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    Volatile pages and multiple sitemaps effect on ranking


    I have a Real Estate website. It's a CMS website purchased from a vendor. Recently (past 3 - 4 weeks) my rankings for various keywords have dropped 25%. This is, of course, driving me nuts! I'm not sure what caused the drop but it seemed to coincide with adding approximately 5k of individual property listing pages to the site. Further relevant facts are below. Any help you can provide would be appreciated.

    • Domain name first created 12/21/2012. Site went live 9/1/2013
    • In GWT, Total Indexed : 9946 Index graph has been up since 8/8/2013 with a sharp increase around 12/20/2013 Total submitted pages per sitemaps: 6543. Current indexed pages: 5968 Cumulative 404 crawl errors: 5500. I get approximately 10 new 404s a day due to detailed property pages becoming invalid. I have been updating the relevant sitemap file that contains the listing pages approximately every 4 to 5 days.
    • Looking at 404 errors under Crawl Errors, I see some invalid directory pages. These are due to renaming and deleting. There are no pointers to non-existent pages in my sitemap files other than the ones that occur between updates to my listings sitemap file, described above.
    • To try to clean up non-existent directories and the pages underneath them, I removed 18 directories on 1/12/2013. There has been no ranking improvement since then.
    • I do not have direct access to the primary sitemap file for the site. The url for this file is greatmainlinehomes DOT com/sitemap/sitemap.xml. There is a 301 redirect from www DOT greatmainlinehomes DOT com/sitemap.xml to the actual file in the sitemap directory. The vendor provides the ability to generate the sitemap file and there is a sitemap.html in the root directory. I also have submitted a video sitemap file containing 4 entries with the video sitemap markup and a sitemap listings file that I generate using Screaming From SEO Spider. This sitemap contains 6471 entries currently. It's approximately 1.5 MB in size
    • I also do not have access to robots.txt which is in the root directory. This file points to the sitemap file, greatmainlinehomes DOT com/sitemap/sitemap.xml
    • The site has improved in rankings fairly steadily though not dramatically since when it went live. There are 13 TLDs linking to the site currently per GWT. These include Google+ links, links from forums and links from directories. A couple of links I would expect to be present are not. This seems to be true of all sites (ahrefs.com, majesticseo.com, etc.) that track back links. I have not 301 redirected directories that have been renamed or deleted. There are no websites pointing to these pages as far as I know although some were in the Google index before I deleted them.


    Questions as follows:

    • Is there anything wrong with using 301 redirects for sitemap.xml which is supposed to be in the root directory per the sitemap protocol?
    • I could consolidate to a single sitemap directory file with links to the vendor's sitemap file, my sitemap listings file and the video sitemap. Would this be advisable? I would need to 301 redirect robots.txt to accomplish this. Any problem doing this?
    • Is the site being penalized for the daily 404s it's receiving? I could update the sitemap listings file daily to cut down on these. Would that be advisable?
    • Currently in GWT/Html Improvements I have 57 duplicate Meta Descriptions and 8 duplicate title tags. Are these values significant?
    • I sometimes wish I could drop the existing Google index of the site and regenerate from scratch. Is there a way to do this?
    • Anything else?
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    I have move the thread to "Search Engine Optimization", hopefully you'll get some help here!
    Everything will be ok in the end

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    Originally Posted by realtorAl
    • Currently in GWT/Html Improvements I have 57 duplicate Meta Descriptions and 8 duplicate title tags. Are these values significant?
    You have so many problems on site it makes me wonder where to start first, never seen such a mess. will outline some of the big issues.

    You have hundreds of duplicate meta descriptions caused mostly by having "sort" by price, low to high, city sub division and so fourth, in you robots.txt you need to block pages that only change the layout of the page, sort by price and what have you, as it is creating hundreds of duplicate descriptions.

    On the pages where it states page 1 of how ever many you also need to include pagination of all these pages in the source code. ie

    <link rel="prev" href="
    <link rel="next" href="

    Pagination example for page 1

    <link rel="next" href="yoururl.com/real-estate-and-homes-for-sale-in-montgomery-county.html/page:2" >

    Pagination example for page 2

    <link rel="prev" href="yoururl.com/real-estate-and-homes-for-sale-in-montgomery-county.html/page:1" >
    <link rel="next" href="yoururl.com/real-estate-and-homes-for-sale-in-montgomery-county.html/page:3" >

    Pagination needs to be added to all pages except page one, you only use <link rel="next" href=" on page 1 on all, this will need to be added to every town, city that has lists of pages which exceed more than page 1. This has to be done on all cities, Property Class all 4 sections, Low Price, High Price.

    You also need to specify in webmasters under URL Parameters to block sort: from being indexed, since this only changes the pages in ascending or descending orders, high to low, low to high, etc.

    I would also add to your robots.txt

    Disallow: *sort:

    By doing the above it blocks pages which should not be indexed.

    Sort ascending, descending is only useful if users are on site, you don't need thousands of duplicate urls being indexed, only the page 1,2,3,4 and so on for each category which will not be affected by doing the above.

    I would also run Xenu link sleuth and redirect the 300 odd images which are broken back to the homepage, i assume you have sold these houses or what have you and deleted the page but forgot to redirect the images to the homepage.

    So would clean up that using Xenu which is free, then in future redirect the image as well as the url once the page is no longer in use.

    You also have lots of title tags which only consists of one word, and the meta description is the same for alot of pages which have different urls.

    An example.

    /post_category/view/investing.html

    Title Investing

    meta Search Real Estate and Homes for Sale on the Main Line MLS. Search Wynnewood, Ardmore, Haverford, Bryn Mawr, Gladwyne, Villanova, Wayne and Paoli

    /post_category/view/main-line-living.html

    Title Main Line Living

    Meta

    Search Real Estate and Homes for Sale on the Main Line MLS. Search Wynnewood, Ardmore, Haverford, Bryn Mawr, Gladwyne, Villanova, Wayne and Paoli

    Exactly the same meta, and this happens on multiple different urls.

    On pages that follow each other change the meta description in bulk so it does not have the same meta description.

    /real-estate-and-homes-for-sale-in-montgomery-county.html/page:1
    /real-estate-and-homes-for-sale-in-montgomery-county.html/page:2

    So on the above example you have hundreds of duplicate meta's, add the word page 2 to the end of the meta, leave page 1, and on page three add page 3 to the end of meta, as they pages follow page one, remember to add pagination to all these pages.

    So for this url /real-estate-and-homes-for-sale-in-montgomery-county.html/page:1
    use this meta Real Estate and Homes for Sale in Select Montgomery County Townships

    and for page 2 /real-estate-and-homes-for-sale-in-montgomery-county.html/page:2

    use this meta Real Estate and Homes for Sale in Select Montgomery County Townships Page 2

    All these types of urls that start with /post_category/ will need a proper unique meta description, and a proper title, not one word in the title tag description.

    Most of the rest can be sorted in bulk, hopefully this is explained well enough for you to grasp.
    Last edited by artofmagick; Jan 21st, 2014 at 10:11 PM.

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