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I run a travel related content site and have been also hit by the changes made during the last week of March.
I've been following the threads and haven't seen anything that is reason for the drop in traffic to my site, though I've looked at all the suggestions from other threads.
301's etc all working fine
Dup content - Possible problem as I have a forum and googlebot spidered a bunch of irrelevant pages which might be seen as dup content. Since been removed using the Remove URL tool.
What's particularly interesting is that while Google's b-slapped me, Yahoo and MSN have each nearly doubled in traffic (though still not nearly close to the traffic from Google). I'm totally white hat and the site only has maybe 10 pages with travel related affiliate links.
Google still shows 10,000 pages indexed as well. I haven't changed anything on the site so I'm not sure where the problem could be.
Any suggestions? I never realized traffic had dropped so much, but a 95% drop in traffic doesn't just happen. I've already emailed google and asked them if somehow there's been a penalty applied to the site.
Thanks for any tips guys -
Yes it does. It happened to 5 of my sites. I am still trying to figure out what the problem is 3 months later.
If your site does not appeal to a diversity of google factors, then you are in trouble if the ones that are supporting your ranking suddenly go out of style.
If you do a site:thesitename
It shows many pages, not just the forum pages, with full descriptions. I haven't over-optimised for the word travel, certainly not. Maybe a 10th of the pages in the site actually are about specific travel.
The only thing I can think of is dup content. I use mod_rewrite on the forum pages however I think google has indexed a bunch incorrectly and thus it's cancelling out a number of pages.
The site appeals to many different factors and keywords, though I'm sure the majority of the traffic comes from the forum threads. This is the direction I'm leaning in..It's gotta be something to do with dup content.
I still don't think a 95% drop just 'happens' for no reason (and I don't want to debate that right now..it's irrelevant). You'd be amazed at how varied the referrals are that I get, there isn't any group of keywords or phrases that drive the majority of the traffic.
Basically I'm just trying to make sure there isn't anything obvious that's killing me, and if anyone's been in the same situation what they've done to try and rectify it.
Google wrote me back and said they haven't penalized the site in anyway. I'm definitely thinking dup content though.
The extra pages that I think might be flagging a dup content penalty aren't showing any titles or decriptions. I've seen this note from google in another thread
"Also, please note that although a robots.txt file prevents our robots from
crawling your pages, it will not prevent our robots from adding a link to
your page without crawling it. Sometimes our robots add links to the
Google index without crawling them. When this happens the URLs appear in our search results without a title or cache. "
So I'm thinking if it just 'links' to that page but isn't actually indexed, it wouldn't in theory create a dup content penalty.
Anyways I'm rambling. I'll let you know if I figure anything out.
Also found an older page on the site that was an old version of another page, and I've now deleted that to prevent any dup content problems. Also have added some more forum URL's to the Google remove URL tool, we'll see if that makes a difference.
Just don't give them the satisfaction of running to Adwords.
I'm just trying to clean up anything that might be contributing to the problems, or may create further problems down the road.
I'm not doing any seo 'tricks' per say. Just lots of content and standard white-hat stuff (think Brett's guide).
It's just one thing for traffic to tank 50% or so, and another for it to tank 95%. Just strange.
Google's also showing an old set of backlinks too. Still hasn't found my Yahoo directory link from 6 months ago (or maybe it has..just not showing in a backlink search). That might have something to do with it.
I did a search on Google for your site under "Copyright 2004 yoursite.com, All Rights Reserved." and found a 302 redirect to your site from some hack .co.uk site last cache date 11/2/2004.
This could very well cause a problem in Google for your site. I have an old travel site hits down more then 95% since November 2004 and there are 302's to my site as well. I revamped my site many times and it only made the problem worse. I believe that eventually Google will work it out.
* Hay Google please factor the AGE of a site before tossing it out when lazy hacks steal our content.
It is heartbreaking to spend years working on a site and lose your traffic overnight, I hope you have a fast recovery.
Look at your internal linking structure
Use meta description even tho many SEO experts say it's outdated
Use alt text
Get more backlinks the hard way (not by buying them from those wacko sites that sell them) - and not just to your main page but also to deep pages
Put up more content
Personally, I also am going back to older techniques I used (before G rocked my world) like submitting important pages to a bunch of SEs...
I found 302's by doing searches on Google with
something unique to my site pages i.e. copyright info,
phone number or e-mail address in quotes "something
only found on my site". If you find other results in
google with your unique info on a domain name that is
NOT yours and that site redirects to your site suspect
a 302, it can be futher confirmed by using a header
I will never know if the cause & effect was 302 zapping or just the wheel of the algo coming my way again
But I can tell you this, made me feel miles better zapping those b*****s ;) And it certainly did no harm
Remember to take the robots no follow off as soon as you get the message from G that they have removed the target page(it only takes about 5 seconds from submission to removal confirmation.) If you leave that on, then you would have a problem!
It's made a difference to me to just do things like update my 301's, use the removal tool, stuff like that. Even if it has nothing to do with the current problems, it makes me 'feel' better to be able to do something. And it's all stuff that would need to be done anyways.
Thanks again for all your help. I'll update if I see any changes in my serps, and try to measure if any of the changes/fixes has had an effect.
Just yesterday, I was searching for [name of small town in Greece], and one of the top search results was a Priceline page headed "Cruise to [name of small town in Greece]." The page's editorial content consisted of two or three sentences that could have been lifted from an encyclopedia or a guidebook. That was it--everything else on the page was from a template. When that kind of page ranks high on a Google SERP, it has nothing to do with 301s, 302s, www vs. non-www, etc. The search result indicates a problem at Google's end, and that problem is one that only Google can fix.
I followed your post in the thread where you mentioned similar problems. I hope things have started to recover for you.
Ultimately you're right though, it does come down to some fundamental problem with Google. We've got sites that are somewhat in the same area (travel) and serps these days are terrible since the last week of March.
Nothing to do but wait it out.
And update on the 302 - The hijacker's been taken out by the URL removal tool! Worked like a charm.
A lot of people were successfull at it but since then google has come out with
It will take six months for your site to re-appear
So I havn't witnessed anyone removing anything since google put that little snippet on the removal tool.
I would really like to know how it works on 302's now, wether it's your site or their site that supposedly disappears for 6 months.