It’s a little early for Friday QnA, but I a reader sent in this question in a state of great distress, so I went to my SEO secret weapon, Rick Porter, to answer something that I
know will help everyone.
NOTE: Things are about to get slightly technical and could overwhelm a beginner, but anyone with a blog will learn a lot.
Our reader asked…
“I have recently lost all of my traffic from google after making several changes to the home page nav menu and text. I have restored it back to 90% of the original hoping the traffic will come back, but is this expected? As in if you change your home page, Google will drop you from the rankings for a while? Is something Rick Porter could weigh in on?”
Answer from Rick Porter:
This is a good question, although without knowing details of what you did I cannot say exactly what happened…
…but I can tell you what I advise when making changes.
1) Never made big changes to your homepage all at once unless you don’t have any traffic or very little traffic.
2) Make one change, get the site recrawled and cached, and then re-evaluate.
3) If you have a sudden drop in traffic you can analyze what you did an roll back the change.
When you make several changes at once there is no way to tell what you have done that Google doesn’t like.
At one point last year I had got a site up the a #1 ranking for the keyword ‘fat burning pills’ and then once I was there I found the traffic was nothing like what keyword analysis forecasted.
So I turned the site into a “testing ground” and did all kinds of experiments on it.
I would “break” the site on a regular basis making changes to the home page and would watch it drop from #1 to #500 and then would bring it back again by rolling back changes.
I was able to carefully watch and see what elements could make a big difference.
Some things I noticed were…
A) If my homepage had several posts on page 1 that were different from my primary keyword it would greatly drop the overall density of my homepage for that keyword and I would watch rankings drop.
B) If I replaced those page 1 posts with all posts that were of the similar keyword set I would see the rankings climb back up.
C) I learned that if you are trying to rank your blog homepage for a particular keyword you need to sometimes monitor your posts to make sure you are including your primary keywords.
D) I also found having a lot of heavy graphical ad banners in the header could sometimes throw things off.
E) Ads in the sidebar never really affected things much but you need to be careful about where you are putting advertising banners and make sure they are good clean code for Google to crawl. If you put up some messy code it can reduce the crawl-ability of your website.
F) You want to make sure your homepage is a place where all your other pages can be found within just a couple clicks.
G) If you take off one of your key categories out of the menu that Google was using for crawling your internal site you could actually put an immediate barrier up that prevents
them from finding your pages.
H) I would say that one of the BIGGEST things I learned was that there are so many things you can do to mess up.
Once I learned how easy it was to break a #1 ranking I realized how many people aren’t making it to the top of the charts because their sites are already broken and no matter how many links they give themselves they will never get to the top because of these errors.
YOUR ACTION PLAN:
1) Start out with a clean WordPress site and plan it out.
Think ahead about what you are going to be writing about, what you want your homepage to represent, and what the most important subpages you have that you want to rank – and make sure those subpages are found within a click or two from your interface.
2) Always make sure you have good crawlable content on page 1.
I recently fixed an e-commerce site’s rankings for a client who was stuck at #18 for a very competitive weight loss supplement keyword.
After analyzing his site I asked him to create 600-800 words of highly optimized content underneath all of his products.
His site immediately jumped to around #12 and then with some fresh linking he has achieved a #5 ranking in less than two months.
Without adding that homepage content I doubt he would even be breaking page 1 yet.
There are so many things that can go wrong on your homepage.
If you have a good thing going already, then do NOT make radical changes. Make small changes, evaluate, and then make more changes.
This is the only way you can figure out what you did wrong if you break the site.
AND THE GOOD NEWS:
It’s always fixable, but you don’t want to be playing a guessing game on how to get it back.
ONE MORE THING:
Here’s a free Mozilla plugin to analyze your sites
Thanks Rick. That’s about $500 worth of free SEO advice right there.
Use it to dominate your market,
“Look …if you’re struggling, I’ve been there…and I can tell you first hand that it’ll get better if you keep on trying. I believe in you. Go for it.” – Frank Kern