If your online store has been lowered in Yandex, you may get into ‘Baden-Baden’. This is an algorithm for determining over-optimized content announced by Yandex in March 2017. This algorithm is a part of the basic ranking system that lowers websites in search results when they violate the optimization rules. From our experience, a site can be lowered by 20-30 positions. So, what happens?
To put it simply, many specialists use SEO-texts to improve a website’s position in search results but such content is often written for search engines, not for people. The ‘Baden-Baden’ filter aims to fight these texts and penalize websites that use these SEO methods. A disclaimer here: online stores should not worry about repetitions in product descriptions since the system has special instructions for such webpages.
The filter can be applied in two ways:
1. On-page filter.
Only a particular page or pages of the website is/are lowered in search results. If this is the case, there is no notification from Yandex.
2. Host filter.
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This is a situation when the filter is applied to the entire website. You will receive a notification about the violation in the “Site Diagnostics” section in Yandex Webmaster. If you see such a message, the entire website is in trouble.
After the launch of ‘Baden-Baden’, many websites that have been in the top search results for a long time felt to the second and even third pages of the Yandex search results.
We have worked with a project under ‘Baden-Baden’. Here is the story.
An online store of women clothing was affected by the host filter. A number of sessions dropped from 700 to 100-130 unique visitors per day. As you can see from the graph, traffic sank more than by 5 times.
They received a notification in Yandex Webmaster. It stated that there were rule violations and security threats on the website. This was caused by over-optimized texts stuffed with keywords. The message stated that normally the sanctions are to be dropped in a month after the violations are eliminated.
Steps to recover from ‘Baden-Baden’
We audited the website’s content and conducted a technical audit to develop a plan on how to escape ‘Baden-Baden’:
1. Remove duplicate pages of the site;
2. Replace spammy H1 headers;
3. Remove over-spammed Keywords meta tags;
4. Fix Title and Description meta tags;
5. Analyse content of the webpages of categories and remove it completely;
6. Analyse content of the webpages of filters and remove them completely;
7. Remove SEO-texts from the main page of the website.
Despite the fact that some experts recommend using Noindex tag, such a method works only in case of a filter on a webpage. Therefore, we decided to completely remove the over-optimized content.
At the same time, in order to retain the position in Google search results, we started creating new, user-friendly content. However, this new content should be posted on the website only after removing the ‘Baden-Baden’ filter.
After all the work was completed, the team contacted technical support of Yandex to speed up the process of removing the sanctions. From our side, all the necessary recommendations were completed, so we received the feedback that the sanctions would be removed in up to two weeks.
Actually, the filter was removed in a week, the notification in Webmaster disappeared, and traffic recovered up to 80%. Then, we uploaded new content and traffic reached its initial volume.
The entire process of beating ‘Baden-Baden’ took 20 days. Despite the complete removal of the content from the website, traffic from Google search engine sank from 350 to 240 unique visitors per day, but as shown below, after posting new content it began to recover as well.
The content should be written for people. Period. It should be interesting, readable and contain keywords placed as naturally as possible. They should make sense. Don’t overuse keywords and keep your website visitors in mind, and you will never get under the ‘Baden-Baden’ filter.