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One Keyword Dropped 4 pages other still at top. Penalized?

What can cause a site to drop significantly for only one search term?

   
9:13 am on Jul 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



A site we (a web dev firm) have recently taken on for SEO is targeting 2 main keywords.

When we took the site on, the first, most important keyword had the site around position 8 on page 1. A few days later, it had dropped to the bottom of page 5 for this term. We have been doing various onsite work and building links via directories and article sites and this has now risen to position 5 on page 4.

However, with the second keywork (the less searched term), the site was and has remained page 1, position 1.

Is it possible we could be penalized for one search term and not the other? If we had been penalized, surely the site would have dropped for both search terms?

What other factors can cause such a dramatic drop off for one key word and not the other?

9:59 am on Jul 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



Update: Upon investigating all the inbound links to the site in WMT, 1 site kept reoccuring. Looking at this site, it is an exact duplicate of the site we have been asked to optimise for. Upon phoning the client, he has informed us of a 2nd duplicate. This means there are now 3 identical sites out there. Very obvious duplicate content issues. How great affect is this having?

These 2 other sites bring very very little revenue, revenue that he wouldn't miss. Should we 301 these sites to the main site?

1:20 am on Jul 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

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



yes - you should 301 the newer/lesser sites to the canonical domain.

regarding the recent movement in search results, you might want to follow the relevant (current and previous) Google Search threads:
Google Updates and SERP Changes - July 2009 - part 2 [webmasterworld.com]

9:20 pm on Jul 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



"Is it possible we could be penalized for one search term and not the other? If we had been penalized, surely the site would have dropped for both search terms?"

Correct. If both keyphrases are equally competitive and one falls but the other remains then chances are there hasn't been a penalty.

"What other factors can cause such a dramatic drop off for one key word and not the other?"

It could be many things. The duplicate content issue seems most likely.

I find it rather odd that the client didn't give you the full picture when you took over the project, you had to discover an additional mirror site on your own. Maybe the client has a few more secrets, like some linking scheme that he disassembled so you couldn't find it hence the SERP plumeting or maybe it's something else. The next time you sit down with the client see if you can get more information about his previous web site promotion strategies, you may find you answers there. If it is something real bad, it may take some time (4-6 months or more) to regain credibility with the SE.

 

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