Google can be your best friend. It is still the biggest search engine out there and if you run a website or blog I can guess that a big portion of your traffic comes from Google. That is why we install the SEO plugins on our blogs and try to make everything SEO friendly. If you are one the first page of search results for a given topic that can mean thousands of hits a month from Google alone. Now what if Google changed their algorithm and now your site was blacklisted or not indexed correctly? This is what has happened to my site and not only is it costing me traffic, but revenue as well.
I own and operate ThinkComputers.org, a computer hardware review site. Up until a few years ago our traffic was about 35% search engines and 65% referrals. Now it is about 65% search engines and 35% referrals. This was mainly because I finally moved the site over to WordPress. With WordPress I was able to customize my permalinks, add SEO plugins and easily create a sitemap for Google to read. This of course made the site show up better in search results for the products we reviewed and that increased our traffic as well as revenue.
As far as SEO we really did not do that much else. The plugins we had running were only the All in One SEO Pack and Google XML Sitemaps. The only other SEO we really did was change the permalink structure to thinkcomputers.org/%postname%/. This still gave us really great results and I was happy to see the increase in traffic over time.
This all changed right around February, I started to see an immediate decrease in traffic. At first I thought it was normal because January is always our biggest month because of CES. After still seeing a decrease over the next 2 months I knew something was up. So I went digging in our site stats only to find that our traffic from Google was practically cut in half. To give you an idea here is our traffic from Google in January 2011.
And in July 2011.
As you can see the traffic was basically cut in half. This is a huge amount of traffic and something that you can’t replace. Obviously since many of our ads are CPM-based our revenue has gone down tremdously as well. This is a killer and can potentially put websites out of business.
After doing some research on the February algorithm change it seems the change was made to weed out content farms. Obviously ThinkComputers is in no way a content farm as all of our content is 100% original. We also do not do any black-hat SEO, the only SEO we were doing is what I mentioned above. So why were we hit? I really cannot even tell you. So what are we to do? After reading around I found that I could submit a reconsideration request on how Google indexes my site. So I tried that and I received this response:
“Dear site owner or webmaster of http://www.thinkcomputers.org/,
We received a request from a site owner to reconsider http://www.thinkcomputers.org/ for compliance with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
We reviewed your site and found no manual actions by the webspam team that might affect your site’s ranking in Google. There’s no need to file a reconsideration request for your site, because any ranking issues you may be experiencing are not related to a manual action taken by the webspam team.
Of course, there may be other issues with your site that affect your site’s ranking. Google’s computers determine the order of our search results using a series of formulas known as algorithms. We make hundreds of changes to our search algorithms each year, and we employ more than 200 different signals when ranking pages. As our algorithms change and as the web (including your site) changes, some fluctuation in ranking can happen as we make updates to present the best results to our users.
If you’ve experienced a change in ranking which you suspect may be more than a simple algorithm change, there are other things you may want to investigate as possible causes, such as a major change to your site’s content, content management system, or server architecture. For example, a site may not rank well if your server stops serving pages to Googlebot, or if you’ve changed the URLs for a large portion of your site’s pages. This article has a list of other potential reasons your site may not be doing well in search.
If you’re still unable to resolve your issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.
Google Search Quality Team ”
Basically this means their new algorithm screwed me over and there is nothing I can do about it. So my only real option is to continue to work on SEO and pump out new content. If you have experienced a large change in traffic caused by Google’s algorithm changes let me know in the comments.