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Google’s Christmas Present – Ouch

PunchThis is a little of how I’m feeling this morning waking up for the third day with a sick feeling in my stomach.

The feeling is partly physical – I suspect somewhere in the past week of three birthday parties, one work break up party, two Christmas parties and one wedding that I ate something a little dodgy which has left me feeling queasy.

The other part of it is a sinking feeling in the guts as I look at the impact of Google’s latest update upon my blogging ventures. I mentioned a couple of days back that the update was in full swing and that bloggers were reporting a wide diversity of results – some record high traffic, others record lows and still others no impact.

The main advice coming from experienced webmasters was to hang in there and wait unitl things settle – good advice which I’ve been taking heed of. However the news so far for this problogger isn’t too good as can be seen from the following traffic graph (click to enlarge) from my Digital Photography Blog.

Statsdpb-1Of course its too soon to tell what the lasting results will be but the last two day’s traffic isn’t looking particularly positive. Traffic is down to around 25% of ‘normal’ levels and SERPS (search engine results positions) are way down. Not the nicest Christmas present Google could have given me.

Now other factors also need to be taken into account. Firstly its been the weekend the last couple of days (although you’ll notice this usually only causes a small dint in traffic), secondly its the end of the year and readership tends to die in the days before and around Christmas and thirdly traffic has been pretty good this month because of Christmas itself – digital cameras are one of the hot items for presents this year so the drop off is particularly noticeable as traffic has been pretty good.

However even with these factors taken into account the update seems to have been a bit of a blow to the site. Unfortunately this is a tale I can tell you a number of times over as I look over my other blogs. Traffic down to 20 – 40% of ‘normal’ levels.

Of course a decrease in traffic has a corresponding decrease in earnings in most circumstances and this is the case as i look at my different income stats for the past few days. Affiliate programs and contextual ad earnings when graphed present a very similar shape to the above graph. Its not much fun to find out that your pay has been cut to 30% of what you were getting a few days earlier and to not know if it will ever go up again.

So – whilst I’ve recently posted some pretty optimistic posts about the potential of problogging it is worth remembering that this is a pretty fickle business. It is worth remembering that whilst you can work incredibly hard on your blogging and do what you think is best to optimize your site for good results that a lot of your success or failure lies in the hands of others and can come or go in an instant.

This is also another reminder that diversification can be a professional blogger’s best friend. Put all your eggs in the blogging basket and you might just find yourself with scrambled eggs for breakfast.

Diversification can mean many things. For me it means having:

- consulting work – both blog related and non blog related

- having a ‘real’ job – for me I’ve taken on a number of other jobs and projects for short periods of time over th last few years that not only supplement my income but also give me an environment to interact with people face to face – blogging can get pretty isolating at times.

- building up traffic through other means than Google – It is easy to forget sometimes that there are other ways of getting traffic than from Google. For starters there are other search engines, there are other blogs/sites, you can build up an permission based email list, work on repeat visitors to sites etc.

- pages on a variety of topics/domains – one of the things I started to think about last year was the advantages of blogging on a variety of topics. This is smart for a number of reasons, starting with the quick cycle of trends that the world we live in goes through. Digital Cameras are huge at the moment – but they will not be quite so hot forever. Its also smart because the chances are if you’re blogging on a lot of topics on different blogs that each time Google updates that some will go up the rankings and others will go down. Diversifications can help spread the losses and gains and keep your momentum going. This is why we started the Breaking News Blog network a couple of months back on a fresh domain – I’m now glad we did.

So the end of the world has not come – although combined with being ill this week it felt like one or two times in the last few days – life goes on and instead of being bogged down by the statistics I am inspired to renew my efforts in blogging to recover the losses and provide even better blogs than I have before.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. I hadn’t checked my stats, but yeah, yesterday’s traffic was 50% of normal. Pathetic.

    Looking into why now.

  2. Refrozen says:

    Yeah, it effected me MAJORLY, but for a slightly different reason, I made a bad choice (well, an unlucky one).

    I started to rewrite my site (http://www.refrozen.com) JUST AS GOOGLE DECIDED TO START GOING CRAZY, meaning I had no content online, 90% of the links to me were temporarily broken and all… Needless to say, I get no traffic from Google any more…

    Honestly, I am getting sick of Google, they have too much of a monopoly allowing them to do whatever they want. This is not good, this is like the Microsoft of search-engines.

    I am really liking MSN’s new search engine though (beta.search.msn.com I think) it seems to base the rankings a lot on content and quality of content, as long as they can do something about the ease of content spamming, MSN will be a far better engine then Google

    Unfortunately, google already has the monopoly, and that’ll be hard to break, but Microsoft is in the position to do it.

    (Note, I actually hate Microsoft, but Google is killing me… thus.)

  3. Refrozen says:

    Also, I might add, I plan on starting a ‘few’ blogs, on various subjects across multiple domains. I figure, if I can earn 10$ / week off each one, and, I can update 3 a day (means I run 3 – I have the time :-P), that’s 120$ a month which’ll allow me to pay for my dedicated server out of my advertising budget instead of my pocket (Refrozen is making me next to no money YET).

  4. Refrozen says:

    Also, I might add, I plan on starting a ‘few’ blogs, on various subjects across multiple domains. I figure, if I can earn 10$ / week off each one, and, I can update 3 a day (means I run 3 – I have the time :-P), that’s 120$ a month which’ll allow me to pay for my dedicated server out of my advertising budget instead of my pocket (Refrozen is making me next to no money YET).

  5. Speaking as someone who has been running Web sites for over 10 years, two things are clear:

    1. Don’t draw any conclusions about a Google update until it’s completely finished. (There’s some question at this point whether they ever finish an update, but that’s another story.)

    2. Expect a huge drop in traffic a week before and after Christmas. Always. Regardless of the site. While we die-hards are online every day, the casual users who don’t necessarily spend time each day online generally find better things to do at this time of year.

    So, I’d relax and hope for the best. (Still working on the ‘relax’ part myself.)

    Having said that, your advice on diversifying is spot on. Having a majority of eggs in one basket is never a good idea.

  6. techzilla says:

    honestly i am feeliin good about search.msn as well, and if ther was a “customizemsn” firefox extention i would switch homepages today.

    and i also share this equally suspicious notion about M$

    what can i say all my pages are indexed at msn (and im first page for my topics)

    google??? im there but you would never find me….(and its not like anything you would find actually had similar content)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Firstly – I feel your pain Suffering a major fall in traffic as a result of Google changing their ranking algorithm is not a pleasant thing and when you dig around a little you’ll find that most experienced webmasters have experienced it at one time or another. The first time it happened to me my traffic (and income) plummeted to a third of what it was in December of 2004. It hit me hard and almost knocked me out of blogging for money. [...]