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Google Updates and SERP Changes - May 2019

     
10:41 am on May 1, 2019 (gmt 0)

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System: The following 12 messages were cut out of thread at: https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4940766.htm [webmasterworld.com] by goodroi - 12:25 pm on May 1, 2019 (utc -5)


For my main current site, Google Organic accounts for 28% of sessions.

I swear it takes up 80% of the effort though!
3:20 pm on May 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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SEMrush no longer acurrately reflects the actual amount of traffic to my site. It used to be that when your visibility went up traffic followed. But now my traffic is low all the time (especially since the March 12th update), no matter what happens with my visibility in SEMRush. There is a big disconnect between what SEMrush shows and what GA and GSC show in terms of clicks. I think this is the case because SEMrush bases visibility on any placement in the top 100. In reality, if you aren't placing top three you get nothing these days. I've lost a full third of my top three placing terms since all this chaos started back in September. They are now placing 4-10 instead. SEMrush is still weighting that 4-10 placement higher than it should.
3:28 pm on May 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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ive seen a fall since yesterday and today seems very low so far , zero conversions.
3:31 pm on May 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@Milchan

Same here!
3:52 pm on May 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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All good in the UK today - had some minor movements yesterday but everything is back to where it should be
4:14 pm on May 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Big improvements here, i hope it lasts.
4:54 pm on May 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Analyzing my GA Real-Time, right now I only see desktop users on all my sites.

Something completely abnormal !
12:00 am on May 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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The SERP's are now an abysmal mess of Google's test garbage. It feels like they just hired a massive number of summer interns and let them go wild. Changes happening by the hour and vastly different by device. The other day I had an entire page of ads. Today it's 4x4 blocks of Youtube videos and way too many images (isn't that what video and image tabs are for?) all interspersed with 'suggestions' and knowledge graph type blurbs to keep visitors off your site and push organics to the basement. It's all working well as my benchmark site hasn't seen a conversion in almost a week. Google now looks like a sandbox for college interns with brainless ideas and zero consideration for those who create the very content they are abusing. With the front end so heavily ad land Youtube loaded, I expect to see profit gains > 50% and 75 billion in revenue for the next quarter...and guess where that money will be coming from....yeah, YOU! Please excuse the rant, but this is simply disgusting. Great to hear some are succeeding though (toobers mostly, yeah, as if PewDiePie needs a few more million), but my guess is that it won't last...and just get worse in the end...as usual. SMH
12:32 am on May 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@ichthyous Summer is coming. Visibility could well be up, but less people on their computers/internet.
12:54 am on May 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Visibility could well be up, but less people on their computers/internet.


When considering the serps. traffic and conversions I dont think we need to even consider real life fluctuations much any more - it is all about what google decides to do and nothing more
1:03 am on May 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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and yes the serps are a mess today - I think about 30% of the results I have clicked on today have led to sites that the domain no longer even exists (and im clicking on top 1 to 4 results) - cant remember that ever happening before. Other searches have been throwing up results that are really out of date (tech problem searches I have been doing mostly) or no very relevant to the search
2:15 am on May 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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When considering the serps. traffic and conversions I dont think we need to even consider real life fluctuations much any more - it is all about what google decides to do and nothing more

Well, why would it matter if Google ranked your site #1 or #1000 to someone who's not even on the internet?

That was my point, with summer approaching, more and more people are going to be out enjoying the nice weather rather than being on their computers.

Personally, I'm expecting my traffic to gradually dip until about mid/late August when it should start to gradually climb again.
2:23 am on May 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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There is a gradual "multi-year" shift to turn Google into an informational site. With knowledge graph (content copied from wiki), Q and A snippets, they are quietly reducing the traffic to providers every quarter, keeping more visitors on G or decreasing their own bounce rate. The engineers may have a task to reduce the bounce rate of G by say 1% every quarter. People come over get the info and then head back to Instagram...
5:25 am on May 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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My traffic improved overnight, especially the traffic from the UK tracking. It is because one of my new keyword which wasn't ranking before jumped straight to the 8th position on SERP.
7:31 am on May 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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It feels like they just hired a massive number of summer interns and let them go wild.


And if, and that's a big if, it was intentional? Maybe Google is returning crappy organic results (links to dead sites, outdated articles, low-quality pages, and so on) because they WANT you to rely only on their youtube videos, knowledge graphs, and the like and forget that, long time ago, there were things called SERP, organic traffic, independent websites, and the free internet?
10:18 am on May 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Sounds like the same things being reported over at SEORT. I love it when they ask John Mueller a question and they just get blown off. At least Matt Cutts was informative and helpful. A query to Mu is like asking a surly bartender for a fancy cocktail when you know all you'll get is warm stale beer.
12:00 pm on May 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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The test is over. Exactly 24hrs again.
12:09 pm on May 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@hala, were you getting traffic surges? Its been a while since I've seen those, with sudden surges from zero to 200 visits, all non converting, then gone as soon as they appeared. They were diverse too. As if the door to the zombie cage was temporarily unlocked.
As it is, traffic shows up in 'Russian Roulette' fashion only these days.
12:15 pm on May 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@samwest
A query to Mu is like asking a surly bartender for a fancy cocktail when you know all you'll get is warm stale beer.


Hah, indeed.
I didn't get that crappy beer either, since he ignored me every time I asked something (at least 5 or so times last year).

I'm starting to think that google is using bots on his twitter to ask question, since he keeps answering about "alt text on images", "correct use of heading tags", "can google index this or that"... nothing even remotely important.
12:26 pm on May 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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nothing even remotely important.

Without defending him, the thing is, if he leaks "important" information on how Google Search is working, it will be immediately exploited by spamers and black-hats guys of all kind. The reason that Google's methods of indexing sites are getting more and more complex (with the side effects of messing things here and there), is not only to try to provide a so-call best result, or maximize Google's profits, but also to get ride of cheaters too.
2:07 pm on May 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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"alt text on images", "correct use of heading tags"


So just why does G rank so many of these specific sites so well if they can't be indexed correctly?

I despair, I do everything to industry best practice and W3C recommendations yet G ranks ripped-off images and scraped code and ranks them above the genuine creators.

Well, the answer's easy, if G did give the correct results then their advertising model would die very rapidly hence they have to keep feeding the searchers BS meanwhile promoting their exisiting/potential advertisers to rank #1.
2:09 pm on May 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Well, why would it matter if Google ranked your site #1 or #1000 to someone who's not even on the internet?

That was my point, with summer approaching, more and more people are going to be out enjoying the nice weather rather than being on their computers.

Personally, I'm expecting my traffic to gradually dip until about mid/late August when it should start to gradually climb again.


Apart from the fact that people will still be on their devices even if they decide to leave and go outside in the nice weather (look in any park, square etc when its sunny and see how many people you can find not staring a cel phone) it isnt one on one correlation (that is also putting aside for now that the world is actually made up of many countries and not all of them have summer approaching and will be sunny).
Of course it doesnt matter to people not using the internet where your site is ranked - that is obvious, but also irrelevant. There is still more than enough people using the internet that googles control over what they see, who sees what and how it is presented has a considerable effect over the amount of traffic and conversions that we all get and that control has an considerably bigger impact than any of the traditional things that are out of our control.
2:23 pm on May 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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The reason that Google's methods of indexing sites are getting more and more complex (with the side effects of messing things here and there), is not only to try to provide a so-call best result, or maximize Google's profits, but also to get ride of cheaters too.


Google tell the world they will punish people that break their rules but the fact is they don't. I know this for a fact having had communications with someone within in google that looked at some conclusive evidence (they stated it was conclusive) of a site using multiple tactics that broke the rules and no action was taken. That same site dominates with bad content across the board in its niche still.

The odd time they might make a show of when some large brand is using lots of dodgy techniques but I never seem to hear of people getting banned anymore. Yes it makes sense to keep the algo secret so blackhatters dont have a free for all, but as long as google are controlling the traffic and increasing profits they don't care if people are breaking their rules or not. Google cares about googles profit and domination and nothing else, not the customers and certainly not the web site owners which ironically are the reason for their very existence .
3:29 pm on May 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@Dimitri
Without defending him, the thing is, if he leaks "important" information on how Google Search is working, it will be immediately exploited by spamers and black-hats guys of all kind.


I agree, but my questions weren't about "how to rank".
I was mostly asking why he keeps recommending "great original content" when google is proven to pay little or no attention to originality of any kind.
I didn't even expect a concrete answer. I was simply aiming for him to acknowledge the massive issues, deliberate or not.
3:59 pm on May 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I didn't even expect a concrete answer. I was simply aiming for him to acknowledge the massive issues, deliberate or not.


That is one of the massive problems with google - they dont seem to answer to anyone currently and there are no proper channels in which we can get answers or make legitimate complaints. I know its not straight forward to give answers and deal with complaints when your user base is a majority of people on the planet but that is also the reason why their degree of control needs to be reined in to a point
5:20 pm on May 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Since 1 year of losing some CTR, the last few months were really a big hit in conversion. Even if my traffic is pretty much the same (not super big, with up and down), the conversion rate as been really hit bad. Looks like people are coming but no buying anymore.

I had also a lot of inquiries before, but now less and less. More like a zombie organic traffic.
10:01 pm on May 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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now seeing random heavy traffic levels appearing out of nowhere...all zombie of course. Looks like another intern project to simulate visitors in a futile attempt to settle the restless natives...tell ya what junior, it ain't workin'.
10:17 pm on May 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Since 1 year of losing some CTR, the last few months were really a big hit in conversion


Yes, it's been on a rolling basis too. Each of my landing pages got hit at different times. On one of my most popular landing pages that used to be the source of most of my inquiries the CTR is now 0.28%! I'm having three and four day periods with no inquiries at all and then when I do get one it's nonsense inquiries from developing countries I don't serve. All of this is just a mess and seems to churn on a daily basis now. I can see with my competitors as well there are 90+ place drops in terms in any given day, only to suddenly return a few days later to the previous position.
11:49 pm on May 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Since same period last year, sales down 50%. Still ranking #1, so the heavy weighting of Google interests above the fold is having a horrible effect on income. User behavior is suddenly upside down too. Yeah, someday Google can run the web all by itself and won't need or want us at all.
1:09 am on May 25, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Since same period last year, sales down 50%. Still ranking #1, so the heavy weighting of Google interests above the fold is having a horrible effect on income. User behavior is suddenly upside down too. Yeah, someday Google can run the web all by itself and won't need or want us at all.


This is the thing, so many of us are getting the same results - sites that used to get a lot more traffic and convert well now simply dont and it is not just things like competition etc. Like you state , same serp position , same time of year yet 50% down and the traffic you end up with often isnt converting traffic any. The problem is I dont think it is my web site , I can improve of course and am doing, but during the periods when for what ever reason only google knows, I get a few days of traffic to my old levels or even part of the way back I get lots of conversions and business is fine - the people that visit my site then want to buy with me and do so.
1:15 am on May 25, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Im beginning to think that google should not be allowed to call them selves a search engine anymore and should have to call itself a content aggregator and take more responsibility for the content it displays because it certainly does not just display search results any more.
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