E-Business Consultant at Dan Barker
08 April 2009 09:06am
you're back again for 'seo best practice'. too soon to be a result of refollowing those internal links. i would wait it out for a while longer before making any big changes.
CEO at Econsultancy
08 April 2009 09:39am
@dj - interesting... we're only sort of 'back' but, yes, definitely an improvement. I'm seeing our Reports section page come up top for a google.co.uk search on 'seo best practice' (i.e. not the actual report page itself which is odd) but we're not there at all for google.com search on the same phrase (see 'seo best practice').
Looks like some data centre updates are happening and that our massive 'downgrade' might be being lifted somewhat... watch this space.
FYI - yesterday we effectively turned off our geotargeting and also removed the 'no follow' attribute on all internal links. I'd be surprised if the latter had such a quick effect. However, the former, though only applied to 4 pages out of the 60,000+ we have in Google, *might* have made a difference only because that SEO report did rank so highly, is a Sitelink for us, a PageRank 6 etc. so gets recrawled very frequently. Just possibly such an 'important' page being seen as dodgy could have ruined our entire domain reputation...? Who knows.
Founder at Resourceguruapp.com and StagsandHens.com
10 April 2009 17:39pm
i would be surprised if it had anything to do with 'nofollow'. if you do a search for 'search engine optimization', http://www.bruceclay.com/web_rank.htm comes up on the first page and they also use nofollow on some of their internal links. eg:
<a href="http://www.bruceclay.com/businessinfo.htm" rel="nofollow">Signup</a>
<A TARGET="_top" HREF="http://www.bruceclay.com/quoteform.htm" rel="nofollow">comprehensive price quote</A>
it doesn't seem to be doing them any harm. and as for using nofollow on outbound links - what about wikipedia? one of the best ranking websites there is. and they use it on almost every outbound link on their site.
14 April 2009 17:59pm
any update on the traffic, Ashley?
19 April 2009 07:38am
Up until the end of this week (Friday 17th April) there was no improvement. However, a quick check today (Sunday, 19th April) suggests things *might* have improved.
We seem to be ranking again on terms we used to (e.g. 'email marketing training', 'digital marketing jobs', 'seo best practice') and our SEO referrals yesterday (Saturday) were around 1,000 visits when it has been more like 200 on the last two Saturdays.
So maybe, maybe things have turned a corner again this weekend? We'll see. Last time our rankings recovered it happened on a Saturday too.
27 April 2009 10:38am
The short story is that our rankings have pretty much recovered which is great. However, we don't really know why they went down (or back up) in such a dramatic way which is frustrating and means it could happen again.
I'm afraid no-one wins the prize as no-one has come up with any better theory than we had from the start. Summary below:
1. The possible reasons for our nosedive:
- Google "glitch" (just possible...)
- A dampening 'penalty' applied to our domain following our large, retrospective, update of our forum links to have 'no follow' (unlikely... we have since updated this so that only external links out of our site have 'no follow' whereas internal links don't have the 'no follow'. But it's possible this big update temporarily freaked Google out.)
- A dampening penalty due to us using geotargeting (different versions of the same page depending on where the user is) on the same URL. (just possible but again seems unlikely given this was only on 3 pages out of over 60,000 in Google's index.)
- A hangover from our recent site migration where 'adjustments' are still filtering through Google's data centres.
2. Some charts and graphs:
- Econsultancy Google SEO referrals - you can see the drop off following the site migration, the subsequent recovery, and drop off again, and recovery again!
- Econsultancy visits / traffic over the same period - what is clear is that our traffic does not vary exactly in line with our SEO referrals which is encouraging as we're not wholly reliant on Google natural traffic.
- Econsultancy conversion rate over Google nosedive period - again, interesting to see that despite big SEO drop off our conversion rate doesn't actually change that much.
- Econsultancy transactions over the Google nosedive period - not only is the conversion rate not unduly affected by the SEO drop off but the sales/transactions don't drop off noticeably either.
3. What we've learned:
- Doing geotargeted versions of web pages *on the same URL* is probably not a wise thing. There is much more detail on this in my Q&A in the Google Webmaster Forums. The Google Employee doesn't say explicitly that the Googlebot doesn't like this but says 'personally' he wouldn't advise it. That said, we're still using this technique to show *pricing* in different currencies to users depending where they are. And apparently this isn't damaging our SEO.
- Doing a big update to your site's internal links all at once probably isn't a good idea. We doubt this caused our problem but, for a large site, with lots of links, it seems obvious that such a large change *could* freak out the search engines. Certainly, there seems little point in applying 'no follow' to *internal* links within your site (as we did, but have sinced changed back) as this upsets/dilutes internal pagerank.
- Do submit reconsideration requests via Webmaster Tools. We've no idea if they were read or actioned but it my instinct tells me that are *recovery* in each case could well have been to human intervention.
- Do use Google's Help Forums, and other forums, like this one, to post your problems and issues. You get useful and helpful feedback and, who knows, maybe even the attention of Google to help 'fix' things for you.
- The good thing about suffering at the hands of Google is that it forces you to figure out how you might survive without Google. And we've got a lot better at other things (e.g. Twitter marketing) as a result. Also, if you look at the charts above, it shows that whilst Google can drive a lot of traffic, it isn't necessarily driving as much *value* (conversions, sales etc.) as you might think. Which is somewhat of a relief.
- Whilst trying to fix our Google problem we also uncovered a few other problems (like the way our geotargeted pricing wasn't quite working as it should) which we probably wouldn't have noticed otherwise. So this intense scrutiny helped a lot.
Search Marketing Director at http://www.marketappeal.co.uk/
27 April 2009 15:08pm
Matt Cutts is now looking for answers (inadertently or otherwise) on your behalf!
As you'll read on his blog he's just migrated the content from www.mattcutts.com to http://www.dullest.com/ and (delibertely) migrated a host of other settings too:
"Note: changing your IP address, webhost, domain name, blog template,
and blog version all at the same time is the exact opposite of what you
should normally do. It’s better to change only one thing at a time so
that if something goes horribly wrong, you can trace what caused it.
Also, if you were truly moving a site, a 302 redirect wouldn’t be
the right redirect to use--a 301 (permanent) redirect would be better...".
This is clearly an experiment to see how badly Google hits his rankings and traffic, so stay tuned!
27 April 2009 15:17pm
@Anthony - I could tell Matt a thing or two about how Google works (or not)... ;)
Actually, we always knew we'd take a hit on the site migration, the interesting questions were more around - how quickly? for how long? would the original rankings come back? if so, better or worse?
27 April 2009 15:30pm
It appears that it took around four and a half months for you to fully recover. This is interesting for me, as we're currently migrating a ten year old DIY legal document website (http://www.desktoplawyer.co.uk/dt/browse/law/) to a whole new (http://www.desktoplawyer.co.uk/dtl/) CMS, content, url structure etc.
The only thing that we're not changing is the root domain http://www.desktoplawyer.co.uk (thank God), which currently points to the old content and will be switched over in a couple of weeks.
Anway, it's my job to try and avoid any kind of traffic hit, if at all possible, so we're procedding very cautiously. If it all goes wrong, we'll soon know.
27 April 2009 15:32pm
I was wondering whether it was Econsultancy's trials and tribulations that prompted Matt Cutts to uproot his site...
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