Tallon - 1:37 am on Sep 21, 2010 (gmt 0)
no GA, our biggest site has been throttled for years
That's the most discouraging thing I've read in a long time. I've been struggling with throttling or a "something" for about a year now, with the hopes that whatever "this" is, it would pass.
My gut tells me that our root domain has been flagged somehow. A daily limit was assigned after team review. That root domain is "in the system" and balanced via tracking throughout the day.
This has been my gut feeling too, it's a handjob based on what I don't know? I suspect though it happens to sites that experience good growth and attract a lot of traffic.
What I Know:
--It's not from paid links or spammy inbounds (the site I see this on is 100% organic inbounds, no directory links, no article marketing, no guest posts, no paid links, nothing like that--though there could be some nefarious linking to the site by competitors that I can't find or see).
--It's not from selling links (I don't, never have).
--It's not from dup content, everything is original (other than quotes and links to those references).
--It's not because traffic is from search engines only (though mine is about 65%--from all search engines--, the rest is direct traffic, tens of thousands of subscribers, social media links and links from other sites).
What I do have:
--Google analytics installed.
--Use wordpress as a CMS.
--Monetization (display ads) other than adsense.
When the google traffic stalled:
--I was rising rapidly in the serps for both old and newly created content. Good growth month-after-month. A new article would typically sit somewhere in the top 10 of google. Now new content is maybe page two (if I'm lucky)...or 10, 15, 20 pages deep. Will rank for exact match or near exact match in title and is always indexed quickly.
--Old content (previous to Fall 2009) still ranks well and saw good month-over-month increases this spring/summer.
--New content (Fall 2009 and newer) is like it's sitting on a new domain.
It's like a "reset" button has been pushed for my site (old content fine and healthy, while new content trying to rank like a new, virgin site with no inbound links or authority would be).
What I don't see (btw I'm not an expert at digging in analytics and logs):
--Specific time throttling (pages only ranking at certain times of the day)
--Flat traffic levels day-by-day (I still have the normal fluctuations depending on the day of the week)
I have seen:
--Flat traffic levels month-by-month (from fall 2009 to spring 2010), there was a bounce over Spring/Summer 2010 from older content pages doing better. Trending down now for Fall, we'll see if it returns to the previous levels or if growth was allowed.
The WWW is well beyond what anyone could have predicted 20 years ago, and it grows every day in every way. Maybe, just maybe, "throttling" is Google's way of distributing traffic to sites that are pretty much equal.
If this is happening, then google's actually STIFLING the growth of the net. Think: Going Galt.
--Why create new content if it can't rank? If the cost of creating that content isn't justified, rate of new creation tanks. No matter who links to it, or how many links to it, it won't rank.
--If competitors and heavy hitters (for example demand media or mahalo) can take your ideas (from your new content), spin it enough so that it's original, and then THEY rank for it (and attract the links and new subscribers because they're ranking while you aren't)...why would you feed your competitors with new content ideas that you can't rank for?
I'm assuming most webmasters create content targeted for attracting and maintaining a specific visitor. If all you're doing by researching and creating perfectly targeted content is feeding your competitors with perfectly tuned content, and they can rank for it while you can't, and they grow from it while you can't...at some point don't you just say I can't afford to continue to help my competitors grow?
I've already cut my new content production rate by 20% this year just trying to ride out whatever it is that's going on, but now after a year of this, I'm wondering if my time and resources won't be better spent elsewhere or on developing other domains (that don't have throttling or "whatever it is" in place).
Maybe instead of developing one main domain for a brand, developing a network of domains around a brand is where the future is? That way when one domain gets "too big" and a switch is flipped for it to throttle its traffic, the others can still host and create new content that can still be used to gain awareness for your brand (and have a fair chance against competitors). It sucks because of the link dilution, but in the longer term, it might be a butt saver.
The most discouraging, dismal thing about all of this is that even if you follow google's guidelines for building and maintaining a site, they can (and seemingly do) stunt a site's growth, even if the only crime is "getting enough traffic from us already".
I think the answer is figuring out why it ISN'T happening to some of the giants on the net (ehow, mahalo, wikip, etc.). The answer to "fix" this, whatever it is, probably lies there.