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Content Problem Or Link Problem Or ?
Planet13




msg:4580038
 10:42 pm on May 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

Hi everyone. Long time no see...

I had a page that USED to rank ok. Around #8 in the serps and about 75 visitors a day:

Keyword: blue widgets
File name: blue-widgets.html

Then it crashed in April / May of 2012

I tried to clean up the content but that didn't work.

Changed the file name from:

blue-widegets.html

to

blue_widgets.html

(underscore instead of hyphen) WITHOUT doing any 301 redirects, and it STILL can't be found for the term blue widgets.

Still no improvement.

I hoped Penguin 2.0 would sort things out. Unfortunately, traffic to my site dropped again about 25 percent.


Searching for the keyword with my domain name like this:

mywidgetshop.com blue widgets

brings up my home page and a couple of unrelated pages on my site, but NOT my blue widgets page.

The other pages google lists are various sites that mention my site in one way or another - NOT actual pages from my site. There are even pages from competitor's sites that show up :(


Same thing happens if I use "" around the domain name:

"mywidgetshop.com" blue widgets

If I use the site operator,

site:mywidgetshop.com blue widgets

my blue_widgets.html page shows up around #7, with other pages from my site above it.

If I leave off the dot com, and just use:

mywidgetshop blue widgets

Google returns results for the SEPARATED domain name. Namely it says:

showing results for my widget shop blue widgets
Search instead for mywidgetshop blue widgets?

1) Any suggestions on what to do?

2) Is is possible that no page on my whole entire DOMAIN will ever rank for the words "blue widgets" again?

3) Is there any way to confirm at all whether this is a CONTENT problem or a LINK problem?

Thanks in advance.

 

tedster




msg:4580047
 12:44 am on Jun 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

Have you validated the HTML? That sounds like it might be some kind of critical code error that blocks a critical part of the page.

phranque




msg:4580120
 11:00 am on Jun 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

Changed the file name from:
blue-widegets.html
to
blue_widgets.html
(underscore instead of hyphen) WITHOUT doing any 301 redirects, and it STILL can't be found for the term blue widgets.


fyi a hyphen is a word separator and an underscore is NOT a word separator.

regardless of the file name - if your content is actually about blue widgets and you filter all other competing results out using the site: operator, you should be able to get that page ranking unless you have stronger signals on some of your other pages.

after looking into tedster's suggestion, you might also investigate inbound links to the other higher ranking pages as well as your internal linking to see if something weird is happening with PR and relevance.

diberry




msg:4580152
 2:58 pm on Jun 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

I had almost exactly the same situation, even down to changing the URL and not redirecting. It's a Penguin thing, and several other people saw similar stuff - take out one word from the keyword phrase, and the page comes up, or add the site name to it and it comes up, etc. It's like my page has been penalized for a single word.

I had initially deleted a lot of outbound links from the page, thinking maybe Google saw it as a link farm rather than a resource page. I left that change in place, but later returned the URL to its original state.

The page has not fully recovered since Penguin, but it did come up several hundred spots and continues to creep upwards. I may never rank for it again, and I don't know whether that's because I didn't know the right things to do or because part of Penguin IS never letting you rank for that phrase again.

Hope this is somewhat helpful!

Planet13




msg:4580198
 8:21 pm on Jun 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thank you everyone for your replies:

@ Tedster

"Have you validated the HTML?"

Can you suggest an html validator to use that will explain which is a "critical" error?

There are several errors, but I don't know which one is "critical"

It is an ecommerce site and unfortunately I can't change too much about the underlying code.

@ phranque:

"...you might also investigate inbound links to the other higher ranking pages as well as your internal linking to see if something weird is happening with PR and relevance."

I will double check this, but as far as I can tell, the internal linking is correct. Internal linking might be over optimized (who understands exactly what matt cutts means about how to link internally).

As for external links, I did do a bit of link begging and got a few decent links. However, those were to the OLD blue-widgets.html page, and since I have re-named the file to blue_widgets.html without 301 redirecting, and NONE of my pages rank for "blue widgets" I can only assume that there is some site-wide algo filter preventing me for ranking for that term (unless I add mydomainname.com to the search query).

Ironically, I rank quite well for the term:

blue widget meaning

and

blue widgets meanings (plural version)

but an entirely DIFFERENT page ranks. that is an INFO page on our blog (on the same domain), not the ecommerce page.

According to webmaster tools search queries graph, my average position is 1.1 for those terms.

Another thing: There are lots of pages on my site that rank in the top 3 for keyword phrases that either A) have ONE of the words (either blue or the word widgets) in the phrase, or B) have a third or fourth word in that keyword phase.

As an example, webmaster tools lists me in the top three for such phrases as:

blue widgets styles
blue styles
widget styles
different blue widgets and their meanings

In short, I rank somewhere (mostly in the top 10) for a total of 38 different phrases that include blue widgets in the phrase, according to webmaster tools.

Only the nuclear phrase "blue widgets" doesn't rank at all.

Planet13




msg:4580200
 8:24 pm on Jun 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

@ diberry:

"...or because part of Penguin IS never letting you rank for that phrase again."

I think you might be on to something here.

nomis5




msg:4580205
 8:37 pm on Jun 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

part of Penguin IS never letting you rank for that phrase again


That would fit in entirely with my view of G. Their algo has all the sophistication of a factory made brick and the morals of a fly.

Don't look too deep into their algo, because if you do you will wind yourself up with no result. It really is a sledgehammer and if you are unlucky to get hit by it forget the nuances and fine tuning, you have been hit by a massive sledgehammer.

G revels in making us think their algo is so, so, so refined and maybe the problem with your page/ site is this or that. Forget it, it's a huge great hammer to crack a nut and that's it.

Awarn




msg:4580208
 8:52 pm on Jun 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

Site crashed in about May 2012. What date exactly? Look at the stats and you can figure that out. Maybe May 7 or 8? The whole thing you describe sounds very familiar. Site crashed for no apparent reason then just a slow fade before you know it traffic is half of what it should be and nothing you do works.

Planet13




msg:4580213
 9:11 pm on Jun 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

Ok just to kind of summarize what has happened over the years.

- I used to rank top 8 - 9 for keyword "blue widgets" on my page with the file name /blue-widgets.html

- Sometime shortly after penguin 1 (april 24, 2012) I stopped ranking at all on ANY page for "blue widgets"

- I sent a reconsideration request to google last year and they said there was NO manual penalty applied to my site.

- In February of this year I changed file name from /blue-widgets.html to /blue_widgets.html (same domain) WITHOUT doing 301 redirects. No improvement has been seen.

- I still rank for 38 phrases that INCLUDE the words blue widgets in the phrase, but on different pages, NOT the blue_widgets.html phrase

- I still rank for numerous phrases that include either "blue" or "widgets" (along with the above mentioned phrases that included both). Again, on different pages, NOT the blue_widgets.html phrase

- My overall site traffic in general increased nearly 50% in the period of January 7th, 2012 through approximately March 23rd, 2012. this is odd because it is an ecommerce site with an information section as well, and ecommerce sites generally see a sharp dip in traffic during January and February.

- I looks like my site was first hit by Panda 3.4 on March 23rd, 2012

- My site was hit by Penguin 1 on April 24, 2012

- My site seems to have been hit by Phantom on May 9th, 2013

- My site seems to have been hit by Penguin 2 on May 22nd, 2013

- with the exception of changing the blue-widgets.html page to blue_widgets.html, over the last year or so I have NOT done anything to this site in terms of SEO. I have not gone link begging, I have not reworked titles, have not changed / added content.

- I do not have any warnings or messages in my webmaster tools account.

- According to webmaster tools search queries, numerous informational pages rank top 5 for certain keywords and their CTR is ABOVE 35% (some have a clickthrough rate around 65%)

- In the period from May 2, 2013 to June 1, 2013, webmaster tools search queries says I have a 33% drop in impressions, and a 32% drop in clicks.

- I am at wit's end. Really don't know what to do with this site. Maybe split the informational and ecommerce pages off? Then I could monetize the informational with adsense?

Awarn




msg:4580218
 9:22 pm on Jun 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

Join the crowd. Interesting to see the story. Now let me guess you get nailed and your competitors rise with spammy techniques. Almost like nothing phases their sites and total garbage and almost unrelated sites rank above you.

Planet13




msg:4580219
 9:23 pm on Jun 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

@ Awarn:

There was a small slide from April 5th through 7th, 2012, then a big zig-zag slide from April 17th through the 27th, 2012.

Things picked up ever so slightly in May of 2012.

they remained pretty stable from there up until May 9th of 2013.


@ nomis5:

"G revels in making us think their algo is so, so, so refined and maybe the problem with your page/ site is this or that. Forget it, it's a huge great hammer to crack a nut and that's it."


I would like to "forget it" as you suggest. But do you have alternatives as to what to do?

do I make another site? Stop trying to rank for that keyword?

Planet13




msg:4580221
 9:28 pm on Jun 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

@ Awarn:

"Now let me guess you get nailed and your competitors rise with spammy techniques. Almost like nothing phases their sites and total garbage and almost unrelated sites rank above you."


Well, yes and no...

the usual suspects who are ecommerce sites DO have a TON of link spam from directories and link partners.

They used to make up the top 4 to 5 sites.

However, over the last few updates, they have been pushed down by ebay, amazon, wikipedia, so now they are ranking around 4 through 8 instead of 1 through 5.

Seriously, those site have INCREDIBLY spammy inbound links.

Awarn




msg:4580224
 9:37 pm on Jun 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

I would buy a blue-widget emd and put on a different server, different contact info, different address, phone, layout and fly and continue to work with the original. There is no answer. You can't fix it until you know what is broke and many people have the same scenario and they didn't find the answer. Think of it as we are dealing with a bad mechanic that says it might be this part, then that part etc. At a certain point you say forget it.

Planet13




msg:4580240
 12:31 am on Jun 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

@ Awarn:

I appreciate your suggestion:

"I would buy a blue-widget emd and put on a different server, different contact info, different address, phone, layout and fly and continue to work with the original."


That would be pretty drastic.

that blue_widgets.html page couldn't stand on it's own.

I would have to take a big chunk from the original site that is related to the blue widgets and put it on the new domain as well...

I hope that any others that might have any other suggestions will chime in, too.

tedster




msg:4580265
 4:28 am on Jun 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

Can you suggest an html validator to use that will explain which is a "critical" error?

No, unfortunately. The only thing I've ever been able to do is go through each error and find it on the page. The worst kind seems to be a missing < and things like that. Many browsers can recover form that, but often not Google.

Planet13




msg:4580370
 5:22 pm on Jun 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

@ tedster:

Many browsers can recover form that, but often not Google.


Ok, let's approach it another way.

Is there a way using either fetch as googlebot in webmaster tools or by looking at the google cached version of the page to rule OUT the possibility that google is getting hung up on html markup errors?

I am not just being lazy. I am concerned that my attempt to "fix" markup errors will make things worse. Plus, as you alluded to, their is no one standardized markup validator, so I might end up chasing my tail fixing an error in one validator only to cause an error in another validator...

Garya




msg:4580379
 6:54 pm on Jun 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

Planet13
I had the same problem, and recovered in penguin 2.0. by cleaning up my back links.

It all about your inbound links to the page and home page.

phranque




msg:4580396
 8:13 pm on Jun 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

there is a standardized markup validator:
http://validator.w3.org/ [validator.w3.org]

what does not exist is a validator that will determine which part of your invalid markup might cause a problem for google indexing.

jimbeetle




msg:4580600
 1:02 pm on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

I think this highlights one major problem common among web folks: Making changes higgledy-piggledy before identifying what changes actually had to be made.

anand84




msg:4580602
 1:14 pm on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

So as I understand it, your search traffic for blue-widgets.html crashed. So, you created a new blue_widgets.html with the same content without a 301 redirect.

Does this mean, you now have two pages with the same content? Or is the first one deleted from your system? If not, have you canonicalized the first one?

Also, has the traffic from other sources (bing, facebook,etc.) stayed linear through this time? Or has traffic from other sources dropped too?

Planet13




msg:4580642
 3:03 pm on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

@ anand84:

"Does this mean, you now have two pages with the same content? Or is the first one deleted from your system? If not, have you canonicalized the first one?"


Only one page. I deleted the original blue-widgets.html page when I created the blue_widgets.html page.

"Also, has the traffic from other sources (bing, facebook,etc.) stayed linear through this time? Or has traffic from other sources dropped too?"


Traffic from bing and yahoo have increased, but they are still so small as to be insignificant.

Planet13




msg:4580643
 3:08 pm on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

@ jimbeetle:

"I think this highlights one major problem common among web folks: Making changes higgledy-piggledy before identifying what changes actually had to be made."


I appreciate that you are trying to help.

However, labeling my changes as "higgledy-piggledy before identifying what changes actually had to be made" would be inaccurate.

I had contacted several members of the webmasterworld forum (whose names you would recognize) and asked them to take a look at the page. None of them were able to provide a fix for the page. I won't mention their names, but they are people you would recognize, and they make their living doing SEO.

Further, I posted in the members area (where you are allowed to link to your page) asking help. No one in that members area was able to provide a fix.

Aside from this one change (which was significant, admittedly), I did not go around making random changes to my site.

So while I agree that it is much better to make a change that you are certain needs to be made, I must ask how much certainty is there when dealing with Panda and Penguin?

taberstruths




msg:4580671
 4:17 pm on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

@Planet13

I am not sure if you thought about this or not. We are so focused on "On Page Seo and quality content" and are so used to thinking about "links and link profile" that we forget about a new player in the algorithm. What are your "user metrics" for the page. I have found that in today's serps, user metrics is the new "love" of the algorithm. It covers a multitude of sins. Even if you have great on page seo and a great link profile, if your user metrics suck, you will not rank for long, and if you have great user metrics and no on page seo and backlinks, you will rank. So I would expand what you are looking at.

Planet13




msg:4580676
 4:31 pm on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

@ taberstruths

"What are your "user metrics" for the page."


They are quite good for my site. The user metrics for that page are (and always have been) about 2nd best on my site.

Actually, that page (the blue-widgets.html which then became the blue_widgets.html page) still receives the second most amount of traffic on my site, but NOT as a landing page.

The reason it receives so much traffic is because it is because my home page as well as the most popular landing page of my site (widgets-menaings.html) link to it in the first paragraph.

However, despite being the page that receives the second most traffic on my site, the sheer amount of traffic to that page is about 1/7th of what it used to be.

diberry




msg:4580678
 4:39 pm on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

what does not exist is a validator that will determine which part of your invalid markup might cause a problem for google indexing.


True, but there are other good reasons to get your coding in compliance, or nearly there. It can speed page loads for one thing, which can boost rankings a little but also help with user retention.

taberstruths




msg:4580680
 4:39 pm on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

@Planet13

What I am talking about concerning user metrics is not traffic alone. It is ctr from serps, time on page, bounce back rate, ect. I just saw a video recently where ex googler's confirmed that they are using all the date collected from Chrome.

Planet13




msg:4580692
 4:52 pm on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

@ taberstruths:

What I am talking about concerning user metrics is not traffic alone. It is ctr from serps, time on page, bounce back rate, ect. I just saw a video recently where ex googler's confirmed that they are using all the date collected from Chrome.


Yes, I understand what you are saying and apologize if my previous answer was not clear.

I do not know what the clickthrough rate from the SERPs was originally for that original page (blue-widgets.html). I will see if there is some way to find it.

As far as user metrics, such as bounce rate, time on page, number of pages viewed, etc., they were slightly better than the average for my site.

Thank you again.

taberstruths




msg:4580694
 4:57 pm on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

Not a problem my friend. Compare your user metrics with those that have moved ahead of you. That might give you a clue as if yours are "good enough"

Planet13




msg:4580696
 4:58 pm on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

One other question:

I can not see search query data in webmaster tools before March 5th, 2013. Is that a limit that EVERYONE faces? Or just me?

jimbeetle




msg:4580714
 5:54 pm on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

However, labeling my changes as "higgledy-piggledy before identifying what changes actually had to be made" would be inaccurate.

Sorry. And sorry that you did not see fit to give complete information in you opening post. It might have helped know what avenues you had already explored.

This 36 message thread spans 2 pages: 36 ( [1] 2 > >
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