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Google Updates and SERP Changes - November 2019

     
9:54 am on Nov 1, 2019 (gmt 0)

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System: The following 8 messages were cut out of thread at: https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4966830.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 4:01 pm on Nov 1, 2019 (PDT -8)


Not what i'd seen, it wasn't even that.
I'd class myself as an experienced searcher, and, sometimes, when I look at Google's serps it's trying to pre-empt my intent. More often than not, it's presenting either highly-optimised sites, or, in this case, it was all wrong. Something's broke.

It works that way these days.


I don't ever use "best" as that is spammed out.
10:46 am on Nov 1, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Google UK serps are currently awful. I have never seen such a load of garbage on the first page. Domain crowding is at an all time high. (widget price comparison)
11:11 am on Nov 1, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I just been searching for some specific products and Google's serps are currently awful.

Shoppers agree with you. It has been this way for a long time, which manifests itself in poor sales coming from both Google's paid and organic results. We see a higher number of daily conversions from Bing/Yahoo with just a fraction of the traffic.

IMO, Google has spent too much time attempting to extract every dime out of every query while ignoring users (shoppers). Google's poor presentation of products in product queries has driven users elsewhere, and I don't believe they will ever come back when other search engines and marketplaces do a far, far better job than Google.
12:10 pm on Nov 1, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I don't ever use "best" as that is spammed out.
@engine Wise way to search.

Anyway, traffic from Google is very non engaging today. I am seeing very high bounce rate for pages that usually have very low BR. And also I am seeing that for many queries Quora and reddit is ranking pretty high.
1:39 pm on Nov 1, 2019 (gmt 0)

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no matter what I do the traffic remains the same.

Well, at least it hasn't gone down!
1:50 pm on Nov 1, 2019 (gmt 0)

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zero conversions for days now... sickening
1:54 pm on Nov 1, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Traffic from one of my sites simply evaporated.

The morning is usually not too big, but today is in an unprecedented situation.

And only desktop hits.

*Live streaming cameras - USA
3:05 pm on Nov 1, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Obviously I do not know what people are seeing in their widget sectors however for my most popular product keyword searches I am seeing even more consolidation of locaisation in the US G.com SERPs.

Today for the primary Keyword1/2/3 search I see 18/20 US companies with the other two being Indian and which are, basically, scrapers of the #1 result, one at 8 the other 15, my site is nowhere, it is for all means and purposes solely US companies for a product 100% imported into the US, no one in the US actually manufactures this product.

So, in G.co.in I am #2, yes #1 is a US company that imports from India.

In G.co.uk, I am #2, and yes #1 is that same US company that imports from ME!

HOWEVER what I can not believe is that I am not getting ANY Google organic traffic whatsoever by being #2, Bing and DDG and some I've never even heard of are sending traffic, Google, nothing for this keyword1/2/3 term.

Insofar as the US G.com SERPs are concerned for not so competitive products I, and several other competing exporters, are seemingly doing better than we were, for the moment, yet some keyword searches are bereft of almost any sensible result whatsoever.

Gobal specialised construction products.
6:04 am on Nov 2, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Wow, everything striking at once, Diwali, Halloween, All Saints! What a complete write-off the last week or so has been.
12:05 pm on Nov 2, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@jmorgan Atleast all the holidays will be over all at one time. Then we can focus on and worry about Google only.
1:40 pm on Nov 2, 2019 (gmt 0)

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AFAIK, no other updates occurred since Bert has been released. Our ecommerce conversion rate has went from .90% pre-Bert in Google to .51%. Not quite halved, but certainly substantial. By comparison, our ecommerce conversion rate in Bing is stable at 3.73% and 2.41%. In other words, Bing's conversion rate is just over 700% better than Google and Yahoo is just under 500% better than Google.

From a business perspective, Google just plain sux. The numbers paint a picture of either (a) Google's inability to attract, match and forward shoppers to our site or (b) the devastation caused by severe manipulation within their search results. Bing and Yahoo CRUSH Google in traffic quality and conversions.

I don't buy into any of Google's updates being about quality or to attain a better understanding of queries like Bert was allegedly supposed to accomplish. If Bert would help Google better understand queries, why is it that our already abysmal conversion rate from Google was nearly cut in half? Why is it with EVERY Google quality update small ecommerce sites take a hit to traffic and/or conversions?

Granted, most shoppers have abandoned search engines altogether. However, some shoppers still use search engines though it is Google who is dead last in the conversion department by a long shot. And Google is getting worse with each and every update...

[edited by: glakes at 1:48 pm (utc) on Nov 2, 2019]

1:42 pm on Nov 2, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Diwali, ok, but why Hallowe'en and All Saints?

This year's Hallowe'en in the UK was seemingly extremely quiet, local shops selling Hallowe'en related stuff reported very poor sales.
2:24 pm on Nov 2, 2019 (gmt 0)

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More movement in the past 48 hours. Garbage content farms back on top. I believe this is the new ever-flux as the AI cycle those sites with the best Ad click through performance, user experience, authority, and takeaway be damned. I caved and allowed auto ads, but the CF has more so they won the day. Anyone who thinks Ad density has no bearing on position and that it's all pure SEO is hallucinating.
3:04 pm on Nov 2, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I see a Bill Lambert is talking about a possible rollback on Nov 8 since Bert has been a failure (according to him).

You can find his post and rustybrick talking on the post about the NY Post large drop in traffic: [seroundtable.com...]
3:59 pm on Nov 2, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Why would Google care about less traffic to the FNYT? I too show a tiny uptick in impressions, but that should be happening due to seasonal upswing. It sure isn't translating into conversions. BERT is a great success at deflecting quality traffic into Gorg's insatiable maw. Welcome to our world. Maybe the NYT should contact some of us for the real story as to where to rubber meets the road....for the past decade. Eventually this all backfires when the news world shames G into fairness or out of business....we can only hope. Bad day #3463. (days since MayDay 2010).
4:27 pm on Nov 2, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@JesterMagic I think its a publicity stunt by NYT.
5:07 pm on Nov 2, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I saw a bounce with the Bert update but it has since it has faded away. But the start of my bounce preceded the official date by 3 days and coincided with the Bill Lambert prediction. It also included a flood of referral spam.

I'll make a prediction, on November 8th, there will another large spike in referral spam.
10:01 pm on Nov 2, 2019 (gmt 0)

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There is only one explanation why Bing traffic conversion rate is double.
10:06 pm on Nov 2, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Hello-

May be the profile of people using Bing is different from those using Google ...
10:37 pm on Nov 2, 2019 (gmt 0)

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We've had a dip since BERT was announced, although it hasn't been consistent. Some pages have been wildly up one day and wildly down the next (or vice versa).
11:47 pm on Nov 2, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Can I know why we have to believe this prophet "Bill Lambert" that uses an anonymous disqus account to communicate? It could be anyone or several people. Who cares what he says? Barry stop it.
3:37 am on Nov 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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We've had a dip since BERT was announced, although it hasn't been consistent. Some pages have been wildly up one day and wildly down the next (or vice versa).


@EditorialGuy Its like Google is trying learn but its failing miserably.
6:39 am on Nov 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Shorter queries seem not to have changed much, but for longer queries, I'm seeing more relevant results since BERT rolled out. For me, Google is usable again for research.

Two examples:

1. Benefits of Widgets (nothing much changed)

2. Benefits of widgets for climbing a mountain

Prior to this update, Google was just as or more likely to serve me the number 1 results (even if I searched for #2). Now when I search for #2, I actually get very close matches to what I wanted.

The thing that frustrated me before was that I'd do a search for #2 and get a very high authority website like Healthline such as "101 benefits of widgets." And my search query is 1 of those 101 benefits, but not the FOCUS of the article.

This is how BERT has improved the search results for me as far as I can tell.
12:26 pm on Nov 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I can confirm an apparent rollback in my niche' so perhaps this Bill Lambert is the real deal.

Lost all images in the image index as well as my home page. This is the same boat as just prior to the last Lambert prediction.

Interesting Finds keeps popping in and out too. Looks like one big A, B, C....test, the new everflux or once again just broken.

Looks like another rough month ahead.
1:53 pm on Nov 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@samwest - You would think the NYP would look into Google Search deeper and do an exposť on it, not just about their problems but for other small to large businesses as well. They could hopefully explain it in such a way that the public and the non techies in public office could understand and then maybe we can start seeing some reactions beyond a tweet here and there. (thought the antitrust investigation by 50 States is a good start)
3:03 pm on Nov 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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You would think the NYP would look into Google Search deeper and do an exposť on it, not just about their problems but for other small to large businesses as well.

Why would they when they have the same fear of being demoted by Google as many webmasters have? I can't tell you how many "journalists" I have sent comprehensive info to about Amazon's massive marketplace manipulation techniques, yet not one "journalist" has done anything with this information. Make no mistake, big tech runs the show and is allowed to run afoul of law. True journalism is dead as many in media are struggling to hold on just like many small website owners are. As print production winds down, and the industry continues to move towards digital subscriptions, media finds itself more dependent on Google than ever.

@JorgeV

May be the profile of people using Bing is different from those using Google

Could be true. People may actually use Bing whereas traffic from Google is mostly bots. With Bing's 700% advantage in conversions compared to Google, it's hard to believe demographics are to blame. Assuming most of the traffic from Google is human, then the traffic Google is sending is terribly mismatched and/or Google has manipulated the search results so much that even leftover scraps are hard to come by. But let's assume Google is really trying to make the search results better. Wouldn't that manifest itself in visitors from Google viewing more pages, completing more transactions, etc.? With each update it goes in the opposite direction - similar levels of traffic with fewer pageviews and fewer conversions. At least from my perspective, Google's AI / RankBrain is about as stupid as they come. I'd give RankBrain an IQ score of 10. But if the true purpose of RankBrain is to maximize profits from the SERPS, then RankBrain may be more intelligent than any human being...
6:04 pm on Nov 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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At least from my perspective, Google's AI / RankBrain is about as stupid as they come. I'd give RankBrain an IQ score of 10.

It's certainly a work in progress. AI is the new kid on the block and will need a lot of time to mature.

Still, if you're running Google Search and you take the long view, you probably figure that the path to success follows a jagged line.
6:13 pm on Nov 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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An update may be occurring right now. Europe.
2:35 am on Nov 4, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Still, if you're running Google Search and you take the long view, you probably figure that the path to success follows a jagged line.

Google needs to get some people involved in the team that understands ecommerce because it's been going downhill since right before Matt Cutts departed. However, I do suspect Google is starting to address this in the paid results. Shopping Actions, where Google takes a 12% commission from every sale, is more appealing to ecommerce operators than a CPC model that continues to produce a lower ROI (or worse) each year. I still believe the damage to Google is done and irreversible when it comes to products. Shoppers have largely abandoned Google, though Bing and Yahoo are doing okay so maybe Google can turn it around if they at least make an effort. But Google faces an uphill battle as many in ecommerce, myself included, have lost confidence in their ability to deliver in both paid and organic results.
2:26 pm on Nov 4, 2019 (gmt 0)

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since bert I have seem record breaking lows in traffic and conversions. I cant put the conversions part all down to google though as there is also a lot of other things influencing sales currently for us and it is fully expected that sale should be low right now. The low traffic part though , I suspect is partly down to BERT and partly due to conditions.
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