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My homepage covers three distinct but related topics and ranks decent for each of them. However, one topic is where all the money is made. Assume this is "Buy Widget". My page was ranking well for "Buy Widget", but I wanted to give it a little more boost so I changed my page title.
It used to have "Buy Widget" near the middle of the title and connected to another word like "Gadget Information, Buy Widget Online, (rest of title)" So, I decided to move "Buy Widget" to the front of the title and changed it to something like "Buy Widget, Gadget Information,..."
On the first cache after the change, I dropped about 150 spots for the "Buy Widget" search. So here's my question:
What do I do now? I don't like to play with titles very often. Should I revert to my old title immediately? Should I stick with my new title for a few more cache's? Should I try a third title that might work better? Do you think this is a direct indication that google doesn't like my new title as well as my old one, or merely reflective of the fact the title was changed and likely to climb back to it's previous position after a couple of cache's?
Could it be you've tripped an over-op filter. In which case, a hasty reversal probably would hurt. Unless, of course, Google has a 'too much tweaking' filter!
I'd be interested to know what other SEOs think is a reasonable time to allow on-page changes to show their effect / settle? I tend to wait weeks.
Thinking if I change it back I'm going to upset some kind of "this guy plays with his title too much" filter
I personally don't think that exists. I've occasionally tweaked titles a few times a week as I think of more appropriate phrases. Never saw any negative effects. Maybe on a homepage G would be more sensitive to this type of thing though, I'm not sure.
In any case, maybe change your approach and re-do the homepage to be more general content-wise and make separate directory homepages for each of the three areas and home in on the keywords that way. Google likes logical structure as far as I can tell, and they even mention that in the guidelines (somewhere).
I just don't see it myself. Your title has the same three phrases in it and words in the phrases are still in the same order. All you've just changed the phrase order.
I've seen rankings rise and fall marginally when changing order in a phrase (i.e. 'term location' changes to 'location term').
Doing the sort of change you describe could have some small effect but I'd expect improvement - you've moved your most important phrase to the start of the title which is the most logical place for it to be. Even were the results negative I'd expect no more than a few places - 10 at THE MOST.
So I personally think you're looking at the wrong thing when working out why you've dropped 15 pages.
Has there been movement in the SERPs? Have your competitors moved? Larger or smaller index for the term? Have you checked for dupe content, pages from your site indexed/Supplemental etc?
The google toolbar tracks and sends info about users browsing habbits including pages they bookmark.
Since the title is the bookmark name and the text on users tabs, could changing the title result in google thinking its a new page?
As we all know widget.com and widget.com/index.html are considered vastly different as well.
Does your site actually sell anything? Just wondering if it's a Google anti-affiliate or anti-fraud reaction, i.e., if your site implies it's a commerce site (buy widgets), but there's no checkout or cart or https. Google has been cracking down hard on affiliates and arbitrageurs lately. Are you a store or affiliate or only an info site?