Niche Website update: dropped rankings analysis

I recently posted that my site was ranking 81 for its primary keyword. I was very happy with the progress that it had made so quickly.

Then something happened. The ranking dropped suddenly to 500+ according to Long Tail Pro. I wasn’t sure what could be the problem. So I had to do some research to discover what it might be.

Checking for panda/penguin

I wondered if it might be something to do with one of the recent Google updates. I did some digging to decide whether it was the case.

I know Matthew Woodward wrote about how to check if your site was penalized by a Panda or Penguin update  a while ago. So I used the methods he suggested to determine if it was the case.

He suggests using Chartintelligence to see if it was one of the reasons.

dropped ranking


Having a look at this, it doesn’t seem to be the case. As you can see, the exact match domain(EMD) update and the Panda / Penguin didn’t cause a stop in traffic. However, there was a slight decrease after the updates.

Another step that Matthew suggests is to use The Penguin Tool. He suggests this mainly to get more information about he specific update that may have affected your site.

So I did that as well, just to double-check.

checking for pand update penalty


As you can see there are two updates.

Other: This update is a (possible) partial match domain update. This possible update is based on the Mozcast. On this particular day, there was a lot of change.

Panda: This update was the Panda Detuning update. Basically, Google said they are doing some “more finely targeting”.


Based on this information, it’s still hard to tell whether the site was hit or not. This is because there wasn’t a lot of traffic to begin with.

From what I can see, it doesn’t seem to have been hit by these. The site is still new, so perhaps it’s still doing the Google dance.

In my non expert opinion, there isn’t enough information to decide if it’s a Panda hit.

Maybe it’s backlinks

Not being able to conclude if it was a Panda hit, I thought it might be the backlinks.

I went to my two favourite backlink checking websites Open Web Explorer and Ahrefs to see if they could clear up the issue.

Here is what I found:

checking backlinking


I only just started doing some backlinking to help the site rank up.

There are only a 11 backlinks that Ahrefs picked up. I looked into the sites, and there does seem to be one bad site linking to mine. But is one site enough to drop the ranking from 81 to 500+? That is what I’m not sure about.

I went over to Open Site Explorer as well, but they weren’t able to find any backlinks to the website. I guess it’s still early after creating some of the links for Moz to pick them up.

What other possibilities could there be?

Bad content?

Having looked at backlinks and Panda/Penguin updates, my only other alternative is that it might be the content itself.

I don’t claim to be an award-winning writer by any means, but I don’t think I am terrible one either.

Google is constantly pushing more relevant content, so it could be that the information I wrote wasn’t relevant enough. That may have been the reason.

It is difficult to decide whether content is the problem. It’s hard because you’re evaluating your own ability.

Conclusion? Unsure.

Last resort

As a last resort, I checked Google Webmaster Tools to see if there was a problem there.

I found two warnings.

Webmaster tools warning



This is the first thing I found.

two warnings


This is what the warning actually is. Now, I’m not sure how important that error is. I checked what urls weren’t accessible, and they were just the author pages.

Could that be the reason behind the rank dropping? I highly doubt it.

Final thoughts

In the end, I am not exactly sure what could be the problem. I think it’s just Google changing their algorithm and my site fluctuating.

What are your thoughts? leave a comment below.


  1. Mate did your site bounce back at all? I have had a similar situation last few days … hoping they come back

    • Iain Robson says:

      Hello John,

      No it hasn’t bounced back yet. I’m still not sure what could be the case.

      I’ve been waiting it out to see what could be the problem. I’ve also stopped backlinking for the time being. Just to eliminate that possibility.

      What has been your experience so far?

  2. Interesting. I don’t have a clue, but I like your content and copy. Keep plugging away. You’re going to get there.

  3. Hieu Nguyen says:

    Does your site come back yet? Long time no see any update from you :)

    • Iain Robson says:

      Thanks for reminding me about this. I haven’t done an update in a while.

      I can give you a mini update here.

      The site basically dropped off the face of Google, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out the reason why it had.

      It was like that for a while, but randomly it is starting to come back now which is a bit strange. It is welcomed mind you but strange nonetheless.

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