DNelly - 9:40 am on Oct 17, 2011 (gmt 0)
Like hispdcha, I'm a regular stalker here but rarely contribute, however since the Panda update on the 14th I decided I'd share, and ask a few questions.
I have a site in very competitive niche which I've had for around 3 years. I've written fresh new content myself almost every day for that period...all content has been completely 100% unique (unless on the rare occasion I quote a particular source). Up until the 14th, the panda updates have been great for us. Never lost any traffic, in fact gained a good chunk, and actually had record setting traffic (but not a major spike, say 10% higher than my norm) on the few weeks prior to getting bi**h slapped by google on the 14th of october. I had a few articles that got published on major sites and a press release that got circulated around some major sites as well (yahoo, etc)...so I attribute that to my increasing traffic. On the 14th everything changed though, and I reverted to where I was 2 years ago. Lost about 50% of overall traffic...maybe 70% of goog traffic.
So first let me provide my (possibly optimistic) theory and then ask a question or two.
Like I said, I operate in a very competitive niche and my site has done very well in terms of income over the last couple years with this last year being the best. We do have adsense on the site, but it only makes up about 25% of our overall income.
From what I've heard google's panda updates have been hitting competitive niches pretty hard. What I see now for the most competitive term that I was on page one for (something along the lines of "widgets") is now occupied with 4-5 solid sites that usually occupy the space dispersed throughout the top 10 results, along with 3-4 spammy sites and 1 that isn't even on topic. The spammy sites are very thin and have poorly written content but have search term killer domain names (ie widgets.net, widgets.org, etc) Again, this is a very competitive keyword we're talking about. So my theory, which I believe others have discussed as well, is that perhaps google is cycling in other sites that have set off positive signals so they can then analyze their visitors' engagement on the site compared to others ranking for the same terms - taking into consideration not only bounce/exit rate and time on site, but also if the reader returns to google to search for the same items.
If they compare this data with all the other sites that have previously occupied that SERP spot they'll be able to make a better estimate on who deserves to be there. In the end then they'll have, according to their data, the best possible sites in those spots. They may need to continually and occasionally cycle in new sites though just to keep the front runners on their toes as far as providing valuable user experience.
Since our site has decent time on site, bounce rate, etc and by comparing it to the major sites that have been there for years, we know we provide at least an equal user experience. So maybe it's just a matter of time before we bounce back.
Anyways, that's my optimistic theory...Im sure it's by no means new.
Here is my question. We run a blog on the site that is fairly popular but has content that could get old quickly. Think of writing up a blog post about an airline deal that is only running for the month of October 2011. And we cover these deals daily. We also have dynamic pages though that deliver updated prices and deals every 12 hours...which we try to direct our readers to if they've reached a blog post through google that is outdated. So my question is, should I delete all these blog posts that we've been writing for 3 years? And since we haven't yet deleted them or thrown on a "no-crawl" script is this the potential reason we got hit? We really don't want to have to delete them becuase we like to refer to old deals we've covered to put the current market in perspective. If company A had discounts of 80% in the past, we like to show our readers who want discounts from company A now what they've previously offered. We think it adds value, maybe google doesnt.
But could google think we are not to be trusted since the reader may have entered a post through search which is no longer available?
Would you guys recommend we hold tight, get rid of the pages, or have google not-crawl them anymore?
Then again, perhaps we got hit because of something else entirely...we're still checking all our stats...