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Google Updates and SERP Changes - October 2019

     
12:04 pm on Oct 1, 2019 (gmt 0)

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System: The following 5 messages were cut out of thread at: https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4962430.htm [webmasterworld.com] by goodroi - 5:42 pm on Oct 2, 2019 (utc -5)


Dealing with Google as a business is tough and dealing with Google as a normal user is becoming a huge headache as well. I was trying to find some info about some software on the latest Smartphone I just bought and it was insane how stupid the search engine is now. It blatantly ignores keywords and uses synonyms for others which was not my intent and important for the search. It just returns articles of general information that are 5 or 6 years old. Even the stupid "People also ask" widget just regurgitates these same articles with information that is either outdated or completely wrong regarding my query. My whole mobile screen seems to be filled with either ads or search widgets.

I disagree with the use of all these widgets, and see a lot of it as content theft (people work hard to provide this information). It would be one thing if Google actually returned the correct information but in a large percentage of queries it does not making these widgets and the AI behind a huge failure.

Google please become a real search engine again instead of trying to be an information provider on the backs of other peoples businesses. (I know this will never happen unfortunately unless the government steps in)
2:55 pm on Oct 28, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I would imagine this is from indexed pages that are now removed or a listing/auction has ended, so a redirect is in place.


I know that, you know that so why does G's algo with all its so-called AI let its spiders loose on pages that will soon become outdated and let them rank at #2 in the SERPs, it's a total and utter farce displaying non-available products as the most relevant results!
3:08 pm on Oct 28, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Huh? Maybe for you however our factories still have another week's holiday, I don't expect normal Indian traffic to return until next week however I am making realworld products, not here today gone tomorrow.


@RedBar not next week. Just give until Wednesday.
3:18 pm on Oct 28, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Just give until Wednesday.

Huh?

My factories are closed until next Monday, what's Wednesday to do with it? Sure some widget trade offices are open with limited staff however my entire widget trade in southern India is closed all this week.

I'm not worried if there is a reduction in Indian traffic at this time, it happenes every year.
9:40 am on Oct 29, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Seeing changes again this morning... when will this end :(
12:29 pm on Oct 29, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Seeing changes again this morning... when will this end :(


I think everyone needs to accept that this is the way it is now, there is not going to be stable improvements and recovery just a constant eroding of traffic as google finds new ways to limit and control things in their favor and try to force anyone they can onto paid advertising. Google ultimately clearly wants the SERPs to just contain paid entries and they are already getting close to the first page being that in some niches / keywords
12:55 pm on Oct 29, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@Milchan
.. Google ultimately clearly wants the SERPs to just contain paid entries and they are already getting close to the first page being that in some niches / keywords

Google won't be happy until we are all bidding each other up to spend more and more per click on Ad Rankings.
1:50 pm on Oct 29, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Sounds odd coming from me, but so far, things have reverted and gotten somewhat better SERP wise. The only issue I am seeing is the continued ON/OFF traffic, especially user behavior patterns and today, a huge bounce rate spike with no site changes (BERT?). Still seeing buyer clustering within very short periods of time followed by very long dead spots where traffic slows but then on the same low volume another cluster of conversions. After watching my traffic for 20 years, I can typically predict a sale just by watching the on-page behavior. I've been spot-on predicting my weekly conversions which go in a cycling pattern each week, starting strong and ending weak or vice versa. Either way it always winds up nearly the same no matter what promotions or advertising I employ. Algorithms are everywhere (G and social media) and controlling the natural fluctuations of the past with the apparent goal of steering us to the success paywall. I'd do adwords again, but with terrible ROI and algo's fighting that too, what's the point?

@Milchan - oddly enough, there are zero paid ADS in much of my niche...however, G fills that void with their ubiquitous "See [search term]" block at the top of the page...sucking up the top heat map position.
2:26 pm on Oct 29, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Google won't be happy until we are all bidding each other up to spend more and more per click on Ad Rankings.

Whilst I agree with this statement the fact is that some widgete sectors are not even bothering to play at Google's game since it's already been proven not to work or simply far too expensive to warrant the time and money.

When I worked with AV in the mid 90s this was more or less how we envisioned the future of Net advertising would go BUT we thought, at that time, it would be more industry led rather than retail and auction sites, therefore we were both right and wrong!

The question now is that since so many are saying they cannot compete against the current big players, and I include Alibaba etc in this as well, in what direction will "shopping" specifically go if many sites just cannot financially survive?

Is this problem more specific to the USA than anywhere else?

There's a can of worms for you .!.!.!
3:36 pm on Oct 29, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Google ultimately clearly wants the SERPs to just contain paid entries and they are already getting close to the first page being that in some niches / keywords.

IMO, that kind of statement is hyperbole, probably driven by sour grapes or frustration. I can't see Google wanting to turn entire SERPs into nothing but ads. Why mess with a winning formula? Even if a certain percentage of searchers click on ads, the presence of organic results is what brings those searchers to the search engine.

Still, it's no secret that Google views ads as being a form of information for shopping searches. This was explicitly stated--maybe by Larry Page?--in a book a number of years back. (I think the book was In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives, by Steven Levy, which was published in 2011.)
4:19 pm on Oct 29, 2019 (gmt 0)

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IMO, that kind of statement is hyperbole

Yep, that's your opinion and not the consensus of many of the people I deal and communicate with, possibly they are frustrated however it is completely understandable precisely why.

If you can honestly say that its SERPs is not a cluttered mess then you're not viewing the same SERPs as I am ... then again, I only use G for checking rankings prefering to use Bing / DDG.
4:28 pm on Oct 29, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Paid ads are one thing, but the elephant in the room are sites Google is affiliated or partnered with that rank very high in "organic" search results.
4:31 pm on Oct 29, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Why mess with a winning formula? Even if a certain percentage of searchers click on ads, the presence of organic results is what brings those searchers to the search engine.


Google has systematically killed off traffic from organic serps since at least March of this year by loading the page with ads and many other links to its own properties. The clear intent is to drive us all into desperation and start paying Google for the lost traffic and bidding up ad prices. I've seen the results update on a term by term basis and watched terms that I still rank top three in return one third of the traffic it used to return before March/June. If you aren't seeing that you are very lucky, but just wait you will.

The bottom line is that Google pays partially with stock options and those employees (and investors) want to watch share price continually increase...that is going to happen anyway they can make it happen. The rest of us are just fodder. If you can make Google ads work for you in terms of returning more revenue than the spend then by all means pay for the traffic. I never have and haven't spent one cent on Google ads. I started spending on other platforms and it costs dearly...so far results have been just as poor as paying for Google ads. Google, Facebook, and Amazon will all need to be policed if governments around the world don't want to cede the internet to only huge players. Small business is effectively locked out now.
6:25 pm on Oct 29, 2019 (gmt 0)

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The bottom line is that Google pays partially with stock options and those employees (and investors) want to watch share price continually increase...that is going to happen anyway they can make it happen.

Completely agree now with you ichthyous. Google will still continually whittle away at organic traffic since their prime motivator will always be increased profits. They cannot help themselves now. Whether it be even more ads (that my 14 year old son did not know are ads) in the SERPS or increasingly use of widgets showing other people's content (designed to keep users on Google).
8:05 pm on Oct 29, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Google has systematically killed off traffic from organic serps since at least March of this year by loading the page with ads and many other links to its own properties. The clear intent is to drive us all into desperation and start paying Google for the lost traffic and bidding up ad prices..

Maybe in the commercial space. That certainly isn't true for most of the informational queries that I watch (some of which are quite competitive). There's a lot more to search than products and services.
10:46 pm on Oct 29, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Maybe in the commercial space. That certainly isn't true for most of the informational queries that I watch (some of which are quite competitive). There's a lot more to search than products and services.


Problem is the informational queries are also being targeted by the eccommerce companies - it is standard black/grey hat practice to produce various "independent" info sites that act as doorway pages to their eccommerce site so that will only get worse as people are fighting for the scraps and the companies with the most resources will be able to do that the most.

And to clarify my earlier post , I didnt mean EVERY serp result would be an ad obviously, just the first page ones which are pretty much the only significant ones and this is already common place on many searches with it either being ads or google properties in the initial view and you find a handful of organic results way down the page Anyone that doesnt acknowledge that this is now the case and clearly a business objective is kidding themselves (or works for google - which im not suggesting you do, but someone from there would likely deny it it is the case).
This is not just a case of sourgrapes either and that is clearly evident as there are considerable numbers of people that agree with it - you see similar statements all over the internet in SEO forums, google groups and even coming from some prominent SEOs when interviewed.
2:32 am on Oct 30, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Editorial Guy has so far been lucky that his niche remains immune...but eventually everything will succumb. Enjoy it while it lasts, because it never lasts.
10:55 am on Oct 30, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I have seen some odd moment recently but, one of my sites is up 23% YOY on organic and the other is up 34% so I don't feel like traffic has been whittled away by Google at all. Apart from the PAA boxes my SERPs look pretty good. I guess its all niche dependent
12:44 pm on Oct 30, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Google has systematically killed off traffic from organic serps since at least March of this year by loading the page with ads and many other links to its own properties

@ichthyous We are viewing this since last year that traffic quality is degrading day by day.

Today again like the first week of this month. Traffic just stopped all of a sudden after noon.
3:11 pm on Oct 30, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Traffic just stopped all of a sudden after noon.

Same here, must be trick or treat time again. Every holiday seems to totally unplug the internet, while Gorg continues to gain 20% every quarter. Odd.
3:28 pm on Oct 30, 2019 (gmt 0)

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you see similar statements all over the internet in SEO forums, google groups and even coming from some prominent SEOs when interviewed.

IMO, people who depend heavily on SEO--or who regard it as their "value add"--are going to be more vulnerable than people who don't.

As far as pages being loaded up with ads are concerned, that's less of a concern (again, in my opinion) for informational publishers than for commercial sites. The bigger issue for informational publishers is the growth of "answer boxes" and such, although--as with most things--it depends. Answer boxes can be a great source of traffic, for example (at least if your page is the one featured in the answer box's link). Also, people who click through from an answer box, rich snippet, etc. are likely to be searchers who are in search of in-depth information, which can pay off in more page views and more ad revenue. The bottom line is that nothing is simple, and knee-jerk assumptions may or may not be correct.
3:55 pm on Oct 30, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Something big may be coming in the first week of November - not unexpected. The traffic slowness is usually a good indicator of that.
4:27 pm on Oct 30, 2019 (gmt 0)

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people who click through from an answer box, rich snippet, etc. are likely to be searchers who are in search of in-depth information

But you've claimed for years that answer boxes only satisfy very simple queries, like [2+5] or [the capital of Norway]. If so, what kind of in-depth information would a searcher look for if the answers are: "7" and "Oslo"?
4:32 pm on Oct 30, 2019 (gmt 0)

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IMO, people who depend heavily on SEO--or who regard it as their "value add"--are going to be more vulnerable than people who don't.

As far as pages being loaded up with ads are concerned, that's less of a concern (again, in my opinion) for informational publishers than for commercial sites. The bigger issue for informational publishers is the growth of "answer boxes"


On your first point very true... However when your business was built on search nothing else compares. I've poured a large budget into diversifying away from search... Opened a bricks and mortar and am paying dearly to have my products posted on sites that target high end buyers who are members. These sites have brand name recognition. So far results are pathetic compared to search. I plan to drop the contract the second it expires.

On your second point I think perhaps we define informational differently. On my site I run no ads and they cannot directly purchase. They need to inquire to purchase. Sites like Amazon are not an alternative at my price point... I wish they were! My site is "informational" in that it is used a lot for visual research by people who never buy anything.

Most informational sites I see are heavily loaded with ads as that is how they make money. The information IS the product. They are much more vulnerable to Google answer boxes in a way, since there is no other place to market that info except another search engine. Perhaps you could publish a book with your informational articles and sell it on Amazon... See how well that goes. If your intent is not commercial in any way then why both worrying about how well you rank at all.
4:37 pm on Oct 30, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Something big may be coming in the first week of November - not unexpected. The traffic slowness is usually a good indicator of that.


The something big will inevitable lead to squeezing more sites and reducing more traffic. I was just starting to get some inquiries again after a horrific summer, now since BERT it's been silent again. Traffic is the same level, SEMrush shows improved placement... No inquiries except from previous customers who already know who I am. This time of year is very busy and the economy is booming. Google is just strangling us all to death to force us to pay now. My only hope is that their testing will show that beyond a certain point it becomes detrimental to their business to squeeze webmasters to death...but I doubt it.
4:42 pm on Oct 30, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Problem is the informational queries are also being targeted by the eccommerce companies - it is standard black/grey hat practice to produce various "independent" info sites that act as doorway pages to their eccommerce site so that will only get worse as people are fighting for the scraps and the companies with the most resources will be able to do that the most.
.

Surely, if a site is informational, as mine is, it's possible to rank higher than almost any ecommerce doorway page?

I'm UK as well as informational and I rank above almost all the ecommerce sites. I don't always rank at the top because there are some very smart, large, trusted and financially backed informational sites which also have an ecommerce element to them.

But it can be done. Many people want to research before they buy and I see them going to independent informational sites first, like mine. From there they often click on the ads to buy.

In depth knowledge of the subject area and an understanding of what the reader wants are key to repeat visitors. And in my experience, repeat visitors = higher in the SERPS.
5:15 pm on Oct 30, 2019 (gmt 0)

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knee-jerk assumptions may or may not be correct.
10 out of the last 20 years observing these odd behaviors and obvious ad domination is hardly knee jerk assumptions. Look at the continual 20% quarterly profit increase. Follow the money.
9:40 pm on Oct 30, 2019 (gmt 0)

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This time of year is very busy and the economy is booming.


@ichthyous, No, the economy most certainly is NOT booming. There has been a sharp downtick on nearly every site I manage and get updates about. The US economy is heading straight for a big recession. Maybe you're a Trump supporter. I don't know but this is a forum where facts matter. No hyperbole or regurgitated nonsense from outlets like FoxNews, DailyMail, etc. Most SEO's lives are bad enough right now without throwing in blatant lies into the mix.
11:17 pm on Oct 30, 2019 (gmt 0)

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But Google shopping broke at the same time, so the AI and smart bidding is not increasing revenue
3:43 am on Oct 31, 2019 (gmt 0)

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No, the economy most certainly is NOT booming...The US economy is heading straight for a big recession.

More fake news. Apparently someone missed the Google Q3 earnings report. [webmasterworld.com...]
3:46 am on Oct 31, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@steffanlv Definitely not a Trump supporter here... but just because you and many other webmasters may be in a 'recession' caused by Google systematically destroying your traffic, it doesn't mean that the rest of the economy is. Do you read financial news? We are not in a recession, employment is historically low and income is still rising. My typical client is wealthy... They are absolutely not cutting back. The hardship here is not from any contraction in the economy or big slowdown in spending... It's wholly manufactured by the wunderkinds at Google taking the money out of your pocket and putting it in theirs.
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