posts: 179
votes: 26


@browndog You are on the right track, donít worry about the people who try to scare you off from improving your site.

You can also revise your old articles and make sure to add a ďlast updatedĒ date when you change them, Google sees that as a trust signal as well as a freshness signal. Take a look at your keyword density on the pages that arenít doing so well, you might find you are accidentally over or under optimised compared to the first page serp average, that really did help improve my rankings. (Anyone interested can DM me for the name of a very good tool Iíve used).

Add corporate signals on all your pages like contact information and email. Add these things in your headers: any relevant meta tags (except meta keywords), apple icons, twitter cards, facebook cards, etc. Make sure you have pages for privacy, terms, contact, and about, and about should include detailed author information and a mission statement. Make sure you have social share buttons and pages on fb and twitter.

If you are in YMYL look up Marie Haynes, subscribe to her newsletter, and find her on YouTube, she is currently doing a series on EAT.
2:06 pm on Dec 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Jan 19, 2017
posts:655
votes: 244


@browndog,
You don't have a content farm. Sounds like you're doing everything right.
3:01 pm on Dec 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member aristotle is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Aug 4, 2008
posts:3547
votes: 327


At the time of the original Panda rollout in 2011, google said that it was mainly aimed at "content farms". As far as I know, they never defined exactly what that term means. But a huge number of websites were hit by that first Panda rollout, and most of them have never recovered.

Most of the owners of those affected sites didn't think their sites were content farms and didn't understand why they were hit by an update aimed at content farms. So there may have been more to it than google's statement about content farms being the main target.

Over the years there's been a lot of discussion here about how Panda works and which types of sites are vulnerable. One common belief is that it mainly affects sites with a large amount of "average" or "mediocre" content. Another belief is that it affects sites that assemble a large amount of content for the purpose of getting random long-tail traffic. This was the strategy of old well-known content farms such as Hubpages and Ehow.

In my opinion "fresh content" is only important for certain types of sites such as news sites, but doesn't matter for most types of sites.

In my previous post I was referring to people who say that they write a new article everyday, I've even seen people say that they write 4 or 5 new articles everyday. This is what I meant.

There has been considerable speculation about Panda being a big factor in some of the updates from earlier this year.
3:23 pm on Dec 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Sept 10, 2018
posts: 179
votes: 26


Panda has several components but the main one is measurements of user experience provided by Chrome data. Short visits followed by back button clicks are poison for your website, because they imply your page isn't providing the information people are looking for. There are other more complex measurements for ecommerce sites, such as measurements of how well your site converts and how fast you make sales.

It's hard to distinguish between different algorithms because they're all part of the core now, and they all interact. Penguin and Panda are part of one big "Panguin" algorithm now.

There are site wide demotions for sites that have too many thin content or low quality pages, particularly category and tag pages that spammers used to use to keyword stuff. The keyword stuffing algorithms have become very strict and specific this year and it's easy to fall afoul of them, even if you have a page that is otherwise high quality. There are also trust/quality algorithms, such as the on-page quality signals I mentioned above.

I would not worry about the size of your site so much as making sure all the pages fulfil user's needs, and that your worst pages aren't dragging the rest of your site down with bad scores. I don't know what percentage of bad pages a site has to have to trigger a demotion, but the lower the better.
3:45 pm on Dec 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Oct 24, 2003
posts: 671
votes: 20


Add corporate signals on all your pages like contact information and email. Add these things in your headers: any relevant meta tags (except meta keywords), apple icons, twitter cards, facebook cards, etc. Make sure you have pages for privacy, terms, contact, and about, and about should include detailed author information and a mission statement. Make sure you have social share buttons and pages on fb and twitter.


@broccoli...why would Google care about adding share buttons to your pages? Goole's own social media site failed and Google has reduced the value of social media profile followers as an important metric in its algo a long time ago. I don't think Google pays attention to share buttons at all. Does anyone else agree with this assertion?

Corporate info yes. I was thinking about adding a privacy page to my site and I am wondering if that's why I got hit so hard...I still don't have one.
4:08 pm on Dec 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Sept 10, 2018
posts: 179
votes: 26


@ichthyous Trust me, social is a ranking factor, people have tested this extensively. DM me for specifics.

Yes you absolutely need a privacy page and also a terms of service page too. And possibly an affiliate disclosure page if thatís valid for your site.
4:32 pm on Dec 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member aristotle is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Aug 4, 2008
posts:3547
votes: 327


Yes you absolutely need a privacy page and also a terms of service page too.

This type of thing is extremely easy for spammers to fake. And Google knows this. My sites don't have any of this and they are doing very well in google.
4:38 pm on Dec 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

New User

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:July 24, 2018
posts:35
votes: 4


I have to two sites that are ranking for a few keywords, one is beauty the other is a massage device, neither have sharing buttons nor disclosure or any other formalities, plus many social sharing buttons are blocked when using private browsing windows so you can't see them anyway.

I'm not saying you don't need them, I just think there is no one thing to outguess what this algorithm has done.
4:54 pm on Dec 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Oct 24, 2003
posts: 671
votes: 20


I can see how links to your own profiles may help send a trust signal if you have a big following, but not share buttons. I have a big following on Google+, used to help but now not so much. FB, Instagram don't matter at all...Pinterest was driving huge traffic but they changed everything and now it's pay to play.
5:05 pm on Dec 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Sept 10, 2018
posts: 179
votes: 26


@aristotle "My sites are doing great and I don't have [insert known ranking factor here]" is not a logical argument.

@southernguy No, but many things can add up to make a difference.

@ichthyous 1). Link from your active social profile to your site and from your site back to your active social profile. Include that info on your contact page. 2). Google pays attention to social shares. Share buttons encourage people to share your site, especially when combined with a call to action.
5:23 pm on Dec 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member aristotle is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Aug 4, 2008
posts:3547
votes: 327


Hmm... someone keeps recommending all the types of things that spammers make sure to do.
5:34 pm on Dec 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Sept 10, 2018
posts: 179
votes: 26


@aristotle I disagree. I'm recommending things legitimate corporations do and SEOs recommend. However, someone else keeps behaving like a disinformation operative. I'm starting to wonder whose side you're on!
5:51 pm on Dec 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member aristotle is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Aug 4, 2008
posts:3547
votes: 327


LOL ... I take the side of google's algorithm. So far that's working out quite well for me.
6:47 pm on Dec 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

Full Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Mar 10, 2017
posts:294
votes: 113


Thanks broccoli, I already have those things. I found about about Marie Haynes from here and watched her live video last week. Very interesting.

I work out of home 2.5 days a week, but there remainder of the time I add content. Most days I do add a new post every day. But more than that would be pushing it. Ironically most take a full day to research, the one that is still going viral (has had something like 52,000 likes) was a simple article my daughter suggested on a little known quirk. It took me about 30 minutes to write. Just shows the easy ones can do better than the ones you poured your blood sweat and tears into.

I suspect my recent downturn is Christmas related because most my content is still sitting in the same position. Although my biggest (not the viral one) has slipped down 1.5 positions.
7:36 pm on Dec 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Oct 24, 2003
posts: 671
votes: 20


@ichthyous 1). Link from your active social profile to your site and from your site back to your active social profile. Include that info on your contact page. 2). Google pays attention to social shares. Share buttons encourage people to share your site, especially when combined with a call to action.


@broccoli We all know this already as it's just common sense. But Google could care less whether you share your content on social media sites (other than Google plus). I have about 45,000 followers and never seen any shared content help me one iota except for Google plus shares that get plus oned a lot. Twitter links also get followed, but you need a hell of a lot of share action to get any discernible boost. The content on my site rarely gets shared via share buttons.
8:12 pm on Dec 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

Full Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Mar 10, 2017
posts:294
votes: 113


I donít know if Google looks at sharing and rank you higher for it, but social media is a good way to promote your content and get other people sharing it...who may go on to share it themselves...

Basically, I look at it as a way of getting your content out there without the help of Google. The massive amount of traffic to my one article this week is 95% via Facebook. I have been checking to see if it would rise up in Google rankings and it did, but not my much.
9:59 pm on Dec 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

New User

joined:Dec 18, 2018
posts:4
votes: 1


Social signals, privacy, terms of services etc., are not ranking factors.
10:09 pm on Dec 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

New User

joined:Dec 18, 2018
posts:4
votes: 1


In fact, links aren't and haven't been ranking factors since 2001. Links do not work that way. They have an entirely different purpose. Unfortunately, the brainwashing around the concept of links with connection to information retrieval and ranking cannot be undone. Misinformation helps Amphitheatre Parkway more than it does its believers.
7:50 am on Dec 21, 2018 (gmt 0)

Full Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Mar 10, 2017
posts:294
votes: 113


Out of interest, I was just trying to fact check something and there was a link to a fairly official sounding site which was something like 'unicornwidgetclinic.com'...so thinking I'd get some good and professional advice, I went to the site. It made a claim, but I wanted to know who was making this claim, so went to the about page. There was zero information about who is proving the content. It went like this...

Unicorn website was made to become the central hub for your unicorn needs.Blah, blah, blah. No qualifications, no experience, no names. There is a link to a contact form. The articles (I saw) are written by XYZ (they actually used initials for the author)...no actual names.

This isn't a critisism of Google (although they returned the result), it is a perfect example of an untrustworthy site (IMO) and what searchers should avoid. I am now very, very wary of sites that don't provide information on who is writing the content.
12:14 pm on Dec 21, 2018 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from GB 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member redbar is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Oct 14, 2013
posts:3137
votes: 452


I am now very, very wary of sites that don't provide information on who is writing the content.


In my industry there is a huge amount of misinformation and deliberate marketing disinformation published even from well-known producers and suppliers. My sites are known for being the de facto standard for accuracy and quality however it totally pi$$e$ me off when I see Google ranks a site above mine for a keyword1keyword2keyword3 exclusive product of mine when the ONLY thing that is accurate on the page is the image, ALL of the informational text is about another exclusive and totally unrelated exclusive product of mine.

No need to ask where they got that information is there yet Google continues to rank a completely erroneous page at the top of the SERPs even though I have repeatedly told them about it.

What do we say, fubard?
2:49 pm on Dec 21, 2018 (gmt 0)

Preferred Member

10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Feb 5, 2004
posts: 530
votes: 55


@RedBar you are right, misinformation is the problem.

In my niche Big brands and a few out of the blue niche sites have risen to the top the results. They are constantly creating articles on every little aspect of something that is either obvious or could be answered in 1 sentence (ie, "How to count red widgets", "What is the Top 5 Widgets", "What is the Best Widgets", Ö). Plus half the information is wrong or very very vague.

I don't own the services and products I talk about but I do try to keep all our information as current as possible.

Google AI is a joke and will continue to be until it can actually understand the information it is parsing and relate it to other information to then determine the pages it needs to display for the query of the user.

Google can't even parse pages very well and figure out what the information is without the use of Structured Markup. This leads me to believe we are long way from seeing any real improvements to weeding out misinformation.
5:30 pm on Dec 21, 2018 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member aristotle is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Aug 4, 2008
posts:3547
votes: 327


I am now very, very wary of sites that don't provide information on who is writing the content.

Even if the information is provided, how do you know that it can be trusted?

Some quack with a fake name could put up a fake bio page claiming that he has a Ph.D in Nutritional Therapy with 20 research papers published in medical journals. Google's algorithm doesn't have any way to verify this.

I recently came across an article somewhere about a fake "Board of Directors" page that used people's photos copied from the web without their knowledge.

Spammers and quacks create these fake bio pages all the time. This is why google's algorithm doesn't use bio pages as a ranking factor.
6:15 pm on Dec 21, 2018 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member editorialguy is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:June 28, 2013
posts:3375
votes: 716


I am now very, very wary of sites that don't provide information on who is writing the content.

IMO, whether a byline or bio is important depends on the subject and the nature of the material. It's like anything else: Few people care if a standard "who, what, where, when" newspaper story about a fire is written by a name-brand journalist or a cub reporter, but it would be odd for a newspaper's major investigative report or a magazine story about a potential new cancer cure to be published without the byline of an investigative reporter (in the first case) or a science/medical writer (in the second).
6:18 pm on Dec 21, 2018 (gmt 0)

New User from IT 

joined:Aug 5, 2016
posts:14
votes: 4


Hitting a new low... Traffic on my website has been growing since last month, but there are no sales, no e-mails or any other kind of conversion. And I'm running a store-wide Christmas sale right now, this used to be the most profitable period of the year.

Visitors are not even downloading the free products anymore, and that's really weird. This second half of 2018 has been horrible for my website.
6:49 pm on Dec 21, 2018 (gmt 0)

Full Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Mar 10, 2017
posts:294
votes: 113


I donít care who is writing the content of itís an article on say how to make a skirt or decorate a Christmas tree. This is medical advice.

You can make a false bio for sure, but with a name you can at least search for them. Of course you could also use/steal the name of an industry professional. Or make one up...Dr Smith who graduated in 1993. All possibilities I guess.
6:59 pm on Dec 21, 2018 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Oct 5, 2012
posts:918
votes: 180


Just took a look at Johns Hopkins Hospital website, they have medical related articles, no author names.

Maybe trust comes in different forms, an organization or website can be as authoritative as a person or professional.
8:47 pm on Dec 21, 2018 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Sept 10, 2018
posts: 179
votes: 26


Some trust comes from links. Some trust from on-page signals. Thereís also speculation that they have an author entity database based on online presence and social profiles, and sentiment analysis.
2:12 am on Dec 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

Full Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Mar 10, 2017
posts:294
votes: 113


Thatís a good point, I access information from Cornell University quite a bit and donít look at who wrote it because I trust its authenticity.

This site had the word clinic in its name so I assumed it was a medical practice, but they werenít. I guess I dig a bit more when I donít know the site.
4:21 am on Dec 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Oct 24, 2003
posts: 671
votes: 20


@widgetized I'm experiencing the same thing on my site...no inquiries this week and the only calls are sales calls. Traffic is at the lowest point in over a year and still slowly dropping. I have no idea where this will end...the only competitors I've seen recover from this drop, or avoid it, are two huge corporations...one now owned by Wal Mart.
This 245 message thread spans 9 pages: 245