What’s a slow death?

Manu Magno



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Slow death is a term from search engine optimization(SEO) and refers to the successive disappearance of a website from the search results and thus from the index of a search engine.


Slow death, or the unwanted death of a website, is very significant in terms of search engine optimization (SEO). The symptoms are often only gradually recognizable and the reasons for a slow death are in some cases not clear. With certain countermeasures you can prevent a slow death, but bringing a website back into the SERPsafter the slow death is problematic.

How to recognize a Slow Death

The name “slow death” already indicates that it is a creeping phenomenon that develops gradually. Permanently and continuously dwindling visitor numbers via the organic search hits can be a sign of this. If analytics data shows that fewer and fewer visitors are arriving at a web page via organic search results, you can attribute that to a falling ranking in the SERP. Analysis tools such as Google Analytics check such phenomena.

Another symptom of slow death is the omission of small descriptive text in search result list snippets. In this case, Google, for example, only uses the pure URL for the hits on subpages.Tip: As a website operator, you should constantly maintain the content of your website, even if you have a concrete suspicion of slow death. This includes, for example, the topicality of address data, the legal security of the imprint or the adaptation of text content to current changes.

Reasons for a Slow Death

What causes a Slow Death is something webmasters and SEOs speculate about, because no confirmed sources are known about the causes. For example, you assume it is related to copied content(duplicate content) or faulty robots.txt files. Certain blockades on the page can result in a wrong classification of the page as irrelevant. If the crawler of a search engine like Google cannot access the content of a page because of blockages, a page is considered unimportant.

This is also the case if it’s only parts or subpages of your website, which is why blocked CSS files could also play a role. If these files, which are necessary for the website design, are blocked, this can also cause corresponding page areas to be classified as not relevant.

Presumably, manipulations, for example after a hacker attack, are also a possible reason for Slow Death.

But even if these circumstances may have caused a Slow Death, you need to explore the reasons with an accurate analysis. If there are several possible causes, you must check various possibilities in each individual case and successively eliminate possible sources of error.

Prevent a Slow Death

To avoid a Slow Death, there are several preventative measures available to you. It is very important to monitor the site regularly, for example with the Google Search Console. Such applications identify anomalies such as suspicious links or foreign manipulation of the site and allow you to react immediately.

Another preventive measure is to avoid duplicate content, which can occur both internally and externally. Web analytics tools can help with this. Unauthorized copied content leads to external duplicate content, which you can identify by doing a Google search in quotes (exact match) on external pages, among other things.

You should also check the robots.txt file regularly. The Google Search Console, for example, helps with this.

However, it is also possible that Google has
penalty – a kind of punishment that leads to a loss of ranking and thus lower traffic. In contrast to the Slow Death, there is the possibility of a Reconsideration Request after the errors that led to a Penalty have been eliminated.


If the number of visitors to your website decreases permanently and continuously, this may indicate a slow death. This results in the gradual disappearance of your website from the search result lists and thus from the index of a search engine. If you suspect slow death, you should counteract it immediately. Because once a domain has disappeared from the search result lists, it is difficult to reconstruct it.[uncode_list][/uncode_list]


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