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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]

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.
4:31 pm on Jan 7, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I have stopped reacting to changes too quickly as I then don't know if my site has dropped due to the algo update - or if its my changes. Let the dust settle then react!
2:05 am on Jan 8, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Sudden traffic losses could be a google ploy to see how you will react. If you don't do anything, your traffic will be restored after a few weeks. But if you start making changes to you site, your traffic will drop even more ;)
3:35 am on Jan 8, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Friday some fluctuations were seen but as time passed things looked better. Saturday and Sunday was really good. But I don't know what has happened since yesterday morning which was Monday we are seeing a significant drop in traffic. Its just like last year as the other updates happened.
9:19 am on Jan 8, 2019 (gmt 0)

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In our niche we have seen significant drops since the August "Medic" update and have seen continual drops since that point. Our domain is 12 years old and we have a very good reputation in our niche and pretty much dominated most search terms for the past few years. According to Moz our domain authority (70) and page scores (45+) outrank most of our competitors by quite a way, yet they are ranking much higher than us. We have reduced our bounce rate by 30% since the medic update and our current bounce rate is now between 22% and 24% - which we thought would be a very good ranking signal to Google but it doesn't seem to have worked.

One thing I have recently noticed is a lot of the sites that are ranking above us do *not* have Google Analytics installed. For one term where we previously ranked #1 and now rank #12 we are seeing 7 of the sites on the first page of the SERPS results (9 results) do not have Google Analytics installed. Have any of you come across anything related to Google Analytics and SERPS position - something which I know Google (back in the Matt Cutts days) were quick to point out there was no correlation with. It's highly unlikely I know to be anything to do with this, but seems a bit odd that such a large percentage of sites wouldn't use Google Analytics ?

Another thing we have noticed is that earlier this year we switched the site from HTTP to HTTPS but hadn't switched the property name or default url in Google Analytics to HTTPS, have any of you seen any correlation between these settings and the updates since August.

Appreciate this is clutching at straws a little, but we are at a loss to explain the dramatic drops in position we have seen and have tried pretty much everything we can think of to recover.
10:00 am on Jan 8, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I donīt like to copy other werbsites but having your competitors in sight is allways a good thing.

So i allways try to have a different website (eShop) than others in my niche. I try to give a good user experience with lot information and my site comlies with google guidelines ( whatever i know about them or what they contribute about it - what they are doing is a different thing).

So since August update the big brands in my niche dominate whatever they do.
I tried to analyze their sites and all of them have something in common,
As this are big brands i think is ok to name them: is conrad and farnell

Both doesnīt seem to care a lot about things that i think are important like:

-site speed ( conrad is very very slow about 3-4 seconds to load )
-internal linking farnell is linking to items with 3 links with different link text.
-keyword density: boith are heavy loaded with keywords
-html code: no SEO for html reduction
-css and javascript: heavy inbound css and javascript files
-links on page: no limits

Both have:
-delivery time Information

Donīt get me wrong. Both are very good eShops with great UE with trust and reliable.
But the donīt care about google guidelines.
So what is the reason for beeing pushed by google?

-trust
-very big adwords spender
-positive traffic signals

If google promotes guidelines they should apply to every site whatever brand it is or trust it has.
7:28 pm on Jan 8, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Another thing we have noticed is that earlier this year we switched the site from HTTP to HTTPS but hadn't switched the property name or default url in Google Analytics to HTTPS, have any of you seen any correlation between these settings and the updates since August.


I didn't even realize that switching to https in GA was a thing. I just switched it in my account but I seriously doubt that this will make any kind of meaningful difference. If implemented correctly all http traffic should be redirected to https, the only impact would be that GA would be seriously underreporting traffic, but that hasn't been my situation. Remember you can always fall back to your raw logs to compare.
4:09 am on Jan 9, 2019 (gmt 0)

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If google promotes guidelines they should apply to every site whatever brand it is or trust it has.


The way I see it, some recommendations may be effective if you're at a certain level, but not taken into account as much if you're a big brand. Google needs to detect spammers from legitimate authors among hundreds of small sites for a given query, if it gets the signal that a site is recognized, respectable brand, it may skip some tests.
9:31 am on Jan 9, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Wow, from 1 to 6 January my website was flying high: conversions (rate +220%) and sales every day (revenue +177%), despite the low traffic. Then after Monday, I'm going back to zero sales and non-converting traffic.

Actually, I was expecting to read about a new Google algorithm update on SEO round table, and I found the news on 7 January... what a coincidence!

Now I know my website works, but Google decides when.
3:14 pm on Jan 9, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Now I know my website works, but Google decides when.


The more webmasters realise this, and their clientele, the less frustrated and puzzled everyone would be ... short and curlies comes to mind:-)
3:36 pm on Jan 9, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@expmrb,

There are shaken SERPs as per Semrush for past 3 days. Right now it is quite intense.
3:47 pm on Jan 9, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Just confirming that we are seeing some noticeable changes in the SERPs, especially today, Jan 9th.

For us personally, some up, some down.
5:18 pm on Jan 9, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@lostshootingstar,

Yes! today the signals are quite intense. Probably going on for past 4 days No changes seen on the sites though.
6:49 pm on Jan 9, 2019 (gmt 0)

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It’s been going on for me since about the 2nd and doesn’t seem to be over yet. My home page is bouncing around all over the place on the short tail. It’s much higher than ever before. Fingers crossed.
8:51 pm on Jan 9, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I wrote an article in September, it has had 94,000 shares, which tells me that people clearly like the article, but Google keep on pushing it further down the rankings. Thankfully Facebook keeps it popular.

Traffic is still slow at my end, I hope it's the fact people are still on holidays (at least a lot in Australia are), and not a google thing.

Yesterday I searched for a topic and it returned maybe 4-5 genuine results, the rest of the results were all for a book with the same title Very frustrating, I didn't want the book, I wanted articles on the topic.
3:24 am on Jan 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@arunpalsingh 2-3 years old keywords are ranking well. Don't know the reason why, there are many updated information available.
9:14 am on Jan 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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G Organic Traffic in Q4 2018 is a little up compared to 2017, which is positive. Q3 2018 had been quite a bit down compared to 2017 so I am hoping we are turning a corner. Certainly we added a lot of relevant content in H2 2018 so I would hope that is what has made the difference in Q4.
10:06 am on Jan 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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The cheese has been moved and moved soon they will run out of permutations I hope.
10:38 am on Jan 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Had a massive bump in traffic over the holidays but a switch has been flipped this week and we're back to normal it seems.
10:45 am on Jan 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Seen a change in traffic yesterday. Far better quality. Hope it continues
11:51 am on Jan 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Yes, yesterday was busy for us also, plenty of visitors, and some converted!

UK Technical B2B
1:06 pm on Jan 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Now I know my website works, but Google decides when.


It's been that way for a long while now... That's why the sudden bursts of inquiries in a short period time, followed by days of silence. It's a totally unnatural pattern caused by traffic throttling and playing with the CTR. Many of us aren't getting the business we would be getting if Google didn't constantly intervene. Oh I forgot... it's not really Google's fault, just blame it on the AI. If you believe that one I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.
2:44 pm on Jan 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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It's a totally unnatural pattern caused by traffic throttling and playing with the CTR.

I thought that purported traffic throttling only kicks in when a site's traffic reaches a prescribed upper limit for a particular time period. So everything would be normal until the traffic bumps up against the prescribed upper limit.
6:12 am on Jan 11, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Just had my site move to the mobile first index. I assumed I was on that months ago!
9:59 am on Jan 11, 2019 (gmt 0)

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.. just blame it on the AI. If you believe that one I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.

The trouble is webmasters and marketers have to take decisions individually in whatever they see as their best interest. But decisions from one or two or even a few thousand uncoordinated webmasters not to play the G game anymore will have absolutely no influence on G and their practices. If there were a webmasters industry body, union or professional body, it might have some clout but without coordinated action we have to decide as individuals whether we want to play the G game or not, but the G game itself goes on.
11:08 am on Jan 11, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Just had my site move to the mobile first index.

Received our notice this morning also.
2:28 pm on Jan 11, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Over the course of the last week, we have regained almost all of our traffic from our peak in late August, early September 2018. We are down about 2%.

There seems to still be quite a bit of flux happening depending on the keyword. Not so much for us as it is for those below our positions. We'll see how it goes over the next week, but it has been encouraging up to this point.

We are an e-commerce site that focuses primarily on content marketing and paid advertising (Google ads, shopping, bing, etc) for leads. In September we launched a widescreen layout for our e-commerce site, it had become stale with about three years between the last facelift. We improved UX with larger images, larger text, more obvious CTA's, more intuative search and better cart/checkout funnel. We also streamlined the e-commerce site and blog so that they looked the same, prior to this they had a bit of disconnected feeling. Now when you go between the two you know that you're still on the same companies website.

I knew the dated look for the ecom site and the disconnected feel would catch up to us eventually. Just takes a long time to make big changes like that to a medium size website. Hoping we are back on the side of growth again. It felt like we were a fringe case for core update and maybe that's why we only lost 20% vs. 50-80 like others have experienced. We had experienced significant growth from January 2017 through late August 2018. Once we got dinged by the core algorithm, no matter what content we produced there were zero traffic gains. It just stayed flat.

Of course there is no way to know if any of this is what helped. The big black box of Google is hard to understand. At the end of the day we just continue to produce solid content and improve our website. We are focusing on our customers journey and keeping our fingers crossed that Google likes it too.
2:47 pm on Jan 11, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I have had a good increase first week of January , averaging around 25 to 35% increase over last quarter of 2018, there was a drop the last few days though , but today seems to be returning up to the increased levels so far today. Ranking seem to be pretty much the same though and it is normal for me to get an increase in January anyway so whilst it is welcome, im not getting all excited that google has made a change that will let me recover to previous levels.
2:51 pm on Jan 11, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Still seeing good traffic... great to see.
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