onlinesource - 4:15 pm on Sep 18, 2013 (gmt 0)
I can't figure out how to reply to an existing reply here. Sorry.
It feels weird when I get into discussions about SEO companies, because it seems like every SEO companies doesn't trust another SEO companies methods and no matter who you go with, somebody will tell that it is mistake.
That being said, the SEO company that we have hired - to be completely honest - has never sent us any reports as to what they have done (a list of lists of sites they posted to, a list of backlinks they created, etc) over the years. I've always asked for reports and they were promised, but they remain very secretive about exactly what they do. Maybe they were secretly submitting blackhat SEO (possibly?) but I really believe that most companies won't give away the secrets to their trade.
You see, we've hired other SEO companies in the past to work on other sites which targeted the same desired keywords. These new SEO companies sent all sorts of weekly reports about YouTube videos they uploaded, articles they submitted to article feeds, but we never ranking! Like I said, this site ranked #1 to #3 for "fake widgets" over a 6 year period using their methods, so obviously if something is working as a business... you don't flip out over a lack of weekly updates and drop your SEO company. :)
I also understand that ranking online is really a total crap shoot. You really are at the mercy of any changes done by the search engine, but our site continues to rank #1 to #2 for "fake widgets" with Bing and Yahoo (luckily) so this latest drop has to be some issue that Google sees as a problem but not others.
As far as when the drop happened... it was right around the middle of this June. Looking at Analytic reports, I can see that it was slowly starting to loose traffic weeks prior but it just dropped off like a cliff, if an instant. One night our site went down because our host said their server failed (didn't crash, just somehow failed due to a mechanical issue). When it was fixed and the site went back up, I realized that our traffic was nonexistent. Before I had like 300 people online and now, it was down to 2. I checked Google for "fake widgets" all the way down to page 300 and NOTHING. Of course, when I type my domain name into Google, it shows up and I can even type site:mydomain.com and get links back. We don't seem to be have banned but all of our top keyword juice was just destroyed. We do manage to rank for less desirable keywords, but some that are in the same ballpark such as "sites that offer fake widgets". It isn't close the amount of traffic that "fake widgets" provides though.
There are a few things that I have noticed since crashing, that I am in the process of TRYING to fix... issues that my be the answer to my problem or maybe not.
You see about a year ago, we realized that we ranked very poorly in the UK and didn't have any UK traffic. SO what I did was create a Wordpress blog with my same domain but instead of mydomain.com, it was mydomain.co.uk. The blog was really just articles that pointed to mydomain.com. I did this because if people wanted to buy, they'd have to leave the co.uk site and buy on the .com site, where the cart was. We had been posted about an article every week on the co.uk site and really not giving as much attention to the .com site.
One interesting that I have noticed is that right around the time of the crash... as the .com traffic started to dwindle, the .co.uk traffic started to rise. hmmm Do you think that Google is stating to see my site as a UK site because of all the UK traffic? Would it be wise to turn .co.uk into it's own shopping cart and keep all the UK traffic in the UK? I see other competitors have their .com sites rank on UK search engines but maybe because my UK site is on another server, Google sees the traffic as a backlink?
That is one issue and the SEO company believes it may be the issue. I'm actually looking into getting a cart setup on the .co.uk server as I write this.
Another issue, regarding the .com site is that we have updated the shopping cart several times over the years and it has gone from a cart which uses generated urls (ie: product-id=4939) to SEO-friendly urls (ie: custom-widgets.html). I had created a 301 redirect list years back which stopped working about a year and a half ago with the latest cart update. I didn't even noticed it wasn't working til the drop when I started to realize how many crawl errors we had. In Google Webmaster Tools, I see about 100+ not found urls. Now if I try to visit a link such as mydomain.com/product-id=4939, it forwards me to the homepage but mydomain.com/product-id=4939 is still in the address bar. So it's sort of like a redirect but not really. Would trying to get the 301 redirect list back up and running make a BIG difference?
My issue with all of this is that there is either a bunch of tiny issues causing the problem or one big issue. What confuses me is that Yahoo and Bing do not seem to mind the missing urls or traffic coming from the co.uk site. The only difference, now that I think about it, is that Yahoo and Bing do have something like Webmaster Tools but the co.uk site was never submitted to it. Google has had it submitted and it's set to target UK traffic.
I'm starting to think that the UK site is the real issue. Maybe I'm figuring this out as I write this? Unless somebody has a second opinion? :)