|Gained from Penguin update of April 2012 - Share your reasons|
My wife and I are writers (not webmasters) and have been writing since 1999. During this period almost all the content has been written by us and we have built five decent sized websites that have only AdSense ads that create annual revenue of over US$100,000.
Starting with the Feb 2011 Panda, little by little all our websites started to go down in traffic. None of the reasons that G mentioned applied to us and we were so convinced that there was nothing wrong with our websites, we did absolutely nothing. The loss of traffic since Feb 2011 has resulted in loss of about $125,000 and it has been painful but we only had to cut back on "luxuries" (vacations, shopping, home improvements, etc.), not necessities.
In January 2012, one of the smaller websites was restored to search results as if the whole demotion never happened. I made no changes at all and it came with all rankings intact and since then as we added more content, it has been growing steadily.
The rest of the websites started to see an upward tick with the April updates. This is the first time we have seen the chart pointing upwards for all the other four websites since Panda first attacked us mercilessly. On these websites, we changed nothing except adding new content, as we have done during last 13 years. We have never reached out to anyone for links, don't give a damn about social media, and rely 100% on free search engine traffic.
I am very upset with Google and their broken algorithm (but as a non-computer expert I assume that the task is too complicated for them and computers are still not intelligent enough) but during ever single update in the past, I have seen that we have survived and thrived (though there were painful weeks during Florida and Big Daddy updates, for instance). With Panda I had lost hope (because it is very clear that Google has no clue what it is doing and since it was a disaster from day one, they have just been trying to fix it and failing every single time) and my wife and I were debating whether we should enter new businesses or go find regular jobs (not easy for a couple approaching their 50th birthdays) but this is giving us a ray of hope that we have some breathing room before we do eventually diversify our source of income.
Our lesson from this Panda monster is that while focus on the user and creating great content are noble business goals and Google generally tries to live up to its buzzwords, the algorithms are not perfect and that is how people like us get trapped. While we look for other sources of income, this improvement that we have recently seen may give some hope for all of you who have done everything right. We are not opening champagne bottles and will never do knowing how broken Google is and how easily it could hit us again, but it would be nice to hear if there are others like us.
With the latest round of Google changes, my network of sites is up double digits (traffic & profits).
Why do I think this is?
I think it is a combination of multiple factors. Some of my competition was using short cuts that stopped working for them. So now I'm getting the traffic that used to flow to them. I've also been working on making my site content "stickier" to users so they spend more time using my site. This has lead to my users spending more time using my site and naturally mentioning me more often on social media & blogs without me even asking them.
In general I don't think you can be lazy or ignorant anymore and still expect success with Google.
ps There are exceptions to every rule. I'm sure you can find a lazy person getting lucky but I am taking about the big picture.
As soon as this Penguin hit on April 19th for me, traffic spiked up double. Extremely happy! I've been struggling since April 2011 when Panda slapped me hard for no reason. Not coming back thanks to Penguin. The Google Penguin is my new friend :-)
My traffic went up for the same reason @goodroi explained above. I'm sure of it.
Most of my client traffic is the same, my own sites are up, but they're seasonal and probably would be up anyway. I can't compare month to month and have it make sense, but month to corresponding month last year - I'm about double. I put a heavy emphasis on social sharing AND mobile optimizaiton over the past 18 mos, and it's paying off. My mobile traffic is WAY up.
skweb, if I were in your position with your five sites, I'd start thinking of ways to diversify. If you were able to pull down that much in AdSense, even Pandalized you're probably getting pretty good traffic. I'd be thinking of ways I could branch off into email, for one thing.
skweb - In reading your post, it appears to me that the recent big traffic increases for your sites may have mostly been due to an escape from Panda rather than a boost from Penguin. There was a big Panda update on April 19, and Penguin went into effect on April 24.
@aristotle - interesting so you might be right about the finally escaping from the Panda and is coincidence that the Penguin came out shortly after. My spike in traffic definitely happened on the 19th. Crazy to keep this all straight!
Fairly close numbers to that of skweb (but with one site) along with original Panda hit. Downward trend until April 27. Looks like the Penguin to me. Nothing done since early November. Nice to see some hope.
Up 18% same three day period last year(Friday-Sunday). Can't use month to month comparison, too seasonal.
1/3: Benign neglect. I did nothing, some of my competition just got creamed for link buying, over-op penalties
1/3: Dumb luck
1/3: Still de-spamming old sites built in a different era
Wow a google update people actually like. Thats amazing!
We got hit hard by Panda in October. Lost about 50% of our traffic, buy only about 30% of revenues. We gained back around 10% with Penguin. I'm assuming that's because we haven't exchanged a link in about 8 years and those links have been removed long ago.
Panda hurts, but only my pride.
When I first started the site I had certain financial goals I wanted to achieve. I met those years ago. Now, I just like doing this (whatever this is..). I'd do it for a buck a day.
|We have never reached out to anyone for links, don't give a damn about social media |
Good for you because, in reality, that's what leads to the best content being created. Unfortunately it may not receive as much exposure but as a writer you are aiming for quality content so it's Google's job to ensure they find and index that quality accordingly. As a writer about my passion I share those two sentiments!
Should you find regular jobs? You should always be ready to do so but if your needs are being met and your savings will float you for six months or more AND they are growing then you probably don't need to look just yet.
Fact: google is known to monitor and record EVERYTHING and so, as a business model, expecting Google to continue sending you converting traffic is foolish. I think we've seen a change in traffic quality recently where transactional visitors/searches have been horded to a smaller set of publishers (early 2010). That will likely continue to happen and Google's own revenue reports suggest it is profitable for them to do. Adjust accordingly and focus more heavily on informational content. (or focus on transactional with the goal of becoming a store).
Placing all your eggs in Google's basket = bad idea. Work on the #2 and #3 sources of traffic until they match Google.
I wouldn't assume that Google's algorithm is "broken." Relying entirely on on-site optimization is a poor strategy that will continue to yield undesirable results.
Off-site optimization will protect you from Panda and help you bounce back faster when you are affected, as well as improve your existing rankings.
You may not want to manage social media profiles, but you should definitely get links from some reputable and relevant external resources.
My top client decided to put more time and money into really smart email marketing this year, and hired the best specialist I could find to organize and implement it. It wasn't cheap, but it's already paying off. Just finished settling up their April numbers, and for the first time revenue from email campaigns beat the PPC revenue and is very close to meeting the combined Google and Bing organic revenue. We could always take a hit in the SERPs; nothing is ever guaranteed where you have so little control - but if it did happen, we'd be hurt, but not broken.