Actually, this post should be titled: “How did I cloak my way to lower rankings?!” Because the truth is that it was completely unintentional – as evidenced by it causing my traffic to drop like a rock.
I had been working with the awesome folks at Slingshot SEO (kudos to SEO moz for the connection) on creating a new plugin for WordPress SEO, to add functionality not existent in other plugins (including my own Internal Link Building plugin).
I also had All In One SEO Pack running on this site, and the clash between that plugin and the one we’re developing was terrible. Here’s what happened:
Notice the different URLs? So even though my pages had the links and power to rank … this accidental cloaking of all my titles killed my search traffic.
I’m not sure whether I was still ranking for all the phrases I had been (since the title obviously matters), or whether these irrelevant titles ‘just’ killed my CTR, but one way or another, my organic traffic was shot to hell.
Perhaps the funniest thing is that I didn’t realize that I was cloaking until John Mu – a Google employee – pointed it out lol! [Me: “Uhm… Oops?”]
Thanks to all the great folks, like John and Autocrat, who make the Google Webmaster Help Forum a useful place to hang out! (Kudos also to Barry from SE Roundtable for not running the story before I fixed the problem.)
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