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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 Even the stupid "People also ask" widget just regurgitates these same articles with information that is either outdated or completely wrong regarding my query.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)
2:49 pm on Oct 1, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Most guys working in this domain of the search engine giant have Artificial Intelligence Certification.


Aha, so that's precisely why it doesn't work!
8:48 pm on Oct 1, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@ jester...I have noticed the same issues with search and if I try to rephrase the search, it keeps sending me back to the same results.

I just viewed my latest insights report...says I'm up about 12% across the board and bounce rate down 1.7%....so why are my conversions down 100%?
2:44 pm on Oct 2, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Hi everybody - it's reassuring (albeit disappointing) to learn everyone else is experiencing similar anomalies and issues with traffic, conversions, et al. I was provided some insight on this September update and the possibility that it was intended to largely build off the June Core Update. Here's an excerpt from Traffic Research:

"In general I wouldn’t give too much credit to anyone who claims to have the absolute answer, as it’s still pretty early to have done deep data dives. But, I’ll give you my early thoughts at least. To me it’s looking like an expansion/tweaking of the June core algo update. We’re fairly certain that June was mostly a link-based update, basically just making them more important. This one looks like it’s probably the same, except it’s possible the link relevance became more of a factor. Here’s a really good data based deep-dive into the June algo update that is worth a read:

[mytrafficresearch.com...]

It’s worth reading in its entirety, but the TL;DR is that in a lot of niches where Google had problems showing trust-worthy content (health, crypto, etc) the algorithm just turned up the dial on the importance of links, possibly specifically the link authority of the overall domain. Look at your niche and any changes using that point of view and it might make more sense. Although it’s great to fix all the other stuff, no real changes will happen in this case without juicy link-profile improvements.

Think about it from Google’s point of view. Let’s take health for example. So many alternative health sites, Amazon affiliate plays, and mommy-bloggers were taking over the health niche. The algo was having trouble discerning what was quality and what was not. Just turn up the dial on the links. Now it’s all Healthline and WebMD, a lot of which is garbage, but it is very obviously the “safe” play for Google. No small site could ever compete with those behemoths on link profiles.

As for the Sept update, seems like it expanded more to other niches as well.
Again, take it all with a grain of salt, but that’s my theory for now.”
8:11 pm on Oct 2, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Travis304, I just received the Marie Hayes newsletter and she is saying similar, that she feels it's a 'trustworthiness' update. I do agree with you that the web is dominated with Healthline and WebMD, I'm in a non-human niche which is dominated by the sister site of WebMD, they will sometimes get 3-4 results on the first page of G for a topic.

I said in the other thread yesterday that I did a little digging yesterday, and the handful of competitor sites in my niche have all seemingly met a similar fate to mine. Continual updates to add more content, but getting less and less traffic. Some of that can be attributed to the answer box, but I see that the sister site of WebMD continues to grow. In fact, they were the only site which showed growth.

To some extent, I agree with Google, and I personally have started to move away from health and cover general info for my niche, but the results are going to be very boring if it's all WebMD and healthline. Somebody said upthread that sometimes they want to read forums. I agree, if I was diagnosed with a specific medical condition (let's say a women's cancer), of course I would want reliable medical information, but I would also want first hand experience by those affected. How they found the treatment, how they managed to juggle family and treatment, how long did it take to feel better etc. WebMD and Healthline just cannot provide that information.
11:29 pm on Oct 2, 2019 (gmt 0)

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So many alternative health sites, Amazon affiliate plays, and mommy-bloggers were taking over the health niche.

Why didn't you include quacks and snake-oil peddlers in your list?
12:21 am on Oct 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Everyone should know that it's just a matter of time now until the "researchers" from Healthline and other big sites like it, find those keywords, look at your page, and take what they need and take your spot (whatever you have left.)

Just looking at the distribution of keywords for Healthline on SEMRush makes me think "wth."

I have a hair website as well, and Healthline is starting to dominate this niche too. It ranks above the actual websites that are, well, completely about "Hair" and are really informative with a touch of personality and experience.

It's ridiculous in my opinion.
12:53 pm on Oct 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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10-03-2019: more big changes. Content farms are rising again to their pre update positions. If you offer something for free to get ad revenue, it will survive. If you're selling a product or service, you will not...at least in my vertical. My zero traffic now goes on for many hours, time to throw in the towel.
4:41 pm on Oct 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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10-03-2019: more big changes.

Possible rollback or new update? My company actually benefited slightly from the last update.
5:22 pm on Oct 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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The UK SERPs for my widgets are simply atrocious with far too many US companies being represented plus incredibly useless UK sites.

The Indian SERPs is looking better with not so many US companies represented yet should be far, far better than it is.

Google simply tries to be too clever resulting in very poor SERPs, then again, do they really want to deliver good results since in their own words "We sell ads, not search results"!
5:40 pm on Oct 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@RedBar - Bill Lambert warned about this. He said the suits wanted it this way; since it forces companies to spend more on ads in order to get local coverage.
6:13 pm on Oct 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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He said the suits wanted it this way; since it forces companies to spend more on ads in order to get local coverage.

Problem is Adwords is a poor performer offering a terrible if not negative ROI for products. I think Google is sending the bulk of product buyer traffic to Google Express. What remains is rather limited in buyer intent and one needs really good landing pages to convert. If it were not for branding, our Adwords campaigns would be off and stay off. I suspect in the beginning of 2020 we will shut off Adwords completely. Facebook offers far better branding opportunities at a fraction of the cost and without all the in your face manipulation that Google is engaged in.
8:14 pm on Oct 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Bill Lambert warned about this.

He's obviously been reading my posts here from 10 years ago under my previous moniker:-)

What I do have to admit though is that whilst the G SERPs, for me, are a mess nationally and internationally, on a local basis the SERPs are very, very good in my widget sector.Yes my sister's business is #1 for many widget terms but there is a great spread of other totally valid local businesses and not ONE piece of spammy garbage.

Obviously they can get this correct therefore why the huge national and international discrepancies?
11:14 pm on Oct 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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It's not hard to predict that after a major broad core rollout, that the following weeks will have some volatility and shake-ups, as Google will continue refining and dialing in/out with that broad core update. Obviously, that translates into more volatility in the SERPs and traffic. Anyone who has followed the patterns of these major Google updates for years can predict the same.

I'm not saying that Bill Lambert was off, but he doesn't deserve the credit as being some “oracle” or “divine” human being with exclusive insight of some sort.

As I've said many times before, someone who is experienced, analytical and calculated enough can vaguely or accurately predict what's going to happen next. Barry may have confirmed that he's the “real” Bill Lambert due to the IP address, but that doesn't make him any more credible than anyone else who is experienced at predicting.

Next time a major broad core update is rolled out. I can also publicly say, wait until what happens next week. That has been the pattern with EVERY single broad core update.
11:50 am on Oct 4, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Has any one seen Bill Lambert, GoogleGuy, and Matt Cutts in the same room at the same time...
1:28 pm on Oct 4, 2019 (gmt 0)

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At the same time as Superman?
6:15 pm on Oct 4, 2019 (gmt 0)

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It could be Matt Cutts.
10:19 pm on Oct 4, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Every effort seems to be exerted to prevent traffic. Even running Facebook ads produces not a blip on the GART radar. Wondering if it even works but zero conversion verifies the lack of traffic.

Today marks yet another record low for the week. Half of last week...again.

If Google gave us SOME slack, we'd start buying ads again like we did 10 years ago.

In my vertical there are less ads on the serp pages and just more ad loaded crap 'featured' pages above the fold. That's a new approach. If they don't buy ads, just promote irrelevant ad filled pages from content farmers.
3:07 pm on Oct 5, 2019 (gmt 0)

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If Google gave us SOME slack, we'd start buying ads again like we did 10 years ago.


Yes, in the last year Google has launched an all out assault on everyone's traffic. Since the update in early June I watched my income for the quarter from July 1 to Sept 30th drop by ~80 percent. By my calculations, I would need to spend about $20,000 a month on Google ads to replace a lot of that lost traffic. Not worth it.

I have seen this September an increase in traffic, clicks and inquiries again. It's not what it was pre-March 2019, but it's better than the silence from June-Aug 2019. Perhaps Google is realizing that if you break the chicken's neck it can't produce any eggs?

My sincere hope is that the EU authorities will hammer Google in a big way, because I don't see that coming from the States, where Congress and current administration puppets are already bought and paid for. None of us should hold our breath...we have a system where a few companies control the internet and all the commerce on it now. That was years in the making and would take years and a lot of action to unwind.
8:57 pm on Oct 5, 2019 (gmt 0)

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The worlds alleged greatest search engine delivers the absolute worst results in terms of conversions. Google's paid ads (Adwords) is the absolute worst. Below are what my stats look like post September Core update and whatever happened this week. If it were not for a few good days with Google, the conversions from Google would be much worse. Because as of now, Google is sending NO CONVERTING TRAFFIC.

https://i.ibb.co/YWR4pNS/conversions.gif

The problem with Google is that they have tightened the screws so tight that many business owners, such as myself, will simply say screw Google entirely. Really, when one looks at the crap conversions from Google then one has to really consider how they are spending their time and advertising budget. Wasting my time and money on Google is akin to flushing it down the toilet.

Edit:

My sincere hope is that the EU authorities will hammer Google in a big way, because I don't see that coming from the States, where Congress and current administration puppets are already bought and paid for. None of us should hold our breath...we have a system where a few companies control the internet and all the commerce on it now. That was years in the making and would take years and a lot of action to unwind.


+1 I could not agree more. And I'm tired of wasting ink/money sending proof of a corrupt Amazon and Google to USA regulators and politicians to only be ignored.
12:22 am on Oct 6, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@glakes I have already said "Screw Google" this year, but unfortunately the other platform I signed up on that supposedly drives a more tailored type of high-income demographic traffic ended up being a total waste of money and I am locked into a contract. Learned my lesson and will dump them the second the contract ends. There is truly no place to turn these days. I tried FB ads and they were cheap, but didn't drive any sales at all...just useless traffic that I am not convinced was even real. Maybe I will try Bing...I get almost no traffic from them.
3:53 am on Oct 6, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@glakes - Unfortunately, Bing is a copycat of Google. They do update their ranking sheets once every two to three months to match nearly what Google does. This means that if you lose traffic on Google; you're bound to see the same few months down the line on Bing.
3:56 am on Oct 6, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@ichthyous - Bought traffic is not real. FB advertising is the biggest scam on the planet. Millions are being minted on robo traffic.
7:57 am on Oct 6, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I would be surprised if Google has anything other than ads and links to their youtube website (where they earn on ads again) in a few years time.
12:47 pm on Oct 6, 2019 (gmt 0)

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It's different in every niche, but as I posted previously and on goodroi's 2019 SEO topic, what Google is doing in verticals that no longer have enough suitable direct adsense ads is to substitute the top heavy direct ads with ad heavy sites in the "interesting finds" block, the content be damned. The top left corner of the current interesting finds block in my niche is just an aggregation of 10 sites that contains no less than 10 on page ads. Google's new motto should be "Anything for a buck".
12:50 pm on Oct 6, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@ichthyous

If it were not for branding, I would have killed Adwords a while ago. It sickens me to hand Google any money considering how much manipulation is going on in both paid and organic results. Bing definitely sends higher quality traffic, and might be worth you giving a try. The only problem with Bing is low traffic volume, but still much higher traffic beats out Google's garbage any day of the week.

@StupidIntelligent

Bing is a copycat of Google. They do update their ranking sheets once every two to three months to match nearly what Google does. This means that if you lose traffic on Google; you're bound to see the same few months down the line on Bing.

Bing may follow Google's lead in some industries, but not mine. Granted, many of the visible SERP features are similar. But the behind the scenes manipulation (aka personalization) Google is engaged in is nowhere near as bad on Bing. When I look at weekly or monthly traffic and conversion data, Bing has consistently outperformed Google for a good couple of years. As of late, Bing consistently sends more converting traffic than Google organic and paid traffic combined. That's how bad Google sucks.
3:32 pm on Oct 6, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Although traffic and conversions have now hit rock bottom, oddly enough, the one adsense ad I have at the bottom of each page is generating more than in the past 6 months. Google seems to be pushing FREE stuff as long as it's smothered in ads.
4:01 pm on Oct 6, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I hate to sound like a broken record, but the latest update has largely been "same old, same old" for us, just like most of Google's updates.

Our Google traffic is up a smidgen over the equivalent days last year, for the most part. (It's been slipping a bit lately, compared to previous weeks, but that has happened every fall for the last two decades: Our high seasons are late spring and summer, with slow but predictable declines between September and December and a steady climb after the first of the year.)

Our main site is an editorial travel-planning site that has been at the same domain since 2001.
4:51 pm on Oct 6, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@EG - you've gotten pretty good mpg out of that site. The fabric of the web is so vast and variable, like so much Swiss cheese or the distribution of dark matter, so naturally YMMV. Probably pointless for any of us to compare results because it's so variable per niche. Good to hear something positive though...
8:28 am on Oct 7, 2019 (gmt 0)

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For the first time in years, I realized Google is no longer the best search engine around. On mobile, I'm now using DDG pretty regularly, though still not perfect, it provides reasonably accurate results at least, and not that b..ch...of...s..t Google is currently giving.
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