Why Did My Website Traffic Drop Overnight?
Hopefully this has not happened to your website, suddenly without explanation traffic drops. Not just a dip in traffic, a huge drop by as much as 80% overnight. What happened! This is the classic result of a Panda Slap which is the nickname for when a Google penalty is assigned to a website. The nickname was originally coined from the Google Panda updates that became infamous for causing website traffic to plummet on sites affected by the update, but now it is used when a site is affected by either a Panda or Penguin update.
Both Panda and Penguin are updates to the Google algorithm. Panda was first released in February 2011 targeting low quality websites that have either little content, duplicate content, poor usability or too many ads. The Penguin updates followed in April of 2012 targeting websites that have used Black Hat SEO methods that violate Google terms of service. Google has rolled out new Panda and Penguin updates every few months since the initial release.
What Does a Panda Slap Look Like?
In some cases a Panda Slap causes traffic fall off a cliff like the the graph below, in others it may look like a ski slope – a rapid drop over a few days. Below are three examples of websites (none were Esotech clients when this occurred, we have been engaged to help them recover) that were hit with Panda Slaps at different times and for different reasons. At the bottom we show an example of a site that has had steady growth in traffic over the same period as a result of good SEO practices.
Need Help Recovering from a Panda Slap or a Mysterious Drop in Website Traffic?
If you are a victim of a Panda Slap or your website traffic has suddenly plummeted and you need help contact us to get back on track!
The Beginning of a Recovery from a Panda Slap
The site below suffered a nasty Panda Slap and is now showing signs of a gradual recovery – note the gradual and steady increase in traffic. This client was using an SEO firm in in 2011 and 2012 that used Black Hat SEO (link farms, spammy content, etc) which was picked up in the January 2013 Google Update. They became an Esotech client in February of 2013 and we went to work undoing the links that caused the penalty. This involved submitting nearly 3,000 links to be de-indexed by Google as well as working on the site itself. This site is on the road to recovery and will be ranking well again in a few months, that’s right a few months, recovering from a Panda Slaps takes time and a lot of work.
What Good SEO Looks Like
We have seen the devastation from a Google penalty to a website after a Panda or Penguin update, so what does traffic look like on a website with good SEO throughout the Panda and Penguin updates?
The traffic graph for the website below is one of our ongoing clients. This client has seen double digit traffic growth year over year, throughout all of the Google updates. In fact some of the Google updates have actually increases the search rankings of this site. This is a great example of high quality SEO. If you have good SEO you will see:
- Steady improvement over time.
- high percentage of visits from search, over 70% in the example below, typically over 50% of traffic from search.
- Good engagement metrics, time on site, bounce rate, average pages per visit.
Good SEO takes time and involves doing a lot of small things right. There are no quick fixes, no silver bullets, and no tricks that will magically get your site ranking on page one quickly. In fact quick results and promises of “page one results” quickly are warning signs of an SEO scam or at best a firm that will tell you anything to get your business. With Google’s recent algorithm changes only high quality SEO delivers results and Black Hat or cheap SEO, even if it works in the short term, it risks a future penalty.