I’m afraid the day has come. A lot of my business relied on organic search traffic from Google and unfortunately with the latest Penguin update a lot of that traffic has disappeared.
Some of my sites which had secure #1 rankings for over 2 years have dropped drastically. This is the most serious algorithm update I’ve experienced since I’ve been doing this business.
The site in the image above has ranked #1 for over 2 years for the main keyword and has over 20 pages of uniquely written content which also ranked (past tense …) in the top 10 for their respective keywords. As with all my sites they all have a lot of strong social signals (all real) including likes, +1′s and tweets etc… My data from Google analytics shows lower than 50% bounce rates and an average of around 1:30 minutes on-site per visitor. Unfortunately this obviously isn’t enough for Google. Something I’m doing triggered the latest algo to penalize these sites. This result is typical for most of my sites.
The bad news for me is that I’m going to have to suspend some of writers and VA’s. I’m sorry guys, but my business costs just won’t cover you now. It’s time to downsize and consolidate. Until the dust settles, there is really no need to continue building backlinks or make new pages for my sites (some may disagree with this). But, really creating new content on sites which are penalized is not productive. I don’t see any reason to continue building links until I know that this strategy still works.
My diagnosis: I’ve been reading a lot of opinions on what flags/triggers people think are causing the drop in rankings. Here’s my opinions based on what I’m seeing on my own sites.
Keyword stuffing: I don’t do keyword stuffing in meta tags or on-page. However, I do use the keyword in the title tags, URL and meta description. As this is one of the things being thrown around I’m going to change one of my sites by removing/changing these things and see what happens.
Brand / High PR authority sites: Looking at some of the search results in my various niches I can see that there is not a disproportionate number of authroity sites dominating the rankings. The results I see show the usual mix of exact match domains, affiliate sites and so forth. So the idea that these types of sites are getting more weight in the rankings is not something I agree with.
Anchor text backlinks: This is what I think is definitely included in the new algorithm. I do have a fair share of these types of backlinks because they used to be ‘the best backlinks you can get’, now the opposite seems to be true. Unfortunately, it’s virtually impossible to remove all of these links. If this is hurting me (which I think is highly likely), my search traffic is effectively gone.
So, where to from here….
I don’t see it as productive to try and resurrect my rankings since there is no way to know what to do to gain my rankings back. Here’s a brief outline of what I’m going to do;
1. I did after Panda, but the first thing I did was cancel ALL of my blog network subscriptions. I also seriously looked at thee other services and subscriptions I use and ditched the ones to do with link building ( I cn always pick them up again if this strategy still works later).
2. Change the meta tags, title tags and meta descriptions on 1 site only. This is for me to determine whether it’s worth while changing the on-page facotrs for the rest of my sites. I’ll probably choose my most authority site. If that site site doesn’t go back, it’s probably going to be an off-page factor (not in my control).
3. The main thing to do is change the focus to my non-Google traffic sources. I’ve been getting good results with answer sites, YouTube and other social media sites. I’m going to start investing more time and energy in this direction.
Hopefully, by NOT worrying about search engine traffic, it might come back anyway. If my sites start doing great again, they’d hopefully be hard for Google to ignore (well, that’s the theory?). If they don’t rank again, so be it, but this time I’ve definitely learnt my lesson.