You’ve been hit by a Google update – you’ve lost rankings and are thus losing traffic. Every visitor that’s no longer arriving at your site is losing you potential income in product sales, affiliate commissions or Adsense clicks.
There are three steps to recover, and in this post, I’m going to show you how to do Step 1.
Before you can fix your site, before you know what changes need to be made, you first need to identify what algorithm update actually effected you. Here’s how:
Log in to Google Analytics. Choose “All Traffic” from the “Traffic Sources” menu in the sidebar. Also choose a date range during which you experienced your drop in traffic / rank. For this site, I was hit in late April, so I’m viewing traffic from April 1 – May 31. If you were hit recently, you might pick a date range like September 1 – today.
Click “google/ organic.” The page that loads will ONLY show you the traffic you were receiving from Google’s organic search, so it will make it extremley clear as to when you lost rankings and thus, when you were effected by an algorithm update:
In my graph, the biggest hit this site took was on April 27. You can see a dramatic dip in what was otherwise a fairly steady stream of traffic, and it’s wasn’t just a one-time blip on the radar either. It was complete loss going forward too.
This is what a u update that’s effected you negatively looks like.
We can se this loss came at about September 28.
Once you’ve identified the date you were effected, you can check the Algorithm Update Timeline from SEOMoz and see if any of your losses correlate with specific Google updates.
For example, in my first graph the site experienced a loss on April 27. Looking at that Algorithm Update Timeline, you can see that was also the date that Penguin was released – so you can easily surmise that the loss in traffic was caused by Penguin.
The second site experienced it’s loss on September 28.
There were two updates pushed on out Spetember 27 – the Exact Match Domain update and a Panda update. How do you know which one you were effected by?
You weren’t effected by the EMD update if you aren’t using the keywords you want to rank for in your domain.
For me, this site was using the keywords I was targeting in the domain, so I can’t eliminate the EMD update yet.
So how do you know with 100% certainty? You don’t. But here’s what I’ve determined from looking at my sites:
The EMD update didn’t drop otherwise good sites from ranking positions to nowhere-to-be-found. It might bump sites down a few, even several notches, sure, because Google was no longer giving them a “boost” due to the keyword-rich domain. But the EMD update didn’t annihilate good sites – it bumped them.
But this site went from being in the teens for a number of keyword phrases, like this one, do being just GONE from the SERPS completely.
The site you’re seeing a drop in September 27 is, frankly, not a great site. Sure, the content is original, but it’s not bringing any value. It’s doesn’t have anything new or interesting to offer. It’s a think Adsense site where, technically, all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed, but if we’re being honest, it’s a crap site.
This site wasn’t hurt by being an EMD (but a lot of webmasters are making themselves feel better by pointing fingers at that as a reason).
It was hurt because it sucks. It was hurt by the Panda update that rolled out the same day.
Knowing is Half The Battle?
How you approach the fix depends on what was broken in the first place – you’ve got to bring the right tools to the job!
The Penguin effected site would need to look at their backlink profile – see if they’ve relied too heavily on low-quality links and over optimized their anchor texts.
The Panda effected site would need to look at the quality of the content on the site itself. Make people happy with your content, solve a problem.
If you’ve experienced a loss, was it Panda or Penguin? Let’s see which wins in the comments!