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Google rewarding spammy sites

     
12:18 pm on Oct 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Hi,

so I was checking out my competitors on SEMRush, and it looked like they are constantly growing (+10% every month) while my website is slowly dying (-26% every month). Here are some differences I noticed:

    - my website has been actively present on the web for 10 years, my competitors are around since 1 or 2 years;

    - my website template is professionally designed and I have renewed it this summer, my competitors use those free HTML templates with poor design choices like fancy fonts, a lot of random background colors and many different text sizes and colors in every paragraph, ugly text logo, etc. in one word amateurish;

    - my website has content for each page, and it's focused on one keyword, my competitors have literally lists of keywords, widgets with dozens of links to internal pages, and plenty of duplicated pages with different lists of embedded products from other websites;

    - my website has a limited number of pages because want to keep everything simple and clear for my customers, my competitors have lots of pages covering the same subject with different keywords.

    - my website gets updated once a week with a new exclusive product, my competitors are aggregating products from external websites

This may sound like my personal rent, but to be honest I can only surrender to the fact that my competitors are using winning strategies that are bringing them all my traffic and a whole lot more. They have outranked me in every way possible, while I was constantly worried about good design, honest SEO and simple content for the users.

Google is clearly rewarding them, so I was wondering: should I close my 10 years site and build a new spammy site to make a living?
10:46 pm on Oct 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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while my website is slowly dying (-26% every month)

I wouldn't call 26%, "slow".

Google is clearly rewarding them, so I was wondering: should I close my 10 years site and build a new spammy site to make a living?

Whatever you decide to do, do not close your existing site. You don't know what will perform well tomorrow, next week , next month or next year. Who knows, may be next year, your site will be on top of results, and these sites sent to oblivion.
12:04 am on Oct 29, 2018 (gmt 0)

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my website has been actively present on the web for 10 years, my competitors are around since 1 or 2 years;

Who cares, Google certainly doesn't. The only people that really care about this are repeat customers, if you have enough of them the you don't really need to worry too much about what Google thinks.

my website template is professionally designed and I have renewed it this summer, my competitors use those free HTML templates

Is it possible that you overlooked something technical when you made changes (renew)? In my experience Google and users hate change and uniqueness, those free templates may look like crap but many sites are using them and so most users are used to them. Google likes that. Confirmation bias.

my website has content for each page, and it's focused on one keyword,

The concept of keyword is all but dead. There is no such thing as one keyword one result. Content should be written such that it responds to a customer/user's need not written to feature a "keyword". While your competitors may in fact be doing things worse, that is focusing on keyword variations eg: widget, blue widget, big blue widget, widget that are big and blue etc... but in doing this they may in fact be including some content that Google feels is a better match to the user's intent.

my website has a limited number of pages...

It has to do with user intent. If you feel that there are sufficient users with the intent targeted by your website then great. Otherwise broadening your reach may bring in more users, but broaden too much and you may be bringing in more users but then be unable to get them to convert as the users are only seeking info and have no intent to buy.

my website gets updated once a week with a new exclusive product...

As I said above, Google hates change for the sake of change. Obviously you must keep your content up to date and relevant, but if you are releasing products just to say to for the sake of change, I doubt that this will help you.

The biggest problem you have....
so I was checking out my competitors on SEMRush,...

As I have said above, the assumption of one keyword == one SERP does not hold. It is impossible for services such as SEMRush to account for this, as their service relies on that assumption. What this means is that while you are facing a downturn in traffic in business it is also possible that your competitors may be facing the same fate. Your competitor may be gaining all the traffic but then may be unable to convert the users. The net result is you loose, your competitor looses and the user looses, possibly, Google comes out the winner as the user resorts to ads to fill his needs (even that isn't certain, user may go to FB or Amazon)

Good luck....
12:49 pm on Oct 29, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Well we keep seeing these reports about google ranking bad sites above good sites.

But some people might be over-estimating the value and quality of their own sites, or maybe they judge sites by different standards than google's algorithm does.
4:05 pm on Oct 29, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Google is clearly rewarding them...


According to SEMRush or according to the Search Results that you reviewed.

Your post does not mention anything about you actually seeing the sites ranking above you.

That needs to be clarified.
4:57 pm on Oct 29, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for your replies guys, it's very helpful to have different point of views.

@justpassing oh no, I won't close it, it's just that sometimes I think that a fresh start with a new domain and new website could bring more results, even if my products are the same... just like if Google "condemned" my website to stay low profile forever.

@NickMNS thanks for being so detailed, I'm not posting new content only for Google, on the contrary, I make new content for my customers, unfortunately, it's not easy to make quality stuff regularly. Competitors are posting new stuff daily, but you know, aggregating resources it's not like making them. Also, I forgot to mention that I rely a lot on Google because it's my first source of traffic, and that's why I care so much.

@aristotle I'm sure we're discussing the second case here, my standard is very different from Google's one apparently. I thought good looking design, long established online presence, no SEO tricks, and relevant original content every week was the thing to focus on. They said content is king, remember? Today I realized that I was wrong. I opened this thread just to report facts, not opinions (which are not useful).

@martinibuster one of those competitors that outranked me is ranking first (Google USA) with the most generic and important keyword of my industry. That little website even outranked the big players. That's quite inspiring for me, it's just a static website with no SEO optimizations or text content, just some headings and a list of hundreds of products.

Anyway, I didn't open this topic to complain and demonstrate that my website is the best, it's just an analysis of my website and my competitors, I was surprised that none of them seem to follow "white hat SEO" rules or good webmaster guidelines - and let me tell you I worked ten years as web designer and know something. It feels like 90s again, a bunch of crazy sites stuffed with keywords :-)
7:08 pm on Oct 29, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@widgetized

I'm going to sound like a broken record!

1. Are you on a .com/net/org or an .it?

2. Are you hosted in Europe or USA/Canada?

3. Where are the spammy sites located?
7:58 pm on Oct 29, 2018 (gmt 0)

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For the sake of this conversation I'll grant everything that you, OP, say as to your own and competitor's sites as well as Google. And then tell you flat out that it doesn't matter because you, apparently, have missed the past decade in search. The idée fixe of keywords, particularly a page built around a single keyword, links::PageRank, and taking the rankings/weightings/values of third party tools, i.e. SEMRush, as representative of anything Google is sooo very 2006.

* personalised search rolled out increasingly from 2004: this meant that increasingly that every Tom, Dick, and Sally saw somewhat different query results - as did the ranking tools.
Note: over the past few years the number of non-personal contextual inputs have increased such that (except for those signed in) personalisation is largely back to the decade old fundamental duo of geo-locale and immediate prior search history.
Note: however, the contextual driving differences still mean that every Tom, Dick, Sally, and third party tool still see varyingly different query results.

* the 2010 acquisition of MetaWeb saw a huge step past keywords to entities.
Note: all keywords are entities, not all entities are keywords, which is why keywords still work, just not as often nor, where they still do, as well as prior.
Note: an additional complexity is that entities have relationships and context among other attributes and connections. This pushes ye olde keyword SEO ever more going going...

* Google's initial 'mobile friendly' push and current ongoing 'mobile first' index change has a great more going on behind the curtain than most are aware. One of the critical ones is that, almost certainly, there is a separate entities DB and engine - indeed the initial purpose of the SEO hyped RankBrain was to translate between keywords and entities aka desktop style queries and mobile style queries aka desktop ranking index and mobile ranking index.
Note: there is more to this plus much more than this - eventually the wider webdev communities will wakeup and have a search discussion that isn't already past best use date. Though I'm not holding my breath.

With query ranking now mostly a blob approximation average/vector and query terms, at best, a changeable partial bucket sort blob the best determinator of how one is doing in Google (or elsewhere for that matter) is the traffic referred to each page over time:
* by volume (after bot-human differentiation).
* by conversion rate and value.
All else is smoke and mirrors.

Oh, and never forget that what humans, especially web smart humans can see at a glance Google's algos can not; they rely on various indirect measurements, often popularity aka wisdom-of-crowds based/sourced, that more often than not result in GIGO. Google is the web's biggest data vacuum ingesting far more offal than prime. Quantity not quality. But really fast and still good enough to keep most searchers and advertisers complacent.
10:00 pm on Oct 29, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I wouldn't call 26% [every month] "slow".
Is it possible a decimal point got left out? .74^12 = around 2.6%, meaning that at the end of a year, traffic would be down to 1/40 of what it was to start with. And at the end of two years, we're on life support.
5:24 pm on Oct 30, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@RedBar 1) .com 2) USA 3) Europe (eg. Ukraine, France)

@lucy24 and @justpassing 26% is reported as the trend when I visit SEM Rush, not sure about what period that percentage is calculated for, probably the mistake is mine, I checked those reports and saw changes every month. Of course, I'm not losing that amount of traffic every month, I'd be screwed, nonetheless, my traffic is today 1/3 of what was in June, and not stable at all, while the other sites are simply growing.

For the first time in ten years I hired a SEO consultant, let's see how it goes.
5:41 pm on Oct 30, 2018 (gmt 0)

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What has this SEO consultant proposed as a solution? What is he charging you for?

Before paying anyone I strongly urge you to read and consider the post by iamlost. There is far more value in that post then you will be able to derive from any SEO proposing new ways of optimizing for keywords.If you still feel the need to hire someone, I would then strongly suggest that you ask them their opinion and strategy for addressing the points raised by iamlost.

...while the other sites are simply growing.

What allows you to come to this conclusion?
5:45 pm on Oct 30, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I thought good looking design, long established online presence, no SEO tricks, and relevant original content every week was the thing to focus on.

Well, sure all thats great but one thing you didn't mention was backlinks.

I know the term "Back link profile" sounds real old school but the fact is it still remains a dominant factor in ranking.

Take a look at yours, and take a look at this unworthy "spammy" site thats causing the burr under your saddle; what do you see? How do the two compare?
 

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