JS_Harris - 12:58 am on Jul 30, 2013 (gmt 0)
I launched an informational site in 2007 about an activity that is still increasing in popularity today. Unfortunately since Feb the site has been receiving fewer and fewer visitors from Google, it's been a long steady decline that has now reached 65% less traffic. The loss is only from google, both Bing and Yahoo are sending more traffic and direct traffic has also increased steadily.
The drop in traffic did not happen suddenly, there is no telltale cliff in analytics, but even webmaster tools shows the same loss of traffic for web queries(images excluded).
There is also no smoking gun as to why it's slowly bleeding traffic. No one competitor is outranking the site, in fact some of the rankings for keywords has improved although the number of longtail searches has diminished considerably on those same pages.
I performed a full link audit, both internal and external, and in doing so feel that I might be onto the problem. In short I'm not sure that the number of external links can be supported by the number/quality of incoming links. Also, I've written several articles about gear that can be useful in this activity. I have not accepted paid requests to write articles, I usually link to a couple of sources that I would personally choose when I mention a product... but it's these pages that have been hit hardest.
I will therefore assume I do not have the Google trust required to float these links to other sites even if the links are years old in some cases.
Last week I selected a few pages and removed the links. Yesterday those pages have received 22% more daily traffic overall than they have since Feb, which is still 40% less than at their peek, and the trend continues today.
I'm not seeing any change on other pages.
I'm going to continue optimizing other pages with links that might appear like they could be a paid endorsement. I don't like the feeling of removing what I know to be valid links but if nobody sees them they do nothing anyway. I am reducing the number of these types of links from 2-3 per page to 1.
My question is: How useful a tool do you feel pagerank might be if outgoing links are sinking my boat? I have some outgoing links that land on PR0 pages all the way up to PR8 pages with most in the 3-5 range. If I remove the outgoing links to the less trusted pages first... is that better than going by gut feeling?
If doing this does not improve traffic then I intend to return all the links as they were but so far it is improving traffic. I considered using the nofollow tag instead but, to me, that suggests I don't trust the pages and I do so I didn't go that route.
Have you dealt with what feels like an outgoing link problem before, as in too many outgoing links against incoming links that seem to be devalued quite a bit recently?