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Google Search Ranking Algorithm Tremors Continue & It’s Big

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Are you dizzy yet? The Google search results are still super volatile and we are seeing high levels of chatter spike back up over the past 24 to 48 hours and the tracking tools are also running incredibly hot. There is just so much going on right now in Google Search for an SEO that taking off for Christmas might not be an option for many.

This story was originally published on December 17th at 7:50am ET but I wanted to add more data through Sunday, December 19th. In short, the chatter and fluctuations have continued and they actually spiked in a big way on December 18th. I have added a new section below for what is new with the volatility.

Just when you thought we had enough, we didn’t. As I mentioned just before, we had tons of updates this past year, both confirmed and unconfirmed Google search algorithm updates. It seems like this is ongoing volatility from earlier this week and it is hard to say if it is all directly related to the ongoing product reviews update or not.

SEO Chatter

The ongoing chatter at WebmasterWorld is spiking like said. Many SEOs are talking about the results bouncing all around, like you’d see with a big update. Here is some of that chatter:

Feels like something big happened today. I was having minor improvements the past couple of days and then today we had a fairly significant drop. This update seems to be much bigger than the most recent “core update” they released. This “product reviews” update seems to go way beyond products because the losses we took today have nothing to do with products whatsoever.

Traffic went up 20+% on Dec 10, but dropped down 35% on Dec 15. Definitely some big thing happened today. I saw several people reporting big drop the same day.

Looks like something new is being rolled out. What I learned about these updates is that even when your site or sites benefit from a certain update it will not last for a long time. If you happened to receive a huge boost make sure to capitalize it in any way you can because it will end soon. It can be a day, a week or a few months down the road.

Huge drop this morning…

I was having higher and more stable traffic for a month, until December 3rd. It dropped off and seems to remain at around -15% USA traffic since then, mostly concentrated on traffic to my home page. Both search and direct traffic are down and USA can start the day down 65-70% these days and struggles to recover all day. This coincides again with major swings on a daily basis in ranking…I can lose 10 top ten terms in one shot and recover them the next day. All of this has resulted in very few new inquiries and of course zero new sales. The only sales I have had are from return customers.

One company that I work with is also experiencing major ranking swings on a daily basis. It is most noticeable in Search Console when you only select rankings. This seemed to start in April around the time of the Product Review Update. It isn’t an affiliate site, but it does have a lot of in-depth informative content around their products and the situations in which they are used.

“The Grinch” update continues, as does zero traffic and sales. This looks like the last year for the site.

I was also hit, pretty hard. I managed to attain global reach, initially google ranked me mostly in the US. The problem that I came with it is a huge drop in keywords. Now these keywords are coming back very slowly but ranked very poorly. If for example a keyword was ranked in 4 now it is at 94. And it’s not improving. The new update they started rolling out today will hit me tomorrow so I am really hoping for some improvements.

If you are on the wrong end of the stick with the current core update (Im not buying the product review label) this will hurt.

Traffic down 35% today…both search and direct. USA, UK, Germany, Canada, Australia…all way down. I’ve never seen such a large single day drop in my 17 years of doing this so hopefully it’s not some new and permanent terror Google is unleashing on us. One way or another Google is making sure to make all the traffic from organic search go bye bye at an accelerating pace.

For the past 12 months, I have been hit by each algorithm update. Today once again 15% down and now overall down 70% YoY

It goes on but I don’t want to just copy and paste all the chatter there.

Tracking Tools

The tracking tools are also really hot right now, virtually all of them are showing significant volatility over the past couple weeks and it spiked again over the past 48 hours. Here are some screenshots from these tools.

Mozcast:

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Semrush:

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RankRanger:

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Accuranker:

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SERPmetrics:

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Advanced Web Rankings:

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Cognitive SEO:

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Algoroo:

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So yes, a lot of signs point at a big update but what exactly is this update is hard to say for sure, there is a lot going on. It can be core update corrections, it can be the product reviews update, can be some unannounced spam effort or algorithmic shift or something else.

Recent Confirmed Google Updates

So let’s summarize the confirmed updates we had recently:

And actually more confirmed ones and plenty of unconfirmed updates.

I do hope your stress levels are manageable before the the upcoming holiday season.

Updated On December 19th

So like I mentioned above, we are seeing a spike in chatter and fluctuations on December 18th, this past Saturday.

Here is the updated chatter on WebmasterWorld:

Today traffic returned to normal trend until 11am EST sharp, when it fell off a cliff and stayed down the rest of the day until now. I’m 28% lower on the day now so it was a sudden and dramatic drop again.

It looks like the current weekend update is about backlinks. Sites with high authority that were pushed down earlier this week are now up again. Im quite confident this is what is being assessed now by the algos.

An interesting observation that shouldn’t be a big surprise, but an insight as to why we see no traffic… Today, while running two FB ads and being on page one, position two on the Google SERPs, I am watching GART and it is showing zero visitors, yet seconds later, an active signup comes in. I have a cash register sound on my phone that lets me know when a sale is made. So, it’s pretty clear the use of VPN’s is really blinding us from actual traffic.
The only way I am getting any sales is by resorting to FB ads. Not a fan, but whatever works. At the end of the day though, I’ll probably spend more on ads that I make in sales. SMH

Traffic turned off @ 11am sharp again, just like the previous few days

Some of the slowness we’re seeing has to be from the holidays. Last week, and likely the week before, offices began becoming ghost towns and especially this upcoming week due to the holidays. This is probably why some of us see discrepancies with maintaining positions (somewhat) in semrush/ahrefs, but traffic is still dead.

A very unusual Saturday with valid-looking traffic at 92% of my weekday average PVs however so far today, Sunday, the vast majority of “visitors” have been single-page US bots, loads and loads of them from all over the USA.

My global site rankings still appear to be unchanged.

Could be a knock-on effect of the turbulent weather. There are about half a million homes without electricity (or walls) across the US today due to tornadoes. There are many thousands more people trying to assist those folks, so not as much ‘shopping as usual’ for the season. Areas not affected will have holiday travel this weekend. It is bound to affect online traffic.

This is not a normal holiday drop at all. I just calculated my clicks in GSC for the period 12/3/2021-12/17/2021 to the period 12/4/2020-12/18/2020…which is Friday to Friday. There is a 35% decline in clicks this holiday period vs. last year same period. For most terms, clicks dropped to one or zero during this holiday season.

This is almost all due to Google’s manipulation during the prime holiday sales season…presumably to boost ad conversions and send sales to ads instead of organic. I have never seen this kind of drop in the 17 years that I have been doing this.

The tools have remained super hot also:

Semrush:

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Advanced Web Ranking:

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Accuranker:

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Cognitive SEO:

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SERP Metrics:

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Algoroo:

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RankRanger:

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Mozcast:

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Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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AI

Exploring the Evolution of Language Translation: A Comparative Analysis of AI Chatbots and Google Translate

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A Comparative Analysis of AI Chatbots and Google Translate

According to an article on PCMag, while Google Translate makes translating sentences into over 100 languages easy, regular users acknowledge that there’s still room for improvement.

In theory, large language models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT are expected to bring about a new era in language translation. These models consume vast amounts of text-based training data and real-time feedback from users worldwide, enabling them to quickly learn to generate coherent, human-like sentences in a wide range of languages.

However, despite the anticipation that ChatGPT would revolutionize translation, previous experiences have shown that such expectations are often inaccurate, posing challenges for translation accuracy. To put these claims to the test, PCMag conducted a blind test, asking fluent speakers of eight non-English languages to evaluate the translation results from various AI services.

The test compared ChatGPT (both the free and paid versions) to Google Translate, as well as to other competing chatbots such as Microsoft Copilot and Google Gemini. The evaluation involved comparing the translation quality for two test paragraphs across different languages, including Polish, French, Korean, Spanish, Arabic, Tagalog, and Amharic.

In the first test conducted in June 2023, participants consistently favored AI chatbots over Google Translate. ChatGPT, Google Bard (now Gemini), and Microsoft Bing outperformed Google Translate, with ChatGPT receiving the highest praise. ChatGPT demonstrated superior performance in converting colloquialisms, while Google Translate often provided literal translations that lacked cultural nuance.

For instance, ChatGPT accurately translated colloquial expressions like “blow off steam,” whereas Google Translate produced more literal translations that failed to resonate across cultures. Participants appreciated ChatGPT’s ability to maintain consistent levels of formality and its consideration of gender options in translations.

The success of AI chatbots like ChatGPT can be attributed to reinforcement learning with human feedback (RLHF), which allows these models to learn from human preferences and produce culturally appropriate translations, particularly for non-native speakers. However, it’s essential to note that while AI chatbots outperformed Google Translate, they still had limitations and occasional inaccuracies.

In a subsequent test, PCMag evaluated different versions of ChatGPT, including the free and paid versions, as well as language-specific AI agents from OpenAI’s GPTStore. The paid version of ChatGPT, known as ChatGPT Plus, consistently delivered the best translations across various languages. However, Google Translate also showed improvement, performing surprisingly well compared to previous tests.

Overall, while ChatGPT Plus emerged as the preferred choice for translation, Google Translate demonstrated notable improvement, challenging the notion that AI chatbots are always superior to traditional translation tools.


Source: https://www.pcmag.com/articles/google-translate-vs-chatgpt-which-is-the-best-language-translator

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GOOGLE

Google Implements Stricter Guidelines for Mass Email Senders to Gmail Users

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Beginning in April, Gmail senders bombarding users with unwanted mass emails will encounter a surge in message rejections unless they comply with the freshly minted Gmail email sender protocols, Google cautions.

Fresh Guidelines for Dispatching Mass Emails to Gmail Inboxes In an elucidative piece featured on Forbes, it was highlighted that novel regulations are being ushered in to shield Gmail users from the deluge of unsolicited mass emails. Initially, there were reports surfacing about certain marketers receiving error notifications pertaining to messages dispatched to Gmail accounts. Nonetheless, a Google representative clarified that these specific errors, denoted as 550-5.7.56, weren’t novel but rather stemmed from existing authentication prerequisites.

Moreover, Google has verified that commencing from April, they will initiate “the rejection of a portion of non-compliant email traffic, progressively escalating the rejection rate over time.” Google elaborates that, for instance, if 75% of the traffic adheres to the new email sender authentication criteria, then a portion of the remaining non-conforming 25% will face rejection. The exact proportion remains undisclosed. Google does assert that the implementation of the new regulations will be executed in a “step-by-step fashion.”

This cautious and methodical strategy seems to have already kicked off, with transient errors affecting a “fraction of their non-compliant email traffic” coming into play this month. Additionally, Google stipulates that bulk senders will be granted until June 1 to integrate “one-click unsubscribe” in all commercial or promotional correspondence.

Exclusively Personal Gmail Accounts Subject to Rejection These alterations exclusively affect bulk emails dispatched to personal Gmail accounts. Entities sending out mass emails, specifically those transmitting a minimum of 5,000 messages daily to Gmail accounts, will be mandated to authenticate outgoing emails and “refrain from dispatching unsolicited emails.” The 5,000 message threshold is tabulated based on emails transmitted from the same principal domain, irrespective of the employment of subdomains. Once the threshold is met, the domain is categorized as a permanent bulk sender.

These guidelines do not extend to communications directed at Google Workspace accounts, although all senders, including those utilizing Google Workspace, are required to adhere to the updated criteria.

Augmented Security and Enhanced Oversight for Gmail Users A Google spokesperson emphasized that these requisites are being rolled out to “fortify sender-side security and augment user control over inbox contents even further.” For the recipient, this translates to heightened trust in the authenticity of the email sender, thus mitigating the risk of falling prey to phishing attempts, a tactic frequently exploited by malevolent entities capitalizing on authentication vulnerabilities. “If anything,” the spokesperson concludes, “meeting these stipulations should facilitate senders in reaching their intended recipients more efficiently, with reduced risks of spoofing and hijacking by malicious actors.”

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GOOGLE

Google’s Next-Gen AI Chatbot, Gemini, Faces Delays: What to Expect When It Finally Launches

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Google AI Chatbot Gemini

In an unexpected turn of events, Google has chosen to postpone the much-anticipated debut of its revolutionary generative AI model, Gemini. Initially poised to make waves this week, the unveiling has now been rescheduled for early next year, specifically in January.

Gemini is set to redefine the landscape of conversational AI, representing Google’s most potent endeavor in this domain to date. Positioned as a multimodal AI chatbot, Gemini boasts the capability to process diverse data types. This includes a unique proficiency in comprehending and generating text, images, and various content formats, even going so far as to create an entire website based on a combination of sketches and written descriptions.

Originally, Google had planned an elaborate series of launch events spanning California, New York, and Washington. Regrettably, these events have been canceled due to concerns about Gemini’s responsiveness to non-English prompts. According to anonymous sources cited by The Information, Google’s Chief Executive, Sundar Pichai, personally decided to postpone the launch, acknowledging the importance of global support as a key feature of Gemini’s capabilities.

Gemini is expected to surpass the renowned ChatGPT, powered by OpenAI’s GPT-4 model, and preliminary private tests have shown promising results. Fueled by significantly enhanced computing power, Gemini has outperformed GPT-4, particularly in FLOPS (Floating Point Operations Per Second), owing to its access to a multitude of high-end AI accelerators through the Google Cloud platform.

SemiAnalysis, a research firm affiliated with Substack Inc., expressed in an August blog post that Gemini appears poised to “blow OpenAI’s model out of the water.” The extensive compute power at Google’s disposal has evidently contributed to Gemini’s superior performance.

Google’s Vice President and Manager of Bard and Google Assistant, Sissie Hsiao, offered insights into Gemini’s capabilities, citing examples like generating novel images in response to specific requests, such as illustrating the steps to ice a three-layer cake.

While Google’s current generative AI offering, Bard, has showcased noteworthy accomplishments, it has struggled to achieve the same level of consumer awareness as ChatGPT. Gemini, with its unparalleled capabilities, is expected to be a game-changer, demonstrating impressive multimodal functionalities never seen before.

During the initial announcement at Google’s I/O developer conference in May, the company emphasized Gemini’s multimodal prowess and its developer-friendly nature. An application programming interface (API) is under development, allowing developers to seamlessly integrate Gemini into third-party applications.

As the world awaits the delayed unveiling of Gemini, the stakes are high, with Google aiming to revolutionize the AI landscape and solidify its position as a leader in generative artificial intelligence. The postponed launch only adds to the anticipation surrounding Gemini’s eventual debut in the coming year.

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