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I have a site aroundnails.com. It has English version on subdomain en.aroundnails.com.

Reading about language related meta-tags for Google, I have placed such a meta tag on the main page of main site:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="http://en.aroundnails.com/" />

By this way I have tried to say Google, that my site on en.aroundnails.com is the english version of main site, not a duplicate.

After two days I have lost a huge part of traffic from Google, more than a half. enter image description here

At the beginning of september I have moved this meta-tag, but traffic remained at the same level.

Hope somebody can help me to solve this issue.

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What day was it exactly? It's pretty hard to see the dates in your picture there. Are you certain it wasn't tied to one of Google's algorithm updates? I find it pretty hard to believe that your meta tag there is the source of your woes. –  Drew Copenhaver Oct 28 '13 at 14:06
    
The last day of normal traffic level was 14th of august, 2013. –  Marian Oct 28 '13 at 16:32
    
Drops like that, especially if they're not fixed by reversing the changes, look a lot more like manual penalties to me. There were some decent updates at the end of July, but there was a MASSIVE algorithm update on August 20th, a few days after you saw your drop. It's possible that's the reason changing it back didn't help you recover. Here's the list of algorithm changes: moz.com/google-algorithm-change To get an idea of how and when things change, you might want to take a look at mozcast.com or serpmetrics.com/flux. Sorry for the bad news, but I hope it helps a bit. –  Drew Copenhaver Oct 28 '13 at 17:24
    
I will check it. Thanks for info. –  Marian Oct 28 '13 at 17:45
    
No problem. I would also make sure your site complies with ALL of Google's best practices and check your Webmaster Tools to make sure you don't have any messages stating that you've been manually punished. Good luck recovering your traffic! –  Drew Copenhaver Oct 28 '13 at 17:47
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2 Answers

You say that you two weeks later you noticed a drop in traffic? It is most likely that if it was that which caused Google to rank you lower it would have been sooner.

Go through these checkpoints

  • How long is it since you removed the tag?
  • Have you changed anything else?
  • What sort of content do you have on your set? Is it original high quality?
  • Does your site support the right standards (i.e. not table based layouts etc?!)
  • Do you link to low quality sites?
  • Have you checked your site is virus and malware free?

To be honest my initial guess would be that your site has been the victim of a Google Algorithm update

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Sorry, I made big mistake, it only two days passed after tag placing when traffic had fallen. –  Marian Oct 25 '13 at 19:31
    
1. I have removed it almost two months ago. 2. No, only added content, as usual. 3. Short original description on every item. 4. Yes, it does. It support HTML 5 and CSS 3. 5. No. 6. It is clear. I have no found the info about some updates that period, but I will check more. Thanks. –  Marian Oct 25 '13 at 19:32
    
Do you have a mainly repeat(/return) user base or are most users new and unquie? –  tim.baker Oct 25 '13 at 22:05
    
After the day of fall, there were 86.06% of new users from Google. –  Marian Oct 26 '13 at 10:33
    
If you have a high returning user base possibly see if what they are doing has changed? Has the average page time view dropped? Has the number of page views per visit dropped sharply etc –  tim.baker Oct 26 '13 at 17:07
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Marian, did you add the other corresponding hreflang= tags to point to the other language pages?

The hreflang= tags are bi directional so each language page in the set must use hreflang= to identify all language versions including itself.

Proper implementation would have looked like this:

http://aroundnails.com/

In the source code should have been:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="http://en.aroundnails.com/" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="ru" href="http://aroundnails.com/" />

http://en.aroundnails.com/

In the source code should have been:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="http://en.aroundnails.com/" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="ru" href="http://aroundnails.com/" />

http://aroundnails.com/forma/kruglaya

In the source code should have been:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="http://en.aroundnails.com/forma/round" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="ru" href="http://aroundnails.com/forma/kruglaya" />

http://en.aroundnails.com/forma/round

In the source code should have been:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="http://en.aroundnails.com/forma/round" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="ru" href="http://aroundnails.com/forma/kruglaya" />

If you only ever added the hreflang="en" to pages this probably caused your issue.

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Thanks for the detailed answer! I will implement this and return with the results. –  Marian Oct 30 '13 at 8:08
    
So had you only added the hreflang= to a single page/and or used the same one on every page? –  Max Oct 30 '13 at 9:38
    
I have added it only to a single page (homepage of aroundnails.com). It had looked like <link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="en.aroundnails.com/"; /> –  Marian Oct 30 '13 at 14:30
    
ok, I would say this was definitely your problem. It needs to be on every page that has a translated version, and it must reference the page itself and the translated verison. More info here support.google.com/webmasters/answer/… –  Max Oct 31 '13 at 2:05
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