Uniqbuy Google Pain - Penguin, Panda, still not worked itself out!

Our main domain uniqbuy.com was originally registered in November 2010. The website was built by me using Joomla 1.5 and Virtuemart 1.9 as well as numerous addons and hacks.

No search engine optimisation (SEO) work was done on the website at all and to be honest I didn't even consider SEO while developing the website (save from using a SEO plugin and enabling search engine friendly URLs).

Around March, I decided to use People Per Hour (PPH) to get a freelancer to do offline SEO on the website and as you can see in the Webmaster Tools screen shot, the impressions the website was getting started to rise. What my SEO did in this month:

  • wrote 4x guest posts (3xPR0 and 1x PR1 website)
  • listed the website in 14x free web directories
  • posted to 9x free PR websites
  • posted to 7x free article websites
  • posted to 12x free social bookmarking websites
  • left 3x blog comments

The SEO didn't do anything that I would consider black hat or unethical in any way. However, I let the SEO guy go as the quality of the published material was fairly poor (not that it matters that much as it would probably never get read) and because I felt I thought I would engage a UK based SEO expert who ranked highly for freelance SEO on Google UK.

Anyway, on 25 April, well after the SEO work from the PPH expert had ended (and the new one hadn't yet done anything), our Google woes starter and Uniqbuy's performance in Google search had plummeted (see Webmaster Tools print out). In fact, for some keywords where we ranked very highly previously, we are nowhere to be found.

I have asked questions on the Webmaster Tools forum and my SEO experts and they are none the wiser about what has caused the problem.

My first thought is that it was Panda and so I took steps to fix anything that might cause Panda problems. This was painstaking.

I didn't think it was a Penguin issue - still don't so have not done much with this.

It could be some other Google filter but these are not talked about much so wouldn't know where to start addressing these.

Webmaster Tools Screen Shot

However, just in case, I have taken the following steps:

  • Fixed meta titles and meta descriptions and set canonical tags where possible (the ability to do this is Joomla/Virtuemart is fairly limited - for some reason they must not have thought SEO to be a priority?)
  • Joomla/Virtuemart is an absolute nightmare at generating duplicates and can generate hundreds of them. I set up redirects in .htaccess where possible to remove them. However, this was generally not possible for most of the content and the easiest option was to use the robots file to block them. I then went in and manually deleted the pages in Webmaster Tools.
  • I have continued to build links to my site and had a look at the links to see if they would cause any obvious problems. I can't see any obvious major issues so have left this alone.

So now it is just a waiting game to see if my website manages to get back in to Google's good graces. But, in the meantime I have set up this website.

This is by no means a fully functional or complete website. I have built this website in the following way:

  • I took the source code of my main site, combined the CSS files it uses, stripped unused javascript files, images etc. and made a static version of the page.
  • I then used this static page template for the pages you see on this secondary website.
  • I did all best practice on page SEO, set up .htaccess, manually wrote all meta information, set rel="nofollow" on more or less all outgoing URLs, etc.
  • I will be building some backlinks to this secondary site.

If all goes well, you will be able to find us on Google again, if not from our main site then this secondary one.

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