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Forum - why are old topics getting more visits?

1:09 pm on May 29, 2015 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

10+ Year Member

joined:Oct 19, 2007
votes: 16

I've created and manage a forum since 2006.
Its peak was 2011-2012.
To my understanding, Google's algorithm somewhat favoured forums by that time.

From then on, organic traffic has been declining, not abruptly but steadly.
One of the reasons was the Google Images redesign back in the day. Accepted it, got over it.
That reason apart, considering that the topic hasn't changed, that there isn't any new competition, that the talk is somewhat unchanged over time, I've been searching for a reason for this to happen.

One of the reasons that I found was that it was no longer ranking for almost anything than long tail, which wasn't the case in 2011-2012.
Ok, I suppose that was an algorithm change, nothing I can do about it. Got over it. I'll discount that from the overall decline.

Yet, analysing some data, I've come across a strange fact.
This ratio, organic traffic sessions per discussion in the last 30 days, tells me that new discussions aren't getting nearly as much organic traffic as old discussions.

Numbers from 2010 until now:

5,45 (sessions per discussion dated around April 2010 - the total number of discussions is always the same, 1.000)
5,22 (April 2011)
9,13 (April 2012)
7,41 (April 2013)
3,71 (April 2014)
2,87 (April 2015)

As you can see, discussions from April 2010 are getting an average of 5,45 sessions (per discussion) of organic traffic.
Discussions from April 2015 are getting 2,87 sessions of organic traffic.
Remembering: topics remain the same, there is some degree of duplication (new discussions somehow replicate old discussions as in any forum).

Considering that the number of posts and new discussions isn't paired with the loss of traffic - posts and new discussions have declined but not as much as organic traffic, and this slowdown to me is somehow related to the loss of traffic, a spiral behaviour - what do you think is happening?

Why am I asking this? As some of you may understand, a forum is somewhat of a "living thing", you can't control it as you can control any other site.
Users find it through Google, post new discussions, old members answer them, new content is generated.
If Google stops sending new users, it'll slowly die.

Confronted with these facts, I have to know where to invest my time, if it is something that I can change, I'll do it.
But if it's out of my reach - i.e. Google's algo - I better invest my time in something else... what do you think about this?
12:34 am on May 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

Full Member from US 

10+ Year Member

joined:May 16, 2006
votes: 3

Have you checked back links on older threads? It's possible they were just linked to more than current threads are and thus seeing a little more love in the SERPs.
11:59 am on May 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

Preferred Member

5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Sept 12, 2014
votes: 68

The problem with forums is they are useful, and we can't be having any of that on the web.

your particular problem could be the old posts have gained enough authority to show up in the saerches.
7:20 pm on May 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

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

joined:Nov 29, 2005
votes: 1115

Given today's webmasters/adsters.... the old stuff just reads better as it was intelligently written, concise, and to the point. Many of the new sites just aren't that "intelligent" as they are created for a different purpose (ads, keyword ranking, gaming the system).
1:06 pm on May 31, 2015 (gmt 0)

Administrator from GB 

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

joined:May 9, 2000
votes: 1067

Id suggest looking for duplicate content, especially from scrapers. Hopefully, you havent got too much.