In a Google Office Hours hangout, John Mueller of Google answered a question explaining why a site had lost its ranking. His response focused on the power to be different and how that quality can help a site rank higher.
Question about a site that has lost its ranking
The publisher may have had pages ignored by Google for ranking purposes.
Here’s the question:
I have a website. I lost traffic.
This is a ringtone download site containing 60,000 ringtones.
On December 17, we lost our ranking and if I search my site with a colon search query, I only see seven pages available.
I did not receive any manual actions.
Is this an algorithmic penalty in which Google deletes web pages?
What can I do to get my traffic back?
Mueller of Google began by pointing out that the search query for colon on the site is not reliable for diagnosing anything on a site.
Searching the site is meaningless and gives only a rough idea of the number of pages indexed.
“So, in general, a site query is not representative of all the pages we have indexed.
It’s a good way to get an overview of what we have indexed. But this is not the complete list. It’s not supposed to be like that.
For more information on how or what we indexed, I would use the search console and the index coverage report there.
This gives you a better overview of the pages actually indexed. “
Although the search for colon on the site gives a rough and inaccurate idea of the indexed pages, in this case, the search on the site has something significant. Research shows that at least 60,000 pages of ringtones are missing from the site search, and Google only displays seven pages.
This type of result is much more than just an “approximate view” of the number of pages indexed by Google.
While Mueller is right in a general sense, in this particular case, I think we can all agree that these search results on a particular site indicate that something is really wrong.
Mueller continues by recommending posting to the webmaster’s help forum for specific responses.
There are people in this forum who offer decent advice if someone wants opinions on a specific website from strangers.
Mueller returns to the theme of traffic loss:
“Regarding the loss of traffic, I realize that it is sometimes difficult.
In general, I think with a ringtone-focused website it will be a little tricky, as our algorithms really try to find unique, compelling, high-quality content.
And if your entire website is essentially based on providing the same ringtones as anywhere else, I don’t know if our algorithms would say that this is a very important website on which we need to focus and highlight more in the research.
So with that in mind, if you focus on this kind of small amount of content that is the same as everyone else, I would try to find ways to significantly differentiate yourself to really make it clear that what you have on your website is significantly different from all those other millions of ringtone websites that have sort of the same content.
- There may be a way to do this with regard to the content you provide.
- There may be a way to do this with the functionality you provide.
But you really have to make sure that what you have on your site is different enough for our algorithms to say that this is what we need to index instead of all those others who only have a list of ringtones on the site.
So it probably won’t be that easy to make that kind of change, but that’s usually the direction I would take.
And this is the same recommendation I would have for any type of website that offers essentially the same thing as many other websites.
You really have to make sure that what you provide is unique and compelling and of high quality so that our systems and our users in general say, I want to go to this particular website because they offer me something unique about the web and I don’t just want to go to another random website. “
Be different and rank better
According to Google, being different from the competition is important for Google’s algorithm. And when it says different, it means being better in a way that makes the site desirable for a specific product.
Mueller said that a high-ranking website should:
- High quality
Why stimulates the desire of consumers?
- Why do teens make fun of Facebook?
- Why do middle-aged people like Facebook?
- A boot is a boot, but why are Doc Martens boots popular with young and old consumers?
This is what fuels success
Teens may reject Facebook because it is their parents’ community (anti-youth symbol) and it does not offer the instant communication and entertainment that other social media platforms provide (not helpful) a teenager).
Middle-aged people love the community, help each other through the problems of adults, and catch up with their old friends.
Doc Martens boots are durable and communicate a feeling of authenticity and individualism, it could be that they complement the aspirations of those who wear Doc Martens.
Symbols and mirrors
Products and websites are more than just products and websites.
The best products and websites are the ones that symbolize what consumers like and reflect who they want to be.
- Symbols of aspirations and goals
- Reflects personal values that are important such as authenticity, faith, community, etc.
Products and websites can be symbols and mirrors of our values, aspirations and purpose.
These are the types of things that distinguish one site from another and help it generate popularity signals that help a site rank higher.
Look at the office hours of Google webmasters
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