If you are a victim of the latest Google algorithm change and experienced an 85 percent traffic drop like the disgruntled fellow penning this article, you may be feeling the heat right now.
It’s easy to blame others and point out competitors who are “getting away with worse,” but what all of those wounded really need to do is look into the mirror and figure out how to get better.
Here is a quick guide on how to right the ship if you’ve keeled over — or, if you’re just starting your website, how to avoid disaster to begin with.
Plant the Seed When It Is Ready to Grow
There is a ton of thinking and planning ahead when it comes to developing a website. In our case, the website was ready before the company officially formed. Oftentimes, this happens in reverse, but the business side of things had to be sorted out.
This led to creating pages ahead of time, with certain “plans” that were to be accomplished soon in regard to content. Most of the pages had some original content, but it was largely generic.
At the same time, we provided consistent updates to our blogs to help the site along for when the business end would be good to go. Google has (or had) a way of rewarding websites that consistently updated their blogs, because it showed fresh content was being added to the mix.
We never copied content, but many of our updates were shallow in terms of coverage. In addition, the blogs were named for the search terms we wanted to rank them for. Not all of them, but many of them were named this way. At the time, it seemed like a good common-sense strategy. Now it looks like a big mistake. We did not monetize off of the traffic at all, and it still backfired.
In sum, create the pages offsite or don’t publish them until they are absolutely ready and valuable to readers.
Attacking the Problem
As soon as we realized how Google’s algorithm change was affecting our rankings, we went through a checklist of products we wanted to feature and what was still on the back burner in terms of content and resources that could eventually be provided. After that, we went on to delete half of the “resource” pages that had been created.
We then went back to the blog updates and deleted nearly half of those. On Day 1, we deleted probably about 100 pages that were of no real use. Some of those pages were linked to from the home page, yet they offered no real value.
All remaining page guides for the different model phones already had — or will have — the proper content and resources in the next few days. After that, we can think about expanding in the never-ending quest to add quality content.
Where we went wrong was in planting seeds without nurturing them at all. Had we done it right the first time, a day’s worth of time would have been dedicated to each page. Had we done that, we’d probably have one of the better resource bases on the Net.
Instead, we created the pages, then got caught up in running a business, got traffic from some of those poorly fertilized pages — then Google kicked us where it hurt.
This is not to say that our competition does not do some lame things that apparently have been overlooked or that Google’s system is completely, ahem, fair.
How Long Do We Live in Purgatory?
Right now, we don’t even show up for the important local terms, and we don’t even have local storefront competition. Many of the websites that clearly don’t provide anything of value and fill up the Web with pointless “state pages” rank higher for our local searches.
We still are found on Google, though, and my assumption is that once we have completed many of our resource updates over the next couple of weeks, the new algorithm will reward our efforts.
The obvious question is how long will this take? Our assumption is that it could take one-to-three months. Google is forcing us to go old school, think local and make the website better.
Still, when will it give us the “get out of jail free” card we feel entitled to? After all, if the banks get a bailout surely Google can feel for the plight of a few young and eager repair techs.
Reports have come out that some website complained and got its rankings back immediately. We don’t pretend to think Google master Matt Cutts or the rest of Google give a darn about our 85 percent drop.
Unlike many others who are upset about the crash, though, we understand why we lost favor with Google, and the problem is being corrected.
This is America — our get-out-of-jail-free card will come. All we have to do is the Google dance, and the search giant will make it rain with rankings, once we’ve done our penance. With that in mind, maybe we can all start to sleep comfortably.