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Search ranking for important keywords has gone down drastically. Help!
vatoad




msg:4617987
 8:38 pm on Oct 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

Firstly, we are a small entrepreneurial team of 3 persons and I am more like an amateur webmaster of the company's website as we cannot really afford a technical guy/department right now.

A few weeks earlier, our website traffic and rankings for most keywords decreased overnight. I did a lot of reading henceforth and learned about Penguin 2.1 which people said is the reason for the drop. Something like this had never happened before. Now, I have gone through the entire Google webmaster help section. It says there that if a manual penalty is taken against us, we would notice a message in Manual Actions page. So far, we haven't received any notice from Google for web spam.

Some SEO guys I contacted said they found spam links in our backlink profile. I do believe I had mistakenly purchased a cheap link/SEO scheme when I was yet very new to SEO. This was more than a year back but since then we have been legitimate. Moreover, how do I find out which is a spam link and which is not? Our content is all original, refreshing and the best you will find in our niche. We also have a blog but on a different domain (wordpress.com) from where we send out anchored links to our business website. Is this a good thing to do?

Now, how should we proceed and recover our traffic/rankings. I tried searching in webmasters for a way to reach google and ask them why the traffic has decreased suddenly, but I couldn't find a contact form or something.

Can someone please help in making things more clear regarding the reason for the drop, along with a solution. Our website is [snip]

Will really appreciate this as I can't get to figure this out and its taking a lot of time.

[edited by: brotherhood_of_LAN at 9:18 pm (utc) on Oct 20, 2013]
[edit reason] see the terms of service about personal links... thanks! [/edit]

 

JVerstry




msg:4618057
 6:25 am on Oct 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

You are not the only one. Many people saw this traffic drop pattern on their websites in the past couple of weeks. Everyone is struggling to understand why.

Regarding your backlinks, you can check Google Webmaster Tools' disavow link. Remove (at least) any links you paid for.

Regarding your blog links, if these are not artificially created for traffic, it should not be an issue.

vatoad




msg:4618148
 4:24 pm on Oct 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

Hi. Thanks for the reply. I will go ahead with the disavow of the purchased links. The blog links are not artificial. They have a relevance to the blogpost and forwards readers to a page in our website which is related to that blogpost.

Do you think we can regain position for our important keywords? Cause right now I cannot find our website listed for our main keyword (which is also the title-tag of the homepage) anywhere in the 50 pages of search I have crawled so far. This is really scary.

One more thing, do you think it is better to have the blog in the same domain as the website?

JVerstry




msg:4618179
 6:37 pm on Oct 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

Do you think we can regain position for our important keywords?


Some people have been successful, but usually not as high as before, others did not (sometimes because there were other issues).

Unfortunately, some verticals have been hit harder than others (eCommerce, review websites...).

Some perfectly legitimate website have been delisted with no explanation. No one understands why, except that they are probably innocent casualties of Google algorithms.

One more thing, do you think it is better to have the blog in the same domain as the website?


No, not necessarily. If your blog is not spammy or unnatural, then it is not the issue.

vatoad




msg:4618184
 6:56 pm on Oct 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thanks so much for your time. One last question, do we need to shift to a new domain to recover or the present one will be fine in a few months/next year? The present one has some good links coming from legitimate high PR domains/pages. We're also planning a redesign to the website and making it better in all ways. So shifting to a new one will be like starting everything over, which we are ready to take if it is the only solution.

Shai




msg:4618189
 7:04 pm on Oct 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

Hi Vatoad, Welcome to the forums.

If the drop was caused by Penguin then you would not receive a penalty message in Web Master Tools. Can you confirm he drop happened on or around the 4th of October?

As JVerstry said, its more than likely to be the spammy links you have bought, but without seeing the site, its impossible to tell for sure. Finding them should be easy. Just go through the list in web master tools and anything that looks like its just been built for links such as link directories, article directories, forum/blog comment spam should be a candidate for removal. By the way, your blog may be on subject and relevant but that those are not the attributes that Google look for when assessing if a link is natural or not. When they say Natural, they mean freely given. Having your own blog pointing to your own site does not count so I would make these links no-follow.

Lastly, once this is done (as quickly as possible) you will need to wait for the next iteration of Penguin which is due in approx. 2.5 months if the current pace of updates is going to remain uniform.

Best of luck, and make sure you make a good use of the Disavow tool for anything you are unable to remove.

[edited by: Shai at 7:35 pm (utc) on Oct 21, 2013]

Shai




msg:4618190
 7:06 pm on Oct 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

Shifting to a new domain and redirecting the old domain to the new will more likely than not pass the penalty also if it is in fact an algorithmic penalty like Penguin. I have heard of some cases where this did not happen but our (limited) first hand experience says otherwise.

If the good links don't point to the homepage of the old site, you should be able to just redirect those particular pages (as ling as they don't have spammy links pointing to it also)

Otherwise, its a case of trying to contact the owners and asking them nicely to change the links to the new domain.

mods: sorry, should have edited the above post instead of creating a new one.

JVerstry




msg:4618192
 7:19 pm on Oct 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

One last question, do we need to shift to a new domain to recover or the present one will be fine in a few months/next year?


In your situation, I would try to get rid of the bad links first. Be agressive and remove all suspicious links. No hesitation. Do not go step by step. Be tough. Then, wait for Google to process the disavowed links and to recrawl your site. It may take some time.

In the mean time, implement as much quality improvements as you can. Implement a sitemap with proper 'last modified' values if you can. This may accelerate the process if your site is large. But it is not an absolute must.

Going for a new domain name is for sites having tons of bad pages or posts, and where it would take less time to move the goods ones to the new site and cut ties with the old one. But if the issue is in the pages, Google will catch up with the penalty and the new site will be no safe heaven.

@Shai

Panda is now automatic, and not manual any more. You don't need to wait for the next iteration for your modifications to be taken into account. Sure Google will post algo updates, but it is not like a year ago. It is just a matter of Google recrawling your site.

vatoad




msg:4618193
 7:25 pm on Oct 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

Hi Shai. Thanks for your input.

The drop indeed happened around October 4th which makes me think it was Penguin.

It would be great if you check the site for us. I can PM you for the web address.

"By the way, your blog may be on subject and relevant but that those are not the attributes that Google look for when assessing if a link is natural or not. When they say Natural, they mean freely given. Having your own blog pointing to your own site does not count so I would make these links no-follow."

Our blog has hundreds of pages and thousands of links (from sidebar and in-post) to our website. Changing the sidebar links to no-follow is easy but going through hundreds of posts is a nightmare. Would shifting the blog to our website domain work? Cause then these links would be internal links. However, blog readers will find the change difficult and we don't want to loose the wordpress community benefits. And the current blog has many high ranking articles, good backlinks and serves as a good traffic source for our main website with visitor time spent being above 4 mins.

"...make sure you make a good use of the Disavow tool for anything you are unable to remove."

I have read that we need to contact webmasters and ask them to remove our link. Isn't the disavow tool good enough to do this? Or do I need to send hundreds of emails out to webmasters. Frustrating part is, we are a small team and this has hit us right at the peak of our selling season.

"Shifting to a new domain and redirecting the old domain to the new will more likely than not pass the penalty also if it is in fact an algorithmic penalty like Penguin."

I have 3 options now: 1. Keep working on the current website and make it spam free. 2. Change to a new domain with a redirect from previous domain. 3. Change to a new domain with no redirects and work on SEO again.

What do you suggest? 3rd option will be a perilous journey we'd like to avoid.

vatoad




msg:4618197
 7:33 pm on Oct 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

@JVerstry,

Thanks for the reply. Things are much clear now. I will start pursuing the bad/spam links aggressively. Do I need to contact the webmasters for these links and ask them to remove? Or can I just disavow such links? In total, I am looking at something about 500 to 1000 bad links coming from a hundred or two hundred different domains. Our site is small and we have less than hundred pages.

Shai




msg:4618200
 7:36 pm on Oct 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

@JVerstry - Sorry, obviously I meant Penguin not Panda. Thanks for the heads up. Now corrected above. Penguin is still on a 3 monthly refresh... for now.

vatoad - Will be more than happy t have a quick look tomorrow.

JVerstry




msg:4618213
 8:37 pm on Oct 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

Do I need to contact the webmasters for these links and ask them to remove? Or can I just disavow such links?


I would disavow right now. Simpler, faster and it seems like you have many links to get rid of. Even if webmasters say they will do it, it will take time and some may try to charge you. On top of it, you'd have to check they did the work properly. You have a small team.

About your blog, if it is not penalized, then it means you will still get traffic from it, since people will follow your links. But the number of links may (I say may) be considered as a suspicious by Google.

So, I agree with Shai, no-follow as many links as you can on your blog, even if it means a lot of work. And in this case, I would definitely not move to a new URL, unless you can implement a clean redirect strategy. But it is a lot of work and you can still do that later.

Something else, get rid of old or bad quality or thin content posts. Google Analytics can help you. Search for posts with a high bounce rate or exit rate, low average time spend on them, and/or with little traffic. Check them one by one and kill the bad ones, or at least mark them as "noindex,follow". It will improve the overall quality of your site.

@Shai

Interesting info about Penguin. Where did you find it?

vatoad




msg:4618226
 9:43 pm on Oct 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

@JVerstry

Thanks for the tips. Our blog is not penalized and in-fact after penguin 2.1, organic traffic has increased a bit. Will go ahead with no-following the links to the website and will look into the thin contents. We generally try to provide interesting content as we like what we do.

"kill the bad ones, or at least mark them as "noindex,follow". It will improve the overall quality of your site."

How do I kill them and mark them as "noindex,follow"?

[edited by: aakk9999 at 12:27 am (utc) on Oct 22, 2013]
[edit reason] Charter [/edit]

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