In the beginning of August 2018 when I checked my traffic report, I noticed my Health Blog traffic has dropped significantly. Most of the traffic of my Health Blog came from US and I tried to check if it was a long holiday or something like that.
It wasn’t. Then I found a post by Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Land and confirmed there was a Google Algorithm update- this time it was a major update.
Starting from the first quarter of 2018, the traffic from my Health Blog has been slowly dropping. However I saw a whopping 50% drop since August 2018.
I remembered when Google Analytics first introduced Real Time traffic reports, I was surprised to always see concurrent visitors on my site. It is no longer the case for now. My Health blog has been around for more than 10 years and have good traffic even though I went for a few years of not updating much content until last year.
Today, I read a post from Marie Haynes which confirmed that blogs on health, fitness, diet and nutrition were mostly impacted. The emphasis is also on site Authority… after all, who am I but a small fry who is not a doctor or a nurse but based on personal and experience of others?
Many readers of her post came forward to voice their disappointment with the update as their traffic and earnings have been badly affected. I was grateful that at least I know I did not suffer any penalty.
And from the web discussion, I also saw that even long quality 3000 words article moved way down the SERPS and ‘authoritative’ sites with much thinner content outrank these smaller sites. Some whose livelihood depends on their online business are affected as one post in the Webmaster World:
Learnings from going through many Google updates:
The same as it is this updates as the many Google updates before, this is the following learnings:
1.Do not put all your eggs in one basket.
2.There is a high risk to go full time to earn income online- you can potentially lose everything overnight.
Do not put all your eggs in one basket.
Blogging ‘gurus’ spoke of the 80/20 percent rule. In a way it is true- for example 20% of my blog earns 80% of my income. It makes sense to focus on the 20% and ignore the rest of the 80%. But if the 20% is just one major blog and you focus on it, what if it tanked with a Google update?
Due to my ADHD brain, for the life of me I could not focus on just blogging on one topic. But I could stick to about 5 or 6 topics. So the past months, I actually have been restructuring and building up new blogs. It takes time and sometimes I feel I am stretching myself too thin. At times I doubted myself especially when I feel a little stressed out from not having enough time… that am I not working smart? Why must I go against ‘conventional wisdom’?
When the traffic of my Health blog tanked, I felt a little sad. After reading the update by Marie, I felt better because at least I got the answer I needed. This is followed by a sigh of relief because I did not put my all into one blog. This August 2018 core update targeting health genre is NOTHING to do with long content or keyword research. It is gotta do with E-A-T:
Sites that write best original thoroughly researched content- but if the author is not a recognized expert or viewed as an authority in the field, then the articles would be pushed further down the search ranking…like page 31 (cry!). Taking my health blog as an example, no matter how many articles I have in there that is going to help my readers… so long as I am not a doctor or qualified medical professional, my articles would no longer rank well.
The irony is that, I believed in conventional treatments but I find through experience that complimentary or alternative treatments work better. For example, I’ve had pain on my shoulders and foot …and all my doctors gave me was painkillers and muscle relaxants. The pain interfered so much and affected my daily activities that I finally sought help from a chiropractor. After some adjustments, my pain just disappears! Over the years I have shared my findings with my readers… and I’ve had readers writing back to thank me for helping them.
Now, ‘authoritative sites’ that write articles on complimentary treatments… either offering less comprehensive information or berating these treatments would rise through the SERPS. But what can we do? I really feel sorry for those who are suffering because I know how it feels.
Earning income online is volatile
You may not be like me, going through the hard way of starting blogs from scratch. You can create multiple income streams such as uploading YouTube videos, selling courses on Teachable, offering additional services such as web design, content writing and SEO or selling physical/ digital products.
Don’t get too caught up in the passive income hype. It is good that you set up a passive income stream which would help you earn some income while you sleep or go on a vacation. But only a small percentage of people would be able to earn hundreds of thousands per year. And an update like this can seriously wipe out the passive stream overnight.
For most of us, there is only so much we can earn.
I was sitting in front of a hawker stall for about 4 hours with a friend. And I was observing the number of customers the stall was having:
The stall was located at an obscure area of town which…I would have absolutely no idea had my friend not introduced me to it. Basically the reputation of this stall spread through word of mouth and long queues could be seen by people waiting patiently to order their food.And after ordering, you have to carry the food yourself to your seat….they actually prepare trays for you to do that.
But people do not seemed to mind because the dishes that he sells are delicious!
I estimated that in a week’s work, he would probably earn what my sites earn in a year. And I would put in more hours than him.
It is exactly the same as what I discovered 10 years ago when I actually took a paycut job (where I could go back on time and is near my home) so that I have sufficient mental energy to focus on building my blogs. I found the model does not work and was more risky- hence I went back to the corporate world.
Sometimes, you can really chance upon a gold mine and starting earning huge income. But that, my friend is often short-lived before you get discovered and get outranked by the many others.
Therefore, please, please do not splurge on a luxury home or a sports car thinking that the income would be forever. The online world is far to volatile, unpredictable and constantly changing. Save it! Invest a small portion of it….then in case you get tanked by Google update like this, you would have enough money to last you …until you figure out the next big thing.