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Large drop in traffic, can't figure out why
Clean code, good links, etc.
Illah




msg:759459
 6:07 pm on Apr 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

So I'm having some trouble figuring out why one of my sites has dropped so significantly in Google traffic. All other SE traffic is stable. Another site on the same shared hosting plan is doing just fine. Both are Movable Type based, full of original content, etc, but one is getting killed while the other is stable.

The stable site (Site A) is a personal/resume site. The one that's seen a big drop (Site B) is more commercial, with AdSense and some affiliate links (not a ton) including two sitewide affiliate banners in a global include.

Site B actually has many more links, all on target, many I didn't even ask for, just links based on the quality of the content. It also has much more content, much more traffic (before the drop anyway), and is overall cleaner. In other words, it *should* be doing better than Site A!

I've come up with some possibilities, please suggest anything else I should look at:

1. Google hates affiliates. Sure, some affiliate pages still do well, but overall Google doesn't like them.

2. There are several sites scraping my RSS feed - could Google see this as dupe content and be hurting me for it? Previously I always ranked while the dupes were buried so I didn't think much of it.

3. I recently moved servers, could that be it? The stable Site A also moved along with Site B so this doesn't seem likley.

4. I did a few design changes to clean navigation, consolidated a bunch of nav links into drop-down menus.

Any suggestions?

--Illah

 

tedster




msg:759460
 6:32 pm on Apr 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

You didn't mention if you actually lost Google rankings -- just that Google traffic is off. The reason I point this out is that there is an exploit "in the wild" that hijacks clicks at the search engine level for sites that have a certain kind of of improper DNS configuration. So your rankings can stay the same, but all the clicks no longer get to your server. In fact, the exploit is very sneaky because they are careful only to take a percentage of your traffic.

If you feel this may describe your situation, see this related thread in our Search Engine Promotion forum:
Links hijacked in search engine [webmasterworld.com]

For all of you following this topic, I would strongly suggest that you run a DNS Report on your domain and make sure that there are no failures such as the Open DNS Servers. This issue with DNS Cache Poisoning is a serious one and can affect every single one of us where our sites are hosted on servers that allow for DNS Recursion.

DNS Report
[dnsreport.com...]

If your host gripes one bit about this, it's time to change. Get out of there quickly before you come under the same type of attack or even worse, a DNS DoS Attack which will bring that server down in a heartbeat.


Illah




msg:759461
 8:50 pm on Apr 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm pretty sure my rankings dropped too but I'll definitely look into that more deeply - thanks!

--Illah

tedster




msg:759462
 8:53 pm on Apr 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

If you do find out that your rankings have dropped, then here are some good threads to turn to for ideas:

Checklist for Sudden Drops in Rank [webmasterworld.com]
Dropped from Google - a checklist to find out why [webmasterworld.com]
Dropped Site Checklist [webmasterworld.com]

walkman




msg:759463
 11:36 pm on Apr 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

thanks for the DNS thingy tedster,
just added "recursion no;" to name.conf, and I no longer get the Open DNS warning.

Illah




msg:759464
 7:08 am on Apr 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

Well my DNS is good but I checked that 'checklist' thread. Turns out ALL my error pages had the 302/200 error. I have customs for 404, 500, 401, etc... Made those custome pages 1-2 months ago, maybe it's just hitting now with Big Daddy. Other than that my site looks good.

Any thoughts on the scrapers? Should I try and get those sites to stop scraping me? Haven't really cared too much in the past since I figured they were either ignored or it might at least count as a low value link.

--Illah

MHes




msg:759465
 8:54 am on Apr 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

Our top performing sites are heavily 'scraped' with no bad effects. We have hundreds of top rankings for competitive phrases.

If anything, I suspect a percentage of scraper site listings will demonstrate a 'naturally busy site' and could be a good thing. At the end of the day, being 'scarped' is a natural accurance and I would never mess with 'natural' occurances! The links are probably ignored as the scraper sites will have a poor profile but some will deliver traffic and may even give pr.

We get the odd good link from a scraper and often launch sites from scraper links alone. The seo benefit is low but the traffic is enough to make a site viable without google. An old site of ours was banned by google but I don't think the scraper links had anything to do with it. Anyway, the site still earns good money from these links, so without any proof that scraper links are bad... having them is a usefull fall back position.

JuniorOptimizer




msg:759466
 10:31 am on Apr 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

When you moved servers, you may have hosed up your .htaccess file. Double check it.

Patrick Taylor




msg:759467
 11:59 am on Apr 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

tedster, thanks for the pointer on DNS. Having checked each of a dozen or so sites I have on shared hosting accounts, all off them fail on "Open DNS servers." One of the hosting providers is the largest in Australia.

I can't say I really understand the issue, and I suspect it would be a big job to move them all to a server which passes the test.

Illah




msg:759468
 5:20 pm on Apr 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

OK, now this is just stupid. Several obvious scraper sites are *OUTRANKING* me! None of my pages are supplemental, they've just been dropped to the netherworld of the SERPs.

I'm hoping this is a Big Daddy hiccup...

--Illah

wheelie34




msg:759469
 5:52 pm on Apr 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

illah

what does site:www.example.com show, are ALL your pages indexed?

I have lost just over 50% of my pages for the last month atleast with BD and have noticed a few people onll NOW losing pages while some have said theirs are returning.

Are ALL your pages indexed?

texasville




msg:759470
 6:26 pm on Apr 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>>a few people only NOW losing pages <<<<

Yep..started happening to me yesterday.

wheelie34




msg:759471
 8:22 pm on Apr 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

has anyone else lost a large percentage of their pages, have they returned yet, how long where they missing.

Mine have been gone since the begining of March, the count has increased but only by 4 or 5 pages and remained there for the last 2 weeks.

Funny thing is, my SERP's are holding and traffic is excellent, so I aint missing them but would be nice to think that when they come back traffic will rise.

Interested to see other statistics on this

What % has gone?

How long (so far)?

If they returned

What % is back?

EDIT] My site has around 930 pages normally now says 405 [EDIT

FrostyMug




msg:759472
 8:28 pm on Apr 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

i'm also losing page count. site:widgets.com was returning 242 just a few weeks ago, yesterday it was 138 :( today it's 183. what is going on? :( The volume of visitors seems to be the same.

security56




msg:759473
 8:30 pm on Apr 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

My stats

Being gone since Feb

Amount Gone 90%

50% came back for 2 days then it was gone again :)

Traffic Down by half

Ah one funny thing my old links still there, I am talking about links that no longer exist.

Why doesnt big daddy just leave us alone and make thing go back to the way it was, I GIVE UP :(

jrs_66




msg:759474
 8:35 pm on Apr 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

My pages are down from 1100 to 690. Losing about 50 per day for the past week... not seeing googlebot recently

Illah




msg:759475
 3:08 am on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

I hadn't lost many pages a few days ago but I just rechecked and I did lose a few...was at ~430 before and now at 389. Not sure what it was a few weeks ago, I wasn't paying attention. I know Yahoo usually reported much less than Google though, and Yahoo is at 394 - that's the first time I've seen it higher than Google so I know I've lost pages.

Funny thing is when I do a 'site:www.sitename.com sitename' search 9 of the Top 10 results are from the old verson of my site - those pages were taken down 8 months ago! They are supplemental though.

Oh well, I've been over my site quite a bit and I really can't find any major issues with it, guess I just have to wait for the Big Daddy dust to settle and hope for the best. I'm pissed at the scrapers outranking me though, how is that supposed to be an improvement in the algo? If we were all killed together I could kinda understand, but knowing that I was probably taken down as collateral damage in an anti-spam shootout while *real* spam survived...that gets me :-)

--Illah

Illah




msg:759476
 3:19 am on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

UPDATE

I think I'm being hit with dupe content from the scrapers. I did a search for one of my most recent posts and several scrapers are Top 10. I'm nowhere in the top 250. When I get to the end of the SERPs and hit 'repeat search with omitted results' then I'm around 30-40, but I don't show unless I select to see omitted results.

Great job Google.

Just to clarify, almost all these scrapers are getting me through my RSS feed. I've also submitted my RSS feed to news sites and RSS search engines & directories. Could Google be getting confused as to the source of this content and think I'm a scraper? I really don't want to do it, but would eliminating the RSS feed help?

So what if anything else can I try in the event that this isn't a Big Daddy hiccup?

--Illah

Illah




msg:759477
 6:15 pm on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm starting to think Google is killing blogs and blog-based sites. My stable site is now also dropping, both are Movable Type based. Probably an effort to curb blog SPAM and that type of garbage...

Anyone else seeing this?

--Illah

jrs_66




msg:759478
 6:29 pm on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

My page loss/googlebot problem started about a week after I created some rss feeds... I just removed them, see if that does anything. Interesting thing that one of the few files googlebot continued to grab was the feed file...

Armi




msg:759479
 6:31 pm on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

"I'm starting to think Google is killing blogs and blog-based"

No, I think that Google has many problems with the Index......

mattg3




msg:759480
 6:33 pm on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

The problem with this page hemmoraging is that the Google site searches I use are basically meaningless now. I installed therefore my own solution. Google is becoming increasingly unreliable, because of all the updates. One a year would be enough. *sigh*

[edited by: mattg3 at 6:45 pm (utc) on April 13, 2006]

jrs_66




msg:759481
 6:35 pm on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

--- The problem with this site hemmoraging is that the Google site searches I use are basically meaningless now. I installed therefore my own solution. Google is becoming increasingly unreliable, because of all the updates. One a year would be enough. *sigh*

What does this mean? Inconprehensible...

mattg3




msg:759482
 6:46 pm on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

What does this mean? Inconprehensible...

Ok thanks, I ment page hemmoraging, but I doubt that will clear it up. ;)

jrs_66




msg:759483
 6:49 pm on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

--- hemmoraging

That was the only thing I understood with that post.

ssjxxx




msg:759484
 6:56 pm on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

I have noticed similar drops in traffic for one of my sites that is heavily relying on Google for most of its traffic. On one particular keyphrase where the site has been ranked either 1 or 2 in the SERPs for a LONG time, the site simply doesn't appear at all in the 961 results returned, even with the filter turned off (filter=0). If I put the keyphrase in quotes, the site is 11 in that SERP.

This certainly stinks of screwy SERPs to me.

-S

Illah




msg:759485
 6:59 pm on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

" My page loss/googlebot problem started about a week after I created some rss feeds... I just removed them, see if that does anything. Interesting thing that one of the few files googlebot continued to grab was the feed file... "

Yeah, my RSS feed file has some of the highest PR of any page on my site except for the homepage... I don't want to take it down completely as I do have subscribers - I've had it up for 8 months with no issues until now. I was thinking of modifying it so it only contains snippets of my content, maybe strip the <img> codes too, so that if dupe content is the issue then at least scrapers won't have exact copies of my site content (right now I include entire posts in the feed because if I were a subsciber I'd prefer that).

--Illah

mattg3




msg:759486
 7:02 pm on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

That was the only thing I understood with that post.

So you missed your AMC then. ;)

It's very simple. Google has indexed your pages, so when you use their site search that for example comes with adsense, you rely on all your pages being in the Google index. But if 80% of your pages are missing in the index, the site search becomes inaccurate for your users. Hence I used one of the Open Source search engines to replace the Google site search. Programs like htdig, nutch etc etc.

smokeybarnable




msg:759487
 9:44 pm on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm suprised its not front page news..google searches not relevant. The one thing they are most famous for and they are failing miserably.

security56




msg:759488
 10:38 pm on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

mattg3 have u try msn search, it's 1000 times better then google at this point :) that's what i using now for my site search :)

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