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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.
10:59 am on Dec 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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A couple of medic recovery case studies here:

[searchenginejournal.com...]

[searchengineland.com...]
3:07 pm on Dec 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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After a decent start to December, the middle of December traffic slowed to crawl with zero conversions for days. How does that happen during the busiest time of the year. Never used to...
7:17 pm on Dec 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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So... after a weird drop a couple of weeks ago that turned out to be temporary, Iíve seen some interesting positive changes in my niche this week.

They seem to be both Panda related and intent/topic related. I have two topically related pages, one is good year round and the other is specifically Christmas related. Google pushed my Christmas page to #1 for the shorter non-Christmas keyword search and tried to disappear my non-Christmas page, which caused a massive spike in brand searches relating to that page, and it seems Google relented and returned it at the #2 position. So now I get to domain crowd a serp for a while! At least until Christmas is over.

Iím starting to wobble upwards on other search terms. I donít know whether its the changes Iím making or because Iím getting a lot of social shares because of the Christmas pages. A handful of keyword experiments Iíve tried seem to be performing well, so Iím going to roll them out to the whole site.

I rose on a high volume serp and adsense kindly freaked out and gave me 4 pence a click on that page, so earnings actually went down!

Meanwhile my most hated EMD competitor who took my traffic in March got removed from a couple of high volume serps they didnít deserve to be on.

Going to make some pretty big changes to the site next week once the Christmas traffic has bottomed out.
11:03 pm on Dec 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Meanwhile my most hated EMD competitor who took my traffic in March got removed from a couple of high volume serps they didnít deserve to be on.
Interesting observation. Why does your hated competitor not "deserve" the position?
2:48 pm on Dec 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Zero conversions the past three days, all mobile. I honestly can't say I've seen a desktop session in 3 days.
3:08 pm on Dec 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Incredibly quiet for my sites, some haven't even had visitors today, even the hotel/bar site is quiet unlike the reailty since it is actually heaving with customers for the Xmas draw and live music for the next few hours ... Job done :-)
3:19 pm on Dec 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@rb - yeah it seems un-naturally quiet. Historically this is the busiest time of year. You can't go by history when it's being so heavily manipulated.
4:58 pm on Dec 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Ohhh ... I have visitors, not many however enough for it not to be my lowest-ever day contrary to how it was looking just 5 hours ago!
5:24 pm on Dec 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@samwest

Interesting observation. Why does your hated competitor not "deserve" the position?


Itís a tool site and the tool is not very good and very ad heavy. Google made their algorithm a lot more keyword based earlier this year, and they got where they are through LSI and partial match keyword stuffing. Iíve been waiting for them to get a Panda penalty, it looks like itís finally starting to happen on the higher volume serps.
5:52 pm on Dec 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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A couple of days have passed from my previous post, still no conversions. First time ever I have no sales during my Christmas sale.

No suspicious activity in search console, I don't really understand...
6:15 pm on Dec 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Check your serps, apparently the adverts and product listings are ridiculous this year. Google is slowly killing the organic web. Lots of people are resorting to highly targetted facebook and instagram ads to get their products seen.
9:37 pm on Dec 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I can tell all my competitors are now off for Christmas :D Let the good times roll for 3 days!
1:24 am on Dec 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Ok I would like to share a series of posts I will make to prevent the current internet theft that is going on and the hijacking of results by nefarious tactics by corporations across the world. Its time to take back our internet:

The posts will be targeted at wordpress sites but the ideas can be applied to any site, these posts will enable users to:

Prevent attacks on their websites through use of firewall
Prevent automated image theft
Prevent automated scraping of content with honeypot widget
Prevent unauthorised caching of their website through proxy servers
Prevent all comment spam without captcha
Protect login
Protect a site in the cloud

Is this something you guys would support and contribute to?
5:34 am on Dec 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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welcome to WebmasterWorld [webmasterworld.com], V4Vendetta!
12:24 pm on Dec 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Now if one searches for whois in Google gets a video carousel about whois, LoL
Happy Holidays, Season's Greetings
4:22 pm on Dec 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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It would seem that webmastering is no longer a 24/7/365 for some, I'm pedal to the metal preparing new stuff for launch this week, hey ho for a 3 hours lunch tomorrow:-)
4:30 pm on Dec 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Merry Christmas Everyone!

I wish all the best and be smarter than AI
5:42 pm on Dec 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Thanks to Google for pushing me to make hard decisions I wouldn't have made otherwise...in this case to stop depending so heavily on Google for my business. Seeing the writing on the wall, I finally devoted time to look for an affordable bricks and mortar space to serve customers I can't reach now (I sell high dollar value artwork online). I looked and found exactly what I needed...come January I am opening a bricks and mortar retail space. I have had 15 years of battling with Google and it's been diminishing returns for quite a while now. If my site comes back, great, but I no longer want to leave my income to the whims of Google. Time to try something new in addition to online and search.
6:12 pm on Dec 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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fight AI with AS...artificial stupidity...it works!
Merry Christmas everyone!
9:57 pm on Dec 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Merry X-Mas and Happy Holidays to all. The traffic is slowing down... it's time to take it easy and enjoy the season!
1:13 am on Dec 27, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Our Google traffic is up more than 18 percent today, pageviews are up more than 25 percent.

Mind you, this has nothing to do with algorithm changes, or with Google being naughty or nice: For our topic, the same thing happens every year right after Christmas.
12:53 am on Dec 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Lucky you, mine is still inching downward after three months. Maybe 40% drop from the peak and below last year's traffic for this time of year. Nothing seems to be halting the slow downward tick.

I removed all the schema code from my site as that's really the only major change I had made in a while. It was being generated by a plugin and reporting some schema validation errors. I think that this is based on user metrics like time on page and also your link profile. In the new year I will hire someone to address usability issues on my site, but the link profile is harder to tackle.
8:15 am on Dec 31, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Mod's note: I've made some deep cuts in the posted conversations here, which had drifted significantly off the intended topic of this "Updates and SERPs" thread.

The thread is here to share observations of current traffic trends on Google. The discussion had also broken one of the cardinal rules of our forum, and drifted off to an extended discussion of the merits of a particular SEO, and getting into the kind of promotion and competitive bashing which we try extremely hard to avoid here.

In making these deletions, I've tried to avoid identification of particular posters here or the SEOs and companies named. I am, though, preserving several excellent posts by Cralamarre, which eloquently make the point of why it's wise to avoid the kind of SEO trickery or new hot tools which often get promoted, and why recommendations from new members might be suspect on a public discussion forum.

Note that acknowledged SEO experts or known companies in the field will continue to be cited on this forum when relevant and when cited by members who have earned trust here... but that it is never appropriate to rate these SEOs or discuss them as personalities. This is true among outselves as well... we allow discussion of the ideas, but not discussion of the other members themselves.

Sorry if some posts got lost in the shuffle. I've removed some praise and recommendations for SEOs I admire simply to keep things consistent. It's taken a fair amount of work to get the thread back on topic in an even-handed way.

5:19 pm on Dec 29, 2018 (gmt 0)

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With so much emphasis these days on trust and authority, I can't imagine anyone getting ahead with Google today just by following someone's SEO tricks. You can't build trust and authority with tricks. Trust and authority are built slowly over time. It took me 13 years to get to where I am today, and it wasn't by following some SEO "expert" on YouTube.
5:48 pm on Dec 29, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Well, on the issue of trust, I see that you joined this forum only two months ago, and now you've started heavily promoting an SEO expert on YouTube. I'm not saying that you're here specifically to promote someone's SEO services. I'm saying that it wouldn't be hard for someone to draw that conclusion. You haven't been around long enough (on this forum) to build up any significant level of trust or authority. And by your own admission, you were a "naive young innocent" just 3 months ago. Because of this, your recommendations don't carry the same amount of weight as they would if you were a long time member with a proven track record of useful and helpful information.

And that, in a nutshell, is how Google works today.

Now, if a site has little-to-no trust or authority, then it would make sense that SEO tactics are the only thing they can try to improve their rankings. But SEO will only get you so far.
9:19 pm on Dec 29, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Not all "SEO experts" are bad. Some SEO experts actually recommend looking at the bigger picture (long term) by improving the quality of your website. Usually these are experts who have a genuine track record of helping sites improve their rankings through practical techniques and long-term planning. <Snip> is one, in my opinion, that fits this description.

The SEO experts I'd be wary of are the flamboyant types with big colorful websites and youtube videos who appear to be churning out content after content with clickbait titles like "The 7 most important SEO tricks to rank #1 in Google in 2019!" just to get traffic and make money off that traffic. Contrast that with someone like <Snip> who, I presume, is actually busy helping his clients and writes a blog post (and an informative one at that) maybe once or twice a month.


Mods note: I'm removing jmorgan's "good-SEO" name, even though I agree with it, to avoid making a list of good-guys and bad-guys. That gets us into an endless promotional hassle, something we've found is impossible to deal with in the public Google forum.


[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 9:47 am (utc) on Dec 31, 2018]
[edit reason] Removing "good-SEO" name, per note above. [/edit]

3:52 pm on Dec 30, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Big jump up today for me, the first upward tick in weeks. I've replaced the schema tags on my site completely and made sure there were no validation errors. I also added company info to the footer of my site not just the contact page, and added a page with comprehensive privacy policy, cookie policy, copyright and terms of use. Previously I only had a page covering copyright. I made one small change to my homepage, removing some copy. I also uploaded a new disavow file about three weeks ago, something I rarely do. Let's see if this is the start of a real uptick or another head fake. Since September all the upticks have been reversed fairly quickly.
3:56 pm on Dec 30, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Fantastic news!
6:13 pm on Dec 30, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@ichthyous Hopefully it will stick I have a couple of sites that for a few days I see traffic gradually increase, the sales begin to roll back in and then bang traffic just drops off again, it's been a constant pattern (at least for me) for a couple of months now.
10:22 pm on Dec 30, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@southernguy Yes I had that happen in November and been going down ever since. My recovery today doesn't even bring me close to where I was in November. I won't be surprised if it reverses itself either. I can only console myself with the fact that all my competition also got whacked, except for one site that mysteriously never dropped and even increased ranking. That one site also spends a fortune on ads. I have seen one other competitor drop off a cliff but has been recovering slowly. Then others who fell in August and haven't recovered at all. Not sure how they are dealing with such a massive drop for so many months. Luckily this year has been very good for me, so the last three months of low traffic hasn't been a tragedy. But if it continues through next year it won't be pretty.
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