Oops - the subject was meant to be 'Various SEO/design/content issues and Penguin 2.1'.
In the last 2 years, the number of visits on my web site <snip> has dropped from 800-900 per day to around 200 per day. In that time I have updated the content to keep it fresh and current. Part of this may be an organic drop in visits but in part I'm sure it's down to a loss of page ranking on account of successive Google upgrades and stricter rules.
My web site has a number of potential issues. I list those I know about below. Which of these do you see as most significant with regards to Penguin 2.1 please?
1) Frames based - not ideal for linking to individual pages as one loses the menus etc. unless one navigates to 'home'. This is probably the first thing on my short term radar to fix.
2) Long pages - As the site grew, I didn't split up the pages but kept all the articles under the same page/topic. This makes page loading times longer and makes it hard to read/navigate. Also poor for SEO compared with splitting the pages up.
3) Too many links per page - Because the pages are long, and because of the natural of the articles, linking to other sites as sources etc., there are a large number of external hyperlinks on many of the pages, typically over 100. I am not sure if this might be treated as a link farm. I put a rel="nofollow" in each link, not sure it makes much difference. I have some actual links pages, and disallowed them from Googlebot with the robots.txt file.
4) Duplicate content - I had the poor judgement when I first put the site together to quote Wikipedia rather than write it in my own words and list the original citations/references at the end of the article etc. I am working towards deleting nearly all quotes from the web site.
5) Coding Errors. I have done a large amount of work on the site in terms of correcting the worst of the coding errors and broken links etc. but still I use block and in line commands incorrectly. Needs reworking using a stylesheet.
6) Business Directory Listings. I discovered after a year of having purchased the domain name and having the site up that my domain was included in business directory listings for a previous owner, in maybe 20-30 places. I have contacted all of them now and had the domain name removed from most of them, and hope to get this finished soon. The domain was associated with a physician/medical services listing, but in some cases the word 'pharmacy' appeared.
When I say coding errors, it was probably the wrong term. I mean there are no actual coding errors remaining, I've ironed those out, but the site is not written very neatly - I don't use paragraph tags properly and separate all the blocks of text with double line breaks etc. Also don't use h1 tags but just bold the page and section headings. This probably makes more difference than the former.
Most probably it is [B]none of the above!
Let me explain...
[/B]Penguin 2.1 targetted your backlinking profiles not your on-page content. There is a huge difference between Penguin and Panda. (Not only as Google's algorthims but also as animals).
Check up with your backlinking profile and how much you spammed links the last months. Furthermore, what makes you think that Penguin is the algorithm that penalized you and not Panda?
(Did you know that Panda algorithms gets updated everyday! It would be a nice thing if Google is calling you each time they issue an update).
Start up with the following:
- Move to a new site as the old one got penalized already and it would be a waste of time to debug its problems.
- Hire a professional developer or designer if you are not familiar with the web. You need a clean code, elegant design and a framework that is SEO friendly - (most of them are).
- Organize properly your site and adjust your content keeping your users in mind - (not the search engines).
- Implement the best on-page SEO practicies which can be found on many trusted resouces. You can check some of sitepoint publications for that.
- Bring natural relevant hight quality backlinks to your website.
Stop worrying about the causes and symptoms and start working on the cure.
All the Best!
How do you know there is a legitimate drop in "real" traffic and not a drop in spam bots? Have you noticed a drop in site revenue or any other tangible measure?
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Thanks for the input Kronomia. Perhaps I should have described a little more about the nature of the web site to give you some context.
The site is a personal web site, containing a number of articles I wrote on the subject of health. It is not a commercial web site. The only income generation on it is Adsense. I have been tracking my visitor stats since the site's inception in 2006. The unique visits peaked around 2009 or 2010 and slowly trailed off. It is hard to prove that it has anything to do with either Panda or Penguin, and could very well just be an organic decrease in visits, because other sites and blogs have become more interesting or visitors are more demanding regarding web site formatting etc. I did however notice a marked drop in traffic in the month or so following Panda. Traffic continued to drop and is now less than 25% of what it was. The revenue from Adsense in that time has dropped, and whilst it fluctuates, is maybe 25% or less of what it was.
I do have another personal web site, one which has never had any issues with bad backlinks as far as I'm aware (there are very few backlinks of any kind!) but it has had the above formatting issues as described in 1 to 5 in the OP. The traffic on that site has dropped to 30-50% of what it was over the same time period. So not hit quite as badly as the health site which the OP was about but still highly significant. I also noticed that my page ranking for that site on certain word searches on google was not as good as it once was, perhaps due to increased competition from others site, but perhaps for the above reasons 1 to 5.
Kiwiheretic - thanks for raising a good point. I did notice surges in visits on my site on occasion, but it tends to be a brief peak. Of course, I can't guarantee that it isn't as you have said above, but the drop in revenues do suggest that it is related to a real drop in human visitors.
I have never engaged in the practice of spamming links on other sites. Sure, I've put a link in a comment or blog on occasion, but generally when it was relevant or where I contributed to the discussion on the blog. No more than half a dozen times perhaps. I used my web site URL in my signature on a few recreational forums for a while and have since removed the URL from the signature. The posts on most of these forums have been updated accordingly but at least one still has my URL in my old posts (non-relevant links). Not sure if this would be penalising me or not. I put my URL in the description of an ebay auction also to provide more information on a given subject, and tend to host images on my site for ebay auctions (as I've already paid for the hosting). I suspect the forum signature may be hurting my web site? It only just struck me as I was writing this that it might be.
When you say 1) move to a new site, do you mean ditch the domain name completely and use another one, starting with a clean sheet? I have an alternative domain name I could use. I paid a lot of money for it. My existing domain name wasn't cheap either, so I wouldn't simply 'drop' it, I'd want to sell it, and if I did, I'd want to clear up any bad backlinks (if at all) as they would reduce the sale price. The domainer would sold it to me in 2011 evidently wasn't aware of the backlinks or kept quiet about it. My current domain name is punchy but perhaps not ideal as it has the word 'medical' in it.
I would never hire a professional developer - if it was a business site then yes I would consider it, but not for a personal or non-profit web site with around 200 unique visits a day. My coding and SEO skills are hugely better than they were when I first started. I may reformat the site slightly in any case.
3 - yes this is true - if I do rewrite or chop up the site I will certainly lean towards this mentality. If I do rewrite it, I want it to be something unique, with an unique attraction for visitors.
4 - granted, I think I know most of the techniques now.
5 - this would be a nice to have, but it wouldn't make sense for me to spend too much time on generating high quality backlinks for a small, non-profit site. I have a business web site I run which has none of the above problems and my focus as far as proactive marketing is on that.
You are right that I should focus on the cure, not the problems. I was just phrasing my initial post in terms of what potentially might be afflicting it, but when it comes to rewriting sections or planning for a new format, I focus on the glass being half full and what would make a good web site.
Google is getting better at highlighting problem areas which affect their rankings and can be found in Google Webmaster Tools.
Take note of their findings which you should completely remove:
1. GWT -> Search Appearance -> HTML Improvements
2. GWT -> Crawl -> Crawl Errors
Extreme Care should also be taken in your choice of page Header and Description tags.Notice how Bing, Google and Yahoo display these parameters in their searches.
If you are interested I can supply details of tool which may help in finding eliminating errors.
No Crawl errors
Last updated Nov 11, 2013
We didn't detect any content issues with your site. As we crawl your site, we check it to detect any potential issues with content on your pages, including duplicate, missing, or problematic title tags or meta descriptions. These issues won't prevent your site from appearing in Google search results, but paying attention to them can provide Google with more information and even help drive traffic to your site. For example, title and meta description text can appear in search results, and useful, descriptive text is more likely to be clicked on by users. More Information
Last updated Nov 11, 2013
Hi John, thanks for the input. I have been using GWT for a few years now and have been taking note of the html improvements and crawl errors. The same crawl errors do seem to keep being reported, even for errors where the incoming link was only found on a previous version of my site and it was corrected. However, it is a useful tool for picking up link errors for sure.
I think there is always room for improvement in one's title and description tags and I could review these, but I did spend some time on these before to correct duplicate entries and also make them better reflect the contents of the pages. Didn't help the inexorable decline of my site traffic though.
Regarding my point 4) I recently spotted a couple of scapers duplicating entire pages of my site on their blog or affiliate sites. As my pages are very long, it amounts to a large amount of content. I've recently had one removed and am waiting for another to remove a 150 page pdf file containing my writing and photographs (!)
Regarding my point 6) there are a couple of business listings that class the previous owner of the domain as 'pharmacy' and I'm chasing the web hosts to get these removed but they are not always very co-operative. Worst case I will disavow them but this won't really help me if I want to sell the domain name later and use another as it will be 'soiled'.
Adsense has gone down more than the actual traffic but I think that isn't an unusual trend. It could be that return visitors don't tend to click on the adverts so much - but there are so many factors - advert appropriateness etc. Revenue per ad fluctuates etc. I used to get around £2 or so a day, now I'm netting maybe 10p a day on average.
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