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Forensics of dropping ranking?

Suggestions on how to investigate a dropping ranking?



7:32 pm on Aug 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Any advice on investigating the falling Google ranking of an established retailer?

I'm doing some work for a retailer that's been around for 5+ years and is one of the leaders for "blue widgets". They've historically ranked in the top 4 with Google for "blue widgets" for years, PR 8, a large number of legit backlinks, have a ton of pages indexed, have conservatively optimized, unique pages, nobody there knows of any SEO black hat tactics, they haven't had an SEO firm do anything, etc.

Now, they're almost at the bottom of the page 1 results. Even PR6 firms that aren't top players by any definition in the blue widget niche are climbing past them.

On the other major search engines, the retailer pretty much ranks where they should rank in the top 5 or so. It feels like they're actually being punished for something on Google rather than lost relevance or increased relevance by others in the space. This started sometime in early June 06.

Any suggestions on getting a rough picture as to what's going on?


7:01 am on Aug 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

When was the drop? June 27th?


8:30 am on Aug 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member quadrille is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

nobody there knows of any SEO black hat tactics

But if they've been there five years, there's a fair number of things which have changed; you'll need to check that the unique pages also have unique metatags; check their linking policies, check navigation, check that many of these unique pages are *really* unique; not just a paragraph or two difference.

You'll really need to get under the hood.

Right Reading

3:15 pm on Aug 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

If they were in the top four and have dropped to near the bottom of the first page of results then I don't think they've had any kind of penalty -- I'm not aware of a four- or five-slot penalty. It's just the volatility of the serps and different algos. They may move back up again.

[edited by: Right_Reading at 3:16 pm (utc) on Aug. 3, 2006]


5:25 pm on Aug 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

The drop was in early June. They've seen fluctuating ranks before of other players in the space; they've seen their own ranking bobble before but never this far and this long.

I know Google worked in a tweak in June primarily to beat up on exists-for-Adsense or low-value affiliate pages, but it's hard to see how that affects this company. If you look at the traffic differences between them and others players, they're clearly in the top 3, dwarfing most of the ones in front of them now.

The pages themselves are fine. Very natural linking structure, they're unique, fully indexed, etc. I think they're solid on the onsite optimizations.

What I suspect is that something got kicked out from underneath them from a inbound link perspective, but they get good natural press and haven't embarked on any sort of fishy artificial link strategies. It's either that or if I want to be paranoid, somebody is actively doing something to hurt them. But Google assures us that this can't happen, right? :)

It's just rather odd.


6:08 pm on Aug 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

If you don't see anything wrong with the company's website, you might as well study the competition.

Why not go on a marketting blitz and generate more natural inbounds? When a company's on the first page, its in a good place to generate links.

SEO is like a race. If you stand still, other sites will catch up and pass you by.

[edited by: Halfdeck at 6:09 pm (utc) on Aug. 3, 2006]


6:51 pm on Aug 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I made some recommendations for a natural long-term SEO strategy to make it more of a priority, but I am still curious about what (if anything) caused the abrupt fall to keep in mind down the road.


7:00 pm on Aug 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Yes, if you got passed up in the serps, the first thing to do is check your site. If you see nothing wrong check your competition.

Used to be the supplemental index was updated once every 3-6 months, so we only saw a change when that happened. Now things are changing quickly and the index is getting fresher.

Those supplemental pages are getting scored more frequent, so the serps will flux.


4:17 am on Aug 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Have you worked through the ideasin these threads?

Checklist for Sudden Drops in Rank [webmasterworld.com]
Dropped from Google - a checklist to find out why [webmasterworld.com]
Dropped Site Checklist [webmasterworld.com]


6:47 am on Aug 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Most of the stuff doesn't apply to my etailer, but there are a few leads that are worth investigating. Thanks for aggregating the threads.

But at this point, it looks like they just have to acknowledge the new reality of the situation. They're going to have to go about reminding folks that they're a big dog in "widgets" and building those quality backlinks and company mentions.

Thanks all.


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