How I lost 500 visitors per day on my Authority Site Experiment
For the past two months I had been investigating the traffic on my authority site, with an expectation that there should be a 20% month-on-month growth of traffic from the search engines. If you have been reading my authority site experiment , you will notice that my traffic is increasing each month but suddenly from March to July my authority site was growing very slow in terms of traffic per day.
This should not be the case because my team had been posting reviews at least 3 times per week, which means that the traffic should be increasing too. We also have a full time editor who edits all our reviews. However this doesn’t solve the issue of traffic growth. Some of the spike in traffic as seen from Google Analytics can be explained by the Facebook ads I bought.
At first I thought these issues could have been affecting the rate of traffic growth :-
- Website slowness due to share hosting
- Due to Google Algo updates
- Content issue or onpage optimization was wrong
- So then I upgraded my shared hosting to VPS hosting, and the growth increased by 5 to 10%, but I still felt that the growth was not right and too slow, because we projected that the traffic should be growing at 20 to 30% each month. After doing all the website optimization of the website and content, it still took us 2 months to hit 1000 visitors per day which is considered slow.
On 23 July I logged in to my webmaster tool and noticed that the authority site sitemap index rate was more or less the same from March to July. I immediately took a look at the sitemap portion and noticed that my site map had not been updating !
Based on the screenshot it shows that my authority site is only showing around 227 pages in Google! Which is funny because we had been publishing food reviews on our website at least three times a week for a year at that point. I went to check my plugins and noticed that my Google XML plugin which will auto generate the site map was removed! The plugin was accidentally removed during the March redesign. Instead of cursing and blaming I re-created the sitemap using the Google XML plugin.
After creating using the default setting, I also created another sitemap using Yoast wordpress SEO in order to test it.
Both plugins use different methods to create the sitemap and they each have their benefits.
Yoast wordpress SEO sitemap breaks up pages, posts, and categories and it notes how many images are on the page which can be helpful for getting indexed in Google image search. Yoast wordpress SEO sitemap DOES NOT auto-submit to webmaster tools (to the best of my knowledge), so you’ll want to make sure you manually submit all 4 sitemaps (index, page, post, category).
Google XML Sitemaps is a little less involved. It automatically submits to Google which is great if you are in a hurry and it isn’t critical to squeeze the most out of the site.
Out of curiously I went ahead to create both and submitted to Google webmaster.
After 2 hours of submitting both sitemaps, I noticed there was an image tab and also a total of 1525 pages to waiting to be indexed. 1525 pages is a huge number and I just can’t imagine how much traffic I lost due to all these un-indexed pages!
In just 1 day my daily average traffic grew from 1250 to 1500, then slowly progressed to 1600, 1700, 1800 – then jumped to 1900! Usually the weekend traffic is higher than the average weekday however, the 1900 is on a Monday, which surprised me. It could also be due to the public holiday in Singapore on that Monday. I will continue to monitor and I believe I should be hitting 2k visitors per day next week.
In my opinion, I believe that using the 2 site maps made google index my authority site faster and also increased my search traffic. As you can see from the chart, my site is starting to grow !