SEO: Harder To Know If Human Error Caused Ranking Issues Vs Algorithms

Jul 9, 2014 • 8:53 am | comments (22) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

robots vs humansWhen it comes to ranking issues in Google, there are two main reasons why your rankings can drop. The first is you made a technical mistake on your own site, such as blocking Google from crawling you. The second is Google decided through algorithms or manual actions that your site shouldn't rank as well anymore.

A WebmasterWorld thread has SEOs debating if it is harder to know if your site was hurt by an algorithm, ie Google vs your own human error.

We have so many algorithms running, possibly well over 2 changes per day, in the search results. Because of that, does it make it impossible for one to know if it is a human issue vs an algorithm? There can be SEO technical mistakes on the site, but even with those, is that the reason your site tanked?

The senior member in WebmasterWorld said:

Is it time for us to quit simply discounting any statement about a change made yesterday possibly having an effect on rankings today, or not?

The truth is, probably not. You need to look at a case by case basis. Of course, when I track algorithm changes and Google updates, I look for patterns. If there are a ton of complaints, then you can assume (not a safe word) that Google did release some sort of update that hit you and others. But you cannot always make that assumption because a technical issue may hit you the same day.

Anyway, this is what you hire SEO firms for. To analyze these things and make suggestions and corrections to things you can control (i.e. your technical site) and things you do not necessarily control.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Previous story: Traffic Surge After Google Penalties Lifted Screen Shot


Praveen Sharma

07/09/2014 01:05 pm

Exactly, every case is different and can't go just by assumptions what could have happened. One needs to go through all the issues to reach out to the actual cause of degrading rankings.

Marie Haynes

07/09/2014 01:20 pm

I saw 4 cases in the last few weeks where people swore they were hit by Panda 4.0. Two of them had had a redesign and had forgotten to include their new analytics code. One of them had accidentally noindexed half of their site and the fourth had somehow changed their homepage title from a keyword rich one to "Home".

Yo Mamma

07/09/2014 01:29 pm

There is a 3rd reasons why your rankings can drop. You go onto SEO and Google forums boasting of your greatness and insulting others of their blackhatness. This then exposes your BH tactics to scrutiny. 'Why, its the kettle calling the pot black' Someone complains on and your rankings drop. This isn't a sure method tho. In fact I have never seen an offending site or network of offending sites drop. But G$$GLE makes you believe that there is hope for equality. But there is none. Some sites are unfairly hit, while other sites that should definitely be hit, are ignored. Thats why Google must go. Another good reason is aiding the distribution of child porno (do Google like we did Megaupload)

Kyle Risley

07/09/2014 03:41 pm

And this is why I'm not afraid of losing work. :)

William Harvey

07/09/2014 04:50 pm

Most of the topics on webmaster forums are based around drops, and most can be attributed to META noindex, robots block, use of 302 over 301's, incorrect use of webmaster removal tool and dns issues.


07/09/2014 04:52 pm

"had forgotten to include their new analytics code" what do you mean?


07/09/2014 04:53 pm

I just love reading your replies :-) Did you have a bad episode on the forum?


07/09/2014 05:32 pm

it wasnt tracking, looked like they got hit because there was no code to report the traffic. im assuming.

Yo Mamma

07/09/2014 06:19 pm

Does this look spammy for a linkedin profile? Know much about seo? Online Marketing SEO E-commerce Search Affiliate Marketing Digital Marketing Social Media Marketing SEM Social Media Analytics Digital Strategy Marketing Communications Investments Angel Investing Entrepreneur Online Advertising Entrepreneurship CMS Google Webmaster Tools Web Design Google Adwords Mobile Marketing PPC Google Analytics Web Marketing Landing Page Optimization Link Building Email Marketing Web Analytics Search Advertising Website Development Keyword Research SMO Content Strategy Digital Media Organic Search Lead Generation Online Reputation Management Conversion Optimization Strategic Partnerships Marketing Strategy Internet Strategy Strategy Web Project Management A/B testing Business Planning Viral Marketing Marketing Mobile Advertising Social Media Measurement You are exactly the personality I was refering to in my previous post

Yo Mamma

07/09/2014 06:24 pm

What did you do prior to the invention of computers?


07/09/2014 06:53 pm

but I'd assume that even the dumbest webmaster in the world would immediately get that it must be an Analytics (code) issue if there's even no direct, social and website referral traffic.

William Harvey

07/09/2014 07:08 pm

lol, are you attacking me? I actually agree with a lot of what you say. So there's no need to go on the defensive.

William Harvey

07/09/2014 07:24 pm

And just to note, I'm not your average person on the forum. I'm probably the most disliked on there as I try and stand up to vulture mentality that's on there as shown by this thread.

F1 Steve

07/09/2014 07:29 pm

Speaking if Spamboden, did he take leave with Mr cutts? Are they touring Europe together, writing opinionated blogs and then linking to them themselves, editorially?! ;)

Yo Mamma

07/09/2014 07:36 pm

OK, I thought you were after me. See those G$$gle forums make a person crazeeee. I probably have Google Forum PSD so I get defensive too quickly. But you need to fix that loooooong description on linkedin - Geez - Fist bump

Yo Mamma

07/09/2014 07:38 pm

No idea, but he has vanished. Poor fella, probably bad for the heart when it gets personal. The old ticker was fine during the Playboy days, but now, ho ho, getting it up may put you down

Yo Mamma

07/09/2014 07:40 pm

okay Harvey, we're kindred spirits

William Harvey

07/09/2014 07:43 pm

Great, we're cool. The LinkedIn test was just that, a test. It was added 2 days ago to test search match and doubled views. It's gone now, I updated the forum link on one of my replies here, check it out. Some of those guys drive me crazy how they operate. I'm fighting a losing battle.

Happy go lucky guy

07/10/2014 03:41 am

Yes! The Google webmaster forum is horrible! Everyone there takes a glance at your link profile with the free trial version of AHREFS and then calls you a spammer. P.S. if you see a hack named Steve in that forum tell him to take his Bush league shit somewhere else.

Marie Haynes

07/10/2014 03:29 pm

In this case, only part of the site had been redesigned. So, the code was still present on part of the site but many pages were relaunched with no analytics code. It happened right when Panda hit so they assumed that the drop was due to Panda.


07/10/2014 09:51 pm

Oh, yeah, that makes sense. How much relieved they must have been when you found the error.


07/14/2014 07:04 pm

"Anyway, this is what you hire SEO firms for. To analyze these things and make suggestions and corrections to things you can control." That ending to the article is hilarious. 1st, it assumes everyone has the money laying around to spend on a SEO firm. Secondly, if you are using a SEO firm, you probably have no reason to have done a search and got to this article. 3rd, it assumes you could actually find an SEO company that is not a scam and actually knows how to optimize a site in order to rank high in google results. If you look around there seems to actually be no one short of Matt Cutts that can actually tell you anything specific that needs to be done. Not to mention that by the time someone does get something solid together to realistically have an impact, google has probably changed again.

blog comments powered by Disqus