May 30, 2021

Client Band (Musical 'Band') Website Tanking Rankings After Overhaul

neiliogumbo published thread Client Band (Musical 'Band') Website Tanking Rankings After Overhaul

Gday all, a forum newbie here. Interested in your thoughts —

I have a client who runs a wedding band and has a website for it. 

From a UX point of view (and for certain rankings) it was a real mess (bounce rate was terrible etc, very few conversions = enquiries) and mobile friendliness was bad, so he hired myself and a Wordpress guy to overhaul its design.

There were a couple of small opportunities for him to rank for a couple of small volume keywords—in addition to his 'pet' keyword 'wedding band Melbourne', which before we did the project was ranking at around #3 in Google AU—so we added pages for those.

The overhaul was a success, however by sheer coincidence (in my opinion anyway), his pet keyword ‘wedding band Melbourne’ started to absolutely tank after a couple of months. We didn’t change anything in keyword mapping, URL etc for the page that was ranking for that; if anything, we improved his rankings for other keywords via page optimisation.

After digging into it, I observed something that I think has caused this — I think that some sort of Google algorithm change has seen the search engine prefer to rank directory style websites over those that feature just one option/band.

That is, logically, for the keyword ‘wedding band Melbourne’, Google is now preferring to rank websites that give the user several choices of bands on the one website. And I think domain authority for those websites has started to snowball in their favour over the last year because of the ‘value’ they offer the searcher for wedding services in general, including the music side of things.

There are still a couple of single band websites ranking for related terms, which I can’t explain other than they have faster websites with more logical category structure etc, which we have since applied to my client’s website (early days for results right now).

I also told the client not to worry too much about his pet keyword anyway, as the SERP was 60% irrelevant results: ‘wedding bands’ meaning wedding ‘ring’ as well as a musical ensemble.

Searchers would inevitably refine their search by adding ‘music’ or the like to their original query, so we’d be better-off trying to rank for more relevant keywords even if they feature a smaller search volume (my client has been told this several times, and he’s still complaining about it; long story; he won’t let his pet keyword go…).

Then, a little while later, I ran a site speed test and found that it has slowed down terribly in the last 6 months (we had done no further work on it since the last check, when speed was fine), in addition to him losing rankings. Eventually, we figured out it was the client doing a couple of things after we overhauled his site, too. So, contributing factors were –

  1. He’d been adding blog posts with MASSIVE photo files, particularly in png.

  2. Whilst creating new blog posts, he’d been replicating existing posts and just changing on-page content to suit, without changing meta titles and descriptions — it caused a massive amount of duplicate content.

  3. The client had been mucking around with heaps of Wordpress plugins that drastically slowed the site down (ironically, one of these plugins is designed to reduce photo files size within the CMS). Also, the original creator of the website (a 'specialist' company in wedding websites — a directory themselves!) had overloaded the website with useless plugins.

  4. Our suspected Google update preferencing directories over individual band websites for the main keyword (as irrelevant as it was).

We now had a seriously annoying problem client (we still do) who emailed us almost daily about the website, even though I’d told him time and time again about keyword relevance, and a possible Google preference change for the keyword.

So, in good faith, my colleague and I have spent our own money to hire a third party dev (on Fiverr of all places!) to at least get the site speed back to optimal (and basically get rid of this client; trust me, he’s not a ‘listener’; we’ve been extremely transparent and patient with him).

The result came in this week, and the dev has done an amazing job – speed factor was around ‘9’ on desktop and is now ‘90’; incredible. So now, I’m about to tell the client that we’ve invested in good faith to fix his site speed (which we think he actually stuffed up) and to give him a small list of what not to do on his website and send him on his way; any further questions will be billed on retainer.

So, after all that, my question is, anyone else have any other suggestions other than my 4 points here that affected the website so negatively?





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