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Continuous decline in traffic from Google
wmxpert




msg:4107377
 4:46 am on Mar 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

We are observing continuous decline in our traffic specifically from Google since last 2-3 weeks with the average of 5%-6% every week, is there any major updates going on in Google?

We also made following changes at the home page of our website a couple of weeks ago:

- Increased the width of our home page to 1024*768
- Implemented DIV based structure, earlier it was in tables format
- Number of links on page were increased up to 100%

Please note the changes were made only at home page, do you think that it can be the reason?

We have some language portals as well integrated in sub-domain structure, though we didn't made any changes on them but same behavior is observed there.

I would appreciate your valuable feedback in this regard!

 

tedster




msg:4107626
 3:35 pm on Mar 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hello wmexpert, and welcome to the forums.

It is good that you are focusing on your traffic rather than merely chasing rankings. However, when traffic begins to decline, then your analysis needs to become more granular and detailed.

It is essential to look at which specific keywords used to drive strong search traffic but no longer are. This analysis naturally includes which pages were the common landing pages for that search traffic.

Even if you don't have historical ranking data, you can perform those searches on Google today and see where your pages now rank. There is even a chance that your page that used to rank has now vanished for some reason and only a much weaker page appears.

It is also a possibility that something negative has happened in your backlink profile - a few strong backlinks may have been removed, or perhaps an outrageous number of spam backlinks are directed at your site.

There is even a chance that your site has been hacked and is now hosting parasite content that is cloaked so it is not visible to you but only to Google.

We have many discussions here in all these areas. Many starting resources can be found in our Hot Topics area [webmasterworld.com], which is always pinned to the top of this forum's index page. Further help can be located through Site Search [webmasterworld.com]

It's true that sometimes on-page changes will cause a ranking drop. However, unless your changes include change in content or even a change to your URLs themselves, it is unlikely that the root cause is something like a wider page or even changing to a <div> based layout from a table structure.

Number of links on page were increased up to 100%

Was this a change made only to internal linking? And did affect only the Home Page or the entire website? How many total links are there on the page now?

wmxpert




msg:4107986
 3:58 am on Apr 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks Tedster for your detail response. I've thoroughly reviewed most of the things you have mentioned as following:

- Our inbound links looks fine to me
- Our website is highly secure, so there is no chance of hacking or cloaking
- I'm currently going to analyze the keywords ranking thoroughly, as soon as I complete it, will come back to you.

W.r.t number of links, all links were internal and after revamping our on page links increase from 170 to 320. However, after a week of deployment we already have reduced them to 180.

Will it work if I revert back all the changes? what do you suggest?

Thanks,

tedster




msg:4108084
 7:52 am on Apr 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

I do not suggest reverting any further without understanding what you are trying to counteract. Do the keyword analysis and zero in on the trouble spots first.

Removing all those extra links was a good idea, however. Too many links on the home page can really damage a site's ability to perform well in search. I usually try to keep total Home page links under 100, and below 50 if possible. See The Mega Menu Problem [webmasterworld.com] for more about that.

wmxpert




msg:4109237
 4:00 am on Apr 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

I have performed keywords analysis and there is a lot of variation in result, overall, there is major shuffling has been observed in ranking.

There is one serious thing, the main keywords of our website "mysite.com" which is obviously the name, it brought approx. 1600 visitors in top performing week while last week it only brought 900. What does it shows?

W.r.t. number of links, you are right the links per page shall be limited but I think it doesn't apply to home page of website. The website I referring here is a big website and it is really difficult to minimize the links at home page. Let's take the example of some good names like Zappos.com with 250+ and Alibaba.com with 500+ links at home page.

Though they have a lot of links but they are doing very well in search engines.

tedster




msg:4109269
 5:44 am on Apr 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

If this website is as strong as Zappos, then maybe you can get away with a lot of links from the home page. But as far as I know, Zappos isn't struggling with a continuous decline in Google traffic - in fact they are wildly successul and I am sure they see a lot more that 1600 search visits a week for their domain name.

A strong information architecture takes hard work, but it sure does serve a website well. Still, the decline in traffic that you're describing is apparently recent, so the home page links probably aren't the actual cause.

If the site name is referring less traffic, it could mean many things. Does the site rank #1 for its own name?

And a second possibility -- does this site have unique content, or is its information duplicated on other sites?

wmxpert




msg:4109311
 7:40 am on Apr 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Well, the website has no comparison with Zappos, as Zappos is a big name. However, our website has higher index and same PR as Zap. The bottom line is the website is a authority website in its own niche and this is the first time we are in such critical situation.

Yes, it ranks at # 1 on it's own name, in fact in top 10 results all pages are from the same website including sub-domain and sub-directories.

Website does have unique content and every day we are getting more and more.

BTW how do you know that Zappos traffic is not declining? If you believe on Compete.com or Google Trends data, they are showing some decline but it may be the seasonal impact:

[siteanalytics.compete.com...]

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