Google update November 2019


There is substantial evidence that an unexpected Google update is underway. This update affected sites in a wide range of niches. Most of the comments are negative although there are mixed winners including winners in the spam community.

Impact felt in many industries

Legal SEO expert Alan Bleiweiss (@AlanBleiweiss) noted in a tweet how this update has affected a variety of industries. He tweeted:

“I monitor 47 sites

  • Mental health knowledge base and repertoire – up 20%
  • Travel booking – up 14%
  • Travel booking – up to 25%
  • Revenue – up 12%
  • B to C eCom – up 20%
  • Technology news – down 20%
  • Skin Care Affiliate – Down 48%
  • Alternative health – not impacted
  • Other recipe sites – not impacted »

Note: The double listing of travel sites is not a typo. It is a reference to of them travel sites.

Effects of Updating the Recipe Bloggers Report

Google does not target specific niches. The recipe blogger niche is a very organized community. Because of this, when something important happens, the voice of the community will be amplified.

This is how the recipe blogging community noticed this update. Earlier today, there was a growing list of 47 recipe blogs that had reported losses as a result of this update.


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Casey Markee of MediaWyse (@MediaWyse) who specializes in SEO food blogs said this about these 47 sites that were suffering from Google’s November 2019 update:

“All of them, large sites, small sites, medium sites, all show more than 30% decline. I know it’s hard for bloggers to see drops and stuff “OMG, I have to make some dramatic changes.

But it’s like throwing darts at a board, blindfolded, in the dark, underwater. Definitely WAIT for more data and until that “update” (or whatever) is fully deployed. “

I agree, you better wait to hear what Google says about this update. I took a quick look at two of the revenue sites that suffered loss of traffic and both used keyword terms a lot.

Travel bloggers

One person tweeted:


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Many victims of the Google update for the first time

A curious note about this update is that there is many editors reporting that they have never been impacted by a previous update and are surprised to have finally been impacted by the November 2019 Google update. As a representative example, one editor tweeted:

Facebook-Hat Observations

A private member SEO Signals Lab Facebook Group had a similar experience.

As an example, a Facebook member said his seven-year-old site, which had been in the top three for years, suddenly dropped to pages two and three.

Perhaps interesting or not, this member said he used content analysis software to analyze SERPs to understand the type of words ranked for queries. Whether this is a clue or not, this is another of many who have said they have never suffered from a previous update from Google and are now having difficulty with this update. .

Another Facebook member reported a 20% variation in traffic but with little change in keyword positions. Sometimes this sort of result is caused by an increase in the number of Also Asked, Featured Snippets, Carousels, Better Stories, and other “useful” Google features that tend to drive down organic results.

According to Moz’s Mozcast, the biggest changes took place in Top Stories, with a peak starting on November 5, 2019 that peaked on Thursday, November 7, when evidence for an update began to increase.

Could this be the cause of some traffic drops? It’s hard to tell, these are the early days of the update and information is still pouring in.


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In general, there are more people reporting ranking losses than increases in the SEO Signals Labs group. And on Twitter, there are a lot of losses reported, far more than winners.

Gray Hat Update Experience

Self-proclaimed “Gray Hat” Members Good SEO Facebook group are generally positive. This group focuses on Private Blog Network (PBN) links. The group’s admin posted an Accuranker chart showing all of its keywords were on a steep upward trajectory, with one member claiming his chart looked like a hockey stick.

Another member noted that he had a weekly sales improvement of around 30%, with Friday following up to a 70% improvement.

Several members noted that there had been huge gains in the changes to Google Local.

Overall, gray hats react more positively than negatively.

Black Hat update reaction

On the Black Hat World forums, members discuss dramatic changes in their rankings. Some report losses of up to 40%.

A few however report improvements from Google’s November update.


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According to one member:

“Something must be happening, I saw 2 people on the amazon affiliate forum report that their traffic has taken a huge nose dive. Mine is up 30% yesterday and today.

While in another discussion a member of the black hat commented:

“Today, I finally saw massive improvements …”

SEO observations without a hat on Google Update

Safer WebmasterWorld Forums, members started noticing changes on Wednesday, November 6. A member noted Thursday that he had not seen conversions for 24 hours. Another member noted:

“I see search engines filled with malware and sneaky redirects from .cf .tk .ml .gq .ga domains.

Google can no longer distinguish a legitimate site from a spam site. This is serious. The anti-spam team has lost the battle.

This observation appears to confirm the positive reports observed in the Black Hat and Gray Hat communities.

Member Paperchaser said:

“The entertainment industry here, I see a lot of movement on my side, a lot of sites are dropping their rankings heavily and a few hours later it all comes back to where it was.”


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Fishing Hat’s SEO reaction to the update

Someone asked me if I am a White Hat SEO. My response was that I’m more of a fishing hat SEO. In other words, I’m trying to focus on what Google is doing, and from there, figure out how to react.

In my 20 years of working in search marketing, I have seen search marketing trends and theories come and go and then return again.

For example, it has long been said that Google targets affiliate sites. But it wasn’t that Google was targeting affiliate sites. These were more affiliate sites using promotional strategies that ceased to work due to changes in the rankings of sites by Google.

Over the past five years, drops in rankings have more often been linked to changes in the way Google understands search queries and decides what is relevant.

There have been many responses to recent updates that turned out to be wrong because they were based on the wrong sources of information or wrong reasoning.


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Here are some examples of bad observations:

  • Tips for creating an author page
  • Tips for displaying expert accreditation on the site
  • Tips for improving EAT (Google has confirmed that there is no EAT ranking factor)

This bad advice came from using Google’s Search Quality Evaluator guidelines as a way to understand Google’s algorithm. All of these theories have been debunked by Googlers such as John Mueller and Gary Illyes. (For more information, read Google’s EAT: Busting 10 of the Biggest Misconception)

The Research Quality Rater Guidelines can be used to set goals for what a website can be and from those goals one can create strategies to achieve those high standards.

But this document was never a Google algorithm roadmap.. It was a roadmap on how to rate a website. That’s all. Two different things. But this document is useless in trying to figure out why a site is no longer ranked because there are no ranking secrets in the Search Quality Reviewer Guidelines.


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Google doesn’t target individual niches

Google rarely targets an industry. In the past, some SEOs have promoted the idea that Google is targeting medical sites. They got it wrong and we are now stuck with the Medic Update to remind the SEO industry that Google is not targeting specific industries.

Google targeting revenue / travel blogs?

Anyone who says Google is targeting recipe or travel blogs is probably wrong. Historically, with a few exceptions, Google’s updates have not targeted specific industries. Google’s major updates focus on issues like relevance.

This update affected publishers in all niches. This is a huge update that affects a wide range of topics on the site.

Key takeaways from Google’s November update

It is then a matter of waiting to hear from Google.

Most of the past updates have focused on relevance by better understanding user queries, understanding the topic of web pages, and better understanding the link signal.

Google may roll out a combination of changes related to content, queries, and backlinks. It’s a safe bet… but at this point, but we just don’t know. To say that Google targets specific types of sites or content is to skate on thin ice.


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11/13/2019: Google responds to publishers

Google SearchLink responded. But his attempt to downplay the update was at odds with the reality that this was no ordinary update.
Lily: Google Update response falls short of expectations

11/14/2019: A Survey of Update Recovery Ideas

Lily: Recovering from the November 2019 Google Update

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