MASSIVE Traffic Drop? Website SMASHED By Google HCU? (Read This NOW)
Last Update: Sep 21, 2023
This Is NOT for Newbies or those within the first 6 months of their journey.
This is LONG.
This is COMPLICATED.
This is MY OPINION (could be right, could be wrong)
I have NOT re-read this, I’m just publishing it straight, so you’ll have to put up with all my grammatical and spelling errors, etc.
Come on!!!! You know I’ve spent hours and hours and hours writing this, and don’t forget I DON’T PROMOTE WEALTHY AFFILIATE, so me providing help for you is done out of the kindness of my heart and NOT for personal gain.
So, if anyone moans about length (can someone kick "PMs" a** If he moans again on one of my blog posts, because after him being rude to a few of my friends recently I’ve really had enough of the guy), or that this is too complicated, I’ll set Old Fluff on you, LOL!
Ain’t no-one else gonna do this for you, so I HAVE!
You’re welcome! LOL!
SORRY!! Forgot these on first draft/publication, click on these links to learn more
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Okay, first things first, if you’ve been hit by Google’s current on-going Helpful Content Update, get that anger, frustration, and despair out of your system.
DO NOT hold onto it.
Go and cry, smash your front room up, or do what I did this morning, go to the gym and spend 90 minutes smashing the hell out of a punchbag.
(DO NOT physically hurt though please)
Secondly, DO NOT do anything “different” with your website yet.
Helpful Content updates are typically around two weeks.
So, this started on September 14th 2023, so it should end around September 28th 2023.
I always say to allow at least “4 weeks for everything to settle down afterwards”, so that takes us to October 26th 2023.
So basically, DO NOT make any sweeping changes to your website until AT LEAST October 26th 2023.
Carry on doing what you’ve been doing (and TRY not to look at ANY STATISTICS until then).
Hard, I know, but things would work out better for you if you manage to add 20-30 articles to your website over the next 5 weeks, as opposed to checking your stats, crying and pulling your hair out every day (and NOT doing any work on your website)
Okay, I get it, all these various Google Algorithm updates, you do what you think you’re supposed to do, and then Google comes around and punishes your website.
What's Going On With Google's Helpful Content Update
Firstly, IT IS NOT YOUR SITE BEING PUNISHED.
You can obviously check this in Google Search Console Under SECURITY & MANUAL ACTIONS.
Then Choose “Manual Actions” and hopefully you’ll get a green tick, so this PROVES, it is NOT your site that has been punished.
Feels like it though, right?
Here’s another way to look at it:
Google Updates DON’T HIT WEBSITES DIRECTLY, THEY CHANGE THE NATURE OF THE SEARCH RESULTS.
Basically, for everyone who has suffered a “hit” there is another webmaster who has seen a massive increase.
In other words, your rankings have been REPLACED by someone else’s rankings.
However, as much “chatter” as there usually is when a Google Updates comes around, and there is ALWAYS people saying they’ve been “hit” EVERY SINGLE UPDATE
THIS TIME I’ve definitely seen a lot more discussions about people saying their site has been “HIT”.
I’ve been on Twitter Groups, Mediavine Forums, Other Affiliate Marketing Programs’ Forums, and Reddit.
Everyone’s talking about it, and it “appears” that ”everyone has been hit”.’
(of course, we know this isn't strictly true because, as I say, if you’ve lost rankings, someone else has gained them).
That being said, here’s quite an interesting quote via Reddit, and this is an opinion that MANY PEOPLE seem to share, and I’ve seen evidence of this myself (I’ll show you in a minute).
“You're right, it's not the content. There are reports of countless bloggers with tons of expertise who write the highest quality content that have gotten destroyed with this update. The idea that all of these people have "unhelpful content" is absurd.
No, the sites that are winning right now are newspaper sites, magazines, massive authority sites like Forbes, and discussion sites like Reddit and Quora. Many results in the SERPs now have poor relevance or no relevance at all to the query. Google dun screwed up.”
Okay, what this is saying, and there are MANY bloggers saying this is:
High Domain Authority websites that appear to have NO RELEVANCE to a specific search term (or very little relevance) seem to have “taken over the rankings”.
So sites like Amazon, Walmart, Forbes, and simply High Domain Authority websites.
Additionally, and this was actually true of the Helpful Content Update of September 2022, Quora and Reddit queries appear to be “owning the rankings”.
By the way, I still stand by my original teachings, that if you see Quora and Reddit ranking on page one for a keyword, you stand a great chance of also ranking for that keyword.
However, these Quora and Reddit “rankings” are being explained as, many of the answers allow for a more human element, emotion, and are often provided by an expert.
In other words, a lot of the stuff in the SERPs currently ranking for keywords/search terms is the same old drivel, basically people rewriting other people’s content, who have rewritten someone else’s content, who had originally rewritten someone else’s content…
Basically, the only ORIGINAL & UNIQUE content is coming from places like Quora, Reddit, and even the numerous StackOverflow forums (which cover just about every niche).
And this is why they are ranking.
Now, another common trend among bloggers after this update is as follows:
“I have a completely no authority AI driven site that is purely for SEO and has doubled in clicks and impressions. While another white hat site with all original content and photos was hit. So in my case, they rewarded the spam site and punished the one designed for users.”
So, a lot of bloggers are saying that purely AI-created websites appear to have benefited from the current Helpful Content Update, even though these are completely AI written and totally focused on SEO, i.e. Trying to manipulate Google’s algorithms.
Furthermore, many bloggers are saying that their websites are completely original and unique, in that the content is based around something they are an expert in.
So, ALL content is unique and original, ALL images they have taken themselves, i.e. unique and original, and yet they have been “punished”.
Additionally, their rankings have been “taken over” either by authority websites that aren’t really relevant to the query, or by “poor websites”, with “rewritten” content, or purely AI-generated content, with stock images, while not adding anything further of value.
In fact, one such blogger had a website around a very specific niche that he has been working in for 15 years.
He has also created over 150 Amazon books, short guides and tutorials, and his website has been running for 12 years now.
He had NEVER BEFORE been affected by a Google Algorithm Update in the previous 12 years, and now suddenly this week, his rankings have plummeted.
Upon checking who has “taken over his rankings” it was much the same as I’ve already described, i.e. authority sites with NO relevance to the keyword, poorly constructed spam or AI-generated websites.
Now, before everyone gets excited and starts spamming the hell out of ChatGPT and Bard, etc.
The Helpful Content Update is NOT OVER YET, it’s still ongoing.
Therefore, there are likely to be a lot of fluctuations over the coming week, and potentially for the month following.
So, what you’re experiencing today may NOT actually be the “final outcome”.
That being said, and I’m really SORRY to say this, the Helpful Content Updates of September 2022 and December 2022 DID actually stay consistent after the first week.
In other words, if you lost traffic DURING the update, unfortunately it stayed that way afterwards.
I know a lot of people try to sugarcoat things, I much prefer to just give it straight.
Let’s Look at Some Examples & What to Do Next
Okay, I want to go through a couple of examples and then show you how can do these checks for yourself.
As I’ve mentioned, I DON’T want you to start making any changes yet.
Just treat your website as normally as your emotions will currently allow, and continue creating and publishing content (as you normally do until at least October 26th 2023).
After this date, decisions can then be made.
Right, an article of mine on my Exercise website that I have often used in examples in WA blog posts is :
What Do I Feel Bench Press in My Arms?
Although I’m not as big on “keywords” nowadays as I am on “topics”, I guess you could say the target keyword for this article is
Feel Bench Press in Arms
I have typically ranked position 1 or 2 for approximately 2.5 years for this keyword.
As of today, I am position 3, BUT this “looks like” position 4, as there is now a Featured Snippet.
Now, the article ranking in the Featured Snippet is this one
And as you can see the title is NOT about “feeling” bench press in your arms, but rather does bench press actually work your biceps.
So, the “intent” behind this article is DIFFERENT to mine.
I’m talking about pain and discomfort, this article is talking about whether an exercise builds muscle.
So, completely different search intent.
Now, something that I have noticed over the last year or so is that the “keyword” that my article was receiving the most clicks for according to Google Search Console is
Why Do I Feel Bench Press in My Biceps
Here’s my Google Search Console stats showing the “top queries” that this article is receiving clicks for.
What’s even more interesting is that in positions 1 and 2 on Google (underneath the People Also Ask section) is Reddit and Quora.
And these results are MORE IN LINE WITH MY ARTICLE
Basically, why am I “feeling” pain/discomfort in my arms when I bench press?
Furthermore, the article that is ranking at number one, sure it’s exercise-related, but the entire website is focused around TRX training (suspension resistance training).
So, the “bench press exercise” is NOT an exercise that you would do with TRX.
Therefore, the article they are ranking number one for is not wholly relevant to their website.
I won’t show the article here, you can go and look at it for yourself.
The article is approximately 1,400 words long, there are NO images after the header image, NO videos, and the article is solely focused on BICEPS and BENCH PRESS.
Additionally, after the article there are AMAZON IMAGE AFFILIATE LINKS FOR NON-RELEVANT PRODUCTS.
To say that I’m pi**ed off is an understatement.
Basically, Google has ranked a DA62 website, with NON-RELEVANT content, which ISN’T VERY GOOD, at the top of the page.
WTF are you doing Google?
This is also why I’m willing to wait this out until the end of October.
Also, if you look at the rest of page one, NONE of the other articles (or YOUTUBE videos) talk about “feeling bench press in arms”, but rather “not feeling bench press in chest”.
So, sure it is kinda relevant, but NOT completely relevant to the query.
Once More, WTF are you doing Google?
Interestingly, my old mate Avi (former Canadian Olympic Coach) who’s website I was in constant “battle” with during 2022 (My best year for THIS website, over 1.5 million page views and $73,000 in income), well after the HC update in September 2022, Avi ALWAYS ranked above me for every query.
I got “hit” last year, he didn’t.
For this one query above, I am ranking ABOVE him now.
Sure, his article isn’t completely relevant to the query, but does this mean that Avi’s site has also been “hit” this year?
If so, he really didn’t deserve it.
Fantastic content, completely original and unique, and he’s a bloody Olympic Weightlifting Coach for Canada. How much more Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E.E.A.T) do you want Google?
This also kinda shows me that either Google has got this very wrong or they are still “testing and trying” different positions for different articles.
I will say, and I mean this, if my article remains ABOVE Avi’s, something is very wrong.
Sure, I also have qualifications. I think my article’s pretty good, but I’m big enough to admit that Avi’s article is MUCH better than mine.
Okay, the main reason for you “losing traffic” is because you simply aren’t ranking as well for as many keywords any more (at the moment I should say, it MAY change).
One article typically ranks for 100s or 1000s of keywords.
So, you may still be ranking for your PRIMARY keyword (this is also why I say “checking rankings in Google” and even using Jaaxy’s siterank can be a little misleading).
I’m still ranking for my PRIMARY KEYWORD for the above article, BUT now I’m getting approximately 30 less visitors per day (so approx 900 less visitors per month to ONE article).
So, if I’m constantly looking at Google Search for ONE keyword or checking Jaaxy SiteRank for ONE keyword, I won’t know what the hell is going on.
Why is my article getting 900 less visits per month even though I am ranking on page one for my PRIMARY keyword?
This is why “checking” individual rankings for INDIVIDUAL keywords, as far I'm concerned, is a COMPLETE WASTE OF TIME.
You’re NOT getting the full picture.
You want to know what’s going on with your website in Google, then USE WHAT GOOGLE HAS GIVEN YOU _ Google Search Console.
So, for now, you’ll want to do some checks on Google Search Console, which I’m going to do now with one of Diane and my sites.
And YES, this site appears to have been “hit” (it’s not the site, it’s the “replacement” rankings remember) on Monday just gone.
OLD FLUFF FAINTS (hahahahahahaha!! This MAY be the first that Diane knows about this, I certainly haven’t discussed it with her yet.. I have NOW, LOL).
Okay, let me show you what I mean about impressions dropping.
So, let’s go back before the Helpful Content Update started to September 10th 2023.
On that day we received 28,551 impressions JUST from Google and 517 clicks JUST from Google (don’t forget that we also have regular traffic from Bing, Yahoo, and Social Media ON TOP OF THIS).
And now let’s look at Tuesday September 19th 2023, we have a total of 11,859 impressions and a total of 267 clicks.
Interestingly, our “average position” and “clickthrough rate” has increased ever so slightly.
If we’re getting approximately 17,000 less IMPRESSIONS per day this will obviously impact traffic.
What this basically means is that it’s likely that a lot of the SECONDARY (call it LSI or whatever you want) KEYWORDS have now COMPLETELY LOST THEIR RANKINGS.
So, at first appearance we MAY still be ranking for our PRIMARY KEYWORDS, so if you’re constantly checking rankings in Google for ONE keyword or using Jaaxy Siterank to check the ranking for ONE keyword, YOU WOULDN’T KNOW THIS INFORMATION.
Okay, now that we are a week into this Google update, what we can do is to check an individual article that has been “hit”.
We can check the stats for the last week or so, let’s say from September 14th to September 19th.
And then do the checks on this article from September 8th to September 13th.
We can then see WHICH KEYWORDS we have lost impressions and traffic for.
We can then check Google for each of these individual “keywords” to see who is ranking on page one and whether we find what many others are finding (non-relevant authority websites, AI crap, SEO-stuffed articles, etc.)
If we are finding this “poor or irrelevant content” has replaced our rankings, then THERE IS HOPE.
This could mean that Google is still “playing around with rankings and nothing has been decided yet”.
Then again, if the rankings remain this way AFTER October, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say, Google has completely lost the plot and they simply can’t cope with the amount of AI content that is being produced.
This carries on for much longer and we start to see Google AI Algorithm Updates from next year, e.g. anyone using AI “out of the box” (a one sentence prompt and then just copying and pasting and creating a blog post) MAY see fluctuations in ranking.
How the hell Google will do this, well I have absolutely no idea.
Could Google and other search engines simply become AI-generated answer machines within the next 5 years?
For now, I’m not completely trusting Google and what is going on, so I would say to all of you, look at other forms of traffic generation.
Basically, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
Realistically, Affiliate Marketing is a fairly simple strategy.
You have an offer, you need to get visitors to that offer, that’s it.
No-one said that your visitors have to come from Google.
And even for me, someone who has lived and died (figuratively speaking) by Google Search Results for over 15 years, YEP, I’ve been looking at other forms of traffic generation.
Of course, I will eventually do a write up, but let’s just say that I’ve been SMASHING Pinterest and Quora since July 24th 2023.
I’ve “Partha Potioned” the hell out of both platforms, used a few tweaks, used my brain for “out of the box ideas”, and in the space of 60 days I am now getting approx 9,700 visitors PER MONTH to my website from these two platforms.
This Is NOT how many views I'm getting on these platforms (that is in the MILLIONS), this is HOW MANY OUTBOUND CLICKS I AM GETTING TO MY WEBSITE FROM PINTEREST & QUORA (9,700 OUTBOUND CLICKS IN THE LAST 30 DAYS BETWEEN BOTH - Don't forget I've ONLY been doing this for 60 days - gotta love a "Dodgy Partha Potion" LOL)
My aim is to be getting 50,000 visitors per month from Pinterest and Quora by 31st December 2023.
And you KNOW I’ll do it.. Hahahahahaha!!
Basically, if Google wants to “play games” with me, I’ll go and get traffic from somewhere else.
Oops, I just realised I went off on a tangent again, Hahahahahaha, where was I, oh yeah, checking Google Search Console.
Okay, the stats won’t reveal too much now because it’s too early to tell,
But let’s have a look at ONE individual article anyway.
You will need to click on PAGES on Google Search Console and then choose a specific article.
I have set my stats for “LAST 28 DAYS”
Okay, I can see that this article here had 515 impressions on September 10th and 315 impressions on September 19th.
So, a loss of 200 impressions PER DAY FOR ONE ARTICLE.
So, I click on “Last 28 Days” and change the date range from September 10th TO September 10th, basically I just want that ONE DAY’S STATS.
I then click on “Impressions” and this will list all my “keywords” in the order of most impressions to least.
Here’s the top “keywords” that this ONE ARTICLE was receiving impressions for.
Now, I want to do EXACTLY THE SAME for September 19th and see if I can work out which “keywords” I have lost impressions for (a prime example of losing “impressions” is that one week I was ranking on page one for certain keywords, and the following week I’m ranking on say page 4 for those “keywords”, I am no longer producing impressions because I am no longer featuring on page one for those keywords, and people aren’t going as far as page 4 to check out the results)
Here’s the top “keywords” for September 19th
Immediately you can see the 1st and 3rd “top keywords” have disappeared.
(Admittedly, the “top keyword” in terms of impressions, “How long do baby bells last” is further down the page, but only had 7 impressions on September 19th compared to 12 impressions on September 10th, so there’s 5 impressions lost)
So, on September 10th the “third highest impression keyword” was “Does Babybel Go Bad” and we were ranked at number one of that day and received 9 impressions.
Today, the article is ranked at number 3 for that SPECIFIC KEYWORD, and on September 19th it received NO impressions.
Okay admittedly, it could just be that no-one specifically searched for that phrase on that day, I mean 9 impressions is hardly a lot.
But, we have definitely lost 2 places in the rankings for that keyword.
I’ll tell you what’s interesting.
Here’s the article that is NOW ranking at number one (in the last TWO DAYS).
Their article covers a slightly different topic, but I guess it is relevant…
The structure of the article is the same as Diane and mine, and they have even used OUR clickbait words in their meta title.
Basically, someone has found our website, “legitimately stolen” our keyword, written an article that mirrors ours (their article was written and published SIX MONTHS after ours, this is how I know they have “copied” us), and now they have displaced us in the rankings.
Admittedly, their article is a little more in-depth than ours (but purely because it covers different topics), and their website has MORE AUTHORITY than ours.
BUT, they still “copied” our keywords, and then wrote an article using OUR STRUCTURE.
Nothing you can do about this, they are NOT copying our content, simply stealing out keywords (perfectly legitimate practice).
But it doesn’t make you feel great…
Old Fluff, go and find out who owns this website and beat them up please!! LOL.
Okay, back to the “loss of two ranking places”.
Remember, according to Brian Dean’s (probably now slightly outdated) study that ranking at position 1 would typically get around a 31% clickthrough rate, whereas ranking at position 3 generally gets a 15% clickthrough rate.
So, forget “impressions” for just one moment, the difference (based on Brian’s study) in traffic between position 1 and position 3 is approximately HALF.
Therefore, if you ranked number ONE for a keyword and were getting 100 clicks per month, you can expect only 50 clicks per month for ranking at number THREE for the same keyword.
Obviously, these are NOT EXACTS, I’m just giving you an example.
However, it’s clear to see that even losing a couple of places in the SERPS can affect your traffic.
Okay, I won’t go through any more results, plus this is long enough already, but I can clearly see that out of just TWO of the SIXTY SIX keywords this ONE article is ranking for, we have lost 21 impressions per day.
This tells me that a LOT more of our keywords have lost rankings for this ONE article when you consider we have lost 200 impressions per day to this one article.
Unfortunately, this could mean that Google no longer deems us RELEVANT for the keywords that we were previously ranking for.
As proven, it could mean that our competitors have displaced us in the rankings.
Above all, The Helpful Content Update is NOT OVER YET, and as I say, always give it at least a month AFTER the update is OVER to make any significant changes to your website.
However, you can certainly check Google Search Console for your INDIVIDUAL articles and the INDIVIDUAL keywords you are ranking for.
Have you lost impressions for certain keywords?
Have you lost rankings for certain keywords?
Who has replaced you in the rankings? Try to be objective, is their article BETTER than yours, or is it a higher authority website that isn’t RELEVANT to the search query, or is it trashy “out of the box” AI crap.
If it’s the latter two, there is still HOPE that you may recover.
If it’s simply a “better written article” then (NOT UNTIL THE END OF OCTOBER PLEASE) you may need to UPDATE and REWRITE your article.
Okay, I know a HUGE amount to take in, but I know that a LOT of people have been affected.
So, this is to help you look through Google Search Console.
Above all, do something like I am, look for alternative traffic generation methods too.
Okay, perhaps you may not be getting close to an ADDITIONAL 10,000 WEBSITE monthly visitors in 60 days (But those who know me KNOW, when I go for it, I REALLY GO FOR IT).
And you never know, it’s ME, I may in future teach you all how I am getting this type of traffic (in such a short space of time) for Pinterest and Quora.
For now, if you’ve been “Hit”, I’m sorry, Google is a %%$$&**%
But, don’t forget, the update is NOT OVER YET.
Things may change. Sure, I’ve been honest enough to say that in the two previous helpful content updates in 2022 things DIDN’T change after the initial drops in impressions and traffic, but you never know.
Unfortunately, this is BUSINESS, whether offline or online, there’s MANY HORRIBLE TIMES, but equally, there are also some great times too.
Thank You For Reading
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