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My website has never received a ton of traffic, but it was building up nicely until recently when it started to drop. Google webmaster tools says its dropped about 33% for some of my top keywords. The CMS I'm using is WordPress.

I noticed that I am receiving daily visits from a website that had my full urls as the referrer.

For example, my website url looks like this: /mother/two-ye...alking-worried and the referrer url looked like this: /mothering/two-ye...alking-worried .

So they have my same category, same title. When you click on their link, you get a 404.

Would a referrer like that make a difference as far as SEO is concerned and cause a drop?

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Webmaster tools ain't exactly 100% reliable for keywords and you should take them with a pinch of salt and do your own testings. Additionally don't assume that you have been penalized, your site may have the same score from Google yet your competitors have increased there. Rankings are more than just one way, and you dropping in rankings doesn't mean Google sees your site unworthy, or has it slapped it... it's most likely that your competitors have increased rankings while you have just dropped down as a result. –  bybe Sep 6 '13 at 17:55
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1 Answer

If they're only appearing in website traffic reports (like Google Analytics) and not under Links to Your Site in Google Webmaster Tools, then they're likely not going to impact your SEO - just don't click on them.

If they are appearing under Links to Your Site, then spammy and low-quality incomming links might make a difference. From Google Webmaster Tools:

Google works very hard to make sure that actions on third-party sites do not negatively affect a website. In some circumstances, incoming links can affect Google’s opinion of a page or site. For example, you or a search engine optimizer (SEO) you’ve hired may have built bad links to your site via paid links or other link schemes that violate our quality guidelines. First and foremost, we recommend that you remove as many spammy or low-quality links from the web as possible.

If the appearance of incoming links seems to correlate with the decline, it might be wise to disavow them:

If you’ve done as much work as you can to remove spammy or low-quality links from the web, and are unable to make further progress on getting the links taken down, you can disavow the remaining links. In other words, you can ask Google not to take certain links into account when assessing your site.

First collect and download the links to disavow according to the steps here, being sure to only include those in the list that you want disavowed. Alternatively you can disavow all links from an entire domain by adding domain: example.com to the list.

Next upload the list to the Disavow links tool.

As Google also recommends:

You should still make every effort to clean up unnatural links pointing to your site.

Try to contact the operator of the referring site(s) to request that they remove links to your site, and/or block them with your web server configuration.

Since your site is small, it might help to continue adding relevant content to it and obtain backlinks from authoritative relevant sites.

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