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Ranking Loss Following WP 'Related Posts' Plugin Installation
dailypress




msg:4513258
 6:56 pm on Oct 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

hello all,

I have a Wordpress site with over 10,000 pages. I recently added a "Related Posts" plugin and set the number of links to 7.

Within a week, I lost almost all Google referrals. When you google the "Domain name" my site show's up, but other than that I no longer receive any referrals. Even when I search the complete sentence in "quotation", my site doesn't show up.

Is this a penalty? Or a temporary red flag? What now?
Are these new "Related" links considered a sudden change on my site and is this why I have been penalized?

Should I remove/disable the plugin? Or would that be considered another immediate (bulk) change?

Has anyone experienced anything similar? Any solution?

thanks in advance,
DP

 

canuckseo




msg:4513285
 9:19 pm on Oct 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have the related posts plugin on many WP sites and i don't have any issues, but the sites were launched with it already installed. Probably what is happening is that you've changed the internal link profile of your site enough that google has to recalculate it.

dailypress




msg:4513424
 4:37 pm on Oct 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

Does the number of links also have any effect? I used to have 2 (related post) links per page. Now I have 10 links/page.

indyank




msg:4513429
 4:46 pm on Oct 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

Very interesting. These were never a problem before but it looks like any mass introduction on an existing site would create problems.

But wait, don't remove it. Undoing things would as per the patent be sending a signal that you are making changes for SE gaming purposes.

Zivush




msg:4513430
 4:47 pm on Oct 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

What's the name of the plugin that you are using.
There are some difference between the plugins and their performance.

conroy




msg:4513479
 6:47 pm on Oct 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

Do all the related links contain a lot of similar keyword phrasing as anchor text?

Nostalgic Dave




msg:4513488
 7:21 pm on Oct 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

I was wondering about "related post" links too. I rebuilt my site in October of last year and added related posts links at the same time. Ever since then, the site has been popping in and out of Panda penalties. Having tried everything else to find a permanent fix, I just removed these links last week. The nature of the plugin that creates the links, is that the anchor text is the same as the page title and URL permalink, so... Panda bait? We'll see if this helps! If it does, it stinks! It means "build for your users, not for Google" is a lie... I'd like to KEEP the links!

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4513496
 7:45 pm on Oct 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

I've done extensive A/B testing with internal links since 2006 and I can say without a doubt that displaying links to related content is a GOOD thing. I can also say that making changes to an existing site, such as by adding 7 new links to every page, may cause Google to re-evaluate your site which, in turn, may affect rankings at least temporarily.

- Make sure the posts really are similar and that they don't just share some common words.

I've tested most plugins that do this extensively, over many sites, for a long time and I can say that the most intuitive(and customizable) at finding related content has been a plugin called "similar posts" by Rob Marsh. The plugin states that it has not been updated in 2 years on wordpress.org but Rob maintains the plugin on his site and it does work well with the latest wordpress - [rmarsh.com...] I don't know Rob, we've never spoken and this isn't a plug for his plugin arbitrarily, it has really worked well for me.

- Check your page source code for surprises

Many of the plugins I tested stuff a lot of css and author credit text into your page code, take the time to minimize this and combine the css with your main stylesheet for best results.

- Check your database response time for surprises

Because this type of plugin needs to either create new tables to record matching content or do a search on the fly which it may or may not be saving there is a noticeable impact on your database response time. Monitor this closely using a plugin such as [wordpress.org...] (admin only debugging, turn it off when done) You might be surprised at how many extra calls this type of plugin makes.

- Check the number of links and look for nofollow etc.

Some of the plugins create multiple links to the same page by showing an image with text link for each similar post. Some also have a nofollow option which may be on by default, check the code directly (while logged out of wordpress).

- Consider reducing the number of sitewide links to categories and/or tags (you're not using both on the same pages, hopefully). Similar posts plugins spread any internal link equity between articles which strengthens their profile while reducing that of the categories they are in (a good thing). If the plugin is optimized the category links become redundant and can be combined into a link to an archive or resource page or removed completely.

I would wait for Google to fully propagate what you've done before moving onto any more changes, it may take 90 days or more for a 10,000 page site to fully update in Google, some pages may even take up to a year or more. GWT tells me about old pages that haven't existed in 5+ years sometimes.

Don't panic, make sure things are in order and stick with your overall plan at least long enough to gauge results (2+ months minimum). Good luck.

dailypress




msg:4514046
 4:33 am on Oct 31, 2012 (gmt 0)

Suprisingly, I have lost Yahoo referrals as well. The site is fairly new. Only a few months old but I currently have over 10,000 unique pages.

I am using the Plugin:
"Contextual Related Posts" by Ajay.

I searched the plugin you recommended (similar posts) and replaced it with the Contextual Related Posts. There are more configuration settings.

Yesterday, I recently signed up on Google Webmasters and submitted my Sitemap.xml, Im hoping that can also help expedite the process.

Do you recommend the default 5 related posts or more? I know one similar site that displays 10 similar posts and it ranks very well on Google (over 10,000 visitors/day) hence why I set the number something in between (7).

Zivush




msg:4514049
 4:53 am on Oct 31, 2012 (gmt 0)

I am using the same plugin, "Contextual Related Posts" by Ajay, on several sites.
This is very popular plugin and it has never made any issue.

dailypress




msg:4514538
 8:53 am on Nov 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

thank you for your responses.

I can also say that making changes to an existing site, such as by adding 7 new links to every page, may cause Google to re-evaluate your site which, in turn, may affect rankings at least temporarily.
I am hoping its temporary. I did listen to your advice and replaced the plugin with what you suggested.

This is very popular plugin and it has never made any issue.
Yes, I learned about it in an article stating the top 20 plugins. However, maybe the change in number of Links may have caused a penalty.

* When I google: site: MyDomainName, it shows 11,000 results however, my Google Analytics barely shows any referrals.

* When I google : MyDomainName, my site shows up first.

* When I google any of the previous keywords, my site doesnt show up.

* I checked Google Webmasters, and all the keywords are still there, but instead of being listed as #1-10 they are now listed as #50-200.

* Sitemap recently submitted via Google Webmasters:
13,604 URLs submitted
9,327 URLs indexed

* Since Oct 23, there is only one keyword that the Average Position is 310. That is when my Google traffic all of a sudden stopped.

* Webmaster Tools >> Health : Does not show errors or Malware.

Have I been penalized? If so, what kind of penalty? And how do I go about fixing this issue?

canuckseo




msg:4514721
 4:38 pm on Nov 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

I can say from my experience that with 5 related posts per page and post I have no issues whatsoever.

In fact I see an increase in traffic to related posts/pages when one is identified on a NEW post/page. IE I write a new article - it gets picked up in as little as an hour and starts showing in the index. I then see a spike in traffic to those pages linked to it - this traffic usually comes a few days after the new content is added.

So I still feel it is because you added this plugin which forced Google to recrawl your entire site and adjust link inheritance between pages.

doc_z




msg:4514950
 6:46 am on Nov 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

I guess that the reason for the loss in ranking is not the plugin inself but the fact that there is a massive change in the internal links. (See this post. [webmasterworld.com]) I would simply wait and ensure that the "Related Posts" not change (which means that they are just generated once). However, when I'm right I take some time because Google first have to re-crawl the whole site and then see that the link structure is stable.

dailypress




msg:4515052
 2:37 pm on Nov 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

I would simply wait and ensure that the "Related Posts" not change (which means that they are just generated once).
Wouldn't that be impossible considering that New Posts may change several older posts under the Related Link Section?

[edited by: dailypress at 2:41 pm (utc) on Nov 2, 2012]

diberry




msg:4515053
 2:38 pm on Nov 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

I use Yet Another Related Posts Plugin, and it did my site a lot of good in terms of user metrics - people love those related posts! I never noticed any downside with Google, and that's on several sites.

But I set this up a couple of years ago. It's always possible Google is processing things differently now. Still, I would place my bets with those thinking Google is just re-crunching your site in light of these new links, and in the long run it'll all be good.

Another possibility is that a related posts plugin helps you as long as your readers use it, but hurts you if they don't. To the bot, it's all just links, but maybe if you had a bad bounce rate and now you've just given people even MORE links to ignore, that would look bad. But if people are using it, I think it should work for you.

dailypress




msg:4515055
 2:43 pm on Nov 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

Still, I would place my bets with those thinking Google is just re-crunching your site in light of these new links, and in the long run it'll all be good.
I am hoping that's the case but a sudden drop to <10 referrals/day worries me especially considering the time I put into this site. I'll simply have to wait and see.
doc_z




msg:4515316
 6:44 am on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

Wouldn't that be impossible considering that New Posts may change several older posts under the Related Link Section?


New post shouldn't change the Related Link Section on older post - at least this is (in my opinion) the safer way. If the related links are just generated once when the post is created and stored in the database then the section won't change (and it's even faster). However, it depends on the plugin.

dailypress




msg:4528366
 8:43 am on Dec 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

hi all,

Just wanted to let you know that the penalty was removed once I removed the Related Links.

I dont think the Plugin had any issues but since each page consisted of only 2-3 sentences and had 5-10 related links, Google may have thought the amount of useful content was too low for users.

Anyway after 2-3 months the penalty was finally removed and I wanted to thank you guys for your support and share how it was resolved.

tedster




msg:4528716
 5:55 pm on Dec 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

each page consisted of only 2-3 sentences and had 5-10 related links

I can see how that would be problematic for Google. Thanks for the added details.

Robert Charlton




msg:4529067
 8:08 pm on Dec 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

I dont think the Plugin had any issues but since each page consisted of only 2-3 sentences and had 5-10 related links, Google may have thought the amount of useful content was too low for users.

These sound like tag pages by another name.

I'd think it would be far preferable to add links to related posts to pages containing individual articles... and in fact I think that's what most of us did assume. As Sgt_Kickaxe mentioned...

I can say without a doubt that displaying links to related content is a GOOD thing.

It's not clear after this discussion whether your "articles" were only 2-3 sentences long (and your related links kind of overwhelmed them), or whether this plug-in was creating new pages (like tag pages) just for the related links.

If the articles are that short, I'm guessing that you should look into beefing them up... as I think a site with content that sparse is likely to run into other problems down the road.

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