I’ve seen a continued downward trend since last September’s Panda 20 update. My sites that lost about 50% of their traffic overnight are now down to about 35% of their previous traffic. It basically seems each week they lose a bit more traffic. The pattern of traffic has also been very strange since hit by Panda 20.
Basically, my traffic is reasonable in the morning and evening, but then something happens during the normal business hours where the traffic just stays low, with a bit of a jig-saw pattern throughout the day. Small bursts of traffic with long periods of quiet in between. This seems to have been described by others hit by Panda or Penguin.
As my sites were all hit at the exact same time, and at the time that the Exact Match Domain algorithm was rolled out, I can’t help but wonder if that Exact Match Domain algorithm is somehow affecting my sites, even though they aren’t targeting the keywords in their domain names. The domain names do technically contain words that could be targeted, but they aren’t the topic of the website. The links pointing to the websites do use the domain name mostly, so I’m left with wondering whether Google thinks I was trying to target those keywords. Arguing against this theory is that most exact match domains hit seemed to be hit primarily for the words in the domain name. My sites never got traffic for the domain name (other than one website which did target the two words in the domain name), but the traffic lost was for many other words that aren’t mentioned in the domain.
I did try to address my sites using techniques other people claimed helped them recover from Panda, but to no avail. Things I’ve already tried include: removing any thin content, removing links for related posts that used the same anchor text throughout the website, lowered keyword density, changed URL structure, removed keywords from URL structure, changed user interface, removed off-topic content, changed H1 text to not match page titles, changed ad layouts, removed affiliate links. After 6 months the traffic keeps on slowly dwindling.
Based on a recent thread where people report success recovering from the exact match domain through redirecting to a new domain name, I’ve considered giving that a try – thinking maybe it is because my home page has too many external links with anchor text including the keywords in the domain name. Of course, if my sites were hit by Panda 20 and nothing directly related to exact match domain algorithm, then switching domain names won’t make any long last difference, and I may also lose a bit of link juice in the redirection process. It still may be worth giving a try.
Today, I now read that Google may “soften” the Panda algorithm a bit for sites that are in a gray area. It may be a slight affect, and who knows if my sites are in that gray area or if they are smack in the cross-hairs of whatever they were looking to target. I’m inclined to see if I should wait a few more months to see if these new signals help my site recover. I’m not overly optimistic that my sites will recover to former levels of traffic from Google, at least not without a lot of new quality links to my websites. Since I don’t try to do much link building, that isn’t likely to happen if it hasn’t happened by now.
Fortunately, I don’t make my living from websites. It would be nice if I did, but luckily I like my real day job – for now.