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Input Wanted From SEO Top Guns

Discussion in 'White Hat SEO' started by nekminute, Jun 5, 2013.

  1. nekminute

    nekminute Newbie

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    Hi team, how are you all? I apologize for the long post ahead but would really appreciate some help from any SEO gurus.

    I've recently picked up a bit of work trying to optimize a suite of sites for a small (Mom and Pop) company in my city. Basically I wanted to test the waters with local SEO work after doing SEO successfully on my own affiliate and info sites.

    Let me set the scene:

    * Around 15 websites in the suite (each deals with a sub-issue of a main theme... imagine the theme is "appliances" and one site is about toasters, one about ovens etc).
    * Each site is basically a subdomain
    * Very date design but they are getting new themes specced up
    * 90% of revenue comes from Adsense
    * Over 200k Aweber subscribers across all their sites
    * Very well-established websites that have been going for about 10 years now
    * All sites PR1-2

    There is one particular site in their suite that the company want me to focus on. It used to dominate the SERPS for their keywords and bring over 1.5k visitors per day.

    However, in 2011 at the exact same time as Panda the site owners decided to swap everything from some very basic CMS (cant remember which) to Wordpress. All their sites were offline for around 2-3 weeks as they moved over thousands of pages manually - crazy right?

    * Their traffic was slashed around 70% and has never recovered
    * Sites struggle to maintain good rankings - I'm almost 100% sure they were hit by some form of Google update but haven't really let on about it and prefer to blame their site downtime
    * Big income drop
    * Most money still from that main site, and it was getting about 700-800 visitors a day start of this year.

    Fast forward to 2013 and I have done on-page SEO analysis for their sites, focusing mostly on the main one that makes them the most money.

    I noted:

    * No new content has been added for over 24 months (to any site)
    * Lots of on-page errors like bad keyword placement, 5 or 6 keywords in the title tags etc (imagine a page that starts with "discover ovens, oven styles, oven types, best ovens, ovens for your apartment" - you get the picture)
    * Inbound links from junky sources - company director still paying some outsourcer to submit to literally any new web directory he can find. Links from total garbage sites
    * Poor internal linking and navigation structure

    Here's what I did:

    * Sought out their best performing keywords and related potential keywords with high volume - optimized pages of main site for these keywords
    * Tidied up broken links, redirects, img tags etc
    * Started building social signals with a manual/whitehat Pinterest business account, Twitter, Facey and Tumblr. Their sites are image intensive so social media should work.
    * Links from related blogs, Web 2.0s etc
    * Researched long-tail keywords for easy rankings and had them outsource over 30 new articles.

    And the results?

    * Their traffic has been falling (down around 50-60% ~ 300 uniques per day now, although traffic quality seems to be improving)
    * Pages slipping from top 20 rankings on Google
    * I'm outranking their own site for main keywords with a Pinterest profile I've spent about 5 hours developing (around 400 followers) and basic Tumblr blogs that are keyword optimized.
    * Nothing seems to be working
    * A very frustrated nekminute

    It almost seems as if their site was "chilling" in Google and now that spiders have noticed changes have decided to apply a penalty of some sort. I can 100% truthfully say I've only used whitehat link building and on-page SEO methods as well.

    There is definitely something fishy here though; the main site I'm working on is a "niche authority" - their terms, not mine, and has a PR of 2. However, I outsourced over 30 long tail articles. These articles targeted very specific keywords to generate easy rankings and some diversified traffic. I'm talking keywords like "what is the best stainless steel oven for a small kitchen" - not 3 to 4 word phrases but massively long keywords. Now all of these articles are getting indexed after about 3 or 4 days, but not a SINGLE one is anywhere in the top 50 results. These keywords all have under 500 competing results for an exact match search using parentheses.

    I've got 1st page rankings for keywords like that on my own sites with domains that were only registered 72 hours previously, so I know it should be possible for such an established site.

    The only other factor I can see is that the SERPS for the site keywords are inundated with results from a select few heavyweights, such as:

    * Pinterest
    * Houzz
    * BHG
    * Overstock
    * Amazon

    This work is really doing my brain in and distracting me from my own sites, content writing, and language studies.

    If anyone has any ideas whatsoever about anything I'm doing wrong, then please shout.
     
  2. Techxan

    Techxan Elite Member

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    My cut feeling is that you have missed something

    What is analytics telling you?. Have you sent in a reconsideration request?

    Is your non www redirecting to the www?

    Since they switched to WP, how is their permalink structure? WP can screw you over in seo.

    This sounds like it might be a dup content penalty to me, or someone hacked you and started hosting their pages on your server (had a customer who had a Russian porn dealer using his corporate server in a hacked Joomla install.)

    do a site: search and look carefully for duplicate page titles. Check WP permalinks settings to see if it shows categories in the permalinks (dup content if something is assigned to two or more categories.)

    Also, if they have pages with are essentially copies of each other, use canonical tags.

    You are not using universal titles, h1 tags, or descriptions are you?

    On your pages, only one h1 tag, and its not the logo is it?

    Shoot me a URL and I will take a look, seems interesting.

    If there is nothing in all that above that applies, it is really interesting.
     
  3. SkyrocketSEO

    SkyrocketSEO Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    Hmmm, so basicaly the owner is buying crappy links and you'er trying to rank the site with on-page SEO?
    Dude, if that job is just taking your time the best advice is to leave it...
     
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  4. nekminute

    nekminute Newbie

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    These clients aren't exactly the easiest to work with (ie I make a change and they often say "oh just reverse it we like the old way better because 5 years ago it was getting us 10k uniques a day").

    However, I don't like quitting either.
     
  5. Untouchable

    Untouchable Supreme Member

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    When I get clients like that I run the opposite direction.
    I do not think its worth the money.
    My peace of mind is more precious.
     
  6. Taktikal

    Taktikal Registered Member

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    First off I'm no "Guru" or "Expert" when it comes to SEO. But after 3 years of it I can tell you that you want to build the biggest, baddest, most original first tier you can. If you keep it 100% unique and hand done the results will go up eventually. Also those High PR links don't hurt.

    Also you are the "Expert" that HE hired. If you want to do something, he shouldn't try to stop you. Tell him 5 years ago is 20 Years in the SEO industry. Tell him what once worked wont work anymore. If he is set against something it's hard to change their mind, all you can do is reason with them.
     
  7. Voasi

    Voasi Registered Member

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    You might want to tie the sites into Webmaster Tools to see if there are additional pages you missed that should've been 301'd. Additionally, WMT will bring up any errors and speed load issues, so you can sort all those out on Google's side at least.

    Are you still building links? You may want to check Ahrefs.com to see if they're losing links on a monthly basis, as well as "link velocity" each month.
     
  8. lancis

    lancis Elite Member

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    The worst enemy of platform migration/site reconstruction is dead links.Imagine, that previously you had a very powerful & relevant backlink pointing to domain.com/how-to-toast-a-pig-in-oven/ from there it was spreading the backlink's effect over the entire website. After reconstruction that link is dead and leads to 404 error page - thats a major bummer when Google is involved.Try to find all the 404 pages first and redirect them to the relevant content.
     
  9. LV John

    LV John Registered Member

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    Sometimes it's better to let certain projects/clients go, especially when you have unknowledgeable opposition in your work. I'm sure you have your reasons for staying with the project, but if they are unhappy with your results - it will only hurt your efforts to get future clients.

    I agree with Voasi and Techxan... Setup up a Google Webmaster account first. Use the Google tools to see if there are any site errors, warnings, or penalties. Install analytics so you can monitor traffic, sources, keywords, etc... this information will really help when you start creating new content. Check your incoming links and remove the crap ones using the disavow tool.

    If you migrated to Wordpress, there are probably broken links - fix those ASAP. Also install Yoast plugin and the usual plugins if you haven't already.

    After your on-site is good, unique, and inter-linked... Start a back linking campaign.

    You said they are paying for a directory submission service - have you checked any of the listings? Are they all the same? Have you run a Ahrefs or PowerSuite report to check your in-bound links, anchor text, link sources, etc? If not, then get started. While we're on the subject of link reports - have you checked your competition?

    Once you figure out where your at with the in-bound links (and what your competition is doing), you can create a plan of attack. The goal is minimize your work... You only need to complement the existing links - not create brand new ones. Use what is in place and then add to them with just a few new select links. Remember - link diversity.

    Good luck.
     
  10. dennica

    dennica Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    when i get a client, i always make sure that the client know the trending about seo...

    i usually let go on clients who doesnt trust me at all on my work...

    also clients who want to rank after 1 week, thats an automatic bye bye...
     
  11. VinceC

    VinceC Elite Member

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    Going on an uphill battle is one thing. Winning it is another story. I had countless of sleepless nights due to clients who thought they were smarter than me and taught me what to do in the middle of night......
     
  12. nekminute

    nekminute Newbie

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    Just an update to this thread; I've got a drip-feed link building service set up and will try that for a couple of months. If there are no results, then I will be calling it quits on these customers.

    Anybody got any other expert advice? I'm having no trouble ranking brand new sites for more competitive keywords, but this established domain is killing me.
     
  13. BadyBoySEO

    BadyBoySEO Regular Member

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    I don't think there is much more than you can do than add high quality content and drip feed high quality links to the site. Also others are right that you should thoroughly check how the migration went. Do you have access to the sites webmaster tools, as this may give you a much better indication of whats wrong?
     
  14. mohan1218

    mohan1218 Registered Member

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  15. verilix

    verilix Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Just so you know: There is no such thing as an "SEO Guru". Anyone who tells you they are, is lying. Anyone who knows SEO well enough will tell you that they don't know SEO well enough. Everything is speculation. What works for some people doesn't work for others. What gave some people penalties, has increased others' sites drastically.

    How are their social signals?
     
  16. barbie.ken

    barbie.ken Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    well said. the real SEO gurus who know everything won't share their secrets so openly because it would only cause Google to clamp down on those stuff quickly