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Ranking drop after influx of press?
Sand



 
Msg#: 4443356 posted 12:34 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

I've been working really hard on a site for about six months now, and organic traffic has been growing steadily over time.

This week, I built a tool that got some really great press (including editorial links from the White House, various government departments, Forbes, and some other high authority domains).

Looking at my logs for this morning, I noticed that traffic from Google has dried up to a trickle since about 2:00 AM this morning. I still have site links for my domain, but I've dropped 1-2 pages for all the other searches that brought me traffic.

I'm trying to keep a level head and not panic, but it's definitely got my blood pressure up (so it goes). I've never had any GWT warnings or anything.

Is it possible that Google has dropped me a little bit while they sort out my influx of high authority links? Or is that not something that really happens anymore?

 

Andy Langton

WebmasterWorld Senior Member andy_langton us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4443356 posted 12:42 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Cause and effect is always a tricky one with this sort of thing - particularly as there's been a lot happening over the past days and weeks at Google.

It's not impossible that you'd see a "sandbox" type effect with new links, but I wouldn't necessarily expect it to happen in the situation you describe. But anything perceived as unnatural can be met with an "unnatural" response in terms of rankings.

To skip ahead a bit, in terms of what should do, I would suggest you just need to wait it out. In the meantime, it wouldn't hurt to do a general review of your site as a whole and a look at your backlinks, so if you end up with a long wait, you'll be prepared for action, and it never hurts to take stock once in a while.

Planet13

WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4443356 posted 2:07 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Possibly your link from the White House lost any value when google decided to Pandalize the White House Web Site and replace it in the rankings with Amazon and ehow pages...

Sand



 
Msg#: 4443356 posted 2:23 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thanks, Andy. You're absolutely right -- it's just about impossible to diagnose these things when there aren't any glaring technical errors or anything of the like.

The influx of links could just be a coincidence, but I sure hope that's what is causing this sandbox-type effect. The content on the site is quality, and the all inbound links are quality editorial links except the ones I can't help (a couple hundred spamblogs trying to get trackbacks).

I'll run through the site and do some general cleanup type stuff, and hopefully things will come back to normal shortly.

linkbuildr



 
Msg#: 4443356 posted 2:37 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

I imagine after a little time and settling you'll be rocking out with some nice results...just keep doing what you're doing and you'll be fine!

Sand



 
Msg#: 4443356 posted 2:59 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thanks, linkbuildr. My brain tells me you're right, but my stomach tells me to throw up:)

aristotle

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4443356 posted 4:15 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

It might look a little "suspicious" to Goog;e's algorithm to get a number of high-powered backlinks over a short period of time. So it might have dropped your rankings temporarily while it "digests" the new information. Your site might come back even stronger after the new links get accepted as genuine.

Maybe you could keep us up informed on what happens during the next few days.

Sand



 
Msg#: 4443356 posted 5:03 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

I will definitely update the thread if there are any changes to report.

cjeiglllad



 
Msg#: 4443356 posted 6:44 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

I too had (2) sites lose rankings this morning. They are not even close to being related as one is a community site and the other is e-commerce.

I'm confident this is an algorithm change. I am shocked at how little I can find on this online....

rlange



 
Msg#: 4443356 posted 7:43 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

aristotle wrote:
It might look a little "suspicious" to Goog;e's algorithm to get a number of high-powered backlinks over a short period of time. So it might have dropped your rankings temporarily while it "digests" the new information.

Wouldn't it make more sense for Google to just do nothing until then? What you're suggesting is a "shoot first, ask questions later" approach.

Your site might come back even stronger after the new links get accepted as genuine.

OK, so a "shoot first, ask questions later, replace wounded leg with cyborg leg as consolation" approach.

If this is anything other than a coincidence, I feel like Google's doing something wrong.

--
Ryan

Sand



 
Msg#: 4443356 posted 1:18 am on Apr 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

Wouldn't it make more sense for Google to just do nothing until then? What you're suggesting is a "shoot first, ask questions later" approach.


While I have zero evidence it is caused by links, I have noticed a 'rubber band' effect on some sites in the past. That is, they drop a bit before shooting up.

I have no idea if that is what is happening here, but I sure hope so. This day has been awful, and I have no idea why.

aristotle

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4443356 posted 1:31 am on Apr 21, 2012 (gmt 0)


Wouldn't it make more sense for Google to just do nothing until then? What you're suggesting is a "shoot first, ask questions later" approach.



Suspicions about the new backlinks could raise suspicions about the site itself. These suspicions would cause the rankings to drop. The rankings would recover when or if the suspicions are resolved. (Please keep in mind that I'm merely trying to speculate about possible causes.)

Sand



 
Msg#: 4443356 posted 3:59 pm on Apr 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

More than 24 hours into it now, and rankings haven't moved. The average rankings lost seems to be about 10 spots.

The good news is that new content is still indexed almost immediately after it's published.

All things considered, this feels more like an adjustment than a penalty...

netmeg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4443356 posted 7:27 pm on Apr 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have a few seasonal sites that typically get a ton of links fast from press coverage (they're event sites; some of you probably know what I'm talking about) and it's never tanked them in Google so far; the main one's been up since 1998.

I'd be pretty surprised if that's what led to what you're seeing now.

linkbuildr



 
Msg#: 4443356 posted 5:38 pm on Apr 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

I definitely want to keep my eye on your results after a bit as it would make for a great blog post on my end as well. Definitely get in touch although I've subscribed.

Sand



 
Msg#: 4443356 posted 9:33 pm on Apr 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Good point, netmeg.

The only real difference is that my site is new (I bought the domain 11 months ago, and only started working on it within the last 6 months). The total number of inbound links doubled in about two days.

Given the domain age and the rapid link acquisition, I still think that *might* be the problem, but of course, the ranking drop very well may have nothing to do with anything that has changed.

I have noticed a few rankings popping back up to where they were previously, but in terms of visits I'm still only at about 50% of where I was a week ago.

Sand



 
Msg#: 4443356 posted 1:10 am on Apr 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

And here we are on Tuesday evening. Still hanging tight at 50% of where I was a week ago.

The new algo update (assuming it's fully rolled out already) hasn't made a difference one way or the other for me so far in terms of traffic or rankings.

I still don't think it's a penalty of any sort, given the relatively short distance I've fallen (still 10 spots or less for most keywords). So I'm just hanging in limbo, going about my business and publishing new content and marketing things each day like I always have.

Sand



 
Msg#: 4443356 posted 11:10 am on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

I guess it was just announced that there was a Panda refresh on 4/19 (the day before my traffic dropped).

I know everyone in prison always claims their innocent, but I have no clue why I would have been caught up in that filter.

aristotle

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4443356 posted 1:15 pm on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

I know everyone in prison always claims their innocent, but I have no clue why I would have been caught up in that filter.


In my opinion visitor behavior is a big factor in Panda. This includes things like visitors bookmarking a page as a favorite, or exploring other pages on the same site, or returning to the site later for a repeat visit. Google can use its Chrome browser to collect this type of information.

The publicity around your site probably caused a temporary increase in traffic in the days preceding April 19. This increase in traffic would have allowed the Chrome browser to collect a lot more data on user behavior, and this could have led to a Panda demotion.

But keep in mind that this is just my theory.

julinho

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4443356 posted 1:24 pm on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

Sand,

I've seen this situation a few times: get a great link, see the rankings drop for a while, and eventually raise.

I am used to that, I don't follow rankings closely anymore, but I know it takes more than a few days to stabilize.

It probably takes a few weeks, possibly a few months (my opinion is that Google attempts to make this time frame unpredictable, otherwise it would be easy to tell how powerful a backlink really is).

Meanwhile, just keep working on your site.

Sand



 
Msg#: 4443356 posted 1:59 pm on Apr 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

That's very possible, aristotle. The user interaction on the site isn't where I want it to be, but it's something I'm analyzing closely and actively working on.

I am to the point where I think I need to re-assess my target keywords. It's hard to explain without getting into specifics of the site, but let's just say that two very different audiences with two very different intents search for the same keywords with roughly equal volume. My gut tells me that this is a major factor as far as hurting time on site and increasing bounces at the aggregate level. So penalty or not, it's something I need to improve.

There is another variation that's more audience specific, but less specific to my content (an annoying problem). I think I need to pivot and go after that one instead.

Edit to say that shifting keyword focus is something I've been considering since before this drop in traffic.

linkbuildr



 
Msg#: 4443356 posted 6:09 pm on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

Wil Reynolds actually talks about a negative ranking issue after an influx of press links as well in his speech here [youtube.com...]

Sand



 
Msg#: 4443356 posted 3:30 am on Apr 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

After holding steady for a week, everything took a giant turn for the worse at about 5:00 on Friday evening, and Google traffic has slowed to a trickle (65%+ of organic traffic has vanished).

At this point, it's pretty clear to me that I've been hit by Panda, though I'm not exactly sure why. I'm confident that if I showed the site to the web spam team, they'd all agree that it's exactly what they'd want their users to find in their search results.

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