First you collapse in a faint.
After someone has waved smelling salts under your nose and you’ve come to, sputtering, take a look at these THREE DIFFERENT, UNCONNECTED REASONS why your site might have lost its traffic. Only once you’ve identified the reason for the drop can you do anything about it.
The most recent Google update, Penguin happened on April 24th, 2012. (Important note: this means that if your traffic dipped any earlier, it was NOT Penguin.)
The general gist of Penguin was that it hit sites with artificial looking link profiles.
Example: If your company is Benny’s Bird Treats, and your site is www.bennysbirds.com, yet 60% of your incoming links are using the anchor text of “best parrot seed mixes” – it’s going to look just a tad suspicious.
Ever bought an item of clothing and seen on the tag: “Irregularity in the pattern is a result of the natural fibers used to make this shirt and is not a defect”? Natural phenomena – whether a fabric or a link profile – are irregular.
When you rave to your friend about that craisin-date-almond mix you bought for your parrot, do you call the company “Benny’s Bird Treats” or “best parrot seed mixes”? Natural conversation calls people and companies by their names more than it does by a very specific description of what they offer.
Google wants to make the internet as much about natural recommendations and authority as possible. Any factor that smacks of artificiality is slowly being pruned away.
- Artificial-looking anchor text in links
- Links coming from known link networks (which are not natural; you paid, begged or bartered to have it put there)
- Links coming from footers (where it doesn’t make total sense and the text looks artificial)
- Large amounts of links coming from low-quality articles and blog comments
Are all UNNATURAL.
If you know or suspect you have these issues, and your traffic dropped on April 24th, Penguin may have been the culprit.
The first Panda update happened on February 24th, 2011. There have been periodic updates ever since, as seen in Search Engine Roundtable’s list of Panda updates, the most recent happening on April 27th, 2012.
If Penguin is about low-quality link profiles, Panda is about low-quality pages.
What makes it low quality? Well, if you would click through to the page in question from Google search results and think: “Hmmm… I wonder why this page is on page one of Google. It has just as much ads as content, and the content that there is isn’t so hot” – that’s low quality.
And if you have lots of pages on your site like that, then your whole site is deemed low quality and is banished to the netherworld of Google rankings in favor of more attractive, content-rich sites.
Even if the pages aren’t full of ads, and any one page on its own looks decent, but when you take into account the rest of the pages on your site they all look pretty similar, that’s bad news as well.
So if your pages look low-quality, or your site as a whole looks like it has lots of irrelevant pages – and your drop happened right after one of the Panda updates lists in Search Engine Roundtable’s list… Panda might be the reason.
Less Searches for Your Topic
No, this is not a Google update. This is a natural sociological update.
For the past few months, your articles on protecting your home from hurricane damage have been drawing 200 visitors a day from Google. Sometime in December you check your Analytics and see that Google traffic has dropped down to about 40 a day.
Penguin? Panda? Pooh Bear?
You begin to swoon and then realize… hurricane season ends in November.
No wonder less people are looking for this topic.
Even when your topic isn’t obviously seasonal, humankind’s searching patterns change.
We once did keyword research for a client and, as usual, chose the best words to target based on search volume and competition. When a few months later we reviewed the keyword research, we saw that some words that had had high search volume had dropped so much that we decided to remove them from our SEO strategy.
We’ve seen three reasons why you might have lost your Google traffic.
Which one applies to you? What do you do about it?
Next post, we’re going to show you how you can use Google Analytics to pinpoint where you’ve lost search traffic – and develop a plan to recover it.
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See you next week!