Every year, websites both large and small are penalised by updates to Google’s search algorithm and lose significant traffic as a result.
In the most extreme cases, your website can lose up to 100% of its traffic – Google confirmed in February 2022 that its Pirate update results in penalised sites losing 89% in search traffic on average…
Google’s Publisher Center is filled with tons of affected website owners and SEO directors reporting substantial traffic losses. One website owner reported to have lost 98% search traffic following the May 2022 core update. And someone claiming to be the SEO director of Daily Mail, one of the UK’s largest newspapers, reported that Daily Mail lost 50% of its search traffic after the June 2019 core update (and this Sistrix report suggests this data is true).
For many, these enormous traffic losses can mean losing clients, money, and even their business. But while most companies dread these updates, our clients celebrate them and look forward to the next one.
Why? Because our clients not only endure Google updates but experience consistent traffic gains subsequent to them.
The data – thriving where the industry struggles
Google’s May 2022 Core Update
Our clients gained 15% search traffic
Google rolled out one of its huge core updates on 25th May 2022 and finished it on 9th June 2022. Eleven’s clients gained an average of 15% traffic as a result. AlpInsider’s search traffic, for instance, went from 1,261/week in the 7-day period ending May 25th to 1,525/week in the week commencing June 9th. That’s a 21% increase.
Some huge brands, including Investopedia and Zoom, lost 20-42% search traffic
This Similar Web report shows that some of the world’s largest and most well-known brands suffered 20-42% losses over this period. Zoom incurred a 20.80% decrease and Investopedia lost around 26%. Other notable victims include Clever.com, CNBC, and MarketWatch, which lost 33.94%, 22%, and 25.47% respectively.
Google’s September 2022 Core & Product Review Updates
Our clients gained 14.2% search traffic
These updates rolled out from 12th to 26th September 2022. Over this period, our clients gained 14.2% search traffic on average. CampingAussie, for instance, went from 1,450 to 1,660 users/week – a 14.5% increase. In addition, Eleven’s own blog gained 23.2% search traffic, going from 1,402 to 1,727 users/week.
Many well-known content and review websites lost up to 41% search visibility
Lifewire, Bestplaces.net, and TechTarget lost 20%, 41% and 12% visibility respectively over this period. This is according to Amisive’s report, which is based on Similar Web data and uses the Sistrix Visibility Index.
Other Google updates
Here’s an overview of how Eleven’s clients have performed on average during some of the other recent Google updates:
May 2022 Core Update: +15%
June 2022 Unnamed Update: +10.3%
July 2022 - Product Reviews Update: +8%
August 2022 - Helpful Content Update: +6.5%
September 2022 - Core Update: +12.5%
September 2022 - Product Reviews Update: +19%
Note: We sourced all Eleven client data directly from Google Search Console. If researching our client’s search traffic using Ahrefs, Semrush or similar tools, you’ll likely find similar results to the above but not an exact match. This is because SEO research tools are not able to see real website analytics (as these are private). Instead, they use an algorithm to make estimates based on Google’s search results (as these are public).
The reason – how we outperform the industry standard
Based on the above and statements from Google themselves, we believe our results are due to the alignment between our core practices and Google’s values and vision.
Google’s values and why they’re important
Google clearly states its values, which include authenticity, anti-spam, and the best user experience possible. It also informs the public which of its values drive which updates.
For instance, Google mentions that some of its updates helped the algorithm to understand which area an author has expertise in and to what degree. Why? To promote content that can be trusted.
Google will always improve its search algorithm based on its values. This means if you’re aware of Google’s values and align your content with them, you may benefit from Googe’s future updates rather than be penalised by them.
How our methods align with Google’s values
Like Google, we also believe that readers should find the most credible content at the top of the search results. We’d much rather read a medical article from a trained doctor than a generalist who first researched the topic the same day they wrote about it. The latter can result in misinformation and potentially dire consequences.
It’s quite easy to see why this is so important to Google both ethically and from a business and legal perspective. If Google promoted misinformation by ranking it first in its search results, there would be an argument that Google caused whatever consequences come from the misinformation.
This is why topic experts, like those at Eleven, are moving up the rankings and generalists are falling. By only hiring writers with genuine and significant expertise in their field, we ensure our clients’ content can be trusted.
We demonstrate our writers’ expertise to both readers and Google with author profiles that our clients post on their sites and feature in their articles. For instance, one of our clients runs an outdoors website and we assigned an experienced downhill ski instructor to write their skiing content. When readers click onto an article about ski boots and see that it’s written by a ski instructor, they’re likely to feel reassured they’re in good hands. Google can also read these author bylines and make a similar judgement.
Following several authority-recognition updates, Google now recognises topic expertise not just by looking at the source article/URL, but also by considering any other content written by the same author regardless of the website it’s published on. The fact that Eleven’s writers have been published on other high-authority websites in their niche may help Google to identify them as trusted sources. We believe this, along with the authenticity and quality of our articles, has played a valuable role in the search traffic increases our clients have experienced following Google updates.
Conclusion – Google and its updates favour authenticity and quality for a better user experience
There is a consistent theme to Google’s updates. They better align Google search to Google’s values with the ultimate goal being a better user experience. If you have the same principles at the core of your content, you’re likely to be favoured by Google and its updates that most websites dread.
To align your content with Google’s values and give yourself the best odds for future updates, you can focus on the following things:
- Quality and authenticity. Spamming content and hoping for the best may have worked in the past, but as Google Search gets smarter, this approach is more likely to get you penalised than to benefit you. As Google improves its algorithm to rank the most relevant and trusted content higher, its recent updates have focused on detecting things that can prove authenticity, such as credible data sources or photos and videos that substantiate claims. So, your content needs to be authoritative, high quality, and concisely answer search terms with substantiated arguments—only then can Google consider it relevant and trustworthy.
- Topic-expert writers with real-world experience. Writer profiles that demonstrate significant real-world experience are becoming increasingly important. Be sure to work with writers that can prove to your audience that they have real, in-depth experience with the products or topics they’re writing about. To achieve this hands free, consider working with Eleven and its topic-expert writing teams.
- Think long term and avoid manipulative SEO tactics. Don’t try to combat Google’s updates with manipulative techniques – these will always be phased out by Google in the long run and likely result in penalties. If your article is not the most trustable and relevant article to a particular search term, then it shouldn’t be at the top of its results. Manipulating the search results makes for a worse user experience, which Google is against. If a seedy technique works now, it won’t forever. And it could be something that’s punished in a later update.
The bottom line
Focus on authenticity and align with Google’s values and you’re likely to thrive on its updates. Think of yourself as a long-term partner of Google, committed to its health and the value your readers receive.