|SEO necessary due to changes in Google?|
My site is a large web photo gallery structured hierarchically by region.
I read in this forum a few months ago that Google was going to make changes to their ranking algorythm to penalise companies which pay people to create a large number of pages with low quality content but full of ads.
My site does not belong into this category, as I create all content myself and it's primarily photos, but it seems that traffic dropped noticeably at some point around January-February.
Another issue is this general trend in falling Alexa rank (my site was around 90000 about three years ago and it's now around 150000).
The dropping has not been continuos, it was rather a series abrupt drops, one a few years ago and the most recent one in January-February this year.
My site's content type and structure has not changed over this time (but I do add new content all the time), so these traffic drops *perhaps* can be attributed to Google. This is of course just a guess.
I'm wondering if I need to modify something on the site, i.e. optimise it in some way for search engines.
Sure, optimizing will always help. H1 tags, alt tags, etc. Good to add descriptions for the photos too. Have you been getting more sites to add links to your site?
I run a photo gallery site (static html) and ranking seems quite precarious. Information on the home page gets indexed quite well but anything topic related seems to come and go.
As stated above proper use of heading tags, alt tags and titles all help. Also make sure that bots can find pages through standard html.
Supporting text with images helps. Don't forget to use alt tags on thumbnails as well as the main pictures.
Well, the HTML (4.01 transitional) validates without errors or warnings, the site has plenty of incoming links, H1 and alt tags are defined, the images have short descriptions. The site itself is well-structured and easy to navigate.
Things were actually somehow fine, also considering the flood of images in the Internet, but in the past three months there has been a marked drop.
I've read about this new Panda algorythm in another thread, which penalises low quality content and content farms, and I wonder if for some reason I got penalised too.
It's just that I do not know exactly what to do. Should I rewrite descriptions for all 20000 images of the site, update/expand the text of all 1200 galleries on the site, or try some SEO black magic?
By the way, I think I get enough bot traffic. It could be that half of the site's traffic is from bots.
Basic SEO would include the things you mention, unique and useful content on a well planned and promoted site etc.
If you're referring to the Panda changes however Matt Cutts has mentioned via Twitter that Panda was more of a one-off update that won't be run again until they want to "freshen the data" (ie: not run daily, or "always on"). That means there might not be anything you can do to fix Panda changes besides improve quality and wait until the next time they run Panda.
The answer lies in your Analytics!
Check the "Intelligence Tab" in your Google analytics data to pinpoint "WHY" traffic has declined.
Also check your Top Content Report over time for various sections to spot any sections that may have lost traffic. ( the "WHAT" )
I've never installed Google Analytics - should I?
However, there is a new EU regulation which prohibits setting up cookies to track people. Perhaps it's illegal to use Google Analytics in the European Union?
Correction: prohibits setting up cookies to track people without their consent. But setting up a pop-up window to ask for permission to set the Google Analytics cookie doesn't sound like a good idea.