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What some site owners are reporting is that search rankings that have held for a long time, often at #1, were knocked down begun to #6. These reports happen often enough that it looks like there might be something specific going on. However, there are always ranking shifts, so zeroing in on exactly this one thing can be difficult.
-- Here are the main signs --
1. Well established site with a long history.
2. Long time good rankings for a big search term - usually #1
3. Other searches that returned the same url at #1 may also be sent to #6, but not all of them
4. Some reports of a #2 result going to #6.
-- What we can identify so far --
A. It's search term specific (usually the biggest and best converting phrase)
B. Therefore, not a url or domain-wide penalty on all terms
C. A little testing on one site seems to show it's not an on-page problem
D. That leaves off-page but on-site, or off-site, or posibly backlink issues
-- Some loose guesswork and brainstorming --
i. Backlink profiles are not diverse enough - is this a new algo tweak on that factor?
ii. Backlinks are aging or stagnating, with no new ones being added?
iii. I thought about the possibility of paid link devaluation (even going back two or three steps from the site) but that would not consistently place a url at #6, so I've ruled that out.
Is anyone else seeing this Position #6 problem? Something like this could be hard to separate out from all the other movement that the SERPs show.
However, I've now seen it happen to key terms on three different sites operated by the same person (different WhoIs, no incestuous linking) and two corporate sites. Plus there are several other reports in the Decemeber SERP Changes thread. Every one of these cases seems to be hitting the domain root, and not internal url.
I'm not happy with the current level of analysis, however, and definitely looking for more ideas.
[edited by: tedster at 6:28 pm (utc) on Dec. 29, 2007]
Hard to see why only a partial of all keywords would fall to 6, and why that position is the magic number.
I see this for one website affecting inner pages. On the other website it is affecting the root url.
Just to add a few other bits:
One site uses paid links, the other does not.
One website has natural links built (there is no active link building campaign) The other has a small level link campaign going
Both websites get diverse cross section of new links.
[edited by: CainIV at 1:15 am (utc) on Dec. 27, 2007]
Optimizing pages for speed seemed to help improve their lot.
May be that's also a change.. as I haven't seen much on 6th position but definitely Google is doing some vast changes
If there is such a phenomenen then what would be interesting to know is what is replacing the demoted pages as this may equally be a promotion to Position #1 phenomenon.
So many people clutching at straws these days that Google discussions are becomeing more and more pointless, just IMO.