Many sites have been reeling since April 24th from a large drop in visits due to Google’s Penguin Update, which targeted link practices across the web. The update triggered an “algorithmic penalty” which caused your site to lose ground for the following:
- inbound links that were sitewide (footer, header, or sidebar links)
- overlinking to and from directories or link pages (being engaged in shady link networks)
- keyword-stuffed anchor tags…i.e. SEO, ecommerce, bigcommerce themes
- ownership and misuse of multiple domains
The problem with this update is that webmasters had no control over what links were being directed to their site, and there’s some speculation that companies used these penalties to negatively effect competing sites (negative SEO). We’ve seen it effect ecommerce sites that we manage on Prostores and Big Commerce, as well as WordPress sites with local or worldwide focus.
So, finally, after teaching all the naughty sites a valuable lesson, Google has given us the Disavow Links Tool. It involves supplying Google with a list of domains which webmasters feel hurt their standing in search. By running a link report and examining the resulting inbound links, webmasters can find problem links and submit them to google. Google will take it as a strong suggestion that you’d like them to ignore these links in relation to your site.
This is most important for ecommerce sites that have engaged in SEO before the advent of Penguin (April 24th, 2012). The best indication that your site has suffered from Penguin penalization is if you see a significant drop in visits on or around April 24th. This image shows a dramatic drop on that date, and we can surmise that their problems are due to this update in particular.
If you feel you’ve had a drop in visits which is relative to Penguin or Panda, you should consider an SEO analysis to determine if disavowing links is necessary for your website.
Please take the time to read Sean’s article on Fixing Webmaster Tools errors for Prostores, Big Commerce, and WordPress as well. Contact us today to help your ecommerce site rebound before shopping season!