SEO Update, 2019-04-27
Back in November of 2018, I altered the decutter69.com, causing the clicks and search engine ranking to fall, and then rebound.
In late December, the clicks dropped off to almost nothing. I didn’t take notes so I don’t know why this was, but here are my guesses:
- It could have been a drop in SERP due to new URLs for all the articles, and the 301 redirects. I changed the posts to pages.
- It could have been site neglect. I didn’t write anything.
- I also spent time deleting articles that got little or no traffic, so the overall size of the site shrank, and 404 errors increased, harming site authority.
After January, the impressions rose slowly, indicating a better SERP for the articles. Improvements in clicks followed. In April, we’re almost back to where we were in November, so recovery is taking six months.
Clicks remain low. Click through rate is around the same.
During this time, I didn’t make any “update posts”. I intended to follow more of a “newsletter” format to reach out to my (nonexistent) audience of email readers and WordPress readers. So all my traffic came from search, mainly Google.
So is this good or bad? I’d argue, give that the site has fewer articles, and the clicks are almost the same, it’s good.
However, going about the changes without carefully crafting new 301 redirects for deleted articles was very bad.
Why I Have Articles with Little or No Traffic
When I started the blog, I was trying to get some traffic from the increase in vloggers doing Ebay videos. It didn’t really work, mainly because I think the overall trend is for people to get away from reading blogs and get into watching videos.
Videos work because you can half-listen to them while working on something else. For Ebayers, I suspect, that means listening to the vlogger while cleaning up the normal messes that arise from reselling.
Reading blogs is faster, and probably more efficient, but you cannot multitask while reading.
Additionally, reading forum comments can be more productive than reading a blog, because you get a range of responses to a single question. Breadth can make up for depth.
Hindsight is 20/20.
Despite that error early on, I did find a few popular articles about placing Facebook ads, VERO, postage, and counterfeit products. These articles require some precision, lists, or detailed photos. You also want the information quickly, so, they aren’t a good fit for video.
Other articles about setting up a photo studio, general Ebay topics, and other “easy” stuff haven’t gotten traffic. The site lacks authority about photography, which has been on the web since the start (photo.net), and general Ebay topics are better covered by forums.
Had I understood the audience behavior for this niche ahead of time, I could have made better editorial decisions. (That said, I was a newbie, and more of an audience member than an authority. I did the blog, partly, to take notes about what I was learning, because some of it was complex.)
Here are some numbers to show the effect of bad editorial decisions. They’ll sound worse than they really are, because it’s necessary to make mistakes to find the niches to avoid, but they’re still interesting.
Jetpack says there are 89 articles/pages.
I deleted 53 of them. Most were deleted for low traffic, but some were deleted because I just didn't like them.
I will delete 10 more in the future.
%-age of articles removed: 70%
# of articles removed: 63
# of articles retained: 26
If I’d known the audience better, I may have avoided writing half of the articles that were removed. If I averaged 2 hours per article, that would be 63 hours of work saved. (I didn’t measure this, but I’d guess it’s around 2 hours per. It’s also a false number, because I spent a lot of time learning each topic, for my own needs. The articles were artifacts from my own self-education.)
The question on my mind is, “how could I have mapped out the audience, and figured out their behavior ahead of time?”
The best I could do is create a map of different mediums, content creators, audience sizes (youtube subs, estimated site traffic, sales figures), content topics, and maybe some other metrics. Then, I could compare what I could produce against what was already published.
Given that I am a newbie, I probably couldn’t compete, and would need to either find narrow niches (which is what happened), or create content about being a newbie (which is what some vloggers do).
This isn’t my main blog, so I tend to neglect it, but future writing should focus a bit more on doing behind-the-scenes work to improve the site.
- Fix the 404 errors to redirect to relevant pages.
- Find keywords we rank well for, but get low click-through or don’t even have an appropriate article to promote. Fix the on-page SEO or write a specific article to capture that traffic.
- Cull the 10 no-traffic pages, so the site doesn’t look like a bunch of chaff to search engines.
Clicks kept dropping, bottoming out to between 0 to 125 impressions per day (approx), and 0 to 6 clicks. So, removing the long tail articles was probably a bad idea. It certainly didn’t reverse the decline.
I’m not sure why, but I think I damaged the internal linking by removing posts.
However, the 6 or 7 articles that perform okay, are still doing okay.
On another site I have, I’m looking at consolidating old articles into huge articles.
I think a strategy going forward is to improve the popular articles, and build sister articles to support the popular ones.
I did a quick peek at site:declutter69.com versus site:declutter69.wordpress.com:
Pages in index, as reported from Google’s front page:
57 versus 107
Number of articles, from WP dashboard:
45 total versus 113 total
Clicks, as reported by search console:
383 vs. 29
Well, damn. The custom domain has more pages indexed than exist in the CMS (because of category and tag pages), but gets many more clicks.
The two sites aren’t comparable in the least – one is advice and bloggy stuff, and the other is just stuff I’m selling, with a “vintage” tilt.
Still, you gotta wonder if *.wordpress.com is just downgraded by Google because it’s a subdomain of a giant article bucket.
I also changed the direction of the declutter69.com blog, so it’s focused on gettng rid of junk, stuff, collections, etc. That new content isn’t really ranking, but maybe I’ll find something that works.