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Confusing problem with a client's website

Discussion in 'Search Engine Optimization' started by Rankap1, Feb 19, 2020.

  1. #1
    Hi, I'm new to the forum. I have been working on SEO and content creation in general for a few years now, but this is the first time I have ran into a deadend.

    I'll try to explain everything as good as I can so bear with me.

    This is the website: https://the5thdimensions.com

    1. January 24th, client contacts me about his website. Says he needs a lot of things done. His first concern is that the site is extremely slow (over 20 seconds to load and over 8mb for all pages kind of slow). Second concern is page ranking. He claims to have been on page 1 from March 2019 to at least September 2019. When I searched for the site, I saw it on Page 3, which was really bad.
    SEMrush
    2. I get to work on this, notice that the site is using uncompressed images and has a lot of code bloat. I ask him and claims to know nothing about that. I fix it and now the site takes an average of 2 seconds to load.

    Now, here's when things get weird.

    The site has a lot of content, no external links, almost zero internal links either, which is really weird. I had to reupload all of the site's media and replace it because there was no other way to compress it using any plugin for wordpress (I'm talking about over 4K resolution JPGS that were 5mb on some cases, I tried using some tools to prevent reuploading but none could compress them under 1mb).

    The site also had lots of SEO issues according to nibbler, ubersuggest and many other tools I fail to remember right now.

    After reuploading the pictures, fixing SEO issues, adding alt attributes to relevant images, focusing on certain keywords for the other pages, I see that the site is now sitting on Page 6.

    I have ran multiple tests and multiple scans and fixed a lot of stuff. Haven't changed anything in the past 2 weeks and the site keeps going down in ranks.

    Also relevant: there was no search console or analytics set up on the site, but I guess the previous webmaster or SEO guy used Ubersuggest to check the site and that's the only proof I have that the site was once on Page 1. The only thing that I can think of is that maybe the site got hit by the June 2019 update, as that's when it shows the page rank drop.

    My questions for the community are:
    What could I possibly be missing here?
    Am I being paranoid for not waiting enough time to see improvements? I know ranking takes time, but I have never seen a site dropping so dramatically in page rank so fast while fixing it.

    Any and all help will be appreciated.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 19, 2020
    Rankap1, Feb 19, 2020 IP
    SEMrush
  2. Oso Optimized

    Oso Optimized Member

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    #2
    Just for clarification, Page Rank is basically a metric of evaluating a sites link juice. It is not the rank of a page. And its a metric that really isn't often discussed anymore since Google stopped making a site's PR public.

    But I have to ask, what SEO issues did you fix? While page speed isn't a major factor in ranking, increasing page speed of course is not going to cause a site to decline in rankings.

    (Interesting, I used to do SEO for an Aya retreat in Peru, marketed the site in four languages.)

    At first glance, the SEO doesn't look bad, though I have not made a thorough look. And I don't know your level of SEO knowledge. I mean, could you have made a mistake as simple as changing URLs without creating redirects? I see a lot of internal links now, when you said the site had very few.

    And you talk about being on page 1 for a keyword. I had my Aya site on page 1 for dozens of keywords, in four languages. You aren't going to get traffic from a single keyword, and if that is the only barometer that you have for the site ranking well, it is very poor. You could have easily shifted things around to weaken a single keyword. I'd be more concerned if you lost a dozen first page results.

    Lastly, if the prior SEO made a habit of creating a risky IBL profile, (Inbound Links) a single update could remove your rankings.
     
    Oso Optimized, Feb 19, 2020 IP
  3. Rankap1

    Rankap1 Peon

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    #3
    Hi, thank you for your response.
    English is not my first language, so maybe I used the wrong term.

    Ok, as for SEO issues:
    Bad formatting in content pages
    Blank pages, lots of blank pages
    The content folders were indexed
    Duplicated meta tags, title tags and snippets (5 pages had the same description)
    Overall site loading speeds were just bad and kept causing server errors.

    I migrated the site also, as the server errors kept the site off.

    Now, there are lots of keywords on Page 1 according to Search Console (some really weird ones, like just "Peru" in the United States today), but there were really only 5 keywords being tracked (as I was told when I got the site) and they were all on page 3, now most of them are on page 5 and even page 7.

    I checked backlinks with 4 different tools and also links on search console, but I didn't see any broken links. I did change some URLs because, like I said, lots of pages had duplicate descriptions, titles, etc.

    And, like I said, I really don't have any way to check how the site was doing 6 months ago, just Ubersuggest.
     
    Rankap1, Feb 19, 2020 IP
  4. Oso Optimized

    Oso Optimized Member

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    #4
    The problem here, is that you don't know enough about SEO to be making significant changes, if ranking is a concern. I can easily how you could have caused this crash, based upon what you have told me. But fortunately, their SERPs weren't significant to begin with, so no great loss.

    One of the last things you ever want to do, is to change a URL. No reason to, especially since Mueller just came out and said that keywords in the URL aren't important (though I am not sure I believe him on that yet). But if you feel like you must, you ALWAYS do a 301 redirect. With the redirect, all is fine. Without a redirect, you can lose IBLs that will result in a loss of link juice that will crash the page. You also may change the flow of the internal link juice flowing within the site to specific pages. And the search engine temporarily misplaces the page. It can take weeks or longer to find it again, but if you lowered the link juice flowing to the page, it will not rebound in search.

    Before you began making these changes, you want to chart everything, know which pages are indexed, which pages are ranked and getting traffic. You really need software to track this. It is not good enough anymore (and hasn't been in over a decade) to just be a good web developer.

    I would start with creating redirects from any URLs that you changed to the new URLs.

    Keyword diagnostics - find out what keywords the client would like to rank. Check Google to make sure they are viable and attainable, and re-start your SEO plan.
     
    Oso Optimized, Feb 20, 2020 IP
  5. Rankap1

    Rankap1 Peon

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    #5
    >301 Redirect
    That is actually set and working fine. I just double checked with the 2 URLs I changed. I input the old URL and it redirected me to the new URL. Cleaned cache before that too just to be sure. Tried it also on my phone.
    >IBL
    There where almost no internal linking structure. Little to no internal or external linking were in place.
    >Keyword diagnostics
    There are 5 keywords that need to be ranked on page 1, all 5 of them don't have that much search volume per month nor are they considered "hard" by the tools I'm using.

    Also relevant: I checked ubersuggest again and saw that the sharpest decline in page position and traffic happened around October, I'm now asking to see what exactly happened then from their end.
     
    Rankap1, Feb 20, 2020 IP
  6. Oso Optimized

    Oso Optimized Member

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    #6
    Now that I am getting a clearer picture of what is happening, I see a lot of what I have said may not apply.

    You have great English, but we may still have a language issue. I really don't understand what you mean when you say there is little or no internal or external linking in place, no internal linking structure. Have no idea what that means.
    But an IBL is external. It's an inbound link and that has nothing to do with navigation or internal links. It's a link from another site to your site.

    As far as the October crash, that is the date of BERT, what Google calls the largest algo update in 5 years. It's related to language. So while I haven't read the content on the site, if there is a translation issue where the English is less than perfect - well, the crash might be content related. See more:
    https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-bert-update/332161/#close
     
    Oso Optimized, Feb 20, 2020 IP
  7. Rankap1

    Rankap1 Peon

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    #7
    Hi, thanks for keeping up with me, I really appreciate it.

    I think I mixed IBL with internal linking structure. The site has many IBL.

    Now, about BERT, I may have to check on that and see if there's something wrong with semantics and post structure. Another thing I haven't mentioned, the site hasn't had a new post since January 30th, but before that, last post was in April 2019.

    Also, for some reason, according to GSC, the site's position for "peru" is 3, which makes zero sense, so maybe I'm really swimming against the tide here
     
    Rankap1, Feb 20, 2020 IP
  8. Oso Optimized

    Oso Optimized Member

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    #8
    Blog posts shouldn't have an effect in that time period.

    I can't imagine the site ranking for Peru, unless you have some serious links pointing toward you. And I can't get you come up for Peru from here.
     
    Oso Optimized, Feb 20, 2020 IP
  9. qwikad.com

    qwikad.com Illustrious Member Affiliate Manager

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    #9
    From my experience: Any, and I mean any changes can make rankings fluctuate (usually they initially go down). 2 weeks is a normal wait time. You shouldn't jump to any conclusions unless 2, maybe even 3 weeks have passed. The site has enough unique, original content for it to do well in searches, even while it's still fluctuating somewhat.
     
    qwikad.com, Feb 20, 2020 IP
    JEET likes this.
  10. JEET

    JEET Notable Member

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    #10
    I have noticed that whenever you do a major update on a site, specially changing URLs (even with 301 redirects), then the site will lose some rankings.
    Have patience, and things will hopefully return back to normal.
     
    JEET, Feb 20, 2020 IP
  11. mrb1129

    mrb1129 Well-Known Member

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    #11
    And don't worry about loading time at all. As long as the page doesn't show a 'time-out' its doesn't effect a site's SEO that much.
     
    mrb1129, Feb 20, 2020 IP
    Oso Optimized likes this.
  12. zomex

    zomex Active Member

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    #12
    I do not agree with this. I don't have any facts but my opinion is that Google are always trying to provide the user with the best experience. If they have a choice between two websites with the same content they will take pageload into account as a ranking factor and favour the faster website.

    Even outside of SEO, it is very important that a website is well optimised as if it's slow it will result in lost traffic.
     
    zomex, Feb 21, 2020 IP
  13. Rankap1

    Rankap1 Peon

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    #13
    Thanks all for your help, gonna update the situation:

    The site went down even further in ranks
    I was told the site got redesigned back in October. Before that, loading speeds were really good apparently, after that, the site was like I said in the OP.
    Something I missed mentioning: the site was also infected by wp-vcd. The former webmaster just used a line to prevent it from appearing in the frontend, but it kept sending requests that eventually created server errors.


    It is, I don't know why. Target country is the US. Might have been a blip. Here's a screenshot

    Thanks for your input. This is why I made this thread, tho. The site has been fluctuating down really hard. It goes down 8 positions overnight and only recovers 2 the next day. So it really is very confusing as this is the first time I've seen something this drastic.
    Hopefully, but I'm still trying to proactively find a solution.
    It was causing timeouts and server errors though. I'm telling you, sometimes the site took 60 seconds to load the landing page.
    I did see an increase in traffic immediately after fixing the loading speed issues. Nonetheless, that's now gone with the lost positions.
     

    Attached Files:

    Rankap1, Feb 21, 2020 IP
  14. Oso Optimized

    Oso Optimized Member

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    #14
    This is my next suggestion, because I can't do all the needed diagnostics on my end, without investing more time. Click the link in my signature and get a Free two week trial of WebCEO. You literally get more diagnostic options than you can imagine, maybe 600 possible reports. It will even investigate your IBLs and mark questionable and dangerous links. You get two weeks, so don't sign up till you have the time to devote to it.
     
    Oso Optimized, Feb 21, 2020 IP
  15. Rankap1

    Rankap1 Peon

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    #15
    Thanks, but I already have WebCEO and I'm actively using it to check for more stuff, including backlinks. I'm using SEMRush, MOZ, WebCEO, GSC and Ubersuggest to analyze what's going on.
    Still no clue, nonetheless I'm still checking everything in case I missed something
     
    Rankap1, Feb 21, 2020 IP
  16. Oso Optimized

    Oso Optimized Member

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    #16
    Well I will assume you have the WebCEO cloud software, and not the desktop. They are totally different.
     
    Oso Optimized, Feb 21, 2020 IP
  17. mrb1129

    mrb1129 Well-Known Member

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    #17
    Don't agree with me, that's fine.

    I have experience with many sites. Loading speed is simply a myth. Google only says about 'best user experience'. In reality they are the ones who actually act on it the little.
     
    mrb1129, Feb 21, 2020 IP
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  18. deathshadow

    deathshadow Acclaimed Member

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    #18
    Can't say I'm surprised given that said steaming pile is slopped together with the train wreck that is turdpress -- and that turdpress incompetence is evident on a simple view source. Absolute URI's for nothin, static scripting in the markup, static style in the markup, endless pointless idiotic DIV for nothing with equally endless pointless idiotic classes on everything, a general reek of "semantic markup, what's that?!?" meaning search engines are more likely to just flat out ignore the content -- likewise it flipping the bird at accessibility. Good thing that's not for a real business or it would be front and center in a lawsuit on accessibility grounds.

    Hardly a shock the turdpress is squeezing out 181k of markup for 9.2k of plaintext and two dozen media elements (content images and videos), not even 24k's huffing job! Just like the utterly insane 946k of CSS spanning a ridiculous 13 separate files on a site where the ENTIRE site likely doesn't warrant more than 48k of CSS in one file (since it only has one target, screen). Naturally the lack of media targets being just more proof the average turdpress skinner isn't qualified to tie their own shoes, much less write HTML and CSS.

    Further exacerbated by the "JavaScript for nothing" -- 1.22 megabytes in 17 files on a site that near as I can tell doesn't warrant the PRESENCE of JavaScript, and if scripting does serve a purpose I doubt it needs more than 24k of it.

    Likewise it's a visual /FAIL/ at development with undersized fixed metric fonts, willy nilly mixing of fixed and dynamic metrics with fixed metric queries, screen space wasting sticky header, and other such complete failures at design and UX.

    .. and yeah, image compression would help, I'd probably toss in the PICTURE tag so that you can SOURCE in webp on modern browsers, and fallback to jpeg for older ones. .WEBP generally kicks both PNG and JPEG's arses.

    If a client brought this site to me, I would tell them to toss the entire mess in the trash and to start over from scratch. It has clearly been built by people unqualified to make websites; sadly that describes pretty much everything people use wordpress or even derpier trash like frameworks to build. There is NOTHING from a codebase standpoint that I would ever allow a client of mine to deploy "real world".

    ANYONE who would allow code like this to be deployed on a website:

    
    <body data-rsssl=1 class="home page-template-default page page-id-3644 theme-Divi woocommerce-no-js et_pb_button_helper_class et_fixed_nav et_show_nav et_primary_nav_dropdown_animation_expand et_secondary_nav_dropdown_animation_fade et_header_style_left et_pb_footer_columns_1_3__2_3 et_cover_background et_pb_gutter et_pb_gutters3 et_pb_pagebuilder_layout et_smooth_scroll et_no_sidebar et_divi_theme et-db">
    <div id="page-container">
    <header id="main-header" data-height-onload="43">
    <div class="container clearfix et_menu_container">
    <div class="logo_container">
    <span class="logo_helper"></span>
    <a href="https://the5thdimensions.com/">
    <img alt="The 5th Dimension" id="logo" data-height-percentage="60" data-src="https://the5thdimensions.com//wp-content/uploads/2019/04/the-5th-dimension-retreat.png" class="lazyload" src="data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw==" /><noscript><img src="https://the5thdimensions.com//wp-content/uploads/2019/04/the-5th-dimension-retreat.png" alt="The 5th Dimension" id="logo" data-height-percentage="60" /></noscript>
    </a>
    </div>
    <div id="et-top-navigation" data-height="43" data-fixed-height="100">
    <nav id="top-menu-nav">
    <ul id="top-menu" class="nav"><li id="menu-item-4811" class="menu-item menu-item-type-custom menu-item-object-custom menu-item-4811"><a target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://the5thdimensions.com/book-now/">Book now!</a></li>
    Code (markup):
    Needs to back the **** away from the keyboard and go take up something a bit less detail oriented like macramé!
     
    deathshadow, Feb 21, 2020 IP
  19. Rankap1

    Rankap1 Peon

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    #19
    Well, the design was what apparently caused the first plummet, so I do agree with this.
    Gonna go with the "the site is broken and should be replaced with a new one".

    I do appreciate your straight forward input, thank you.
     
    Rankap1, Feb 22, 2020 IP