The morning after I arrived home from my post SMX Advanced holiday I got up early to check my site traffic. Not to mention the personal achievement of being up and working before 7am on a Monday (this is good for me…), I even managed to resist the temptation of logging into Analytics on my iPhone for an entire week while I was in Italy too. Surely the start of a very productive week.
Sadly, I found a bit of a suprise. My blog traffic had dropped!
To ease myself back into blogging (and to provide some traffic dropping, Google page penalty based entertainment for our readers) here’s the story on what happened:
Comparing the first half of June to the last half of May, overall traffic on the site had dropped by 4.52%.
This was pretty disappointing so I drilled down a little deeper by traffic source, showing a decrease in search engine traffic as the main culprit:
The great thing about Google analytics is how quickly and easily you can drill down to the specifics. Most of us use Google Analytics every day but it’s often only until something a bit unpleasant happens to your site that you really appreciate the beauty of this (free) software.
Drilling down to the keyword level I quickly found the culprit:
Those Virtualbox keywords are from the top of the tail generated by a guide to installing Virtualbox guest additions. “Virtualbox guest additions” is was my 2nd most popular keyword generating 1500 visits in May 2009.
So what was going on?
Comment spam, missed by Akismet. Don’t get me wrong, I think Akismet is amazing, but it can miss some types of comment spam. It’s probably my fault for not adding a verification or a CAPTCHA to my comments are but I don’t enjoy the experience on other blogs personally, so I choose to leave that off.
Here’s a sample of what was on the page: (The following image may offend some readers)
Those links were going to some seemingly bonafide domains that happened to have some very hacked looking, spammy page URLs on them. As you can see, they were left on June 3rd, at 6.10am.
Nearly all of the traffic coming to the Virtualbox post dropped within 24hours and stayed that way until I cleared the comments on Monday 15th June at 7.00am (ish). Here’s the screenshots of the Google.co.uk results:
Thankfully, the page was reincluded within 24 hours of clearing out the comments. Here’s the timeline of events according to Google Analytics (and Snagit, of course.) – Click to enlarge:
So, the traffic has returned and Builtvisible is comment spam free once more.
What did I learn from this?
I thought it was interesting to see how quickly the page was dropped from the index and how quickly it ranked after the clean up. 24hours each way, no reinclusion request needed. That’s good to know. I discussed the issue with Adam from work and we concluded that it would be quite interesting to look at whether it was the words used in the comments or the links used (nofollowed) or a combination of the two. That’s quite an easy test to do…
Just until the cached copy updates, you can see what Google saw just here.
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