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Ranking drop when changing title and <h1>

     
12:12 am on Apr 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I have one page that was ranking good for 2 keywords, one was 4th and other was 11th. The second one was the most important one so I decided to optimize the main page for the second keyword as well (previously it was optimized only for 1st keyword).

I have changed the title a bit, <h1>, added new keyword to content and updated some image names and alt tags.

Today I've noticed that the second keyword dropped rankings but as it looks only on google US for now, while it remains same on other google markets.

What does this mean and why did it drop only on Google-US so far? Will other follow? Shall I change everything back as it was before?
2:35 am on Apr 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Shall I change everything back as it was before?

As people have said here for years:
You can't uncook the egg.

I would absolutely not change things back, and imo, waiting is your best option: [webmasterworld.com...]
8:24 am on Apr 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Thank you for the answer. Do you know why this only happened on google US so far?
10:31 am on Apr 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Also, i just noticed that google cached copy still shows the site with old <h1> tag. Shall i change it back before the new one gets crawled to avoid any further issues?
12:19 pm on Apr 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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There are two reasons this could have happened:

1) You did harm rather than good
Perhaps the new combination on-page repetition of the k/w and of inbound anchor text (assuming you have some) was considered not as good as it was (you drop) or even abusive (you get a penalty).

2) Google's 'confuse SEOs/tweakers' algorithm kicked in (if it exists)
This is patented but not confirmed as being active (at least I've not read or seen pronouncements from Google). In which case, sitting tight should see things return to at least as good a position as they were.

Personally I'd sit tight for a few weeks. If you've kept an exact record of what you've done you could roll back once you're SURE you're not coming back. That might not get you back to where you were before though.

In the meantime, undertake a very thorough check on your IBLs (and if any have anchor text links, how those are spread and how they relate to the k/w in question).
12:29 pm on Apr 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Its well documented that a serious change can cause rankings to bounce around for a week or two before settling down again.

Google data centres are not always in sync so changes may reflect in one and not another. Also results will always vary by country as there will be different local references to your search arguement.
2:54 pm on Apr 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I was referring to a patent that lists a procedure whereby a change that might result in higher ranking produces lower/erratic ranking for a while - deliberately. The aim presumably is to deter people who like to tweak and test.
4:46 pm on Apr 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Think about this from a Document Classification POV.

The Title element and H1 Tag are supposed to define what the document is about. You have just changed both.

You have also changed the prominence of a second keyword through content and tags.

In the abstract, that document looks NOTHING LIKE it used to. How it "looks" semantically in relation to upstream and downstream links, how it works with KW co-occurrence, all has changed at the same time.

Changing the Title element has never been a risk-free activity. When combined with a load of other SEO activity, in the current climate, I would expect a fair wait before the situation settles.

Best advice: DO NOT FIDDLE UNTIL IT STABILISES.
9:54 pm on Apr 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Note- here is our discussion of the Google patent that "may be" involved:
Google's Rank Modifying Patent for Spam Detection [webmasterworld.com]
12:24 pm on Apr 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

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did you check your server access log file to see if googlebot actually recrawled that page after the change?