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Can Old Sites With Old Footprints Survive Modern Algos?
austtr

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4624655 posted 12:09 am on Nov 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

I've seen several recent comments in various threads about old sites suffering badly in the current SERP's. The discussions seem to be about sites 10 years old or more.

The stories usually describe sites that were successful for long periods (ie they followed Google's Guidelines, no spam, no link buying, well maintained) and then got hit... some Panda but mostly Penguin. Since the initial hit, the sites just slowly wither away. These sites typically do NOT get a manual action message in GWT so the problem is assumed to be algo related.

Diligent housekeeping, keeping the sites squeaky clean, following MC's recommendations, all of which used to bring about improvements, is now having no effect at all and the sites are now dead for all practical intents and purposes.

The main question being asked about these old sites is, even if its possible to unravel the link profiles (de-optimise anchor text etc) that come with the thousands of IBLs these old sites typically have, is that activity just going to be seen as manipulative, and prove to be just another reason for a demotion?

If there is any substance to this, then it would seem that old sites are between a very big rock and a very hard place. Does anyone have case histories than confirm or debunk this theory?

 

aakk9999

WebmasterWorld Administrator 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4624655 posted 12:36 am on Nov 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

I do not have such site, but I am wondering whether this more affects the sites that "have not moved with the time" and remained unchanged for years - perhaps out of fear that changing something will impact the current good ranking.

Perhaps IBLs are also problematic not because there is lots of old such IBLs, but because, as the site has not moved with the time, it might have not have acquired new "natural" IBLs. So if the only thing that propped the site before was old IBL using old style link buildings, I can see how this site could drop when the algo changes - nothing to counterbalance.

I am wondering how such old site would fire if it was completely redeveloped and maybe the old URLs with old IBLs just let go 404 - I am wondering has anybody tried this and what were the results.

austtr

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4624655 posted 4:57 am on Nov 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

whether this more affects the sites that "have not moved with the time" and remained unchanged for years

No... I don't think it is that simple. It would be very unusual for a serious site, one that was capable to ranking highly "back in the day", to remain totally unchanged over a period of many years. New pages added, old pages taken down, CSS functions came into vogue, tabled layouts fell from favour, CMS arrived, rel="nofollow" is now in effect.

Web owners/managers in here are not the type of people who leave quality sites unchanged year after year.

if the only thing that propped the site before was old IBL using old style link buildings

If by "old style link building" you are referring to all the assorted spam signature links, poor quality directory listings, link farms etc.... Google was telling us years before Penguin that they were on top of all that crap.

The concept of freely given links being the best type of IBL has been around since Adam was a boy.... it's not new and in most cases an old site will actually have more of these simply because it has been around that much longer to accumulate them.

how an old site would fire if it was completely redeveloped and maybe the old URLs with old IBLs just let go 404

That would be giant leap of faith that effectively says you are going to scrap everything except the content and start again from scratch.... maybe salvage a few links to kick-start the new site. Speaking for myself, that would involve a commitment to time, effort and expense that I am just not willing to make.... I don't trust Google enough anymore to do something like that.

I am wondering has anybody tried this and what were the results

Ditto from me as well.

JD_Toims

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4624655 posted 5:18 am on Nov 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

Google was telling us years before Penguin that they were on top of all that crap.

I don't remember exactly where, I think it was a tedster point, but the statement was made from "someone in the know" that Google's algos "disregard" what was "best practice" yesterday and look at "the timing of things so a 'yesterdays best practice' doesn't harm a site's rankings today", which if true [and I don't question the source I remember hearing/reading it from] the "old style of linking" so many seem to think is "the issue" really isn't a factor.

The concept of freely given links being the best type of IBL has been around since Adam was a boy.... it's not new and in most cases an old site will actually have more of these simply because it has been around that much longer to accumulate them.

It's not all about number -- What is the "acquisition of new link rate" relative to the overall number of links today and what was it previously?

Link-churn rate is something outside Penguin or Panda, afaik, and it seems to be forgotten about, but when a site doesn't attract the relative number/% of new inbound links compared to the whole of inbound links it used to, rather than the "churn rate" being a "highly positive" factor, it will change and can even turn negative, which algorithmically indicates "not as hot/popular" today as it was "yesterday".

I think there's a bit more than "age of site" and "age of links" to look at personally.

aristotle

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



 
Msg#: 4624655 posted 2:26 am on Nov 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

Those old sites used to rank highly because relevance and quality used to be important ranking factors. But Google wanted to get big brands and big organizations to the top of the results, and they had to throw relevance and quality out the window in order to do so. Those old sites fell in the rankings because they're weak with regard to whatever factors replaced relevance and quality.

EditorialGuy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4624655 posted 2:49 am on Nov 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

It's also possible that domain age used to count for more than it does now. And don't forget that even a slight drop in average rankings can have a big effect on search referrals and traffic.

Our own long-established information site got hit by Panda 1.0 back in February, 2011 and has suffered from a steady erosion of Google referrals since then. The site continues to rank on the first page of Google's SERPs for hundreds of search queries, but I think most people here would agree that ranking 1, 2, or 3 delivers a lot more traffic than ranking no. 6, 7, or 8 does.

Side note: We continue to get unsolicited inbound links regularly (including relevant links from megasites that do well in Google), and we definitely haven't stood still in terms of content or design. So I'm not sure how much of our Panda-caused distress has been caused by the Panda's punitive aspects (punishing "thin" pages, for example) and how much is the result of Google's now favoring things that we don't offer (such as having an EMD, having blog-style comments on every page, or having user-generated content).

Mh1980



 
Msg#: 4624655 posted 12:35 pm on Dec 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

Good post, I actually posted a question about the site own which is pretty much what you describe. We have high quality content, we do reviews on widgets which are regarded as the best and most extensive in our industry.

We have a forum with more than 300k threads which are all very suitable for long tail queries.

I do hope that Google will update their algorithms in such a way that things get better again. At the moment I think we have to work more on SEO than webmasters that do nothing than targeting the SERPS.

I rather focus on content creation than SEO...

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