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Changes I made to site with no effect on rankings

   
11:58 pm on Jan 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

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



With such a title I expect a run on this topic ;)
I have a pretty new site, its about 6 Month old PR5, but that PR5 is thin as I call it. 60% of the pages had from 20-40 letter titles, no alt tags, no text under image thumbs as description, all that was now changed a title under image thumbs, alt tag, short titles 10-20 letter, ohh and there is no ads on site at all.

Now this is hmm 7-10 days ago and I now see most of the pages are now slowly cached, but the pages have not moved a bit, no changes in rankings at all. I have always have this suspicion, that text on site is just for google to what its about, but almost zero value for rankings.
1:19 am on Jan 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

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



I have always have this suspicion, that text on site is just for google to what its about, but almost zero value for rankings.

The way I see it, on-page text today is for the "relevance" part of the total algorithm. The whole algorithm is, in broad strokes, "relevance + connectedness + quality". After you've clearly stated the relevance of the page, then the rest of your ranking power comes from elsewhere.

I've added on-page bold tags with no effect. I've added or changed <h1> elements with no effect. Not too long ago, those might well have done something, but that's not the game anymore.

And moving from a table layout to a CSS-P layout today might get you nowhere, too. It all depends how deeply complicated the table layout was, I think.
1:46 am on Jan 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lame_wolf is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



zeus, a friend of mine has just changed her well-established html site to php.
Even though Google has cached the new pages, they are not showing up in the SERPs (only the html page are in the SERPs)... and that has been 10 days or more. Give it a bit more time.
10:15 am on Jan 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

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



About time, I do still wait about 10-14 days, then the site is for sure fully spidered and the Monthly "rank move" has also been over the site.

Tedster : I would say about 2 years ago, you still be able to make some bigger moves with h1 and titles, but thats over for sure, also once google comes with new tips how to do a good seo job, I always just take 50% to me the rest is just so they can find the site and there rankings can show some "design layout" fine sites, has not much to do how to rank. Like link exchange, I dont do that, but I know a lot who does and it works big time.
3:26 pm on Jan 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

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What about changes to meta tag description? Now that Google is, some say, making editorial decisions on this sort of thing. Can I change that tag (to help users) and not worry about Google caring?
3:48 pm on Jan 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

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



The meta description is not a ranking factor for Google - at least not directly. A weak meta description showing in the SERPs could lower the click-through rate, so indirectly it could affect ranking in a second-hand fashion. But that would happen over time, and not on first crawl/index.
5:44 pm on Jan 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

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



Important note - the title is NOT a meta element and it is definitely used in the ranking algorithm. That's one of the reasons that I get picky with people who talk about a "meta title" when they mean the <title></title> element.

[edited by: tedster at 6:38 pm (utc) on Jan 19, 2012]

6:22 pm on Jan 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



It's because the <title> tag is inside the HTML head section. I refer to meta-title as well sometimes to distinguish it from the first <h1> tag in the page.

With some applications when you create a page it becomes really confusing when you see an input box named just "title".
6:50 pm on Jan 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

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



You're right about the reasons for the crossed up vocabulary. And there are many widely used enterprise CMS applications that get it wrong, too. There are other such areas of ambiguous common usage in SEO as well ("URL" versus "link" versus "page" for example) - but that doesn't mean we shouldn't strive for technical precision. Otherwise the myth building runs wild ;)

For example, there is such a thing as a meta title - and you can tweak that element all you want and have no effect on rankings whatsoever. Throw in a coincidental ranking change right after a meta title tweak and the story gets rolling.
7:06 pm on Jan 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

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The meta description is not a ranking factor for Google

Totally agree. One of my pages got "..." as a meta description due to a flaw in php generator. As a description in serp G showed some text from the page. I was surprised to see it on first position for a very competitive keyphrase. I then obviously made some changes to the php file, and now it's on 2nd position. But never ever before any of other similar pages got to the first page (their children did), this website's keywords have high competition.
7:55 pm on Jan 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I am going to remove meta descriptions and let you guys know if it has a effect
8:22 pm on Jan 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



I am going to remove meta descriptions and let you guys know if it has a effect.


It may affect Yahoo/Bing rankings even if it doesn't affect Google rankings.
8:39 pm on Jan 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member ken_b is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



I am going to remove meta descriptions and let....

...and let the search engines write ALL of the serps snippets for your pages?

Why?

After the title that shows in the serps those snippets are our best bet for getting a click through.

I wouldn't give up the chance to write my own descriptions and any related call to action to get those visitors.

.
10:23 am on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



...and let the search engines write ALL of the serps snippets for your pages?

Why?

Well they may not, it's not what we like to see but what is really happening. You may want to do that too (for testing or document prepublish), it basically tells you when the page is listed how SEs perceive its content, title etc, when the HTML head is pretty much empty. They will give it a title and summary.
4:47 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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



Many years ago search engines DID write all the snippets. We used to call them "ransom notes" because they were just short phrases taken from the spots where the search terms appeared, pasted together into an incoherent thing.
5:26 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



...pasted together into an incoherent thing.


Now we call it "wikipedia" ;)
7:10 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



Yes well my point is perhaps we keep hiding information we could benefit from in terms of SEO, because of all these HTML tags. If you write a document in plain text first, have the bot index it see how it appears and then embed it in HTML in the body first and finally add the title and meta-tags accordingly. It takes longer but with that "fetch as googlebot" option it should be faster to see how the spider interprets the content.

With the titles, meta-description and all the navigation detail in place you see a document in page-n of search results and you can't tell much in many cases - at least if the content is well perceived.
7:19 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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If the site is only 6 months old I'd be careful about coming to any conclusions about it. In my experience changes to fairly new sites affect the SERPs in a different way to changes on older, more established ones.
2:08 pm on Jan 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member sgt_kickaxe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



On a hunch I deleted 20% of a site (product pages) and traffic rose 10% o.O
4:53 pm on Jan 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



@ superclown2

In my experience changes to fairly new sites affect the SERPs in a different way to changes on older, more established ones.


Could you summarize the differences here?
4:40 pm on Jan 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

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After you've clearly stated the relevance of the page


Hmm. Aboutness remains a slippery fellow to pin down IMO.

Maybe I'm putting words into your mouth, but I would suggest that relevance is not a black and white issue, but a spectrum.

I think it is still obviously true that of two otherwise equally connected and trusted pages, one that mentions 'blue widgets' as a heading and repeats it in the text, will outrank (on a search for 'blue widgets') one that only mentions it once in the text.

I don't think it is as easy as we might like to unpick relevance from ranking.
5:27 pm on Jan 24, 2012 (gmt 0)



Well, there's "on-page SEO" and "on-page SEO."

That one makes a specific on-page change or changes and sees no ranking boost may speak to the efficacy of specific techniques, or on-page structural signals, but not to the general task of "on-page SEO."

Structuring page content to make it as understandable as possible to the search engines is a task that will always bear dividends in the end, and to that degree is always a necessary part of SEO.

Following a bit on tedster's point, Google may no longer "reward" you to the same degree it once did for having "blue widgets" in an H1, but all things being equal your page will rank better for "blue widgets" if it contains the compared to an identical pages that does not. That picture of a "blue widget" is much more likely to have visibility in image search if it's captioned "blue widget" and contains "blue widget" in the img alt attribute.

Whether or not one frames this as "relevance" or "on-page SEO that influences ranking" the search engines are continually sifting through the semantic universe of individual documents and trying to make sense of them. To that degree, at least, "on-page SEO" will always have a place in helping the search engines extract classifiable meaning from words on a web page.
 

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