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Slowly getting choked off by Google search. Trying to turn it around.

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Amin Sabet, Nov 28, 2015.

  1. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Well-Known Member

    My largest and most active site has been slowly getting choked off by Google search. Here you can see the past couple years of organic search traffic declining. The gaps are from times when I briefly uninstalled Google Analytics code from my site.

    Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 9.42.08 AM.png

    I switched to Xenforo in the beginning of 2015. That may have slowed the decline a touch, but the trend has still been downward.

    No competitor has arisen to cause me to rank lower. We're still by far the most active site in our niche, and there is no new site in our niche. Facebook hasn't supplanted us in the rankings. It's the same bunch of sites as ever, just us ranking lower than the non-forum based sites we used to outrank. Our forums are as active as ever with great content contributed daily.

    More recently I made quite a few changes to try and turn this around:
    -Less above the fold ads
    -Change to https
    -Add http/2 support
    -Faster server
    -Various speed tweaks
    -Increased frequency of sitemap submission to daily
    -Removed Recent Discussions from sidebar for guests

    The very last change I made was to convert from full friendly URLs without content title in URLs (nice and short URLs) to full friendly URLs with content title in URLs (longer but keyword rich).

    It could be a coincidence, but this latest change was quickly followed by an uptick in search traffic:

    Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 9.44.29 AM.png

    I am hoping that this trend will continue. If it doesn't, I may go ahead and drop ads entirely in hopes of doing better with the next Google Panda update.

    Would appreciate feedback as to whether you think my site has too many ads and/or there are other things I can do to improve search presence.

    One good thing on the horizon for those of us using https and http/2 is that the GoogleBot will soon support http/2.
  2. Lawrence

    Lawrence Well-Known Member

    Hi, nice looking site. With respect to your ads: your site is one of the few sites I have seen recently where the ads are not intrusive, and blends well with your sites style. I read a few posts that contain ads and they do not interfere with the flow of the thread at all. Great job on that. I would say (from a person who is sick and tired of all the in-your-face and flashing-eye-catching ads, and insert-into-videos-ads-that-are-longer-than-the-video-itself ads) to keep what you have.

    I would give your new URL's a longer chance to see what happens, as you stated there was an uptick in traffic since you changed it, :)
    Amin Sabet likes this.
  3. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Well-Known Member

  4. Alfa1

    Alfa1 Well-Known Member

    Something to consider is how Google looks at your buy & sell, hot deals and affiliate sections. It may well be that Google is taking it for spam because there is so much similarity in content between forum spam and classifieds for camera's in a forum. Spammers use the same phrases a lot. I would be very worried about this possibility to negatively affect your site authority & reputation.

    I dont know if there is a good classifieds addon for xenforo, but it may be looking into. This one looks nice: https://xenforo.com/community/resources/goodfornothing-classifieds.4438/
    I don't know if it has the appropriate schema.org microdata markup to let Google know this concerns classifieds.

    A second issue that ties into the former: you seem to be using XenCentral Multisite and generate a lot of duplicate content with it. This is very likely harming your site reputation and the combination with the former can make it much worse.

    I see there are various hosting and mail setup problems for mu-43.
    You have been blacklisted as a email spammer by SpamCannibal. This combined with the previous issues is problematic. You need to get removed from this blacklist.
    You have no SPF, DKIM or DMARC setup. Make sure to resolve this first.
    I did not check for your other domains, nor did I dig deep.
    I see that your site has been unreachable at times, so your faster server is a good idea.

    Have you reviewed all issues in your GWT and GA? There should be various messages in there.
    Have there been any complaints, DMCA/ Chilling Effects or other things shown by GWT?
    If you search for your domains in google are there any messages by google?
    Have you reviewed your site's mail server status? Please do all checks on mxtoolbox for all of your domains: http://mxtoolbox.com/SuperTool.aspx

    So the bad news is that there is a lot of work to do. The good news is that there is a lot that you can fix.

    Consider to read this old article of mine about how to avoid getting blacklisted as a spammer. Much of it is still valid.
    Though there are good tools in xenforo and XF addons for email. Maybe use Sendy for a while until you have your mail server setup correctly and the blacklisting is resolved.
    Mouth and Trekkan like this.
  5. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Well-Known Member

    Hi @Alfa1 , thanks for a lot of great insights.

    I do not use XenCentral Multisite nor do I post a lot of duplicate content of any kind.

    I will look into the SpamCannibal list. I don't know what that is about. Mandrill says my Reputation is Excellent. I do not know what SPF, DKIM, or DMARC are, but I will try to learn about them.

    I have no messages about issues in GWT, and there are no manual actions listed there either. No complaints, DMCA / Chilling Effects, or anything else.

    I don't know much about mail. I use [bd] Mails to send mail via Mandrill using the API. I don't do bulk emails, newsletters, or any other mail aside from the normal, default XenForo mails.

    Here is my Mandrill account report for the past 3 months:

    Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 7.36.12 PM.png
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2015
  6. Alfa1

    Alfa1 Well-Known Member

    You have multiple domains that cover very similar content. The forum node setup for each domain is extremely similar. Mostly the same forum names. The navigation structure is also very similar. Its easy for the google review team to mistake this for duplicate content. It could be that their algorithm decides its too similar.
  7. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Well-Known Member

    I have a site for people who use Micro Four Thirds (Olympus and Panasonic) cameras. Another site for Sony camera users. Another for Fuji Camera users. One for Leica users, etc. So these are very distinct groups who each like having their own, individual sites. I suppose I could change the node names to be less similar across sites. Do you think that would help?

    Also, should I no follow the links from each of my sites to the other ones?
  8. Alfa1

    Alfa1 Well-Known Member

    Do you send all email by Mandril or is some email still being sent by xenforo?
    Maybe ask Mandril if they know why your site is blacklisted for email spam.

    Changing the node names to be less similar could help a little.
    At this point I would not add no-follow tags to these links.
  9. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Well-Known Member

    I use Mandrill for all of my email.

    Is my domain blacklisted for spam, or is my server IP address blacklisted for spam? If it's the IP address, that could have happened before it became my IP address. I only recently changed hosts and acquired that IP address.
  10. ManagerJosh

    ManagerJosh Well-Known Member

    Have you checked inside the Google Webmaster portal to see what error messages are coming back?
  11. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Well-Known Member

    Yes. I don't see any serious errors there. 404s for deleted pages. Little else.

    Something seems to be working. Search traffic is now on the rise.
  12. D.O.A.

    D.O.A. Well-Known Member

    I ditched anything related to google or facebook months ago and to be honest I never seen much of a difference in that time, my numbers are still all over the place depending on what's entertaining at that moment.
    If Google ties my ranking to an analytic plugin they own it's another reason they can go **** themselves.

    Amin Sabet likes this.
  13. jauburn

    jauburn Well-Known Member

    Too many different sites. Bring all that stuff under one site. Migrate all users to the one site. Confusing the way you have it now.

    Photography forums are a tough business. I'd get it to where the numbers look good and stable for a year or so and then try to find a buyer. Forums are dying a slow death, I think, and a forum of any size sucks far more out of you and your time than it gives back.

    I agree with another poster who said you have a lot of work to do.

    Oh, and after you pull all that stuff under one site, get yourself a professional logo. I can suggest Mark Beaudry. He's excellent.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2015
  14. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Well-Known Member

    I do this all for fun not for profit. I enjoy the sites being separate, and my members prefer them that way.
    MattW likes this.

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