How I (Easily) Survived a Huge Google Slap

This is not pretty.

A couple of months ago I noticed that I had taken a BIG hit on the Google traffic to a very important site of mine. Like a 75% reduction in my Google traffic.

Since organic Google traffic was the biggest source of traffic to the site, this was bad. Very bad.

This is what it looked like:


But I survived, quite easily in fact, and I am in the process of bouncing back.

I am going to give you a number of takeaways so you can be prepared yourself for this kind of thing:

  1. It happens to everyone. Something you have today is gone tomorrow. You can’t avoid it 100%, but you can prepare for it. (See below.)
  2. It wasn’t my fault. I did nothing new, and nothing black hat or even grey hat. I had had a lot of pages with somewhat complicated URLs, which I did specifically to NOT be too aggressive in my SEO. Didn’t matter. Google suddenly had an issue with such URLs and devalued thousands of my pages all at once.
  3. I have other traffic. Though this is a big hit, there is a lot of traffic to this site from other sources and I have other web sites that were not affected. Diversify — never rely on one thing for anything. Especially not Google.
  4. It was fixable. The good news is that my world didn’t end (see below), so I was able to discover and fix, I think, the problem by autoforwarding to new, better URLs. Plus I fixed one other important issue with my site. I might actually rebound to where I was before or better. If you look at the traffic chart above, you will see the traffic starting to go back up on the right side. I hope it continues!
  5. Be patient. In my case, roughly 5000 URLs have to be delisted from Google and replaced with the new ones. Even though the old URLs autoforward (with a proper 301 autoforward) to the new ones, Google has to visit those old URLs one by one and figure out they have been replaced. Until then Google thinks the old URLs are the “real” ones and the new ones are duplicate content. (!!) It is going to take time, especially as there are no longer links to the old URLs!

    And this is the kicker:

  6. IT DIDN’T MATTER THAT MUCH! I can survive for quite a while even without Google. Besides what I wrote above, I do everything I can to convert my visitors into email subscribers and have been doing so for many years. And I give them lots of real content for free to keep them interested, even indebted to me. I make most of my money, by far, from these subscribers. I make much more money by doing things this way, and I have a very big cushion to soften any blows that may come. Like this Google slap.

The lesson is clear, and the same one that I teach over and over:

Whatever you do, get your contacts and visitors into an email list that only YOU control. And keep them happy. This is both a huge lever to help you make more money, and a hedge against misfortunes beyond your control.

If you have gotten slapped yourself by Google tell us what happened and what you did about it in the comments below.

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