|Google Snakes and Ladders - Adwords Connection?|
Here's a 6 month diary of our experiences. Advice required!
We run a UK site. It's been settled and ranking well since its launch in Autumn 2002. Winter months (Oct to Mar) are our key selling period during which the year is won or lost.
Came in to the office yesterday (Sunday) and google ranks were gone, however today it seems they are back. A few weeks ago I would be been panicking, however now I simply assume all will return
I have put together this google journal using our analytics splits on paid and non-paid google referrals. It would be helpful to try and get some professional opinion on this.
I am assuming we must be triggering some algorithm now and again but don't know what or why. There is supposed to be no link between Adwords and SERPS but I am starting to wonder.
Here's what I can fathom so far.
Early July 06: complete site redesign, to try and eliminate spurious non-core business enquiries and traffic as well as to improve brand and awareness. Enquiries drop but conversions rise sharply. Seen as a success.
July to Nov 06; Strong stable site, PR5, sending around 4000-10000 organic Google sourced visitors/week. 15000 pages, 2/3rds autowritten, 1/3rd handwritten. site: www.oursite.co.uk showing around 3000 pages.
End Nov - tried to remove dupe pages (uppercase to lowercase urls) to improve page ranks (/widgets vs /Widgets). Older pages were upper case but we hand 301 redirected them to lower case urls
Dec 15-17 - lost rankings to oblivion, site had lots of supplemental pages, mostly upper case urls - not entirely unexpected. Delivering less than 50 organic google referrals per day (normally 1000)
Dec 16th - Frantic Adword campaign build over a weekend. Switched on at cost of £1000 a day budget!
Dec 18th - site recovered somewhat, the lower case urls started to appear in SERPS
Dec 28th - Adwords switched off for a day
Dec 28th - SERPS lost, minus 30 or minus 999 penalty suspicions, but nothing definite
Dec 29th - Adwords back but a lot of work done on long tail KWs and maximum bids, CPC down from £2.50 to £0.60
Jan 13th - SERPS back, no UC urls showing any longer.
Jan 18th - Adwords campaign switched off
Jan 19th - SERPS lost
Jan 19th - Adwords back on
Jan 22nd - SERPS back
Jan 28th - SERPS severely drop in performance but not in all areas, only around 40% of tested keyword phrases
Jan 29th - Adwords back on - £150 a day, left running
Feb 10th - May 10th - SERPS back and stable, Adwords running most days but more intelligently, budget down to around £2500/month rate
Beginning of May (3rd/4th) Minor facelift of site, changed some graphic links which appeared on all pages to textual links, added around 300 extra hand written content pages, other internal pages restructured to improve cross linking within site but also to help users get to the pricing and calls to action. Immediate jump in site performance.
April 23rd - Adwords cut right back budget only £50 a day
May 9th to 26th - Adwords budget increased to £150 a day to generate a few more enquiries
May 10th - SERPS lost
May 14th - SERPS back
May 26th - Adwords switched off in time for bank holiday weekend when office is closed
May 27th - SERPS lost - Adwords back on @ low daily budget
May 28th - SERPS back. For now.
We really do need to get to the bottom of this as my heart won't last the year if not! There is a lot of discussion about Adwords being independent from SERPS and this may be the case but I know a site can get ranked quickly if Adwords is on so perhaps we have a wierd Adwords bot coming through not liking what its seeing?
We could really use a considered opinion on this?
[edited by: tedster at 3:37 pm (utc) on May 28, 2007]
My first thought is that the SERPs switching on and off for your sector (and I am assuming your money phrases) is probably something that you will see more of, not less, moving out into the future...
I have a sector I watch (that I worked in from June 03 - Dec 06) that really is a very specific sector...and really reveals to me some very specific dynamics regading what Google is up to...
Extremely stable through my tenure...now seeing some of the same affects you are..and I know for a fact that the new business owners (the old business owner sold and thus ended my tenure)...are looking for more creative ways to market then just the SERPs..
With your tactic of using PPC vs. what your organic listings may or may not be doing...I would venture to say...that you need to continue to do this and to work to refine this as Google looks to find more creative ways (Universal Search being one)...to continue to take money off the SERPs table to their revenue coffers...
You may need to explore Web 2.0 marketing (or as it's called SMO - Social Marketing Optimization)...as this channel can bring in traffic completely unrelated to the search engines...AND can actually, in some cases, drop your customer/client acquisition rates to zero..
|We really do need to get to the bottom of this as my heart won't last the year if not! There is a lot of discussion about Adwords being independent from SERPS and this may be the case but I know a site can get ranked quickly if Adwords is on so perhaps we have a wierd Adwords bot coming through not liking what its seeing? |
Yes...there is a correlation between Adwords and the SERPs..and in Google's case...if you are in the organic SERPs (as are many) and you are using PPC (as are many) then basically all are simply handing the keys over to Google ...as they will use this data to make their own strategic/technical/business decisions (and if you are paying attention to G's quarterly profits...they continue to beat street estimates and are really stunning...)
My take on the SERPs switching on and off in many sectors is simply some very deep mathematical/statistical/business analysis Google has done on the affects per their vast user base (will this degrade the average users experience)...200 -300 million user queries a day!
...and then projecting revenue increases based on this data ...
Not much anyone can do about this...as for now...Google is THE brand to associate yourself with when it comes to search engine traffic...
thanks for that comment. however the wild fluctuations only seem to be affected us and not any of our main competitors, therefore gives more weight to my suspicion that its site related, not industry.
thanks again. anyone else have any thoughts or similar experiences?
Your datelines in that diary do not suggest any cause and effect to me, and I also don't think there is such a relationship -- at least I haven't seen any good data that points that way. Connections between organic ranking, AdWords and/or AdSense are an area of nearly constant consiparcy theories and IMO one of the biggest areas of webmaster generated myth and FUD their is today about Google.
But that doesn't solve your issues - you still may need to supplement your traffic with non-organic sources, especially if you are in a highly competitive, frequently tweaked area of the algorithm.
Check out the threads in the Hot Topics [webmasterworld.com] area for some ideas. It sounds like something about your site is near a threshold of some kind. Are your pages bordlerine to being "thin" content? Do you have many "stubs"? Some other kind of nearly duplicate issue?
Are you adding enough value for your visitors, compared to other sites in your sector? Is your traffic dependent on just a few "trophy" phrases, or does your content attract a wide variety of searches?
There's lots to look at, and lots of solid discussions here to jump start your thinking in some new directions.
[edited by: tedster at 9:48 pm (utc) on Oct. 14, 2007]
What ranking checker were you using to check your serps? Does the ranking checker disregard sponsored results?
Yes we are in a pretty competitive space:
"It sounds like something about your site is near a threshold of some kind. Are your pages bordlerine to being "thin" content? "
-- perhaps but not intentionally; we will check
"Do you have many "stubs"? Some other kind of nearly duplicate issue?"
-- we do a lot of checking in this area and we dont think so. this is the kind of thing we need a professional opinion about I think
"Are you adding enough value for your visitors, compared to other sites in your sector? Is your traffic dependent on just a few "trophy" phrases, or does your content attract a wide variety of searches?"
-- I think we do! no, our incoming traffic is spread across long and short tail results;
Trinorthlighting, we use DPoint and the google API - are there others?
[edited by: Umbertide at 7:32 am (utc) on May 29, 2007]
Just make sure that checker is not including sponsored search. Verify that through manual checks.
Remember, just cause your adwords campaign is off, google sometimes slips up and continues to show ads.
Hm I didnt know they included Adwords listings. Often thought that the API returned diff results to the one's we actually see, also there tends to be a 24 hour delay in actual performance/reality.
We have more plans to further optimise our site with better menu bar for usability as well as slightly reordering our site wide links. But we are pretty nervous of doing this. Currently we think we might plan it for the next holiday time!
Any more ideas?
I would double check to make sure that sponsored results are not included via a manual spot check.