gduffield - 1:36 am on Feb 4, 2011 (gmt 0)
I'll add something to the conversation that I hope maybe helps others out there who are wondering if something is up with the algo. I had a separate thread going, but as Tedster suggested, I think it may be better to post here.
I have a website that has been active since 2003. For the last couple of years it has ranked really well for keywords in my niche market, as well as long-tail keywords. My business is derived 99% from our website.
Today (February 3rd), I started off the day by checking our traffic and was stunned to see that it was almost non-existent. We don't get a ton of traffic, but what we do get is highly targeted traffic specifically for our industry. I usually have 80 visitors to our site by 10am, 100 or so by noon, and we usually get an average of 200 to 240 visitors per day.
It's now 7:15pm, and looking at my traffic we've only had 61 visitors today. Our site rankings were completely obliterated overnight. Monday through Wednesday we had our average traffic. Yesterday was a little light, but I considered the weather being a factor. This morning, by 10am I had only had 21 people on my site. I did a quick search through some of the keywords we always place well with, and we either weren't in the results or we were on the 3rd or 4th page. These were keywords that we always showed up within the first few results.
I'm sick about this, but I'm determined to work it out some how. I had been contemplating for a while about converting my site over to Wordpress, because I felt it may be better for SEO purposes, and it would be easier to make updates and simple changes. I hadn't done it, because it had always ranked so well, and I didn't want to upset anything. I rarely make changes to my site, but that has never seem to hurt. I don't do anything shady, and it is full of information pertaining to my industry. I'd say my weakest area is inbound links, because I definitely don't have many. Still, I don't know what would make such a huge difference in our rankings, literally overnight.
The whole thing is very worrisome, but I can't waste time on worry. I'm doing my best to stay positive. I don't blame Google because I know they are trying to make things better, but it is frustrating. It is especially frustrating when you see a site at the top of the second page of the results for the most critical search term, and it has a PR of 0, and is comprised of two paragraphs on a blank page with just a bunch of random talk about the keyword subject. It would be like this:
Search Term: widgets
Top of the 2nd page results has an organic result that links to a site with essentially this:
"Widgets and are of vital importance nowadays. As someone once said: "He who owns widgets, owns the world." But now you need not only to own the widgets but you need also protect them. In our world we are dependent on widgets. What if you lose your widgets? What if you can't find widgets? Solve all these tough questions with the help of our widget items.
There is a sufficient number of widget items available on the market. They perform easy and quick.
When you have a trouble with widgets welcome to the site about widgets. Our widget items will help you.
Widget items - Best widget items for you!"
And that is it. No links, no graphics, no pages, nothing. That is literally some of the text that was on the "site". Nothing substantive at all. I think that made me the angriest. Here I am, in an extraordinarily competitive niche industry, and I actually offer substance, and information and I get bypassed by some site that I have no idea what it is.
Anyway, that's the end of my rant. If anyone else is experiencing weird results, or a slow down in traffic, maybe you were hit as well. I'm kind of at a loss as to what to do now, because I don't want to make any rash decisions in case this is just a temporary fluke. However, I am taking action and rebuilding in a different format, within a subfolder, so that if things don't come around I can start over with a fresh site with a mix of old and new content. Right now, I'm going to wait and see what happens for a few days before I make any big changes.