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Many webmasters in the thread above are reporting significant drops in traffic, up to 80% in some cases within the last 24 hours. In contrast others are reporting significant rises in the SERPs which indicates a big change (which imo is not sandbox related).
Rather than having a "I've dropped/risen too" thread, perhaps it is a good idea to attempt to work out what has been happening. I personally have seen big changes on numerous travel booking related sites. One of the theories appears to be too high keyword density. This may have some merit, as on some sites ranking drops are not across the board on all themes/phrases. So it could be that templates focusing on one term have a much higher density than others. I'll certainly be looking into this. I'm also wondering if this is somehow theme related as as I've mentioned it defintely has affected the travel theme. or perhaps it is based on just highly competitive terms as a whole.
It would also be interesting to see if there is a concensus from those sites that have lost traffic on..
1. Are they affiliate sites with many links to the affilate host.
2. Do they have satelite domains which they cross link/one way link with sites particularly on the same ip c-block.
3. Are the drop in serps keyword specific or site wide.
4. Are some inbound links on mass from single domains. For example, a great number links from a footer link on a major site.
5. Have changes been made to keyword density recently.
6. Is there a distinction in ranking between major and minor terms.
7. Has there been any PR changes or backward link changes.
Google isnt likely to give us the direct answer, but maybe they wont need to if we work together in cracking this change.
If your site has been affected from wednesdays update, it would be helpful for all, if you could perhaps answer the 7 points above relating to your own site.
KW phrase ¦ No. Internal links ¦ IBLs ¦ PR ¦ Google Rank ¦ Competing pages ¦ "exact" competing ¦ URL
For the number of IBLs I did not use the Google backward link but alltheweb which shows a more comprehensive backward list. PR was a problem as it is so out of date but the pages have been up for some time so havent changed.
On comparison, there were significant differences between number of ibls going to the specific destination sub-pages. One 'hotels in destination' sub page threw me completely and I thought my linkage theory was blown ou tthe window as it only had 4 internal links yet was in the group that kept their rankings and in fact rose. It was only when I checked IBLs that I noticed from the one IBL it had was thematic, had a PR 6 and the ideal link text. The page ranked top for a fairly popular hotel in keyword phrase.
The main differences though were the number of internal links to the specific pages.
Popular / competitive destination sub pages were doing well with an average of around 200 internal links, page rank 5, and one or more IBLs. Those destinations that dropped significantly had sub 30 internal links, no IBLs and PR 4. Link text was in the same format for the good and poor performing pages, so I counted that out. KWD was roughly the same as were title formats, the heading/bold and other tag factors. I noticed a sliding scale dependant on exact phrase competitiveness with regards to the amount of internal links that seemed to working very well. On very competitive phrases internal linkage was often not enough for top 5. The internal linkage was however high (apart from the anomaly mentioned) between 180/290. Just one or two ibls gave a highly competive term (in millions) a top 5 ranking. For minor pages (destinations) 40-70 internal links with no ibls was sufficient to give the destination sub page a top 3 in most cases. It was significant that for minor phrases that were performing badly the average internal linking was less than 15 (mostly <10) and PR was never over 4.
Steps have now been taken to test my conclusion on those dropped in ranking pages with better thematic internal linking structure and to seek IBLs to go to the specific competitive destination pages (not the homepage).
My own conclusions are basically as follows...
Solution for sub-pages that dropped in ranking
Increase internal linkage to around 200 for competive exact phrases (phrase in "") and 40-70 internal links for uncompetitive terms. For competitive terms 1-3 IBLs direct to sub page can make a big difference (obviously with ideal link text) especially if it is from a pr 6 page. For mid competitive terms, internal linkage is often enough as long as it is around the 100-150 mark (this of course relates specifically to travel related pages and phrases)
It makes sense to look at the internal link structure as well with a view to pagerank channeling and making sure there is a good and wide distribution. It used to be said to distribute your pagerank mainly to your most important pages. I would say now its important to have good (at least pr 4) on all sub-pages. Although I do feel this isn't primarily a PR thing, but perhaps a number of links with correct link text thing.
Anyway, a bunch of tests are in place. For others there may well be other reasons / new filters for your drop in rankings. I am pretty confident that for the sites I optimize I know what I have to do and will keep you informed of the progress.