Since mid-April, www.404TechSupport.com has been struggling through a significant decrease in traffic. The number of site visits has been cut in half and ad revenue has been reduced to about one-tenth. Most frustrating, I cannot find a reason for the change. I have sliced and diced the data different ways through Google Analytics and other sources. It comes down to Google Search results. All hits to my top landing pages coming from Google decreased by ~52%. This was true across countries and all keywords.
My traffic already has an interesting pattern of being significantly higher during weekdays than weekends. Also, my traffic tends to be more tech savvy and more likely to have adblock extensions installed in their browser. The most disappointing notion of it all is that I know 404 Tech Support still hosts valuable content. Feedback from visitors on a wide variety of topics lets me know that their problem was solved by visiting my site. Some pages are lower in search results to forums where somebody posts a link to my article as the solution.
I know I’m not the only one being affected by Google Search changes and dealing with the consequences. In the SEO world, Panda and Penguin updates caused ranking fluctuation for lots of sites. Those updates also stopped being announced. I can point specifically to April 17th as when something affected my site results.
My SEO visibility seems to have been on a downward spiral since at least February and flatlining in May.
I filed a reconsideration request with the Google Webspam team and was notified that there were no manual actions put in place to penalize my site. Therefore, I am led to conclude that something changed with my site that I am unaware of or the Google Search algorithm changed and 404TS was affected by an automatic change and not a manual change.
To try to change the trend’s direction, I took a few steps to improve my site and earn better favor with Google. I implemented the WordPress SEO plugin and followed recommendations to improve my site’s SEO (while ignoring all of the spammers that offer SEO consulting). I implemented an external DNS provider for my sites to provide faster and more reliable lookup. I also put a CDN in place to reduce the requests to my server and speed up page loading. I also setup Google Authorship to make my search results, theoretically more eye catching. I moved ads to below the fold and changed themes for a faster site with a responsive setup for mobile but more on that in a future article. I started writing weekly tech headline digests as a way to improve internal linking and I also think it is a great way to keep caught up on the rapid pace tech world. Finally, I waited…
While my number of pages in Google’s Index seemed to improve…
…it seemed to have no effect on increasing visits to my site. My lowest days back then are now equivalent to some of my highest days.
I have given myself an intensive study in SEO beyond what I was already familiar with to try to find the cause but I can’t find anything that aligns with my server. Before the traffic decrease, I right-sized my server after offloading some clients to other hosting. This switched my server’s IP address but that was it and from what I could find Google doesn’t care about IP address. They are supposedly “content, content, content” and I have tried to focus on my content but I won’t be able to if I can’t figure out what dragged my site down in the first place and still won’t let it return.
Checking through the Bing Webmasters Tools, Microsoft’s search engine has remained fairly constant but unfortunately the site does not contribute a significant amount of traffic to any of my sites.