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Google Updates and SERP Changes - February 2019

     
2:01 pm on Feb 1, 2019 (gmt 0)

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The following 2 messages were cut out of thread at: https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4931890.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 7:24 pm on Feb 1, 2019 - (PDT -8)


Just to update on the AMP issues, it appears that the issue is solved on my end. My traffic has gone back up to the pre-AMP-errors levels.


[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 3:32 am (utc) on Feb 2, 2019]
[edit reason] Cleanup after thread split to new month [/edit]

12:07 pm on Feb 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@Broaster - Are you using blogger or some other blogging website tool? It sounds like you don't have much of a technical background. You should be using some sort of CMS (if you are not already)

>> post good content and traffic should come, and all links should be organic.

That is Google's biggest lie. Look at the SERPs today. The algo doesn't understand what good content is. All you need is content that is readable, the rest is all SEO.
2:37 pm on Feb 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@broaster and @browndog, While I too do not trust all Google says, it's not a surprised blogs that depended on AdSense revenue have gone down. People hate ads. Users may not noticed SEM ads in the SERPS, but they do notice them on blogs. Unless your audience is strictly 50 or 60+, users do not click on ads on blogs anymore.

Google hasn't helped the case, but this is the way of the world.
3:08 pm on Feb 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Anyone seeing any dramatic movement?
3:15 pm on Feb 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I wouldn't say dramatic, but definitely movement. And still in the downward direction for us. It's still slowly declining since around the 12th.
3:32 pm on Feb 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I've seen very dramatic changes in traffic starting Wednesday 20th, early morning GMT time. Ranges from down 80% to up 30% affecting most of my sites. Overall lost 40%. Never seen such big movements in a short time before. Thought is was a major algo update, but I can't see any reports of that.
3:51 pm on Feb 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@Bushytop @Blackadder99
Lot's of movement for mobile results the past 48 hours.

Link to SEMRush Mobile Sensor: [semrush.com ]

My traffic is down slightly but more importantly I'm seeing low conversions since this algo update. Once the dust settles on these updates I usually see a return to normal conversion rates. Google is definitely tweaking their mobile-first indexing procedures this week.
4:09 pm on Feb 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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High ctr, no pogosticking, low bouncerate compared to others in the serp. It's not hard for Google to measure quality of a page. There's many readily available tactics to achieve just this. Just optimize your onpage & offpage according to what is expected in the serp. Every month I see this 20 page whining thread. Never have I been impacted negatively by all these "updates" since august (on multiple domains, in different countries). Put in the work. :')
4:44 pm on Feb 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I'm bouncing around again - held 3rd pos after the last update and dropped to 9th today. The good thing is, I know I will back in 3rd pos by Monday!
4:48 pm on Feb 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Once again, Google's SERPs are failing, and the updates and tests Google is making have still not resolved the problems of country-specific inaccuracies.

It's easy to see on both desktop and on mobile SERPs.

No wonder people are reporting traffic of little use.

</end of rant>
4:50 pm on Feb 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@casperB
Never have I been impacted negatively by all these "updates"

I hope for your sake that you will never be. I agree with you that this thread can be whinny. This is to be expected as a thread such as this tends to prompt biased responses. Those that are seeing positive outcomes rarely post, people typically do not like gloat. As a result one tends to see posts from those people who's website are negatively impacted.

Unfortunately,
Put in the work. :')

is necessary but not sufficient. Many if not all of those posting about declines are putting in the work, but hard work is not enough.

Google is very fickle, and your good fortune can change very quickly. As I said I hope it never happens to you, because it psychologically very hard to take when it does.

Over the years I have seen ups and downs, often ups have come when not expected (ie no changes have been made) and downs have followed when the opposite was expected. The main thing I have learned is that trying to design a website to please Google is a pointless endeavor. Build a website for the user first and hope for the best.
4:51 pm on Feb 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@Bushytop
Very dramatic. 20 Feb lost of 80% google traffic.
6:18 pm on Feb 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@aristotle and Koan.

The article is now back on the first page in position 3. I guess it got deindexed during these recent updates and indexed again. The other article has disappeared from the SERPs. It was also a dofollow link.

casperB

I used to have a ranking boost from the updates until the broad core update in August and another in September. Since that point, it's been up and down. I have 15 years experience with the topic I cover on my main website. But I'm not claiming that I never made mistakes because I made plenty...

And because of August 1st update, I've never been happier with my website than today and how the users engage with it. It's so much better in every way... But I'm still waiting to be rewarded for any of the work. My traffic is stuck at where it was after the update, even though I've been improving and adding content.

I was seeing steady and constant growth on a monthly basis; almost doubling my traffic every month. Right now it's like it has been capped at a certain amount and nothing is moving the needle. Maybe I need to wait for another core update? It's been quite a while now...

There are websites arguably better than mine with much better credentials and have been hammered by Google.

What is going on right now is absurd. Healthline wins the SERPs even if it only has two sentences about a certain product/food/supplement and the article isn't even about that specific item, but it's just a general article covering "25 widgets for x y z"

Say I have a whole article (1500 words) about one particular type of tea; citing research, dosages, side effects and more, but they win the SERPs even if that product with 2 sentences about it is not the focus of their article, it just happens to be one of the 25 products with an Amazon affiliate link next to it.

Google is giving away traffic to sites that have high trust even if they aren't as relevant. Some people say that Google has increased relevancy, but I see the opposite. Google is erring on the side of caution and giving traffic to websites that don't give users the best information but might have the highest level of trust (to be on the safe side).

I'm even seeing terrible youtube videos on the top of the SERPs with just text to speech and some terrible images. With the main keywords mentioned 3-4 times in the title.

I'm actually finding it harder than ever to find what I am looking for compared to years ago.

And yes some of us whine once or twice a month, but that's because we've been hit hard (my traffic is down 65%). I'm only making about $400 per month on my site now, and I've had to go back into work. So I can't even spend much time on the site as I used to. And I can't hire people either.

Google seems to be highly biased to just a handful of health sites now. Even really good sites that have many doctors have been going through a roller coaster every month. It's madness. Up and down like a yo-yo.

Edited for clarity and fixed mistakes. Difficult to post and work on the phone at the same time. :)
9:07 pm on Feb 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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The main thing I have learned is that trying to design a website to please Google is a pointless endeavor.


Unfortunately this is truer now than ever before otherwise why would a year 2000 website of mine, obviously not responsive, start ranking again when there are far, far superior sites available?

Is it Google nonsense or no sense?

Oh I forgot, it's that that mysterious box sat in the corner making all the decisions!
9:52 pm on Feb 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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why would a year 2000 website of mine, obviously not responsive, start ranking again


Put down the Cinzano and slap some Adsense code on that mother, pronto!
12:07 am on Feb 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@Whoa182+ Yeah apologies, my reply might have come off as a bit rude. The supplement / food niche is something I'm not familiar with.
Also @NickMNS not meant to gloat, I understand now some niches are different than others.
12:20 am on Feb 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@casperb I wasn't suggesting that you were gloating, what I am saying is that people that are doing well often don't chime in because they do not want to gloat. So the view here is biased by that, which makes it seem more whinny than it really is.
6:30 am on Feb 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Just a little bit patience and algo will work as it should, after many many many years of hard work!

There is still 2-3 pages of results. And google books are very near page 1.
So, I presume, soon there will be google books and ads on only one page as results. that would be end of long journey of google algo tweaking.

still, i am enjoying this moments. when I want to travel google gives me news from 2012 and 2009. that is a brilliant! anyone else get it? how marvelous genius it is... amazing. so lets click on ads since there is nothing else related to search query...
6:41 am on Feb 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I've been following this forum for the past few months and now I decided to make a post on my "Google story."

Started my site in 2013 and within a few years I was crushing it, making a full time passive income from my sites.

From 2014-2018 I did very little in terms of SEO, I just created content, content, content.

Come early 2018 and my traffic starts to drop, then in Aug-Oct 2018 it really dropped.

Income was cut in half.

I was angry and annoyed, and got anxiety each time I opened Google Analytics.

After months of self pity and seeing my site go lower and lower, I was at a crossroads.

Do I keep on doing nothing or improve my site?

As I read site like this and other SEO bloggers, I found that writing content is no longer enough to rank.

I actually need to spend time learning other areas of SEO and not just content. For the past few months I hired some freelance SEO experts to advise me on what I was doing wrong, then I fixed everything, merged posts that were similar, deleted blogs of no use, improved my site speed time and all the rest, and after 4 months I am seeing an solid up-tick in traffic.

Times are changing and we can either adapt to the changes Google is making, or do nothing and fall. Anyone who ranked highly before and now isn't, it means you can rank there again if you make the right changes and work.

Sure I was loving it 3 years ago when I had to do zero work and get paid, now it seems I need to stay on top of the latest SEO tips to keep my site moving, which is fine by me.

For anyone who says they have made all the changes and nothing has happened, maybe you're not as good at SEO as you think you're and should seek help. I thought I new it all but when I got someone to audit my site there was some HUGE errors that I didn't know existed.

SEO is changing just like everything else, it's no longer enough to simply write amazing content, you need to do everything else as well.
7:38 am on Feb 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Seeing changes on both of my websites. They are not so big, but they are happening. Hoping that my content defends me from these updates, because right now the traffic decrease is not so catastrophic. Let's see what will happen in the next few weeks.
7:48 am on Feb 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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From 2014-2018 I did very little in terms of SEO, I just created content, content, content.
Come early 2018 and my traffic starts to drop, then in Aug-Oct 2018 it really dropped.


You were doing the right things. You've been slammed by quality update ("fred", "phantom"). You just stopped watching your webiste's overall quality. That destroyed your rankings. Keep thinking about your old content - it needs to be updated.

merged posts that were similar, deleted blogs of no use, improved my site speed time and all the rest, and after 4 months I am seeing an solid up-tick in traffic.


From my point of view, you've did the right things, but my experience learned me not to prun content that can be updated and become high quality again. When you are prunning old URL - you just increasing the ratio between high quality/low quality URLs on your websites (that's great option, but not the best one). But in case you are updating old URLs with new content - you are getting a chance to rise your traffic in a fast way (because old URLs have their own trust and age). Well done updating looks like on the screenshot below (I've marked the point when the update of the post was rolled out):
[imgur.com...]

Good luck to you!
8:25 am on Feb 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the reply Cyril.

My site was a mixture of articles focused around keywords to rank, and then articles for my audience (weekly readers). The content for my weekly readers never ranked well and received around 1-4 organic hits per month. That was around 35% of my entire site. The content was very useful but wasn't optimised for keywords because they were opinion pieces. Which meant that an article I wrote 2 years ago while being of value, nobody saw. There's many articles saying that you should delete old content that doesn't rank as it gives you more of a crawl budget and what not.

That wasn't the only change I made, I made about 5+ major changes over the past few months and dozens of micro changes, I cannot say which one helped and which did not. What I do know is after making the changes my site has seen an uptick in traffic from my low of October.

Unlike running FB ads or Google ads where you see results based on your changes right away, it seem anychange you make with SEO can take weeks if not longer, which can be annoying.

But for everyone down in the dumps, look at how you can improve your seo and not just content.
11:04 am on Feb 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Put down the Cinzano and slap some Adsense code on that mother, pronto!


It's had it since 2004:-)

I had been thinking about updating it to html5 using precisely the same directory structure/urls/etc, that could be an interesting experiment.
12:36 pm on Feb 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@lostshootingstar.... Do you have a known or maybe visible quality problem with your site? .... like page speed, menue structure, layout and so one... My ranks are also going down step by step and I am sure we have some negative issues (page speed, front size, generel freshnes of layout...)
3:14 pm on Feb 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@RamonOne No, I would not say I have any of those problems. The biggest problem is that Google is taking a page out of Bing's playbook and over rewarding exact match domains, thin affiliates, keyword stuffing and other popular tactics from 2005. Throw some PBNs behind sites like this and there is no way to compete using white hat methods.

Our industry is an absolute diaster.
5:23 pm on Feb 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@lostshootingstar

Oh sorry, that's really hard. Clear, we have to improve our site quality, but I'am not sure if we will get better rankings without PBNs and such methods... I don't want to look at my rankings these days. It's terrible... what we can do? Best wishes
8:06 pm on Feb 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Two days of no quality traffic, spending is going higher and higher but no sales.
3:14 am on Feb 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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JesterMagic

I use Wordpress and have jetpack pro installed, and you are correct I have NO technical background

Google told me just to focus on writing good content and all links should be organic, and yes its Bs

Almost all the top spots are from websites with tons of backlinks
3:19 am on Feb 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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casperb

its very easy for you to scold us, since you are not suffering, we put hours of work a day on articles, also my website bounce rate is not high

the average time a visitor spends on my website is 5 to 6 minutes, some sites who rank higher than me have a high bounce rate with the average visitor only stays 30 seconds or a minute.

I think you might have a lot of backlinks

Backlinks are king not content, Ive seen so many thin content pages rank high just because they have lots of backlinks.

yet google said do not ask for backlinks and all backlinks must be organic lol meaning you have to just post your article and hope someone backlinks to you of high authority.
3:26 am on Feb 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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whoa182

I see the same exact thing high authority sites with thin content outranking others

You could cover a niche and say another website talks about what you talking bout but just vague two sentence its enough to out rank you

before all these algo updates they would favor the website who focused on that subject to rank higher than a general news website

Also you are lucky to make 400 dollars a month, my website which is a sport news website covering a niche sport used to make good money a month, now I make like 3 to 5 dollars tops a month and my website is included in google news.

Ive been in google news for 10 years and the first 5 years were lucrative getting a lot of traffic and people commentating on my articles, and I had to buy a server and upgrade from all the traffic

but in 2012-2013 all that came crashing down

I never made money again and never got much traffic again even when I break stories or cover live events

I feel sick because I work so hard at it, but now I had to work two jobs to pay bills and have no more time to dedicate to my blog.

my health is suffering from all this stress

I wish it was like the old days, and just punish those spammers, but like others said google is about money satisfy the big dog first.

I also noticed its hard to find things in search, I remember typing a string of keywords and finding information that I needed, now it just shows some high profile websites that have those keywords but dont give me the info I need

I think this month google stopped long tail keyword ranking, so when you type in a sentence or a title you cannot find that exact match title in google news now.

It sucks for people who need to do research for business or college papers, everyone suffers except for those google employees fiddling with the algorithm so they dont get fired so it makes them look busy, they ruined it for everyone just so they dont get their department downsized. thts why they keep fiddling with the algo so they show google we have something to do. yet they make us do the dirty work and spend hours cleaning up our backlinks hoping to rank again. its like we are given a run around
3:37 am on Feb 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I think now with more information available regarding SEO, targeting keywords and benefits of linking between websites, getting links organically is harder than ever. Unless you're really well connected. I guess it's more about who you know...

More people know how powerful backlinks can be, so a lot of popular sites and bloggers are unlikely to link to your articles (especially if you're competing in the same niche). Of course, I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but that's just my feeling. More often than not, the links I do get are clearly from bloggers without much knowledge about SEO and are often new bloggers in the niche.

Now of course, with Google lowering our rank, reducing exposure, we can expect less natural links. So we have to put in more time into marketing. And for bloggers without employees, that means less time writing content and more time chasing links?

I wish there was a real competitor to Google. Almost all of my articles are number 1 on lots of other search engines like Duckduckgo, Bing, Yahoo, Ecosia, and more... Why does Google hate me lol.

Also, anyone looked at their links in search console this month? Mine stopped updating on the 4th February.
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