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Help With Late April / Early May Traffic Drop - Panda? Penguin? Pokemon?
Planet13




msg:4497967
 10:46 pm on Sep 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi there, Everyone:

haven't been around much because I am basically running around from hole to hole trying to patch up this leaking boat before another hole springs...

I need some help figuring out which of google's algorithm changes hates me the most, and try to come up with an idea about what to do with it.

One of our landing pages used to get about 150 entrances a day.

From about April 18th to May 4th of this year it dropped down to less than 20 per day. It has staid at less than 20 per day since then.

It's hard to give an exact date of when the drops happened. The traffic graph looks like something of a descending staircase.

that period covers Panda 3.5, Penguin 1.0, Panda 3.6, and April 52-Pack (a term used by SEOmoz... don't know if anyone else uses that term).

How do I figure out which update(s) hit us?

It looks like ALL of those hit us, with the "final blow" occurring between May 1 and May 4.

How do I figure out what to do?

~~~~~

Also, there is reference in these forums to the "don't seo your site, dude" patent, where google says that if your rankings drop and they see you improve your site so that users might find it more helpful, google reserves the right to make your rankings worse.

I haven't really touched that page since rankings went through the floor. Is it too soon to maybe try and DE-optimize the page / make it more user friendly? Or is it still too soon since early May to try and do something to get rankings back?

Thanks in advance.

(P.S. I have tried reinclusion requests, and they keep saying their is no MANUAL penalty, so it must be an algorithm thing.

 

bluntforce




msg:4498063
 3:57 am on Sep 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have a page that was only getting about 20 entries a day in late August. I re-inserted that page in my menu structure (I'd orphaned it 6 months ago), it now is averaging about 90 entries a day.

My take-away is that links still count. I wouldn't work with on-page content at the same time as working on links. It's probably o.k., but beyond my experimentation threshold.

Planet13




msg:4498076
 4:57 am on Sep 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

@ bluntforce

I have a page that was only getting about 20 entries a day in late August. I re-inserted that page in my menu structure (I'd orphaned it 6 months ago), it now is averaging about 90 entries a day.


thanks for the input.

It is well linked internally - maybe there are TOO many pages on my site that link to it?

It is the number two or three page in terms of page views, but it is really low in terms of entrances. It used to be number 2 in terms of entrances, now it is probably 30th or so (on a site with about 200 pages).

so it USED to bring in a lot of traffic on its own. Now people navigate to it from the internal links.

I'll try and figure out when the bottom dropped out for certain keywords.

sunnyujjawal




msg:4498137
 8:33 am on Sep 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

Panda 3.6 on April 27th

Planet13




msg:4498414
 7:35 pm on Sep 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

Panda 3.6 on April 27th


do you have more info about this update?

also, the drop continued across the first several days of May, so I suspect it might be more than ONE update that caused the problems.

bluntforce




msg:4498430
 8:20 pm on Sep 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

There were Panda updates on April 19 and April 27, everything I've read about Panda indicates it affects perceived low quality sites, not one page. Penguin is about spam.

The question would be where was your traffic coming from prior to the drop vs. now?
Single keyphrase or many variants?
Do users stay on the page, or is it just a "landing" page?

Search engines are pretty good about understanding the concept of a page, they can then watch user behavior to determine user satisfaction with your page versus competing pages.

If you can't find any differences between then and now, and the user experience seems to be satisfactory, that would be the time to start making changes.

Planet13




msg:4498435
 8:33 pm on Sep 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

@ bluntforce:

The question would be where was your traffic coming from prior to the drop vs. now?



Overwhelmingly from google organic.

Single keyphrase or many variants?


Primarily the phrase "blue widgets" but also very close variants.

Do users stay on the page, or is it just a "landing" page?


For the desired keyword, the bounce rate WAS 49% and 50% for the plural and singular version, respectively.

The average pages per visit WAS 3.94 and 4.6, respectively.

It is an ecommerce category level page that links out to product-level ecommerce pages.

There were other keywords people used to land on this page, but the user metrics were not as good as the desired keywords, and actually google has found a better landing page for those particular keywords.


If you can't find any differences between then and now, and the user experience seems to be satisfactory, that would be the time to start making changes.


I think I am at that point where I need to start making changes.

I just don't know what changes to make.

bluntforce




msg:4498479
 11:31 pm on Sep 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

Some of your traffic has shifted to other site pages, so I wouldn't consider that a problem but more an indicator Google feels your site is fine, but they are looking for a closer match to user intent.

I've been satisfied changing existing phrases like "blue widgets" to phrases like:
"small blue widgets"
"medium round blue widget for sale"
"large blue discounted widgets"
I don't do links and on-page at the same time, on-page is done as a page revision with all changes and any additional copy done all at once. No keyword stuffing or tweaking it later. I use their keyword tool to find higher volume phrases I haven't used and that they feel are related to "blue widgets". Maybe something similar would be helpful in your situation.

You might also try looking at the time on page for that category page. If users are on the category page just long enough to select a different page, then the destination product level pages could be considered more appropriate for the term "blue widgets".

Just some thoughts.

Planet13




msg:4498617
 3:48 pm on Sep 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

@ bluntforce

Firstly, thanks for your thoughts.

Some of your traffic has shifted to other site pages, so I wouldn't consider that a problem but more an indicator Google feels your site is fine, but they are looking for a closer match to user intent.


Unfortunately, for the keywords "blue widgets" google seems to be returning my home page instead of the desired blue-widgets.html page (although the home page ranks much lower than where the blue-widgets.html page used to rank).

So I agree with your premise that the SITE is ok in google's eyes, yet the page in question is not.

I don't do links and on-page at the same time,


Do you mean INTERNAL links?

Because I think my page is over-linked to internally, so I would like to REDUCE the amount of text on this particular page AND reduce the amount of internal links to that page.

Do you think that reducing the text AND reducing the number of internal links to the problem page would cause issues?

I've been satisfied changing existing phrases like "blue widgets" to phrases like: "small blue widgets"...


Thanks for the reminder. Yes, that is something I have tried to do.

I use their keyword tool to find higher volume phrases I haven't used and that they feel are related to "blue widgets". Maybe something similar would be helpful in your situation.


Thanks again for the suggestion. Can I ask which specific tool you use?

You might also try looking at the time on page for that category page. If users are on the category page just long enough to select a different page, then the destination product level pages could be considered more appropriate for the term "blue widgets".


That is something I will have to look into further.

However, a quick look shows that the page in question is second only to the index page in terms of time on page, and pages per visit (according to google analytics). So the users who DO land on the page seem to like it (and like the site in general).

Robert Charlton




msg:4498654
 6:43 pm on Sep 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Can I ask which specific tool you use?

Please note that (apart from WMT) the Google Forum Charter [webmasterworld.com] prohibits the mention of specific tools, but we do have a dedicated thread for users to make recommendations....

Favorite SEO Tools
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4367011.htm [webmasterworld.com]

bluntforce




msg:4498894
 7:08 pm on Sep 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

If your index page, which has replaced your "blue widgets" page, although at a lower level, has less text and internal linking then it might make some sense to experiment with that. You have complete access to everything about those pages, compare the differences.

You state that page is second only to the index in time on page. When a visitor enters the index page using "blue widgets" as the keyphrase how does the time on page compare to when they entered on the subject page?

I used the term "their keyword tool" and we are in a Google forum. :)

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