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WMT message that search clicks have decreased: Now What?

   
8:21 pm on Apr 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

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



Hi there, Everyone:

So I got a message in Web mater Tools today that basically tells me what I already know: my rankings and traffic have tanked.

Search results clicks for [yourdomain.com...] have decreased significantly.

Details

Message ID: 5X123456789. Please include this ID in any messages you post in our Help forum.


So what exactly should I do?

Does google suggest I go to the google webmaster help forums and create a post with my message ID?

If I do that, will an actual googler look up the message ID and let me know what I should do?

Or will it just be the same old gang of regular posters on their forum offering marginal advice that may or may not have anything to do with reality?

And has anybody who has received one of these messages actually been able to get any actionable advice from it?

Thanks in advance.
8:56 pm on Apr 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

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



I had that message recently for one particular site - in that instance, the message itself was several weeks late.

IMO, the message is an "alert" to tell you something's up, but it is not, in itself, actionable. As you say, you should know already that this is happening!

Whether you'd get goof advice with the message ID posting route, I would be rather sceptical.

Personally, I would follow a more general route to diagnosing the problem:

- Identify the cause of the drop - if it's Google traffic, which keywords and landing pages are affected?
- Is it a position drop, CTR drop or both?
- Look at the competing sites - did you get beaten by new or stronger competitors, or did you do something yourself that harmed performance?

The better you pin down the cause, the more actions you can take. Assuming you have the data at your disposal!
9:08 pm on Apr 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

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



Thank you, Andy Langton.

I'll try and analyze it. Unfortunately, it looks like things kind of dropped across the board, as opposed to one or two or three keywords.

Oddly enough, there are a few pages that doubled or even tripled in traffic, despite having what I would consider primarily "thin" content.

Thanks again.
9:10 pm on Apr 4, 2012 (gmt 0)



I don't think there's anything you're meant to be able to do with these messages, they're just Google's attempt at the 2012 award for the ability to point out the bleedin' obvious.
9:15 pm on Apr 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

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



Remember that while it's keywords that drive traffic, it's the landing pages that facilitate that so looking at landing pages is usually better than looking at keywords. For ranking drops (and if your analytics allows it) I would start looking at:

Google
- Landing page
- Keywords for those pages

It's also worth a check in Webmaster Tools for CTR/rankings, and your own ranking data/CTR calculations if the data's there.
10:59 pm on Apr 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

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



Thanks again, Andy:

I would start looking at:

Google
- Landing page
- Keywords for those pages


that was the first thing I looked at... or should I say, TRIED to look at.

Unfortunately, up to 505 of the keywords are obscured because google has hidden the referring keyword 9since apparently the visitor was signed into their google account and were thus using the https server).

Well, back to the drawing board.
11:36 pm on Apr 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

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



Remember that landing pages can't be obscured, so at the very least you should be able to see if it's individual pages, sections or categories that are affected. It all helps, even if performance drops can be a bit disheartening to try to figure out.
12:38 am on Apr 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



I got the opposite message to say that my clicks had increased greatly for a specific term. Next day I lost 30% in the latest Panda run (oh how ironic).
2:16 am on Apr 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



This is just the WMT employees trying to show work... :|
11:05 am on Apr 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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



As a quick addition to this thread, I managed to fix the problem in two instances. I doubt these are typical, but might make reasonable examples for some trying to troubleshoot:

In one case, the problem was with CTR for a particular URL. This was diagnosed by a check on rankings vs traffic (you can use Webmaster Tools for a basic idea of this, although the data is far too limited really). The cause was an issue with snippets which was decreasing CTR. Near instant recovery once the snippet was fixed.

In the second instance, there was a decrease in rankings across a number of pages. This was a DNS problem - the site in question redirects to drop the www subdomain. The www DNS record was faulty, which meant the site looked like it had lost thousands of links. This recovery is ongoing!

Hope this might give someone some new ideas on places to check when you get this rather vague message in GWT :)
2:48 pm on Apr 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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



Thank you again, Andy.

The cause was an issue with snippets which was decreasing CTR.


By that, do you mean the site was using rich snippets (something I am only vaguely familiar with)?

Or do you mean something else?

Thanks in advance.
3:42 pm on Apr 8, 2012 (gmt 0)



erm how do you deploy rich snppets ?
4:24 pm on Apr 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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



Take a look at schema dot org.

If you're using a CMS, there have been some plugins that will help with it. We ended up coding them right into the page templates, and boy howdy, do they seem to make a difference.
4:35 pm on Apr 8, 2012 (gmt 0)



Ahh now I see, Oh my goodness, thanks a bunch netmeg, some how missed out on that


crikey, loads to catch up here !
7:36 pm on Apr 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



We ended up coding them right into the page templates, and boy howdy, do they seem to make a difference.

"Difference" as far as what? Ranking?

I've NOT noticed a difference.
10:14 pm on Apr 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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



I already had good rankings. But the display really stands out in the SERPs, and traffic is running just under twice what it was last year.
10:41 pm on Apr 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



But the display really stands out in the SERPs, and traffic is running just under twice what it was last year.

You actually have a rich snippet? For what type?

It's not easy to get rich snippets for products UNLESS you're amazon(big brands).
11:58 pm on Apr 8, 2012 (gmt 0)



Rich snippets a bit more coding then it'll probably does something terrible to hard won html validation, and for sites like mine extra processing, speed loss, but if the SE's love it , hmm

Must give it a shot on one experimental site
3:22 am on Apr 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



@netmeg, do you have to make any changes to your CSS file (that is if you use one)? I'm still trying to wrap my head around rich snippets.
3:36 am on Apr 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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



This is kind of OT for this post, but no, nothing to do with CSS, and yes, I have rich snippets on every site (my own and for clients) that I've implemented them. Events on my sites, and products on my clients. It's really not that difficult when you put your mind to it.

I can't say it improves ranking (as far as I know) but it does seem to help with click through, and at the very least, I really like how it looks.

My event stuff shows up great; I've just adding a rating / review capability and hope that will eventually show up too. You don't have to be a big site to have snippets shown, and you don't even have to be in the first couple results. You just have to implement it correctly.
5:34 am on Apr 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



@netmeg, thanks! I have been suffering like the OP and am going to give these a try. I could use a click through increase.
7:54 am on Apr 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



You don't have to be a big site to have snippets shown...

Well, I disagree on that.
For "my" products Google ONLY shows rich snippets for "big brand" sites - Competitive market.
2:26 pm on Apr 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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



Yea, I only compete with Amazon and Staples, so I probably don't get it.
3:57 pm on Apr 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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



Yea, I only compete with Amazon and Staples, so I probably don't get it.


But... I thought the netmeg rule was NOT to try and compete against amazon and staples...

<sigh> I am missing something obvious again...
4:17 pm on Apr 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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



No, the netmeg rule is to compete where you can win. My client doesn't sell EVERYTHING that Amazon and Staples sell, but on the products we do carry, we win.

[edited by: netmeg at 4:17 pm (utc) on Apr 9, 2012]

4:17 pm on Apr 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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



Ahh... Thanks.