Have you ever felt anxious when you check the traffic to your site and notice a sharp decline? Well, there are a lot of specialty site owners that get nervous when their blog’s traffic and income suddenly stop growing in this day of countless Google upgrades.
I can relate to how bad this feels, especially if your revenue comes primarily from a specialized blog. The good news is that many of these specialized websites are recoverable. This has happened enough times lately due to all the Google upgrades.
I have a fascinating case study for you today, guys, and it starts off with a heart sinker.
The client first contacted me in August, during a horrendous drop in traffic that was comparable to what the site saw in October. Since the site appeared to have “recovered” in September, the proprietor of this specialized website erroneously believed that the evil juju of Google had spared his site.
but not when October arrived and the traffic once more began to suffer. Google Search Console revealed a sharp drop in clicks and impressions, with at most a few dozen hits being recorded.
The client contacted me because they had never had to weather a storm like this in the history of the site, especially given the extreme dip for the second time and the fact that it was November (when Black Friday should have brought more traffic, clicks, and revenue in the winter months but clearly didn’t from what GSC showed). This specialized website was consistently making mid- to high-four figure monthly income.
It was concerning how quickly the traffic and rankings were declining. Let’s go through some of this specialized blog’s major components.
Starting the Deep Dive SEO Audit for AP to Recover Niche Sites & Blogs
To get things going, I carried out the SEO assessment, which examines their specialty site from a number of perspectives and makes use of a number of tools in addition to a manual assessment. Due to the depth of the audit (it’s a mega audit where I conduct a GSC audit, technical audit, backlink audit, internal linking audit, and so much more), this audit typically takes 3–4 weeks. Finding a needle in a haystack when trying to determine the cause of a sharp reduction in traffic and rankings. So I greased my elbow, got my magnifying lens, and placed the location under it.
Let’s get started with the audits I conducted and what they each showed.
1. Google Search Console Audit
Each SEO specialist should start here. You can contact Google directly using Google Search Console to see what’s wrong with your website and what problems they’ve found on your blog.
The following are some significant findings I made from GSC regarding this blog:
- No manual sanctions
- 219 posts were crawled but not indexed.
- 132 posts were found but not indexed.
- 404 errors were produced by a little under 100 deleted posts.
The pages that have been crawled and found but not indexed are a hint that Google isn’t valuing and indexing this content for whatever reason, and it’s up to me and you to figure out why. Additionally, 351 pages or posts weren’t indexed, according to a second glance. There were 600 informative and product-focused posts on the blog. Of those, a sizable portion had been de-indexed. Indeed, caramba!
As I indicated before, Google will inform you immediately if there are problems with your blog, and in this case, it did so by stating that there was something seriously wrong with the material.
There weren’t many 404 errors, but you will typically see some creep up over time when updating or deleting outdated information. I implemented the “410-permanently gone” redirect for the remainder and used the Redirection plugin to move half of them to more useful pages on the website. A 410 redirect informs Google that a certain resource has been permanently removed, causing it to stop looking for it.
2. Technical SEO Audit
There may be a number of technical flaws that can affect a site’s overall rankings in the search engines that you need to look for, even though a technical SEO audit can feel dry and make watching paint dry seem like an adventure in comparison. There is no excuse not to conduct a technical SEO audit once every three months on your specialty blogs because tools like Ahrefs and SEMRush make it quite simple to discover any technical issues.
I discovered a few low-level technological problems at this point, but most websites already have some of these problems that have developed over time.
The problems I focused on here are those that affect user experience or make a blog thin or of low value:
If you have pages that redirect from one page to another and then another and another, this can drastically slow down the loading time of your page and detract from the user experience for visitors. Redirect chains on over 100 pages that were five levels deep or more. Our world is one of “fast, fast, FAST!”therefore ensure that your redirects have a maximum of two hops. Using the WP plugin Redirection, it’s really simple to take care of this by adjusting the redirects and removing all the hops in between.
Make this part of your clean up once you have ensured that your site is properly configured with HTTPS and that all other versions are loading to HTTPS. Over 300 pages were internally connected to unsafe HTTP URLs. Work on pages that are connecting to the HTTP version of other pages and add a s for the HTTPS version. Easy as pie.
A few years ago, my personal blog was affected by a few hundred photographs that were indexed as separate sites and added to thin/low value pages. In essence, you don’t want Google to index individual image pages because such pages are seen as having little value. You must ensure that picture pages redirect to the page with content where they are being used. I updated the setting in All in One SEO by choosing “Attachment Parent” because my client was using the All in One SEO plugin. The Yoast plugin’s instructions for how to do this are available here.
3. Backlinks Audit
When it comes to a backlink audit, there are a few things I give priority to, but one of the main things I pay attention to is the anchor text profile, both individually and in comparison to the top 3 sites in the niche. I noticed that brand names often appeared below keyword-rich anchors. The brand name wasn’t even among their top 3 anchor texts, despite the fact that this can happen in some niches.
When you compare your client’s specialized site to other blogs in the same industry on a side-by-side basis, that’s when the fun starts. The leading anchor for two of the three rivals was a brand name, whereas the leading anchor for the third competitor was a lot of naked URLs.
Although not the only factor to consider in a backlink audit, this is one of the most important ones.
4. On-Page SEO Audit
Some obvious problems were discovered during the on-page SEO analysis. When I first started reading the postings, I discovered that the majority of the content had a high keyword density.
Additionally, headers 1-4 contained the major keyword too many times.
The trouble about SEO is that it constantly changes. The same thing that can subsequently lead to punishment for your website can also earn it rewards. The most challenging aspect of SEO is keeping up with the changes.
I have several clients who firmly believe that using their core keyword aggressively is what has led to their top rankings.
Although I can see why they might think this (especially when the site is performing well), I now see these websites as ticking time bombs since you never know when Google will push them over a precipice. Although it may appear harsh, keyword stuffing is the practice of being overly aggressive when employing your keyword. And what’s this? If Google believes your blog is attempting to manipulate its search engine, Google will penalize the site.
Consider this: You don’t want to be overly aggressive with any SEO component, both on-page and off-page SEO. There is a delicate line between gently simmering water and boiling it to death. Yes, there are certain niches where you will need to be aggressive, but you must consider the SEO strategy as a whole, including on-page SEO, internal site linking, and the anchor text used for backlinks.
I do not advise having the highest keyword density out of all pages in the top 10 of Google, just as I do not advise using only the primary keywords in your backlinking campaign’s anchor text.
In this instance, the customer was merely continuing to produce content the same way they had been doing it for years until the website was hit by an update.
This was a big ol’ Moby Dick catch, even though all the other drawbacks listed so far weren’t favorable and needed to be improved.
I came up with a strategy to deoptimize the articles and raise the keyword density to the level of the top two pages.
5. Internal Linking Audit
This step can be a little tedious, but you can usually take a small sample of posts, find out which pages or posts connect to them, and examine the anchor text being used to link to those posts.
I typically discover trends. For instance, internal linking can be similarly aggressive in how anchor text is employed when there is excessive on-page optimization or high keyword density. This is because if the website has been using this method successfully for some time, internal linking using the main keywords would seem to be the logical next step for the SEO specialist.
In this instance, the primary keyword served as the anchor text for the pages that were shown in the header or footer menu. As a result, any page with a menu on this site—which is likely to have close to 600 pages—will now have optimized anchor text pointing to it. The main keyword shouldn’t be used as the anchor text in that situation. It makes sense to do this in some niches, but in others, using the anchor text in contextual links from other pages on your site will allow you to make better use of it.
In addition, the anchor text for 70–80% of the internal links from other blog entries was keyword-rich. And for some pages, there is little to no diversity.
Here is how the site was optimized if the main keyphrase is “what is aperture”:
greater keyword density (by 1.5–2x) than rivals on the main page for “what is aperture”
Meta title, URL, H1-H4: “what is aperture”
Anchor text that is 70% to 80% keyword-rich
Sometimes the principal keyword was used to connect directly to these pages in the header or footer menu.
That is a significant amount of excessive optimization combined with internal linking that included little to no diversity in the anchor text.
This is why I updated some of my older blogs, made sure the on-page optimization wasn’t overly aggressive, and made sure the internal linking contained keyword variations, synonyms, entities, branded anchors, as well as a few unoptimized anchors.
6. Content Audit
Remember those posts that were buried in the GSC office’s crawled-over, dust-covered file cabinets?
So it was time to go back and further assess those. Some of these pieces were product reviews, but many of them were informational articles, according to the content audit. What in the world could have transpired for these items to disappear from Google’s index and be put in jail?
The substance was thin, which was one of the main things I observed. This indicates that many of these posts were just 500–600 words long when they should have been lengthier given the keywords they were targeting. These articles were extremely lacking.
I suggested that they look at what their top two rivals are doing and improve upon it.
Well, Moon, what does that mean? I’ll explain what it means to you:
Avoid writing flimsy material and consider the visitors’ search objectives.
Is the article as complete as possible?
Examine similar queries to the main keyword and incorporate them into the content.
Add specialized and professional photos
Adding additional resources will aid the visitors.
… as well as a few additional things I like to add to articles to increase their likelihood of ranking.
I assisted them in prioritizing the pages that had been crawled and found (but not indexed), which amounted to about 225 pieces of material in total. a huge undertaking!
Most of these articles were revised and expanded to be between 1500 and 2000 words. Very few articles were between 800 and 1000 words since it can be difficult to write an article with 1000 words if the response is concise and to the point. I also created a procedure for them to follow when releasing fresh content, which they did for new articles.
Always keep your audience in mind when developing content. To evaluate and improve extremely outdated information on your blog, you should perform a content audit once a year. Improve your content by looking at the earliest entries on a blog that is more than a few years old.
7. E-E-A-T Audit
There is this widespread perception that E-E-A-T is all about. backlinks!
Although backlinks are a component of E-E-A-T, there are many other E-E-A-T-related things you can perform on your blog. With their content and their about page, my client’s specialized blog fell short of demonstrating expertise, experience, authority, and trustworthiness.
Their “about” page was really unoriginal. I suggested that he write an extensive about page outlining the qualifications or experience of the authors. I also instructed him to include links to any websites or social media accounts where the authors may be discussing this issue. This involved writing new content for him and his authors as I worked on the outdated stuff for them.
This thing was a gem once it was upgraded, allowing users to see the awesome folks behind the website rather than a dubious AI-generated image, along with their in-depth experience and competence in the sub-niche, and linking out to other social media domains. The About page has undergone a comprehensive makeover that should make everybody who visits the website feel good within.
For Google to develop a reputation for your site through your authors, think of this as leaving crumbs. Feed your users and Big G well.
The Primary Problems That Were Fixed In 4 Months
- Page quality improvements were made, and the number of pages in the crawled and discovered portions was decreased to around 50 in each case.
- Correct redirects have been used to fix 404 issues.
- Over 100 pages with redirect chains were fixed, which enhanced user experience and made pages load considerably faster.
- hundreds of pages that linked to HTTP pages were updated to connect to their HTTPS counterparts
- Remove thin pages and redirect images to the main page.
- decreased keyword density
- headers 3–4 that weren’t optimized because the main keyword was repeated
- Anchor text has been updated for internal linking
- updated information page
- improved the header and footer of the navigation menu
- site-wide content assessment ongoing for the following six months
- PR and HARO link campaign recommendations
These fantastic outcomes required four months of hard effort and attention along with a very precise approach, and there is still much to be done! As soon as we complete a few more topic clusters and develop more in-depth internal linking silos, I predict that traffic will double.
Here are some important conclusions for your blog:
- Make a comprehensive SEO plan.
- Pay close attention to producing quality, original material together with strong on-page SEO and internal linking.
- Enhance your existing material by include more pertinent information and sections, correcting any out-of-date information, and including better photographs, videos, and resources.
- Create anchor text with keywords for internal linking, but also be sure to balance and diversity it.
- Conduct technical audits once every several months to identify problems quickly.
- Even though I’ve distilled the key points, producing quality material and updating outdated content takes a lot of time. It isn’t as simple as adding two lines and continuing. Every page needs to be examined to determine exactly what may be updated and enhanced.
With that stated, I must underline the significance of content and the fact that many of Google’s improvements have focused on on-page SEO (and content).
Backlinks, on-page SEO, and E-E-A-T are just a few of the elements you need to consider when your niche site is hit with an update. It’s time to go all out and examine every aspect of your niche blog on a micro and macro level.
It’s understandable that bloggers feel overwhelmed and are unsure of where to begin after studying hit sites for the past three years, identifying patterns, and recovering sites (especially thorough content audits and changes, which can take months or years). Updates to outdated material, technical fixes, and long-term optimization of your website are more crucial than ever. Avoid using hacks that could get your website into problems.