Case Research: How the Cookie Monster Ate 22% of Our Visibility

The creator’s views are completely his or her personal (excluding the unlikely occasion of hypnosis) and will not at all times mirror the views of Moz.

Final yr, the crew at Homeday — one of many main property tech firms in Germany — made the choice emigrate to a brand new content material administration system (CMS). The objectives of the migration have been, amongst different issues, elevated web page pace and making a state-of-the-art, future-proof web site with all the required options. One of many foremost motivators for the migration was to allow content material editors to work extra freely in creating pages with out the assistance of builders. 

After evaluating a number of CMS choices, we selected Contentful for its trendy know-how stack, with a superior expertise for each editors and builders. From a technical viewpoint, Contentful, as a headless CMS, permits us to decide on which rendering technique we wish to use. 

We’re at present finishing up the migration in a number of phases, or waves, to scale back the danger of issues which have a large-scale destructive affect. Throughout the first wave, we encountered a problem with our cookie consent, which led to a visibility lack of nearly 22% inside 5 days. On this article I am going to describe the issues we have been dealing with throughout this primary migration wave and the way we resolved them.

Establishing the primary test-wave 

For the primary test-wave we selected 10 web optimization pages with excessive visitors however low conversion charges. We established an infrastructure for reporting and monitoring these 10 pages: 

  • Rank-tracking for many related key phrases 

  • web optimization dashboard (DataStudio, Moz Professional,  SEMRush, Search Console, Google Analytics)

  • Common crawls 

After a complete planning and testing phase, we migrated the primary 10 web optimization pages to the brand new CMS in December 2021. Though a number of challenges occurred throughout the testing part (elevated loading occasions, larger HTML Doc Object Mannequin, and so on.) we determined to go reside as we did not see large blocker and we wished emigrate the primary testwave earlier than christmas. 

First efficiency assessment

Very enthusiastic about attaining step one of the migration, we took a take a look at the efficiency of the migrated pages on the subsequent day. 

What we noticed subsequent actually did not please us. 

In a single day, the visibility of tracked key phrases for the migrated pages decreased from 62.35% to 53.59% — we misplaced 8.76% of visibility in in the future

Because of this steep drop in rankings, we performed one other intensive spherical of testing. Amongst different issues we examined for protection/ indexing points, if all meta tags have been included, structured knowledge, inner hyperlinks, web page pace and cellular friendliness.

Second efficiency assessment

All of the articles had a cache date after the migration and the content material was totally listed and being learn by Google. Furthermore, we might exclude a number of migration threat elements (change of URLs, content material, meta tags, structure, and so on.) as sources of error, as there hasn’t been any modifications.

Visibility of our tracked key phrases suffered one other drop to 40.60% over the subsequent few days, making it a complete drop of virtually 22% inside 5 days. This was additionally clearly proven compared to the competitors of the tracked key phrases (right here “estimated visitors”), however the visibility seemed analogous. 

As different migration threat elements plus Google updates had been excluded as sources of errors, it undoubtedly needed to be a technical difficulty. An excessive amount of JavaScript, low Core Internet Vitals scores, or a bigger, extra advanced Doc Object Mannequin (DOM) might all be potential causes. The DOM represents a web page as objects and nodes in order that programming languages like JavaScript can work together with the web page and alter for instance fashion, construction and content material.

Following the cookie crumbs

We needed to establish points as shortly as doable and do fast bug-fixing and reduce extra destructive results and visitors drops. We lastly received the primary actual trace of which technical motive might be the trigger when one among our instruments confirmed us that the variety of pages with excessive exterior linking, in addition to the variety of pages with most content material measurement, went up. It is vital that pages do not exceed the utmost content material measurement as pages with a really great amount of physique content material might not be totally listed. Relating to the excessive exterior linking it is vital that each one exterior hyperlinks are reliable and related for customers. It was suspicious that the variety of exterior hyperlinks went up similar to this.

Increase of URLs with high external linking (more than 10)
Increase of URLs which exceed the specified maximum content size (51.200 bytes)

Each metrics have been disproportionately excessive in comparison with the variety of pages we migrated. However why?

After checking which exterior hyperlinks had been added to the migrated pages, we noticed that Google was studying and indexing the cookie consent type for all migrated pages. We carried out a web site search, checking for the content material of the cookie consent, and noticed our principle confirmed: 

A site search confirmed that the cookie consent was indexed by Google

This led to a number of issues: 

  1. There was tons of duplicated content material created for every web page as a result of indexing the cookie consent type. 

  2. The content material measurement of the migrated pages drastically elevated. This can be a downside as pages with a really great amount of physique content material might not be totally listed. 

  3. The variety of exterior outgoing hyperlinks drastically elevated. 

  4. Our snippets instantly confirmed a date on the SERPs. This could recommend a weblog or information article, whereas most articles on Homeday are evergreen content material. As well as, as a result of date showing, the meta description was reduce off. 

However why was this taking place? In accordance with our service supplier, Cookiebot, search engine crawlers access websites simulating a full consent. Therefore, they acquire entry to all content material and copy from the cookie consent banners will not be listed by the crawler. 

So why wasn’t this the case for the migrated pages? We crawled and rendered the pages with completely different consumer brokers, however nonetheless could not discover a hint of the Cookiebot within the supply code. 

Investigating Google DOMs and looking for an answer

The migrated pages are rendered with dynamic knowledge that comes from Contentful and plugins. The plugins include simply JavaScript code, and typically they arrive from a companion. One among these plugins was the cookie supervisor companion, which fetches the cookie consent HTML from exterior our code base. That’s the reason we did not discover a hint of the cookie consent HTML code within the HTML supply information within the first place. We did see a bigger DOM however traced that again to Nuxt’s default, extra advanced, bigger DOM. Nuxt is a JavaScript framework that we work with.

To validate that Google was studying the copy from the cookie consent banner, we used the URL inspection instrument of Google Search Console. We in contrast the DOM of a migrated web page with the DOM of a non-migrated web page. Throughout the DOM of a migrated web page, we lastly discovered the cookie consent content material:

Within the DOM of a migrated page we found the cookie consent content

One thing else that received our consideration have been the JavaScript information loaded on our outdated pages versus the information loaded on our migrated pages. Our web site has two scripts for the cookie consent banner, offered by a third get together: one to indicate the banner and seize the consent (uc) and one which imports the banner content material (cd).

  • The one script loaded on our outdated pages was uc.js, which is chargeable for the cookie consent banner. It’s the one script we’d like in each web page to deal with consumer consent. It shows the cookie consent banner with out indexing the content material and saves the consumer’s resolution (in the event that they agree or disagree to the utilization of cookies).

  • For the migrated pages, other than uc.js, there was additionally a cd.js file loading. If we have now a web page, the place we wish to present extra details about our cookies to the consumer and index the cookie knowledge, then we have now to make use of the cd.js. We thought that each information are depending on one another, which isn’t right. The uc.js can run alone. The cd.js file was the explanation why the content material of the cookie banner received rendered and listed.

It took some time to seek out it as a result of we thought the second file was only a pre-requirement for the primary one. We decided that merely eradicating the loaded cd.js file can be the answer.

Efficiency assessment after implementing the answer

The day we deleted the file, our key phrase visibility was at 41.70%, which was nonetheless 21% decrease than pre-migration. 

Nonetheless, the day after deleting the file, our visibility elevated to 50.77%, and the subsequent day it was nearly again to regular at 60.11%. The estimated visitors behaved equally. What a aid! 

Quickly after implementing the solution, the organic traffic went back to pre-migration levels


I can think about that many SEOs have handled tiny points like this. It appears trivial, however led to a big drop in visibility and visitors throughout the migration. For this reason I recommend migrating in waves and blocking sufficient time for investigating technical errors earlier than and after the migration. Furthermore, preserving an in depth take a look at the location’s efficiency throughout the weeks after the migration is essential. These are undoubtedly my key takeaways from this migration wave. We simply accomplished the second migration wave to start with of Might 2022 and I can state that up to now no main bugs appeared. We’ll have two extra waves and full the migration hopefully efficiently by the tip of June 2022.

The efficiency of the migrated pages is sort of again to regular now, and we’ll proceed with the subsequent wave. 

Source link

Your Mama Hustler