Dramatic Drop In Search Ranking? (The Google SEO Merry-Go-Round)

ImageThis was a great post from the SEO SEM Social Media Group on Linkedin based on a question by John Manzi, Founder at Capo Bela Road Cycling Forum. His particular issue was that he outsourced a SEO specialist who got him to the top of Google, but once the SEO specialist was “done” with his or her job, John’s page rank feel to the #12 page on Google..

Personally, I feel that the obsession with being #1 on Google is ridiculous but this was still a great discussion for those SEO and small business people who feel that it is important to their business. I would think that professionals would be tired of being on the Google SEO Merry-Go-Round and start looking at other newer alternatives to get more traffic to their websites and convert prospects into sales.

I just wanted to share this topic and provide some insight based on SEO professional opinions just in case you run into the same situation or are currently on the Google SEO Merry-Go-Round.

Here is the problem in question by John Manzi: Basically, I had someone performing SEO work for my newly launch road bike forum over the last 2 months. My search rankings improved dramatically to where I appeared on the 3rd page of a google search. However, I was unsure as to who should take credit for this, since I was generating a tremendous amount of content each day, to include making great use of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest ect.. With that said, I decided to suspend SEO work for this month and see if I could maintain this rank on my own. Everything was going fine over the last 2 weeks until this past Sunday when my ranking fell from the 3rd page to the 12th page in just a matter of hours. Furthermore, my rankings are now varying between computers within the same household. How is this possible? Could it be that my former SEO person was engaging in unacceptable practices , and now I’m being penalized by Google for it? Or worse, is it possible that he may have been able to do something malicious that would have caused this sudden downturn in ranking?

Brian WoodAs for different computers showing different results, that is common. You want to be sure you’re removing personalization of your results — the more often you visit your site, the better Google is going to rank it for you. You can remove most personalization by using Chrome in Incognito mode, by setting your Google search settings to turn off personalization, or by adding &pws=0 to the end of the URL of a Google search after you perform the search.

Rakesh Ojha Hi John,

Sometimes SEO guys link your website to different sites during their campaign and once they are no long part of the campaign, remove them. But I doubt such links would have effect so soon for your website as there is usually a latent period for Google before passing the link juice to your website. Besides link popularity of the site is low so he/she couldn’t have affected the rankings by removing the links.

When you are logged in Gmail, you will see your site on top of the results or sites that you have shared/liked. Log out and see the rankings.

I too couldn’t see your site’s rankings for keyword “road bike forum” however it does rank for “berden forum”

Could it be that your site was hit by recent Penguin/Panda updates? Try this tool to know if your website has been hit http://www.panguintool.com. Will ask for Analytics access to report.

Also login to Google webmaster tool and see if you have received any message from Google on spam/unnatural link warnings etc.

Let me know if this helps or if you require further guidance.

Tom Semmes John you mentioned that the ranking was different on different computers. Question for the group: doesn’t Google adjust search rankings based on your history? I recently did an experiment where I compared the results for the same search on two different computers. I was surprised to see on my computer that a relatively obscure company that I was familiar with was scoring so high (no 3 on the first page). However on the other computer it was ranked much lower (on the third page). I assumed that Google was aware that I had visited the site on my computer and therefore ranked it higher since it made the assumption that the link would be of more use to me.

So John, is it possible that why your site was ranked so well in the first place was because you had visited your site before on that computer and that the ranking suddenly changed because you checked on a different computer (or cleared your cache, etc)?
I am a newbie at SEO so I maybe be wrong about this.

Mark Kithcart I have been a “victim” of the google dance several times. You can even google that term and you will find that as new links hit your site (even legit ones because of big news) you can drop dramatically in the rankings and bounce around. I just saw case study on this from a guy who had a major media hit to his site and received thousands of legit inbound links Google dropped him in the rankings – after 5 weeks he came back to his original position and then ended up on the first page.

I also agree with Brian – SEO’s that use long-term methods charge more than $300 per month. Whitehat link building typically includes elements of a content marketing program which is labor intensive. It does not include spammy link building or spun articles etc. I recently wrote a blog post about Snake Oil SEO’s – http://markkithcart.com/sick-of-seo-snake-oil-salesmen/

Lee Goodman I’ll chime in with my agreement with Mark and Rakesh, SEO is a long-term. If you build back links and then suddenly stop, that can make the original backlinks look spammy…because it begs the question, “why would backlinks suddenly stop?” It’s a red flag to the search engines as there is now a sudden drop/downward trend.

Simple Solution: You can build your own backlinks a few a month or hire someone to do it.

They key is quality original content and diversification and the use of PR+1 sites for backlinks. (read the sentence again…it’s powerful) Stay out of the “bad neighborhood” PR0 backlinks to your main site.

I usually advise my clients to concentrate on the social signals like Facebook and Twitter as they know their target audience really well and should maintian a positive relationship with their customers.

Also, and this one is another sign of a spammy SEO company…ever get a link report with just a CSV file? Haven’t we all. Back in the day when I used to hire others to do my links before I started doing them, I got those silly CSV files. They are useless as they show you nothing about what was really done. You don’t have time to go to 200 links to check the work and mind you they don’t go and check it either. This is a major problem if you think about it. You pay for work, that doesn’t get checked, and you don’t check it either. Get a company that provides the info you need.

Google does NOT show you all your backlinks they use to rank your site. That’s why your link reports are so important so you know what’s going on.

Many providers will build links, but say “we’ll let Google naturally find them.” Some links are impossible to find in this manner, so don’t fall for that trick either. To clarify…some links will be found naturally, but some types of links can’t.

Also know up front if the links being built are only available to you while you are paying for backlinks. If so, that’s fine and is a bonus part of the service…just understand that upfront.

When you hit page one, you fall on Google’s “radar.” That’s the worse time to stop making backlinks. If you’re making real contributions to the Internet, that’s what Google wants. If you spinning a bunch of content on Tier 1, than you may want to scale back. However, Tier 1 should never have spun content. Make some real genuine contributions either yourself or with a competent backlink builder.

Also, a good SEO company will examine your current backlink structure to avoid over optimization and build on your success.

I’m not currently available for SEO work as I’m revamping a lot of our services.

Matt Maglodi Hey John, more likely than not your previous seo person probably had a private blog network. As soon as you can cancelled they probably pulled all the articles and links which would cause the sudden drop in rankings, or it was just bad timing and you got the short end of a google update- it does happen. I pulled a report on your site and the numbers look decent- Citation Flow MajesticSEO – Scope: Root Domain 18 Trust Flow MajesticSEO – Scope: Root Domain 6 Domain Authority SEOmoz – Scope: Root Domain 21 Page Authority SEOmoz – Scope: URL 33

Your pa and da are decent- (page authority and domain authority)

* Some things you can do for free. Add a blog to the front/home page of your site. It works really well, the constant fresh content is like blood to the sharks.

* I ran a backlink report. You have a ton of no-follow links. This is not bad, but it’s not great. No-Follow links are designed by nature to prevent spamming. This was created by google years back. For example, a site that you are linking to may be no-follow like squidoo- people will find sites to get links to rank better, it an attempt to defend against pure spamming- a no follow tag will prevent any benefit from linking. Another example is if you want to link a site to your site and you’re not sure about the quality of the site- well by using a no follow tag your telling google, hey I’m linking to this site as reference, but I’m not sure about them. This prevents the passing of link juice.

* well run, moderated forum is a powerful thing. Not sure how many members you have right now, but I would reach out to bike manf. and sell some advertising and this way you can hire someone like me or any really good internet marketer and build value.

Hope things work out!

Martin Miller First decision needs to be how involved you want to be in improving your sites page rank. If SEO isn’t your main area of expertise then why would you even think about covering it yourself. I never work on my car, I’ve never spent years learning how to, I just stick it in the garage when it needs servicing.

Start with a plan. What is the goal for your website? Do you want to sell something, attract new email subscribers, get your point of view over to as large an audience as possible? As with all planning, start with the goal and the planning becomes a lot easier and a lot less like guess-work.

What search terms are you looking to rank well for? How did you choose the keywords you mentioned above? Do you know how much traffic ranking for those keywords will bring you? Are the they the right keywords for your site? How do they fit into your plan for your site?

Choosing the right search terms/keywords to go after is the main part of the battle. Choosing more specific less general search terms allows you to rank your pages a little easier. (Think rank for dog training for Alsatian pups as opposed to dogs). Careful planning in this area with a professional will set you up for successful rankings.

Page rank requires good relevant content, good site structure (interlinking pages), good on page SEO, good of page SEO (good backlinking) and most of all a good SEO professional to keep this all going while you concentrate on running your business and making enough money to afford the good SEO professional!

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