So? Is it Working 16?

It’s numbers time! 16 weeks in.

  1. 157 (-10) Organic searches over the last 30 days
  2. 65 (+8) Percentage derived from organic searches over the last 30 days divided by the same period a year previous
  3. 19 (-3) Position of “large cottages devon” in Google search
  4. 27 (+4) Position of “stag party houses” in Google search
  5. 39 (+33) Position of “40th birthday party ideas” in Google search
  6. 45 (+5) Position of “50th birthday party ideas” in Google search
  7. 53 (+5) Position of “party house with pool” in Google search
  8. Unranked Alexa rank
  9. 2.6 (+0.8) Moz rank
  10. 19 (+1) Domain Authority
  11. 30 (+8) Trust Flow
  12. 30 (+12) Citation Flow
  13. 239 (+68) External links in Google Search Console
  14. 34 (+9) Linking sites in Google Search Console

The values in brackets are the change from the original benchmarks of So? Is it Working 1? Positives are good news and what we are hoping for, negatives are not so good.

Well, it’s still good, but in no way is it getting much better, quickly. Trust and Citation Flows have dipped, which is disappointing but could be due to the drop in linking sites. So let’s talk briefly about that…

Linking sites

I’ve done Backlinks before, but this is a little more specific. Having lots of links from lots of good sites is a good thing. We currently have 239 external links from 34 sites. The external numbers are rising primarily due to our recently joining Thomson Local, which is presumably putting our link into lots of different areas of its directory. It’s not ideal to have lots of links from just a handful of domains but I’m not overly concerned; I think these numbers can change quite a lot without making too much of a difference. For example, there was a time some years ago when we had over 45,000 links from about 3,000 sites – and we didn’t get lots of organic clicks then either!

45,000? What happened?

I’m glad you asked. We got hacked, that’s what happened. Or, more precisely, the hosting company we were using at the time, Zen, got hacked. Lots of their clients, including us had several common pages added, or overwritten, on their sites. Cleverly, these pages duplicated the existing ones exactly, apart from one thing, a little bit of added code. The code on our site, as far as I could see, was designed to promote links to other hacked pages and ultimately to promote their own sites which appeared to be selling clothing of presumably a dubious nature. Suddenly the linking sites to us jumped to 3,000 and the external links to 45,000! Once Zen admitted the problem I fixed all the pages but the numbers didn’t drop; all that code was still out there, on thousands of other sites.

Maybe it would be a good thing I thought: Google would see all those links and think we were now a major player! But that didn’t happen. Maybe it would be a bad thing I thought: Google would see all those links and think we were now part of a major hacking and spam network. And that may well have happened: I’ve often wondered how things might have gone without this intervention. Maybe we have been penalised. Sadly at the time I was not aware of measures such as citation and trust flows, which would have helped to establish if all these links were seen as a good thing or not.

Cheap NFL jerseys

As well as the number of links you can also see the ‘linking text’, which is the text of the link that is being clicked. For us linking text such as ‘Bicclescombe Grange‘, ‘Stag Party Houses‘ or ‘Large Party House‘ are appropriate a and probably appreciated by Google. Unfortunately, after the hack about 99% of our linking text for those 45,000 links were phrases such as ‘Cheap NFL jerseys’ and ‘NFL jerseys worldwide’. If I was Google I think I’d be a little troubled by that!

As was I, so I set about getting these links removed, which in the main was quite straightforward, using Google’s disavow tool I soon had the sites down to about 170 and the links down to about 1500. Gradually I’ve been whittling it down so that currently we’re probably back where we should be, with about 30 sites and about 500 links – and both those numbers should start to increase again due to my recent efforts, but this time with more appropriate and much better quality links and no ‘NFL’ linking text! Quite possibly some irreparable damage has occurred, hampering my attempts to improve the credibility of the whole Bicclescombe Grange brand, but, as always, I will remain optimistic. Time will tell.

Date of Activity: 14th January 2019

Looking for large holiday houses with a pool in Devon? Planning a special party or family occasion? Bicclescombe Grange is the perfect venue, sleeping 26 with an amazing indoor pool, hot tub, snooker table and many more fantastic facilities. To find out more visit the Bicclescombe Grange website.

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