Indexing and Google's Core Updates, Product Review, Helpful Content, & Spam Updates

Ryuzaki

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Something I've mentioned here and there in passing on the forum, I think, deserves to get a full mention, if only to draw more attention to it so there's more brains thinking about it and providing insight is... indexing and how that relates to Google's 2022 Core Updates, Product Review Updates, Helpful Content Updates, & Spam Updates.

The Foundation of the Discussion​


What will illustrate this more than anything is some images, courtesy of Ahref's new overview that has indexed page counts (pages in the top 100 results) baked in alongside the organic traffic. I don't have any specific examples in mind, but it's so common that I'm going to pull up random sites and I bet I'll find plenty:

1V8rtAV.png

Literally 3 minutes later I found about 7 of these. I just typed crap into Google like "dog website" and grabbed one, then "home & garden website" and grabbed one, etc. Of the 7 I found, only one of the 8 total I searched didn't have this issue. That's how common it is.

Now, you might be thinking "well, Ahrefs is probably scraping this data using site: searches and that's not accurate. I have an answer for you regarding that later, which takes the whole conversation up a notch.

Though really, enough people here even on this forum have been noticing it and complaining about it all year. It's not just that they're dropping posts out of the index but even getting consistent indexation is becoming a problem for a lot of people. I haven't had that problem myself, as you can see in my graph here on what's become my main project lately where I've consistently published 6 posts, all on the same day, every week for about a year now (after a pause around 150):

d7ngQAe.png

Okay, there's the foundation of what I'm wanting to point out (but I have no over-arching point I'm making, just presenting a pattern).

An Explanation for What I'm Pointing Out​


This all really started in a serious way around the March Product Reviews Update (which I think was the first without confirming) and especially the May 2022 Core Update. That's when something Google's doing really changed. It's when people first started tanking by 40% upwards to 99% even. You can see that in the first big image with 4 graphs if you look at the top left graph. Around May, they went to ZERO search visibility

By the July 2022 Product Reviews Update, it popped back, which has been my mantra on here. "Somethings up, just wait, it'll pop back."

But notice at that same time period when the traffic tanked to zero, that their indexation also dropped by probably 37% or so. Posts that were in the index were no longer in the index. I don't know if they continued to publish more content and the dropped content never came back, or if that slow increase is all of the content returning to the index.

Look at the graph directly below that one, where the timelines match. You can see the May Update dropped that site by 35% of their traffic and they lost some indexation. It looks like they kept publishing and gained all their dropped posts back plus the new ones. But then it drops again...

Look at the top right graph where they pushed hard and then not only dropped a ton of posts from the index but then started losing more and more from the Septemeber Core Update, September Product Reviews Update, and October Spam Update.

And take note on all 4 graphs, along these updates I'm concerned with, how severe of drops everyone has been suffering (even the top right, which looks less severe because the y-axis is compressed due to that big surge they had in traffic).

This is all pretty unprecedented. Indexation fluctuating big time, traffic taking WILD swings. On my graph, it looks like around a 25% hit but it's really about 40% organic in reality.

Is Google Having Problems?...​


What prompted me create this thread finally was a post I ran into this morning called Was Google's Recent Update About Indexing? They think this just started in October because it's when they first noticed it, but it's been going on. But what they did do was uncover something very interesting.

First let me show you what they said about their own indexation:

k2hGJcp.png

Between October 10th (9 days before the October 2022 Spam Update) and October 18th (1 day before the update) their indexation went from 98.2% to 75.4%. A total of 63 of their posts dropped out of the index, all of which are high quality if you click around the site, though they did say that they felt the posts that were dropped out of the index were "thin" and chose to 404 them.

They then decide to start looking around and noticed that developers.google.com went from 86% indexation to 70%, having dropped about 7,000 posts from the index.

Then they went to JohnMu.com and found that it went from 97% indexed to 66% indexed. This is the website of the current iteration of Matt Cutts, who is their industry-facing, public relations / propaganda guy. They then comment that they checked on which posts dropped out of the index and if they were "helpful content" or not, which they were. Click around that site and see what John Mueller thinks is worth publishing for some insight into his advice, knowing he knows what Google is desiring from people.

Or is This Part of the New Paradigm?​


I stated on the forum before all this even started that with the AI Content wave coming that Google was going to have to start making decisions about what they're going to index or not. The internet is already growing exponentially without AI Content people spewing out extra millions of posts per day. Bing already doesn't index everything it finds... why should Google, especially now that so much is trash.

Google is constantly fighting spam and trying to find ways to kill it like:
  • the old Farmer Update (keyword permutations)
  • Penguin (link spammers)
  • Panda (technical SEO more than anything)
  • Spam Updates (cloaking, doorway pages, malware)
  • Thin Content penalties (no value added affiliate content)
  • Helpful Content (low quality content, thin content, AI content)
  • They've increased the time delays and randomizations in everything
But what's particularly smart is... and I don't know why it took this long for them or me to even consider this is... You don't have to fight spam if you don't even index it.

I think this is a part of what's going on. Their thresholds on what is worth indexing are being tweaked and things are going very haywire. Especially because it's not about just blocking crap from being indexed but also dropping existing crap out of the index.

Another Possible Explanation​


@tyealia shared an interesting piece of text he saved from an AI Engineer regarding his thoughts on the matter (click to expand or read my summary below):

"From my experience working with AI developers running on large amounts of data and complex multi-variant models, my thought is this has very little to do with your content.

When Google indexes sites they have a dynamic scoring system that continuously takes into account user response data along with the categorizations Google has already done on each piece of content on your site. Every time they update their algorithms and sub-algorithms they need to re-run all the pages on all the sites that fall within the category of sites they were trying to improve the search
results for.

For example if they add another factor to one of their algo models - like how many scrolls and clicks somebody does, or how many internal links a page has, or whether the page uses specific code pattern - then all the pages on all the sites this applies to need to be re-run through the new algorithm. The reason is you can’t compare outputs from 2 different ranking models. So they basically wipe the old post-process data used to rank your pages previously and rerun those pages over time with the new algorithm. If you had good content scores before, that gets wiped and they rebuild it from new user experience data generated by the new algorithm. It takes time and ideally you get the same or better ranking afterward.

The pattern you are describing where irrelevant / bad content sites and large high-authority sites (eg Home Depot) are outranking you now seems to be an artifact of the historical ranking data wipe. When Google wipes and has to reconstruct a portion of the ranking data, what’s left is the data that hasn’t changed. In this case it’s probably the historical backlink ranking data that was left which is now inordinately more important in the rankings because the relevance ranking data got wiped and hasn’t been rebuilt yet. So the guys with tons of backlinks are winning temporarily.

Google also takes time to split test. So they will apply the new algo to one population of sites, and keep the old algo for the other group of sites. Then compare results to see which version of the algo “wins”. Your site might be in the “new algo” rather than the control group. They’re probably using AI to design and run these tests on the fly, too.

Google has been doing a massive development push on relevance and NLP in the last 3-4 years. Relevance-based algorithms are dramatically different than old data-value based algos. Now when they do an algo update they’re not just shifting the value they place on one or more known discrete ranking factors. They are transforming the entire ranking model in novel ways they don’t even understand completely.
in a nutshell:

1) it’s probably not your fault
2) Google is probably not singling out a particular site or post model (unless they are explicit about it)
3) you probably lost rankings because a chunk of your historical data got wiped and needs to be rebuilt by Google over time
4) You (and other good sites) should recover after a few months once Google has a chance to rebuild your user response data
5) You cannot prevent these things - you can only mitigate the damage by “doing all the things” on each site, and diversifying across sites, revenue models and niches."

Basically, the explanation is that Google is moving towards more machine learning in their algorithms, which may produce better results but poses three problems:
  1. It's a (not really) black box algorithm they'll begin to have less control over in terms of variable weighting.
  2. It requires dynamic processing (less offline data crunching) that happens out in the live index.
  3. To transition to these new algorithms, they need to start fresh (wipe data) to not interfere with the data.
Point number 3 is what's causing me the most mental grief in trying to think about it. But it explains what I've been seeing more than any other theory.

What I've noticed is that people who got hit at any point during this timeline of updates all seem to be rewinded in the algorithm to a specific point in time. With the September Core Update, myself and others I'm watching that got hit all seem to have been pushed back to how things were in January / February. And if that's happening to all of us, that means they either straight up are using data from that time period or some amount of algorithmic data is needing to be ignored for the time being that was collected since that point in time.

If that's true, it does make sense to see some of the indexation between those time periods go away too. But the problem is there's always edge cases and exceptions, like my site which hasn't seen a single post drop from the index and has a 100% indexation rate.

What Do SEO's Do Right Now?​


At risk of being long-winded as usual, I'm going to close this out with my opinion, and invite everyone to share theirs. The more varying and dissenting and agreeable they are, the better. Everything is invited.

From where I was sitting, watching this happen to people since May 2022, I was telling everyone to hang on. Google's screwing up or doing something different and it'll all pop back to where you were. I know some people on here had to wait until August to September (4 to 5 months) before they started popping back in as predicted. But they're popping in around 70% of where they were and then daily are clawing back a little more (hopefully ending up where they started).

The advice included not having any knee-jerk reactions or assuming you did anything wrong. Don't start 301-ing to a new domain, deleting content, or anything drastic. Just be patient, and in the meantime keep doing what you would have been doing so when everything gets settled you won't have lost your time-delayed growth momentum.

That was my advice at the time, and then I got my turn to be hit in the September Core Update. Now I'm having to take my own advice and I'm hopeful for a timeline of somewhere in late January to early February for popping back to where I was. I'm actually about to double the amount I'm publishing and make a heavy monetary investment into content. That's how confident I am that this shakes out.

As I said somewhere else, it's a game of attrition, meaning it's a question of whether or not you can fund your way through it and out the other side. If not, then I'd recommend taking the time to do a kitchen sink style audit manually in the mean time to set yourself up for as much success as possible when it does shake out, so you have a sudden boon of cash flow at that time.

But I'm one person with only two eyes and one brain. I'd love to hear what others are thinking, experiencing, the doom and gloom they felt when it happened to them, what they think now that they're popping out of this, etc. Not only regarding "what we should do" but what the hell is going on in general, why the indexation issues are happening, why organic traffic would tank as much as 75% for some (no matter the site size, DR score, etc., nobody is safe) and anything else that comes to mind.
 
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What I've noticed is that people who got hit at any point during this timeline of updates all seem to be rewinded in the algorithm to a specific point in time. With the September Core Update, myself and others I'm watching that got hit all seem to have been pushed back to how things were in January / February. And if that's happening to all of us, that means they either straight up are using data from that time period or some amount of algorithmic data is needing to be ignored for the time being that was collected since that point in time.

If that's true, it does make sense to see some of the indexation between those time periods go away too. But the problem is there's always edge cases and exceptions, like my site which hasn't seen a single post drop from the index and has a 100% indexation rate.

I haven't got a good explanation for anything, but what I'm seeing is that instead of January/February numbers, I'm seeing late June numbers.

I also haven't seen a post drop, and I have no problems getting new content indexed either.

My traffic drop wasn't as severe as others, but I can definitely feel the effect of 100k fewer visitors a month.
 

harrytwatter

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From where I was sitting, watching this happen to people since May 2022, I was telling everyone to hang on. Google's screwing up or doing something different and it'll all pop back to where you were. I know some people on here had to wait until August to September (4 to 5 months) before they started popping back in as predicted. But they're popping in around 70% of where they were and then daily are clawing back a little more (hopefully ending up where they started).
This is me to a tee. Shit was going great then pages started disappearing then when they came back many returned to their previous spot as if a old backup had been restored.

On the spam fighting theory, I will say, the only thing I did during my drop was build some branded anchors as I was a bit over-optimized due to a 301 from a while back. It wasn't a lot but figure worth mentioning here because the drop was during a PRU and the recovery was during the core update/PRU overlap.

So the more paranoid me wonders if PRUs take off-page link anchors into consideration. I know G has publicly put all focus on "real" reviews but it wouldn't surprise me either if they actually had other variables they weren't disclosing. Anchor text overoptimization/wonkiness has always been an easy red flag for them to finger affiliates/spammers.

@Ryuzaki How is your anchor text distribution looking? If it's golden then maybe I'm wrong.

If my drop and recovery wouldn't overlap with PRUs and if my anchors were absurdly conservative then the engineering/machine learning theory would be my go-to although it seems quite crude for G to be wiping data to move into this new direction.

Or tinfoil hat they see organic being unstable and unreliable as a net positive as it'll push marketing bros more into paid because of more stable nature of PPC..

Your advice to me to just wait paid off, although as you stated I'm only 60-70% back to previous highs.
 
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Ryuzaki

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@Ryuzaki How is your anchor text distribution looking? If it's golden then maybe I'm wrong.
My anchor text profile is very diversified. My homepage is full of branded anchors, and my inner pages have natural anchor text from natural links, while some do have no more than one exact match anchor that I created, but that would be maybe 20% of the total pages. And of those 20%, they all have enough natural links that the one exact match isn't sticking out at all.

For more context, my site is ~DR45 and has ~6.5k referring domains. Assume 3/4ths of that is garbage. That leaves 1.7k referring domains where at least 1.6k of those are natural anchors.

I haven't got a good explanation for anything, but what I'm seeing is that instead of January/February numbers, I'm seeing late June numbers.
Yeah, I was saying June numbers myself at first, but I think it's more closely aligned with Jan/Feb. It could go either way, really.
 
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The advice included not having any knee-jerk reactions or assuming you did anything wrong. Don't start 301-ing to a new domain, deleting content, or anything drastic. Just be patient, and in the meantime keep doing what you would have been doing so when everything gets settled you won't have lost your time-delayed growth momentum.

That was my advice at the time, and then I got my turn to be hit in the September Core Update. Now I'm having to take my own advice and I'm hopeful for a timeline of somewhere in late January to early February for popping back to where I was. I'm actually about to double the amount I'm publishing and make a heavy monetary investment into content. That's how confident I am that this shakes out.

As I said somewhere else, it's a game of attrition, meaning it's a question of whether or not you can fund your way through it and out the other side. If not, then I'd recommend taking the time to do a kitchen sink style audit manually in the mean time to set yourself up for as much success as possible when it does shake out, so you have a sudden boon of cash flow at that time.

But I'm one person with only two eyes and one brain. I'd love to hear what others are thinking, experiencing, the doom and gloom they felt when it happened to them, what they think now that they're popping out of this, etc. Not only regarding "what we should do" but what the hell is going on in general, why the indexation issues are happening, why organic traffic would tank as much as 75% for some (no matter the site size, DR score, etc., nobody is safe) and anything else that comes to mind.

I checked my old day job company's stats and they were unaffected.

What I did was make sure each silo covers the topic thoroughly and completely. Basically, all keywords about "cat" were written about for animal.com. Even shit like "how to adopt a cat" "how to feed a cat" "cat food wet" "is wet cat food better than dry?" etc. Then I built out the "dog" silo and "mice" silo too.

I also made sure that backlinks were from niche relevant sites as well. We also had a good social media presence and good branding. All in all, it was a properly branded site.

2022-11-14-20-43-11.jpg


So, just make a good website!

As for holding on and keeping to your plan in the face of undecertainty. I'm at that stage with my own site and gotta re-invest a lot more before I reach product/market fit! Oh god it's hard! But this is the time where you get MOZ-like and focus on making a good site and good product.

If you have a good product that the market wants, Google would want to feature you on the search engine results pages. Remember that.
 

Ryuzaki

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I just checked 9 more sites. Out of the 9, I found these 4 with sever problems during the May update when this all started, most showing the indexation problem:

bzR1ID5.png

I pulled these up. No AI content or lazy design or anything. Just run of the mill websites. That 4th (bottom right) one is a doozy. Even the remaining 600 posts after losing 1,000 indexed posts couldn't get any traffic.
 

wikibum

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To transition to these new algorithms, they need to start fresh (wipe data) to not interfere with the data.

Everything you said makes sense but the above statement really resonated with me. In all my years of SEO - I have never seen a keyword drop from 1 to oblivion (at least without being penalized) and for this to happen to multiple sites + multiple keywords. It was like a site wide penalty but on multiple sites - even my competitors took a hit (I checked).

To give you a quick background about the sites. No duplicate content, no thin content, speed is good, servers are fairly new, onsite SEO is %100 (if you run Ahrefs site audit), no AI content, continuous posting and DR's are 30+. Some sites were getting 50k traffic/day before May updates.

At first, I suspected that we had done something wrong so I went through everything all over again and tried to find any issues and fix them, which I did. The issues I found were minimal and nothing crazy. Things like, a few pages were pointing to their old redirect (3xx errors) and some meta description issues, but that was only on less than 2% of the pages, so again, nothing that would cause chaos.

Anyway, I say that sentence resonates with me because ALL of the sites got hit either in May or June and even July, then recovered a bit in August, then fell back to oblivion again lol. Almost all the sites took a beating. Keywords that were ranking position 1 or even position 40 all got wiped and were not even in the top 100 anymore. I assumed they were not important enough and were removed from the principle/main index (essentially de-indexed), but couldn't figure out why. The new sites that were rankings didn't make sense either (for example - they don't answer the user query or are just big brand store collection/category pages).

I went ahead and ran some correlation reports (comparing 500+ factors between the top 100 listings for multiple keywords). I looked at multiple keywords (3 - 4 keywords from each website to make sure I had diverse keywords in different niches) to see if any new factors popped up or have gained more importance/weight than before. Again, there was nothing that stood out.

I didn't notice it until now, but when the massive drops started happening, there were no new pages being indexed by Google even though we were still pumping content as usual. So the # of indexed pages in Google stayed the same and even started dropping over time. For example, we had 200 pages at the peak with say 50k in traffic in May. The number of pages started decreasing slowly to 198, 195 then back up to 196, etc.. but it wasn't a big drop that you would notice immediately. We obviously had way more pages than that. When the next drop happened in July, the decrease in indexed pages was more visible. The graph for organic traffic and organic pages both dropped drastically, while in May, only the organic traffic was dropping while the organic pages were at the same level (or decreasing slowly).

Right now, some sites are recovering and we didn't change anything. We are still pumping quality content and getting natural links as usual, but it's clear that more and more pages are being indexed and therefore the organic traffic is growing. I am not sure if this will last.
 
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With the September Core Update, myself and others I'm watching that got hit all seem to have been pushed back to how things were in January / February
I checked my stats timeline. What you're saying is exactly what I'm seeing. I'm back down to Jan/Feb levels.

Starting in Jan: 70k, it grew 33% to ~95k
Feb: It grew ~30% to 125k
March: It grew ~15% to 144k
After that, it grew slowly up to 170k
After the HCU and Spam Updates, my traffic is down to Jan/Feb levels of ~100k.

So it grew rapidly in Jan/Feb and has reverted back to those levels. Maybe they reverted whatever change caused the rapid >33% growth back in Jan/Feb.

Note: I just went through the kitchen sink method, and now I'm continuing to pump out new stuff. If I didn't think this would recover, I wouldn't bother. All in :smile:
 

tyealia

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Interesting piece to add to the stew....basically recently seeing google is indexing but not serving content

 

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Just sharing this one with you @Ryuzaki as I found it to be an outlier/tell a different story.

gnFAC8Z.png


Most pages have stayed out of the index for a long time, but the drop in traffic took place at the same time as a ton of pages re-indexed. This then reverted below the typical number of pages in the index, and has now recovered to "normal", which has correlated with a recovery in traffic.

It seems like this proves the theory in @tyealia's post where the historical data was reflected in the index, but then this slowly degrades as new data is collected and added to the algo.
 

wikibum

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I am starting to see recovery on a few sites. More pages are being indexed which makes sense why more keywords are showing up in the Ahrefs report. Ahrefs alerts just went bonkers and we are getting reports of +1k new keywords found in the index and things like that. Same keywords that were removed back in May!

Some sites are recovering faster than others, mainly because of the difference in DR, brand mentions, etc.. which makes sense, but it's kind of a relief. Even though I know its not our fault all this happened - it's still a bummer when you see your data trending downwards.

In the end, we continue to push quality content and start focusing on other traffic sources to offset the risk of Google crashing us again.

Anyone else see some recovery?
 
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Hey all at the request of @Ryuzaki I'm sharing some information from my search console that show my recent issues with my sites coming in and out of the SERPS.

The first image is my Main site. About 10 years old and about 360 live articles. Historically has always ranked well.

qeGpsSK.png


As you can see in the chart at end of May it tanked. Then came back for short time. Tanked again, then back again in Sept 26, then tanked again just recently end of November.

Something to note: I've noticed when it tanks, keywords that the site ranks for are gone completely. What I mean by that is, when I search for "Chocolate Cookies" (for example) my site is no where in the top 100 results.

It seems very odd to go from top 3 for a keyword to not even in the SERP at all.

To compare I also look after two other smaller sites which also experienced similar ups and downs but at slightly different times.

This next site is mine and I manage it very similar to the site above however it's only about 4 years old and has about 40 live articles.

5E0A8Tm.png


You can see that around May it started to decline, came back in July, then gone again until about Sept 26 came back a bit.

Lastly, is a site that my wife has and I have nothing to do with it, she does no link building or anything. She just posts her articles and done. I mention that because on the top two sites I do some link building. Just in case some of you were thinking that is the reason.


UgUvhLy.png


The thing with my wife's is that it tanks around August, but again comes back on Sept 26.

The only thing that is consistent with these sites is when they come back on Sept 26. However, my main site has again dropped since while the other two seem okay (so far).

Anyways, Ryuzaki also asked that I provide the Ahrefs organic pages report, which I'll add later.

I'd love to know your thoughts and be happy to answer any questions.
 

Ryuzaki

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I went scrounging the bottom barrel of the internet the other night trying to find more people talking about this issue. It's surprising how little conversation there is out there about it beyond complaints, and fewer complaints than I'd expect.

But here's a couple images I found in Disqus comments on random blog post that shows this going back to early 2002:

azaG4GB.png


roEcqeE.png


Theory About Index Chunk Transitions​

What I can say also is, this past week I've been doing a lot of keyword research and looking at a lot of other sites and in my main vertical, almost everyone took some amount of a hit at the same time: the September Core Update.

That makes me wonder if the whole "migration to dynamic machine learning algorithms that has to ignore some algorithm variables in the meantime" concept is true. I don't have enough info to conclude it but I started wondering if this isn't playing out like the slow roll transition to the mobile-first index. In that case, it took years to get all the sites moved over (it's actually not done yet) and happened in "chunks" of the index.

So imagine they're transitioning to "something" and doing it by vertical and even sectors of sites within the verticals, one at at time or so.

Theory About Indexing vs. Serving​

Another idea is that there's a difference between posts being indexed and posts being served into the SERPs. That is a one-to-one map for what we've been seeing. Posts will remain indexed but drop out of even the top 3 to nowhere in the top 100 (which is what the Ahrefs "organic pages" graph shows).

That would mean that pages can be indexed like you'd expect, but then there's some kind of break down where, although they are indexed, they aren't being considered for "serving" those pages into the organic results (like at all, not even the top 100). They aren't being up for consideration at all and going through all the sorting, de-duplication, re-transitioning, and everything else that happens when a query is searched.

More Thoughts​

Who the frig knows at this point. The solace is that in a few years maybe we'll get some off-the-cuff remark about this time period and why this was happening and for what reason. Google has had a lot of bugs and problems in the past 4-5 years but nothing of this magnitude, and I doubt something like this would be allowed to persist this long if it was a bug. I'm assuming it's intentional but for what purpose, we don't know yet.

Seeing @mcfarlanek's graphs doesn't really offer a lot of hope, knowing we can pop back and then be gone again. What a let down to recover and then re-enter this fiasco.

At this point, I'm going to not only hold down the fort and stay the path, but I'm actually now doubling the amount of content I'm publishing while also trying to find more ways to improve the on-site EAT, since Google has now confirmed that EAT is involved in every single query, which we predicted would happen eventually.
 
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Theory About Indexing vs. Serving​

Another idea is that there's a difference between posts being indexed and posts being served into the SERPs. That is a one-to-one map for what we've been seeing. Posts will remain indexed but drop out of even the top 3 to nowhere in the top 100 (which is what the Ahrefs "organic pages" graph shows).

That would mean that pages can be indexed like you'd expect, but then there's some kind of break down where, although they are indexed, they aren't being considered for "serving" those pages into the organic results (like at all, not even the top 100). They aren't being up for consideration at all and going through all the sorting, de-duplication, re-transitioning, and everything else that happens when a query is searched.
@Ryuzaki While what I feel is happening and what reality is, are often are different. I feel your comment about indexing vs serving is likely what's happening.

There is some solace knowing there are other sites experiencing the same thing. However, it doesn't really help the bank account or motivation.

At this time, I'll be focusing on the site that is still ranking and continue to build that out with new content.

While taking the time optimize my once highest ranking pages on my main site to improve EAT, on page and off page elements.

That said, is there a thread or reference anywhere on BUSO on what exactly google wants to see when it comes to EAT?
 
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@Ryuzaki While what I feel is happening and what reality is, are often are different. I feel your comment about indexing vs serving is likely what's happening.

There is some solace knowing there are other sites experiencing the same thing. However, it doesn't really help the bank account or motivation.

At this time, I'll be focusing on the site that is still ranking and continue to build that out with new content.

While taking the time optimize my once highest ranking pages on my main site to improve EAT, on page and off page elements.

That said, is there a thread or reference anywhere on BUSO on what exactly google wants to see when it comes to EAT?
Yeah I second this as well. I would love a good breakdown on practical EAT elements. I know that i've been going through making sure author bio's are done, links to social media/linkedin profiles, references for claims to authoritative sources etc. However, like you i'm still in limbo after getting crushed and it certainly isn't helping the bank account at the moment!
 

Ryuzaki

お前はもう死んでいる
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That said, is there a thread or reference anywhere on BUSO on what exactly google wants to see when it comes to EAT?
I don't think we have it. I do believe that I was the first SEO to say outright, right here on BuSo, that EAT was largely and mainly about your backlink profile. That has now become the consensus.

But I think it goes further than that. It's not just your inbound link profile but your outbound link profile. You need to cite sources and create an outbound link profile that ties you into a web of high authority sites with high trust as well.

Beyond that there's a lot of very basic things that are must haves, in my opinion, like a meaty About page, Author profiles, a contact page that lists as many ways to contact you as possible, Terms & Conditions & Privacy, all that boiler plate stuff. Basically, anything that's missing from a site that would make you less likely to trust their info or send them money needs to be dialed in on your own site.

Then there's the more elusive stuff people are trying to do like having PhD's review their content and giving them "author profiles" on the site as well. Listing awards. Listing "As Seen On". Anything the algorithm can pick up and say "hey, high quality sites do this, low quality sites don't." Email Opt-in's maybe. Anything the algorithm can latch on to.

Another one is to use as many entities as you can in your content. Nouns, Proper Nouns, organization names, whatever. The best way to do this would be to go through Wikipedia articles for the main "thing" in the topic you're writing about and looking at all their internal links and "See Also:" articles. Include all the nouns from there. This establishes that you have depth and breadth on your site about your vertical and niches.

Anyways, that's off-topic. Here's another example I found someone complaining about:

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The worst part is the responses this person got back is the same gaslighting nonsense of "You must be spamming, you must be breaking the rules, go read the webmaster guidelines again."

The unfortunate part is this looks to have started again at the end of October / start of November for this person, so whatever is going on, Google has NOT sorted it out yet. Hopefully we see a major December update that improves this but we're heading towards a year since the earliest incidence of this I've seen (March 2021).

This isn't happening to me. My pages are serving at 100% and I'm 100% indexed, but I did tank 50% which is pretty stiff. I'm trying to bring light to this because it's happening to a LOT of people, and all I see from everyone who hasn't had their time in the ringer is to play it off and be naive like they're safe and protected. I hope for a resolution for everyone's sake before we all go down the drain at some point, for God knows how long.