Thought I would share this with you and maybe you might be able to help me understand exactly what is going on. Hope it helps some people if they're seeing the same results in Analytics as well. Also, please don't let this turn into a massive tirade against Google. I really couldn't care that much how evil they are at the moment, profits will always be profits to companies.
My main website that is my main earner (still not huge earner though) is a mortgage website. I've built it from scratch with a friend and we jumped way into the deep end working our arses off for the past 1 1/2 years.
The main trick to our success has been writing quality content and longtail. But rather than trying to micro niche every page we use keyword tool to identify what mortgage advice and information a lot of potential customers online are looking for. We then turn that into big FAQ type articles where applicable or smaller advice articles where less important. We don't micro target keywords but rather write content based on a number of related ones and hope that my friends real-world broker experience will mean that the original content he writes will bring about a load of traffic from keywords that we wouldn't otherwise target.
The real trick to our survival and competing with the big boys has been the in-depth advice and information we offer. Whilst we were initially trying to target big money keywords, we ended up doing the opposite and, to some extent, doing both.
There are two things in the early days that I think could potentially have got us hit by penguin. In the very early days (when we were young, eager and naive whippersnappers) we put our trust in an SEO guy to take care of our site for us safely and bring us a shed-load of "safe" back-links. I can't really complain too much about this guy though, he was a nice person and was responsible for a lot of our early small successes which led us on to work harder and achieve even more.
I was surprised in the early days that the original penguin update didn't get us (like it got one of my other really shitty sites). Anyhoo, we went on and all the minor algorithm updates and refreshes seemed to actually help us every time.
This one didn't though. But, unlike my other site who's homepage got completely wiped off the face of the earth, I cannot figure out what I'm getting penalised for.
The above image shows the traffic drop after penguin. We were achieving an average daily unique new visitor count of about 160. It's now dropped to an approximate daily average of about 70.
My first thought was, "oh it's because the links are too spammy" (the guy that did the SEO work in the very early days also used on average about three anchor texts with one making up about 70% of them).
However, no penalisations seem to have occurred. The two pages that he was doing the heavy back-linking for hadn't dropped out of the search engines or anything like I'd experienced with my older site.
I thought that perhaps it was anchor text related (although there was quite a fair bit of variation in the anchor text it was still money keyword heavy on those two pages).
I did a search for those money keywords. No significant changes in ranking had occurred. They had dropped a little bit from since the last time I'd checked (about a month ago) but that was probably mainly due to the fact that I'd stopped relying on ranking for big search volume exact keywords a very long time ago and had, thus, stopped caring or trying to get them ranking higher. About 95% of our traffic comes from long tail stuff, a lot of which we've not intentionally even specifically tried to rank for.
It seems as if it had just lowered my site down slightly as a whole. Perhaps there was some change in the algorithm and I wasn't ranking for those long tails anymore?? I then looked at it and the proportion of traffic was still heavily long tail and all from the same types of search terms ( highly varied, often very specific, but on the same kind of themes).
I wondered if, perhaps, one page as a whole has been knocked down a bit. So I checked the traffic stats for each individual page (the ones with loads of hits and the one's without that many). All of them seemed to have experienced that same kinds of proportional drops in traffic.
This was utterly baffling because some of the pages on my site get monthly traffic (albeit not thousands) without having any back-links on them at all. I even got some niche pages on the site ranking number one for decently searched search terms with say only one guest post.
So, in summary, I'm just a bit confused by this penguin update. The drop doesn't seem to have come from anything in particular, or to have badly effected any page in particular. It doesn't seem to be from spammy links or lack of anchor text diversity because those keyword rankings haven't changed much at all. Finaly, I'm still getting the same proportion of long-tail.
Any ideas anybody? This has really frustrated me.
I've just finished a degree and was falling our with my girlfriend squeezing this into late shifts alongside a full time engineering degree and a part-time job. My mate was travelling for the past six month. He'd just got back and I'd just finished my degree. We were really eager to get cracking on it full-time and really spend time cleaning it up and improving it's quality and size and cleaning up those old links.
We were in talks with a potential investor who was going to pay us a small wage to enable us to work full-time on our dream for the next six months!! Not so sure the number will be so encouraging now. If only it would have hit us three months from now .
Anyway, any help or advice or insight you guys could offer would certainly be appreciated!!! I also hope that, if anybody is experiencing something similar to this, that this post will be of help to them.
Thanks in advance for any insight you experts can offer!