HighlyStructured.com is a blog website run by Mike D'Agostino about search engine positioning, online marketing, php/MySQL, tae kwon do, and various other topics.

KeepMyGolfScore.com - Search Engine Positioning - Online Marketing - Part II

December 06, 2005

July and August were the biggest months for KeepMyGolfScore.com (in terms of traffic, new user signups, and search engine ranking). Our first page rankings on Google, MSN, and Yahoo! for "golf score tracker" and "online golf stats" stayed consistent, we did not move.

Since golf is a somewhat seasonal sport (at least in areas of the U.S. where seasonal changes have a significant impact on temperatures and general weather. In September, after Labor Day, when fall "unofficially" starts, our traffic started to drop. We were expecting traffic to drop in August (which it did slightly in comparison to July), but when we saw the numbers were so close to July which was a blowout month for us, we were very happy. So the drop-off in traffic was expected.

What wasn't expected was the drop-off from the front page of Google for the search term "golf score tracker" to the fifth page! We also dropped from the first page to the third page for "online golf stats". This happened in late October/early November of 2005 and has been referred to as the Google "Jagger" update. It is interesting to note we did not drop off of the front page on MSN or Yahoo! for the search terms "golf score tracker" and "online golf stats".

From what I could tell, the Google Jagger update was supposed to do a few things. Mainly take into account massive links exchanges that existed just to build up traffic (no real value), take into account new file types/extensions that could be indexed by Google, and I would think some updates on how the Googlebots work and index sites/pages, among other things. So, I did more research and decided it was time to optimize the site a little and see what happens. I hesitated to do so in the past because of our fantastic positioning, but since we dropped, why not make some changes?

I didn't do too much to tell you the truth. I made sure the word we were trying to optimize for on specific pages appeared first in the title tag (wasn't the case for all the pages). I made sure the word we were optimizing for appeared inside a header H2 tag at the beginning of every page. I re-worded some of the text on the home page to get in the term "golf score tracker" two more times. I also bolded the terms "golf score tracker" and "online golf stats" on the home page. There was a section on the home page that cultivated news links from another website using Javascript technology that sometimes delayed when the page was opening, so I got rid of it.

Then I uploaded the changes and monitored for results. Low-and-behold, in a couple weeks, our ranking improved. We were soon on page 3 of Google for "golf score tracker" and 2 for "online golf stats". In another couple weeks we were back on the first page results for both terms. The only difference is that we are currently ranking 9 for "golf score tracker" when we used to be 5. I've been monitoring for almost a month now and we have not moved.

Now, I understand the Google Jagger update was going to happen in stages. So perhaps my attempts at further optimization didn't really do anything as we moved around just as a result of the updates. Or, by slightly tweaking the search engine optimization, we moved up. Or, just the fact that Google saw we were making updates moved us up in the rankings.

I suspect it was probably a combination of the above, although we have to take into account site updates and the impact updating content has on Google. We have a few updates planned for the spring of 2006 so hopefully that, and trying to get more incoming links to the site, will move us up closer to the top 5 on Google.

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