Just a couple of days ago there was a new core update.
Now you might be thinking this is quite standard, they basically launch updates every day.
This one is a little different but before I get into it I want to show a site of my own.
This site had been performing poor like forever and I basically tried everything when it comes to utilizing expired domains.
Let’s call them domain 1 and domain 2 for ease of things.
Two years ago I bought a domain (domain 2) for $1300 at GoDaddy and build a site on it, let it rest for at least a year and it never got any traction.
Always stuck at 5-10 visitors/day and often even less. I didn’t built much links to it, purely to test the strength of expired domains.
After that year I realized I had domain 1 as well, I own a lot of expired domains and we’ve basically abandoned that strategy a couple of years ago.
Anyway, I migrated domain 2 to domain 1 and 301 redirected it.
Different situation, same results.
I was getting fucking sick of it
So one day I was like screw all this, let’s remove the redirect and sell the site on domain 1 and sell domain 2 so I set up both as individual websites and than the magic happened.
Domain 1 got a massive boost as you can see in the screenshot, from 5-10 clicks/day to 50-100 clicks/day.
Domain 2 also finally started to get some traction as you can see below:
Admittedly it’s not much traffic but it did go up, soon after I restored some content from archive.org.
What are other people saying?
If we head over to SERoundTable we see a lot of reports from people that lost 40-60% of their traffic.
Even sites that don’t even rank for their domain name anymore, yaiks!
One of our group member also had a horror story where two of his websites tanked as you can see on the screenshots:
And that’s the good part of Facebook groups, people aren’t afraid to share their stories and it soon became clear that he had a few domains redirected to his sites.
While on large news sites people are always hesitant to say where it went wrong.
I spoke with some other people as well, an ex-customer emailed me that he lost 50% of traffic among most of his websites and to quote him:
How’s things your end? The google update has screwed me once again, 50% drop in traffic 🙁
I replied: “Any idea why you got hit?” and his response below:
Hmm yeah 301 redirects from old domains don’t seem to work for me anymore.
I do still have some old 301 redirects pointing to them – do you think I should remove them?
Although you can’t really call a dozen sites a large enough sample, I can say that all the sites from people that I trust all have one thing in common:
Domains that they bought with the purpose of redirecting it to their main site with the intention of increaseing their trust and as such their rankings.
The fact that when I removed the redirect to one of my own sites a month or two ago almost feels like a tailsign that redirects to game the results are history and that we should move forward to less blackhat techniques.
Apparently there’s more to it
Like we see with most updates, especially core ones, there is often more to it than the eye can see.
Websites with little authority like starter affiliate sites often get hurt by these updates for little to no reason.
Well not exactly no reason, I do have a few:
- Not enough relevant links.
- Not enough links from authority sites.
- Poor user experience.
- Thin content.
And let me just put it blunt, links from sites that are accessible to basically anyone like WordPress, Weebly, Tumblr, and even Medium, Minds and a whole bunch of other so-called ‘para-sites’ don’t fall under authority sites.
Sure they have plenty of authority but your content ends up on either a sub domain or at best a sub directory that’s largely sealed off the rest of the site so you don’t really get to leech on their authority.
UNLESS, you add the authority yourself with external links from solid sites.
Which begs the question:
Why would you want to build decent links to other people’s sites that provide you with very little instead of to your own website?
Sure there are situations where you would want to apply tiered backlinks, for example to your recently acquired guest posts or link insertions as you DO leech off their authority but these don’t fall under the category parasites.
Why do people use parasites?
Although you don’t get much, if any authority from them, there is an invisible authority that outs itself when you build links to these properties.
In the past people used to spam these sites nearly to death because they could handle a large number of spammy links and as such rank easily for their target keywords.
Nowadays it becomes harder and harder to find a decent parasite to leech of and that is one more reason why people buy guest posts and pump these up, not only to drive juice, but traffic as well.
I think my point is rather clear!
If you want to safeguard your site against Google’s updates you better gain some authoritive links like guest posts and give them that little extra push to boost the authority even more (not with spammy links though, link insertions would be a better choice).
In addition, make sure your site looks great for users so that they stick for a while and avoid thin content at all times.
Here are some quick ways to prevent thin content:
- Noindex, nofollow your tag pages and date/author archives.
- Noindex image attachment pages in your robots.txt.
- Set up parameters to prevent product price, type, color pages (you can do this in GSC).
There are many more examples but these are basically the most common ones.
One more thing that I noticed today
After browsing through the search results, and especially while looking at my own affiliate site I noticed that I gained quite a few ‘featured snippets’ in Google, effectively taking over the #1 results.
There is literally nothing special about those posts on my site, no schema markup, no bulletpoints, only H2 tags and apparently that’s enough for Google, while truth be told, they are just boring laps of text where we review 4-5 different brands/models per post.
But the posts are specific, like ‘best Breville juicer’ or ‘best toaster oven under $100’ or ‘best american made stand mixer’.
Everyone focuses on skyscrapers these days where they concentrate all these different types of keywords on one page/post.
That used to work very well but when everyone starts doing the same thing Google might think they have to do something different to fight spam.
I don’t have enough data to proof this but after doing a few more searches there was definitely a trend so keep that in mind.
A quick action plan:
Were you hit by a penalty? Try the following to see if you missed something:
- Do you have redirects pointing at your domain that don’t belong to a merger (domain name change)?
- Do you have enough links from relevant sites?
- Do you have enough links from authoritive sites?
- Do you have a lot of thin content pages (a quick site:domain.com would reveal that)?
- Do you have a lot of posts that cover just too many topics?
If you answered yes to two or more these questions it’s probably time to make a change!
In case you’re in doubt you can always contact me and I’ll have a look and provide you with a free consultation.
Just contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the contact form and we’ll take it from there.
Even better, join my Facebook group and let us have a look at your website, many always know more than one!
Where there are losers, there are winners as well but you would expect that during times like COVID-19 Google would postpone such a drastic update.