23 Oct 2015

Zombie Traffic and Fake Reviews: Weekly Forum Update

roundupRight on time for Halloween, rumors spring out of the ground that a new Google update involving so-called low quality, high volume, “zombie” traffic is coming. And that’s not all that’s buzzing in our communities!

We’ve got news of Duane Forrester’s departure from Microsoft, a great discussion about site layouts, words from Seth Godin about ad blocking, and more.

Besides zombie traffic, the biggest news is probably Amazon tackling 1,114 fake reviewers in a potentially game-changing lawsuit. Without further ado…let’s jump in!

Google Zombie Update, or Panda Rumblings?

Earlier this month, users of WebmasterWorld noticed a disturbing trend in their traffic. A lot of it was what they called “zombie traffic.”

That is, traffic that doesn’t convert and just kind of…sits on your page, huffling like a zombie here and there, and making no real impact. Some degree of zombie traffic is seasonal – but the amount and behavior of the traffic coming in this year is unusual, and it’s sparked a massive debate on WebmasterWorld.

Zombies can cause a lot of chaos.

Writes user aok88, “Another thing I notice is that with this site we are trying to get the bounce rate down…What is weird is that there are days that the total site’s bounce rate jumps by 50% or even 100% from the day before. Same site, same pages…”

Good traffic, converting traffic, comes and goes. Some believe that this could be a sign of Google testing algorithmic changes on certain sites. Others think it’s a big conspiracy theory. You can get all the details and form your own opinion at WebmasterWorld.

Learn SEO in 30 Days! Bunk or Boon?

You see them in your inbox all the time if you get spam. The subject lines read, “You, too, can become an SEO expert in just 30 days! Teach yourself with my course!” Most likely, you dismiss these emails out of hand. But what if the tips within those courses were any good?

Have you ever stopped to check? Users on SEO Chat wonder how many boons and how much BS can be found in quick and easy courses.

Demand in Search is Down, Traffic is Down, Revenues Are Down

It seems like everyone is in a tough spot these days. A user on Cre8asiteforums who works with local businesses has noticed that many metrics are trending down this year. Thankfully, the community is here to help!

Give this thread a read and absorb some effective “shake-’em-up” suggestions from our wise gurus.

Writes user EGOL, “It is really hard to make money from paid search…I have no problem making money from the organic SERPs… Lots of people are surprised that we don’t use paid search, they think that small businesses can’t compete in the organic SERPs. I am surprised that any small biz can make money from paid…”

What’s your experience with paid vs organic?

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Duane Forrester leaves Microsoft and Bing… for Real

Duane Forrester, beloved Webmaster Outreach Manager at Bing, is leaving Microsoft on November 13 of this year. As a helpful voice in a competitive and stressful industry, he’s been “the only ‘good’ guy our industry had… for years,” writes Ann Smarty from Threadwatch.

He’ll certainly be missed! Keep an eye out for him in the small business world in the future.

User Engagement Hurting? It Could Be Your Site Layout

Over on WebmasterWorld there’s a great thread about site layouts. The primary discussion is about horizontal vs vertical layouts, but the underlying discussion is about everything from navigation, to links, to UX, and more.

Writes user tangor, “There is something to be said for the horizontal layout…cinema style like a motion picture, and will generally fail for the webmaster because the motion picture kiddies viewing are waiting for the next “frame” while eating popcorn (i.e., too jaded to click a button/scroll)… Code as a book, or a magazine, and get results.”

What does the modern user demand from the websites they visit? Check in on this thread for tips on how to target the right people and enable users to take the actions you want them to take!

Does Structured Data Give an Advantage in SERPs?

Schema and structured data help search engines to locate and understand information on a web page. They can translate the data they gather into helpful “extras” for your links in SERPs. Users of SEO Chat ask: do those extras give you the upper hand, or are they just window dressing?

Traffic is known to be boosted by helpful schema, and it’s been hinted that some algorithmic advantage may come in the distant future. Join SEO Chat users for some fun speculation!

Seth Godin on Ad Blocking – And Web Ads

On Cre8asiteforums, users are excitedly discussing a recent podcast between advertising experts Seth Godin and Mitch Joel. Ad blockers have been in the news a lot lately. And around the communities, many bemoan the loss of advertising money and power that comes with consumer empowerment to ignore ads. Godin, and some members of Cre8asiteforums, have little sympathy.

“…advertisers have had fifteen years to show self restraint. They’ve had the chance to not secretly track people, set cookies for their own benefit…deliver us ads we actually want to see…in the face of a relentless race to the bottom, users are taking control, using a sledgehammer to block them all,” writes Godin.

Our own user, iamlost, has been saying similar things for years! This is a unique perspective on ad blocking and advertising that I don’t think we get to hear very often – give it a read and a listen!

Amazon Files Lawsuit Against 1,114 Fake Reviewers

Need a good review? In the right back alley of the Internet, you can buy one for $5 or less. That’s how it’s been for a while – but that could be changing soon. Amazon is taking a hard stance against people who offer money for fake reviews – positive or negative.

Certainly, this has been a long time coming and continued momentum in this direction can only do good things for the market. It remains to be seen whether it will frighten past offenders into straightening up their acts, though.

Fake reviews aren’t the only problem, you see – there are lots of little ways to coax or bribe a good opinion through a set of willing hands. Take a look on Threadwatch for the details!

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