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Changed H1 tag, Big drop on traffic / SERPS



11:28 am on Feb 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Hey Guys,

Yesterday i changed the location and content of the H1 tag on my site. The H1 tag used to wrap around the logo image/title and alt tag of the site so was the same on all pages, my site has well over 100,000 pages.
I have now changed the H1 tag so that it represents the content of each page and is unique on each page, which from reading a lot about H1 tags recently i felt was the correct thing to do.
I did this because i think that with the new setup the potential for much more SE traffic is there and i feel it is correct from the surfer point of view, I may be wrong of course.

today i woke up and i see a big drop in search engine traffic.

my question is, do you know if:
A: I did the correct thing in changing the H1 tag?
B: will my traffic return and how long?
C: Should i change it back to how it was and hope the traffic returns?

any info from people who have done this before would be great.

almighty monkey

2:29 pm on Feb 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I think I know what's going on here. Don't panic, its not perminant, and optimising the H1 and making it more relevent was the right thing to do.

I've seen this happen quite often following a redesign. My theory: Google is quite distrusting of new content. It's part of their spam protection - its to stop people heavily optimising gibberish, black-hatting their way to the top, then replacing the gibberish with Viagra sales copy or something. Once the Boner Corp Ltd drops again, they'd restore the SEO copy, get back to the top, rinse and repeat. Cycle several websites, and you've always got a presence in the SERPS. (Go back pre-Google:- this was a huge problem in years gone by)

What Google has seen is a major change to your entire site. Therefore, they've applied a temporary penalty to every page to ensure it isn't spam, hence the drop.

The content should 'settle' in Google, and you'll see your positions restore and quite possibly improve in the next few weeks.

I've seen loads of websites take a hit when they redesign. Regardless of if my theory is right or not, they always bounce back.


2:32 pm on Feb 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

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

It sounds like your change was a good one. However, changing all the pages of a website at the same time has been known to trigger a filter until Google can trust-check those changes.

If there are no related problems from your change, I'd expect rankings to return in just a few more days. That's what others who saw a similar thing have reported here.

<added>Looks like almighty_monkey and I were writing our posts at the same time. I'm happy to hear so quickly from another member who has been through this cycle.


4:37 pm on Feb 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I've seen this effect too, and I'd like to add that it seems to be most likely to trigger if the change you made would actually cause you to rank much better and get much more traffic.

I think the idea is that if you show the potential for a sudden massive upward move, Google thinks something fishy may be going on.

I bet that not only will your traffic return, but it will return higher than ever. Give it some time.


5:44 pm on Feb 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Thank you for your responses guys, I feel a lot better about the situation now and hopefully my SE will increase because of this.
I'll update as soon as i notice change :)

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