Recognising and analysing a domain crash in the SISTRIX Visibility Index

It is not an uncommon occurrence that a domain’s visibility suddenly drops drastically over a short period of time, even as little as a week. It is important to identify the source and to take the necessary steps to remedy this. Here, we will show you an example of an affected domain and an analysis of what you can do.

The three most common causes that can lead to massive breaks in the Visibility Index of a domain are algorithmic or manual Google Penalties, a re-launch of the website, or a competitor gaining momentum.

Recognising a Domain Crash in the SISTRIX Visibility Index

A crash in the Visibility Index graph for the domain campaignmonitor.com

The visibility of the domain campaignmonitor.com dropped 35% in the calendar week from January 25th to February 9th, 2021. From an original 2.25 points in the SISTRIX Visibility Index down to 1.23 points.

The following steps show you one possible SISTRIX Toolbox workflow for your evaluations. Here, we stay entirely within the SEO-module.

Analysing domain crashes in the SISTRIX Toolbox

In this example we stay completely within the SEO module and perform the following steps.

  1. Check hostnames to see if a particular one was affected.
  2. Check directories for specific losses that might indicate problems with a specific content area.
  3. View the keyword ranking changes and asses large losses
  4. Check that previously ranking URLs are still funktioning

Checking hostnames for loss of visibility

On the left-hand navigation select the “Hostnames” option.

Evaluating the hostnames of a domain in the SISTRIX Toolbox

Using this analysis, check whether campaignmonitor.com’s visibility loss can be traced back to one or more specific hostnames.

With this, you get an insight as to whether a specific area of the domain is affected by the change, or the domain as a whole.

Checking the hostnames for loss of visibility

The top three hostnames, which contribute the most to the visibility of the domain campaignmonitor.com, are shown on top of each other in a chart. By clicking on the colour-marked check-box in the table below, the visibility graph for the specific hostname may be shown or hidden.

It is obvious that the host name www.campaignmonitor.com, with 1.28 points, has the most visibility. In second place we see the hostname help.campaignmonitor.com with 0.06 points, while the other two hostnames have 0 visibility on Google. The loss of visibility of the domain campaignmonitor.com can therefore be traced back to one single hostname – www.campaignmonitor.com.

You can adjust the date of the table by clicking on the cogwheel in the top right corner of the graph and choosing “select different date”.

In the next step of our analysis, we go a bit deeper and look at the directories on the domain campaignmonitor.com.

Checking directories for loss of visibility

On the left-hand navigation select the “Directories” option.

Evaluating the directories of a domain in the SISTRIX Toolbox

Using this analysis, you might be able to see whether the visibility loss of the domain campaignmonitor.com can be traced back to one or more specific directories.

Often, one of the top-3 directories that generate the majority of the domain’s visibility will be detected as a potential cause for the visibility crash.

Checking directories for the loss of visibility

The two most visible directories – /resources/ and /blog/ – appear to be both affected by the visibility crash. To find out exactly what happened, we must look in other places.

Checking ranking-changes for lost keywords

A loss in the SISTRIX Visibility Index can always be traced back to a loss or a decrease of ranking positions for valuable keywords.

Since you were able to already exclude the possibility of a specific hostname or directory being responsible for the visibility loss for the domain, you now have to identify which keywords drastically lost ranking positions.

Analysing the ranking changes of a domain in the SISTRIX Toolbox

For this, you can use the analysis of the ranking-changes. Select this through the menu item of the same name.

First, select the type of ranking-change you want to analyse. In this case, we are interested in the lost (to beyond position 100) keywords.

In the second step, define two date-ranges to compare. In this case, to identify the keywords responsible for the loss of visibility, choose the date #1 for the week before the crash (25th January 2021) and the date #2 for the week where you noticed the change in the Visibility Index of the domain (8th February 2021).

You will then get a list of keywords including their absolute changes of position within the selected timespan.

Lost keywords: for these keywords the domain no longer ranks within the Top-100 search results on Google

The table above shows the ranking changes of the type “lost keywords”, all the keywords which do not show up on the first ten results pages on Google anymore.

In the case of the domain campaignmonitor.com, you can see that top-ranking positions for valuable keywords, for example “bcc email” or “cc and bcc” completely dropped from position #1 or #2 and out of the top-100 search results.

Now we need to find out what caused these drastic ranking losses.

Checking the previously ranked URL of a keyword in the SERP-archive

A common cause for major set-backs of a domain’s ranking is the re-working of the URL structure without applying 301-redirects.

To check whether this is true for the domain campaignmonitor.com as well, we can look at the keyword “bcc email” in the SERP-archive. For this, move your mouse to the last button of the keyword-row and click the left mouse button.

Now we are in the keyword overview section for the keyword “bcc email”. Inside the menu on the left, click on “Mobile” 1 to see the entire mobile SERP-archive. Then you can select a time before the visibility crash of the domain using the filter box 2. In our example, it’s the calendar week for the 25th January 2021.

Now you are in the SERP-archive for the keyword “bcc email” where you can see the results for the week of the 25th January 2021. Here we can see, as before in the ranking-changes, that the domain karstadt.de was at position #1 for that keyword an that it was ranking with the URL https://www.campaignmonitor.com/resources/knowledge-base/what-do-cc-and-bcc-mean-in-emails/ 3.

If we open the URL, we see that it is still accessible and that it has not been set to “noindex”.

For some reasons this URL is not ranking for the keyword “bcc email” anymore. To know why, we need to do a step back.

Checking the ranked contents for availability

If we go back to the “lost keywords” table, we can check the ranking history of the domain campaignmonitor.com for the keyword “bcc email”.

To do so, click on the button “Show keyword history” inside the table.

Here, the position changes for the keyword “bcc email” on the domain campaignmonitor.com for the week of 25th January to the 8th February 2021 becomes clear again.

If we compare the URL in the SERP-archive of the 25th January where the domain campaignmonitor.com ranked in 1st position for the keyword “bcc email”, and the URL from the ranking changes analysis “lost keywords” of the 8th February. You will notice that the URLs are different.

  • until the 25th January 2021 (and before): https://www.campaignmonitor.com/resources/knowledge-base/what-do-cc-and-bcc-mean-in-emails/
  • since the 8th February 2021: https://www.campaignmonitor.com/resources/knowledge-base/what-is-the-code-that-makes-bcc-or-cc-operate-in-an-email/amp/

Now we should check whether the old URL is being redirected to the new URL? To do this, click on the link button before the URL.

After opening the URL, a 404-error page is displayed. The previously well-ranked URL for the keyword “bcc email” is not being redirected to the new URL. This means that both the user and Google cannot find the content, which has therefore dropped in the rankings.

Conclusion

The loss of more than 35% in the SISTRIX Visibility Index for the domain campaignmonitor.com between the 25th January and 8th February 2021, was caused by a new URL design that affected many valuable and well-ranking keywords. The non-existing 301-redirects from the old URL-structure to the new led to Google moving content which could not be found anymore much farther back in the search result pages.

Recommended Solution

After making changes to the URL-structure of the entire website or just a specific piece of content, as well as after a site re-launch, the previous URL(s) must be redirected using a HTTP-status code 301, with the new URL as a target.

Tip: Documenting your findings with an event-pin.

To always remember why the domain lost many points in the SISTRIX Visibility Index, in the future, you should document your findings with an event-pin.

To create an event-pin, hover your mouse over “My Account” on the top right with and select the menu item “Pins”.

Create an event-pin in the SISTRIX Toolbox

Using the dialogue in the “Add Pins” box, add a new event-pin and select the time of the visibility loss, meaning the 4th November 2013, as the date. What you what to write in the description text is up to you. In the optional box of the domain name, it is advisable to put in the domain for which the event-pin should be displayed in the SISTRIX Visibility Index history graph. If the domain box is left empty, this event-pin will be displayed in the visibility history of every domain.

When you have added the event-pin for the domain, type its name in the search box of the Toolbox (top right). You will now see a green event-pin with your note on the specified date in the Visibility Index graph. This event-pin is only visible to you.

Your personal event-pin in the SISTRIX Toolbox
15.02.2021