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Google Updates and SERP Changes - September 2019

     
8:38 am on Sep 2, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Google Updates and SERP Changes - September 2019
https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4957935.htm [webmasterworld.com]
by robert_charlton - 1:31 am on Sep 2, 2019



I've seen a comparable drop to the first of June. Like alot of people on here (I'm becoming increasingly frustrated) I feel like alot of the drops are down to the size of our brand and not the state of our SEO. Conversations internally in the business mean that i am going to have to lean away from some of the principles that i have leaned on and tweaked for maybe 10 years. I'm going to redesign the site.

We have a high proportion of non indexable pages. Whilst these obviously dont rank, I'm starting to wonder whether the high numbers of these pages proportionally across the site are maybe having an impact on our indexable pages. I know that might sound crazy. In my head, I dont understand how that would be an issue, but maybe Google thinks i'm trying to hide something?

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 1:56 pm (utc) on Sep 2, 2019]
[edit reason] cleanup after splitting & combining threads [/edit]

9:57 pm on Sept 9, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Happening now. Crazy analytics behavior...large numbers displayed that do not match top active pages display...very strange. More bugs?


Yep seeing the same.
1:14 am on Sept 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I was just looking at the GSC search queries reports for a couple of my sites and saw some really strange things.

For example, there are several cases of articles I wrote that mention some well-known historical figure by name which generated impressions for queries about modern cities that happen to have the same (last) name. There's absolutely no relevance.

Even more puzzling are a number of queries with 1000's of impressions but ZERO clicks, even though the average position is on the first page of the results. Can anyone explain how this could possibly happen, and not just for one query either.
9:38 am on Sept 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Even more puzzling are a number of queries with 1000's of impressions but ZERO clicks,


Do I understand you correctly since I used to get 1,000s of widget views for not-so-popular widgets and then they would simply stop. I even resorted to discrete, individual tracking codes on those pages yet never found where they were coming from and then they would simply stop overnight, never to be repeated until a couple of months later another widget would suddenly be hit.

I haven't seen this behaviour for a year or two therefore have no clue as to whatever was happening or if I did something that actually stopped it.

The two things I do know it was not related to hotlinking and Google's AdSense never registered the views!
10:29 am on Sept 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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RedBar - You mis-understood. I was looking at some reports in the "performance" section of GSC that show the number of impressions, clicks, etc for various queries that searchers used over a three-month period. The average position for some of these queries was as high as third or fourth on the first page of the results with, as I said, 1000s of impressions but no clicks.

Those articles don't deserve to be ranked that high in the results for those particular queries, so it doesn't bother me that my sites didn't get any traffic for them. In other words, google's algorithm gave those articles much higher rankings for those queries than it should have, which explains the large number of impressions. Even so, it's hard to understand why there weren't any clicks at all for 1000s of impressions that high in the results.
10:47 am on Sept 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Same situation here. Page one number one positions that used to get loads of hits that were high quality and converting slowly started to decline with no new competition in my vertical. This started exactly on the Mayday update.

Ok. So was it social media? Ah' no. Social media should have help bring in even more traffic' but since they employed similar algos' growth was stifled.
12:50 pm on Sept 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@aristotle

Ah, ok, I don't use GSC however now do understand to what you are referring.
1:02 pm on Sept 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Hi All,

I have seen a huge drop in ranking and organic traffic of my website is there any major reason for the drop, has anyone else also seen the drop in last month and current month.
1:37 pm on Sept 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@Aristotle

I'm guessing you're actually ranking for one of the "People also ask" questions, which is why you're seeing 1,000's of impressions and no clicks. I've seen this a bunch of times across my site, and its further proof that the 'People also ask' is relatively useless for a large swath of keywords.

Either that or the 'answer' provided by the snippet is so good, the searcher doesn't need to click through to the result (highly unlikely).

I could be wrong about this, but I have noted exactly what you stated and this was the culprit.
1:41 pm on Sept 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Anyone seeing changes today?
1:44 pm on Sept 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Got this message today in GSC - it's the death knell for my site:

Your site has been switched to Mobile First Indexing
The majority of Google's crawl requests to your site will be made using a mobile crawler.
Switch date: September 6, 2019

After that date, all buyers disappeared.
99% of my buyers are desktop.
2:19 pm on Sept 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Yes truly the death knell, this is when most of my sites tanked, my experience is that most serious buyers come from the desktop.

I'm just wondering what would happen if I make my sites so that they are not mobile-friendly. Would Google still automatically switch them to mobile?
2:35 pm on Sept 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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cwalker216 - Thanks for that information. That explanation hadn't occurred to me, but it seems reasonable.

GSC shows your own site's clicks, etc, but doesn't show what else is on the search results pages, such as ads, answer boxes, and "People also ask". I'm not sure how a "People also ask" link figures into the "average position" calculation but it obviously lifts it toward the top of the page.
2:51 pm on Sept 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@samwest and @southernguy - mobile first indexing is the new standard , so making sites not mobile friendly isnt going to revert that just damage your rankings. It also doesn't mean that you will not be showing in the desktop search index, just that google considers mobile friendly sites to be more important than ones that are not. So having your site mobile friendly can actually help your rankings in desktop search.

Basically regardless of where you customers usually come from , mobile or desktop, you need to have a mobile friendly site to rank well now, If most of your customers are from desktop then it might seem stupid or annoying but the majority of search is done from mobile now so there is at least some sense in it.

Moz has a good article explaining it [moz.com ]


Im surprised it has taken until now to switch as I thought pretty much everyone was already on mobile first.
2:56 pm on Sept 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Hi Southernguy
my experience is that most serious buyers come from the desktop.

This has also been my belief, especially as we are in an industrial B2B niche - however even for our demographic, I had G Ads reduced by 75% for mobile and yet we do get mobile visitors even with that level of discounting.
3:11 pm on Sept 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Desktop v Mobile

Using the same site template I have some sites still at 70% desktop and others as high as 70% mobile however they are completely different niche markets and neither statistics surprise me, overall I am about in the middle at 50%.
3:19 pm on Sept 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Making your site mobile friendly (or not) does not necessarily address the issue of Mobile First indexing. And, as Milchan points out "Mobile First" is the standard, "it ain't changing".

Mobile First crawling means that the crawler being used to index your site is collecting (or scrapping) the mobile version. If you hide, remove or push down key information to make your site "mobile friendly" then you are likely impacting your ability to rank. This also goes beyond content, and include things such as usability and site speed.

Whether your users buy using desktop or mobile is irrelevant, because Google is only judging you on the mobile version, so the mobile version must have all the information and features that the desktop version has, even if in the end your users will continue to buy from their desktops. Yes building a mobile optimized may seem pointless, but it is what it is.
4:10 pm on Sept 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Well, then it must be some incredible coincidence that I haven't had a converting visitor in the past 4 days. That's a first in 20 years. Nothing but pure zombies. It's done.
6:18 pm on Sept 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Well, then it must be some incredible coincidence that I haven't had a converting visitor in the past 4 days. That's a first in 20 years. Nothing but pure zombies. It's done.


Doesnt mean it is a coincidence - it could a number of things. For example if you have just been switched to mobile first then google might have to "process" you into the mobile index and it might take some days to return to normal much like the changes we see when an update rolls out - we experience peaks and troughs, and sometimes things return the same after several days when everything settles down. Of course, like the updates, you could experience a negative effect also and not recover but if that is the case then you should be really checking into how your site performs from a mobile perspective and improve it (in order to do well in desktop search again)
9:49 pm on Sept 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@Milchan - it's never been a positive change, so looks like I'm sunk this time. The trickle of traffic I am getting is total zombie so not only has rank changed, behavior has too.
10:12 pm on Sept 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@samwest - yeah im the same, hasnt been any positive changes in the last 2 years. I am probably at 20% of the traffic I used to have just a few years ago now. All I hope for now is that I can just keep head above water before I trigger my escape plan and close next year.
3:46 am on Sept 11, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@BushyTop Yep huge fluctuations. But I don't know whether its an update or not. Because there are some holidays in some parts of the world.
9:11 am on Sept 11, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Getting more traffic today.... seems more lively (until it doesnt anymore)
9:24 am on Sept 11, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@BushyTop Brace for impact.
10:42 am on Sept 11, 2019 (gmt 0)

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and just like that... it's off again _
10:50 am on Sept 11, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I am probably at 20% of the traffic I used to have just a few years ago now.


Basically I'm at 1% of what I was a few years ago however 99+% of that is genuine widget trade visitors, importers, wholesalers, specifiers, architects etc, who are researching new widget products and widget specifications ... Google, in its wisdom has stopped all retail buyers from having genuine widget product information, trust me, no one has more information than I do.

In my industry Google has gone down the road of pretty icons and a lot of low grade images rather than actual facts and quality in-situ photographs ... Is this the age of Instagram, instant satisfaction with no explanation other than a brief, semi-comical remark?

My trademarked, keyword domain is all but dead now insofar as www visitors are concerned, it's quite unbelievable, imagine if Mercedes, BMW, Sony etc were wiped out like this ... Yes, in my industry this widget is that big, in one city in India over 40,000 people are employed in its production and worldwide it is an industry essential ... Excellent job Google.

Do you want to know something? Google uses this product in their new London HQ :-)
11:50 am on Sept 11, 2019 (gmt 0)

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In looking at SEO spyglass, I see my back links climbing fast in the past few weeks. Unfortunately one of the back link anchors (163 of them) is to a Japanese adult hidden camera site. Any idea how to deal with that?
1:38 pm on Sept 11, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I heard that there was update on 5th this month. What kind of sites were hit exactly?
1:40 pm on Sept 11, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Ok, this is just pure craziness...now my home page is back in mobile search, as well as a cornerstone content page, holding the 2 and 3 position on page one... yet ZERO traffic. Great compelling image display on each yet not a single click, defying all logic. What a mess.
Did Google Dance return.

[edited by: samwest at 1:42 pm (utc) on Sep 11, 2019]

1:41 pm on Sept 11, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@RedBar

I'm purely asking out of curiosity and understanding, and not critiquing or minimizing your frustration.

I would think the average - current - google user isn't intended for your trade? You mention how well you still do with trade shows, connections, etc. Even though you may done well in the earlier days of the web, I can't imagine (I'm not saying with certainty, as I don't know) an industrial product for commercial use is something that the mass general public would google information on.
2:10 pm on Sept 11, 2019 (gmt 0)

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How can one be ranking and get no click. What the ...?
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