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Unresolved traffic drop issue - since June 2nd

 10:05 pm on Oct 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hi guys,

On june 2 we have lost more then 80% (25.000 visits/day) of our organic traffic, while we have worked hard and passionate on generating great content on our classifieds ads website.

Since the traffic drop we have made some changes to our content to reduce the quantity but boost the quality. We also deleted the adult category, to avoid adult content issues, what google doesn't like...

Till now, there is still 0% improvement in our traffic, while our site still gets the same amount of content every day...

Only last friday, our host gave our site a new IP and our rankings were way up again! 2 Days later it was down again...

What's going on with our site?
The site is my passion and life income, it's very frustrating to lose my business without a clear reason...



 5:02 pm on Oct 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

since removing the adult content, have you filed a reconsideration request?


 7:43 pm on Oct 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yes I did, but no effect...


 6:48 pm on Oct 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

If you feel your site is high quality and worthy of being in the index, this is one of the situations where I would suggest hitting the Google webmaster forums and asking for help or guidance from the volunteers.

Tips -

- Be 100% open and forthright, they will find & know everything, including things you don't mention!
- Be genuine and ask for help, thank for the help etc.
- Realize that they are NOT Google employees (Except the likes of John Mu etc) and just webmasters like you, who offer help.
- Read the FAQ BEFORE you post the question.

Finally... put on your armor before you go in. You WILL have to disclose the URL and it will be scrutinized in the public view. If you have any issues with that, you may want to think twice...



 7:02 pm on Oct 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

mhansen, tried that already a few times...


 7:57 pm on Oct 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

tried that already a few times...

I feel your pain... and still have my own battle scars from the last time I used the WMF at Google! :-) I lost 80% of Gorgle referred organic search traffic on June 02, 2010 also. I found it was an identity crisis on my site...

A few things I can almost guarantee WON'T make a difference.

- Ranting in the reinclusion request form. (Oops, I kinda lost it) I think that added 35-40 days to my site being looked at, or gave them several days to laugh about the message! They don't care that my 4 kids wont eat tonight!

- Changing servers. I moved the site to a dedicated box, incurred almost $700 in server fees (Lost on my other one that was prepaid for the year also) and lost 2 days of work setting it all up.

- Pointing to spam or useless scraper sites that have since, replaced you in the serps. They don't care... its algo driven and an AUTOMATIC filter is in place.

And now a few things that DID SEEM TO HELP...

- Realizing that I was on my own and Gorgle was NOT going to change a thing, or offer anything other than gray help in understanding why!

- Press releases that get into Google news! If you have something to write about, do it and spend the $50/pop to get it in front of the press.

- ON-site link funneling and shaping. If you have the ability to drive links internally, this was another factor for me. (Or maybe it wasn't, but seems to help!)

I wish there was something more to say... I am no authority by any means... just sharing what seemed to work for me. Traffic has been slowly pogo-sticking its way back ever since.

Edit for spelling.


 6:16 am on Oct 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

I found it was an identity crisis on my site...

Can you elaborate what you mean by that?



 7:56 am on Oct 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

Could it maybe be a spam attack on our site?


 2:14 pm on Oct 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

Can you elaborate what you mean by that?

By identity crisis, I meant that the site itself, as well as the different sections, were not very well defined BY US.

We found sections of the site that were completely irrelevant to what mattered, and were simply "noise" that clouded the site with information to attract more general visitors, versus TARGETED visitors.

The noise started getting louder than the voice, if that makes sense.


 3:22 pm on Oct 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

I would advise trying the guys over at the Bing webmaster forum. You can give them your domain name over there and [in your case] I think you need exact advice, instead of the guesswork that is forced by the guidelines at webmasterworld. The Bing guys are very informed and will always try to help.


 3:41 pm on Oct 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

Actually, that identity issue rings a loud bell, articles that used to rank , now no longer do so, almost like the algo asigned a target to the site and anything slightly sideways or indirectly, related has fallen away, painfull since the site used to get useful traffic from sideways.

And my stats show it started same time as for everyone else,

Noise reduction might well be called for :)


 10:43 am on Oct 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hi there,

I have some site which experienced similar drops on June 2nd, most of them are back to normal now. Furthermore, I have some sites still some sites which were affected after June the 2nd in the very same way, after some kind of bold link building campaigns.

A lose collection of observations so far:
- Anchor text over optimization seems to be often a cause, it helped some times to add more links on trusted and other sites with other, yet relevant anchor text. (Decreasing the percentage of optimized anchor text, as a result the filter should not be triggered any more after some time). Usually such a site can recover in about 3 - 4 weeks.
- Changing servers/IP - I saw this helped for quite some time (ca. 1 - 2 days) and in my case I thought first it was triggered that I had to few class-c diversity which changed after change of ip. As I moved another site with some delay c-class popularity changed for maybe a day. I am however not absolutely sure about this, too.
- Site coming back for some 2 days and then dropping again: in most cases a sign that the site soon (1 - 2 weeks more waiting) will come back
- To fast link velocity could be a trigger, too, yet I am not sure about how to dis tangle the effects from anchor text optimization and building too many links too fast.
- I have the impression that nofollow links with over optimized anchor text can do the same harm.

So, in generall, adding new links with substantially different anchor texts or just the domainname helped in most cases, yet not in all.

The sites in question had actually all low backlink profiles and were pretty new (less than a year). Overall I must say that after some downs and dancing weeks after Mayday in June most of my sites have really benefited from the Algo updates (all are informational niche sites with really pretty good content, yet not the best backlink profiles).


 8:39 pm on Oct 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

- To fast link velocity could be a trigger, too, yet I am not sure about how to dis tangle the effects from anchor text optimization and building too many links too fast.

I really have to ask about this.

Matt Cutts has said hat links in to your site can't hurt you. I tend to believe him, because otherwise, what would stop me from getting all sorts of links to my competitors and having them incur a "fast link velocity trigger?"

It seems to me that the WORST that could happen is that google would see lots of links being added in a short time and say, ok, from here on out, any NEW links gained in the next three months (or whatever time period) would only get 50% (or whatever percentage) value.

But I couldn't see them going back and changing the value of previously acquired links automatically.

Am I wrong here?


 9:04 pm on Oct 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'd say Google has a heuristic that looks for artificially induced "link velocity". Last year there were definitely cases of websites knocking out their competitors with this route. This year, not so much. Either they've improved things - or they just started ignoring those links instead of penalizing.

Just one man's opinion, of course, but I have worked on at least six cases like this. On the plus side for Google, a Reconsderation Request with good data brought a fast turn around, usually about 4-7 days.


 2:10 am on Oct 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Tedster, what is considered "good data" when doing a reconsideration request?


 2:26 am on Oct 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'd wager a guess that you're also being scraped and outranked with your own classified ads. Send me a sticky if you want to know by who.

Mashup is big business since Mayday.


 3:03 am on Oct 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Tedster, what is considered "good data" when doing a reconsideration request?

Here's what we did"
1. Undo anything you know is against Google's guidelines that you've done, and detail those changes.
2. Mention new garbage backlinks or scraped content - and disavow any connection to them.

If the amount of data is large (as in many backlinks or duplicated scraper sites) then make that available on a URL somewhere and only include the URL in the Request - don't paste a huge amount of information into the Reconsideration form.

Review the video Tips on requesting reconsideration [googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com] before you press Submit.

And stay professional, restraining any urge to rant ;)


 10:02 am on Oct 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

When I search on most recent results for site:mydomain.com and I search with an exact match of the title tag of a productpage, that page of my site is not ranking...

So my longtail content is ranking really bad...

However, on 8 and 9 oktober when there was the traffic boost, my site was ranking very high on these searches...(just like it always did before june 2)

I wish these rankings came back... :(


 6:51 pm on Oct 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'd say Google has a heuristic that looks for artificially induced "link velocity". Last year there were definitely cases of websites knocking out their competitors with this route.

I have to ask: How sure are you (and everyone else on this forum) about this?

100% sure? 80% Sure? 50% sure? 10% Sure?

I ask not to be argumentative, but because Matt Cutts and other google people have said there is no way for inbound links to hurt a site. He even stated in at least one video (if not more) that the reason they can't is because they don't want competitors to hurt others' sites by linking to them.

So either google is lying, or Matt Cutts and other google employees are unaware of this flaw, or ?

So let me ask the question another way: is there any SEO person out there who can honestly say that they have knocked a competitor's site out of the SERPs by exploiting this link velocity filter?


 7:13 pm on Oct 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Listen to the exact wording of those statements - you will almost always hear some weasel words (such as "almost") because it is not a very common thing, even though it can happen.

After all this is automated - so it's not going to be 100%. There were even some black hat services last year who asked for a lot of $$$ to google bowl your competition for you. I've been very close to a few cases and they have informed my comments.


 7:44 pm on Oct 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Ok, fair enough.

So how concerned would you be about being google bowled now? If your rankings were slipping, how much time and effort would you spend on detecting / reporting this?

I ask because with the new Webmaster tools link profile, I see lots of web sites where they basically have grabbed SERP pages for google. So they might have a page called widget-statues.html, and that page basically scrapes the google SERPs for the search widget statues.

so if you are listed in the SERPs (like we are) then they would have a link to your site.

It seems like there are hundreds (if not thousands) of such pages out there. Usually it is some free or low cost domain name, with hundreds of subdomains, something like:


These domains seem to come and go quite frequently, so reporting them to google would be maddening.


 7:57 pm on Oct 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

I wouldn't give those any energy such as a Google report. I would just make sure the pages that they link to haven't been hacked.

The best defense against any kind of Google bowling is a strong REAL backlink profile. Just fire up some top quality content and market it with intelligence. Matt Cutts made a remarkably full video about effective techniques for building links [youtube.com]. There's some good inspiration in there for brainstorming.


 7:46 am on Oct 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think I just found a serieus bug in our site...

I was checking WMT HTML suggestions and there 53.000 duplicate description tags...

Wollen tapijt - Als nieuw! - Zeer mooi wollen tapijt. Dikke en zware kwaliteit Prachtig afgewerkt

Both pages are similar, but there are 2 url's with different use of signs like --- and 1

Could this be the cause of our 80% traffic drop?


 8:02 am on Oct 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

It might be a clue. On their own, duplicate meta descriptions are not likely to cause a ranking problem. However, have you found a sign that your URL structure allows for some kind of infinite crawling space?


 8:18 am on Oct 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

tedster, the duplicate description tag was a sign, but I'm talking about this:



Both url's are the same content, the second one has no --- and ! in the url...

[edited by: tedster at 4:55 pm (utc) on Oct 17, 2010]
[edit reason] display the complete URLs [/edit]


 7:54 am on Oct 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

@Mikey85: Matt Cutts changes his mind every now and then and in one of the latest videos on the very issue I saw him stating that (beside the "almost thing" tedster mentioned) protecting webmasters against google bowling attacks never has been a priority.

However, my experience on you're questions:

- I am quite positive that automated filters are at place which will drop you for artificial link building patterns (too many, too fast) and anchor text optimization. As those filters are automatically, you can get out automatically, too: Get more links, with other anchor texts, from trusted sites.

I can also say that some really strong sites of mine with a nice backlink profile (a lot of universities link voluntarily to those),do not seem to be vulnerable to such filters and links. It is just new sites (< 1 year) with mainly footer links, free-for-all-site links (squidoo, article marketing, blog comments etc). In those cases even a nofollow link in a squidoo seems to cause trouble after a certain degree of "infractions"


 8:54 am on Oct 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Arizal, our site is now almost 3 years old and has had a consistent linkprofile. Competitors with more agressive linkbuilding didn't get a traffic drop like us...

And why is our site still ranking high on main keywords? It's longtail content that has dropped 80%...


 10:27 am on Oct 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Two urls for the same content is a definite problem.

Find out which one is indexed by google by searching for the urls.Are you using the canonical tag and is there any reason why you are not using it?


 10:37 am on Oct 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

We made yesterday a 301 redirect to the original url, WMT is today showing 30.000 duplicate url's (yesterday 53.000).


 1:07 pm on Oct 18, 2010 (gmt 0)


The easiest way is to specify the canonical url as there seems to be too may 301 redirects that you need to do, considering the number of urls (pages) you have.

If you are already doing a 301 redirect to a few of those urls, then the additional redirect that you had introduced yesterday will result in a second 301 redirect and it becomes too slow and clumsy...

This 33 message thread spans 2 pages: 33 ( [1] 2 > >
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