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Been trying to identify the cause of a rank drop for 7 months now... help officially needed!

Discussion in 'Black Hat SEO' started by JF92, Aug 13, 2019 at 7:48 PM.

  1. JF92

    JF92 Newbie

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    Hello folks!

    As the title suggests, my company has been dealing with a fairly devastating loss in rankings and traffic since the beginning of this year. I'm absolutely out of ideas at this point, and I could really use the advice of this awesome community...

    I'll start with a little background:

    I run a web design agency in Cambridge UK. We ran into some significant issues with our G rank in Jan-Feb 2019. Prior to this point we were getting great visibility in the SERPS (pos 2-4 for our local money KWs such as 'web design cambridge'), and that all changed almost overnight.

    Since then, I have been working tirelessly to improve on-page factors, load speeds, have worked with various suppliers to improve our off site link profile (many from BHW), but everything I have done seems to have made things worse.

    Every concurrent google update since that time has more-or-less pushed us further down. We're now no longer on page one for our money KW (currently #12), which is extremely frustrating and also embarrassing given our position in the local market. Given that I cannot seem to find any other technical problems problems, and I am constantly tweaking and improving content to no avail, I am beginning to suspect we may be getting held back by an algorithmic penalty.

    That, or I am utterly deluded and my content is in fact total garbage...

    Either way, at this point I'm completely out of ideas. I can see on charts when the drop occurred, but cannot link it to website updates, lost links, or indeed anything else. I am absolutely stumped and I could really use a fresh pair of eyes for a minute!

    If any of you beautiful BHWers have a little bit of time to take a look at my situation, I would be extremely grateful! Decent sized tip to anybody who can help me crack this and end this nightmare!

    Screenshot attached of traffic drop and number of KWs.

    Thanks guys!

    J
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 13, 2019 at 10:08 PM
  2. UnknownWMaster

    UnknownWMaster Newbie

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    For how long were you ranking for top positions? If it was for a long period, then i'll say your site was penalized for some reason.

    - I'm assuming you are keeping track of your backlink profile and you didnt identify any kind of negative SEO since february
    - I'm assuming your backlink profile is legit and you didnt bought PBN links or overpushed with exact match anchor text
    - I'm assuming your content is good since it was ranked for top positions before
    - I'm assuming you dont have any manual action notification at GSC

    I'm wrong at any of those?
     
  3. JF92

    JF92 Newbie

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    Hey Unknown,

    Thanks for the reply man!

    We held decent visibility for a few years. This wasn't a wham-bam situation.

    1: I wouldn't say that I meticulously monitored it, but I checked in once in a while.

    2: I'm not 100% on this... There almost definitely are a couple of PBN links pointing at the website, and we definitely have some exact match links. In terms of whether its 'too much' that is sort of what I was hoping for an opinion on.

    3: I hope the content is good! I believe that, actually it is.

    4: Absolutely nothing in the way of manuals in GWT. Never have.

    Thanks again dude!
     
  4. UnknownWMaster

    UnknownWMaster Newbie

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    Its a pleasure for me to try helping you, hopefully we can manage to find where is the problem

    Do you track the dates for each backlink you buy? i dont think so, but if you do you could try identify some anchors that happened around the break date.

    Knowing that there are some PBN links around, I would surely download all referring domains from GSC and check if they are still indexed in Google 1 by 1 (excluding the non-PBN obvious) using "site:domain.com" (if you have any tool to bulk check them, then much better), if you are able to find out one or more non-indexed domains that will mean that the PBN site linking at you was penalized, and so were you. In this case, you could try disavowing, creating even more content, generating sane backlinks, and crossing fingers.

    Looking towards that GSC domain check
     
  5. JF92

    JF92 Newbie

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    200 IQ play my dude!

    I'll take a look for any unfamiliar domains in the indexed RDs from WMT.
     
  6. SEOzack

    SEOzack Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    I bet your PBN got de-indexed. Or the owner scrapped your links.

    Edit. Looks like you have a horrendous amount of backlinks.

    I would be interested in seeing your GSC backlinks.


    Edit 2. If you have been buying backlinks of here I hope you have been doing your due diligence and not sending them directly to your money site.

    Although it doesn't look like it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2019 at 8:50 PM
  7. ThatSEO

    ThatSEO Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    OK, I've checked out your site, not bad - It needs some SEO tidy ups and tweaks.

    You're really over optimised and cannibalising your keywords way too much fella. You need to stop with the link building and sort out the onsite if I can be honest!

    Your link building could be better, to be honest I just wouldn't bother building non-client links (footer) until you've sorted out your onsite, you've confused Google about what page to rank etc

    Its a shame you've written your site in the forum, you're only up the road, I would have had a chat about offloading some work from Suffolk way but my clients are savvy, they'd worry you're on a blackhat forum
     
  8. SEOzack

    SEOzack Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    I agree with this. May be worth removing your site, OP.
     
  9. JF92

    JF92 Newbie

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    Hey Zack,

    Thanks for your thoughts pal!

    To offer some insight to whats going on in GWT... I have attached a screenie

    As you'll see, the vast majority of links come from the same websites. These are from sitewide footer links. I agree there does appear to be an alarming amount of links at first glance.

    Today I coded
    PHP:
    <?php if (is_front_page()) { ?>
    into the footer files, meaning that these sitelinks will only print on the homepages.

    The total linking sites in GWT is 142.
     

    Attached Files:

  10. ThatSEO

    ThatSEO Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Its not your links fella, yea you have good ones, you have crap ones but its not your links that's holding you back
     
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  11. JF92

    JF92 Newbie

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    Hey ThatSEO,

    Thanks for making time!

    I have considered the possibility that the authoritativeness may be getting diluted by cannibalisation. It would also explain to some degree why we're getting the worst progress on the keywords I'm actually focussing!

    You raise a very good point about including the URL. Hindsight is 20-20, I have requested removal by an admin.

    For what its worth, our client sites are, as per usual ranking exceptionally well and I could never afford to risk using questionable techniques on their systems. Only our own out of pure exasperation!

    Suffolk in the grand scheme is very close! If you decide you'd like to chat about any web bits you could use help with, I'd certainly be glad to. We have great referral fee terms!
     
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  12. Kronickal

    Kronickal Newbie

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    Hey,

    Have you got an answer to it, or you want me to check it out for you?
     
  13. ThatSEO

    ThatSEO Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    I'd really just tone it down 'a tad' and really sort out the canalblisation in my opinion, its not awful but well, its the difference of first and second page - The site should be ranking better but I'm convinced the real basic is that Google is guessing because you're telling it to rank say 2/3/4/ pages for the same keyword really
     
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  14. Kronickal

    Kronickal Newbie

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    I totally agree with him. It probably is the main issue.
    Rarely as well Ive seen that 480k backlinks are from the same site. did all of them got indexed the same period of time? or where they gradually indexed?
    when was Potetialplusuk created?
     
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  15. JF92

    JF92 Newbie

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    This is great advice man. Big time appreciated.

    I'm familiar with the term, but I'm not totally sure of the best way to approach the content rework.

    I'm keen to continue ranking the homepage, as it's pretty and it gets great engagement. That said, we above else are a web design services business.

    I would prefer to 'deoptimise' the web design page. Would you recommend just using different synonyms or sacking of service page altogether, melding them into one super-page?
     
  16. ThatSEO

    ThatSEO Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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  17. JF92

    JF92 Newbie

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    Hey bro!

    Thanks for getting involved.

    This system has been under our management since probably 2016 (something like that)

    The number of links is straight-up ludicrous.

    I couldn't tell you for sure when they were indexed. As I said above, I have removed our footer credit from everywhere but the HP.

    I hope that going forward, even if that's not a negative factor, it goes someway to bringing down the crazy number of total links.
     
  18. ThatSEO

    ThatSEO Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Tell you what, I'm all up for linking up with people in my area - I do online marketing, SEO, PPC and google partner and all that crap but I outsource a LOT of design work, I know what I am good at, builds and design isn't one. I will give you a call tomorrow?
     
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  19. JF92

    JF92 Newbie

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    Absolutely give me a call pal!

    In case it wasn't completely obvious, FDs expertise is web & graphics - we tend to outsource all other aspects of digital marketing when the clients ask!
     
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  20. Unreliable Witness

    Unreliable Witness Power Member

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    @JF92 - I'd remove the second image with the links asap. There have been example of people pointing spam at sites mentioned on this forum - just for fun. EDIT - looks like you have already asked a mod.

    Your home page is over-optimised for "web design". Its in the H1, H2, button text, page title (twice). You'll need to rewrite your text. Don't just use synonyms, but remove the over-use of words.

    Read up on the guide to undoing over-optimisation written by phpbuilt. He isn't active anymore on BHW, but if you google "phpbuilt overoptimization keyword density" you'll get there.
     
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