A mysterious Google ranking drop
Updated: Nov 20, 2022
Ever gotten a Google beating, and you weren't sure why?
Usually, there is always a good reason. But seriously, when Tooltester.com got hit by the Product Reviews update in late March 2022, I couldn't see any good explanation for it.
Especially since EmailToolTester.com, a website that essentially uses the same templates, writing, methodology, etc., didn't get slapped at all.
You can see an obvious downwards trend starting in late March. What followed were 3 pretty painful months, where we weren't sure what was going on.
The turnaround came with the latest Core Update at the end of May 2022. Even though it doesn't quite look like it here in this Ahrefs graph (yes, Ahrefs is slow on many levels), we are pretty much where we were before those latest two updates.
Our team had a ton of theories, but none of them seem to have proven to be correct. It wasn't the loading speeds, it wasn't E-A-T, and for the most part, there was nothing wrong with our content.
The most likely explanation I have is that it was an after-effect of the domain change away from WebsiteToolTester we had done about 8 months earlier. In this article, I wrote about the domain change and concluded that it took us 3 months to get to the old traffic levels after the domain change.
Looks like this assessment wasn't entirely correct. A domain change seems to upset the Google algorithm for quite some time in certain cases.
And not only Google. Right after the Google misery started, Bing randomly deindexed us. What that means, by the way, is that you won't show on DuckDuckGo and Ecosia either, since these search engines are using Bing's infrastructure.
It took about two weeks until we were back in Bing's index, after filing several reconsideration requests.
Fortunately, everything looks much more stable again on both Google and Bing. Let's hope there are no more inexplicable ranking drops!