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My website enjoyed steady growth in its early days, when I was writing part-time. Then I stopped writing for a long time - didn't write at all for half a year and then only very little for some two years or so. The traffic dropped, understandably.

I then started working full-time on the website, refreshing content, reorganising navigation and graphics, improving it altogether - and of course, writing more articles. I expected a fast rise in traffic. It has been 5.5 months now and the traffic has not increased, it has stayed at 200+ unique visitors per day.

I have tried to address Penguin problems, HTML errors, added breadcrumbs, improved cross-navigation and graphics, optimized the site for mobile phones. None of it seems to have much effect. Or maybe it does have an effect but at the same time something is dragging the site down at the same speed.

Anyway, the question is: Is my site being 'penalized' by Google for having gone stagnant for so long? Is this a problem of 'freshness' and am I likely to see increased growth if I keep refreshing content and adding new pages?

And if it has been penalized, should I migrate the site to a new URL and start from scratch?

  • There are already good answers here so I won't bother repeating what's already been said other than: if your stagnant content is valuable, it would not be in Google's best interests to penalize your site. It's very unlikely that you will be penalised. – jay_t55 Dec 31 '14 at 17:51
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As to whether Google penalizes (special attention to this word) a site for being stagnant.

The answer is "No." Absolutely not.

Here is what you are missing. Google uses a TTL style metric to gauge any pages freshness. TTL stands for Time To Live and is used to do two things: one, gauge how often to re-fetch the page; and two, use as a metric for the SERPs.

Google does recognize that not all pages will be fresh or should be for that matter. There are a bunch of historic reference pages out there that Google recognizes as highly valuable even without a bunch of back links or activity. So any page that has gone stale still has value in Google's eyes. However, if all of your pages go stale and no new ones are being added, it is likely that Google will visit the site less, visit the sites individual pages less, and not adjust SERP placement until there is a large shift in the metrics. Google may also assume that the site has been abandoned. Just going back to your pages and updating them, fix errors, add a few, re-vamp the look and feel a bit, and so on, will really go a long way.

Think of it this way. If a site is stagnant for a year, why would it take just a month or two to get it back up high in the SERPs when so many other sites have been active? It takes a long time, but any site that has been dormant can perform just as well as any other just by updating it again. Think of the TTL as a rolling average. You will want to look up rolling averages. They are hard to move but will. It will take a long time to get a longer TTL time to a TTL time that matches your competitors.

There are several things that have to happen. You need to build domain trust. This is part of that Trust Flow and Citation Flow metric you quoted. The numbers you cited are low, but better than 0. Time, activity, inbound and outbound links, citations, and so on will change this along with other metrics. This is your foundation. Freshen up your content and add new content to reduce TTL times. Reference other high quality sites with outbound links. Change you inbound link ratio bad:good so that good outweighs bad by a healthy margin. If you can, use social media. I like Twitter (though I do not use social media at all). Twitter returns targeted users better than most. Facebook is the other one, though for me it is too much work. It is like having another site. It will take time to build your site back again. It will be a bit harder but far better than starting a new site. You will want to build a site reputation and branding and that will just plain take time.

I will quote one of my favorite T.V. shows from the 70's Kung Fu,

"Patience grasshopper."

[Update]

BTW- I like your site! It is pleasant to look at and simple. Simple is always best!

I assume I am looking at your website. Here is some of what I see.

Your title tag is too long. Make it about 45-50 characters. The title tag is used for the SERP link. The actual measurement is 512 pixels (like that is a helpful metric). This is means that wider characters such as W, M, G, D, and so will eat into your space. You can use Fetch as Google in Google Webmaster Tools to play with SERP listings. Your title tag should have your most important keywords.

Your description meta-tag is too long. Make it 160-170 characters max. It should also be conversational. The description meta-tag is used for the SERP snippet and should be about 2-3 lines. As well, your description meta-tag should have your most important keywords plus the ones likely best used to find your site/page. The description meta-tag keywords do not carry much weight, however, are often matched when doing a search query so they are very important.

I am now thinking that it is best that keyword tags should just plain disappear. I used to argue that it should be used just in case there is a benefit, but now I am seeing a benefit for not having it. I just whacked most of mine and I can report back later on the effect.

There are a bunch of reasons why a title tag and description meta-tag are not used in the SERPs. If you do them right, they will almost always be used.

You do not have an h1 tag. This is important. It should be closely related to the title tag without being a copy or close copy of the title tag. You can use the Cheap Health Revolution for this which you already have.

Under each image, you have a paragraph tag that is likely better served as a header tag. You can make it an h2 tag and make your current h2 tag an h3 tag without fouling up the look and feel. You can just adjust your CSS file for this. Or you can just make it an h3 tag and modify your CSS. Experiment around. These keywords, however you chose to do it, should compliment each other from h2 -> h3 from a search perspective.

Your site is also somewhat top-heavy. I realize you are using WordPress. Or that is what appears to be the case. If that is the case, you can use the Yoast plug-in to help. As much as you can, push your JavaScript down to the bottom of the page and use .js files. Cut out anything in the header that does not benefit you where you can. Nearly the first 1/3rd of your code is something other than content. You want to push your content as high up the page (code wise) as possible. But don't kill yourself on this.

Your home page was a bit slow the first time. As well, you have a lot of requests that make the accumulative load time about 6.something seconds the second time around though the page and resources do each load quickly. Consider if you can make fewer requests or if you can push the slower ones to the end. Some people swear by sprites for images. Something to experiment with.

Consider placing the ad below your header or at the bottom of your header. You may want to experiment with this. However, it is said this is the best place and not at the very top. This will push up your important content code and presence in the users mind. Something to think about.

Consider putting your social buttons at the bottom of your header somewhere in the content area just above the content. Some people swear by floating social buttons, but I have to admit I am not sure about this as being the best advice. I see the most successful sites have their social buttons at the top of any article. Placing the social buttons somewhere in the line of sight may encourage more activity.

I am sure there is other advice I can make, but for now, that will be a good start.

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  • I agree with this guy. A lot of good advice in here. – jay_t55 Dec 31 '14 at 17:47
  • @jay_t55 Thanks! I am semi-retired from the IT industry after 25 years of working full time as a consultant. I have kept busy doing niche search engine stuff and other data centric stuff, but always kept one eye on SEO which I happen to be rather versed with. I also know code and how programmers think which really helps. I also got to look at some Google schema stuff and business rules a little over 2 years ago so I have half an idea of what is going on and what Google finds valuable. Much of SEO is way over-blown. Do the simple and do it well and any site can compete as a result. – closetnoc Dec 31 '14 at 17:55
  • Hi closetnoc, Thank you for all this information! Some real gems of advice there. So much to do though! But I guess I will prioritise updating the front page and then Tier 2 pages... I'm worried about your suggestion of a h1 tag on the homepage - most sites don't seem to have it and it would look awful! It would have to say 'natural health' in big letters because that is the site keyword and that wouldn't make any sense... – CHR Jan 3 '15 at 21:19
  • @CHR Anytime! I love helping people where I can in anything I do. – closetnoc Jan 3 '15 at 21:22
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    @CHR It may work fine without an h1 tag. This may be a good experiment if you want to do it. I experiment around a bit. I have one going now and another along the way. Both are related to the title tag and highly competitive keywords that seem to be largely ignored by Google. I am testing to see if the keywords add value at all and under what conditions. So far, I bet they will not. I will let y'all know. It will take months to make a determination though. – closetnoc Jan 3 '15 at 21:38
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Hi adding content is not a magic pill that we can use in order to get rank in serps. The quality of the content is also a major factor. For example if you add 10 articles per week and no one reads or share this content that mean this is not relevant and Google will not consider your work. I would like help you and have more information you can submit your site URL that we can inspect your backlink profile. Another importent date is located in the webmaster tools impressions table.

Check your backlink profile for unnatural links patterns

Image example enter image description here

How to solve it

  1. Gather all date you can from Webmaster tools and other tools like Hrefs,MOZ,Majestic SEO.
  2. Analyse your site for messages in webmaster tools.
  3. Look at the impression table in webmaster tools and try to identify a drop in impressions.
  4. Analyze your back link profile.
  5. Analyze your content and site structure

Hi again Your domain Trust rank is very low due to a poor backlink profile. It look like your site needs more backlinks from Trusted domains. try to build 5 backlinks as first step.

Here is a link building starter guide

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    I don't want to give a link to my site because I am worried about it seeming 'unnatural' since I am a new member of this forum. But if you google 'Cheap Health Revolution' you will find my site. I went to Majestic CEO following your link and checked my frontpage: trust flow: 7, citation flow: 23 (but I didn't pay any money so not sure it completed the task) Are these rankings a bad sign? I have been trying to make best use of GWT but not sure about what to look for in the rest (or where to go). GWT seems to go back only 90 days and no impression drop there. – CHR Dec 29 '14 at 21:28
  • Back links: I was told by others to only worry about the ones that I had myself created with the intention of manipulating the search engines. And there is maybe one - a directory listing, which I find difficult to remove since there are no contact details for the page. Regarding content and site structure: my readers seem happy and the structure is definitely better than it was so I doubt there is a problem there. – CHR Dec 29 '14 at 21:31
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    It will take you time to get things back to normal. Focus on content content content. All of the other stuff is good too, but without content, all you have is an empty bag. As you go along, create back links where you can. Do not worry about crappy back links unless they are toxic. Just change the good link to bad link ratio so that good out weighs bad by a few or more. I like to tell people to build a foundation based upon domain trust first, content, then focus on back links, but use your social media to gain organic back links. They are the best by far! Gotta go. Will be back. – closetnoc Dec 29 '14 at 21:43
  • Rich: If you can check my backlink profile that would be great. On MOZ the trust flow was 7, citation flow 23 - not sure what that means. cheap health revolution.com - add hyphens (-) where the spaces are. – CHR Jan 3 '15 at 21:07
  • BTW- TrustRank has nothing to do with back links at all. However, SiteRank does. There is a distinct difference. – closetnoc Jan 5 '15 at 4:02
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I don't think so, that Google penalised your website and they will never do that. But, your ranking may be fall for some of the keywords which is possible though because a lot of other website/blog owners are writing about the same topic using LSI. So, wait and start running some social media campaigns for an instant boost-up in the traffic in the mean time try to concentrate on quality of backlinks.

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