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Are you noticing problems with sites 8 years old or more?

9:30 pm on Jun 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


I'm currently fighting that annoying battle with 21.5 (ghost). I've begun to notice a pattern (even with smaller, but old sites). I need to know if this is somewhat founded or not:

If you are 8 yrs or older (have never engaged in black hat obviously) can you answer this: How has your traffic been changing over the last 8 months?

Are we, those with sites 8 yrs or older getting punished for having picking up so many random links throughout the years? (old closed sites, sites that have been replaced by 'spammy' new businesses, stuff that has simply become crap over time)

BTW: After 10 years I've realised how much I appreciate WebmasterWorld, you've been a valuable source for so long - cheers.
7:35 pm on Jun 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

@diberry I think so too. I think this is a move by Google to prefer recent, fresh, up to date, social, live content. Google now doesn't care if your domain is 10 years old. That quality attribute is no longer useful for their goals.
7:37 pm on Jun 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


* Normally it's UGC, not just any site. (Hence -afaik- we don't see any @netmeg profiles affected by this)
* We still don't know how age correlates (hence this thread)
* Some legitimate sites have lost 70% of their traffic. Normally a 'boost' would be +-10% right? A boost of 40% would be 'cheating'
* Nothing so far suggests this is quality based either, I've personally be somewhat replaced by identical sites (most have standardised BB systems, good sites, nothing particularly special, they were authorities (like me) or semi-auths).
* I'm trying to actually isolate what caused this, because nothing so far matches.

* In my case, the only thing that my 'replacements' do have that's different - is they set-up in 2007-ish, about 5 years after me.

When I'm saying 'we' I'm shortcutting pointing out i've been in contact with 10 or so webmasters of 21.5 hit (nov 12) previous authorities-no-black-hat-types-modern-UI-and-hyper-active-UGC communities.
2:47 pm on Jun 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

There is a good explanation for this, IMHO. Google takes a very long time to correct issues that affect many of us. If it takes them a year to get around to it, they feel like they've made significant progress. During that time our traffic plummets, we discontinue creating good content since revenue drops and others see an opportunity to take your place. From Google's perspective, they never acknowledge that they are creating opportunities as a result of arbitrarily taking down the old. So your site doesn't suck - it's ranking does for a long enough period not to matter any more when the "recovery" comes too little too late.
5:05 pm on Jun 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member

hitchhiker, I was just adding that thought to the mix. Here's another thought, which may be worth what you're paying for it. ;)

If it's mainly UGC sites that are hurting, the first thing I would look at is whether any of the UGC is copied. I file several DCMAs a month against forums whose users have submitted my text and photos because either they don't know or don't care that it's plagiarism. If users are doing this and the site owner isn't catching it every single time, then a UGC based site will have a lot of dupe content on it over time.

If this is NOT the case - if you are sure you've gotten rid of any dupe content posted by users - another possibility is that Google is downgrading user generated content in some way. Could be they don't want to devote the time to crunch through all the forum posts and see if any of them are high quality, so instead they're just assuming UGC is never as good as "article" type content. I think unfortunately Google is starting to resort to some broad measures in order to keep up with the massive and ludicrous amount of data that's out there to be ranked.

No idea if either of these things are part of the issue, just trying to provide food for thought.
5:32 pm on Jun 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

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

I've a nine year old site that used to be an authority in its niche. Went from roughly 40,000 visitors a day to around 5,000 over the last two years.

Changed the site template (it's CMS-based) annually. Removed a number of ads from pages and moved the content way up (to battle above-the-fold). Made the page wider too 640 to 980 (something like that) about two years ago.

Exchanged some links (maybe 20) back in 2005, removed them all back in 2009. GWT shows around 40,000 external links. It's an information site that's frequently used by .edu sites. The site has been on television, it has links from the WSJ, NYT, Washing Post and the like.

Extreme focus on site speed, pages load very quickly (120 ms based on GWT). Compression, browser caching... you know the drill.

Been focused for the last year on removing what might be perceived as keyword stuffing, which was the only SEO applied to the site. We re-wrote around 1,000 of the 1,400 articles, should be done by this fall. We continue to add new content each week. We're only adding pages at this point IF it's better than everything in Google's index.

It's frustrating that Google's ignoring us now. (e How seems to love our site, we've about 1,200 incoming links from them...).

Fortunately, we saved for a rainy day realizing Google gives and can take away. We can wait this out another five years if we need to.

If I had to guess what's crushing us it's the social web.
6:35 pm on Jun 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

12 year site and 10 year site - both seeing the same issues many of you mentioned, with the 10 year faring a bit better than the 12 year old site.

I've tried everything - I mean EVERY THING. Keeps steadily taking...slow but sure. Very depressing - feeling quite hopeless at this point.
8:33 pm on Jun 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

It's frustrating that Google's ignoring us now. (e How seems to love our site, we've about 1,200 incoming links from them...).

I mentioned this in another thread about why brand sites are out ranking sites from small businesses, it is the use of nofollow attribute. eHow and other large sites basically add a nofollow to all of their outbound links from user generated content (a lot of CMS's now have this as a default behavior). I have a lot of links from users who reference my site but most of them now come from links that have the nofollow attribute. Basically Google now ignores user generated input because every one became scared after panda and started to nofollow their links to play it safe.
8:38 pm on Jun 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Yikes: I don't blame them for being scared.

I took the trouble of writing software to validate all outbound links from my forums. I begrudgingly use 'nofollow' if we don't trust the user.

If the link is dead, spam, or noise we delete it.

I did this because I believe ranking should be spread to worthwhile businesses / even competition. 'nofollow' always should have been classified as a hack to help search engines do their job. Not a requirement; we're long past that.

If I'm being penalised for that, so be it :(
8:53 pm on Jun 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

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

It's worth noting that WebmasterWorld is a site that's been around quite a while, using a... shall we say... "seasoned" UI, and chock full of UGC (a lot of which is duplicate because a lot of the same questions get asked over and over) and I think it does ok in Google. At least it comes up for me a lot, but that could be personalization too.

And of course, it has a truckload of authority.
10:07 pm on Jun 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


I personally love this 'seasoned' UI. It's clean, clutter free - the editor tech is a bit 'old school' now to put it mildly.

I've always loved it here, mainly because it's a highly intelligent, useful, environment. They even fully blocked their site in protest once, remember that?

WebmasterWorld traffic (according to Alexa) seems to have been on a steady decline since 2011.

As for 'truckload of authority' - yep, so do we, and a lot of the other webmasters involved in this issue.

FYI: I think WebmasterWorld is safe, unlike you I've never seen it in the SERPS (not once in recent memory) - yet i've been coming here for 10 years. Apparently (alexa again) they get about 20% from SEs.
11:12 pm on Jun 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

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

And of course, it has a truckload of authority.

Agree, and it's obviously a site that can rest on that authority. It's broken through that threshold in that it can get away with pretty much anything. It's got a ton of trust.

Based on the dates it rolled out, we got whacked twice by the above-the-fold runs. Ironically, our content sits about 150 pixels higher than WebmasterWorld.

I'm sure they're immune to authorship and given the traffic WebmasterWorld gets, it fails miserably with social. It's not very mobile friendly either. I mean we're almost half way through the year and this still shows at the bottom:

1996-2012 all rights reserved

It's a site that's chuck full of technical flaws, but it ranks well and it's deserved.

The puzzling part for me is how we're outranked in the numbers 4 through 8 spots. Blank content, server errors, thin content, nowhere near the 40,000 incoming links we've gained over 8 years.

If we're guilty of anything it's using a key phrase in two consecutive sentences. We're fixing that now.
9:20 am on Jun 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I think WebmasterWorld occupies a very nice, but rare niche. Intelligent audience, that are willing to stick around and see this site through the 'rough' patches.

If anybody deserves it, it's WebmasterWorld. I'm still hoping Google will catch up, and reflect things like that in future updates. I'm convinced that's their end goal.
4:29 pm on Jun 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member

WebmasterWorld actually NEVER comes up for me in Google, interestingly. I usually just come here and search internally.
4:44 pm on Jun 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

On searches it rarely comes up for me as well. I'm not sure that this is a very rare niche. It's actually a very popular niche. With regard to where people go for information, it's not like many who have a support community will jump ship unless they need to go look elsewhere. As to ranking issues, I'm not quite sure whether this place is the best to use as an indication of having an issue with shifts in the algorithm that bring about what clearly seem to be undesirable results as a whole.
6:30 pm on Jun 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'm not quite sure whether this place is the best to use as an indication [..] what clearly seem to be undesirable results as a whole.

It's definitely one of the better examples. This is a solid site, few could argue against its significance. Yet it's falling in the SERPs (according to alexa).
7:52 pm on Jun 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

How much is it falling? Are the other SERPs providing garbage?

Don't get me wrong. I Love WebmasterWorld but they needed a bit of a facelift many years ago and should have made some things more accessible and easier to use. I don't know what those who haven't been here a while do. My membership says I've only been here 4 years. Back then I went to sitepoint and a few others but only because they were on a forum platform similar to my own.
8:57 pm on Jun 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Most UGC is falling - WebmasterWorld can safely be considered high-quality, regardless of the UI (a bit clumsy, but clean and easy to read).
9:39 am on Jun 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Update: The 'blank page' is slowly moving up the ranks. It's now at #5. Current cost per click of that query around $4.

Edit: Sorry, wrong thread - if a mod could delete this, it would be great.
This 48 message thread spans 2 pages: 48