mhansen - 4:31 pm on Jan 9, 2011 (gmt 0)
I was wondering if other webmasters had seen any radical changes in their level of search traffic starting in late nov or early dec. Some of the yo-yo ing described above seems to sort of match our pattern.
I just want to preempt my reply with a disclaimer that although I am watching, checking, and paying attention to these patterns, we are trying our best to step away from any site tuning for organic Google traffic. If they send visitors great... if not, oh well. We have simply grown tired of chasing our tails and trying to be Google friendly. With that out of the way... you know my position.
Our own throttle situation...
On two sites we manage, each with very different profiles (different servers, owners, visitor profiles, etc), these two are experiencing a similar pattern. I described the newer of the two sites in this thread [webmasterworld.com] in Dec. After monthly log reviews on other sites I am involved with, I discovered the second site with the exact trend, and decided to watch it as well. We also manage several others that do NOT experience this same trend... so its hard to peg down.
When Google is sending traffic, they send it in droves... at other times, they send none at all, (except image search, which has never been throttled on these sites) Its literally "ALL or None" on these two sites! The first throttle I noticed was October 30-Nov 2nd-ish. After that, it happened sporadically throughout Nov, then a clearly noticeable "Off" in early Dec.
The latest throttle for me was:
- Jan 4th, 6:10PM UTC, Google-Pipe-On! (first Google referral at 6:10PM)
- Jan 7th 2:17pm UTC, was the last visit from a Google referral, Traffic-OFF
Its almost like a completely different dataset was being used for serps, and during the throttle, BOTH of the sites ranked well, which leads us to believe they are "bucketed". It's most noticeable to me on the newer, 4 months old site, since it's in a state of steady growth and I just see it more often. When Google spigot is on, its 5-7x the normal traffic and more easily spotted. (lack of other traffic sources due to its age)
Likenesses between them... The only real similarity I found between the two sites is a fairly thin backlink profile, and high concentration of social (aka spam signal) backlinks in each. (social bm's, tweets, article-directory articles, press-release type links, etc) Oddly enough, other sites have similar profiles and do not have the same throttling effect.
What are we doing to try and fix it? Nothing. We have already spent enough time and money on this with no measurable results. From slow servers might be a cause, (we spent $$$ for a dedicated box and hours of transfer and rebuild) to poor link quality, and 10 other gray area signals we've chased, we made a choice to simply stop. Add content, add value, let the cards unfold where they may.
I will revisit this post when the spigot turns on next time and mention it.