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Dramatic loss of rankings after changed meta description

9:16 am on Nov 16, 2016 (gmt 0)

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joined:Nov 16, 2016
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Exactly 1 month ago, i changed the description of one of the websites i own and my home page got totally tanked. From #5 - #7 , to #117.
The story is as follows.
My site was ranking nicely and its trend was positive. Ahrefs report was always positive. Those are the things i have done prior the slap.
1)I corrected the html code. I had some mistakes such as <h2>blabla</h3> which was corrected to <h3>blabla</h3>
2)I added a new page, wrote an in-depth topic, placed a link to the home page with a partial match keyword.
3)My description had 2 words which was repeating and changed it to have only 1 of them so it can look better and more user-friendly. I added 2-3 extra words so the topic to tie good.

I requested a re-crawl of the site from GWT , and the next day i was sitting at the 12th page for my primary keyword. Of course i lost all the rest rankings.
I reverted back to original meta description ,and now there is only only one word different than before. The meaning of course remain the same.
Link profile was the same also.
Since this happened, GoogleBot activity is spiking unusually often with many ups and downs and continues.
Apparently there is an algorithmic penalty applied, but i really want to hear your opinion.

Thank you.
1:57 pm on Nov 16, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Welcome to WebmasterWorld, Skeptic80.

The change you describe should not have happened because of meta description change - they have no impact on rankings (other than secondary impact through a better click-through performance).

My suspect would be this:
2)I added a new page, wrote an in-depth topic, placed a link to the home page with a partial match keyword.

It is very unusual to link back to home page if the link is not in navigation or in footer. And even more unusual linking pattern to the home page would be if that link is a partial match keyword instead of just saying "Home". And further - it could actually be interpreted by Google as an attempt of ranking manipulation. So this would be my prime suspect.

The fact that Googlebot is crawling unusually often may indicate that you may have been caught by Google's Rank Modifying Patent for Spam Detection [webmasterworld.com]
... the idea here is to identify, by algorithm, what looks like an attempt to manipulate rankings in a spammy way (...) If these transitional ranking shifts are followed by what looks like a responsive action from the website, the URL or website which was previously only SUSPECTED as spam, might now be positively tagged as spam.

I would remove that page, serve 410 Gone and ask for the site to be recrawled via Google Search Console. Then I would wait - because the patent has time delay and you will need to be patient.

4:17 am on Nov 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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joined:Oct 28, 2012
votes: 30

Welcome Skeptic80,

Sounds like something more than what you said is at play here - probably a coincidence that you updated when you did I'd say.

Firstly - if you haven't done so already, ensure to check your Google Web Console > Search Traffic > Manual Actions. This will tell you if a manual action has happened, and might give you some pointers on how to tackle. If that doesn't help then ..

Secondly - You might want to check to see if your traffic loss lines up with a ranking change > [moz.com...] you said in the last month so this probably won't, so I'd be looking through Barry's blog > [seroundtable.com...] and looking for any kind of hint before and after the dates your traffic declined.

Thirdly - audit your inbound links .. Web Console, and download them .. check for recent links in the last 6 months. Analyse, and if necessary I'd probably disavow them (although many saying it's not necessary for Penguin it's believed to be important for other algorithms).

Good luck .. hope it helps!
6:51 am on Nov 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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joined:Nov 16, 2016
votes: 0

@aakk9999 thanks for the response.
Of course the new page i added, has a header and a footer thus there is a link to the home page in the navbar it self. Same goes for footer.
I wouldn't add a footer-less and header-less page. In the content of the new page, i added a link with a partial match anchor text of a keyword which was related with the topic of the home page and i wanted to rank higher. It was not irrelevant.

The funny thing is that this site is actually an 1 page site. Now i am afraid now to add more pages (lol).
It has of course, terms, privacy policy, working contact page, facebook, twitter and google+ profile links to the footer.
About the Googlebot you are very correct , you can check it here s22.postimg.org/rizi7ptqp/crawl_activity.jpg

@dipper No manual actions exists in GWT, was the 1st thing i checked. My incoming links are the same as before. And mind you, only 7 links for 7 different domains (5 of them of the same topical trust flow , and 2 are "Reference"), but the home page it self have very good topical authority thats why it could rank high.
11:24 am on Nov 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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

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Now that we know it is a one page website I would recommend getting to work and building a real website. If you would have disclosed it was a one page website the answers you got would have been completely different.