39 days without Google love

It’s just after midnight on 10th July 2007. I’ve another two hours before I go to bed as there’s something stopping me. It’s the new site visitors hungry for discount codes. I’ve not seen activity like this for 39 days.
I’d consider June a “quiet” month for Shop Codes. During May my traffic was climbing each day and daily sales were surpassing December figures consistently. Then this graph shows the sudden decline I experienced from 31st May 11:30pm.

So June dipped a lot but it was only a huge blow because I was used to better times. However, this happened to be a little wake up call. Now that the audience wasn’t there I knew I could “tinker” with the site and basically have nothing to lose.

Google didn’t stop delivering traffic to my site. It just didn’t link to many “shop” pages, instead it was just happy to send me people to my home page.

So the traffic is back (maybe another 30 days?) and one or more of these beliefs and actions helped it along the way …

FIX 1: Add a search box to the home page.

Before I could please the search engines I had to take care of the visitors. I previously didn’t have a search on my site as I want people to navigate past related items, click links and not go for the easy option. With a search they may not see related offers.

FIX 2: Change page titles.

I’d already gotten into the habit of producing dynamic page titles dependant on the content. If I didn’t have a code say for Argos, I wouldn’t say I had in the titles or other meta data. Each time I add a new offer to the page, the page title reflects the new offer. And if the search engine is saying that my site is offering a June offer but it’s now July’s offer. That’s a bad reflection on their part and not my site. They just need to come and spider a bit more frequently.

FIX 3. Re-write all urls.

I re-wrote all my urls so that they were consistent. I used to serve the same pages at different urls so the keywords within them would be highlighted in the search result pages. This resulted in duplicate content and unintentional spidering and lots of pages going straight into the supplemental index.

FIX 4. Remove distractions.

I had a WordPress version of my site which was only a few months old. It was effectively a duplicate copy but without the heavy images and a better url structure. When my Shop Codes traffic dipped, it wasn’t a surprise to see that one of my major competitor sites, happened to be myself. So rather go with that one, I killed it, albeit not totally intentionally.

FIX 5. Grab that tail
Once my site was taking its shape it was time to look at the content on the pages. I’ve decided to target three keyword phrases for each merchant I promote. As an example for Petmeds, I am explicitly looking to tap the market of users searching for “Petmeds Coupon Code”.

FIX 6. Use the meta tools to be descriptive
My targeted keywords were moved to the front of the page titles and repeated in the description. I’m a firm believer that sites that stuff their descriptions with repeated keywords will soon fall from grace. Look again at the Petmeds example above. The page title and description say exactly what is on the page. OK, I may not receive visitors searching for “Petmeds voucher code” but don’t bet against it. Simplicity wins. On that note, one of my next tasks is to make sure all pages include no more than five keywords.

FIX 7. Diversify.

I’ve now got an RSS feed and a newsletter that goes out every other day with 50 subscribers. That’s approximately one new sign-up per day. In both cases the content is being pushed to different audiences. My codes are syndicated on other sites and with email, subscribers can browse at their leisure.

FIX 8. Add more distractions.

Knowing that my WordPress blog was doing well for itself on another domain, I brought it ‘inside’. Some of these new pages were quickly indexed and started ranking higher than the ‘originals’ which were in the Supplemental.

FIX 9. Truly believe content is king.

With unique content or a unique spin on the same content, a site will stand out. So I continued to press for new exclusive codes and continued to update the regular offers long into the night, despite knowing not so many people would get to see the information. Once the content is not updated then the search engines have a right not to visit.

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