Thursday, July 18, 2024

Leaked Documents Cast Doubt on Google’s Public SEO Statements

Gisele Navarro noticed Google Search traffic to her HouseFresh website disappeared almost overnight. The website was launched in 2020 by her husband Danny Ashton. It publishes reviews of air purifiers as the COVID-19 pandemic spiked demand for air purification. Their business employed fifteen contributors. The traffic was impressive. However, since October 2023 the traffic started dropping from about four thousand daily clicks to just about three hundred. It impacted revenue severely. Full-time employees were reduced the just one.

The decline coincided with changes to search algorithms. Google implemented several updates in late 2023 and a significant “core update” was in March 2024. It left the changes permanent. HouseFresh website earlier ranked high on Google searches for the air purification reviews. Lately, it has been overshadowed by content from well-known publications like Better Homes and Gardens, People and Architectural Digest. Music magazine Rolling Stone also appeared in searches for air purifiers. Navarro feels that big media companies are grabbing affiliate revenue.

A leak document of 2,500 pages of Google’s internal documentation last month provided insight into the search algorithms of Google. The documents revealed numerous variables search algorithm considers. Some contradicted Google’s public statements. One document indicated that Google tracks user clicks on any page accessed via the Chrome browser.

The leaked documents also suggested that the algorithm tags personal sites with “smallPersonalSite” and it is potentially down-ranking them in favor of larger publications. However, a Google spokesperson denied this.

The deterioration of Google Search is not a recent phenomenon. The search results in 2022 were also becoming crowded with overly optimized and clickbait content. It was also affected by Google’s “Quick Answers” feature. Navarro distinguished between “white hat” SEO and “black hat” SEO. She said that excessive black hat practices have contributed to SEO’s decline.

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