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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 Even the stupid "People also ask" widget just regurgitates these same articles with information that is either outdated or completely wrong regarding my query.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)
9:21 pm on Oct 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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why have Google not taken Amazon on? they are big enough to put up a fight
9:44 pm on Oct 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@TeresaD

Good question Amazon is offering value to the end users not just information so the question should be why is not Amazon taking on Google? But they do in a very intelligent way in 10 years time 80% of households will be Prime Members and most of them do not research products with Google.
9:59 pm on Oct 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Does this show that people aren't finding what they want at the top of the SERPs?


I certainly find that to be the case more and more - it is a mixture of irrelevant results and also that most new content now is written to try to please google making much of it garbage so if you do get result on what seems to be what your looking for so often it doesn't give you the info you want or need
10:13 pm on Oct 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I've been looking at my CTR% in Search Console and it's interesting that even though some of my articles are between positions 10-20, they are getting up to 20% click-through rates.

Does this show that people aren't finding what they want at the top of the SERPs?


No. GSC stats are misleading. Position is shown as average position, that is you can get 10 impression in position 1 and 90 impressions a position 30 and the position reported will be 27.1. At the same time clicks are counted across all the impressions, so 5 clicks for 100 impressions, 5%. There is no way to determine if clicks occur at position 1 or at position 30. So assume you only had the position 1 impressions and still got the 5 clicks, you would then have 50% CTR. But now add the position 30 impression with 0 clicks, you still end up with the same clicks but a lower CTR.

I would guess that what you are seeing is that you are getting a few 1 positions, which are getting many clicks, and then getting more 2nd and 3rd page impressions they get nearly no clicks. And very few impressions in between these two extremes.
12:31 am on Oct 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@mosxu
in 10 years time 80% of households will be Prime Members

I assume that this is an extrapolated prediction from the USA only?
6:45 am on Oct 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Anyone else noticing any GA Real time stats reporting issues today? We have been
6:53 am on Oct 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@HereWeGo123 As I said yesterday, I had some real-time issues where the visitor number was halved for a few minutes yesterday, but I don't think it actually affected the overall stats for the day (although I can't be 100% sure of this).
7:18 am on Oct 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Noticeable drop in traffic from India over the last day.

Would anyone from India be able to provide some context for this?

I realize that Diwali is on the 27th which is a few days away. Would it be a little early to already notice a drop in traffic from India?
7:33 am on Oct 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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traffic is completely throttled for us. We have a massive conversion problem. Nothing has changed from our site which was converting at around 2.5 to 3% - currently we are at .33%.

I honestly dont know when to expect this will end? Does anyone have any thoughts on this. We're nearing on 6 months of poor search. Ever since that June update came in, we've just seen garbage. Is this the new level of expectation. Do I genuinely start training in another capacity?

[edited by: BushyTop at 7:35 am (utc) on Oct 23, 2019]

7:34 am on Oct 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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traffic is completely throttled for us. We have a massive conversion problem. Nothing has changed from our site which was converting at around 2.5 to 3% - currently we are at .33%.

I honestly dont know when to expect this will end? Does anyone have any thoughts on this. We're nearing on 6 months of poor search. Ever since that June update came in, we've just seen garbage. Is this the new level of expectation. Do I genuinely start training in another capacity?
7:34 am on Oct 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@jmorgan Noticed drops in traffic from India as well since Tuesday.

Are all these stats (GA, GSC) trustworthy? Seeing that they are all Google property. We all know what Google is capable of and what it can do when it gets desperate. This is the last quarter of the year.
10:04 am on Oct 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@redbar

These are existing facts as 51% of US households are already Prime members and they still grow by 5 million every year. UK is growing fast as well not so much Europe.

Point is trying to explain where is the converting traffic going and what are we getting for our money and effort.

There is no transparency whatsoever behind the personalisation of the AI decreasing buyer traffic. Whatever is left has to be constantly sold at a higher price!
11:11 am on Oct 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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the question should be why is not Amazon taking on Google?

I think they are, but doing so in a methodical way that harnesses their strength of displaying products to shoppers. Once consumer goods are mastered, Amazon would be free to push beyond products with a warchest of money that would allow them to expand to information.

While Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) trails Alphabet Inc.ís (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Google by a factor of nearly six in search advertising, Amazonís share is expected to rise by three percentage points over the next two years, from 12.9% to 15.9%. That growth is forecast to come primarily at the expense of Google, which is expected to see a decline from 73.1% of the 2019 search market to 70.5% by 2021.

Source: [247wallst.com...]

I, along with many others in ecommerce, have seen a steady decline in purchases originating from Google over the years. ROI on Adwords is terrible as most shoppers intending to make an immediate purchase go directly to Amazon. Those clicking Adwords ads are mostly consumers doing research in the beginning phase of their purchase cycle and ultimately will make a purchase on Amazon anyway.

When I look at my conversion stats, Google is at the bottom of the list with Adwords being dead last in sending converting traffic and Google organic just above it. Bing and Yahoo send more conversions with just a sliver of the traffic Google sends. That indicates there is room for Google to improve, but they appear more inclined to extract every dime out of every query as possible instead of delivering on the basic principal of matching users to products.
11:32 am on Oct 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Do I genuinely start training in another capacity?


That certainly wouldn't hurt. I'm back to doing DCS and PLC ladder logic work. It was never a good business plan to rely on Google.
I've said it many times: "They Moved Your Cheese", so rather than watching stats and hoping they rise, slam the daylights out of social media and see what sticks. I find using PUSH and a combination of social media platforms that I can drive more direct traffic that converts. Not sure how Google does it, (We all have our theories) but traffic from them continues to convert very poorly, if at all.

Now that I'm back to using Matomo, my stats are giving me much better insights and real data, not sampled data.
12:13 pm on Oct 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@cabsco Its true, it happening from Tuesday morning. Traffic is really flat from India.
12:15 pm on Oct 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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We're nearing on 6 months of poor search. Ever since that June update came in, we've just seen garbage. Is this the new level of expectation. Do I genuinely start training in another capacity?


We have seen a downward trend for the past 2 years with a slight recovery every now and again but overall the lines heading down so I starting to plan for a life away from this quite some time ago.
So yes, I think training in another capacity and preparing to pivot is a good idea Id say. Even if you dont change there is no harm in getting new skills. Ive taken 5 IT certifications this year (AWS certs, linux stuff) and plan to take at least one , probably 2 before end of the year all with the aim of reskilling, refreshing for DevOps type roles which are in demand. This is to update my curriculum so I can show I am up to date with useful skills ( I have past IT experience working for corporations already) and return to the job market after well over a decade. Next year I will have to leave the country im living in and get a job in some other part of the world where such jobs are in demand (US, Canada, UK, Europe etc). I cant see things getting anything else but worse to be honest , at least not in the next few years, so it would be prudent to prepare for that if you are seeing similar patterns.
2:55 pm on Oct 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Alot of noise about people seeing a June reversal.. Anyone else seeing that? (I'm not... UK Based)
3:44 pm on Oct 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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There is never a reversal AI is playing mind games it comes a bit of traffic then goes even more away.

Constantly moving the cheese,
5:36 pm on Oct 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@BushyTop Nope! No changes. I had a few conversions yesterday after not having any for almost a month, they came in 3s were consistent and after a few hours, they stopped, nothing since. Who knows, maybe it will happen again next month.
6:04 pm on Oct 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Someone mentioned that analytics Realtime "Live View" Overview went wacky yesterday. My experience as well.
While "Top Active Pages" stayed at about 14 users (usually sits around 20), "Right Now" jumped to 84.
About 5 minutes later, it dropped down to ZERO, while "Top Active Pages" stayed at 14. Weird, causing me to wonder What The Heck?

Bots? Gremlins? I have no idea. Just thought I would mention it, for all you Realtime watchers out there.
I have never seen anything like it, and I watch it all the time.
.
7:31 pm on Oct 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Once consumer goods are mastered, Amazon would be free to push beyond products with a warchest of money that would allow them to expand to information

Amazon already provides a ton of information. IMO, that's why its pages do so well in Google: Those pages have intrinsic value to people who are searching for facts, product support (in the form of "answers"), reviews, etc., regardless of whether those searchers are buying from Amazon.
8:08 pm on Oct 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Amazon already provides a ton of information. IMO, that's why its pages do so well in Google: Those pages have intrinsic value to people who are searching for facts, product support (in the form of "answers"), reviews, etc., regardless of whether those searchers are buying from Amazon.

The information appearing on product pages is mostly marketing fluff of no real substance. Product reviews can't be trusted since Amazon steers product reviews away from FBM (domestic) sellers. Often people leave reviews for the wrong products, which Amazon will not remove. And the "answers" provided by questions asked are often easily found on the manufacturer or independent seller's website since they are not constrained to the 2,000 character limit per product page. I've got some real stupid questions on my Amazon product pages, which makes me laugh at how ignorant some people really are. Amazon is definitely a magnet for whackos.

IMO, the reason why Amazon ranks so well is so that Google can use Amazon as a wedge to force independent ecommerce site operators out of organics so they buy into Adwords. But in the end what matters are sales, and Google simply does not deliver. Hopefully Amazon does expand into launching a full fledged search engine. Judging by how well they have done with products, and how they made Google nearly irrelevant in ecommerce, I could only imagine how well Amazon would do with complete search engine.
10:05 pm on Oct 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Amazon will be looking to become the best AI assistant not a search engine but their advantage is that they can provide value as well not just information.
10:39 pm on Oct 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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had a few conversions yesterday after not having any for almost a month, they came in 3s were consistent and after a few hours, they stopped, nothing since.

@southern - This exact same pattern has happen to me in the past three weeks. Three sales spaced by 20 minutes then poof, gone. Happened once each week. F&@kin' AI. Weekly totals locked down by quota. You can't hide the numbers. By my observations of the first part of the week, there will be nothing else this week. Natural patterns vary, but this random throttle is so predictable.
3:32 am on Oct 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I'm seeing a lot of swings in the SERPs. Given the patterns and behaviors, it appears the Google is testing various data sets. One moment I'll see a certain set of SERPs across various KWs that we're tracking, the next moment, i'll see a different data set. It's not just inidivudual KWs are fluctuating, but a series of events are unified in the volatility across various KWs. This has been the case for the past three days.

For Example.

Scenario One:

Keyword A - Position 1
Keyword B - Position 2
Keyboard C - Position 3

Scenario Two:

Keyword A - Position 3
Keyword B - Position 1
Keyword C - Position 2

And then back and forth between these two scenarios throughout the day. Although, this should not come as a surprise, and it very well may not imply some kind of big update. Google is always testing stuff and tweaking. But I did notice it more than ever. Perhaps testing and tweaking results from The September Update,
8:03 am on Oct 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@HereWeGo123 - I am seeing some similar, it's like I am in a test cycle. Sometimes the SERP design changes to the version with favicons and capital letters (my rankings were changing with this but now its a bit all over the place)
10:44 am on Oct 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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One of my high traffic URLs has disappeared from the index?! only appears for a couple of terms. But massive drops. Never experienced anything like this before. Every other URL seems to be performing fine, but i'm anxious
1:13 pm on Oct 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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My Home Page is still missing for a number of keywords - no changes and all my back links are still in place. I wouldn't mind if there was a reason for it, but to just go missing from all my high value KW's is a bit sh*t
1:15 pm on Oct 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Also, that page is showing no cache... penalty?
1:38 pm on Oct 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Penalty will be for the whole website, not just for a few urls, as far as I know.
This 317 message thread spans 11 pages: 317