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Google Updates and SERP Changes - January 2019

     
3:01 pm on Jan 1, 2019 (gmt 0)

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The following 3 messages were cut out of thread at: https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4929562.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 7:58 pm on Jan 1, 2019 - (PDT -8)


@MayankParmar, it's just New Years. Same thing happens every year. My traffic won't start to really pick up until next week.


[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 4:04 am (utc) on Jan 2, 2019]
[edit reason] Splitting thread to new month and new year. [/edit]

8:12 pm on Jan 5, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@ichthyous What I have found is it’s necessary to be extremely careful with repeated keywords on the page. Make sure not to go over 1.5x the serp average, both overall, and for each separate html element on the page. The penalties can be quite severe. It’s possible to be both over optimised and under optimised at the same time. You can go crazy with LSI keywords, however.
8:40 pm on Jan 5, 2019 (gmt 0)

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It’s possible to be both over optimised and under optimised at the same time.

The term "over optimized" is non-sense to begin with, an oxy-moron. By definition, either something is at its optimal point or it is not is not. The optimal point is discreet. To say that something is both over and under optimized is an oxy-moron squared.
9:27 pm on Jan 5, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@NickMNS An over optimisation penalty is a penalty put in place to prevent spammy repetition of keywords from being rewarded in the search results. Google have made the way they assess keyword over optimisation so complicated that it's incredibly easy to get hit by a penalty. The penalties can seem quite subtle depending on how crazy you go with your exact match keywords - for example it might keep a well established, legitimate site at position 4-5 instead of position 1-2, purely because they have 2x the keyword percentage of other competitors. But at the same time you can also get restricted to the exact match term and miss out on all the partial match searches, and you'll be left wondering where your traffic went even though your target keyword ranking remained the same.

It's possible to be over optimised and under optimised at the same time because each html element is treated separately in addition to an overall page assessment, for example, if you go crazy with your keywords in your heading tags but not in your paragraph tags or vice versa, you will get a penalty for one factor and you won't get the reward for the other factor.

I know you don't believe keywords are a thing anymore, but that's 2016-2017 thinking from when they were using hummingbird synonyms (and also rewarding H4 tags in order to promote long, detailed articles). Google massively changed their algorithm earlier this year when they put the AI in charge of ranking factors, and the AI decided keywords were the way to go. It's like search from 2001 under the hood, but with way more penalties, and with super synonyms pasted on top to paper over the cracks.
9:57 pm on Jan 5, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I have a page about a "certain thing" exclusively. There is a lot of competition. Until August 1, 2018, it appeared on the first page of Google results when searching for "certain thing".
After that date it vanished from the search results, That page is no more present for that keyword.
But if I had done the same research on Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, Eccosia, Qwant, it is the first result shown.
what is your opinion?

About keywords: suppose I speak of the nose. If I do not want to repeat the word nose I will write what?
10:23 pm on Jan 5, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@Malanje That does sound like the over optimisation penalty I’ve seen on some of my pages that were causing them to disappear or ping in and out of search results. I managed to stabilise them and increase some rankings by sorting out my keywords.

Just make sure not to speak of the nose many more times than your competitors. It relates purely to the exact match keywords - so if you have a page about “nose surgery” make sure to check how many times your competitors use that exact phrase and where they use it. You can use partial match keywords and variations of keywords more freely, just not in the same sentences. For example “nose” in one sentence, “surgery” in the next, and of course throw in related words (LSI keywords) like “nostrils” and “operation” as many times as you need to. Of course, if you were ranking for the word “nose” by itself that is much harder!

It’s frustrating, I know, I’ve had to rewrite many of my pages to not mention the names of tools I have invented more than once when describing them, because some of my serps are very under optimised! It worked very quickly though once I got it right.
1:28 am on Jan 6, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@Malanje

In which country are you?

Where is your site hosted?

Are you using a .com or another TLD?
4:11 pm on Jan 6, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Is domain age a thing now?


I think a couple of months ago it was mentioned on Google Webmasters Hangout that it is not a thing. (can't find the link though)

IMO this is one of those common sense type things. It makes sense that an older site (maybe 1 or 2 years and more) has a slight ranking advantage over a new site (under a year) based on the age of the website. It should also have other ranking advantages as well one would assume, like more back links.

Once a website is established though there shouldn't really be a ranking advantage on just the website age.
5:24 pm on Jan 6, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Big changes happening in the serps since Friday for us. Anyone noticing an uptick or downward slide of long tail referrals? First time we've seen much since the big changes in August/September.
5:47 pm on Jan 6, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@SnowMan68 My site is on a rollercoaster right now. Increased traffic over the last few days, significant rankings increase across the board yesterday, then a smaller drop back today.
5:54 pm on Jan 6, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@snowman68

Do you have an uptick or downward? Please let us know more details about your ranking changes. Did you have a negative impact last August? As I can see there was a high algo temperature yesterday.
5:59 pm on Jan 6, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@broccoli

Did you have a ranking increase for pages, which have lost a lot of traffic since the August Algo Update and also at the beginning of December?
6:06 pm on Jan 6, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@RamonOne I lost traffic in March, I've been making site quality improvements and keyword adjustments since then and I've seen smaller or bigger boosts whenever there's a core update.
6:11 pm on Jan 6, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Big uptick today, and I knew it was coming because on every update I get a sudden burst of inquiries from customers. If the pattern holds, this will be temporary and tomorrow or next day drop right back down....we'll see
6:46 pm on Jan 6, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@broccoli & ichthyous

Thanks a lot. I think that my own experiences are very similar with your traffic and ranking changes. So we will see. I will take look at the serps tomorrow.
9:40 pm on Jan 6, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@RamonOne I wish I had better news...my site did start to recover slowly for about three weeks in November before it started dropping again. It has continued dropping since with sporadic jumps that fizzle out and go right back down. So far no changes have made any significant difference, and I have made quite a few, from replacing schema tags to adding more on page trust signals, adding policy and terms pages, changing some page titles and descriptions etc. I am looking at a page redesign on some of my content pages now, which actually needed to be done anyway with or without this drop.
11:20 pm on Jan 6, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Uptick, about 20-25% (depending on the day) compared to average October and November days. It is basically a reversal of the 15% drop that we had in late August and early September. We'll see how it plays out this week.
12:13 am on Jan 7, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@RedBar

I have more than one, all affected by March and August updates. But the case I brought to you is a.info website based in Portugal with major traffic from Brazil. I use amp pages and the reported keyword had exactly the same treatment from G in both amp and canonical (responsive html). Here is a pic [ibb.co...] from GSC
1:03 am on Jan 7, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@broccoli

I followed your suggestions and made the changes. Let's see what happens. Nothing to lose.
It's almost like if Google decided to withdraw from SERP's top positions those sites that have been there for a long time. Just to give a chance to others. I keep thinking about those words "There is nothing you can do" i read after the March Algo update.
3:24 am on Jan 7, 2019 (gmt 0)

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If I deleted pages (now 404) back in September and October but are still showing up in live search when I do site:domain.com, can this still negatively affect my ranking until Google eventually drops them? About 1/3 of the pages that I deleted months ago are still showing up.
8:29 am on Jan 7, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Loads of movement again today. Confused because I'm not seeing anything from the sensors or SERPs trackers, but our site is constantly moving around. Genrally negative this past week. Oddly though, we are seeing decent traffic and conversions. I'm putting this largely down to an increase in longtail and a drop in generic..
9:32 am on Jan 7, 2019 (gmt 0)

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If I deleted pages (now 404) back in September and October but are still showing up in live search when I do site:domain.com, can this still negatively affect my ranking until Google eventually drops them? About 1/3 of the pages that I deleted months ago are still showing up.


Yeah, I'm pretty sure they are. You've made a mistake, you should use 410 instead of 404 when performing content pruning. You can wait for a very long time until algo will deindex those pages with 404s. You need to tell robot that these pages are deleted permanently (410 code) to make them dissapear from the index asap.
9:58 am on Jan 7, 2019 (gmt 0)

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410 them and they will be removed from the index.
10:51 am on Jan 7, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Seems like the sensors are picking it up this AM. Seeing spikes for most of them.
11:05 am on Jan 7, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@snowman Yeah just seen. It looks like there is something going on.

I hope this is the lull before the rise for us. We've lost quite alot of our generic stuff.
11:37 am on Jan 7, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@whoa182

You can remove 404 pages using the google search console, there is also a handy chrome script called "Google Serp Extraction" created by chris ainsworth that will copy all indexed pages once you perform a site:site.com search. Githib also has a handy chrome extension that will let you upload a txt file to remove multiple files automatically

[google.com...]
2:34 pm on Jan 7, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Coverage is 86% so far this year versus 98% for the same period last year. RPMs are down 34%.

The evidence seems overwhelming that Google is shrinking the AdSense partner program. Partners who stay with it can get what they can until it goes away for good.
3:10 pm on Jan 7, 2019 (gmt 0)

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How do you guys track sudden changes in rankings and traffics?
3:17 pm on Jan 7, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@hammertown in today's climate, you have to. Of course, there's no way you can react quick enough, but its at least allows to you explain sudden drops in traffic
3:31 pm on Jan 7, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@SnowMan68 Did you make any changes to your site since it dropped in August/Sept? If so please let us know what it was
4:17 pm on Jan 7, 2019 (gmt 0)

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How do you guys track sudden changes in rankings and traffics?

By measuring traffic on a continuous basis over the time period that you consider sudden. If sudden change to you means "hourly", keep track of your hourly traffic over an extended period of time, weeks, months, years (depending on the volume and degree or reliability desired), measure your average and standard deviation. Then if the traffic suddenly jumps, see if that jump or drop is greater than the average plus/minus 2 or 3 your standard deviation.

In my opinion tracking sudden changes in ranking is impossible, because of the lack reliable and consistent data.

The real questions is how do you react to sudden changes? I think the long running trend is more relevant as one can take substantive measures to influence it. Or inversely, one use the trend to see the impact of changes that one makes to one's website.
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