Junior Member from US
joined:Oct 31, 2005
Here's a typical story I hear a lot and we have one ecommerce site that fits this perfectly: We have a site that used to do awesome in Google SERPs (yes, 'free' traffic) before 2011. Then when Panda 1 hit, it started to decline. It stll did good for a couple of years, but not as good. But it kept slowly falling. It literally has taken till about now to decline from 5k visitors a day to 300. Yes, a slow, painful death spiral.
It seems Panda and Phantom have disliked this site to no end. Each Panda and Phantom (except Panda 4) has made organic Google visits drop more. The death knell happened in the last four months especially.
However, in the last 24 months, and especially in the last 4, we've done a massive amount of improvements:
On-page: We re-designed the whole site (made it wider, with larger fonts and made the top banner much smaller so everything moved up), made it responsive, added way better navigation, changed the entire site's url structure to make the urls shorter and more intuitive, made the buying process smoother and easier, added interactive features, found (using analytics) most/all bad-performing pages and 301'd to appropriate top-level category. We've increased time on site a bit, and reduced bounce rate a bit doing this. We got most pages to W3C validate even (deleting any outdated html in the process). We've added rich snippetts (which don't show up in the SERPs), changed from private to public registration. We made the 'Buy' button stick to the top when visitors scroll down. We added testimonials to every page. We already had a terms and privacy page, but we added a disclaimer page, a FAQs page, and a disclosure page, and our physical address on every page. We found that the blog posts were getting horrible user stats and bringing the whole site down, and had a lot of old, thin posts. So we deleted it completely and 301'd all blog pages to our homepage. We added original content to every single page too.
Off-page:We tried to get rid of every possible harmful link. We used a number of tools to find 'bad' links, including the tool here at WebmasterWorld, and disavowed hundreds about a year ago. There were blogs that we owned that we linked to this site and we deleted all of those links. In the last few months we found that there were some expired domains that had new blogs on them and had a link pointing to us, so we deleted those where we could. Then in the last two months, we've launched a massive content marketing initiative where we started publishing a 3000+ word original piece every twe days or so. We've done about six of these, and every one has received thousands of Facebook shares (one got more than 5k shares) and tons of great links. The first one received more than 12 new linking domains, and the last one we did this past week has already received about 10 new, white hat links. This has increased the number of linking domains by more than 10% alone!
What has this done to improve our Google organic traffic? NOTHING!
In fact, in the last month, Google traffic has gotten worse! Worse than ever before. The site is now dead.
My only conclusion now is that this particular site has been taggedby Google, which essentially says "This site will NEVER recover, no matter what is done."
I mean, how can you do such drastic and dramatic things to a site and see no changes at all? We deleted a 1000 page blog, and Google traffic never changed!? We 301d every bad-performing page. We re-designed the whole site for way better user experience and based on everything we learned about Panda and Phantom (about 6 months ago), and Google traffic never changed. We increased our natural, white hat backlinks by 10% most recently and our Google traffic has decreased!
It appears that there is nothing I can do to even move the needle. I believe that if I took the Forbes site, or CNN, or Wikipedia or even Amazon and put it on this domain, they would tank too. I swear, this site is tagged and can never come out of purgatory. I've been doing this since Alta Vista and have never seen anything like this.
Have others had this same experience?