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Google Updates and SERP Changes - September 2019

     
8:38 am on Sep 2, 2019 (gmt 0)

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- Split out of...
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]

2:44 pm on Sept 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Upheaval in News today..
[semrush.com...]

My news site hit since March still yet to fully recover. Have noindexed syndicated content that previously performed well.
3:05 pm on Sept 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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This "interesting finds" is killing my traffic.

Same here. What Google has done is to create a maze of content that is drawing users away from the organic results. Even if my prominently displayed images appear, it takes several clicks to get to my site and at each step there is a way for Google to intercept that path with a confusing array of other suggested content that likely leads to sites jam packed with ads. They are no longer a search engine, they are an ad powered suggestion engine.

Desktop search is a complete waste of real estate, while mobile is packed with images, carousels and cleverly engineered suggestions. The result is that you can be #1 in organic and yet see diddly in traffic. Mid day and I have been at zero traffic for full 30 min sweeps of GART...yet at 5:00am I had a conversion on drip traffic. Imagine if we had un-throttled traffic flow!

I'm completely astonished that a new search engine has not appeared yet...because there is a super vacuum of need right now. It would be a real David and Goliath moment.
3:14 pm on Sept 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Webmasters don't understand Google's mission statement, which is:

"Our mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful."

How can information be "universally accessible and useful"? Not through links to other sites, but through hosting content / sponsored "Buy Now" buttons directly on Google.

Prediction: soon, by all "organic" search results there will be a "Buy Now" button related to the site's snippet text (the button will not link to your checkout page though ;)
3:58 pm on Sept 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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We had a nice increase in Google traffic around August 4 that has persisted, but there's been nothing new in the last few days that I can see.
4:47 pm on Sept 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@topaz Zero improvements for my news site since June update either. No matter how many backlinks a single article attracts, it wouldn't rank on the first page. It's always last and foreign language/completely irrelevant sites rank above it.
6:23 pm on Sept 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@MP - believe me, even if you make it to page one it's still no gaurantee of getting any traffic.
6:27 pm on Sept 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@samwest I get that, but it sucks when those who linked to me are ranking on the first page, but I am not - same applies to SERPs. It was all fine before the update.
7:38 pm on Sept 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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it sucks when those who linked to me are ranking on the first page, but I am not

I'm not in a super saturated industry, but I've found that links are nowhere near as powerful as the quality signals we get from type-in traffic, social media, videos, etc. The old school theory was that if sites linking to you outrank you then you must be penalized. While that may be the case for some, I don't buy into that being the case for most. I firmly believe signals Google now has access to from outside of search plays an important roll in ones overall ranking.
8:45 pm on Sept 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Glakes - Good points. I might work on that Paypal referral source. It is generally pretty easy to work around and get the actual referral source. You might just need to add it to the referral exclusion list.
7:07 am on Sept 19, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Past 2 days lost top positions. Something big update is going on in finance niche. I am saved by direct visitors only.
10:48 am on Sept 19, 2019 (gmt 0)

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If you are going to redesign your website, you should try to keep as many pages as possible from your old site. The point is not that Google is going to feel happy or bad about it, but yes, chances are high that there might be some backlinks associated with your old pages which may tend to go.

Don't worry for any other thing as there are options like using robot.txt, option of rediretion, submitting sitemaps etc. Just take care to provide quality content and avoid broken links.
10:57 am on Sept 19, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I dont think any redesign will make any changes to ranking at all. IF you dont have a design from maybe 2005 or something. I think all what has been happening this year are mostly changes for google it self, to keep visitors on google, new search options,.. to be profitable. SEO will not be that a big deal already next year, be cause of those changes, which has nothing to do with quality content, I think those changes can not be made up again with SEO.
11:09 am on Sept 19, 2019 (gmt 0)

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SEO is an illusion these days, and more like a diversion. What is there to optimize when the organic serp is dead.
11:31 am on Sept 19, 2019 (gmt 0)

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which has nothing to do with quality content


This is true... the changes being made are not something that SEO will solve.
My site lost 130 keywords last year, at this time, into the void overnight after 14 years ... around the same time many of my competitors had the same experience.. . There was no penalty, no warning, no one was doing anything wrong. The main keyword for my site still appears at approx 3 to 5 on the first page, my site is trusted but apparently not for 130 keywords tightly related to the main one. Since this happened I have struggled to get traffic and my income has dwindled to near nothing. After 14 years I no longer have a viable business and the final death appears to have happened over the last few days, (funny that it is almost a year to the day.. makes you wonder if it is timed to encourage ad spend in the lead up to Xmas).
I have worked for a year to try and recover what I lost in one night.. but the keywords have never reappeared and the traffic also has never returned. I get spikes every now and then where the site converts and operates as it used to but that is always short lived and normally a precursor to further drops.

The changes over the last few days are the strangest i have seen with higher positions in the serps but much less converting traffic... if any.
For me it is done.. the playing field is no longer level and the advice and suggestions for how to rank utter rubbish.
Over and out...
11:51 am on Sept 19, 2019 (gmt 0)

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New updates overnite... now "Interesting Finds" has been replaced with "Top Stories " block. All mobile still have and image and some sites include an image carousel' which is a nice feature. The carousel images seem a bit larger this morning. Google is looking more like an MSN start page than a search engine. It seems like they are moving social media style content into more and more I'd the SERPs...yeah' thats all we need. Smh.
12:21 pm on Sept 19, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@dougir1234 - yours is a familiar story, like my own and many others on here and elsewhere. My site is a similar age, I have also gone from being number one across the board for all my target keywords for years, great income, employing plenty of people, giving a well known great service so a fraction of what it was in the 1 to years, having to downsize just to cover costs and am also planning to exit as it simply is not a fair system any more. Your 100% correct in saying that the advice on how to rank is nonsense - quality content, good technical specs and "expertise", "authority" and "trustworthiness" are all nonsense as at the end of the day it is how google interprets these terms which is both hidden from everyone else and bares little resemblance to reality. I am out ranked by blackhat sites, using lots of dodgy techniques, certainly arent experts or trustworthy, I see plenty of bad reviews (but countered by hoards of fake reviews) about them ripping people off yet they google gives them top 1,2,3,4,5,6 spots across the board for their various sites and doorway pages.
Google wont kill the internet, they will fall at some point, but they have caused massive damage to both the user experience and countless people lives and livelihoods.

And I say all this even though Ive received a bit of a recovery in the last days - I dont get the slightest bit encouraged by an increase in traffic anymore because I know it will be take away again soon.
12:39 pm on Sept 19, 2019 (gmt 0)

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The answer box killed our traffic for some keywords and along with it our ability to expose consumers to our products. Just giving us credit for the answer with a link is not good enough. At a minimum, Google should be paying us royalties if they are using our answers as a technique to keep people on their property. I've dealt with some bad scrapers in the past, but Google is the worst of them all.
12:59 pm on Sept 19, 2019 (gmt 0)

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We were struggling with an old Magento 1 site (from 2011) we upgraded to Magento 2 and lost rankings for a good 3/4 months but managed to surpass our original rankings and now sit 1st & 2nd for our top KW and in the top 3 for all but 1 targeted KW.

I don't think it was necessarily the site upgrade that caused the rankings to lift, just that it was an opportunity to clean everything up, lose thin pages and set a much cleaner structure so were were sending the right signals to Google (simple stuff like correct H1's, titles, key wording, URLs, image tags, site speed also improved)
1:06 pm on Sept 19, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@TeresaD

The reason conversions are gone is because new buyers are no longer seeing your ads. You and others who visited your site before still see the ads and this why personalisation is misleading.

Remember all cards transactions are reported to AI by all banks and AI sees that you have no money to play their game. So make sure not to increase the bids hopping conversions will come back!
1:14 pm on Sept 19, 2019 (gmt 0)

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We had a noticeable loss in Google organic traffic on Monday when it seemed this most recent update was being talked about, but completely rebounded Tuesday and Wednesday this week. I don't have nearly enough data to conclude anything, but curious if others were seeing lower than usual google organic traffic over the past weekend and Monday with a rebound on Tuesday/Wednesday (or vice versa).

A lot of our "money" keyword rankings have dropped, but we're actually getting more traffic from long-tail that we're apparently not tracking, which I'm not complaining about, but looking into...
1:31 pm on Sept 19, 2019 (gmt 0)

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At a minimum, Google should be paying us royalties if they are using our answers as a technique to keep people on their property.


They certainly should be! They are stealing our content and getting away with it. Instead of chasing silly and unworkable SEO techniques, webmasters should be organizing and pressuring the representatives in their jurisdiction to regulate Google.
1:50 pm on Sept 19, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Whatever just happened over the last few days has been quite positive.
3:01 pm on Sept 19, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@mosxu + I have dropped it to €2 per day and max ppc 0.08c.

I am going to see if it drives engagement as an experiment (and to give me something to look at instead of GA ghost town).

It will be interesting to see what if any clicks I get as some of my widgets are unique to Ireland and the competitors including Amazon are in the UK with all of the Brexit madness going on.
9:18 pm on Sept 19, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I've just run a general / informative 4-word query and ALL 10 results from the first page were from "mainstream media" newspapers like BBC, Guardian, Telegraph, TheSun, etc. The query was not related to any recent event. Lack of diversity. Had to double check if I was not on the "News" tab (I wasn't).
10:16 pm on Sept 19, 2019 (gmt 0)

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So, it seems 1/4th of all posters here are seeing positive results with these changes. Most are dead in the water.
12:30 am on Sept 20, 2019 (gmt 0)

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it seems 1/4th of all posters here are seeing positive results with these changes.

Yeah. My listings look much better, seriously! I gained the 1 and 2 positions...I am page 1 on all the suggested searches too and yet my site now has absolutely zero traffic or conversions due to the chaos above the fold.
4:32 am on Sept 20, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@samwest How come you are at the top first or second position of the SERP's but still not getting traffic?
5:09 am on Sept 20, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Yeah. My listings look much better, seriously! I gained the 1 and 2 positions...I am page 1 on all the suggested searches too and yet my site now has absolutely zero traffic or conversions due to the chaos above the fold.


Yeah, same here. We have a lot of good positions but that didn't translate into higher traffic. For example, we rank very well for some competitive KWs, but on mobile there's so much going on before we get to our organic position. The amount of scrolling that's needed to get done to get to our high organic result, in order to get through all that stuff equates to the same amount of scrolling needed to go through one full clean organic page in the SERPs.
5:18 am on Sept 20, 2019 (gmt 0)

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That is the issue... no amount of SEO is going to help that... page 1 no longer means traffic or conversion...
6:51 am on Sept 20, 2019 (gmt 0)

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By the same logic, if for say 100 searches instead of appearing 10 times your site now appears 20 times but you keep the same ratio (10x1 and 10x3) again GSC will report position 2. But in this case, one will a least see a change in the number of impressions. This is exactly what was reported by @moishaha

@NickMNS the problem is that GSC won't change your position if it adds featured snippets in the SERP. Let's say I am on the 1st position for a keyword on a SERP without results. Then Google adds an image pack and a people also ask. GSC will tell me that I am still in the first position, but in reality, I am on the 3rd position and it's a little bit misleading.
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