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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]

5:09 pm on Jan 11, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Traffic up, earnings down, and all the Christmas pages just popped back into one of my serps. What?!
3:39 pm on Jan 12, 2019 (gmt 0)

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One of my competitors (information based) that appeared out of no were this summer with no real back links has been crushing it and gain the first spot for a lot of major keywords. They have several grey area SEO tactics in play including updating page titles to include the latest month and year along with having country specific versions of their website. The content on these sites are either in German or English even though the country official language may be something else. All articles are shared among the websites (but may not be available on every website) but each website has it's own spun version of it with similar but different images (writing skills only average, quality of content below average). The site(s) seem to be part of some German Accelerator startup program. Google must for some reason add a high value of trust to a website that has specific localized versions even though that the hreflang tag doesn't seem to match up when looking at the source of the page.

Since March last year the rest of our niche is now filled with big brands media companies who have pushed the rest of us off of the first page.
4:28 pm on Jan 12, 2019 (gmt 0)

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My positioning, traffic and CTR all jumped up dramatically on the 9th and then jumped up a bit again yesterday. The first real upward trend since last November. Every uptick has been short lived since then, so we shall see. I'm at 60% of where I was in September so it would have to keep rising for a very long time to get back to where I was.
8:34 pm on Jan 12, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I'm noticing a return of 10 facts about widgets, 8 things you didn't know about unicorns are dominating the results.
11:57 pm on Jan 12, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I guess even Google knows it's doing things right, NOT since they seem to have shutdown webmaster central blog comments -:) [webmasters.googleblog.com...]
12:13 am on Jan 13, 2019 (gmt 0)

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They also announced they were shutting down the invite-only adsense publisherís panel before Christmas. Draw your own conclusions...
1:40 am on Jan 13, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Not much change on my end. Still appears to be holding steady.
1:02 am on Jan 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I'm seeing a big drop in traffic again. Yesterday I was down about 10% which is not really statistically significant but today I'm seeing drops around 30%. Taken together, the drop from yesterday and today are pointing towards a serious drop.
9:04 am on Jan 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@NickMNS Drop compared to the day before? Last week/month/year?
1:22 pm on Jan 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@jmorgan daily average, comparing same day of the week. So for Saturday it is compared to the average for all Saturdays.
1:56 pm on Jan 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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It feels like some penalty was lifted and I am floating in a new higher range now. Not a huge jump up, but it's resulting in more traffic and many more inquiries. Could also be that everyone is finally back to work.

In my case what I suspected appears to be true, the huge drop was not so much anything on page but rather the loss of 400+ links in one shot from a site that decided to redesign using JS/meteor. It seems that Google stopped indexing these JS pages entirely and so the content and links disappeared. I've pointed this out to them but there is not much they can do but fix any implementation issues if possible or switch to a new platform. The enormous drop perhaps was not just the loss of links but a penalty applied for my link profile having changed too quickly. Could that be the case?
6:06 pm on Jan 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I'm not sure if something good happened recently, or something bad happened at this time a year ago, but my Google traffic was up 47% yesterday from the same day last year, and today is looking just as strong.

Looking at my traffic last year, it seems considerably lower than it should have been, so I'm guessing I was hit by something last year and I've since recovered from it. Whatever the cause, I'll take it.
6:22 pm on Jan 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Last year in the U.S. the MLK Holiday was a week earlier than this year.
7:21 pm on Jan 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I am also a web user, and in that role I made a small achievement. I got rid of the carousel and the Google map with the Ublock Origin eyedropper tool.I wish I could do the same with the Android phone. It's impossible to conduct a Google search there.
7:34 pm on Jan 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Last year in the U.S. the MLK Holiday was a week earlier than this year.

Well, that would explain yesterday's increase in traffic over last year. Today, though, is also considerably higher than last year, so we'll see how it goes.
12:50 am on Jan 16, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I have a question related to how Google perceives user experience - is it related to one (search engine landing) page only or more than one page? I see sites like Quora or others that show content on the first-visited page only, but when you visit other pages, they require registration. Is it considered good user experience worth duplicating (considering some of those sites rank very high)?
1:12 am on Jan 16, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Last year in the U.S. the MLK Holiday was a week earlier than this year.


Damn. I was getting excited comparing my traffic to the same time last year. Now I have to dread next week.
9:25 am on Jan 16, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@ichthyous .... I can see ranking drops today. Do you see the same?

To your post above.... have you made some useful changes to increase your traffic or it's a miracle?
5:16 pm on Jan 16, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Well, my traffic is still up considerably over this week last January, so it doesn't look like the early MLK holiday last year had much to do with it. Yesterday's traffic was up 33% over last year, and today is looking similar.

I still think it probably had more to do with a drop in traffic last year rather than a boost from a recent Google update, but it's still nice to see the improvement.
5:26 pm on Jan 16, 2019 (gmt 0)

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On the 27th of December I saw a jump in rankings with traffic climbing steadily every day. Then I noticed a lot of fluctuations between the 6-9th (articles jumping from page 1 to 3 and back again...).

Yesterday morning at 1 am my traffic went off a cliff and continued to be like that until 3 PM (UK Time). I noticed a lot of articles were missing from the SERPs and quite a big drop in rankings. Most of them came back by the evening and traffic is back to normal (almost).
12:29 pm on Jan 17, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@RamonOne No, what I am seeing is that my traffic took a big drop from December 17th to Jan 6th, then snapped back to where it was. It has been unusually stable since then and a much better CTR. Something was definitely very wrong starting on the 17th, and many others reported that. Perhpaps Google wants to drive holiday sales to their paying advertisers by suppressing the rest of our non-paying sites? In any case, this is only a small victory as my traffic isn't remotely where it was before it dropped off a cliff in September.

In terms of changes, there have been many. I replaced all the schema markup and it had no effect that I could tell. I really looked at usability issues and tried to correct as many as possible...even if that doesn't help my ranking it will help to keep and convert visitors. I talked to my dev about design changes to some pages that are long overdue (not yet implemented), I added a comprehensive privacy policy and terms page with cookie policy etc...before it was much less detailed. I added my physical address, phone, and email to the footer of every page. None of that seemed to boost my ranking. I realized that I lost about 500 inbound links from one site and I think that has had a lot to do with it. I have spoke with them about it but they redesigned their site using javascript/meteor and those new pages are not being indexed at all. The result is all of the links from that high trust site have disappeared in a short period of time. I think more than anything it might help to get those back, but I am at the mercy of their poor design choices and waiting for them to fix it.
1:44 pm on Jan 17, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Our traffic has continued to climb and we are now at or slightly above where we were prior to the update in late August and early Sept. At that point, we had reached record levels of Google traffic.

Something seems to be brewing today as well. Won't know for sure until the end of the day, but Google referrals are stronger than they have been yet. Fingers crossed, we put a lot of work into our content and the last round of development for our website.
2:27 pm on Jan 17, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Yesterday morning at 1 am my traffic went off a cliff and continued to be like that until 3 PM (UK Time). I noticed a lot of articles were missing from the SERPs and quite a big drop in rankings. Most of them came back by the evening and traffic is back to normal (almost).

Is it possible that google's algorithm was doing a thorough re-evaluation of your site during this period? If these extreme fluctuations that you saw didn't affect other sites in your niche. What you described is strange behavior. Do you have any speculations about what caused the instability during those hours?
2:38 pm on Jan 17, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@ichthyous
I thought that happened to me too before Christmas but it turned out to be something else. I did a deep dive on links and from what Iíve heard from the people who run experiments into this kind of thing, the effects of links last for about seven months after they disappear.
8:33 pm on Jan 17, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@ichthyous... thanks a lot for your explanation. In my case I think we have to redesign our page. All looks very old and overloaded. Furthermore it seems to be to comercial. But who knows?
9:10 pm on Jan 17, 2019 (gmt 0)

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google seems to have noticed that I was getting some gains over the last 10 days and have corrected that by removing them again. After a good Monday of conversions and traffic , Tues fell to incredible lows. Not to be out done google made sure that Wednesday was the worst I have had in the sites 10 year history and today is just about the same.
If this continues I will be done by the end of the month , although I fully expect google to change something else so that it gives me another glimmer of hope before taking it all away again.
8:13 am on Jan 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@milchan

Same here only zombies but most of them are paid for, very expensive clicks
4:22 pm on Jan 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Haha, it feels better to know I'm not the only one who thinks Google has the following code in their algorithm:

if (host.owner == "lostshootingstar") {
rank--;
}
5:51 pm on Jan 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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probably more like ...


if (host.owner != "largebrand" | pbn.links < 1000 ) {
rank--;
}
8:19 pm on Jan 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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if (!host.whitelist)
{
host.banned = rand();
}
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