10 year old site, with no black hat seo has just been battered by google :-(

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One of my colleagues sites has just been battered in the last few days by the latest Google update.

* It is over 10 years old.
* NEVER had any black hat linking done on it.
* No BMR or other blog networks etc.
* No web 2.0 linking done by him
* No adsense etc.
* All content is 100 % original
* He just sells physical products in his niche

In fact all he has done is write some nice juicy content from day one. It has about 300 pages of good, closely related content on his site.

He normally gets 1,500 to 2,000 visitors a day and makes decent $$$'s from the site.

Since Friday 22nd, his daily visitors have fallen to approximately 750 a day. In other words less than half.

I myself can see nothing wrong with what he has done, yet he is suffering.

Whether this is shorterm or not, time will tell. But it has been 3 days already with severe results. He is already thinking of the consequences of laying off staff if it continues.

For some of his main keywords, half the results in google's top 10 are definitely crappy and spammy after this.

Another case of google f***ing genuine sites.

Yes, google wants visitors to get something for their search efforts, but many users just accept what google dishes out to them. Most google users probably don't notice the crap results too much.

At the same time, google wants businesses to pay for PPC traffic.

What a bummer. It is yet another example of not relying too much on google....

Competition is a good thing, but google's rapid rise wiped out most of its competitors. It is amazing that such a thing happened so quickly and in modern times. I can't think of many other recent examples of this kind of thing happening and happening so quickly. You have to take your hat off to them in many ways, but I would prefer it if google wasn't so dominant.

Sam
#battered #black #google #hat #seo #site #year
  • Profile picture of the author SuzanneH
    Did he check to make sure that his site wasn't hacked or that a recent update effected Googlebot getting in to index the site? There are many reasons why this could be happening. It's best to investigate first to see exactly where the problem is.

    Suzanne
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    • Profile picture of the author Steadyon
      Hi Suzanne,

      The site is static HTML and hasn't been hacked. Its severe loss in rankings totally mirror the timing of the latest google panda update :-(

      Neither he nor I are non the wiser about why it was hit.

      The site has never signed up to use any google webmaster tools etc.

      What should be done? Any ideas?



      Sam
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  • Profile picture of the author yukon
    Banned
    Originally Posted by Steadyon View Post

    He normally gets 1,500 to 2,000 visitors a day and makes decent $$$'s from the site.

    Since Friday 22nd, his daily visitors have fallen to approximately 750 a day. In other words less than half.

    I myself can see nothing wrong with what he has done, yet he is suffering.

    Whether this is shorterm or not, time will tell. But it has been 3 days already with severe results. He is already thinking of the consequences of laying off staff if it continues.
    Staff?

    You say 2K traffic per day for the whole site (all traffic is 2K?)?

    What are you selling million dollar yachts?

    How can anyone have full time staff (I assume you mean full time?) with 2k traffic per day? Is that staff working for a nickel an hour or what? You must be selling high end products.
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    • Profile picture of the author danb12
      Originally Posted by yukon View Post

      Staff?

      You say 2K traffic per day for the whole site (all traffic is 2K?)?

      What are you selling million dollar yachts?

      How can anyone have full time staff (I assume you mean full time?) with 2k traffic per day? Is that staff working for a nickel an hour or what? You must be selling high end products.
      i disagree, you can have 100 visitors and make a full time living from one site. It depends on what you are selling really, and the currency. OHH and how good your site is at converting - this is where all your skills kick in...
      And its not expensive at all to employ a few VA's per hour.
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      • Profile picture of the author Steadyon
        Originally Posted by yukon View Post

        Staff?

        You say 2K traffic per day for the whole site (all traffic is 2K?)?

        What are you selling million dollar yachts?

        How can anyone have full time staff (I assume you mean full time?) with 2k traffic per day? Is that staff working for a nickel an hour or what? You must be selling high end products.

        Why are you attacking what I said? What does it matter what he is selling? Jobs are definitely at risk.



        Originally Posted by FrFai View Post

        Its happening to a lot of sites these days.

        Did he use GWT? if yes, did he receive the Google's Love Letter ?

        Did you check the backlink profile ? if not, check his backlinks profile if it contains spammy links (links from blog networks like BMR, ALN etc)....and ALSO closely have a look at the anchor texts...

        He has never used GWT. No obvious spammy links such as BMR, ALN etc. He never does backlinking. Just writes decent, original content.
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        • Profile picture of the author yukon
          Banned
          Originally Posted by Steadyon View Post

          Why are you attacking what I said? What does it matter what he is selling? Jobs are definitely at risk.






          He has never used GWT. No obvious spammy links such as BMR, ALN etc. He never does backlinking. Just writes decent, original content.
          What are you talking about, attack? (LOL )

          That's the 2nd comment in this thread that doesn't know what a question mark looks like. :rolleyes:

          Forget actually answering the questions, I can see where this is headed.

          Good luck.
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          • Profile picture of the author Steadyon
            Yukon,

            It is irrelevant what he is selling. The point is that his site just received a panda battering. Based on my research and on recent threads on WF, I can see no reason why it should have been hit.

            When you seem to joke that it isn't likely that there can be full time and decently paid staff on 2k visitors a day, it doesn't help answer why the site was hit.

            Thanks,

            Sam
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      • Profile picture of the author yukon
        Banned
        Originally Posted by danb12 View Post

        i disagree, you can have 100 visitors and make a full time living from one site. It depends on what you are selling really, and the currency. OHH and how good your site is at converting - this is where all your skills kick in...
        That was a question (see question mark), not a statement.

        That's why I asked, "what are they selling, yachts?"

        2k traffic isn't much when you factor in conversion rates. Must have either a very high conversion rate, a very high end product, or both?

        I only asked because they mentioned laying off staff, sounds like the staff is full time.

        I suppose currency would only matter If you live in a hut, lol, what's currency have to do with anything?
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        • Profile picture of the author troybh
          Why dont you show us the site. What is the big deal it got no adsense on it. Must be a specialized niche. Maybe selling yachts. Maybe one of the high rollers in here is looking to buy a yacht.
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        • Profile picture of the author danb12
          Originally Posted by yukon View Post

          That was a question (see question mark), not a statement.

          That's why I asked, "what are they selling, yachts?"

          2k traffic isn't much when you factor in conversion rates. Must have either a very high conversion rate, a very high end product, or both?

          I only asked because they mentioned laying off staff, sounds like the staff is full time.

          I suppose currency would only matter If you live in a hut, lol, what's currency have to do with anything?
          No prob not yachts.
          I have a site that barely gets 30 hits a day, but I can 1000% say tomorrow out of them 30 hits at least 10 will convert and make me over £100.
          GBP NOT USD - there is a difference there.

          If I took on a VA to work this site for me it would cost 25$ per day. That would still profit me over £80 from 10 converting visitors.

          Like i said, it depends what your selling, and how good your site is at converting.
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        • Profile picture of the author bitriot
          Originally Posted by yukon View Post

          That was a question (see question mark), not a statement.

          That's why I asked, "what are they selling, yachts?"

          2k traffic isn't much when you factor in conversion rates. Must have either a very high conversion rate, a very high end product, or both?

          I only asked because they mentioned laying off staff, sounds like the staff is full time.

          I suppose currency would only matter If you live in a hut, lol, what's currency have to do with anything?
          You are being awfully shortsighted on this one Yukon - If you were to think of this in terms of offline business, there are TONS of offline businesses that would be making a killing off of 2k visitors a day. Like a plumber, or a jet ski rental, or a sky dive company or someone who manufactures t shirts or a guy who sells a specialized hammer that is popular and so on.

          I don't think it is that crazy that a guy who gets 2000 visits a day - lets say he converts at 5%? That's 100 sales a day.. let's say the product sells for $50? That's 5k a day and so on.
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          • Profile picture of the author yukon
            Banned
            Originally Posted by bitriot View Post

            You are being awfully shortsighted on this one Yukon - If you were to think of this in terms of offline business, there are TONS of offline businesses that would be making a killing off of 2k visitors a day. Like a plumber, or a jet ski rental, or a sky dive company or someone who manufactures t shirts or a guy who sells a specialized hammer that is popular and so on.

            I don't think it is that crazy that a guy who gets 2000 visits a day - lets say he converts at 5%? That's 100 sales a day.. let's say the product sells for $50? That's 5k a day and so on.
            If his traffic was cut in half & this is putting him out of business, he must be living life on the edge. Which has nothing to do with Google, it's a life choice, considering they didn't prepare for the traffic drop in the past.

            Anyone with a 10 year old site should already know that the SERPs are not guaranteed & of all things the SERPs don't always have stable rankings per keyword.

            I'm not flaming OP & Lord knows I'm not attacking anyone (lol) but C'mon a 10 year old established site that can't survive a 50% traffic drop. Plan-B should have been dealt with 10 years ago.
            • Diversify traffic
            • Recover the SERP position
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  • Profile picture of the author FrFai
    Its happening to a lot of sites these days.

    Did he use GWT? if yes, did he receive the Google's Love Letter ?

    Did you check the backlink profile ? if not, check his backlinks profile if it contains spammy links (links from blog networks like BMR, ALN etc)....and ALSO closely have a look at the anchor texts...
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  • Profile picture of the author yukon
    Banned
    I can tell you one thing, for every site that drops in the SERPs, another site moves up the SERPs.

    I nailed a 9k traffic/month keyword this last weekend, #2 in the SERPs with very little effort on my part.

    My point is, for every webmaster that gets pissed at Google, another webmaster is as happy as can be. Two sides to every coin.
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  • Profile picture of the author danb12
    Could be a Google dance, I have a 4 year money site ranking #2 then lost all rankings for 2 months then one morning work up and came back #1.
    Could be just a Google Dance, they last from anything from a few days or weeks.
    Maybe they are re-ranking you in their index.
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  • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
    Originally Posted by Steadyon View Post

    He normally gets 1,500 to 2,000 visitors a day and makes decent $$$'s from the site.

    Since Friday 22nd, his daily visitors have fallen to approximately 750 a day. In other words less than half.

    Another case of google f***ing genuine sites.
    Honestly, depending on the search volume on his keywords, this could just be the result of a few keywords dropping 1-2 spots.

    From #1 to #2, you can often see a 50% or more drop in traffic.

    I would say that he just dropped a few spots. If he got slapped by Google, it is more likely that his traffic would have dropped to under 50 visitors a day.

    Is he or anyone else even monitoring his rankings?
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    • Profile picture of the author jdooley13
      Originally Posted by MikeFriedman View Post

      Honestly, depending on the search volume on his keywords, this could just be the result of a few keywords dropping 1-2 spots.

      From #1 to #2, you can often see a 50% or more drop in traffic.

      I would say that he just dropped a few spots. If he got slapped by Google, it is more likely that his traffic would have dropped to under 50 visitors a day.

      Is he or anyone else even monitoring his rankings?
      You were given the best answer by MikeFriedman. The most likely scenario is that he dropped a position or two on a major keyword (or a few major keywords). If he has no data on where his traffic is coming from, then you have no way of determining why his traffic has dropped. People do build links and move up in the SERPS. If he has been doing nothing to solidify his position, then he may not have done anything wrong and it may not be any sort of google "penalty" or algorithym change. It may simply be that one of the sites lower than him on a keyword (or two) has overtaken him and dropped his site down a position or two.
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      • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
        Originally Posted by jdooley13 View Post

        You were given the best answer by MikeFriedman. The most likely scenario is that he dropped a position or two on a major keyword (or a few major keywords). If he has no data on where his traffic is coming from, then you have no way of determining why his traffic has dropped. People do build links and move up in the SERPS. If he has been doing nothing to solidify his position, then he may not have done anything wrong and it may not be any sort of google "penalty" or algorithym change. It may simply be that one of the sites lower than him on a keyword (or two) has overtaken him and dropped his site down a position or two.
        Yeah, I do not know why everyone keeps going on and on about the site being hacked or penalized. If either of those things happened, he would be lucky to get 50 search visitors a day.

        If he wasn't tracking his keywords before though, it is impossible to know which keyword or keywords may have dropped, but that is the logical reasoning behind this situation.

        Everyone likes to jump to worst-case scenarios though I guess. :rolleyes:
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        • Profile picture of the author dimm
          Originally Posted by MikeFriedman View Post

          Yeah, I do not know why everyone keeps going on and on about the site being hacked or penalized. If either of those things happened, he would be lucky to get 50 search visitors a day.
          Not true, one of my older sites (8 years old) that has a clean backlink profile but thousands of links, recently got hacked and it took me a couple of weeks to notice. My traffic fell just about 20% and that is probably just because the hacker also changed the meta-descriptions, aka the sales copy on google's SERPs.
          Older, completely white hat sites are more resilient to staff like that.

          I agree that it might just be a small change it its rankings but nonetheless it is an opportunity to do a general checkup to the site (both on page and off page)
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          • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
            Originally Posted by dimm View Post

            Not true, one of my older sites (8 years old) that has a clean backlink profile but thousands of links recently got hacked and it took me a couple of weeks to notice. My traffic fell just about 20% and that is probably just because the hacker also changed the meta-descriptions, aka the sales copy on google's SERPs.
            Older, completely white hat sites are more resilient to staff like that.

            I agree that it might just be a small change it its rankings but nonetheless it is an opportunity to do a general checkup to the site (both on page and off page)
            You are talking about sites linking to you getting hacked. Everyone else was talking about his site getting hacked, which is what I was dismissing.

            Yes if sites linking to you got hacked that could cause a problem, but again it is going to cause a problem because your site's ranking probably dropped a spot or two as a result of what happened to those sites.
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            • Profile picture of the author dimm
              Originally Posted by MikeFriedman View Post

              You are talking about sites linking to you getting hacked. Everyone else was talking about his site getting hacked, which is what I was dismissing.

              Yes if sites linking to you got hacked that could cause a problem, but again it is going to cause a problem because your site's ranking probably dropped a spot or two as a result of what happened to those sites.
              No, I am talking about my site getting hacked, I just missed a comma in my sentence.
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              • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
                Originally Posted by dimm View Post

                No, I am talking about my site getting hacked, I just missed a comma in my sentence.
                Got it.

                It does depend on the severity of the hack too.

                If someone just tries to hide a link or two (not porn, gambling, etc), it may not have much of an effect. If they change a few meta descriptions here and there, minimal effect.

                If take the whole site down with one of those "You've been F'd in the A" type messages, you are screwed.
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  • Profile picture of the author lovboa
    Banned
    Originally Posted by Steadyon View Post

    One of my colleagues sites has just been battered in the last few days by the latest Google update.


    * NEVER had any black hat linking done on it.
    * No BMR or other blog networks etc.
    * No web 2.0 linking done by him


    In fact all he has done is write some nice juicy content from day one. It has about 300 pages of good, closely related content on his site.


    Sam
    Maybe he should do some backlinking. Content is good, but it's not what will keep him ranking at the top, nor will it be what gets his rankings back.
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  • Profile picture of the author yukon
    Banned
    WTH is the deal with everyone wigging out on my question?
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    • Profile picture of the author paulgl
      Originally Posted by yukon View Post

      WTH is the deal with everyone wigging out on my question?
      I call it the "Cargo On" conspiracy!!!! Misery loves company.
      Love is blind.

      Staff?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!? Sure.

      Why do people think google owes them anything?

      Seriously. Put your "staff" to work by buying ads in
      newspapers, magazines, even adwords. That's called
      "real world" marketing strategy. Nobody seems to
      have heard much about that. Double seriously.
      Fire the staff and buy TV commercials!

      I still cannot figure out why people feel google owes
      them anything. Instead of relying on google to give you
      free traffic that THEY PAY FOR.....you should get
      your own. From day one.

      Fire that "staff." They're a drag on profits anyway.

      A fat, bald guy behind a computer screen in Hoboken,
      New Jersey does not really qualify as "staff."

      Paul
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      • Profile picture of the author Mark Bradley
        Originally Posted by paulgl View Post

        I call it the "Cargo On" conspiracy!!!! Misery loves company.
        Love is blind.

        Staff?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!? Sure.

        Why do people think google owes them anything?

        Seriously. Put your "staff" to work by buying ads in
        newspapers, magazines, even adwords. That's called
        "real world" marketing strategy. Nobody seems to
        have heard much about that. Double seriously.
        Fire the staff and buy TV commercials!

        I still cannot figure out why people feel google owes
        them anything. Instead of relying on google to give you
        free traffic that THEY PAY FOR.....you should get
        your own. From day one.

        Fire that "staff." They're a drag on profits anyway.

        A fat, bald guy behind a computer screen in Hoboken,
        New Jersey does not really qualify as "staff."

        Paul
        Sage advice.

        It's Google's game,Google's rules.They don't owe anyone a living.

        Change is inevitable,change is necessary, like all things in life it's a natural process.

        You can view it as an OPPORTUNITY or a THREAT.
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  • Profile picture of the author michael scott
    Yukon,

    If one of my niche sites was able to pull in 2k uniques per day then I'd be making $10,000 per day. But the site is expected to get only 2k uniques a month.
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    • Profile picture of the author yukon
      Banned
      Originally Posted by michael scott View Post

      Yukon,

      If one of my niche sites was able to pull in 2k uniques per day then I'd be making $10,000 per day. But the site is expected to get only 2k uniques a month.
      Great, but would you go out of business If you lost 50% of your SERP traffic (I wouldn't)? The loss of the SERP money might suck, still my bills would be paid, that's the point of traffic diversification (safety net).
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      • Profile picture of the author josephseeley
        Originally Posted by yukon View Post

        Great, but would you go out of business If you lost 50% of your SERP traffic (I wouldn't)? The loss of the SERP money might suck, still my bills would be paid, that's the point of traffic diversification (safety net).
        Laying off staff is a lot different than going out of business. Cutting back on staff (and other overhead) when the number of customers falls makes sense regardless of if you have traffic diversity or not. First, you have less revenue. Second, you have fewer customers to provide support for.
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  • Profile picture of the author troybh
    10 year old site dropping rank has nothing to do with backlinking wh or bh methods. Google for one reason or another thinks your content sucks. Plus you got no adsense on the site and your selling something. Google earns nothing from your site so it figures why should I rank this.
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    • Profile picture of the author KirkMcD
      Originally Posted by troybh View Post

      Plus you got no adsense on the site and your selling something. Google earns nothing from your site so it figures why should I rank this.
      Ahhhh, No.
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  • Profile picture of the author josephseeley
    There are a lot of high quality sites out there that never ranked for anything. One of my Dad's friends has a great product their family sells online and off. They have a website that's nice looking, functional, and several years old. They don't rank for anything, not even their product, even though they're the premier producer of this product.

    I'll be going to consult with them this week. I think they could easily increase their customers by 100x with just a little SEO work. You can't just rely on Google to give you traffic, because their crawlers have roughly 0 idea what quality actually is. (Thus why they rely so heavily on links.)
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  • Profile picture of the author ThatAblaze
    Wow.. this thread has taught me something important: Internet marketers don't know anything about how an actual business that sells an actual product runs.

    Thank you yukon and paul for showing me this.
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  • Profile picture of the author smithwhite
    Google Panda is more like Google alligator, eats every thing it wants
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    • Profile picture of the author Steadyon
      Originally Posted by Oranges View Post

      To OP - Could be a case of Negative SEO.
      Check if that site is recently smacked by tones of spam links, by a competitor may be?

      Sorry to be ignorant, but what is the best way to do this?

      Is it to use a service such as majesticseo or is there another way.

      If there is a case of negative seo, how can he prove that to Google?

      Thanks.
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  • Profile picture of the author Steadyon
    Dear All,

    My opening post wasn't necessarily written to entice comments about how he must diversify, or move some of his eggs into other baskets, or get other sources etc...

    That may or may not be true to a greater or lesser degree.

    This is about the latest google change.

    What he and I are trying to identify is what is the reason for the change.

    So far we can see nothing wrong, but our investigation will continue.

    He is hesitant to suddenly start link building on a large scale in case this is something that will make matters even worse. Especially as it may be under some spotlight, manual or automatic.

    What is the best way to quickly track some of his keywords for the past week so that he can see which have been affected?

    He currently just relies on awstats and market samurai.

    It seems obvious that for some reason or another, that google no longer gives it as much weight or authority as it used to. Obviously this came as a surprise as the site was so well established in his niche, and he has done nothing himself to alter that.

    All through the many versions of panda, the site had remained fairly steady. Not any more...

    The question is how does he fix it?

    Thanks,
    Sam
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  • Profile picture of the author josephseeley
    It's only a guess, but perhaps when Google eliminated so many link networks, they actually made surviving links more valuable? If you think about how they calculate PR, it's on a relative scale. Not absolute. If they calculate link value (in part) based on PR, then it has at least in part a relative measure. Perhaps there is more to it that is relative as well.

    If this was true, then surviving links that had been built would be more powerful relative to some absolute that didn't change (let's just say, site age, even though I don't know if it's weighting changed or not). That means people who built a lot of links but weren't caught now benefit more from their links relative to those sites who's authority was mostly due to on-site SEO, age, or any other non-link factor.

    So sites that were using BMR and similar services heavily would drop (at least in that regard). But sites which were using surviving link building methods (Voltrank, 2.0s, Link Authority, Postrunner, spamming comments, ect ect) might actually gain on sites like your friend's.

    Just a thought that crossed my mind when thinking about the effect of millions and millions of links being tossed out all at once ... probably not the issue here ...
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  • Profile picture of the author dimm
    The things I would do for starters are:
    -Sign up to Google Webmaster Tools (GWT)
    -Fetch the site as googlebot and make sure it isn't hacked (html sites get hacked too and hackers cloak hacked pages so that only bots see them while everything seems fine when you visit the site)
    -Search google for site:mydomain.com and check the number of results (how close they are with the actual pages) and also click to see the cached versions of the pages that google has and make sure that everything is ok)
    -If there are many indexed pages that offer no real value/content I would start by adding the noindex meta tag to them, I would also maybe (depending on the pages and the ammount of content) merge content of pages to create pages with more in depth content.
    -I would check my backlinks with opensiteexplorer/majestic seo and make sure that there are no fishy links
    -Check all the potential errors/warnings in GWT and try to correct them
    -Check the speed of my site and try to improve it if possible
    -Do as much research about my competitors (their links etc), it is possible that it is just a case of other sites moving up and not a "penalty for your site"
    -I would start building links, not any massive blasts but real white hat links that also have the possibility to bring also traffic and conversions (guest posts in real relevant blogs that have real traffic etc)
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  • Profile picture of the author BarryOnline
    Friday was the 23rd and this is when Google rolled out a Panda refresh so it looks like the site was hit by this.

    One thing to look into is overlapping content on the site. This can happen with larger niche sites where many pages have the same or very similar topics of content.

    Sites that appear to have many pages that say the same kind of thing over and over again with slight keyword variations have been hit by Panda. This is one of the things Panda was designed to detect.

    Overlapping content can happen completely by accident. Someone could write a page on a particular topic and write much the same thing again by accident many months later, resulting in multiple pages of overlapping content building over 10 years.

    Just my thoughts and something worth looking into.
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  • Profile picture of the author Steadyon
    Here's some more data.

    According to market samurai his site has 36,373 backlinks to the domain. He says this is very similar to earlier months when he checked. (Within a few hundred different, no more).

    So, it would seem so far that this slap isn't because of negative seo. But maybe it is.

    A few of his keywords are still in the top 10. He reckons approximately 60% of his main pages that were on pages 1 or 2 are now a few pages lower down. The drop varies for each keyword etc.

    This is after steady rankings for at least the last 2 to 3 years.

    This is the first time panda has had an serious affect. Earlier versions had little impact. Just this one.

    His current plan is to try and get some quality links and add more content each day over the coming weeks.

    Neither he nor I fully understand why he has been slapped and are more than a little in the dark. This more than anything is the frustrating thing as he felt he was comfortably meeting and following google's guidelines.

    So he currently has little confidence that his short term plan over the coming weeks will correct things.

    All rather frustrating to say the least.

    Sam
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  • Profile picture of the author Kael41
    Here's what I would do, as a gutcheck. Try to reverse engineer WHY the top sites for any given keyword where you lost rank are ranking where they are. What is their content profile like? What do their backlink profiles look like? Are they getting a ton of mentions in the social sphere?
    With every new google algo adjustment, various factors are re-weighted (or removed altogether) and it's up to us as seo/webmaster folks to evolve with the updates. This is where it is extremely important to read,test,and read some more. This very conversation is happening on seo boards (white and black) all over the net. Try to find some common parallels and then go about digging deep to see what lies below the service for the site in question.
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  • Profile picture of the author Steadyon
    Thanks everyone for the various suggestions above. It is appreciated.
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