The two new updates from Google might be causing you problems, but here's how to tell what the root of your problem actually is.
Google announced not one but two algorithmic updates in the last week and anyone remotely associated with SEO is asking the question, "Did we get hit?" This seems a prudent time to discuss how to assess if your site was impacted or not.
Janet Driscoll Meyer did a great piece published here, which talks a bit about things you can look for to help assess the situation and offers alternative possibilities for any traffic drops.
Let's take a look at some of the ways you can quickly tell if you're having any issues with recent algorithm updates.
First ask yourself this question, are your losses all tied to one engine and the correct one at that? Or are you seeing performance losses across more than one engine? That should be a strong first indicator to help guide your analysis. If all of your traffic losses are from Google, then you might have an issue with recent updates, but further analysis is definitely required before drawing any firm conclusions. If your losses are not search engine specific, then your challenges lie elsewhere.
Next, check your traffic. If you've suffered due to an algorithmic adjustment, the shift in traffic should be precipitous. Look at this chart of some of the top traffic losers this week.
Do you have losses on par with these sites? If not, then your challenges likely stem from other sources. There could be seasonal issues impacting your traffic or technical concerns that may need attention.
Next, check the timing. Updates like this one tend to be pretty specific, and the Internet's response is almost immediate. Take this most recent announcement. Google announced officially that Panda 4.0 released on May 20. Now, it's possible that individual results may vary on this, but if your site has traffic drop, but it's more than a couple of days to either side of that date, then you should probably be looking for other causes.
Don't forget to check Google Webmaster Tools. Your site may have a traffic drop. It might even have fallen off a cliff and it might even have happened the date the algorithm was announced. That still might not mean your issues are related to the shift. If you have issues with something like link penalties, Google likely will have sent you a notice telling you so via Google Webmaster Tools. Make sure you haven't overlooked this possibility.
There you have it; some quick and simple steps to help you assess if your site has been impacted by algorithmic updates. What are some additional tools/techniques do you use for this sort of assessment?
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Crispin Sheridan is the Senior Director, Global Search at SAP. As part of the digital team, he established and leads the search and testing practices at SAP. Crispin is responsible for paid, natural, and mobile search and all online testing. Search and testing at SAP are fully centralized and globally funded and run under a hybrid in-house and agency model.
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A frequent guest speaker at conferences, including SES New York, San Francisco, Toronto, London, Delhi, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, Crispin was appointed to the SES Advisory Board in December 2009. He has also been a guest speaker at the e-Metrics Summit and ad:Tech, and is a member of Google's B2B Technology Council. You can follow him on Twitter at @crispinsheridan and read his monthly SEO column on ClickZ.
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