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Splitting site into two to improve non-performing part had no effect

     
5:01 pm on Dec 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Hey all,

Here is the situation, I am hoping some of you can provide some insight or offer suggestions with a situation I am having.

My company has a website, it is your normal fare, describes our services, products, etc.

Now in addition to the normal "Who we are, where we are, what we do" we maintained a technical wiki it was at example.com/wiki/ and it contains technical write-ups on solving more advanced networking and PC problems. The wiki is very popular as far as web-traffic goes.

There are some technical fixes in our wiki for products like "Smansang Sank Thru" (name changed intentionally) and if you search those products and the issue online our wiki even outranks the official Smansang website help pages.

There are a few other examples of this, where our wiki outranks the help pages of the official vendors/manufacturers.

As you can imagine this is great for our wiki traffic, crappy for our "who we are, where we are, what we do" portion of the website... anyone coming to our wiki is at minimum a power PC user and likely is a technical of some sort as the info our wiki provides is highly technical and almost guaranteed to not become a customer or engage in ads, and our company does fine without the need to convert the wiki traffic. We do it as more of a bragging thing.

Because the /wiki/ pages were so popular and had all the new content search engines gave our site amazing rankings for those search results but not for the services... inversely web searches for services we provide in area we provide them didn't rank well as the keyword density and all the other factors identified our site as a technical blog not a service provider.

This scenario all pre dated me at the company. When I came in the company had already commissioned a fancy new design with custom images and well written content for the portfolio side of the website and when it was ready we decided to pull the wiki into a subdomain. Which we did and 301 redirected all traffic from example.com/wiki/* to wiki.example.com/* the new portfolio website urls where nicely 301'd as well /services/about-us became /about-us... etc.

It has been about 4 months now and the wiki site continues to enjoy great rankings for technical help searches and it's traffic has continued at it's normal pace.

The portfolio website hasn't seen a bump in traffic, it isn't ranking well, I have tried a few things to split my logs up and it works well for analytics but WMT is a bit messed up, but it is basically showing a 0% ctr for all searches relating to the portfolio site. We will see a avg position of 7-20 for some of the search terms we went after and the marketplace is a bit competitive, but based on what I know we should be seeing a climb or at least be "sampled" into some search results like a new site would, but I haven't seen anything like that yet.

I have been patient and I am starting to wonder, did I do the right thing by moving the wiki to sub-domain. Is G still ID'ing the site as some tech blog? Is there anything I can do? We don't have a ton of backlinks that weren't /wiki/ and I do want to start working on those when I have time. Should I just trust that "doing it right" will eventually pay off? Paranoia is starting to set in and I don't want to start ripping content or stuffing keywords, I think all the titles are well formed, urls are named nice with titles and content... The site had the wiki for over 5 years before the change.

Any advice would much appreciated. Thanks in advance
5:19 pm on Dec 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

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What is the number of pages on the wiki versus the number of pages on the portfolio?

Has the ranking/traffic of portfolio dropped after the changes or it just did not improve?
5:27 pm on Dec 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I would say the page count is about 50 wiki pages for evey 1 portfolio page... and ever growing as wiki gets more new content than the the main.

My title is poorly written, the issue is that it isn't improving, from a baseline of basically zero, and it isn't getting impressions for much other than wiki content.
5:30 pm on Dec 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Wiki is doing about 450 unique visits per day, about 90% of which are new users.

Main site does about 8 hits per day, swelling to 13, most of which are direct searches for the company name or people searching our mail.example.com rather than typing it directly into the location bar and then clicking the search result.
1:45 am on Dec 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Having re-read your main post again, it would appear that the lack of traffic to your main portfolio may be a combination of:
  • not a great ranking (7 is not really good, but often it depends who is above you)

  • maybe a lack of visitors' interest comparing to blog (how does the potential traffic for purchase keywords compare with informational keywords?)

  • and perhaps of not so inviting title and meta descriptions.

If I understood well, after split off, your wiki subdomain continues the same rate of growth, whilst your portfolio site continues to stagnate as it was before. In other words, although the wiki was split off to a subdomain in an effort for the portfolio site to get a different classification (not being blog) and in that way perhaps improve rankings/traffic, nothing visibly happened.

You may want to wait a bit longer than 4 months to see if anything changes, but from what you have so far, I would conclude that having the wiki in a subfolder was not damaging your portfolio part of the site.

I would ask three questions:

1) Could you do more cross-selling between wiki and portfolio? In this case wiki attracts potential customers and funnels them to portfolio site (for this having it all on the same domain may be more beneficial because your portfolio could be better integrated into main navigation or similar)

2) Have you thought that your wiki perhaps targets wrong subjects? I am wondering whether wiki solves problems that appear AFTER the customer has bought the product. In this case, whilst you would be getting the traffic, that particular traffic would not be interested to buy as they already bought it

3) Have you tried to run the Adwords for a limited time for the portfolio site, just to see how much CTR you would get if you are right on top of the SERPs? You could see how much traffic is there to get for purchase keywords. You could also try various (shorter types of) titles and see if any converts better than the other.



I also agree that the title of the post was not the best, hence I changed it from "Need Advice on recouping from redesign (hasn't recouped from changes)" to "Splitting site into two to improve non-performing part had no effect" in attempt to better describe your problem. If you can think of a better title, let me know.
3:35 pm on Dec 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Hey ak,

Thanks for the feedback, you are correct the site ranked very poorly for the services we provide before the change. The reasons for the poor rankings were vast from an SEO point of view. The best text on the site was embedded in images, it had bad menu semantics, etc..... but it always comes down to one thing, content, and the content for our services was not there. Not even good keyword targeting.

I think you are right and we are just going to have to stay the course, keep doing things right and wait longer, the domain lived like that for over 5 years with the only new content coming from the wiki. Our company provides managed IT services for small/medium business. The wiki is from the techs who blog solutions to very obscure problems in networking, hardware problems, driver dependencies and so on.

So to answer your questions

1) This is worth looking into but I would guess that an overwhelming majority of the people reading the wiki are colleagues not clients. Maybe there is still a conversion technique for this scenario.

2) You could be right. The wiki was the vision of the founder, a major nerd who has found a lot of help online and likes to 'give back' with his own solutions.

3) No but I think this is worth looking into again, but I don't want to "poison the well" with keywords that aren't related to the services. Maybe that isn't a concern anymore but the best performing keywords in the wiki have nothing to do with services we offer.

(thanks for the title change, much better)
4:59 pm on Dec 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Hi there, Demaestro:

If I may, I would like to try and articulate what I think you are asking (and please correct me if I am wrong):

"Is the popularity of our wiki somehow harming our ability to rank our portfolio pages?"

In essence, what I THINK you are trying to question is whether google has classified your site SOLEY as an answers site, instead of one that provides services / products.

Is this your main concern? Or am I missing your concern?
5:41 pm on Dec 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Hey Planet thanks :)

That is the meat and potatoes of it.
5:44 pm on Dec 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

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The only other thing I can think of is to use wiki as a "show off" how much the company providing service knows - e.g. allow us to manage your services and you never have to worry about any issues on wiki...
7:51 pm on Dec 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Hey Planet thanks :) That is the meat and potatoes of it.


Thanks for the confirmation.

Unfortunately, I DON'T have an answer for you. I wish that I did, especially since I am in something of the same situation as you (a blog that gets MUCH more traffic than the ecommerce side of our site).

I have run that question a few times by the members of this forum, and there has been little input in whether having a large section of information (whether in the form of a wiki or a blog or articles) would negatively affect the rankings of product / service pages.

I would suggest, however, that if you link from the wiki section to your portfolio section, you make it blatantly obvious to your visitors where that link will take them.

The last thing you need is to send data to google (via visitors using chrome or android) that lots of people click on a link to one of your portfolio pages and then immediately click back when they realize that the link did NOT take them to the type of page they wanted to see.

Fortunately, for the good of the world, I did NOT come up with that idea myself; I stole it from netmeg, who is much smarter than I, so I am pretty confident that it is a good practice to let your visitors know in advance what to expect when they click on a link.

Aside from that, I don't, unfortunately have any advice. Although I do like the suggestion of trying something like adwords so you could at least get a reasonable idea of what amount of traffic you COULD / SHOULD be getting if you were ranking better.
10:16 pm on Dec 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thanks a lot you guys, I am going to try the 'netmeg' trick, and generally just keep working at it to see if things improve.

Just based off how many sites I have done, to have such poor rankings when everything else has been done right, domain active for years, besting suppliers and manufacturers for searches returning the wiki, and many other factors really has me thinking that something else is at play. It shouldn't be this hard to get a decent ranking on new terms where the content and structure is developed properly.

I know better than to expect average positions between 1-20 for everything or anything, but the terms that we have cracked top 20 are either returning users straight to the wiki or the main site pages have keywords that "seem" related to some of the more popular wiki entries.

Whereas the terms we are really going after we just don't seem to see any movement on and when looking at regional results the competition isn't that stiff for many of them.
12:58 am on Dec 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

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It has been about 4 months now


For the main site was this a re-construct?

I have to say that I am finding many new sites are having serious difficulty in getting "any" traction in Google to the extent that Bing, always much slower and more thorough, is now actually ranking faster ... hey, multi-million page "news boys", this is the reality many of us have to live with in the current black and white animal era!

I am going to try the 'netmeg' trick, and generally just keep working at it to see if things improve.


Yep, that may work, then again nothing may happen until "another" major update. I had that with several sites, I couldn't comprehend why they were not getting traffic etc and then in May a new iteration and those sites took off ... why did it take that Panda to do it?

It's blitheringly stupid!
10:42 am on Dec 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I have to say that I am finding many new sites are having serious difficulty in getting "any" traction in Google


That's strange. I'm finding the opposite. I put this down to pandas and penguins shortening the distance to page one, and also new sites not having any legacy problems that Google may have stored. This is just anecdotal, not scientific.

Whereas getting sites in my niche to pop in terms of traffic used to take me over a year, I'm down now to about 7-8 months. (These are ~100 page niche sites. Pure editorial-type link building).
10:49 am on Dec 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I would suggest, however, that if you link from the wiki section to your portfolio section, you make it blatantly obvious to your visitors where that link will take them.


You might even want to make it look like an ad, and nofollow it. Great *free* advertising space.

You can then :
1. track which pages on the wiki give you the most conversions, and create more content like that.

2. Optimize landing pages
3:18 pm on Dec 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

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"Pure editorial-type link building"


What does that mean?

Are you guest blogging to create backlinks?
4:34 pm on Dec 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

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No. Page editors voluntarily decide to link to my pages. Content marketing and outreach if you like, but I've been doing it before those names were made up.
5:04 pm on Dec 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

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For the main site was this a re-construct?


Yes, a total revamp of the site. /wiki/ moved to a subdomain, and all the pages were completely redone. New markup, new page titles, new URLs, new content, new everything. The only thing that remained were the domain name, the company name and branding taglines, and proper 301s from old pages to the new ones.
1:44 pm on Feb 1, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Demaestro here's my experience with the same problem: [webmasterworld.com...]
 

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