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Big site dropped to a half since Aug 2018

     
7:49 pm on Feb 11, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Hi everyone,

My name is Mickey and I am from <a website>. Our site is a respectable 11 years old forum, with thousands of quality articles and hundreds of thousands of topics. Our members include some of the top experts on the subject and the site itself was ranked highly by Similar Web for <our category> sites.

At the begging of Aug 2018, our Google traffic has dropped to a half. We did everything that came to our minds to resolve the issue / improve the site, to no avail. Here is the summary:

The situation:

  1. On the begging of Aug 2018, our Google traffic dropped within days to about a half, possibly resulting from a Google core algorithm change released at that date [searchengineland.com].
  2. As of this date, many of our top performer pages dropped so low (location 40+) that even empty pages appear above ours.


Our actions so far:

  1. We improved the site UI (using a/b tests) focusing on visit duration and page views.
  2. We improved the site speed (both using Google pagespeed insights and web.dev)
  3. We change the authors' information to be more easily accessible and richer.
  4. We never took a part in link building activities, the site just gathered links over time.
  5. We can't see any manual action or security issue on our Google Search Console, though it is strange that empty pages appear above us...


As I said, nothing we did made any difference and we are starting to run out of ideas. If you have any idea or lead which may help us to resolve this issue, thousands of our core members are going to be very thankful, including myself!

Thanks,
Mickey.

[edited by: goodroi at 3:38 pm (utc) on Feb 12, 2019]
[edit reason] Please no specific keywords, widgetized [/edit]

5:59 pm on Feb 12, 2019 (gmt 0)

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There are hundreds of businesses that are experiencing the same thing right now, no correlation or anything. Google is basically just purging domains and redirecting all the traffic to more favorable domains (to more buddy buddy to Google business). SEMRush shows hundreds of domains that are lost all their traffic... never seen anything like this before but it is true. Prepare to lose all your traffic.
9:27 pm on Feb 12, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Well at least it has not continued to drop since August. Google has really started to push Videos, search suggestions, and answers which has push the organic results down the page. Basically they are trying to keep visitors on Google until they click on their ads. This means less clicks for everyone else...

Google is driven to make more money, and the only way they seem to be able to do that now is cannibalize the organic results. Obviously all companies want to make money but what makes Google such a monster now days is that they are a monopoly in search. I don't see another company stepping in to challenge Google in search anytime soon. Some seem to think the government should step in but that would be another disaster.
10:04 pm on Feb 12, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@thejfk ... Welcome to Webmasterworld!

OP ... g is not giving as much love to forums these days. This falls under the umbrella of UGC, which has been frowned upon (didn't want to say deprecated) as having less value than articles, answers, info. There's not much you can do about it, except to curate and moderate the content to the highest level possible.

Just the nature of the ever changing beast.
11:30 pm on Feb 12, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Hi guys and thanks for the warm welcome :-)

Regarding Google acting as a monopoly, this is likely true. Still this is the situation and we need to adapt.

Regarding our UGC, our content is mostly Q&A, though we can probably change its format and pop answers up by votes (like Stack Overflow). Did anyone here try this and saw any result out of the change?

The weird thing is that we also have thousands of quality articles written by some of the top people in the industry, which have dropped drastically as well -- this is something I can not understand. Any idea about this one?

Thanks for all the help!
Mickey.
2:01 am on Feb 13, 2019 (gmt 0)

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SEMRush shows hundreds of domains that are lost all their traffic

Instead of "hundreds", it's more likely to be "hundreds of thousands"

never seen anything like this before

There have been several big updates in the past that hit far more sites than anything that happened recently
7:13 am on Feb 13, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@JesterMagic

Yes, there is a reason the number of clicks on advertisements on Google's own websites increased 66 percent from a year earlier.

(Source: blomberg.com, q4 numbers 2018 released 4. of febrruary 2019).
8:25 pm on Feb 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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User generated content sites have to stay on top of spam and low quality text or they can quickly run into problems. User generated content sites are also at the whim or ranking signal changes, they are in effect a page of comments.

It's good that you are focusing on the user experience side of things but you may not be looking in the right places for answers. You've got to dig down to specific pages at the url level to see what has been hit to get a better idea of why. Google's search console is good for this.

Look at the pages report and sort by impressions with the most being at the top. Turn on the CTR tab as well. Are you noticing your top pages taking a big dip in impressions(lower rankings) or in CTR (technical issues cause pages not to load)? Typical sites get most traffic from a small subset of the pages, you need to inspect these.
12:32 am on Feb 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Look at the pages report and sort by impressions with the most being at the top. Turn on the CTR tab as well. Are you noticing your top pages taking a big dip in impressions(lower rankings) or in CTR (technical issues cause pages not to load)? Typical sites get most traffic from a small subset of the pages, you need to inspect these.

Sound like a good advice :thumb-up:
8:33 am on Feb 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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There has to come a time when large forums become self sustaining no?
When users type-in the domain to visit and recommend the site to friends through word of mouth on and off line?
12:53 am on Feb 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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There has to come a time when large forums become self sustaining no?

Do not count on it. Our forum had many thousands of visitors/day. Still when Google released its update on Aug, our traffic was cut in more than a half. I would dare say that even Amazon, with all its brand, would suffer serious losses if Google will stop directing traffic to it...
10:07 pm on Feb 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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The weird thing is that we also have thousands of quality articles written by some of the top people in the industry, which have dropped drastically as well


I have UGC sites (with moderation) that have been crushed in the past 1-2 years also, taking the quality articles with them. The way I see it now, any low quality post from users will tank the rest of your site further.

I mean webmasterworld itself is a UGC site with great value, so they can't be all bad.
11:25 pm on Feb 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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WW is very highly moderated. Dang few comments that stray off the reservation of what g likes (think ideology, not content) are ever allowed. WW is not a forum example, it is a forum exception!

(And we all love it!)

Seriously, forums require more care and feeding that just about any other website/presentation out there these days.
1:46 pm on Feb 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Can't say anything without giving us the url.
5:25 pm on Feb 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I understand URLs are not allowed here.
5:41 pm on Feb 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Self promotion is not allowed, however, if you join the subscribers section of WW your site can be discussed in detail.
5:44 pm on Feb 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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BTW @casperb Welcome to Webmasterworld!
12:53 am on Feb 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@tangor Thank you! :)
9:45 pm on Feb 25, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I see so many complaints that forums aren't valued as much in Google. We run a few forums that have experienced the same problem (a phenomenal decline in referrals).

I suspect that it's a problem to appropriately gauge the authority and trustworthiness of a forum, particularly when it's on a technical topic, so this type of UGC just doesn't rank as well anymore.

Generally speaking, I actually prefer to read forum threads on a topic, rather than some spammy blog post - so I hope the pendulum swings the other way at some point.
3:05 pm on Feb 26, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Self promotion is not allowed, however, if you join the subscribers section of WW your site can be discussed in detail.

Thanks for letting me know of this option! I just subscribed to the pro membership plan. Will let you know once I get access to the private section.

System

10:43 pm on Mar 1, 2019 (gmt 0)

redhat

 
 


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1:56 pm on Mar 3, 2019 (utc 0)