TravelAsk is, according to SimilarWeb, one of the largest travel and tourism websites in Russia boasting an estimated 3.49% of the market share. This is a greater market share than global names such as Booking.com, TripAdvisor, and Skyscanner in the Russian market.
That being said, over the past 18 months the estimated organic search visibility of the website has more than halved, with the supposed decline in organic search visibility correlating with a potential algorithm update in July 2019.
On a positive note, when searching for TravelAsk as a branded term in Yandex.ru, it does produce a complete branded SERP – so as an entity, Yandex’s machine learning algorithms are recognizing TravelAsk as a relevant entity.
The organic search visibility, as estimated by Sistrix can be seen below:
To sense-check whether or not this is a vertical/sector level trend, with all travel websites seeing the same decline, I’ve compared visibility and keyword corpus against other Russian travel websites such as Tutu, S7, and TourDom, and none of the other sites saw a similar decline in July 2019, aside from Tutu, which has been fluctuating since then.
So, given that Sistrix is just one application – and we’re using third-party tools, experience, and speculation, it’s important to see what other trends other tools are showing for the same site.
So taking a look at Ahrefs, the story is the same in terms of estimated organic traffic, with a decline reported at the end of June and a similar uplift at the start of 2020:
This same trend in traffic show by Ahrefs is also mirrored by SEMrush, although SEMrush is reporting that the early 2020 traffic hump brought levels back to the pre-July 2019 levels.
So looking at the dates, and speculative algorithm update theories, as top-level points of investigation:
- Any significant site changes in ~May, June, July 2019
- Over-optimization/under-optimization to fall foul of a speculative algorithm update in July 2019
The below forms a top-level, exploratory analysis of the TravelAsk.ru domain and points that would warrant further investigation and a deeper-dive and data interrogation.
As a starter for 10, I checked the site’s backlinks in case they had been overcooking it with any unnatural link building or over-the-top exact match anchors.
From the outset, the backlink profile looks natural (enough) with top anchor texts being:
- источник (source)
- здесь (here)
- скачать (download)
And randomly 26 links pointing to the site with the anchor text of:
древние люди в северной америке учились изготавливать орудия труда у одного мастера
Ancient people in North America learned to make tools from one master
Which is odd, but all referring domains are from the likes of Wikipedia.ru and other encyclopedic websites, with the links pointing to the blog post:
And is a blog post talking about ancient tools and weapons in North America.
Looking at captures in the WayBack machine, there is a difference between site layouts both before and after the traffic decline. The current homepage post-July 2019 by all accounts is the same as when I wrote this article, however, the homepage prior to the traffic decline (and internal linking) was quite different.
When handling any form of website migration, template changes, and reskinning it’s important to be thorough in putting in place a risk mitigation plan, and this change in templates (and potentially changes in code structure) – and whilst it’s not possible to say if this was the cause without proprietary Metica data, it does correlate.
Given the website’s reliance on heavy content, if I were TravelAsk my next stages of analysis would be to:
- Analyze proprietary data from Yandex Webmaster & Metrica to ascertain the exact content pieces that have seen the largest decline
- Map the internal linking structure pre-redesign versus the new templates and ascertain major changes/lost internal links