Digital Marketing, Google, Search Engine Optimization

The Real Reason for A 25% Decline in Google Traffic

Christian Thomson
February 25, 2020  •   2 min read

Updated July 30, 2020, 12:16 pm

If you noticed an unexpected drop in your website’s traffic in November of 2019, you are not alone. Google released an update—or rather a series of updates—that impacted many websites. While some benefited from the updates, several others did not.

So, what changed? How have site owners adapted? Here are some thoughts and observations on the November update:

When working with SEO marketing, dealing with algorithm changes is simply par for the course. While the purpose of these updates is to improve user experience by weeding out sites that use manipulative efforts to boost their traffic, they also make it difficult for website owners to keep up with best practices. Occasionally, owners are left scrambling to adjust to an algorithm that has negatively affected them, in this case causing a decline in search traffic.

Certain niches seem to have been vulnerable to decline. These include:

  • Affiliate sites
  • Aggregator/ directory sites
  • Recipe bloggers
  • Travel sites

Speculation points to the update being related to links. Many sites that were affected were found to have bad links pointing to them, and many of them may have been engaged in reciprocal link schemes. This sort of link sharing involves webmasters providing links on their own site to each other’s site. This is sometimes seen in “top 10” lists, and quick access links to related sites. Whether Google is now able to determine if these are not legitimate recommendations for your site or some other issue is not known.

The extent of the impact upon different sites varied. TechTarget, a business-to-business marketing company reported that their Google organic search traffic dropped by 25% following the update. Fortunately, their company revenue was not directly related to traffic trends. Other, less fortunate sites reported drops in traffic equalling anywhere from 30 to 50%.

How should those affected respond?

Google had some advice for site owners, stating that when updates require specific actions to be taken, they will be pointed out ahead of time to allow necessary actions to be taken. In the case of regular, ongoing updates however, simply continuing to focus on creating the highest-quality content possible remains the best approach.

Aside from Google’s recommendations, it is worth ensuring that when building links, you follow a white hat approach that complies with Google’s ToS. You may also want to consider auditing your existing links to see if you can find anything toxic that could be harming your rankings.

Changes made by Google may occasionally cause some disruption to your website operations, but keep in mind that all such changes are made with the intent of improving user experience. By maintaining a similar mindset, you should find that your site weathers any potential storms well enough.

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Christian Thomson

Christian is one of Canada’s most sought-after digital marketing experts. He has taken Marwick from start-up to 18th Fastest Growing Company in B.C. (Source: Business In Vancouver Magazine). Well known for helping business owners navigate and dominate the digital landscape. Over the last 19 years, Christian has helped companies attract great customers using the latest in digital marketing. Christian was also the co-founder of CIMC, Canada’s largest digital marketing conference. Christian is also a professional surfer, representing Canada at the ISA World Games in France. When Christian isn’t growing Marwick, and Marwick’s clients he can be found traveling with his family.